Soft tacos filled with battered crisp-baked cauliflower (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

If you didn’t know better, you’d think these cauliflower florets were deep-fried because they are crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside—but instead they’re battered and baked until crisp. This recipe makes enough batter and topping for quite a large cauliflower. Fill soft tacos with these cauliflower nuggets, as on the Blissful Basil blog that inspired this recipe, accompanied by Seasoned Crispy Tofu either inside or alongside the tacos.

Ingredients

  • large cauliflower

For the batter:

  • 1¼ cups nondairy milk
  • ¾ cup brown rice flour
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

For the topping:

  • 1¼ cups mixed grains/seeds (such as gluten-free rolled oats, flax seeds, and quinoa) or only gluten-free rolled oats
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • chopped fresh oregano or dried oregano
  • green onion, very thinly sliced
  • smoked paprika
  • ground cumin
  • garlic powder
  • ground turmeric
  • curry powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chile powder (such as New Mexico, cayenne, or chipotle)
  • smoked salt or kosher salt

For serving:

  • warmed corn tortillas
  • shredded cabbage
  • cilantro leaves
  • salsa and/or hot sauce
  • avocado slices
  • lime or lemon wedges

Method

  1. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. To make the batter: In a large bowl, add the milk, flour, and lime juice and whisk until smooth.
  4. To make the topping: In a food processor, process the grains/seeds until a coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large, shallow bowl. Mix in the cilantro, oregano, green onion, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, curry powder, black pepper, and chile powder and season with salt.
  5. Place a a handful of cauliflower florets into the batter. Using tongs, toss to coat and shake off any excess. Toss in the topping to coat and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining florets. Bake until crispy and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. If not quite crispy enough, turn on the broiler and broil, watching carefully so they don’t burn, until done the way you like. Let cool slightly.
  6. Serve inside warmed tortillas with cabbage, cilantro, salsa and/or hot sauce, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime.
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Yellow split peas with red peppers + greens (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This recipe works with yellow or green split peas, any split legumes (aka dals), lentils, or a mixture. If you live near an Indian market, you have a wonderland of dals from which to choose. Although not required, soaking in hot water, covered, for a couple of hours reduces cooking time. You can stir in the greens as detailed below, or you can steam or sauté them and serve them alongside with hot cooked rice, quinoa, another grain, or pasta.

Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • fresh or jarred red sweet peppers, chopped
  • jalapeño chile or other fresh chile, thinly sliced
  • yellow split peas or legumes of choice, soaked in hot water and drained
  • bay leaves
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • fresh tomato, chopped, or canned tomatoes with juices
  • turmeric
  • greens (such as beet tops, kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, turnip tops, or a mixture), stemmed and leaves cut into ribbons
  • balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • chopped fresh cilantro and/or fresh parsley
Method
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the peppers and chile and cook until softened and fragrant. Add the legumes, water to cover by ½ inch, the bay leaves, and rosemary sprigs. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until soft, adding water as needed to keep the legumes submerged.
  2. Stir in the tomato and turmeric and simmer until the tomato breaks down into the liquid. Stir in the greens and cook until the greens are done to your liking.
  3. Drizzle with the vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the fresh herbs, and serve.

Onion soup with white beans + cabbage (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Probably the last wintery soup recipe, as spring ingredients are starting to appear at the farmers’ market. For easier peeling of cipollini onions: trim the tops and bottoms, soak the onions in hot water for a few minutes, slip off the outer skin, and chop.

Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • bay leaves
  • fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
  • cipollini onions or onions of choice, chopped
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, thinly sliced or garlic cloves, minced
  • leeks, white and light green parts, halved and sliced into half-moons
  • fresh tomato, chopped, or tomato paste (optional)
  • cabbage, cut into 1-inch dice
  • cooked white beans, rinsed if canned
  • super-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dried chipotle flakes or red pepper flakes
  • miso or your vegetable broth mix of choice
  • hot water
  • fresh or dried oregano
  • fresh parsley
  • black pepper
Method
  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bay leaves and ginger and cook for a minute. Stir in the onions and cook for a minute, then turn down to medium-low, and cook until very soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and leeks and cook until softened. Raise the heat to medium, add the tomato, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks down and creates a sauce. Add the cabbage, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage wilts. Lower the heat to medium-low, stir in the beans, tofu, fennel, caraway, and chipotle flakes, and cover.
  2. Meanwhile, put the miso in a small heatproof bowl. Add a small amount of hot water and whisk until the miso is well combined into the water. Pour the miso mixture into the soup. Taste the soup broth and, if needed, repeat to add more miso. Remove from the heat (do not let the soup boil after you add the miso).
  3. Remove the bay leaves. Season the soup with oregano, parsley, and black pepper and serve.

Baby bok choy with tofu, green garlic + miso over ginger rice (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a very satisfying one-bowl meal with layers of Asian flavors. If you can’t find green garlic (also known as spring garlic) at your farmers’ market, you can substitute dried garlic cloves. Use your favorite type of miso and the smallest, most tender baby bok choy you can find.

Ingredients
  • brown rice
  • fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil
  • super-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, thinly sliced and parts kept separate
  • miso
  • hot water
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Method
  1. Soak the rice for as long as possible, then massage it in several changes of cold water. Cook the rice with the ginger in a rice cooker or in a saucepan on the stove top until soft.  Keep warm.
  2. Pull the bottom leaves off of the bok choy and slice the stems diagonally. Swish in cold water to remove any grit. Set aside.
  3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the tofu and cook without stirring for a minute or two. Add the green parts of the garlic and stir to mix and scrape up the tofu browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the white parts of the garlic, and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Spoon the miso into a small heatproof measuring cup, add a few tablespoonfuls of hot water, and whisk vigorously until the miso is combined with the water. Pour the miso mixture into the pan with the tofu and garlic and stir. Add the bok choy and toss until well combined. Cover for a minute or two to allow the bok choy to steam, then toss again. When the bok choy is softened but still bright green, remove from the heat .
  5. Spoon the rice into bowls; top with the bok choy mixture; sprinkle with hot sauce, green onions, and sesame seeds; and serve.

Balsamic-glazed roasted brussels sprouts with mushroom-thyme polenta (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Winter brussels sprouts are a treat because chilly weather brings out their sweetness, which is enhanced by the balsamic glaze. As a shortcut, this dish uses packaged cooked polenta that comes in a log, but you can make polenta from scratch instead.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • red onion, half diced and half thinly sliced
  • mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • olive tapenade or chopped olives
  • store-bought cooked polenta in a log, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh or dried thyme leaves
Method
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the diced onion, mushrooms, and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Stir in a heaping tablespoonful of the tapenade, the polenta cubes, and enough water to almost cover. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often and mashing the polenta cubes against the side of the pan, until the polenta becomes a porridge.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Toss the sprouts and sliced onions with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the brussels sprouts and sliced onions until browned in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, warm the balsamic vinegar until it thickens slightly. Pour in the brussels sprouts and sliced onions, sprinkle with the thyme, and toss to coat.
  4. Scoop the polenta into bowls, top with the brussels sprout mixture, and serve.

Crispy baked brown-rice “meatballs” with chunky tomato sauce + fresh spinach (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Flavored with Mediterranean herbs, these crunchy nuggets definitely satisfy. Feel free to sub seasonings from any world cuisine. To form the balls, you need to use short-grain rice because it turns sticky when cooked (leftover cooked short-grain rice works, too). You can broil the balls instead of baking them, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Ingredients
  • short-grain brown rice
  • homemade tomato sauce or store-bought
  • olive oil
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • fennel seeds
  • dried sage
  • red pepper flakes or chile powder
  • smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • baby spinach leaves
Method
  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top according to the package directions. Set aside until the rice is cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, make or warm the tomato sauce. Keep warm.
  3. Preheat the toaster oven or oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly oil.
  4. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Season with rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel, sage, red pepper flakes, paprika, and salt and stir to combine.
  5. Using moist hands, roll a tablespoonful or so of the rice mixture into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice mixture. Bake until the balls are crispy all over, checking and turning them every 10 minutes or so.
  6. To serve, place a handful of spinach leaves in the bottom of individual bowls and top with the warm tomato sauce and several rice balls.  Enjoy!

Tortilla pie with greens, homemade sauce + pepitas (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a simple way to enjoy the taste of enchiladas while using any leftover cooked beans or cooked or raw vegetables hiding in your fridge (almost any bits work). If you have a round casserole dish about the size of the corn tortillas, the finished product resembles a deep-dish pie. For a milder allium flavor, use green onions or leeks, or sauté the onion and garlic before blending with the other sauce ingredients. To add a hot, smoky flavor, use chipotle chiles with or instead of the dried chiles. For crunch when serving, toast some additional tortillas and break into chips or serve with store-bought tortilla chips. Inspired by recipes from Decolonize Your Diet.

Ingredients
  • dried chiles, such as guajillo or ancho
  • onion, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
  • cauliflower florets, chopped
  • firm tofu, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, chopped
  • cooked beans (optional)
  • cumin powder
  • dried oregano
  • chopped pitted briny olives of choice (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • corn tortillas
  • greens (such as beet greens, chard, kale, or collards), stemmed and slivered
  • raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Method
  1. Toast the chiles whole in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or so. Transfer to a heatproof container and submerge in hot water until soft, about 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and coarsely tear them, then add to a food processor or blender, reserving the soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375º. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, cauliflower, tofu, jalapeño, beans, cumin, oregano, and olives to the food processor. Whirl into a coarse sauce, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and to add some chile soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  3. In the bottom of a casserole dish, spread a generous layer of sauce, top with a layer of tortillas, then continue layering with greens, sauce, and tortillas to fill the dish, ending with a layer of tortillas. Cover, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Uncover, flip over the top layer of tortillas, sprinkle a solid layer of pepitas over the soft sides of the tortillas, and bake until the pepitas are toasted, watching carefully that they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Soft tacos filled with browned onions, peppers + mushrooms (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Do you have leftover rice, grains, beans, or lentils in your fridge? These tacos are a perfect way to use them at any meal and are oh so good, even if a bit messy.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • serrano chile or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • onion, chopped
  • Padron, Guindilla, or green bell peppers, cut into small dice
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • cooked rice, grains, beans, or lentils or a mixture
  • fennel seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • corn tortillas
  • avocado slices
  • store-bought or homemade salsa (optional)
  • hot-pepper sauce (optional)
Method
  1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the serrano, if using, in one layer and cook, undisturbed, until sizzling. Stir in the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until completely soft and browned in places. Stir in the cooked rice, grains,  beans, and/or lentils. Add the fennel seeds and cook until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. During the last few minutes of cooking, warm the tortillas in a toaster or toaster oven or wrap in a kitchen towel and microwave. Fill the warm tortillas with the vegetable mixture, top with avocado slices, salsa, and hot-pepper sauce, and enjoy.

Asian noodle salad entrée (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

A tasty main-course salad, this dish’s ingredients are very flexible. Feel free to add or replace with any other chopped raw vegetables that you have on hand—carrots, celery, radishes, daikon, jicama, snow peas or sugar snap peas—it just depends on how much energy you have to prep them. If you have the interest, consider adding chopped grilled vegetables, such as zucchini or roasted potatoes. Blanching the cabbage in boiling water and cooling it in ice water mellows the flavor a bit but retains the crunchiness.

Ingredients
  • small green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • frozen shelled edamame
  • soba noodles or brown rice spaghetti
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • Asian, Persian, or English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • fresh corn cut from the cob or rinsed canned corn kernels (optional)
  • sweet peppers, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • rice vinegar or vinegar of choice
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • slivered toasted almonds
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • chia seeds
  • super-firm tofu or seasoned tofu, cubed
  • medium-boiled egg per person, peeled (optional)
Method
  1. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Blanch the cabbage for 1 or 2 minutes in boiling water and immediately transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the edamame according to the package directions and chill more ice water. Drain the edamame, submerge in the ice water, drain again, and add to the bowl with the cabbage.
  3. Cook the noodles according to the package directions and chill more ice water. Drain the noodles, submerge in the ice water, drain again, and add to the bowl.
  4. Add the green onions, cucumbers, mushrooms, corn, sweet peppers, and jalapeño to the bowl.
  5. Prepare the dressing by drizzling the salad with a little vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, and tamari. Sprinkle with cilantro, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and tofu.  Toss, taste, and adjust the seasonings.
  6. Serve in individual bowls with an egg and enjoy!

Panfried polenta topped with fresh tomato sauce, herbs + pine nuts (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Using store-bought precooked polenta in a log, all you need to do is slice and panfry (or broil oil-tossed slices) until crispy. The fresh tomato sauce comes together in no time and is poured over when ready to serve. This dish is tasty as is, but it is also versatile, taking on a different flavor profile depending on which additional optional topping you choose. (Inspired by a recipe by Naturally Ella)

Ingredients
  • packaged precooked polenta log
  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or other high-temperature oil
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh parsley
  • mixed fresh regular, grape, and cherry tomatoes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • toasted or raw pine nuts
  • toppings (optional): hummus, lemon juice, avocado, olive tapenade, salsa verde, harissa, Sriracha, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, yogurt, cheese
Method
  1. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Thinly slice the polenta, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the avocado oil. Carefully add the polenta slices (watch out for the oil spattering). Panfry, undisturbed—very important or the polenta slices will turn to mush—until the oil no longer bubbles around the slices (indicating that the liquid in the slices has evaporated) and lifting a crispy slice with a spatula is easy, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side until both sides are crispy. Place the slices on the paper towels to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the herbs. Cut the regular tomatoes into eighths and halve the grape and cherry tomatoes.
  5. In the same frying pan over medium heat, add the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. When the tomatoes release their juices, stir in some red pepper flakes, the chopped herbs, and a few grindings of black pepper.
  6. Arrange the polenta slices on a serving platter in a single layer. Pour the tomato-herb sauce evenly over the polenta, top with pine nuts, and serve, allowing each person to choose from the optional additional toppings.