Savory Mushroom Gravy

In addition to my perfect vegetarian lasagna quest, I am also on a great vegetarian gravy quest. Last night, I tried Post Punk Kitchen’s version.

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Savory Mushroom Gravy served over mashed potatoes.

It was good! Next time, for my personal palate, I may cut down on the sage, just a bit.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
vegetable broth
yellow onion
garlic
mushrooms
nutritional yeast

What is nutritional yeast?
I don’t know, but it is not the yeast for baking bread. It is easiest to find in the bulk bins at a health food store.
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen can tell you a bit more about it.

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Do you have a favorite vegetarian gravy recipe?
I would love to hear about it!

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Grilled Eggplant Pasta Bake with Lentils and Feta

I have started on a search for the perfect replacement lasagna, and Passionate Vegetarian has several versions I intend to try. This was the first. Once I decided it was not “lasagna,” I loved it–although I need to experiment with making the sauce more saucey (it’s a little dry).

lentil bake

I cut the recipe in half–trial run, and I do not think Rosebud is going to be a fan.

The only recipe drawback is having to flip in the book between three different pages, as it combines component recipes in its assembly.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
eggplant
low-fat milk
cornstarch
evaporated milk
Parmesan cheese
Neufchatel cream cheese
lasagna noodles
onion
garlic
crushed tomatoes
tomato paste
bread for bread crumbs
Italian parsley

Menu planning tips
The recipe does a great job of laying out the order in which to make the component layers. However, keep in mind that you need to soak and cook the lentils for the sauce and salt-water soak and grill/broil the eggplant ahead of time.

I have never cooked eggplant before, and I was not really clear on broiling it (an option mentioned in the margin of the recipe). These directions from Nom Nom Paleo were very helpful. I completely agree about using a mandoline to slice the eggplant evenly. I have a mandoline, but it would not cut the slices as thick as I needed, so, someday, I may look into a new one (she makes a suggestion in her post).

Notes for me on future refinements
I think, add more crushed tomatoes to sauce
Try adding a bit more honey to sauce
Possibly cut down on the herbs
This recipe uses more lasagna noodles than my traditional recipe (make enough!)

Source
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, page 363 in 2002 edition.

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Vegetarian Bean Chili

I love to warm up with a bowl of this chili!

chili

Served over rice and garnished with cheddar cheese.

I do not like super “hot” dishes, so I cut the chili powder, cayenne pepper, and white pepper down a bit.

I also did not like randomly biting into cumin seeds, so I switched out ground cumin for the seeds, adjusting the amount appropriately.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
onion
red bell pepper
garlic
crushed tomatoes, canned
beans, canned
corn, frozen
lime
fresh cilantro

Source
The Best Recipe: Soups and Stews, by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, 2001 edition, page 283

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Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups

I made this for the first time this past Thanksgiving. I expect to be making it for many years to come. It is amazing how good these orange cups taste!

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The original recipe is actually called “Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier, in Orange Cups,” but I leave out the Grand Marnier (and compensate with a little extra of the juice from the oranges).

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
oranges
deep-red sweet potatoes
(orange liqueur)

Menu planning tips
You may want to save (freeze) orange cups in advance, since there is ample filling.
I cut the recipe in half just fine, though, and the filling matched available oranges pretty closely.
Leave time for baking the sweet potatoes, which will take 45 minutes to an hour.
Bake sweet potatoes on tin foil, not straight on the rack–they ooze.

Source
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, page 813 in 2002 edition.

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Vegetable Nut Pie

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes, for the filling . . .

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. . . not so much the crust in the original recipe. So, I am still perfecting that. I will either add a link to the perfect crust when I finally find it or my recipe when I perfect a better version.

But the pie, itself, is so delicious that it is worth tinkering with the crust.

I always use a touch more Gruyere than the recipe calls for. Who can resist?

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
carrots
broccoli
scallions
pecans, peanuts, or cashews (I use cashews)
Gruyere cheese

Source
Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, edited by Charles Gerras and Rodale’s staff, page 218, in 1989 edition

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Wheat Breakfast

This travels well in a Tupperware/glass container and waits in a refrigerator at work or school until I am ready for breakfast. It is much more filling than yogurt on its own, and I love the combination of textures and flavors.

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There are many recipes on the internet combining wheat berries, walnuts, and cranberries as a lunch or dinner side dish, often called some variation of wheat berry salad. There is one from which I originally got my inspiration for what I turned into breakfast, but I cannot locate it now.

Recipe
wheat berries (1/4 cup pictured above, I usually use a little bit more)
dried cranberries
walnut pieces, broken up
yogurt (I like orange crème flavored, but vanilla or raspberry works well too)

The night before, place the wheat berries in a sauce pan with water, heat to just below a simmer,* and keep at that temperature for about a half hour. I usually just make sure it has at least a half hour, but then forget about it until I am ready to put it away (i.e., just before going to bed), making sure it does not cook dry. Drain in a strainer that has holes smaller than the wheat berries and then transfer to a bowl with plastic wrap covering if eating at home the next morning or to a Tupperware/glass container if taking with you somewhere the next day. Place the wheat berries in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, mix in a full yogurt container and your preferred amount of dried cranberries and walnut pieces.

[*There is a line of thought that not boiling ingredients like wheat berries keeps the enzymes intact and thus is more healthy. I try, but if it boils and then I reduce the heat, I do not get worked up about it.

Also, most recipes try to gauge the amount of water and cooking time so that the water is completely absorbed and you do not have to drain the wheat berries. Not worrying about the amount of water and just draining them is faster and easier for me.]

What are wheat berries? Just regular wheat grain. I actually do not like this term because I find it confusing, but it seems to be the accepted standard descriptive label, so I use it here to be consistent.

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I have enough uses for wheat that I buy it in bulk and then store it in a five-gallon bucket. However, to make things convenient and more likely to be done when I am rushed and busy, I store some of it in a Rubbermaid container in the kitchen cupboard.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
yogurt
dried cranberries
walnuts

Menu planning tip
See above recipe instructions: The wheat berries are cooked the night before to soften.

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The Meganutrient Shake

I love this for breakfast, when I am not in a rush (I just can’t gulp a shake down), or as a light late dinner.

megashake

The recipe says this is one serving, but I love splitting it with someone else who enjoys the wonderful blend of flavors.

The recipe also uses milk, but I substitute almond milk.

Shopping list (ingredients that may not be on hand)
plain nonfat yogurt
orange
banana
dried apricots

Menu planning tips
I make this the day(s) after I make the panforte to use the oranges that I left skinless from the candied peel and the grated rind used in that recipe. (Notice the panforte in the upper right corner of the photo.)

The dried apricots need to reconstitute, usually by soaking the night before.

Source
The Anti-Aging Plan by Roy L. Walford and Lisa Walford, page 175 in the 1994 edition.

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