I have the tendency to get on enthusiastic about things. If you follow this blog, you’ve already seen this happen before with quinoa dinner bowls and with Brussels sprouts in general. Seriously, there was a two month stint in the fall where those delicious little cabbages made their way into just about everything I cooked. It’s like an idea gets stuck in the back portion of my lizard brain, right down there in the atlas, and I can’t shake it. My most recent obsession: Isa Chandra Mozkowitz recipes.
To be fair, I have always adored Isa. The Veganomicon was my first vegan cookbook purchase, and The Post Punk Kitchen recipes were what made me realize that yes, I could be vegan for the long haul (more specifically, it was the BLT Mac & Cheeze, which you can read more about below). However, just like with any cuisine, delicious, complicated recipes take more time to make. This is certainly not a limitation of vegan cooking, but rather, of complex food in general. Isa’s recipes are incredible, but you typically have to work for them. I never make more than one of her meals in a week, let alone five (or, technically, eight), but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. Over the past 7 days, JB and I went all out. Our bellies are still thankful.
I don’t know what it is about these bean balls that are so good. I know the name leaves a little to be desired, but after you try these, you won’t have a hard time working up an appetite for them. They’re made with mashed kidney beans, bread crumbs, spices, as well as a secret saucy mixture that includes A1 Steak Sauce. I love the idea of using A1 in a vegan recipe, and it really adds a layer to the flavor. After you bake or pan-fry them, you can serve these bad boys over spaghetti, or even stuff them into a sub.
Ah, the BLT Mac & Cheeze. I’ve written before about how cheese is always the one thing people say that they could never forgo when they hear me talk about my veganism. In all honesty, I used to be one of those people, but viewing about 30 minutes of Earthlings made me realize that I had to at least try to give up my dairy vice. I came across this recipe in my first week of being vegan and was admittedly pretty apprehensive about it. I tried to make the vegan mac n’ cheese from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch several years before, and I was still pretty haunted by how it turned out (re: inedible). Boy, am I glad that I tried this. The bacon is replaced with slices of eggplant that are dipped in liquid smoke and then baked, which gives the dish the perfect salty, crispy kick without harming any pigs.
Mediterranean Style Beans
Confession: the original recipe is called Mediterranean-baked Lima Beans, but Isa said it was okay to swap them with navy beans if you absolutely had to. Neither JB nor myself are crazy about Lima beans, so we made the trade, but now I wish I had used the Limas. The navy beans are good here, but a larger, “buttery” bean would have really made this dish a home run. We served it over brown rice, but JB ate the leftovers on a sandwich and raved about that as well. These are the perfect dinner for when you’re craving something easy, yet slightly sophisticated (thank you, mint!).
Millet and Spinach Polenta with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
This recipe was a JB-endevour, so I can’t speak to the preparation that was involved with making it. I can confirm how delicious the pesto is. The homemade polenta is worth the effort as well. The best part of this dish is how the pesto seeps into the spaces between the millet, and honestly, it’s just pretty to look at. My amateur plating does not do it justice.
Mardi Gras Anytime Menu
In the back of The Veganomicon, there is a section composed of different menus for different occasions. I realized that I hardly ever cook whole means, so I decided that this was the week I was going to try making a dinner with a lot of moving parts. The Mardi Gras Anytime menu includes:
- Messy Rice
- Creole Stuffed Peppers
- Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh
This is what we had for dinner tonight, and it’s taking all of my resolve not to go and lick the hot sauce glaze from the pan the tempeh was fried in. This was a really fun meal to make, and although I didn’t time it quite right, it could definitely come together with more planning than what I put into it (none). The peppers are stuffed with black-eye peas, jalapeños, carrots, onions, and diced tomatoes; the messy rice gets a kick of flavor from ground coriander seeds. This combination is packed with all sorts of spices, and each item perfectly complements the others. This menu makes me really excited to try some of her others.
Have I convinced you to buy some Isa Chandra Moskowitz books yet? What are some of your favorite recipes from her?