Vegan Pad Thai Fries with Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce
Bonus: Blooming Platter Low-Calorie Mayo

Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

I have a new summer crush…

But it is less of a recipe, except for the sauce and mayo, and more of a method for creating one of the tastiest treats you will ever put in your mouth.

My scrumptious sauce, which is very low calorie, compensates for any excessive calories in the fries.  We used Kroger brand crinkle fries–it has to be crinkle in my book!–to save money and felt that the quality was on point.  No need to pay Ore-Ida prices.

And we fried rather than baked them because we just purchased a Cuisinart Mini-Fryer, exactly like the Waring Pro Fryer we have, only smaller.  Waring Pro makes the same mini-fryer but Waring was purchased by Cuisinart and, while you can still purchase both, the Cuisinart model is the newer one.  Each costs $43.95 with free shipping on Amazon.

So, while we fried–and drained/blotted–our fries to test drive our sleek little fryer, you can bake them according to package directions and still love the results.

Then, you just pile fresh ingredients on top, which we like to set up like a mini-bar:  finely shredded cabbage because we had it, though bean sprouts would be the traditional; sliced green onions; chopped cilantro; and a spritz of lime juice.  Finish with a generous drizzle of my Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce and some roasted and lightly salted peanuts and you are all set.  I like to garnish the dish with lime wedges but I inadvertently left them out in the photo.

I love eating my fries with chopsticks, though I needed a fork right at the end to scoop up every outrageous bite.

1 serving frozen crinkle fries, baked or fried according to package directions, and drained on a paper towel-lined rack set over a rimmed sheet pan (this will keep bottoms crispy)

1/2 cup or more shredded cabbage, cabbage-carrot mix, or bean sprouts

1/4 cup sliced green onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons or (much!) more Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon roasted and lightly salted peanuts

2 lime wedges

Bangkok Sin(less) Sauce

Note: make more than you need for 1 serving

1/2 cup Blooming Platter Mayo (recipe follows; you can use Vegenaise or another prepared brand, BUT keep in mind that it is 100 calories per tablespoon to my mayo’s 8)

1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce

Optional but delicious: 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian in Asian markets)

Optional but recommended: 1 teaspoon lime juice

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Blooming Platter Low Calorie Mayo

(the BEST and so quick and easy)

Yield: 2 cups.  There are only 250 calories in the entire recipe or 8 calories per tablespoon!

1 pound Silken tofu (I used plain Nasoya brand which also sells a “Lite” and “Organic” variety)

1 tablespoon yellow or stone ground mustard

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 very large garlic clove, cut into about 3 or 4 pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Vegan Chili-“Cheese” Dog–A Thai-Influenced Tofutti Exclusive!

Chili-Cheese Dog with Bandana on RightYield: 4 “dogs”

I created this recipe as a Tofutti Brands exclusive in honor of National Dog Day!

These are not your mama’s Chili-Cheese Dogs!  The chili refers to the red chili peppers in Thai Red Curry Paste (readily available at Asian markets and the international aisle of many grocery stores).  And the “cheese” refers to Tofutti’s delectable Better than Cream Cheese.

These two ingredients combine with a  very few others to make a knock out “sauce” for you dog, while juicy crunch is provided by a Fresh Cucumber-Carrot Slaw.  

You will want these Thai-American top dogs to “sit” and “stay” at all your picnics, indoors or out!

Cucumber-Carrot Slaw (recipe follows)–make first and set aside

4 lightly oiled and grilled or toasted hot dog buns (I chose potato rolls)

4 grilled or broiled vegan “hot dogs” (widely available on the organic aisles in grocery stores)

Thai Chili-“Cheese” Sauce (recipe follows)

Garnish:  4 teaspoons lightly roasted, salted and chopped cashews or peanuts plus 4 fresh Thai basil sprigs (widely available in Asian markets)

To assemble each dog, squirt or spread about 1/8th of sauce onto a grilled or toasted bun.  Layer with 1/4 of the slaw, and top with a grilled dog.  Then zig-zag about another 1/8th of the sauce over the top–squirting or drizzling–and garnish with about a teaspoon of chopped nuts and a Thai basil sprig.  Serve immediately.


Fresh Cucumber-Carrot Slaw:

*1 medium cucumber, seeded, but not peeled, and julienned or shredded

*1 medium carrot, julienned or shredded

**2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil

2 tablespoons vegan “fish” sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a  medium non-reactive bowl and allow to sit for 5 or so minutes.  Transfer mixture to a strainer or sieve, and place over the same bowl.  Allow to drain while you continue with recipe.  Gently press on the vegetables with the back of a spoon before using.  Save the juice for another purpose because even though the sauce calls for the same ingredients, here they are diluted with vegetable juice and, hence, not potent enough for the sauce.  *I use a food processor with a grater attachment for these tasks.  **Note, you may use Italian basil, but it will not have the pronounced anise-like flavor of Thai basil.  

Thai Chili-“Cheese” Sauce:

3 tablespoons Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese, softened

3 tablespoons Tofutti Better than Sour Cream

2 tablespoons vegan “fish” sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste

In a small non-reactive bowl, whish together all ingredients until very smooth.  I like to transfer to a plastic squirt bottle from the dollar store for dispensing.

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Vegan Thai Buddha Spring Roll Bowl

Thai Buddha Spring Roll BowlYield: 4 servings

A spring roll wrapper crisped and perfectly puffed in the microwave forms the adorable edible bowl for this delectable Thai-influenced layering of fresh ingredients: limas cooked in coconut water; onion, eggplant, and garlic in a creamy peanut butter-red curry paste sauce with a hint of Thai basil; Cucumber-Carrot Slaw; and, if you’re feeling really decadent, Chili-Mayo, chopped cashews or peanuts, and a sprig of Thai Basil.  Buddha would certianly bless this bowl!


1 cup fresh lima beans cooked about 20 minutes or until tender in simmering coconut water to cover, cooled, and drained (reserve water for another use)

1 cup julienned or grated cucumber and carrot, combined in any proportion (I use one medium cucumber and one medium carrot and a food processor for this task)

Sea salt

3 tablespoons vegan “fish” sauce, divided into 2 and 1 tablespoons (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil or peanut oil

1 medium red onion, diced

3/4 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large clove garlic

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (I use Kroger brand “natural”)

1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (widely available in Asian markets and the international aisles of grocery stores)

1 tablespoon finely chopped Thai basil (also widely available at Asian markets; you can substitute regular basil, but it won’t have that distinctive anise-like flavor)

4 spring roll wrappers

Chili Mayo (optional; recipe follows)

Garnishes: 4 teaspoons chopped lightly salted and roasted cashews or peanuts and fresh Thai basil sprigs


While lima beans cook, make Asian Cucumber-Carrot Slaw:  in a small, non-reactive bowl, combine julienned or grated cucumber and carrot with a pinch of sea salt, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/2 teaspon rice wine vinegar and set aside.  Make eggplant filling: heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high.  Saute onion with a pinch of sea salt for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until softened.  Add eggplant and garlic and saute, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary, for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir in water, and allow to simmer while you whisk together in a small cup the peanut butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, the remaining 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, and the red curry paste.  Drizzle over eggplant mixture, stir to combine, and heat through.  Stir in Thai basil.  Lower heat and keep warm while you prepare spring roll bowls.  Microwave each spring roll wrapper for about 40 seconds on full power or until puffed with no slick, shiny areas.  Check after 20 to 30 seconds.  To serve: place each puffed spring roll wrapper on a plate or in a shallow bowl.  Spoon 1/4th of eggplant mixture in the center, followed by 1/4 of beans and 1/4th of slaw.  Drizzle with Chili Mayo if desired, and garnish each with 1 teaspoon chopped nuts and a sprig of fresh Thai basil.  Serve immediately.


Thai Chili Mayo:

6 tablespoonsvegan mayo

2 tablespoons vegan “fish” sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste

In a small non-reactive bowl, whish together all ingredients until very smooth.  I like to transfer to a plastic squirt bottle from the dollar store for dispensing.


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Vegan Thai Coconut Milk and Vegetable Soup

Thai Coconut Milk and Vegetable Soup 1Yield: 4 servings

This soup is as delicious as it is nutritious and lovely. Thicker than most Thai restaurant soups (due to the starch in the squash), it is very filling, yet still light.

It was inspired by my love of all things Thai, but also by an over-zealous trip to the farmer’s market this week considering I am leaving town on Sunday.  In a little bit of a panic about not wasting food, I created this soup brimming over with vegetables like red bell pepper, fresh chili pepper, pattypan squash, grape tomatoes and Swiss Chard.

I had purchased 2 bunches of the chard–what was I thinking–so I created a really tasty Swissh Chard and Pumpkin Seed Pesto out of the remainder, which will freeze nicely.

I used the vegetables I had on hand, but feel free to substitute other veggies, keeping flavor, texture and color contrast in mind. In addition to the onion and bell pepper, you will want about 4 cups of vegetables. Precokl firmer vegetables like squash and carrots, and simply heat softer ones like tomatoes and mushrooms.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced red or green mild chili pepper
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-15 ounce can coconut milk or lite coconut milk
2 cups water
2 regular or 1 large vegetable bouillon cube (enough for 2 cups of water)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds pattypan squash (unpeeled and unseeded weight), baked, roasted or grilled until tender, peeled, and cut into wedges [you may substitute eggplant, zucchini and/or yellow squash]; approximately 2 cups cooked chunks
1 cup (approximately) red or gold grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped Swiss chard (I use a food processor for this task)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, rough chopped
Zest of 1 large lime
1/4 cup basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
4 teaspoons vegan fish sauce (sold a “vegetarian” in Asian markets) or rice wine vinegar
Garnish: 1/4 cup chopped roasted and lightly salted cashews and peanuts and sprigs of basil or cilantro

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and a pinch of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, water, bouillon cube, and soy sauce, and heat until barely simmering. Add squash, tomatoes, and Swiss chard, and return to a gently simmer. Avoid boiling. Stir in cilantro, lime zest, and basil leaves and heat through. Serve in large bowls with 1 teaspoon of vegan fish sauce or rice wine vinegar stirred into each. Garnish with chopped nuts and a sprig of basil or cilantro.

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Vegan Thai Sloppy Joes on Toasted Rice Cakes

Thai Sloppy Joes 1Yield: 4 servings

Like our dreams, sometimes the origins of cravings can be traced right to their source, and other times, they seem to have emerged out of nowhere.  The latter is the case with these Vegan Thai Sloppy Joes.

I know not from whence the idea came, but I had to struggle during my Saturday morning yoga class to suppress visions of pungent red curry paste, creamy coconut milk, and crumbly-chewy tempeh so that I could follow my teacher’s directive to “focus on your breath.”

I whipped into the grocery store on the way home for lite coconut milk and nuts, but everything else was at the ready in our pantry and fridge, following last week’s trip to the farm stand and Trader Joe’s, speaking of Joes.

Sloppy Joes would not be considered a balanced meal by anyone’s standards, even when built around tempeh. And I wanted this to be a one dish wonder.  So a quick mental review of veggies found in Thai dishes resulted in the addition of finely chopped carrot and farm stand-fresh kale (in place of the more typical spinach).  The color, taste and texture that these ingredients added, not to mention the moisture, was exactly right.

You can certainly serve this addicting mixture on toasted buns, but trying to keep the finished dish more true to it’s Asian inspiration, I like it best served over lightly toasted rice cakes.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped carrot (I use a food processor for this task)

Sea salt

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 cups, stemmed, and finely chopped kale, Swiss chard or spinach (I use a food processor for this too)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

8 ounces tempeh (any variety, unseasoned)

1 tablespoon red curry paste, or more to taste (available on the international foods aisle of most grocery stores and at Asian markets)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (you can substitute catchup in a pinch)

1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use lite or low sodium)

1/2 teaspoon natural sugar

1 can light coconut milk (you can use regular if you don’t mind the calories, as it does have more intense flavor)

1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as Vegetarian Fish Sauce in Asian markets; you can omit, but it adds a distinctive Thai flavor)

Zest of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Accompaniment: plain unsalted or lightly salted rice cakes (use small rice cakes if serving this dish as an appetizer), toasted quickly on each side in a skillet lightly coated with nonstick spray

Garnishes: lime wedges, lightly salted peanuts or cashews, fresh cilantro sprigs

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add carrot and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.  Add the onion, another pinch of salt, and saute another 2 minutes.  Then add the kale and the garlic, another pinch of salt and the water, and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the tempeh and saute 2 minutes more.  Add curry paste, tomato paste, soy sauce, sugar, coconut milk and fish sauce, and saute, still stirring frequently, for a final 10 minutes or until mixture thickens, slightly reduces, and all flavors combine.  Stir in lime zest and chopped cilantro, and serve immediately over toasted rice cakes garnished as desired.

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Vegan Thai Red Curry, Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Sauce with Fresh Peanut Butter-Roasted Pumpkin and Tofu Recipe

My Thanksgiving Day post is coming up, but–and I bet it is no different in your household–there is no time for carefully staging food photographs in the midst of the convivial holiday hubbub.  So, before the throngs gather today–and, in any event, with less going on in the kitchen–I hope to photograph the components of our meal.  I made one recent recipe and two brand new ones that received rave reviews, so I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

In the meantime, though, I am excited to offer this Thai-inspired pumpkin dish.  If you follow The Platter, you know that I am all about fresh pumpkin this year, including in Asian preparations, like this one and my Vegan Miso-Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu over Udon Noodles which was featured on

Pumpkin is so agreeable to rubs, and this peanut butter riff is no exception.  Enjoy it with creamy white chunks of tofu over my silky, golden, and pleasantly spicy melange of red bell peppers, onions and chard in a coconut-red curry sauce thickened with pureed pumpkin.  Its subtle tang is courtesy of fresh lime juice and vegan fish sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Fresh Peanut Butter-Roasted Pumpkin:

2 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian fish sauce” in Asian markets)

1 teaspoon prepared Thai red curry paste

1 1/4 pounds pumpkin (this weight is with seeds and pulp removed, but the skin still on) , peeled and cut into about 3/4 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Oil a large metal baking dish and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vegan fish sauce, and curry paste until smooth.  Add pumpkin and toss gently to coat.  Transfer to the prepared baking pan, spread out, place in the oven and roast for about 8 minutes.  Stir gently or flip chunks, and roast an additional 8 minutes or until lightly caramelized.  While pumpkin roasts, make sauce.  When pumpkin is finished cooking, remove the pan from the oven.  If sauce isn’t quite finished, cover pumpkin to keep warm.

Vegan Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Curry Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 of a large onion, cut into 1/4-inch wide slivers

Pinch sea salt

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch wide slivers and then cut in half crosswise

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups finely chopped Swiss chard–I use the food processor for this task (about 1 bunch with thick stems removed; you may use kale or spinach instead, but the chard was lovely at our farmer’s market recently)

2 tablespoons prepared red curry paste (feel free to adjust the amount to your taste)

1-15 ounce can coconut milk or lite coconut milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce

Juice of one lime

Sea salt to taste

Optional, but recommended:  1 tablespoon each finely chopped Thai basil and cilantro or to taste

Accompaniments: 12 ounces regular tofu cut into 1 inch chunks (baked, broiled or simply heated and kept warm until serving time); and 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice

Garnish: chopped peanuts,  sliced green onions, and optional lime wedges

In a large cast iron skillet or wok, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and saute, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until onion begins to soften.  Add bell peppers and continue sauteing for about 2-3 more minutes or until it begins to soften.  Add garlic and chard and saute for one to two  minutes or until chard is tender, but still bright green.  Add curry paste and saute, stirring, just until smooth and incorporated.  Add coconut milk and pumpkin puree, and cook until heated through.  Add fish sauce and lime juice, and stir to combine.  Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.  Stir in optional Thai basil and cilantro and remove from heat.  Serve sauce over cooked Jasmine rice topped with roasted pumpkin and tofu.  Garnish with chopped peanuts and sliced green onion.


For 150+ more specialties of the season, I hope you will check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook.

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French-Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps from “Happy Birthday, Julia Child!” Party

Somehow, our third annual Happy Birthday, Julia Child’s potluck dinner party came and went in August without my ever having posted any of the recipes.

It’s a little tricky to shoot nice images because, by the time the guests arrive with their beautiful food–made according to or adapted from Julia’s recipes or just very French–the light isn’t very cooperative.  But, I remembered to stage this photograph with the small amount of leftovers we had of this scrumptious dish.  I just never remembered to post it.

Called Thai Lettuce Wraps by their creator, Diane Stobo, we changed the name to “French Vietnamese” to fit our theme.  Made by Amelia, aka “Little Chef,” the young niece of two of our guests, the dish was a hit with everyone.   She is absolutely adorable and wanted to contribute something to the dinner, meet me–and our dogs–and have me sign a couple of copies of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. I was truly touched.

Amelia and her aunt recommend a few more walnuts in the filling.  And, to veganize the sauce, simply substitute agave nectar for the honey.  Also, since it’s now fall, use whatever tender lettuce leaves you can find in season.

For 150 original mouthwatering seasonal recipes, I invite you to check out my new cookbook, The Blooming Platter:  A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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Vegan Thai-Fusion Beet Sushi with Vegan Thai Chili-Garlic-Ginger Mayo

Yield: approximately 12 pieces of sushi

With beets in the fridge and an ever-present craving for Thai food, I decided to “bring” this dish to An Unrefined Vegan’s weekly Vegan LINKY Potluck 7 today.

My husband, “a vegan and more” as he likes to call himself, is wild for sushi.  Many are the times I’ve sat and sipped miso soup, sake, and hot green tea while he satiates himself on huge platters of the stuff.

I think it is absolutely beautiful.  The colors and presentations are beyond reproach.  It’s just the death and dying aspect I have issues with.

So, being a huge fan of beets and able to buy them fresh and local this summer, I was trimming some one day when I had an “ah-ha” moment.  It suddenly occurred to me that thin translucent slices of beet were reminiscent of raw fish flesh and that, perhaps, if I simmered them in some seaweed brine, they might also have a pleasant taste of the sea. And they did!

For some reason, my taste buds were telling me to go with a Thai-fusion approach, so I created a mayo–more often served in hand rolls than on sushi per se–tingly with typical Thai tastes.  As the base, I decided on a sticky coconut rice.  The combination of tastes and textures is as delicious as it is beautiful.  I’m so excited to share this stunning dish with you!

Vegan Thai Chili-Garlic-Ginger Mayo:

Note: you may have more than you need, but save it for another purpose or for extra dipping, as working with smaller amounts is a little tedious in the measuring department.   Also, I refrigerated my sushi for a few hours before serving, which is why it turned pink.  It starts out more of a pale creamy color with flecks of green.

3 tablespoons vegan mayo

1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce

1 teaspoon vegan fish sauce

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (about a 3/4-inch piece peeled and grated)

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.


Coconut Sticky Rice:

1 cup jasmine rice

1-15 ounce can thick coconut milk (not the sweet “Cream of Coconut)

Pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian fish sauce at Asian markets)

Combine rice, coconut milk, and sea salt in a loosely-covered 2-quart saucepan (I like a non-stick for this) and place over medium-high heat.  When mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium or a bare simmer and cook, stirring frequently (or it will scorch on the bottom!), for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice appears moist and sticky.  Removed from heat, stir in vegan fish sauce, and set aside to cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile, cook beets.



2 cups water

1/4 cup dulse flakes (red seaweed flakes)

Pinch sea salt

Approximately 3 medium beets, peeled, and thinly sliced into whatever shape/size you desire to sit nicely atop their rice bases (I halved them lengthwise, placed the flat side down, and then thinly sliced them).

In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together water, dulse flakes, and sea salt.  Add beets, cover loosely, and place over medium-high heat.  Simmer gently, reducing heat if necessary, just until beets are tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain, but avoid rinsing.  Some of the dulse may adhere to a few of the slices and, if so, just brush off with your fingers rather than rinsing.  Let cool to room temperature.



Scoop up palm-size balls of rice (about 1/12 of the total amount) and squeeze firmly in your palm, shaping into a “log” about 2 1/2 inches long and about 3/4 to 1-inch tall.  Place on a work surface, spread with about 1/2 teaspoon of the Vegan Thai Chili-Garlic-Ginger Mayo, and top with beets, however many slices cover the top nicely.  I like to slightly overlap 3 small slices so that the sushi can be eaten in several bites.  Transfer to a serving platter or plates.  Repeat with remaining ingredients and garnish platter or plates as desired.


Optional garnishes:

Whatever you have and/or think would be pretty is what you should use!  I used dabs of spinach pesto because green is so pretty with the color of the beets (but dabs of a mint or cilantro chutney or mint/cilantro oil squeezed into decorative lines would be nice too), cilantro sprigs (but Thai basil or mint would be lovely), and cashews (though chopped peanuts would be appropriate too).

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Vegan Thai Coconut-Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 4 servings

I’ve never been a huge fan of the flavor of typical stuffed peppers.  But I love bell peppers, including in Thai food.  So why not stuff them with a creamy coconut filling chock full of other ingredients in some of my favorite Thai dishes?  Why not indeed!  The result is spectacular.  Feel free to use Jasmine rice in place of the quinoa.  The latter is what I had on hand and, even though it’s not typically Thai, I love it’s flavor, texture, and fairly high protein.  Japanese eggplants and bell peppers were beautiful at our farm market today, so I used them, along with some spinach from the grocery store and some Thai basil from our garden, but feel free to use any of your favorite Thai ingredients like small cooked cubes of sweet potato, green peas, cilantro, mint, etc.  Just be sure to contrast colors and textures.  I love onion and meant to add some sliced spring onion but forgot, as I was juggling several different things, but I’m not sure they were needed.  Still, onion is always good, so add if you like.  Bottom line?  This recipe is very flexible.  Have fun! 

2 yellow bell peppers, halved lengthwise, membrane and seeds removed

1 cup quinoa

1-15 ounce can coconut milk (lite or regular)

generous pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch dice (approximately 1 cup)

pinch of sea salt and more to taste

1/2 cup 2-inch pieces of carrot, finely chopped (I use a food processor)

1/2 of a large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 small mild-medium chile pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce + an optional additional tablespoon (sold as vegetarian fish sauce in Asian markets)

Juice of 1 small-medium lime (approximately 1 tablespoon)

2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach, finely chopped (I use a food processor)

1 tablespoon minced Thai or Vietnamese basil

Garnish: sprigs of Thai basil, cilantro, or mint; whole or chopped roasted and lightly salted cashews or peanuts; and optional lime wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a small baking dish and add yellow bell pepper halves, cut side up.  Bake approximately 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, make filling.  In a 1-quart saucepan, place quinoa, coconut milk and a generous pinch of sea salt.  Stir well, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until tender, thick, and creamy.  While quinoa cooks, heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high.  Add eggplant  and a pinch of sea salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about a minute.  Add carrot, red bell pepper, and diced chile pepper, and saute, stirring frequently, for another couple of minutes.  Add garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and lime juice, and cook, stirring frequently, for about another minute or until garlic and ginger is softened.  Stir in spinach and basil, stir, and heat through.  Taste and add additional salt and/or vegan fish sauce if desired.  Divide filling evenly among yellow bell pepper halves and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until filling is heated through and peppers are tender, but hold their shape.  Serve hot garnished as desired.

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