A fast and fabulously flavorful recipe for Instant Vegan Methi Malai Paneer Tofu you can make in under 15 minutes.
This recipe for an Instant vegan Methi Malai Paneer Tofu comes together in under 15 minutes, using the basic tomato onion sauce.
Methi Malai Paneer is a popular Indian restaurant offering, and it’s easy to see why it’s so loved. This is a complexly rich dish with layers of salty, spice, mildly bitter and sweet flavors and a creamy mouth feel that can be served with rice pilaf or naan or roti for a memorable and nutritious meal. It can be made with both fresh and dry methi or fenugreek leaves, and since I can’t always make a trip to the Indian store, I usually make it with the dry kind that keeps forever in the pantry, and is easily available online.
This is truly an instant recipe, so long as you have the basic tomato onion sauce handy. I shared the recipe for this sauce with you yesterday, and it’s a versatile base that you can use for any number of Indian curries, like palak paneer, chana masala and this Methi Malai Paneer Tofu. Next I’ll share with you another one of my favorites with this sauce, Palak Aloo or Saag Aloo.
You need to chop a couple of bell peppers and a block of tofu to make this recipe, but that’s almost all of the hands on time needed. You can cut that time down further by using frozen, chopped and colorful bell peppers that you can find in the freezer section of the supermarket and certainly at Trader Joe’s.
The peppers need under five minutes to cook to the perfect texture, and then all you need to do is make sure the sauce is warmed through. Add a dash of cashew cream and you’re done.
Since you already took the trouble to build all those wonderful, complex flavors into your sauce, you don’t need to work too hard at this point for a fabulously flavorful dish.
The basic tomato onion sauce is truly a lifesaver: it can not just help you put a delicious and nutritious meal on the dinner table for your family on a weeknight, you can make it ahead and use it to create a number of different dishes while entertaining friends. So if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the recipe and, more importantly, make it.
Here’s the recipe now. If you make it, be sure to come back and let me know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram with @holycowvegan.
Methi Malai Paneer Tofu
A fast and fabulously flavorful recipe for Instant Vegan Methi Malai Paneer Tofu made with the basic tomato onion sauce.
1 16-oz block super firm tofu ((cut into 1/2-inch cubes))
2 bell peppers ((cut in a 1/2-inch dice))
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups basic tomato onion sauce
2 tbsp kasoori methi ((dry fenugreek leaves))
2 tbsp raw cashews
2 tbsp cilantro ((chopped, optional))
Blend the cashews with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. As they begin to darken slightly and become fragrant, add the bell peppers. Saute the peppers three to four minutes or until they soften a bit, then add the kasoori methi, stir it in, then add tomato sauce and salt to taste. Add the tofu and mix.
When the sauce comes to a boil, add the cashew paste and stir it in. Turn off the heat and serve. Garnish with cilantro, if you wish.
A basic Tomato Onion Sauce that you can store and use to make quick and flavorful curries, like Methi Malai Paneer Tofu, Chana Masala, Palak Aloo or Palak Paneer. Recipe includes Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker and Stovetop cooking options.
Here’s a Basic Tomato Onion Sauce that you can make ahead and keep in your refrigerator for quick and flavorful weeknight meals that take no more than 10-15 minutes to make.
A number of Indian curries start out with a base of tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic cooked with a few spices. While this is easy enough to make, as a working mom I understand that it is not always easy to find those extra 15-20 minutes to chop and saute the ingredients.
This tomato onion sauce takes away all of that time, and you can actually get a very delicious curry like a Methi Malai Paneer Tofu Curry (Fenugreek Cream Curry with Tofu “Paneer”) or a Palak Aloo (Spinach with Potatoes) or a Chana Masala and any number of dishes ready to go within 10-15 minutes tops. I’ll be sharing those recipes with you next, but first I wanted to get you the recipe for the sauce so you can get cooking.
I make this sauce in the Instant Pot. You can use a pressure cooker, or do it on a stovetop, in a saucepan. I’ll include all of the instructions below. Made in the Instant Pot, it takes 30 minutes from start to finish, with your hands-on time being what you need to actually chop a pound and a half of onions and a pound and a half of tomatoes. If you do this on a weekend, you’ll be thanking yourself the rest of the week.
One tip on chopping the onions. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely be crying your way through it. So what I do is, I chop the onions in half, put them in a bowl, and leave them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before I chop them. This reduces any tearing to a minimum.
You also need to mash up a good amount of garlic and ginger — about a fourth of a cup. I sometimes take a shortcut here and use store bought ginger-garlic paste. Whole Foods, if you have one near you, has some brands with no added preservatives.
You need a few basic spices for this recipe: turmeric, paprika (optional, but gives a nice color), cayenne, and coriander and cumin powders. All of these build on the flavors and give you the perfect base for a mouthwatering curry.
You can store this sauce in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can put it in smaller containers and freeze it. If you freeze, thaw before using it. I need about a cup and a half each time I use it in a recipe, and this batch will make enough to last you through at least 8 to 10 meals.
I’ve shared with you in the past recipes for other curry pastes like my Tikka Masala Curry Paste and my Balti Sauce. If you love cooking Indian food, having one or a couple of these on hand can be a lifesaver on busy days or weeks, and you’ll have everything you need on hand for a delicious, from-scratch meal.
Let’s get cooking with this basic Tomato and Onion Sauce for quick curries. And stay tuned for recipes using this sauce over the coming days.
Basic Tomato Onion Sauce for Quick Curries
1 1/2 pounds (about seven or eight medium) red onions ((very finely diced))
Add the oil in the Instant Pot set to low saute function. Add the onions and ginger garlic paste and saute for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and give it all a good stir.
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook for 10 minutes. You don’t need to add any water– the moisture in the tomatoes will be enough.
If you are cooking this in a pressure cooker that goes on a stovetop, follow instructions above and then let the tomatoes and onions cook for six “whistles” or for 10 minutes after maximum pressure has been reached (set heat to medium-low at this point).
If making this on a stovetop, again follow steps one and two, and then cover and cook over medium-low, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for 30-45 minutes until the sauce has darkened and is very thick.
You can store the sauce in mason jars or any containers with airtight lids for up to a week in the refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.
A tall, cooling glass of Aam ka Panna, a green mango cooler, is exactly what you need for the dog days.
You might imagine most Indians swilling glass after glass of orange, delicious mango lassi during the dog days of a tropical summer, but when I was growing up in Bombay, we were more likely to swill glass after glass of aam ka panna or ambyache panhe, a soothing, cooling drink made with raw mangoes that’s just as delicious as a lassi, if not more. Even better, unlike lassi, aam ka panna is naturally vegan.
This is the time of year that green mangoes begin to put in an appearance across India. The raw fruit is just as prized as the ripe one. It is cut into small squares and smothered in oil and chili pepper to make delicious pickles that will last all year. It is sliced and added to savory red curries served on a bed of steaming-hot white rice. It is ground up with yogurt and coconut into a savory, tangy chutney called pachadi. Or it is boiled and blitzed and stirred up into this tasty drink to take the edge off the body-numbing heat.
Aam ka panna is so delicious, it is literally the food of the gods. This is what my parents would cook up each year for Ram Navami, the birthday of the Hindu god Rama, because it’s said to be his favorite drink. South Indians — Desi, who’s Tamil, calls it panagam — insist it is a favorite of Narasimhan, the half-lion, half-human avatar of Vishnu.
You don’t really need any hard sell on this drink. And don’t let the fact that you don’t live in India deter you from making it. Green mangoes are easily available this time of year at Indian stores here in the United States and even online, so finding one could be much easier than you think.
There are many versions of Aam ka Panna, but the recipe I make is the exact, simple one my parents made — it has just three other ingredients, besides the mangoes. Salt, sugar, and cardamom. I’ve tried in the past to add different things to it, like black salt, chaat masala, red chili pepper and mint, but this very basic recipe is my favorite because it truly lets the unique flavor of the raw mango shine through. At best, spritz on a dash of lime before drinking, or crush some mint in your glass, like you would for a mojito, before you pour it in. If you want to be naughty, swirl in some vodka.
The great thing about this recipe also is that you can make it once and keep it around for a long, long time, because it’s a concentrate. You can even freeze it in ice trays and on a day when your tongue’s hanging out from the heat, toss a few cubes into water and let the magic happen.
This recipe is an extremely simple one — so simple, in fact, that it’s quite foolproof. It does help to have a pressure cooker so you can boil your green mangoes to the perfect tenderness. An Instant Pot would work too — set it to pressure cook for 15 minutes. But if you have neither, you can just boil your mangoes on the stovetop. Cover them with water and let the water come to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook as long as it takes for a knife pierced near the center to go cleanly through.
After your mangoes are cooked, all you need to do is blend them with the sugar and cardamom, and your concentrate is ready.
I hope you’ll try this recipe, and if you do, be sure to come back and let me know! Or take a photo and post it on Instagram with the tag @holycowvegan. I would love to see!
2 to 2 1/2 cups cane sugar or coconut sugar or powdered jaggery
Dash of salt
Lime wedges, mint, cayenne or roasted cumin powder for garnish ((optional))
Pressure cook the mangoes with two cups of water for up to five “whistles” or for 15 minutes in the Instant Pot. If you don’t have either a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot, place the mangoes in a saucepan, cover with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and let simmer over medium-low heat until a knife pierced near the center goes cleanly through.
When the mangoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and remove all the pulp to a blender. Discard the seeds and peels.
Add the sugar to the blender along with the cardamom powder and a dash of salt. Blend into a very smooth paste. This is the concentrate. You can refrigerate this for 3-4 days or freeze for 2-3 months.
To serve the panna, measure out 3/4 cup of the concentrate and stir in 2 1/2 cups of ice-cold water. This makes enough for 3-4 servings.
You can crush some mint into the glass before serving, or add a dash of cayenne or roasted cumin. You can also serve with lime wedges. Or just serve plain. It’s delicious.
A velvety Vegan Asparagus Risotto shot through with a hint of lemon zest and rosemary.
I’m all about Spring. The redbuds, dogwoods and tulips are making the world beautiful, and inside my refrigerator, I have spindly seasonal stalks of asparagus waiting for something delicious to happen to them.
Like this Vegan Asparagus Risotto.
A dash of lemon zest shoots and weaves through creamy grains of arborio rice and tender yet crunchy bits of asparagus. Rosemary adds a soupçon of je ne sais quois. Or maybe it’s the white wine? Whatever. All you really need to know is, this is what heaven in a bowl would taste like.
Making a risotto is simple enough, but making the perfect risotto — now that’s an art. And it’s an art worth mastering, because when a risotto is perfectly made, it rewards you with rice that’s al dente yet creamy, and an overall texture that, according to some, is like a wave, and according to others, flows like molten lava.
You see? When a food inspires poetry, you know it’s not just food to fill your stomach; it’s food to appreciate.
Making a good risotto starts with buying the right kind of rice. Arborio is the most commonly used variety. It’s a medium grain rice that’s starchy, which makes it a good choice for a dish like risotto. Because when cooked with a liquid, the rice will release its starch, creating a creamy cocoon to suspend itself in.
For that starch to be released, you need to toast your rice but not brown it. You also need to add the water in small installments, stirring and mixing after each addition, and checking to see how “done” your rice is. So when you’re making a risotto, the first rule would be to make sure you keep everything handy or, better still, prepped. If you’re looking for a dish to make while you catch up with email, do the dishes and finish up weeding, you probably should save the risotto recipe for another day.
There aren’t too many ingredients in a risotto, so building up flavor with everything you add is really important. This begins with a great vegetable stock. Make sure your stock is at a rolling boil and you are not adding it cold to the risotto. Besides the lemon zest and white wine, another flavor element in this risotto is rosemary (fresh is great, dry works too). I sub the traditional cream with cashew cream, and I stir in some vegan cashew parmesan for a knockout finishing touch.
You can also serve this Vegan Asparagus Risotto with a big, green salad.
I hope you are looking forward to two days of weekend fun and beautiful weather, wherever you are. If you make this recipe, be sure to let me know in the comments below or by taking a photo and posting it to Instagram with the tag @holycowvegan. I love to hear from you!
Vegan Asparagus Risotto
1 cup finely chopped onions ((about two medium onions))
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 large clove garlic ((minced))
1 tbsp fresh rosemary ((or 1 tsp dry))
1 pound asparagus ((tough ends trimmed, then cut into 1/2-inch bits))
2 tbsp raw cashews
1 cup vegan cashew parmesan
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Zest of 1 lemon
Parsley for garnish ((optional))
Blend the cashews with 1/2 cup of stock and set aside. Use cold or room temperature stock for this preferably.
Heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and ground black pepper and saute over low heat until the onions are translucent. Don’t let them brown.
Add the rice and continue to toast for a couple of minutes, again not letting it brown. Add the white wine and continue to cook, stirring, until there is no visible liquid.
Begin adding the hot stock, half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add another half cup.
Continue adding stock, until the rice is tender but has a slight bite to it. Before you add stock for the last time, add the asparagus and stir well, then add the stock and continue to cook. The risotto should be creamy and should flow slowly, not glom together.
Stir in half of the vegan cashew parmesan and the cashew cream. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in parsley if using.
These delicate, fluffy, moon-like Idlis are not just fun to eat, they are really great for you too.
If you love fermented foods and understand the immense benefits they bring to your health, you should be making Idli, a five-ingredient dish that originated in south India and has dug roots in kitchens across the rest of India and in Indian kitchens around the world.
Even if you aren’t Indian, you’ve likely at least eaten an Idli at an Indian restaurant. This porous, fluffy white disc could easily be the healthiest food in the world and it is made of two basic and very healthy building blocks — rice and lentils. Eaten by itself, an idli tastes bland. But served with a sambar and a green coconut chutney, it becomes one of the most delicious foods you will ever eat.
This is also food for everyone. Gluten-free? You can’t do better than an idli with its perfect-protein combination. Trying to lose weight? Idlis are extremely low-calorie, fat-free and probiotic. Sick? An idli will nurture your digestive system right back to health. Picky eater? No kid can resist a soft little moon to dunk into creamy, savory, green coconut chutney.
There are many kinds of idlis, but the recipe I have for you today is for a basic Idli — the only way Idli was eaten before people started adding oats or cream of wheat or whatever to gild its perfection. And while I’m just as guilty as the next cook of improvising, this is also the idli recipe that gets made most in my home, because you never really can best a classic, can you?
Making an idli sounds simple enough, but for me, finding the perfect idli recipe was more challenging than finding the perfect dosa recipe. Both dosa and idli batters are made with rice and lentils, and both are typically fermented, but while a dosa is cooked into a crisp, golden crepe on a griddle, an idli is cooked by steaming it in a special mold. This means your idli batter has to be just so. Otherwise your idlis either won’t set or they will harden up to the point where you simply won’t enjoy them.
Don’t let that put you off, though, because I’ve done all the hard work for you. If you follow instructions carefully, and make sure you use all of the ingredients in the exact proportions and follow the right times for soaking your rice and lentils and fermenting the batter, you can have the perfect idlis and eat them too.
My idli recipe is also healthier, because it’s made with brown rice. I use the brown rice in combination with the parboiled rice that’s typically used for idli-making, and there’s tons of healthfulness added to an already nutritious recipe with no loss in flavor or texture.
I also toss in a handful of flattened rice or poha, which I told you about not long ago in this Kande Pohe post, because it greatly improves the texture and fluffiness of the idli. You also need the fenugreek seeds to help the good bacteria thrive and flourish.
Here are the ingredients you need to make idlis:
All of these are easily available at Indian groceries or online.
Black gram lentils or udad dal
Flattened rice or poha
Fenugreek or methi seeds
How to make the idli batter:
You need to soak your black gram lentils (udad dal) and the two rices — brown rice and parboiled rice — separately and overnight. Soak the poha or flattened rice and the fenugreek seeds with the udad dal. Overnight is great, but you can also do this for about six hours in the daytime.
Once your lentils and rice have soaked, drain them and then grind them, again separately. The texture you grind each to is important for how your idlis will turn out, so don’t try to make quick work of it by grinding them together. The lentils have to be ground into a very smooth paste, while the rice needs to be just slightly coarser. Once you’ve got both to the right texture, you mix them in a large bowl and set the batter aside to ferment for about eight hours, preferably in a warm place or in the oven with the pilot light turned on.
Once your batter has fermented, you will see it. The batter will look puffy and will rise quite a bit (it’s a good idea to put a plate or a baking sheet under the bowl — I’ve had to deal with an overflow of fermented dosa batter in the oven and it was NOT fun to clean up).
How to steam idlis:
You do need an idli mold like this one to steam your idlis, — it’s not very expensive and it’ll last you a lifetime. A pressure cooker would be great, but is not absolutely necessary. If you use a pressure cooker, you need the Indian kind — the one that has a vent at the top on which you place the pressure regulator or “whistle”. This is because you don’t really want to pressure cook your idlis– you want to steam them, so you don’t need to put on the pressure regulator. I’ve steamed my idlis in a stockpot large enough to hold the mold and with a lid that lets steam escape and they turn out fine. If you do use a stockpot, set it on a trivet (like those used in steamers) placed in the bottom of the pot — make sure it sits comfortably in the bottom of the pot.
When your batter is ready, lightly coat the individual plates in the mold with cooking spray. This is not absolutely essential, but it’s something my parents did, and it makes the idli really easy to slide out after it’s steamed. Now fill each little mold with the batter, stopping just short of filling it all the way up, because the idlis will puff up a little as they steam. To make the process of easier, I start out by filling the plate at the bottom, then place the second plate on top, fill that up, slide in the third, fill it up, and so on. If you were to fill in the molds first and them put the whole thing back together, you’d have a mess on your hands.
Place the trivet in your pressure cooker or stockpot and add about an inch of water. Now place the idli mold on top of the trivet, put on the lid of the pressure cooker (without the pressure regulator on) or stockpot, and turn on the heat to medium-high.
When you see wisps of steam beginning to escape from the vent on the pressure cooker or in the lid of your stockpot, set your timer to 10 minutes. Once your timer goes off, turn off the heat. I let the idlis stand in the stockpot for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove the mold and let them stand at least five more minutes before sliding them out. You need to apply light pressure with your fingers at the corners to ease the idli out.
What do you serve with idli?
Any kind of chutney or sambar is awesome. Here are some suggestions:
I made a coriander-curry leaf chutney that is more traditional, and I’ll share that recipe with you soon. Meanwhile, here is the recipe for a really delicious, fluffy, amazing idli that’ll go right to the top of your list of breakfast favorites.
Idli, a healthy, gut-friendly South Indian food
1 cup black gram lentils ((udad dal))
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 cup flattened rice ((poha))
1 cup parboiled rice
1 cup brown rice
Make the idli batter:
Place the black gram lentils in a bowl with the flattened rice and fenugreek seeds and cover by at least two inches of water. Set aside to soak at least six hours or overnight.
Mix the parboiled rice and brown rice in another bowl and cover them with at least two inches of water. Set aside, again for at least six hours or overnight.
Drain the lentils and grind them in a high powered blender, adding just enough water to get a batter that’s the consistency of a thick pancake batter. The batter should be very smooth. Remove the batter to a large bowl.
Add the rice to the blender, again with enough water to create the consistency of a thick pancake batter. This time, grind until the batter still has a slight coarseness — you don’t want to see broken grains of rice, but the batter should have a slight grittiness, like that of cornmeal, when you rub it between your fingers.
Ferment the batter:
Add the rice batter to the lentil batter and mix them both, preferably with your very clean hands. The reason for this is that the warmth of your hand helps start and hastens the fermentation process.
Cover the bowl very tightly with cling wrap. Your bowl should be large enough that the batter reaches only half way up because the batter will rise. If you’re not sure, slide a plate or a baking sheet under your bowl to catch any overflow.
Place the bowl in a warm place or in a cold oven with the pilot light turned on and let it stand overnight or at least eight hours. By that time it should have become puff and risen.
Steam the idlis:
In a large stockpot with a vented lid that lets steam escape, or in a pressure cooker with a removable pressure regulator, place a trivet and an inch of water.
Spray the idli molds lightly with cooking spray and fill them up, stopping just short of filling them up all the way because the idlis will puff up a bit as they steam. I first fill in the bottom-most plate of the mold, then slide on the second one, fill it up, slide on the third, fill it and so on.
Place the idli mold in the stockpot or pressure cooker and cover with the lid. Do not put the pressure regulator on the pressure cooker vent.
Place your stockpot or cooker on medium-high heat. When you see wisps of steam rise from the vent in the lid or the pressure cooker, set the timer to 10 minutes and let the idlis steam away. At the end of 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the idlis stand for a couple of minutes before opening and removing the mold.
Disassemble the mold and let the idlis stand in the plates for another five minutes or so. Then slide them off, either with your fingers or with a spoon.
Happy mornings are made of a golden, Gluten-Free Vegan Skillet Cornbread Cake with fresh berries baked in.
Sunday mornings are not usually a good time to bake leisurely breakfasts at our home. There are errands to run, calls to be made to family overseas, people to catch up with and chores to catch up to.
But when the promise of sweet vanilla is in the air, combined with the flap-flap of a pretty, yellow cornmeal batter in the stand mixer bowl and the jewel hues of fresh berries waiting to be scattered over the top of a crust that’ll bake into pure gold… who would not want to make the time?
While this cake makes the perfect dessert, if my mom were here, I’d bake it for her for breakfast or brunch this Mother’s Day. The cake is sweetly beautiful and meltingly tender. It truly dissolves in your mouth, and makes you wonder what — or who? — turned you into such a fine cook.
The cake recipe can be a blank canvas for your wildest culinary imaginings. You can top it with berries, as I did, or use another fruit — pears or apples would be great. Slice ’em and then layer ’em on top of the batter in a decorative pattern. You could also make this a citrusy skillet cornbread cake by adding a tablespoon of orange zest and replacing the nondairy milk with orange juice.
My favorite thing about this cake, besides the deliciousness, is that it is not impossibly, cloyingly sweet. It’s just perfectly so, and with the wholegrain corn and the gluten-free flour and fruit, you have a recipe you can even pass off as healthy. Ish.
The three of us polished off the whole thing within minutes. After washing the skillet I was heating it on the stove before putting it away, and a mild fragrance of vanilla wafted up from the cast iron and floated around the kitchen, making me wish I had more.
Gluten Free Vegan Skillet Cornbread Cake
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour ((I use the one linked here))
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup nondairy milk ((I used almond, but any is fine))
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp vegan butter ((at room temperature))
6 tbsp apple sauce
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup turbinado sugar ((coconut sugar or cane sugar would work too))
A fresh, green and delicious Fennel Fronds Pesto to make you feel like a domestic goddess — or a domestic god.
I’ve been making a Fennel Fronds Pesto for years because it seems a shame to me to throw away those gorgeous, feathery greens. When you grow up in middle class India, one of the things you learn early on is to stretch every resource there is until it squeals. And there really is no reason why anyone would throw fennel fronds away. They are delicious, with a fresh, licorice flavor that lends itself perfectly to fresh salads or pestos.
Fennel, in its fresh form, is not eaten commonly in India, or at least it was not along the west coast of India, where I grew up, although fennel seeds are commonly used in Indian cooking. When I moved to the United States, I was intrigued by these juicy, crunchy bulbs and their brilliant-green fronds, and the fact that they tasted so much like fennel seed, only way fresher. I incorporated them quickly into my cooking, and never looked back in disappointment.
When I got two lovely bulbs of fennel in my box of Imperfect Produce this week, I was excited and eager to use them up. This fennel fronds pesto was the first thing that popped to mind. I’d posted this recipe for you a long time back, but it’s gotten buried under the more than 1,000 recipes that are now on this blog, so here it is again.
You can use this pesto for pasta, of course — roast the fennel bulbs and toss them in too for a tasty and nutritious meal — but you can also smear it on a piece of toast or top a tasty tofu or tempeh steak with it. Your imagination is the limit, and you really don’t need to limit it when there’s so much deliciousness on offer.
If you’re worried that the pesto will taste too much of licorice, worry not. The flavor is mild, at best, and it is really quite delicious when combined with pasta. I use pumpkin seeds instead of nuts in the recipe, which makes this recipe even healthier. You can sub with pine nuts, the more traditional choice for pesto, or with walnuts, if you would rather.
I don’t really miss cheese in my vegan pestos, but sometimes I add a dash of miso or nutritional yeast, both for their cheesy flavor and for the nutritional weight they bring. I added it here, but you could leave it out and it wouldn’t hurt the flavor at all.
If you make this recipe or any other on the blog, be sure to let me know in the comments below. Or take a photo and tag me @HolyCowVegan on Instagram. I’d love to see!
(The sourdough recipes are made with the “discard” portion of the sourdough)
Fennel Fronds Pesto:
Fennel Fronds Pesto
A fresh, green and vegan Fennel Fronds Pesto with pumpkin seeds and garlic. Vegan, soy-free, nut-free and dairy-free.
4 packed cups chopped fennel fronds ((from two bulbs))
2 cloves garlic ((crushed and chopped))
1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds ((you can use salted, but dial down the added salt in that case))
4-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor except the olive oil. With the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil until you have a coarse paste. Check for salt and pepper and add more if needed.
You can add more or less olive oil, per your preference. For a runnier pesto, you’ll want to use more oil.
A recipe for Persian Rice that’s pure gold, with the sass of saffron, the fire of cinnamon, and the freshness of asparagus.
With rice being a whole food group rather than just a grain hereabouts, I am always looking for tasty ways to cook with it. Desi and Jay love it, and even the dogs will eat bowlfuls.
My own love for rice was a little late coming, despite the fact that it’s a rock-solid staple of Indian cuisine and I grew up eating it every day. Or perhaps it was this omnipresence that made me not love but almost hate it. When I did fall in love, eventually, the fondness stuck.
It’s hard to allay those feelings, not when there are so many delicious ways to cook rice, like this Vegetable Biryani that’s a lifesaver on hurried weekdays, or this Vegan Jambalaya with flavors that dance on your tastebuds, or this Vegan Paella that makes me want to do the flamenco.
In fact, everything I cook with rice only reinforces my enchantment with it now.
And with this Persian Rice with Saffron and Asparagus, I think I’ve pushed myself past the point of recovery.
The rice here is true gold, infused with the delicate sass of saffron fronds and the fire of cinnamon and cayenne. Onions, tomatoes and asparagus add freshness. The soft, textured bites of extrafirm tofu, standing in admirably for meat, give an untraditional yet welcome new dimension.
But it’s the tahdig, that crispy, sublimely scorched layer of rice cooked at the bottom of the pan, that bowls you over and makes you realize the miracles that rice is truly capable of.
We know that when starch hits high heat, the result is finger-licking good. Think French fries, what’s not to love? The tahdig is just that kind of magic, albeit a healthier one.
Exotic and elegant, this recipe would be great for entertaining friends, but I think you could make it for your kids too and they’d love it. Jay finds the tahdig immensely fun and delicious and the saffron intensifies that savory flavor he craves when I am not letting him have as much junk food as he really wants. 😉
A win, I think.
Persian Rice with Saffron and Asparagus
A fragrant, golden dish of Persian Rice with Saffron and Asparagus. It’s savory, exotic and fresh, and perfect to eat with family or to entertain.
2 cups long grain, fragrant rice like basmati ((washed several times, then soaked in water for 30 minutes))
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions ((thinly sliced))
3 cloves garlic ((thinly sliced))
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large tomatoes ((diced, or use 3 cups canned, diced tomatoes))
1/2 tsp saffron ((mixed with 1/4 cup of any non-dairy milk and set aside for a few minutes))
1 14-oz block of super firm tofu ((optional. If using cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes))
1 pound asparagus ((tough ends trimmed, and tender parts cut into 1/2 inch pieces))
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Drain the rice and place it in a microwave-safe bowl with the bay leaves and salt to taste. Add 2 cups of water and microwave 10 minutes or until the rice is mostly but not fully cooked. You can also do this on the stovetop. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and bay leaves and add the drained rice. Cook about 7-8 minutes until rice reaches the right level of doneness, then drain and set aside.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan with a tight lid. Add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper and sauce until the onions start to brown.
Add the tofu cubes, if using, and continue to cook, turning the pieces of tofu over carefully every couple of minutes so they brown slightly without breaking. Add the asparagus along with the turmeric, cayenne, ground cinnamon and more salt if needed. Continue to cook a couple of minutes, then add in the tomatoes and lemon.
Cover and cook 10 minutes, then remove everything to a bowl.
To the same saucepan, add half the saffron milk and the remaining 2 tbsp of oil along with 2 tbsp water and 1 cup of the cooked rice. Mix them together lightly with the spatula and spread it evenly across the bottom of the pan, Next, layer on half the remaining rice. Over that, add half the tomato-asparagus mixture.
then continue to layer on the rest of the rice. Over the rice, sprinkle the remaining half of the saffron milk and then proceed to layer with the remaining tomato-asparagus mixture.
Cover the saucepan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover with a tight lid and place over high heat for five minutes. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook 40 minutes.
Once cooking is done, let the rice stand at least 10 minutes before you open and serve.
A gluten-free vegan Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Galette with a flaky crust and a savory filling you’ll fall in love with.
With the cold days slipping by us, I’m making the best of whatever time I have to spare by baking up pies and tarts. One of my favorites among the foods I’ve baked up recently has been this Gluten-Free Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Galette.
Caramelized mushrooms and onions make a great stuffing for savory tarts, and in this rustic galette they are absolutely divine. I add in a dash of fresh thyme, some salt and ground black pepper, and a splosh of white wine to help the onions and mushrooms reach that perfect, sweet, brown stage, and that’s pretty much all you need.
But the real star here, at least to me, is that gorgeous, golden, flaky, buttery — and gluten-free — crust that delivers all of that mushroomy, oniony goodness into your mouth.
I’ve used all-purpose gluten-free mixes quite a bit in recent months to bake up pie crusts, but some versions tend to leave me feeling less than happy. This time I devised a mix of my own with sorghum flour, rice flour, chickpea flour and cornstarch. The combination produces a dough that’s got great flavor and the perfect, flaky texture you want for your pie.
The technique is pretty much the same you’d use to make any pie dough. Cut in the vegan butter, drizzle in the cold water, and mix it all up with a fork until the flour is moistened through and comes together in a dough. Don’t overmoisten, but just as important, don’t use too little water either because you want the dough to hold together.
Gluten-free flours don’t have gluten, the glue (or protein) that gives regular dough elasticity and structure and makes it so easy to work with. As a result, you can’t just slap your gluten-free dough on to a surface, roll it up, and plunk it into the pie plate or baking sheet or whatever. You do need to exercise some caution and care, like rolling the dough between layers of parchment paper. But if you’re trying to avoid gluten, or just can’t eat it, it’s well worth the slight effort.
Don’t worry if you make some small mistakes or if your galette looks rustic — that’s pretty much a given with gluten-free doughs, and when it tastes so great, why worry?
4 medium red or yellow onions, thinly sliced ((about 4 cups))
2 cups crimini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine ((optional))
1 tbsp fresh thyme ((or 1 tsp dry))
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup vegan mozzarella shreds ((optional))
Make the gluten-free crust:
Place all the flours in a bowl and mix in the salt. Add the cold butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or with a fork, until you can still see bits of butter in the dough but they are evenly dispersed.
Drizzle in the cold water slowly, mixing with the fork, until the dough begins to hold together. Shape it into a ball and wrap in cling wrap. Using your palms, flatten the dough into a disc and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
Heat the oil and add the onions with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Let the onions cook over medium-low heat until they start to brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook a few more minutes until they soften.
Add the wine (turn off the stove when you add alcohol and then turn it back on), and continue to cook the onions and mushrooms for another 10-15 minutes until they are a rich brown. Add thyme and add more salt and ground black pepper as needed.
Assemble the galette:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out the galette dough between two lightly floured sheets of parchment paper to make a 10-inch round. Peel off the top parchment paper and then transfer the parchment paper with the dough on it to a baking sheet.
If using mozzarella, sprinkle half of it in the middle, leaving a one-inch border. Pile the caramelized onions and mushrooms on top and spread them evenly over the cheese.
Fold the edges of the dough over the filling. You don’t have to be perfect here. Gluten-free dough tends to look a little craggy at the edges and that’s perfectly find. If it tears a bit as you work with it, just pinch it together with your fingers and proceed.
Brush some oil over the edges to give your crust some color. Place the galette in the preheated oven and bake 40 minutes or until lightly golden.
Let stand for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
If you make this recipe, be sure to take a photo and tag me @HolyCowVegan on Instagram. I would love to see!
Try this fresh-tasting, herb-infused, eight-ingredient Black Eyed Peas Dal with Cilantro and Mint for an appetite-tickling treat!
There are splashes of daffodil-yellow and cherry-pink around the neighborhood. The days are longer and the nights are colder than they have a right to be. And the mint is pushing rapidly into the backyard in pretty little green-and-purple rosettes as if, having endured a long and dreary winter, it simply can’t hold itself back anymore.
Spring is here, full force, and I am craving. Long walks with the dogs, lazy weekends with friends, road trips with family, and foods that whet the appetite and warm the belly.
This Black Eyed Peas Dal with Cilantro and Mint is exactly that sort of eats.
I call this a dal but it could very well be called a stew. The black eyed peas are immersed in a fresh, herby sauce of cilantro, green chili peppers and tomatoes. Shower with chopped mint at the very end and serve it with brown rice or quinoa, or crusty bread or naan.
I came across a version of this recipe in a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook a while back. Jaffrey stirs powerful alchemy into each of her recipes, and each time I lay my hands on one of her cookbooks at the public library, I don’t let go until I’ve cooked dozens of recipes from it. Although I think she lives and works out of New York and London, she doesn’t seem to work overtime, like some, to beat her recipes into versions acceptable to non-native eaters. And if she does, it is not at any cost to the flavor because neither I nor any Indian I have served her recipes to has ever been disappointed.
I also love that her cookbooks often mine some unusual regional Indian treasures that veer away from ubiquitous restaurant favorites. This recipe, for instance, is not one I’d ever eaten before, and after eating it the first time, I was almost saddened I hadn’t found it earlier.
While I often tweak cookbook recipes to use what I have on hand, this recipe is so good, I made only a few minor modifications, like using fresh tomatoes and adding mint. I love how the cooling mint complements the chili peppers and adds a new dimension to an already perfect dish.
I cooked the black-eyed peas from scratch but canned beans would be fine here, and they’ll save you time. If you get frozen black-eyed peas in a bag at the supermarket, those would work too.
If you choose to use dry beans and forget to soak them, or simply don’t have the time, do a quick-soak, as I do. Immerse the peas (or beans? What the heck are they?) into boiling water to cover, let them stand an hour, and then pressure cook in the Instant Pot or whatever pressure cooker you have. You can just cook them in a saucepan on the stovetop, but that would take much longer, an hour perhaps?
If you make this recipe, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below. Or take a photo and tag @holycowvegan on Instagram. I’d love to see!