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 Grilled Pumpkin Pizza with Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread, Pepita and Sage Pesto and Rosemary-Garlic Oil Recipe

Yield: 2 pizzas/8 servings (2 slices per serving)

The irresistibly adorable pumpkins at my favorite farm market inspired this pizza.  I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week with my Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza and am so sad there is no more.

As I’ve said before, homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen.  Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise.  So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it.  If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.

My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours.  However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder.  The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour.  The crust made this way also benefits especially from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.

Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.


Blooming Platter Pizza Dough:

Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Note:  you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above.  However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.

1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast

1 teaspoon natural sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl

Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.  I knead it right in the bowl.  Do not over-knead.  Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.

Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil.  Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.


Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)

1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.

Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.



Approximately 1/4 cup Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread (recipe follows)

Grilled Pumpkin (recipe follows)

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves or pineapple sage blossoms


Vegan Pumpkin Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread:

6 ounces Silken Firm tofu (you may you “extra firm” for a firmer end result)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

1 large garlic clove

Pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  You will have more than you need for this pizza.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Enjoy as a dip with fresh veggies, spread on bagels or sandwiches, tossed with pasta, or as a pizza sauce.


Grilled Pumpkin:

Approximately 3 pounds fresh pumpkin (this weight is seeded and with pulp removed, but with the skin on)

Remove the skin from pumpkin with a paring knife.  Cut pizza into bite size 1/3-inch thick slices.  Spray a grill pan with non-stick spray and preheat over medium-high.  Grill pumpkin, in two batches if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or unil tender with nice grill marks.  Remove to a plate and set aside.


To Assemble:

Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface.    Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray.  With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.

Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim.  Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over.  Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones.  Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove the stones from the oven and spread a very thin layer (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) of Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread on each crust.  Divide the pumpkin evenly between the two crusts, arranging pieces in concentric rings.  Return the stones to the oven and cook for about 7 minutes, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly.  Remove the stones from the oven again and dot each with about half of the Pepita and Sage Pesto (1/4 cup each).  Return the stones to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes  or until the crusts are golden and the topping is hot.  Remove the stones form the oven, slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board, and cut each into 8 wedges.  Serve immediately garnished with sage leaves or, if you’re lucky enough to grow this herb: ravishing pineapple sage blossoms.

Note: this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.

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VegKitchen Adds Another Blooming Platter Recipe to their Collection

I was flattered today when I received a message from the “nava-lous” Nava Atlas of VegKitchen asking if she could print one of my recipes to “beef up” (not!) the grilling section of her website.

The answer was a resounding, “Are you kidding?  Of course!”  Heck, she doesn’t even need to ask, but it’s always great to hear from her, a fellow artist and foodie.

I loved the recipe she chose and, if you haven’t tried it, I think you will too.  You can, of course, find it here on The Blooming Platter, but I encourage you to visit Nava’s site, check out my recipe, and poke around a bit.

Thanks, Nava!

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Vegan Bacon, Lentil and Tomato Salad ("BLT")

Yield: 8 servings

This “BLT” is one of my favorite salads, as I love its sweet, smoky pungency and all of the contrasting textures and colors. Plus, it’s a meal in and of itself.

1 cup lentils, rinsed (black belugas are beautiful, but use what you have)
4 cups hot water
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces smokey tempeh strips (known as “Fakin‘ Bacon”)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon brown sugar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon mustard
2 cups halved grape tomatoes (cut lengthwise)
1/2 cup minced fresh or fresh-frozen parsley
zest of 1/2 lemon

Place lentils and water into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to a simmer. Cook just until tender, about 15 minutes, and drain well. (Avoid ove- cooking or they will turn to “mush.” If that happens, make soup!)

Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place tempeh strips in a single layer in skillet and cook for a couple of minutes, gently flip and cook a couple minutes longer, just until golden. Remove strips to a cutting board and slice into 1 1/2″ pieces.

While lentils and tempeh cook, make dressing. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together olive oil and next five ingredients.

Place drained lentils, tempeh and tomatoes into a large non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic). Season wish salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest and gently toss all together. Serve at room temperature.

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