By Freya Bellin
As someone with a lot of experience eating frozen veggie burgers, I can promise that making burgers from scratch is infinitely more delicious. These patties are meant to be appetizer-sized finger foods, but I made a couple monstrous ones to serve on rolls as veggie burgers instead. Or you could still make mini patties and serve them as sliders. Either way, these are great. You must be patient cooking them, and allow each side to really crisp up. This will help them stay together better when flipped, plus the crunchy outside is a nice texture contrast. Amazingly, the starch from the bulgur thickens up the mixture and acts as a paste to hold the ingredients together: no cheese or starch needed.
Skordalia, the dip that accompanies the patties, may be my new favorite condiment. It is a perfect complement to these burgers, but is also quite versatile, almost like hummus. It has a really unique flavor: super garlicky, nutty, and a little spicy. It would work great for crudités, pita, pretzels, or pretty much anything that can be dipped. Try it—you’ll be hooked. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Makes: 8 servings
Time: 30 minutes
If you want restaurant-style coleslaw, you take shredded cabbage and combine it with mayo and maybe a little lemon juice. This version is far more flavorful with far less fat. I like cabbage salad (which is what coleslaw amounts to) on the spicy side, so I use plenty of Dijon, along with a little garlic and chile (you could substitute cayenne for the chile or just omit it if you prefer), and scallions. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
By Freya Bellin
This pilaf proves that a simple grain like rice can be transformed into something pretty complex, without too much work on your part. The Spanish flavors of this dish come through strongly—especially the smoky pimentón, which is a great contrast to the overall sweetness of the dish. I personally found myself digging through the bowl for even more apricots, so you may want to chop up and toss in a few more than the recipe suggests. You could experiment with other dried fruits here as well, like golden raisins.
While most of the cook-time in this recipe is hands-off, brown rice can require some attention. I added more water a few times throughout the simmering process, as the pot was starting to dry out, but the rice was still crunchy. The couscous variation would certainly be useful if you’re in a time-bind or if you want to multi-task. The wonderful thing about a recipe like this is that, thanks to the protein from almonds and chickpeas, it can be a meal in and of itself. I served it with beets to squeeze in some vegetables, but it’s completely filling and satisfying on its own. Plus, any recipe that calls for ½ cup of wine leaves you with most of a bottle left for drinking, which is never a bad thing. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
By Freya Bellin
The 60s may be behind us, but this recipe is sure to please your nostalgic inner hippie. It is undeniably healthy, and the ingredients work together in a really unique and flavorful way. Nutty brown rice is sweetened by raisins, complemented by sunflower seeds, and balanced out by fresh broccoli. I love the heat that the red chile flakes add, and toasting the sunflower seeds adds a lot of flavor. The raisins get nice and plump when mixed in with the warm ingredients, and while they may seem out of place with broccoli, they’re really an excellent sweet accent. Next time I would actually increase the measurement to about 1/2 cup.
Its being a one-pot dish is big plus. You toast the sunflower seeds, cook the rice, and steam the broccoli all in the same saucepan. Just be careful not to add too much water with the rice, otherwise the rice and broccoli can get mushy. Better to err on the side of too little and add more as you go. The result is a hearty side dish that’s special enough that you’ll be excited to serve it, but also simple enough that you can add it to your weeknight repertoire. The olive oil and lemon juice that are added at the end create a nice, simple dressing, and I added a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pretty much any protein—simply seasoned chickpeas would work, or up the hippie ante with tofu, mentioned below. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
By Freya Bellin
In making this recipe, I was reminded to never underestimate the power of fresh herbs. I went with a mix of pretty much every herb listed below (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon, thyme), and despite my concerns that the flavors might clash, everything came together. The leeks and herbs made my kitchen smell like a garden, and the color is gorgeous. Cannellini beans make a great base for this dish. They’re very creamy but relatively neutral in flavor, so they take well to the herbs and leeks. The result was earthy and fresh—not to mention quite versatile. As noted below, you could serve this dish with fish or chicken (you may want a chunkier, hand-mashed consistency for that), or you can puree it and use it as a topping for crostini, as I did. And I will admit to just eating it by the spoonful as well.
After a quick taste-test, I decided to add just about a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice (about 1/3 of a fresh lemon) to the mixture. The citrus really brightened up the flavors and gave it a nice zing at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours, largely unattended
This deep, richly flavored chili has enough caffeine to keep you awake—literally. (Bear this in mind when you’re serving it; use decaffeinated espresso if you or your guests are caffeine sensitive or reserve it for lunch or early dinner.) Serve this with rice, a stack of warm tortillas, or tortilla chips, some crumbled queso fresco or sour cream, and parsley or cilantro.
Other beans you can use: Earthy-flavored beans that can stand up to the other flavors—pinto, kidney, or dried soybeans—work best. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
I got a tweet a few hours ago asking for “the ultimate veggie burger” recipe. When the corn is still good (and it is), this recipe, adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, is pretty ultimate.
Midsummer Vegetable Burger
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 45 minutes
This light, colorful burger, which gets its crunch from corn, is terrific on a bun, especially with a little Salsa, Chile Mayonnaise, or Roasted Pepper Mayonnaise, or with sliced ripe tomatoes and drizzled with basil pesto.
by Natascha Hildebrandt
[Natascha and I sometimes run together, and she and a few other running buddies decided to have a vegan July (no, I did not join them). They all have had interesting experiences, but Natascha was focused, oddly enough, on her daily coffee. When I heard she was trying every non-dairy milk she could find, I asked her to write up her experiences. Voila – mb]
Inspired by some vegan ultra athletes, I decided to go on a vegan adventure for the month of July. Looking at what I ate it seemed like the hardest things to give up would be butter, the milk in my cappuccino, and butter. I have since found that it’s easy to live without butter. (Where you would use a tablespoon, you now substitute half an avocado. Clearly I won’t be shedding any pounds during this experiment.) The two percent milk cappuccino is a bit more of a challenge.
My initial reaction to all of the milk substitutes was pretty much “ick.” But it’s amazing: you can get used to anything. The second is better than the first; by the third, well, you can live with it. Generally, you will probably be happier if your palate is a little on the sweet side. (Mine is not—I’m happier in the land of the tart and bitter.) Though I chose unsweetened and unflavored “milks” to compare, they are all definitely sweeter than their dairy sister. They are all perfectly good in pancakes or cooking, and, amazingly, they all make acceptable foam for cappuccino.
I think it’s worth reading this summary in Environmental Health News of the Korean study that showed a decline in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals and antibiotics after just five days on a “vegetarian” diet. (I first saw this in a piece by Tom Laskawy, over at Grist. And here is an earlier study with similar results.)
The quotes around vegetarian are necessary because the study doesn’t specify what that means; rather, it says participants lived in a Buddhist temple and “adopted to the monk’s lifestyle.” Which could well mean a vegan diet. (Or even one free of root vegetables, since some Buddhists eschew those, because they kill the plant. But let’s not discuss this.)