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Lentil Sambar Redux

I love lentils any way I can get them —  in a soup, a pilaf, chili, pasta sauce, or even burgers.  One of my all time favorite lentil recipes is the lentil sambar recipe in Vegan Fire and Spice. I’ve posted the sambar recipe before here.  You can also find the recipe here on FatFreeVegan along a lovely photo by Susan Voisin (check it out if you haven’t seen it before).

I made this delicious sambar again recently, but I added extra lentils to make it even heartier and thicker.  The nice thing about a sambar is that it can be used almost like a condiment when served with Indian dosas, but it’s also terrific served like a soup (if made thinner) or like a stew over rice, when made thicker, which is my preference. You can cut the vegetables larger or smaller, too.

I served the sambar alongside potato “dosadillas” (my “quick-fix” solution to enjoying the flavor of dosas by using tortillas when there’s no time to make actual dosas) and some spicy mint chutney. 

I ended up with some leftover potato filling and the next day I served the lentil sambar as a stew with a large spoonful of the potato mixture on top and some cooked spinach as well. With some warm naan and more of that spicy mint chutney on the side, it made an amazingly delicious meal as you can see in the photo at the top of this post. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and if you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you will soon!

Celebrate Mardis Gras!

I love any excuse to make something special for dinner and Mardis Gras is no exception.  In fact, there are almost too many delicious dishes that would be a perfect way to celebrate!

Maybe cook up a nice pot of Spicy Vegetable Gumbo from Vegan Fire & Spice. Or maybe the Cajun Style Tofu from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. From Quick-Fix Vegan you can choose from the Cajun-Spiced Dirty Rice, Muffuleta Pizza, or Jambalaya Bake.

You could throw a party and serve the Phat Tuesday Party menu from Party Vegan:

  • Collard and Red Bean Fritters
  • Remoulade Sauce
  • Smoke and Spice Jambalaya
  • Grits ‘n’ Greens
  • Pastry-Wrapped Bananas Foster

Or you could just kick back and snack on some cajun-spiced popcorn or kale chips!

Whatever you decide, laissez les bon temps roulez!

Another Monday, Another Winner — and a New Giveaway

How better to brighten a Monday than with a new cookbook giveaway!  But first, it’s time to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway.  The winner (chosen randomly via Random.org) of a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes is: #15 – Celyn.  Congratulations, Celyn! Please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get the book right out to you.
And now for a new “Make My Monday” giveaway. This week’s prize is a copy of Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Survival Guide.  My husband Jon write the survival guide section (a must-have for whenever the power goes out — we lived through a few hurricanes, so I know) and I wrote the 80 recipes, all of which can be made using only pantry ingredients and can be ready in less than 15 minutes.  The best part of these recipes is their versatility: if you have fresh or frozen ingredients, you can use them, but if you only have canned or dehydrated ingredients, these recipes can be invaluable. 
Many of these recipes, such as the Samosadillas shown above, as well as the Almost-Instant Black Bean Chili and Puttanesca in a Pinch are regulars in my house.  Here’s another favorite — Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Stew:

These recipes are quick, easy, and delicious.  What more could one ask for, except maybe these no-bake Ginger Rum Balls:

 To win a copy of Vegan Unplugged, just leave a comment at the end of this post that answers this question:  What is your favorite pantry ingredient?  That’s it! One lucky winner will be selected at random. And if you want to increase your chances, you can do any or all of the following, and leave a comment for each that you do:
1. Follow me on Twitter: @GlobalVegan
2. Link to this giveaway on Twitter
3. Link to this giveaway on Facebook
4. Link to this giveaway on your blog
The contest closes Sunday night 10/23 at midnight.  The winner will be announced next Monday 10/24, when there will also be another new giveaway!  So, tell me, what’s YOUR favorite pantry ingredient?

Easy Peanut Sauce

During this Vegan Month of Food, I have designated themes for each day of the week.  This is “Food for Thought” Thursday, and today my thoughts are about peanut butter in general and my favorite easy peanut sauce in particular.

I think of peanut butter as kind of an ambassador for vegan food.  High in protein and rich in flavor, a little peanut butter goes a long way. It’s one of those ingredients that has historically, in the U.S. at least, been shrugged off as little more than an ingredient for a popular lunchbox sandwich.  However, in other parts of the world, from African to Asia, peanut butter is enjoyed in all manner of dishes, from stews and soups, to appetizers, sauces, sides, and desserts.
In recent years, this unassuming spread has been overshadowed by pricier nut butters made from almonds, cashews, and other nuts and seeds.  Still, it was peanut butter that was first developed in the U.S. by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in the 1890s as a high-protein health food and meat alternative. (Let’s hear it for Dr. Kellogg!)
One of my favorite ways to enjoy peanut butter is in a spicy peanut sauce.  Variations of peanut sauce can be found throughout many Asian cuisines.  Over the years, I’ve made countless versions, some cooked, some raw, sometimes thin, other times thick. I’ve varied the sweetener, used lime juice or rice vinegar to add tartness, and changed up the heat source.
My all-time favorite version is also the easiest and it can be found on page 202 of Vegan Fire and Spice.  I have since tinkered a bit more with that recipe, adding a little Thai chili sauce and increasing the volume a bit so there’s enough to use as a sauce for noodles or pasta as shown in the photo.  (I made this peanutty pasta dish for a recent cooking demo in Baltimore.)
Here, then, is the recipe for my latest favorite peanut sauce.  The amount of water you add will depend on whether you’re using it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or tossing with pasta and vegetables, and so on.

(Easy) Spicy Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson © 2010. Published by Vegan Heritage Press.
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili paste
About 1/2 cup water
In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, sugar, and chili paste.  Mix until well blended.  Stir in as much water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Use at once or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

ALMOST FORGOT…..Since I haven’t heard from the winner of Party Vegan, Random.org has chosen a NEW WINNER.  It is Lucky #17 – Toni D.!!!  Congrats, Toni.  E-mail me with your address and I’ll get a copy of Party Vegan in the mail to you.

"Make My Monday" Winner and a NEW Giveaway!

Is it Monday again already?  Wow.  I’ve been out of town for a few days, hence my lack of MoFo posts — but I’ll make up for them, I promise. For now, though, let’s get down to business. It’s time to announce the “Make My Monday” Giveaway winner from last week’s contest.  The prize:  a copy of Party Vegan.  The winner (chosen by Random.org) is:  Bagheera Yoga — whose favorite holiday food is sweet potatoes.  Congrats!!!  Send me your e-mail and I’ll get a copy of Party Vegan in the mail to you. 10/13 UPDATE: No response from original winner, so new winner was chosen by Random.org:  #17 – Toni D.

Thanks to all who entered — it was so fun to read what everyone likes to eat on holidays!  There will be a giveaway here each Monday during Mofo, so keep on entering — you just may win!   

This week’s new “Make My Monday” Giveaway is for a copy of my cookbook Vegan Fire and Spice, filled with recipes from around the world that you can make as spicy as you like.  One of my personal favorites from this book is this Red Hot Chile Tofu:

Even if you already have a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice, you can enter anyway — if you win, you can give it as a gift or use it for your own giveaway. One lucky winner will be selected at random. To enter, just answer this question in the comment section of this post:  “What is your favorite hot and spicy ingredient?”

If you want to earn additional entries, you can do any or all of the following, and leave me a comment for each one that you do:

1. Follow me on Twitter: @GlobalVegan
2. Subscribe to my blog
3. Link to this giveaway on Twitter
4. Link to this giveaway on Facebook
5. Link to this giveaway on your blog

The contest closes Sunday Oct 16 at midnight, and the winner will be announced in next Monday’s post, which will also include a new “Make My Monday” Giveaway!  So, enter now:  “What’s YOUR favorite hot and spicy ingredient?”

Green Papaya Salad

Green papaya salad is refreshing and loaded with flavor. I love it, but because most Thai restaurants use fish sauce in the dressing, I rarely order it out. I’ll never forget one time when we were eating in a Thai restaurant, a lady at a table near us had ordered the papaya salad. She nearly shrieked after her first bite, and then said loudly, “What kind of fruit salad is this supposed to be?” I guess she was expecting something sweet, like that canned fruit cocktail. She’ll know better next time!
Here’s my recipe for papaya salad from Vegan Fire and Spice. I sometimes serve it as a prelude to a Thai meal like Drunken Noodles, but it can also be enjoyed as a light main dish when topped with fried or baked marinated tofu.
I made it for lunch the other day, but I had to leave out the cilantro — just when I was getting ready to go pick some from the garden, I noticed that the groundhog mom and her two babies were nibbling on grass nearby and I didn’t want to disturb them.

Green Papaya Salad
This recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson © 2008, Vegan Heritage Press. If you can’t find vegan fish sauce, I’ve included a recipe for it.

1 large unripe (green) papaya, peeled and shredded
1 carrot, shredded
2 scallions, minced
1 small hot chile, seeded and minced or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Vegan Fish Sauce (recipe follows)
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon light brown sugar or a natural sweetener
Salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 small ripe tomato, cut into wedges
Crushed peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Combine the papaya and carrot in a bowl. Add the scallions and chile. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, then pour over the salad and toss until well mixed. Arrange on salad plates and garnish with the cilantro, tomato wedges, and peanuts, if using.
Serves 4

Vegan “Fish” Sauce
This sauce is used in much the same way as soy sauce. I like the extra dimension this sauce gives to a recipe, although, in a pinch, you could get by with substituting a good-quality soy sauce or tamari.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well blended. Store the jar in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3/4 cup

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here’s a satisfying salad that’s loaded with flavor and can be assembled quickly with just five (count ‘em, five!) on-hand ingredients. All it takes is some cooked or canned black beans combined with fresh or frozen corn kernels, tossed with a spicy tomato salsa, cilantro and lime juice. Depending on how hot your salsa is, you can add some additional minced hot chiles if you want more heat. The recipe is from my cookbook, Vegan Fire and Spice.

Since I couldn’t find decent tomatoes to make my own salsa, I made this salad with bottled fire-roasted tomato salsa that adds a wonderful flavor. You can enjoy the salad “as is” served over shredded lettuce or spoon it (along with some lettuce) into flour tortillas and add some chopped avocado, sliced black olives, shredded vegan cheddar, or vegan sour cream.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
This colorful and flavorful salad is easy to make with on-hand ingredients. For less heat, use a mild salsa. For extra heat, add minced hot chiles, fresh or canned. This recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson © 2008, Vegan Heritage Press. Serve on a bed of lettuce or as a filling for soft flour tortillas.

1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup spicy tomato salsa (homemade or storebought)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.