I’m pleased to announce that my chili – with homegrown vegetables and not a can in sight – is featured today on Eating Rules as part of October Unprocessed. Thanks to Andrew Wilder for inviting me to do a guest post for this amazing series. For the recipe, just click on over to Eating Rules. You’ll want to make this chili right away, while you can still get really good tomatoes!

A lot of people say “I don’t eat processed foods”, but when they really think about it, and take a hard look at all of their food labels, they see a different story. We can all do better – myself included!

So this is just a quick reminder to take the October Unprocessed Pledge over at Eating Rules. My friend Andrew Wilder is doing an amazing job of encouraging thousands of people to eat zero processed foods for the month of October. You can do it, too – just take the pledge here.  You can read more about October Unprocessed in today’s L.A. Times!

By the way, I’m doing a guest post for October Unprocessed with a great new chili recipe, so keep your eyes out for that early in the month.

I’m always in search of good savory brunch recipes that don’t include eggs, butter and cheese.  When I had a brunch for Brooklyn food bloggers a while back, I came across Heidi Swanson’s recipe for vegan quiche. I simplified the cooking method to suit my “OMG, 20 bloggers are coming over this morning” mood, but otherwise left the recipe the same. With a sesame oat crust and a flavorful tofu, spinach and  mushroom filling, the quiche was very well-received at the brunch – even among the non-vegans.

I made the quiche a second time this summer when I needed something to take to a barbecue. I found an interesting variation on the recipe on the beautiful blog jugalbandi. Replacing the spinach and mushrooms with Swiss chard and corn sounded like a great idea, but I also added red bell peppers to highlight the sweetness of the corn.  I think there was some eye-rolling when I told people I was bringing vegan quiche, but let me tell you, it was a major hit. I actually made the original spinach and mushroom version along with this chard, pepper and corn version, and it was no contest. The new variation had worlds more flavor and zing.  Just goes to show….sometimes it pays to tinker with a recipe.

Vegan Quiche with Swiss Chard, Corn and Red Pepper
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Crust:
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup plain soy milk
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Filling:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup finely diced onion
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 large bunch (or 2 smaller bunches)  Swiss chard, stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine or water
1 pound firm tofu (use very high-quality tofu for this dish)
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or cider vinegar
Paprika, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350.

Toast the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet for 7-8 minutes. Process the toasted oats and seeds in a food processor with the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano, until the mixture is finely ground. Place in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk and oil. Gradually mix into the dry ingredients to form a dough, holding back the final few teaspoons if the dough is in danger of getting too wet or sticky.

Spray a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan with oil. Put the dough in the pan and press down to fill the bottom and all the way up the sides (you can place plastic wrap on the dough to make this easier.) If using a pie pan, crimp the edges as shown in the photo.

To make the filling, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add the onions and pepper flakes and sauté for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and red bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the corn chard, thyme, cumin, wine and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook for 2 minutes.

Crumble the tofu into the bowl of the food processor. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, basil, lemon juice, vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt, and puree until very smooth. Add the puree to the vegetable mixture and gently mix well.

Fill the tart shell with the filling and smooth the top. Dust with paprika, if desired. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until firm. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serves 6

 

 

What’s better than blueberry pie? Not much. In fact, it’s my husband Tim’s favorite food in the world. (He loves it even more than he loves broccoli rabe, and that’s a lot.)

So when we were on vacation with some friends in Maine last week, I made quite a few pies with those wonderful little wild Maine blueberries. Sometimes we ate it for breakfast. Sometimes we ate it at midnight. And sometimes people snuck the last piece when I wasn’t looking!

There’s nothing much different about my blueberry pie filling – nearly everyone uses blueberries, sugar, lemon and a thickener, and there’s no reason to change that. What is different is my crust. It’s tender with a nice crunch on the edges, and is super flavorful. So people can never believe there’s no butter, shortening or lard in it. I know there are people out there who are skeptical about such a crust. When my recipe was published on Salon.com once, the rants against me were unbelievable. If I could only feed those people my pie, they would change their tune. Go ahead, try it out on your butter-loving friends and you’ll see.

The other great thing about this pie crust is that it’s nearly foolproof. My only caveat is that the texture of the dough is quite wet, so making it into a lattice crust is quite a challenge. I did it with this pie, but not sure I’ll be attempting that again soon!  If you do it as a regular crust, you’ll have no problems.

Bottom line: if you can still get your hands on late summer blueberries, do it this weekend and make this simple pie. You won’t be sorry.

Blueberry Pie with a Heart-Healthy Crust

Filling:

6 cups of fresh blueberries
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour or tapioca starch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch salt

Crust:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup high-oleic safflower oil
6 tablespoons milk (soy, or fat-free cow if you prefer)
½ to 1 teaspoon sugar

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, starch/flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the lemon juice and blueberries, stirring gently to combine.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the oil in a glass measuring cup and add the milk, without stirring. Pour this mixture into the flour and stir briefly, just until combined. Divide the dough in half and form two balls. Roll the pie crust out immediately; do not refrigerate.

Place a piece of wax paper on your work surface, putting a few drops of water under the paper to keep it from sliding around. Put one ball on the paper and use your hands to press it into a 6-inch circle. Top with another piece of wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin to a 12-inch circle (the edges may extend beyond the top and bottom of the wax paper slightly, but you can loosen it with a knife when you lift the dough.)  If your circle is uneven, simply tear off a piece from one part and add it to another – it’s easy to make repairs, before or after the dough is in the pan.

Remove the top sheet and turn the dough over into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing to remove any air pockets. Pour in the filling. Roll out the second disc between fresh wax paper and place it on top of the pie. Fold the top crust under the bottom all the way around, and crimp the edges. Cut some slits in the top and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake about 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool four hours before serving.

 

I have a problem with millet. There, I’ve said it.

I see a millet recipe, and I think to myself, “I should eat more millet!” After all, it’s a healthy whole grain (well, actually a seed) –  right up my alley. So I make the recipe and excitedly take a bite. Then I remember that I just don’t like millet. Hrmph.

The same thing happened when I made a Moroccan Millet Salad, adapting the favorite recipe of a friend. But that’s not to say it isn’t a great dish – the flavors are terrific, and everyone else who tasted it loved it. I guess you’re either a millet person or you’re not.

The good news is that this salad can easily be made with any other grain. I recommend using quinoa, because it works so well with the sweet and savory flavors here. But you could also make it with brown rice, farro, barley or freekeh. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your taste by varying the dried fruit and nuts, or adding red bell peppers, kalamata olives, or cucumbers.

Despite my millet issues (I need to get some therapy about those!), it’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got pistachios, apricots, chickpeas and a lemony dressing with warm Moroccan spices.

Moroccan Millet or Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas

1 cup millet or quinoa
2 teaspoons olive, canola or safflower oil
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup chopped unsulphered dried apricots
1/2 cup dry-roasted pistachios
½ cup sliced scallions
1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
¼ cup chopped fresh mint or cilantro, or a combination

Dressing:

3 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use less for quinoa, more for millet)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a high-sided skillet or saucepan. Add the millet or quinoa and toast over low heat, stirring, until it becomes toasty (7 minutes for millet, 8 or 9 for quinoa).

Add water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes for millet, 13 to 15 minutes for quinoa. Remove to a bowl to cool. Once fairly cool, fluff with a fork.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Add the dressing, scallions, apricots, pistachios, chickpeas and herbs to the grain, stirring very gently.

Serves 6

My friend Pam made me the Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens from Martha Stewart Living, and from that point on, I found myself craving it often. The soup was super clean-tasting – and so simple to make that it was kind of astonishing.

Tonight I was having people over for a casual dinner and it seemed like a soup kind of night. But since I was serving it as a main course, it needed it a bit more heft. So I added white beans, and also switched up the herbs, using parsley in favor of dill. I also added way more kale –  a whole bunch instead of a few leaves.

This is a vegan soup that non-vegans seem to universally love. It’s got a nice smooth texture and is hearty while being completely virtuous. Homemade whole wheat croutons seem like an essential accompaniment.

Admittedly, with the addition of beans it’s not the same bright green color as the original, but I think it’s even more flavorful and satisfying. And I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice aesthetics for that. Aren’t you?

Cauliflower, Kale and White Bean Soup

1 cup dried white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 leeks, white and light green parts sliced (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chopped kale leaves (about 1 medium bunch)
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
4 cups vegetable stock (recommend Imagine No Chicken broth)
2 cups water
2 cups bean cooking liquid, plus 1 more cup if needed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

Drain the beans and put them in a pot with water to cover by two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about one hour. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven.  Add the leeks and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for one minute more. Add the kale and cook, stirring, for five minutes.

Add the beans, cauliflower, stock, 2 cups of bean liquid, water, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 12 minutes. Add the parsley. Remove the bay leaf.

Cool, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the extra cup of bean cooking liquid if it seems too thick. Return to the pot and reheat.

Serves 4-6