Bang Bang Cauliflower

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Bang Bang cauliflower is one my favorite dishes. I would say it’s the Asian inspired version of Buffalo cauliflower. I first tried it at a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment and fell in love with the flavor of the sauce. The restaurant version is really tasty but deep fried. My version is a little healthier because it’s baked and uses panko breadcrumbs to add some crunch. Because this recipe is dairy free, there’s no egg involved. I used vegan butter instead of egg to make the breading stick. The butter allows some of the panko to stick but it’s still a light coating. Panko breadcrumbs are used in a lot of Asian dishes as breading. They are made differently vs. traditional breadcrumbs and are light, airy, and very crunchy. A little goes a long way! The sauce is really the star of this dish and somewhat addictive! It’s tangy, spicy, and creamy and pairs really well with the crispy, hot cauliflower. I love the added freshness and flavor of the green onions on top, but you can certainly serve this dish without them. The versatile sauce also goes well with other vegetables and can be used as a dip for almost anything including tofu, tempeh, or dumplings. It’s really easy to make and the fresh lime juice really kicks up the flavor. Sweet chili sauce is not hard to find in any grocery store and adds a little touch of sweetness to the sauce. Feel free to adjust the ingredient proportions of the sauce to your preference! You can add more Sriracha sauce to taste depending on how spicy you like your food. The soy sauce adds some salt to the sauce – feel free to add a little more of that to taste as well. Adding less vegan mayonnaise will thin out the sauce. This colorful and spicy dish is perfect as a vegan appetizer at your next dinner party. If you make Bang Bang Cauliflower make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and/or Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 10 cups of florets)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted (such as Earth Balance brand) or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1 to 2 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 to 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • canola oil spray
  • 1/4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
  • 3 tbs chopped green onions (optional topping)

Directions

Preheat oven to 420F. Spray two baking sheets with canola oil spray and set aside. Cut cauliflower into even and small sized florets. In a large bowl toss cauliflower with butter (or oil), making sure all florets are evenly coated so that the panko can stick to them. Place panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Roll florets in panko breadcrumbs and place on baking sheets, making sure cauliflower pieces are not touching. Spray cauliflower with canola oil spray. Bake cauliflower for 20 minutes, then flip cauliflower pieces carefully with tongs or a spatula, and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Cauliflower and panko coating will appear golden brown when done. After baking, sprinkle cauliflower with salt and add more to taste. While cauliflower is baking, prepare the sauce. Whisk together mayonnaise, Sriracha (add more or less depending on desired spice level), sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice until smooth. Place cauliflower in a large serving bowl/platter and top with sauce and chopped green onions. Serve while hot. Consume within 1 day of preparing (panko will lose its crunch). Extra sauce may be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

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Teff Jalapeño Bread

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This is my first time cooking with Teff flour. I’m excited for this recipe because I’ve wanted to try Teff for a long time but couldn’t find it anywhere. I finally found it at Whole Foods. Teff flour is used to make Ethiopian Injera bread as well as other Ethiopian staples. It’s nutrient dense and gluten free. It’s also high in protein and fiber compared to other grains but, most importantly, it’s rich in iron. A serving of Teff flour contains 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of your daily iron requirement – which is why it’s considered a superfood. Warm jalapeño bread seemed like a great idea this time of year and a great way to incorporate Teff flour into my baking. If you can’t find Teff flour, you can make this recipe using all purpose flour or gluten free flour. Because Teff flour is light brown in color, this bread – which is actually a type of cornbread, doesn’t have the typical yellow color.

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Teff is nutrient dense, which makes it a little higher in calories vs. traditional all purpose flour. This bread is buttery, slightly sweet, and melts in your mouth. It goes really well with vegetarian chili or any soup. It also makes a healthy, filling snack on its own. It’s soft, a little crumbly, and not too dense.This recipe is great as a vegan, gluten free appetizer at your next dinner party. It’s so good fresh out of the oven – when it’s still warm. If you really want to indulge, add a small pat of vegan butter. If you make Teff jalapeño bread make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Teff flour is high in iron and has a light brown color.

Teff Jalapeño Bread

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups Teff flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 flax eggs (mix 2 tbs flax powder in 6 tbs water and let sit for 10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbs minced jalapeño
  • 1 tbs sliced jalapeño for garnish
  • olive oil spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 11 inch x 7 inch pan with olive oil spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine Teff flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a medium sized bowl combine almond milk, vegan butter, applesauce, flax eggs, maple syrup, and minced jalapeño. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour batter into greased baking pan and smooth the top. Top with jalapeño slices and bake at 350F for 47-50 minutes. Bread is ready when it springs back to touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. May store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/12 serving of bread: 224 cal

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Chana Masala with Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

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It’s the end of summer… September is one of my favorite months. I start to lay off on the grilling and switch to roasting instead. I also start to crave things like curry and soup this time of year. Chickpeas are a staple in my house. I usually use organic canned chickpeas to save on time. They’re so versatile and can be used to make so many delicious things. They’re also high in protein and fiber. Chana masala at Indian restaurants is always so good. That may be because they use a lot of oil and also serve it with a deep fried Indian bread known as Bhatura. At home, I prefer the low fat, healthier version with low carb cauliflower rice. I am pretty much obsessed with vegetable substitutes for pasta a rice these days. I love cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles and make them almost every day. Cauliflower rice does take some extra time but once you make it, it lasts for days in the fridge. It can be flavored anyway you like and it really does keep you full. You could also serve Chana with quinoa or brown rice as healthy alternatives to traditional white rice. The leftovers from this meal make an excellent desk lunch the next day! I always say that Chana is better the next day. It’s really hard to mess up Chana masala. It’s so quick and easy to make. Feel free to substitute fresh grated ginger instead of powdered if you have it. You can also kick up the spice level by adding 2-3 more chili peppers. The squeeze of lemon at the end adds a much needed bit of tartness. In Indian cooking, cilantro is often used as a garnish in lieu of parsley. After all, it is from the same plant that produces coriander seeds. The cumin and coriander are what make the “masala”. They pair together beautifully and give this classic dish it’s depth. They are essential in Indian cuisine and give off a signature aroma. The turmeric adds beautiful color and has anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re trying to save on groceries, canned tomatoes and cayenne pepper (instead of chili peppers) will work just as well. This dish is great for everyday because it’s relatively inexpensive to make. Make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram or Facebook if you make it or Pin this recipe!

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Chana Masala with Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For the Chana Masala:
  • 2 (15oz) cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chili pepper, seeds removed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • For the cauliflower rice:
  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups of cauliflower florets)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent/golden brown – about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Next, reduce heat and add chili pepper, ginger, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer on low heat until tomatoes have released their juices and thickened – about 8-10 minutes. Add chickpeas, garam masala, lemon juice, and salt and stir well. Simmer on low heat for another 6-7 minutes. Top with fresh cilantro just before serving. Next, make the cauliflower rice. Cut cauliflower into florets and towel off any excess water. Place 1/2 of the florets in a high powered blender or food processor. Pulse until cauliflower is rice sized. Remove from food processor and place in a large mixing bowl. Pulse second half of cauliflower florets until rice sized then empty into mixing bowl. Toss with salt and chopped cilantro. Serve chana masala over raw cauliflower rice. May store both in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/6 chana masala + 1/4 cauliflower rice: 243 cal

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Vegan Panzanella Salad

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Summer is the best time of year in Chicago! We have a multitude of parks that host free movies and live music all summer long. One of my favorite summer activities is packing a picnic and sitting on the lawn of Grant Park. The backdrop of the city skyline combined with fresh air, the sounds of a full orchestra, friends and family, and delicious food makes for a perfect evening! Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads to bring on a picnic. I love French bread, fresh herbs, and really good olive oil. All of the fresh ingredients along with the red wine vinaigrette make this salad really tasty. You can use 1 day old, crusty French bread or toast fresh bread in the oven to make sure it doesn’t get too soggy once it’s in the salad. The bread should have a chewy (not soggy) consistency once it absorbs the dressing. I used vegan mozzarella by Follow Your Heart that I found at Whole Foods but you could also use extra firm tofu as a substitute. The capers add salty flavor and the bright, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes are just bursting with sweet flavor. There are several variations of this salad. You could add red and yellow peppers for tangy crispness. There’s also a version that adds arugula for a spicy kick. I think this dish is really satisfying and often have it as a light meal. It goes really well with most white wines or even rose. This recipe is so simple and super easy to assemble. If you make it, let me know how it turns out! Tag your picture with @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or Pin It on Pinterest!

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Fresh, simple ingredients!

Vegan Panzanella Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 (6oz) French demi baguette, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 lb grape heirloom tomoatoes, halved
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 (10oz) package vegan mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces (such as Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs capers
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 300F. Cut bread into 1.5 inch cubes and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for about 13-15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and set aside to cool. Next, make the dressing: whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl toss bread with dressing and combine well. Let bread absorb dressing for about 5 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, cucumbers, vegan mozzarella, onion, capers, basil, and oregano and combine well. Salad is best if consumed within 24 hours.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/6 of Vegan Panzanella: 307 cal

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Coconut Forbidden Rice

Spring is finally here and I just started training for a 100 mile bike ride in June for the American Lung Association. The Fight For Air Ride takes place yearly with the goal of raising money and awareness for lung diseases. As an asthma doctor, this cause is near and dear to my heart. This will be my second ride and I’m hoping that this year, we can raise even more money to fight lung disease in adults and kids. My training involves at least two long rides a week and carbo loading. I was inspired to make this recipe in order to avoid eating pasta and bread every day. Forbidden rice is a whole grain much like brown rice or wild rice. It’s higher in fiber than white rice. It also contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are, in part, what give many fruits and vegetables their color. It’s also what gives Forbidden rice its black color. Anthocyanins are thought to be high in antioxidants. Antioxidants in food are thought to help prevent illnesses such as cancer. This is why eating dark colored fruits and foods like Forbidden rice on a daily basis is so important for our long term health. I also love Forbidden rice because it has a delicious, nutty flavor and chewy texture. The texture is almost like al dente pasta. This rice is colorful and only takes 30 minutes to cook on the stovetop. This recipe is also oil free. I used edible flowers as a garnish but coconut chips would also be a great garnish. This rice pairs well with avocado. It also goes well with white wine. You can substitute quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice instead of Forbidden rice in this recipe. Forbidden rice typically comes from China. It’s named “Forbidden” because it was only eaten by royalty in China around the 14th to 16th centuries. Luckily for us, it’s available at most grocery stores for royals and non-royals alike! (I found mine at Whole Foods) Make sure you tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook if you make it!


Coconut Forbidden Rice

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked Forbidden Rice
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashew halves
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt plus more to taste

Directions


Rinse rice with water and place in a medium sized saucepan. Add water and coconut milk to rice and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Stir in lime juice, cayenne pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder, turmeric, and salt. Remove from heat and cover for about five minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and add more salt to taste. Top with cashews and chopped cilantro right before serving. May store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2 days. Makes about 3 cups of cooked rice.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per Cup: 303 cal

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Polenta with Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Sage

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It’s mid-March and still snowing in Chicago! This type of weather is perfect for comfort food. Polenta is easy to make from scratch and is hearty and satisfying. It’s an often overlooked vegan ingredient which is very versatile. It can also be used to make corn grits. Polenta seems to be making a comeback in 2017… We even have a new, all polenta restaurant in the West Loop in Chicago that serves up hot polenta with various sauces (including a vegan option!). You can buy polenta that is already cooked, but I prefer to make mine from scratch because the flavor is unbeatable. You can actually skip baking the polenta to make a creamy, decadent side dish. Baking allows for a firmer, chewy texture that can be cut into squares. I like to serve the baked version as an appetizer because it’s easier to eat and serve. This recipe has endless variations… you could add fresh diced tomatoes instead of sun dried and chopped basil instead of sage to give it a more traditional Italian flavor. Truffle oil is also delicious in polenta! If you’re gluten free, look for gluten free polenta – Bob’s Red Mill makes a gluten free version. This dish is creamy, delicious, and filling but still low in calories. The mushrooms add an earthy flavor and go well with tart, sweetness of the sun dried tomatoes. The fresh sage adds fresh flavor and fragrance. Remember to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make it!

Colorful, whole ingredients!

Polenta with Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Sage

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn polenta (uncooked)
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbs sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh sage, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 tbs vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease an 8″ x 13″ baking dish with olive oil spray and set aside. Cook garlic 2-3 minutes in olive oil on medium heat in a medium sized sauté pan. Add sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Next, bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly add polenta to boiling water, stirring frequently with a spatula or whisk. Reduce heat to low and cook polenta for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Polenta will thicken and bubble (be careful as polenta may splatter and burn skin!). Add butte, salt, and pepper and stir well. Next, gently fold mushroom mixture into polenta. Spread polenta evenly onto greased baking dish and bake for 18-20 minutes. Polenta should be firm, turn golden-brown, and start to separate from the sides of the dish. Cut into squares and serve warm. May store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per 1/6 of polenta: 137.5 cal

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