Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese

lentil bolognese Desi often teases me (not seriously, he gets the vegan thing) about how, when we travel, I miss out on the best food.

In New Orleans, while he was enjoying the seafood this city is so famous for, I was scouring menu cards– often fruitlessly– for beans and rice made without meat stock. He won’t let me forget the day we traipsed a mile or more to get to a Greek restaurant where I could finally order some hummus and felafel and the usual vegan suspects.  As I devoured the tasty (albeit not adventurous) food, I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days.

When we go to India, it is he that my parents love to feed more because he will eat all that fresh fish they tend to gorge on in coastal Goa. When we traveled through Mexico, a food-lover’s paradise, I often had to make do with sides (delicious ones) or scour my Happy Cow list for veg-friendly restaurants and then get a bus or a train to get there.

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Lentil BologneseEating vegan when you travel is not always difficult, as my prelude might have made it seem, because more restaurants are vegan-friendly these days. But truth is, it’s not always easy either, especially for someone who loves delicious food as much as I do and hates the idea of salads for most meals.  I do remember a time I did do that — it was when we took a road trip through the south a few years back. The trip was wonderful but while Desi was out sampling all kinds of dishes that the south is famous for, I was picking at raw leafies and wondering if I’d ever see a decent meal again.

Of course, being vegan and eating out also makes for some great memories. Like the time we were in Lisbon, exploring the port neighborhood of Alfama. The winding, narrow streets are dotted with taverns where you can listen to Fado, the melancholic but sweet music that springs from Lisbon’s belly, and we came across a particularly beautiful one outfitted with what looked like wood parts of a massive, ancient ship.  As we stood outside, scouring their menu to see if I could find a vegan-friendly option, the cook — who happened to be passing by– offered to make one for me.

Happy as can be, we went in, listened to some beautiful music, and I ate a meal I will never forget– a delicious pasta with beans and herbs– made specially for me.

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Lentil BolognesePasta and legumes are made for each other. Together they are perfectly nutritious and delicious vegan eats because they pack a huge protein and fiber wallop. And although you’d think — with all that olive oil floating around every pasta recipe you see– that you’d never be able to make one that was tasty and low-fat, truth is that legumes offer a perfect opportunity to create  pasta dishes that are low-fat or even fat-free and utterly flavorful.

My Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese recipe today is a perfect example of a pasta sauce that’s meaty, delicious, healthy and — best of all– easy.  This is also a versatile dish that would  go great with not just pasta but also with quinoa or brown rice. I have a fat-free option for you in the recipe, but keep in mind that you are using just one teaspoon of oil for a recipe that makes eight servings, which means you get no more than 5 calories per serving from the fat.

To serve the bolognese, use a pasta that’s either broad– like pappardelle– or a shaped pasta like penne rigate, elbows, or shell pasta. You want something that’s wide enough to serve as a vehicle for the bolognese, or shaped so it will suck in and hold the sauce. The bolognese is gluten-free, so  if you are a gf’er you can make it with gluten-free pasta. You might want to first read my helpful hints on cooking gluten-free pasta.

Now for the recipe. Enjoy!

Lentil Bolognese

Slow Cooker Lentil Bolognese
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup French puy lentils (brown lentils or masoor dal are a perfectly delicious substitute)
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 1-cm pieces
  • 3 sticks of celery, chopped into 1-cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (use water if you don’t have this)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Soak the lentils in enough water to cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a crockpot turned to the high setting, combine the oil, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Add 1/2 tsp salt and half of the ground black pepper. Give it all a good stir, cover with the lid, and walk away from it for 30 minutes. (You can make this dish fat-free by adding a couple of tablespoons of stock instead of the oil). I find this first extra step of “sweating” the mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery really helps build the flavor.
  3. After 30 minutes, take off the lid, give everything a good stir, and add the lentils, tomatoes, vegetable stock, dry herbs, chipotle chili, remaining black pepper and salt to taste.
  4. Mix well and cover the crockpot again. Let the bolognese sauce cook for two hours on the high setting or until the lentils are tender. The carrots will still have some bite, which is wonderful. Check salt and add more if needed.
  5. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add to the crockpot and give everything a good stir. Add some of the pasta cooking liquid if the pasta is too dry.
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.
Calories: 123 Fat: 1 gram Carbohydrates: 21.6 grams Fiber: 9.1 grams Protein: 7.6 grams

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Chickpea Burger

Veggie Burger You can have too much of a good thing — like all of this beautiful snow we’ve been digging ourselves out of in the Northeast — but that maxim just doesn’t apply when it comes to my Moroccan Chickpea Burger. With this one, you are allowed to eat all you want and then some more.

I am a huge fan of Moroccan food, both while eating in and dining out. For one, the food is really vegetarian-friendly, which means there’s no need to go looking for too many substitutions and alternatives. For another, it’s extremely delicious with all of those spices and herbs and beans and grains. What’s not to love?

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Chickpea BurgerFor my Moroccan Veggie Burger, I used chickpeas and bulgur as the base for the patty and then built up a ton of flavor using the ingredients in a Harissa paste– a flavoring of oil, garlic, chilies and cumin often added to Moroccan stews. Because I wanted to make the burger patty fat-free I skipped the oil. You can use an oil spray to coat the pan when you cook the patties.

The buns were made with my own, foolproof recipe for Whole Wheat Burger Buns. If you are still buying hamburger buns, please, stop and try these just once. You’ll never want to buy bread again.

I slathered my burger with a vegan mayonnaise, called Nayonnaise, into which I mixed in some Harissa paste for some added zip. You can absolutely leave it out or use another chili flavoring, like the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilies.  Your imagination’s the limit. For some green muscle I added baby spinach, but feel free to use mixed greens or lettuce or even baby kale.

This burger patty has a wheat product– bulgur– but you can easily make it gluten-free by using quinoa instead, like I did in these veggie burgers. This recipe is also extremely easy to make and really fast– you can go from start to done in 30 minutes or less– which makes it perfect for weekday and weekend eats.

Is everyone looking forward to the weekend? I know I am because Desi and I are seeing some old and very dear friends after a long time. May yours also be filled with friends, sunshine and fun.

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Oh, and I have something to ask of you too– a favor, really. Holy Cow! has been nominated for The Kitchn’s Homies awards in two categories this year– Best Daily Read Cooking Blog and Best Health & Diet Blog. First of all, many, many thanks for nominating me — I love you! And if you, dear reader, enjoy the blog, please, please head on over to the links above and vote for me. You do need to sign up first, but I will love you double for it. If you don’t, no ill feelings. Thank you!

Now here’s the recipe:

Chickpea Burger

Moroccan Veggie Burger
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American
Author: Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Nutrition information is for 1 burger patty
Ingredients
  • [b]For the burger patty:[/b]
  • 2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, drained of all liquid and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup bulgur (cracked wheat).
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan or garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp allspice powder (use a combination of cloves and cinnamon if you don’t have this)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • To build the burger:
  • [url href="http://holycowvegan.net/2011/09/whole-wheat-burger-buns.html" target="_blank" title="Hamburger Buns"]6 whole-wheat burger buns[/url]
  • Tomato, onions, greens to top the burger
  • Vegan mayonnaise, mixed, if you like, with some [url href="http://holycowvegan.net/2008/09/moroccan-chickpea-stew.html" target="_blank" title="Harissa Paste"]Harissa paste [/url]or adobo sauce
Instructions
  1. Cook the bulgur by placing it in a saucepan with salt to taste and 2/3rd of a cup of water, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, slap on a lid, and let the bulgur cook 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash with a heavy ladle or potato masher. Leave some larger pieces in for some texture.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients for making the burger patty, including the bulgur, and mix them well. You should have a mixture that holds together when you press it into a patty.
  4. Make six patties, each about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.
  5. Spray a nonstick griddle or cast-iron skillet with oil. Cook each patty for about 3 minutes on each side over medium-high heat or until charred and golden-brown.
  6. To build your burger, cut each hamburger bun along the middle, and then slather on some vegan mayonnaise. Add greens, an onion ring, top with the burger and more veggies if desired, and serve.
Calories: 191 Fiber: 8.7 grams Protein: 7.5 grams Cholesterol: 0

Vegan Chickpea Burger

Quinoa and Bean Burger: Great-to-Grill Vegan Recipes

Quinoa and Bean Burger, gluten-free and vegan

Most of my grilling happens with vegetables because nearly any veggie can be transformed into smoky deliciousness with a simple turn on the grate. Think mushrooms, eggplant, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, asparagus, and even broccoli. But to get the summer really going, I need a good, hearty burger I can sink my teeth into.

There are a ton of veggie burgers out there in the supermarket, but most are disappointingly bland and so processed that you might do better chewing on a chunk of rubber. My hometown newspaper The Washington Post, whose food section has turned rather vegetarian-friendly over the past few months, recently did a taste test of 16 veggie burgers on the market (gulp, did you even know there were that many available?). As you can see the results were anything but encouraging. In fact, the most complimentary comment went something like, “Nice to see recognizable produce.”
But while off-the-shelf veggie burgers might leave you wanting, it is quite possible to turn out in your kitchen an all-veg burger that is delicious and satisfying enough to make a voracious carnivore go, who needs meat? Well, almost.
Quinoa and Bean Burger, gluten-free and vegan

A couple of years back, I posted a great-on-the-grill burger recipe that so many of you love and have tried: my Bean and Oats Burger. That healthy patty has amazing texture and holds well on a grill and it is pretty much my go-to burger recipe. But this week, trying to think of an even better-for-you burger, if possible, I dreamed up and then made this startlingly flavorful, utterly healthy Quinoa and Bean Burger. With kale and carrots and all other sorts of veggie goodness rolled into it. And all of it flavored with some smoking-hot garam masala.

Garam masala is not your average burger ingredient and yet it’s a perfect fit. Spices tend to add depth and smokiness to meat-free ingredients. And I dare you to imagine a burger — vegan or not– filled with more heart-healthy protein than the quinoa and beans pack into this recipe.
I hope everyone has been enjoying the warm weather here in our part of the world. I spent the long Memorial Day weekend trying to beat my yard into shape and not even coming close to where I need to be. But I did plant some seedlings: tomatoes, eggplants, bell pepper,  and zucchini. And between watering them and keeping the weeds out, you can bet I will be praying that my thumb’s gotten a little greener after years of trial and error. :)
Moving on to the recipe. Enjoy, all!
Quinoa and Bean Burger, gluten-free and vegan

 

Quinoa and Bean Burger: Great-to-Grill Vegan Recipes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Grill
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry red kidney beans (rajma)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour, also known as besan or garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 cup packed kale leaves, minced
  • 4 leaves of sage, minced. (Sage adds a great smokiness, but you can also use coriander leaves here.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp tamari, or you can use regular soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika (use cayenne for more heat)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil like olive or canola, and an oil spray to cook the burgers
Instructions
  1. To cook the quinoa, rinse under cold water and then place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and garam masala. Add salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let the quinoa cook until it has absorbed most of the water. Place a tight-fitting lid on the saucepan and continue to cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. To cook the beans, it is always better to soak them overnight but you can get away with no soaking if you have a pressure cooker. If you do, just follow your manufacturer’s instructions to get beans that are squishable but not falling apart. Otherwise, place the soaked beans in a large saucepan, cover with at least an inch of water, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about an hour until tender.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large saucepan.
  4. Add the carrot, onion, kale, sage, and garlic. Add the tamari, mustard, coriander and cumin powders and the cayenne. Saute on medium-high heat about 5-8 minutes or until the mixture is dry and doesn’t taste raw anymore. Stir in the tomato paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the ground black pepper and cooked beans and mix well. Using a potato masher, squish some of the beans. You don’t want this mixture to be too smooth– your burger will benefit from some texture.Add the chickpea flour and stir for another couple of minutes. You want the bean mixture to be quite dry and without any visible moisture, or your patties won’t hold together.Add the quinoa and mix well. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Heat a griddle and spray with some oil. Moisten your hands in a water bath and form the patties. You can get about eight really big patties and 10 good-sized ones from this recipe.
  7. Place the patties on the skillet and cook on each side until browned.
  8. You can freeze these patties once they have cooled. Separate each patty with wax paper before freezing. When you are ready to grill, just throw the frozen patty on the grate and heat through.

I served these burgers piping hot, cradled in my Whole Wheat Burger Buns along with some greens, onions, avocado, and a dollop of Nayonaise (it’s a vegan mayo that tastes amazingly like the real thing on the bun).

Delicious.

Vegan burger nutrition info
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted many cake recipes on my blog, save a few cupcakes and a pumpkin cheescake I made over Thanksgiving.Well, the reason’s not because I don’t like cakes: I do, in fact a little too much. There was a time years ago, when I was still in grad school and my favorite show on public television was one where Debbi Fields, the woman who owns Mrs. Fields’ Cookies, would bake all sorts of yummy cakes and other goodies.At the time I was new to the United States and also a new baker. And the cakes I’d had in India (always store-bought) were usually white slabs with thick, hard, sugary icing on top in all kinds of psychedelic colors that tasted very sweet but nothing else. In fact, even in the mid ’90s, when I left Bombay, the only passably decent cake one could buy was a heart-shaped chocolate cake at a store named Croissants opposite Churchgate station. Of course, things have changed dramatically since and now the easier availability of ingredients, equipment and know-how means even home bakers can turn out amazing great baked goods.So fascinated was I with baking when I first moved here that on the days when I didn’t have any classes I’d get up in the morning all excited about the idea of plonking myself in front of the television and learning something new from Debbie Fields that I could then replicate in my kitchen.Many cakes and several inches on both our waistlines later, Desi told me it was time I got rid of my addiction to cake-baking. Now although I try not to listen to anything he tells me to do, it was I that had the lion’s share of the extra inches. So I tried to cut down my cake-making by quite a bit, limiting myself mostly to cupcakes where it is easier to control portion size.Of course, if there was any potential to include a healthy ingredient in the cake, the baking gloves would go right back on. As with banana nut bread, or pumpkin bread. And, of course, carrot cake.With an unbelievably moist texture, that rich-sweet carrot flavor and topped with a cream-cheese icing, the mighty carrot cake is easy to love. And the fact that it has plenty of carrots in it makes it an easy sell to even conscientious dieters.

I make my carrot cake even healthier by using in it only unrefined ingredients: whole-wheat pastry flour and turbinado sugar. Then there are the carrots, the walnuts and the applesauce: yummy goodness all around.

The cherries on top of the cake have nothing to do, by the way, with what’s in it. I just needed some color on the cake, and they were around, so on they went in the interests of making a pretty picture.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, everyone!

Vegan Carrot Cake

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A moist and delicious whole wheat carrot cake that's completely vegan and even healthy, with a delicious cream cheese frosting
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For Carrot Cake:
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, then coarsely chopped.
  • For Cream Cheese Frosting:
Instructions
  1. To make cake, sift the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
  2. In another bowl mix the canola oil, applesauce, grated carrots, and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the oil-applesauce carrot mixture and stir everything to blend evenly.
  4. Add walnuts and mix.
  5. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, if posibble because this makes it far easier to unmold the cake. Oil the parchment paper as well.
  6. Now divide the batter evenly between the two pans
  7. and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Place the cake pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Then unmold the cakes gently and allow them to cool thoroughly on the rack. Frost when completely cooled.
  9. To make frosting, beat together all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl until very smooth.
  10. To frost, place one of the cooled cakes on a cake stand or plate. Smear the top with some frosting.
  11. Carefully place the other cake on top of the first one. Cover the cake with the remaining icing using a spatula.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.