January 2011 Archives

Tofu Stroganoff

dressed stroganoff 2.jpgI have never had Beef Stroganoff because my mom raised me as a vegetarian.  I have no idea what the traditional dish should taste like but this recipe is my version of the dish my mom came up with as a vegetarian alternative.  I have settled into a routine of making it without thinking about it and it has quietly evolved over the years.  As I've been making it recently I couldn't remember if I used to put garlic in it.  I love garlic but if it was ever part of the original dish my mom created, I can't remember.  What I offer here is the version I'm making right now. 

Even if you like to eat meat, why not try this version the next time you need to feed someone who doesn't?  It's comforting, satisfying, and easy to make. 

tofu squares 2.jpgTofu Stroganoff Recipe


1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
1 block firm tofu
30 grinds black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
16 oz sour cream
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 oz whole wheat egg noodles


In a large pan saute the onion on med/high heat in the olive oil until transparent.  Add the mushrooms and stir occasionally until they are slightly browned.  While the mushrooms are sauteing, boil salted water in a pot for the pasta.

Add the tofu to the saute pan along with the pepper, thyme, and marjoram.  Stir well and cook for about five minutes.  By this time your water should be boiling, add the pasta to it and cook until just tender.

Turn the heat down to low and add sour cream and soy sauce to the mushrooms and tofu and stir in well.  When you've drained your pasta add it to the saute pan and stir it all together.  Serve and eat!  But don't burn your tongue. 


le fake stroganoff 2.jpg

Recipe notes:  I cut my tofu into roughly 3/4" cubes because I don't want the tofu hidden.  If you prefer you can cut the tofu much smaller so that it's not as visibly noticeable.  I would avoid using a soft tofu, however, as it will dissipate.  For those people who like more texture to their tofu an extra firm tofu will work well.  I used whole wheat egg noodles but you can make this dish vegan if you use rotelli pasta and use a sour cream substitute.  If you want to make this dish gluten free, simply use gluten free pasta in place of the wheat pasta.  One last note: I rarely use "lite" versions of products but I accidentally bought Tillamook's lite sour cream once and it was so good I've continued to buy it.  That's not what my mom used when I was growing up and if the brand of sour cream you buy is mild to begin with the lite version may be too bland for this recipe.     

Vegan Black Bean and Winter Squash Burrito

good burrito 2.jpg
I have never eaten a vegan burrito before in my life.  Burritos are one of those things that may as well say CHEESE in neon above them.  However, I have been wanting to make more vegan meals because having blocks of cheese around the house is not so good for me.  If it's there I will eat it.  I will snack on it at all hours.  If I'm up and there's cheese it's the best thing in the world to snack on.  Except that it isn't.  That's not the only reason, cheese is expensive.  I often tell myself that since I don't buy any meat it's okay that cheese is expensive, but that's a lame reason to buy anything.  Lastly, I have a few vegan friends and I want to have a really good collection of recipes I can make for them that will satisfy all of us.

It is hard for me to face a cheese-less burrito.  At least, it was before I made these.  The main thing is to make some chimichurri sauce.  It adds such fantastic flavor and the tanginess completely makes me forget that there is anything else I could want in it.  If you don't normally eat vegan I suggest you give these a try.  You can easily halve the recipe if you don't like making large quantities.  I froze most of mine so I can grab a quick healthy lunch when I haven't got time to cook. 

Vegan Black Bean and Winter Squash Burrito

makes 8 burritos


2 cups black beans (cooked)
2 cups winter squash (mashed)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Mexican style rice
1/2 cup chimichurri sauce
8 flour tortillas


Mix together the black beans, winter squash, cumin, and salt in a medium sized bowl. 

the filling 2.jpg
In a cast iron skillet (or regular large skillet) warm up a tortilla and spread out 1/2 cup of the beans and squash down the middle making sure to leave a couple of inches at either end for folding up.

Add 1/4 cup rice on top of the beans.  Make a little well down the middle of it and add 1 Tbsp of the chimichurri sauce to it.  Putting it in a well in the middle of the ingredients helps prevent it from running out of the burrito as you fold it up.

Folding a burrito is simple but after trying to write instructions out I think it would be easier to provide you with links to instructions.  Please don't microwave your tortillas.  I have found two videos for different ways to fold them:

The video by David Windsor Foods  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGJHk6BCQF0

This tortilla rolling gem:  http://www.ehow.com/video_2298342_roll-beef-burrito.html

I will take pictures of the process myself and make a separate post for it.

Recipe Notes:  Make the Mexican rice!  You can use plain but if you do, have extra chimichurri sauce on hand and use a little extra in each burrito.  But really, just make the Mexican rice, you won't regret it.  A bowl of rice with some salsa and maybe a little cheese (or not) is so good to have on hand.  Any kind of rich dry winter squash will do such as butternut, sweetmeat, or hubbard.  And whatever you do, don't make fun of my burrito photo.  Burritos are not pretty food!

Mexican Style Rice Recipe
Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

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Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

chimichurri sauce 2.jpgMost chimichurri sauce has either a little or a lot of parsley, many have cilantro in varying amounts, and a few even have oregano or other curious herbs.  This chimichurri sauce is the closest I could come to recreating one from memory that I had at a catered birthday party which then haunted me for weeks; it has more cilantro than parsley and no other green herbs.

This bright tart sauce is an excellent foil for beans and rice, which is how I like to eat it, but is most commonly used to accompany meat such as steak.  I plan to try it brush on grilled vegetables and as a marinade for tofu. 

Chimichurri Sauce


1 cup cilantro, finely minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 small red onion very finely diced  


Combine all ingredients in a jar or a dressing bottle and shake well.  That's it. 

Alternatively you can make a slightly creamier version by using an immersion blender.  Blend everything but the onion together.  Once it has achieved a creamy texture add the onion and shake well before using to make sure the onion is evenly distributed.


Recipe notes:  don't double this unless you think you can use it fairly quickly.  The pretty bright green will darken, as it has in my photograph, by the next day.  Fresh herb dressings are best used within a couple of days.  If you like things spicy you can add a tsp of crushed red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne.

This recipe is gluten free only if your vinegar is specifically gluten free.
This recipe is vegan.

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Mexican Style Rice

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close bright mex rice 2.jpgLast year I learned to make Mexican style rice from a cookbook called "The Vegtetarian Table; Mexico" by Victoria Wise.  Since then I have adapted it and this summer I managed to freeze a few batches of the tomato puree that goes into to make it easier to make on a whim.  It's easy to adapt this to your own tastes by omitting the cilantro, for example, or making it spicier. 

One of the main things I changed with this recipe is the method for cooking the rice.  I tried it Wise's way a few times but I dislike the results when rinsing the rice first so I simply make my rice the way I've been making rice for twenty years now except for the one step of adding the puree to the rice before the water.

This Mexican style rice is very clean tasting, unmuddled by too much oil, salt, or any lard, yet it has full flavor and is satisfying to eat with just a little chimichurri sauce.

mex rice plain 2.jpgThis picture was taken before adding the cilantro- it's very good this way too but I can't get enough cilantro so I prefer adding it in.  Plus-green is pretty!

Mexican Style Rice


2 med sized tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1 jalapeno pepper (can use a whole pickled one if you don't have fresh)
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup long grain Basmati rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water or broth
1 bunch cilantro, minced


In a food processor puree the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, and salt until completely smooth.

In a medium sauce pan heat up the olive oil on medium high heat and add the rice to it.  Stir the rice continually for a few minutes until you see the grains turning a little white (don't let them brown!), then add the puree and keep stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  When most of the liquid is absorbed into the rice, add the water. 

Turn the heat up to high until the water reaches a boil then turn it down to a simmer (low heat), cover, and let it cook for 20 minutes. 

Remove the lid and if all the liquid has been absorbed* remove from the heat.  Add the minced cilantro and fluff the rice with a fork.

mex rice first view 2.jpg
More recipe notes:  I always make rice with plain water but if you like you can use vegetable, chicken, or beef broth.  This is an all season recipe if you use canned tomatoes in the winter and spring.  If you preserve your own whole tomatoes and have medium sized ones then simply substitute those for the fresh.  Most tomatoes that are canned whole are roma tomatoes which are smallish, so if you're using commercially canned tomatoes use four of them instead of just two.  I don't buy fresh hot peppers in the winter or spring so I usually use pickled jalapenos in place of them which I really enjoy for their slight tang. 

This recipe is gluten free
This recipe is vegan

*When I cook rice with plain water the cooking time is always exactly 20 minutes but because of the slightly variable nature of the size of tomatoes and onions I have found that occasionally this recipe needs a little extra time to cook off all the liquid.  Mexican rice is supposed to be moist but there shouldn't be any water in the bottom of the pan.

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