Vegan and Awesome

Tri Grain Risotto with Pumpkin and Swiss Chard
Ok, listen. I made this (more or less) before Thanksgiving for a vegan potluck, sort of intending to take pictures, but within 10 minutes, the giant vat I had brought was completely gone. So then I had to make it again, but I changed some stuff, and well, it was a different risotto. So I realized that what I can give to you is a recipe guideline, some wonderful ideas, and let you play around, make those final variations that suit you best!
I took inspiration from this New York Times article, which spoke about how whole grains are awesome and all, but they don’t get creamy like arborio rice, the traditional risotto stalwart, so why not combine them? I use millet and farro here, you can use whatever you feel like. Really.
Also, this has a lot of steps, but is really mellow if you cook the grains and the pumpkin/winter squash before hand. So, I recommend doing that. Finally, I opted to use no refined oils, the only fat in this recipe coming from a splash of cashew cream. This meant I sauteed the onions and garlic dry to darken, then with a bit of white wine (which I was adding anyway). Feel free to saute in oil if that’s your style- I don’t think you need to add blobs of vegan butter later or anything, though- arborio rice does plenty in terms of creaminess.
Ingredients
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours, blended with 1/2-1 cup water to make a cashew cream *
2 cups cooked farro (a bit less than 1 cup dry) *
2 cups cooked millet (a little less than 1 cup dry) *
1-2 cups roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, or other winter squash- either cubed or pureed, depending on your preference. *
1 bunch swiss chard, leaves torn into small pieces
1 purple onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
2/3 cup white arborio rice, dry
6 cups vegetable broth (use homemade, add miso, or use vegetarian chicken broth powder)
Fresh or dried herbs if available: 1 tbsp fresh, 1 tsp dry each of : rosemary, sage, thyme
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Method
Prepare 3 pots, the largest for the risotto, one to heat the broth, and one to boil water to blanch the chard. Set the broth on a medium flame, to raise to a simmer while you begin the risotto. Bring water to a boil in the second medium pot.
Saute the onions and garlic in the large pot dry, with white wine, or with 1 tbsp olive oil (optional). Saute until onions are translucent.
Add in white wine to sizzle- immediately add the arborio rice. Stir until all liquid has been absorbed.
Add in simmering broth, 1.5 cup at a time, and stir, making sure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pot. Continue this process of adding liquid and stirring until most of the broth is absorbed, and the rice is tender. There should be broth left over.
While the rice is cooking, add the torn up chard leaves to the boiling water. Cook very briefly (2 minutes), and drain, running cold water on top to shock the leaves and prevent overcooking. Set aside.
Once arborio rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is tender, add in the cooked millet, farro, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 to 1 cup of cashew cream, per taste, as well as the chopped herbs. Add in pumpkin/squash puree. If using whole cubes, wait to add. Stir everything together and continue to simmer.
Once the mixture has lost most of its excess liquid, add in the swiss chard, and squash cubes if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
If desired, you may drizzle some cashew cream on top to serve. Enjoy!
* Millet cooks in a 2:1 water ratio, Farro is about 2.5:1 (you’ll have a bit extra from 1 cup each, and that’s no bad thing), cashew cream is made by blending the cashews and water, either in an immersion blender or a regular one. The thickness is up to you. To roast a pumpkin or squash, seed it, and chop into large pieces, put on a heavy pan, and cook for 45 minutes or more at 375 degrees F, until tender. Yay! View Larger

Tri Grain Risotto with Pumpkin and Swiss Chard

Ok, listen. I made this (more or less) before Thanksgiving for a vegan potluck, sort of intending to take pictures, but within 10 minutes, the giant vat I had brought was completely gone. So then I had to make it again, but I changed some stuff, and well, it was a different risotto. So I realized that what I can give to you is a recipe guideline, some wonderful ideas, and let you play around, make those final variations that suit you best!

I took inspiration from this New York Times article, which spoke about how whole grains are awesome and all, but they don’t get creamy like arborio rice, the traditional risotto stalwart, so why not combine them? I use millet and farro here, you can use whatever you feel like. Really.

Also, this has a lot of steps, but is really mellow if you cook the grains and the pumpkin/winter squash before hand. So, I recommend doing that. Finally, I opted to use no refined oils, the only fat in this recipe coming from a splash of cashew cream. This meant I sauteed the onions and garlic dry to darken, then with a bit of white wine (which I was adding anyway). Feel free to saute in oil if that’s your style- I don’t think you need to add blobs of vegan butter later or anything, though- arborio rice does plenty in terms of creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours, blended with 1/2-1 cup water to make a cashew cream *
  • 2 cups cooked farro (a bit less than 1 cup dry) *
  • 2 cups cooked millet (a little less than 1 cup dry) *
  • 1-2 cups roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, or other winter squash- either cubed or pureed, depending on your preference. *
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves torn into small pieces
  • 1 purple onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup white arborio rice, dry
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (use homemade, add miso, or use vegetarian chicken broth powder)
  • Fresh or dried herbs if available: 1 tbsp fresh, 1 tsp dry each of : rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Prepare 3 pots, the largest for the risotto, one to heat the broth, and one to boil water to blanch the chard. Set the broth on a medium flame, to raise to a simmer while you begin the risotto. Bring water to a boil in the second medium pot.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic in the large pot dry, with white wine, or with 1 tbsp olive oil (optional). Saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add in white wine to sizzle- immediately add the arborio rice. Stir until all liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Add in simmering broth, 1.5 cup at a time, and stir, making sure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pot. Continue this process of adding liquid and stirring until most of the broth is absorbed, and the rice is tender. There should be broth left over.
  5. While the rice is cooking, add the torn up chard leaves to the boiling water. Cook very briefly (2 minutes), and drain, running cold water on top to shock the leaves and prevent overcooking. Set aside.
  6. Once arborio rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is tender, add in the cooked millet, farro, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 to 1 cup of cashew cream, per taste, as well as the chopped herbs. Add in pumpkin/squash puree. If using whole cubes, wait to add. Stir everything together and continue to simmer.
  7. Once the mixture has lost most of its excess liquid, add in the swiss chard, and squash cubes if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
  8. If desired, you may drizzle some cashew cream on top to serve. Enjoy!

* Millet cooks in a 2:1 water ratio, Farro is about 2.5:1 (you’ll have a bit extra from 1 cup each, and that’s no bad thing), cashew cream is made by blending the cashews and water, either in an immersion blender or a regular one. The thickness is up to you. To roast a pumpkin or squash, seed it, and chop into large pieces, put on a heavy pan, and cook for 45 minutes or more at 375 degrees F, until tender. Yay!


Pictured above: kabocha squash, pre-roasting. I’ve been eating a lot of winter squash.
Hey all- I have a new recipe coming soon, but before then, I’d like to share a few tips! I’ve been a little inactive lately, but I do have some scant food pics on Instagram, if you’d like a lens into my daily eating habits. I’ve got lots of grains, vegetables, lentils, and even experiments with socca to show. Talks about my miso obsession coming soon.
Anyway- in no particular order, things that have made my life in the kitchen somewhat easier:
Used peanut butter/plastic or glass jars for kitchen storage. Obvious, right? But so helpful for say, buying nutritional yeast in bulk (don’t you be buying those red star containers when it’s only 6.99 a lb in the bulk section, son), and having a handy dandy shaker for instant recipe addition. Or if you’re like me and don’t want to grind your coffee every day, but also don’t want to have too much at once to go stale. Or for that homemade garam masala. You get it.
Mini wine bottles. Um… so I admit, I use cheap wine in cooking. Save the good stuff to drink! As long as it’s half decent, it’ll serve its purpose. But I’m just a single person, and a whole remaining bottle of not-the-best wine is a little intimidating to me. Thus, mini bottles! Gallo or Barefoot or Sutter Home sell them- you just open the tiny bottle, use most of it for your recipe, and you’re good to go.
Grain cooking in advance. Lots of folks do this already, so you should to. Cook a large quantity (up to you to define that- I know that 1 cup of dry grain will last me for most of the week, but families should adjust accordingly!) of rice, quinoa, bulghur, millet, farro, whatever, and save it. Use it as a base for meals, reinvent it in risottos, or fried rice, or cooked into a baked good- point is, it’s a magic convenience for fast meals.
Speaking of fast meals- microwave steamed vegetables + a good quick sauce. Nutritional yeast sauces are one go-to of mine. Add that to your pre-cooked grains, and maybe some lentils or a canned bean you have on hand, and you have a nutritious, fast, cheap, meal. Yay!
Oil-free sauteeing. I’ve been reading sort of this mcdougall / oil-free philosophy, and while I’m not totally willing to make that leap, I have realized it’s not really necessary in all things. Like that tablespoon to sauté the onions- you can cook them dry on a cast-iron pan, with nice charring, and add water or broth as you start to add other vegetables (which was what I was already doing). Roast a squash in it’s skin and it doesn’t need any oil on top to cook. Hey, sometimes I want something fried, or nice and crispy, and that’s when oil is definitely called for. But in the spirit of getting rid of unnecessary ingredients, I’m cutting back on oil and without losing any flavor in basic recipes.
View Larger

Pictured above: kabocha squash, pre-roasting. I’ve been eating a lot of winter squash.

Hey all- I have a new recipe coming soon, but before then, I’d like to share a few tips! I’ve been a little inactive lately, but I do have some scant food pics on Instagram, if you’d like a lens into my daily eating habits. I’ve got lots of grains, vegetables, lentils, and even experiments with socca to show. Talks about my miso obsession coming soon.

Anyway- in no particular order, things that have made my life in the kitchen somewhat easier:

  1. Used peanut butter/plastic or glass jars for kitchen storage. Obvious, right? But so helpful for say, buying nutritional yeast in bulk (don’t you be buying those red star containers when it’s only 6.99 a lb in the bulk section, son), and having a handy dandy shaker for instant recipe addition. Or if you’re like me and don’t want to grind your coffee every day, but also don’t want to have too much at once to go stale. Or for that homemade garam masala. You get it.
  2. Mini wine bottles. Um… so I admit, I use cheap wine in cooking. Save the good stuff to drink! As long as it’s half decent, it’ll serve its purpose. But I’m just a single person, and a whole remaining bottle of not-the-best wine is a little intimidating to me. Thus, mini bottles! Gallo or Barefoot or Sutter Home sell them- you just open the tiny bottle, use most of it for your recipe, and you’re good to go.
  3. Grain cooking in advance. Lots of folks do this already, so you should to. Cook a large quantity (up to you to define that- I know that 1 cup of dry grain will last me for most of the week, but families should adjust accordingly!) of rice, quinoa, bulghur, millet, farro, whatever, and save it. Use it as a base for meals, reinvent it in risottos, or fried rice, or cooked into a baked good- point is, it’s a magic convenience for fast meals.
  4. Speaking of fast meals- microwave steamed vegetables + a good quick sauce. Nutritional yeast sauces are one go-to of mine. Add that to your pre-cooked grains, and maybe some lentils or a canned bean you have on hand, and you have a nutritious, fast, cheap, meal. Yay!
  5. Oil-free sauteeing. I’ve been reading sort of this mcdougall / oil-free philosophy, and while I’m not totally willing to make that leap, I have realized it’s not really necessary in all things. Like that tablespoon to sauté the onions- you can cook them dry on a cast-iron pan, with nice charring, and add water or broth as you start to add other vegetables (which was what I was already doing). Roast a squash in it’s skin and it doesn’t need any oil on top to cook. Hey, sometimes I want something fried, or nice and crispy, and that’s when oil is definitely called for. But in the spirit of getting rid of unnecessary ingredients, I’m cutting back on oil and without losing any flavor in basic recipes.

This is not a question--I just want to tell you that you are indeed, awesome! I found you on a search for vegan Brazilian Cheese Bread and found so many more goodies. Great job! Thank you! --Mindy from Anonymous

Thanks, Mindy! I really appreciate it- I’ve been cooking up a storm but not documenting it well, so I hope to have some updates to share soon- keep an eye out!


Hi, I want to ask because I cannot eat wheat I am always looking for gluten free vegan foods. ^^ I so badly LOVE your Pan de Yucca recipe! ;A; But I want to ask can I substitute the yucca flour (tapioca) for rice flour? I want to try different flours and because I already always have rice flour in my home (I make my own ^^b) I want to ask would it work out to use rice flour? I'm sure it'll taste different but generally I just want to expand my bread variety and I worry if this would work out. ;; from Anonymous

Hi there! I’m glad you like the pan de yuca / pão de queijo :)

I would try it with the tapioca/yuca/mandioca/cassava starch/flour (it has so many names!) if you can, because it provides such a unique chewy texture that I really haven’t encountered elsewhere.

I did some google searching and it seems some people have tried with rice flour (a glutinous, starchy type, like mochi would be even better) and succeeded, but know that the texture will be quite different! I’m sure they will still taste good, especially if you have potato or yucca to hold them together. Good luck, and let me know how it goes if you do try it!


Tapioca de morango e chocolate (Strawberry-Chocolate tapioca crepe)
Ok, let me explain- deixe-me explicar. This is not tapioca pudding. This is not tapioca pearls, boba. This is just called tapioca, a Brazilian treat (in some regions, a variant is called beiju) that’s just about the best crunchy tasty non-nutritious snack you could imagine. Tapioca flour is hydrated, then sifted- twice, to create a moist, yet dry powder (?) that is put onto a hot pan and beautifully comes together to form this super tasty crepe. It’s magic. Oh, and gluten-free if that’s your thing. Typical fillings are condensed milk, shredded coconut, chocolate and banana, guava paste, guava and cheese (romeo and juliet), ham and cheese, etc. Savory or sweet, the base recipe is vegan, so any vegan filling you add will do the trick.
Watch this video to get a decent sense of how these work.
Ingredients (for one):
1/3 cup tapioca flour/starch (Bob’s red mill is fine, if you want to be authentic, pick up polvilho doce from a Brazilian or Latin market*)
3 tablespoons water, more if needed
dash of salt
Put tapioca flour in a wide, shallow dish. Add water and mix with fingers. It will congeal at first (like your cornstarch slime experiments in elementary school), but you want to play with this until all the starch is moistened and it breaks into small clumps. Mexe bem! You’ve really got to play with this. Add more water or flour if too dry/too moist.
Run tapioca mixture through a sieve (from a small bowl into your wide dish), shaking it all out. Either repeat a second time, or wait to do this over the heated pan (depending how ok you are with kitchen mess).
Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour strained tapioca powder into the pan (or sift onto it). Form a smooth circle, using a spoon to smooth the top. Cook several minutes, until the tapioca comes together, then flip. I like to spread some vegan margarine on the tapioca at this time.
After a few minutes, add your filling, then fold the tapioca pancake over and cook a couple minutes more. Enjoy!
Fillings: I used sliced strawberries, blueberries, mixed with a touch of agave and lemon. Anything you’d like, savory or sweet, should work (see above). Simply melt chocolate or use chocolate syrup to drizzle on top!
*A note on tapioca flour. Um, this plant has too many names (yuca, mandioca, tapioca, etc), and this flour is confusing to buy in Brazil. Polvilho literally means powder, but that’s become the name for tapioca starch. There is a product out there called tapioca! It’s in small chunks, but smaller than tapioca pearls, and is used to make the Brazilian cuzcuz, which is a cakey dessert entirely unrelated to couscous. Don’t try to make tapioca with this. You’ll fail. View Larger

Tapioca de morango e chocolate (Strawberry-Chocolate tapioca crepe)

Ok, let me explain- deixe-me explicar. This is not tapioca pudding. This is not tapioca pearls, boba. This is just called tapioca, a Brazilian treat (in some regions, a variant is called beiju) that’s just about the best crunchy tasty non-nutritious snack you could imagine. Tapioca flour is hydrated, then sifted- twice, to create a moist, yet dry powder (?) that is put onto a hot pan and beautifully comes together to form this super tasty crepe. It’s magic. Oh, and gluten-free if that’s your thing. Typical fillings are condensed milk, shredded coconut, chocolate and banana, guava paste, guava and cheese (romeo and juliet), ham and cheese, etc. Savory or sweet, the base recipe is vegan, so any vegan filling you add will do the trick.

Watch this video to get a decent sense of how these work.

Ingredients (for one):

  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour/starch (Bob’s red mill is fine, if you want to be authentic, pick up polvilho doce from a Brazilian or Latin market*)
  • 3 tablespoons water, more if needed
  • dash of salt

Put tapioca flour in a wide, shallow dish. Add water and mix with fingers. It will congeal at first (like your cornstarch slime experiments in elementary school), but you want to play with this until all the starch is moistened and it breaks into small clumps. Mexe bem! You’ve really got to play with this. Add more water or flour if too dry/too moist.

Run tapioca mixture through a sieve (from a small bowl into your wide dish), shaking it all out. Either repeat a second time, or wait to do this over the heated pan (depending how ok you are with kitchen mess).

Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour strained tapioca powder into the pan (or sift onto it). Form a smooth circle, using a spoon to smooth the top. Cook several minutes, until the tapioca comes together, then flip. I like to spread some vegan margarine on the tapioca at this time.

After a few minutes, add your filling, then fold the tapioca pancake over and cook a couple minutes more. Enjoy!

Fillings: I used sliced strawberries, blueberries, mixed with a touch of agave and lemon. Anything you’d like, savory or sweet, should work (see above). Simply melt chocolate or use chocolate syrup to drizzle on top!

*A note on tapioca flour. Um, this plant has too many names (yuca, mandioca, tapioca, etc), and this flour is confusing to buy in Brazil. Polvilho literally means powder, but that’s become the name for tapioca starch. There is a product out there called tapioca! It’s in small chunks, but smaller than tapioca pearls, and is used to make the Brazilian cuzcuz, which is a cakey dessert entirely unrelated to couscous. Don’t try to make tapioca with this. You’ll fail.


Chocolate-Almond Ice Cream without an ice cream maker!
Ingredients:
1 can coconut milk (full fat for more flavor, lite works fine)
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon chocolate or vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave nectar, or to taste
Dash of salt
Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer in a small bowl. Then follow these instructions (it involves a lot of mixing) to make successful, creamy ice cream without an ice-cream maker. Or, throw it into yours. Enjoy! View Larger

Chocolate-Almond Ice Cream without an ice cream maker!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat for more flavor, lite works fine)
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar, or to taste
  • Dash of salt

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer in a small bowl. Then follow these instructions (it involves a lot of mixing) to make successful, creamy ice cream without an ice-cream maker. Or, throw it into yours. Enjoy!


Arepas Reina Pepiada (con tempeh)
This is Arepas (stuffed Venezuelan corn cakes) part 2, out of a million. Reina Pepiada is a traditional chicken-avocado salad filling; I followed the Viva Vegan recipe which uses tempeh instead, for the most part, but since I hate mayonnaise (or vegan mayo) in all incarnations, I believe I messed around with mustard and tahini and a bit of oil and seasonings/quick emulsification. Oh, and I threw in some peas. Non-traditional, and it just doesn’t matter. View Larger

Arepas Reina Pepiada (con tempeh)

This is Arepas (stuffed Venezuelan corn cakes) part 2, out of a million. Reina Pepiada is a traditional chicken-avocado salad filling; I followed the Viva Vegan recipe which uses tempeh instead, for the most part, but since I hate mayonnaise (or vegan mayo) in all incarnations, I believe I messed around with mustard and tahini and a bit of oil and seasonings/quick emulsification. Oh, and I threw in some peas. Non-traditional, and it just doesn’t matter.