Eatin’ Broccoli

I know broccoli is good for me and that it should make up a significant portion of my diet: that’s not challenging.  What is challenging is finding unique ways to eat it.  One of my favorite ways is steamed and added to my spaghetti sauce along with beans and black olives but cooked tomatoes and I aren’t the best of friends so that meal, while tasty, isn’t one I can eat regularly.

I’ve had a recipe I copied down-I can’t remember where-when I first became a vegan I was excited to try but it got put in my recipe box and was forgotten.  That is, until I had a head of broccoli in my fridge that needed to be eaten.  I remembered the card and was pleased to find the ingredients and steps were simple.  My family was game and the plan to eat Broccoli Bisque Amandine was put into action.

Like most recipes I try, what’s printed on the page/recipe card is rarely what ends up in the pot.  My mother and I started making changes immediately.  She’s always been a fan of broccoli cheese soup and we happened to have a block of Daiya’s Jalapeno Havarti cheese.  Then, the question became how to make it a one pot meal?  The answer?  A can of organic cannelloni beans.

Broccoli was chopped and steamed, almonds were blanched and toasted in the oven, and beans were drained and rinsed.  I blended the broccoli, beans, and almonds in three batches with 1 cup of almond milk per batch and then poured it into a pot.  My mom added the cheese and we heated it through on medium to medium low heat.

The original recipe said to steam the broccoli until tender and suggested doing so for 12 to 14 minutes.  I usually steam broccoli only a few minutes, just until bright green, so was concerned such a long cooking time would make the broccoli smell like overcooked cruciferous veg.  It didn’t.  The soup did, however, look a little distressing while heating through.

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Does anyone remember that TV show that was on in the (very) early 90’s, Swamp Thing?  Not that the soup reminded me of a muck monster at all, it was just green…and it would bubble from time to time…

It tasted ever so much better than it looked.  The soup wasn’t perfectly smooth but neither was it lumpy.  It was delicious, thick, and spicy.  A perfect soup for cold weather though I think it would be okay during the warm months as well.  The original recipe suggested retaining a bit of the toasted almonds for garnish but I blended them all into the soup.  Instead, I garnished with a slice of whole wheat bread spread with a little Earth Balance.

Fortunately, I have left-overs.  I anticipate this will reheat very well at work tomorrow although I may be fighting my parents for it.  We all liked it and votes about eating it again were unanimous.

Want to try it?

Broccoli-Almond Cheesy Soup

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, ground

3 cups non-dairy milk (I used Simple Truth Unsweetened Almond Milk)

6 cups broccoli flowerets

1 7 oz package Daiya Jalapeno Havarti cheese, grated

1 15 0z can Organic Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the ground almonds in a thin, even layer on a dry baking sheet and toast 8 to 10 minutes, just until golden.  If desired, reserve 4 tsp toasted ground almonds for garnish.
  2. Steam broccoli until very tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Combine cooked broccoli, rinsed beans, almonds, and milk in batches in a blender.  Process each batch until the mixture is completely smooth.  Pour the blended soup into  a large saucepan.
  4. Add the grated cheese and heat soup over medium to medium low heat until heated through and cheese is melted.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with almonds, if using.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Makes 6 One cup servings

 

 

 

Pizza Perfect

I’ve been spending a few months focused on my manuscript and haven’t been going out or experimenting with food.  My dinners have been tried and true meals I through together without need of a recipe: usually a bean and veggie soup served with a grain.  They’re easy to make, don’t require much planning, and my entire family likes them.  I can focus on my writing rather than spending a great deal of time planning dinner.  But then, the time comes when I’m ready to take a break from my manuscript and look forward to trying something new.

Last weekend, that something new was a chicken artichoke pizza.  Or chik’n, as there was no bird involved.  I had a package of Beyond Meat‘s Lightly Seasoned Strips and a jar of artichoke hearts.  I also had an Archer Farms brand thin pizza crust (no dairy or eggs!), a block of Daiya‘s Jalapeno Havarti, and half a bag of Daiya’s Cheddar Shreds.  I like making my own pizza because ordering a veganized pizza from a vendor costs me over ten dollars and a ready-made vegan pizza from the supermarket’s freezer section costs about as much.  Plus, if I make my own, I can have as many toppings as I like.

Most of my pizzas have olives on them as I am an olive addict.  Green, black, kalamata…you name ’em I love ’em.  This time, I decided to leave them off.  I only had green and black and I didn’t feel the flavor of black olives would compliment my pizza.  The pizza was going to be tart enough with the artichokes and I decided to leave the green off as well.  I gathered my ingredients, checked my instructions on the crust, and was ready to go.

The crust didn’t require pre-baking so got my oven ready, layered on my toppings, and slid my pie into the oven.  15 minutes later, I had a pizza that smelled delicious, the crust lightly browned on the edges.  The middle was a bit soggy but another five minutes did the trick.

How was it?  Wonderful.  The shreds of jalapeno havarti on the top of the pizza didn’t melt all that well but the cheddar shreds layered between the strips and the artichokes did and helped hold the pizza together.  Nothing was missing.  There was no layer of flavor I searched for while consuming way more pizza in one sitting than I should.  The thin crust was a bit fragile but once I folded the edges of a piece together, I didn’t deal with the crust giving way and all my toppings ending scattered on the plate.  The best part?  I had leftovers and my workplace has a toaster oven.  Delicious pizza, two days in a row.

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So good!

Want to try it?

Vegan Chicken Artichoke Pizza

1 vegan pizza crust

4 TBSP organic tomato sauce

2 TBSP Italian Seasoning

2/3 package Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Strips

1 cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Shreds

6 jarred artichoke hearts (equals about two cups once chopped)

1/3 block Daiya Jalapeno Havarti Cheese block, shredded

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While oven is preheating, prepare Beyond Meat according to the package’s skillet instructions.  Remove from heat and, when cool enough to handle, chop into chunks.
  3.  Chop the artichoke hearts and press well to get rid of any excess liquid.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce on crust, coming close to the edge.  Top with the Italian seasoning, then the artichokes, the cheddar shreds, and the chicken chunks.
  5. Top with the jalapeno havarti shreds.
  6. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.  Check center of pizza and, if necessary, bake 5 minutes more.
  7. Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter.
  8. Makes 8 slices but only serves 2 unless paired with a salad.