Vegan chickpea and white bean “Chicken” Parmesan

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By Corinne

These aren’t chicken. They don’t taste like chicken and they don’t feel sad about it and neither should you. They really aren’t even trying to be chicken, they are just their own delightful thing that happened to be inspired by a dish usually made with chicken.  They are crispy on the outside, tender and spiced on the inside and you will be making this again.

While tofu is the standard vegan/vegetarian meat substitute, I just don’t love it. I feel like it doesn’t really have anything going for it in the flavour or the texture department. So in searching for a reasonable substitute that wasn’t a highly processed, already premade thing, I managed to come up with these. They are delicious. I mean. I of course had to taste to adjust seasoning… but may have done more tasting than strictly necessary before even breading and frying them.

Time: about 40 minutes

Serves: makes 4-5 servings

Oven: 450F

You will need:

For “chicken”

  • 1 cup white navy beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley + more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil + 1tbsp additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup high gluten flour (80%)
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • canola oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • vegan mozzarella cheese, or regular mozza if you’re just feeling vegetarian rather than vegan
  • about 1/2 cup of your favourite marinara sauce

For breading

  • 1 cup panko
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • several grinds of fresh pepper

Add chickpeas, navy beans, garlic, shallot, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, thyme, panko, vegetable broth, and 2 tbsp oil to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until ingredients are combined.

 

Remove mixture to a large bowl and add 1/2 cup of high gluten flour. Mix together and knead it a bit. At this point, if you wish, you can wrap in plastic and leave overnight in the fridge. Letting the mixture rest does seem to give it an easier to work with texture(tends to stick together a bit more and is easier to flip when frying) but is not strictly necessary.

Mix breading ingredients together. A pie plate works great for this, but a shallow bowl will work as well.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. You want the oil to be hot enough that there is vigorous bubbling when you drop some crumbs in. If your oil is too cold, your patties won’t get that nice crisp crust and will be somewhat soggy and oily.

Divide bean dough depending on how large you would like your patties to be. I find if you do larger patties, they look more like chicken breasts, but smaller patties cook and flip a little better. So- say 8 if you want smaller patties, and 5 if you want larger ones.  Press them into an ovalish patty shape. Brush each side with the reserved oil and then place into the crumb dish. Firmly press breading onto both sides and around the edges of the patty.

 

Pan fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Remove to a baking pan. When all patties are golden, top each with 1-2 tbsp of your favourite marinara (don’t spread it around,  you want those edges to stay crisp) and then top that with the cheese or cheese product of your choice. Bake in a 450F oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is warm.

 

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Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

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By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

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Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

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Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

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Homemade Flour Tortillas

By Corinne

I first made homemade tortillas when I went to visit a friend in the Arctic, because I was cooking dinner and there are a lot of things you just can’t get up there- one of them being tortillas. It only took one time and I was a convert – I haven’t bought tortillas since. This recipe is easy, inexpensive and delicious. You can fill them with anything your heart desires!

Totally inspired by from http://foodess.com/articles/homemade-flour-tortillas/   but with some different instructions.

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You will need:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix flour and salt, then add water and oil. Knead a few minutes until it’s come together and is smooth and soft, if you need to, add a smidge more flour. Form a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at least 20 minutes. The rest is an important step!

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/medium low. Divide dough into ten equal sized balls and roll out into thin rounds. The dough is pretty elastic so I find my nice heavy marble rolling pin works great for this. Also, I like NOT flouring my work surface, as the tortilla peels off my counter easily enough, and if it sticks while rolling it’s actually easier to roll thinner. This next step can be done by yourself, but is most fun with a tortilla making partner. When your tortilla is rolled out, carefully lift off work surface and put into pan. Get your partner to take care of the flipping while you roll out the next one. They need about 30 seconds per side – before you flip it it will look like below, a little bubbly and then flip and it should be browned on the other side 🙂

This particular night I went with a mix of veg, chicken, bacon, cheese and ranch dressing with some homemade oven fries on the side.  Pretty basic, yet delicious!

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