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Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant and Artichokes

This is a slow cooker recipe with good flavor that adds some variety to our standard evening meal rut.  It’s from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.  My only complaint is that I’m not a fan of slow cooker recipes that require 30 minutes of prep and cooking before even putting the food in the slow cooker.  It’s not absolutely required, but the cook book says that cooking it in advance gives it the best flavor.

Moroccan Eggplant and Artichokes | A Vegan in Progress

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen artichoke hearts or 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins or chopped dried apricots (I didn’t add these)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, for garnish (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, for garnish (I didn’t add this)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked chickpeas (optional – I am definitely adding those next time)

 

Directions:

  1. For the best flavor, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute longer.  Add the eggplant and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle on the coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and cayanne, and stir to combine.  Alternatively, omit the oil and saute these ingredients in a few tablespoons of water or combine them in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the artichokes, bell pepper, olives, raisins, and chickpeas.  Stir in the broth and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on Low until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the lemon juice, parsley, and lemon zest.
  4. Serve over couscous.

Vegan Recipe – Spicy Eggplant Tofu

Eric and I recently tried a Thai restaurant that’s walking distance from our place.  I ordered a yellow curry with tofu entree the first time, which was your typical yummy curry.  The second time, though, I felt adventurous and ordered the Spicy Eggplant and Tofu dish.  I’m so glad I did because it was fantastic.  The crispy sides of the tofu cubes combined with the soft eggplant were perfect.  After ordering it a couple of times, I thought I might try my hand at making it.  I’ve already been successful in making the best Kung Pao ever, why not Spicy Eggplant Tofu?

Spicy Eggplant Tofu | A Vegan in Progress

I turned to my favorite recipe search engine, Pinterest, and found this blog post from Made Weekly.  I wouldn’t call it a recipe, it was more like a meal guideline.  I love the way she took the photo of the ingredients.  The photo and the simplicity of the meal over the other ones I found were what made me go with this particular one.

This was a complete hit.  Because I added a little extra cornstarch, the sauce was thicker and a little sticky.  It even looked sort of restaurant-quality.  It was super flavorful and filling and went perfectly with cauliflower rice.  Eric, my resident non-vegan loved it and looked really sad when I said there wasn’t much more.  When planning our dinners for next week, I asked if he would like it again and got an enthusiastic affirmative.

Below is my adapted version of the Made Weekly Eggplant Tofu Stir Fry.  There weren’t any measurements, and I threw it together without really measuring, so these are mostly estimates.  I was out of miso, basil, and ginger, so I went without and it was still great.  This made enough for two large servings, with a little bit left over.  Next time I would likely double it for more delicious, delicious leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of firm tofu, pressed and cubed (My mom recommended popping it in the freezer for half an hour to an hour before slicing it and it really does hold its shape in the pan better that way.)
  • 1 eggplant, cubed (I had never cooked with eggplant before and didn’t know how to approach it.  I don’t know what I was worrying about, because I just cut the ends off, cut it in half, and cubed the rest with no problem.)
  • Approximately 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (Use only 1 Tablespoon if you want a thinner sauce.)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup sesame oil (This is totally optional and not mentioned in the Made Weekly post.  I just didn’t have any miso, which I knew was a major flavor contributor for this dish, so I used some sesame oil, but didn’t want to overpower the meal, so I also used grapeseed oil.)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or any basic cooking oil)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • Approximately 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • Some red pepper flakes if you like it spicy
  • Miso to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • Basil to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • Ginger to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • About 1/2 a head of cauliflower for cauliflower rice

Directions:

  • First, soak the eggplant in salt water for about an hour to reduce bitterness (a trick from my sister, Alli.
  • Drain, press, freeze, and cube tofu (see above for why I recommend freezing it for a bit).  Heat cooking oil with a little sesame oil for flavor.  Add tofu cubes to the oil and drizzle liquid smoke lightly over all of the tofu cubes.  This is my tofu trick.  It smells amazing and makes the tofu a really interesting addition to the meal, rather than a bland hunk of protein.  Stir it continuously so it doesn’t burn until the tofu is brown and crispy, then set aside.
  • Whisk together garlic, miso (if you’re using it), soy sauce or tamari, vinegar, a splash of water, and cornstarch.
  • Fry eggplant, ginger (if you’re using it), and garlic in oil (I used the same oil from cooking the tofu) until it begins to soften.  Add soy/tamari sauce mixture and stir until sauce thickens and eggplant is fully cooked (it will look yellowy-brown rather than white).
  • While the eggplant is cooking, chop your 1/2 head of cauliflower into floret-sized chunks so that the food processor will be able to handle it.  Pulse the food processor until the cauliflower bits are about rice or bulgar-sized.  Place cauliflower into a microwave safe container with a lid.  DO NOT ADD WATER.  Pop one corner of the container so that steam can escape.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until it’s all warm enough to eat.
  • Add tofu and toss it all together.  Mix in red pepper flakes (or allow each diner to add it at their discretion, as we have to do it in my house) and basil.
  • Eat your seriously delicious meal!

Dan’s Super Subs, Woodland Hills

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Dan’s Super Subs is a tiny sub sandwich shop in Woodland Hills, located on Ventura Boulevard and very close to my apartment.  They have a huge menu of over forty different subs, including three vegetarian and one vegan.  Yesterday I decided to try their vegan sandwich, which they call their “healthiest sub ever”.  It includes marinated eggplant, sliced avocado, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, balsamic vinegar and oil, oregano, salt and pepper, mild peppers, and pickles, served on wheat bread.  I am a picky eater who is determined to try new things as I transition to a plant-based diet, but I draw the line at avocados and pickles, so I ordered mine without.

Dan's Super Subs #29 | A Vegan in Progress

This is only half of my huge sub

This is half of the huge sub I got… the “regular” size is a full 8 inches and fat.  They load it with the ingredients, not skimping like Subway does most of the time with their “one olive slice per inch of sandwich” rule.  I had never tried eggplant before, nor had I eaten a sandwich with balsamic vinegar and oil on it before.  It was like eating a salad with the bread as a method of transportation from your plate to your mouth.  It was a symphony of new and zesty flavors.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the eggplant was shredded, making it really easy to eat on a sandwich.

From what I have learned so far, it isn’t altogether easy to find good take-out vegan meals, so Dan’s Super Sub #29 is a great find for me.  This way, when neither of us wants to cook, we can both order something from the same place.