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Vegan MoFo 3: Vega Powder and Eggplant-Sweet Potato Stew

Posted Oct 05 2011 7:57pm

by Ali Seiter

Happy fifth day of Vegan MoFo! For those of you out-of-the-loopers, Vegan MoFo unites over 700 vegan bloggers in a month-long online food extravaganza. The goal is to write as much as humanly possible about animal-product-free yums for the entire month; many bloggers posting once or twice a day (I suppose I failed that goal already!). All of the blog entries are part of huge RSS feed bundles so fellow MoFo-ers can catch up on the latest trends/recipes/uber creative ideas in the vegan e-world. As Isa Chandra Moskowitz, one of the founder of Vegan MoFo, would say:

“As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about.”

Damn straight.

Now! To the task at hand. As I mentioned in my last post, I very recently procured a bag of Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion chock full of my definition of “superfoods”: Yellow pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic sprouted flax seeds, organic brown rice protein, organic green food blend (spirulina, organic wheat grass, organic alfalfa grass, organic barley grass, organic spinach, organic sprouted broccoli, organic kale, organic kelp, organic dulse), inulin (from chicory root). Hemp? Flax? GREEN FOOD BLEND?!? Yes, please.

Unsurprisingly, I eagerly powered up my morning smoothie with two scoops of this sage-green powder the day after purchasing. I certainly blame the placebo effect for my energized mood throughout the entire day, but what can I say? With that much greeny goodness (because I of course added kale to the smoothie), how could you not feel superb?

Berry-Kale Vega Smoothie (Raw if substituting nut milk, Gluten Free, Soy Free if substituting nut milk, Oil Free)

Serves 1-2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana (mine are always frozen to impart a cold creamy texture.)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mixed berries
  • 2 large leaves of kale
  • 1 cup soy milk (or any non-dairy milk of choice.)
  • 2 scoops Vega Smoothie Infusion (can substitute any Vega/vegan protein powder.)

Throw it all in a blender, puree until super smooth, garnish with fresh fruit and granola if desired, and feel the improved energy coursing throughout your veins for the rest of the day.

The powder imparts little flavor to the smoothie; if anything, it enhanced the “green” taste (which I’ve come to love). Make sure to blend the smoothie incredibly well, though, otherwise you may discern the chalkiness of the Vega.

Local Ingredients: Kale from the Plahnt Farm, raspberries from Sutter’s Ridge Farm.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein–Vega powder and soy milk. Whole GrainEzekiel granola. Fruit–banana and raspberries. Added Leafy Green Bonus!–Kale and Vega powder.

Breakfast: check. Lunch: not for this post! Dinner: Eggplant-Sweet Potato Stew.

This Sunday, I found myself in a dinner dilemma. Having returned home boasting a veritable plethora of late-summer produce from the Saturday farmers market, I harbored a natural urge to sample all of the gorgeous fresh veggies as soon as possible. Clearly, I could not accomplish this task within the scope of a single meal, so I zeroed in on two vegetables necessary to feature in that night’s dinner: eggplant and sweet potatoes. Not exactly best culinary buddies as one leans more toward the summery spectrum while the other thrives in fall and winter, eggplant and sweet potatoes proved difficult partners to find used in one recipe. Luckily, after scouring various vegan blogs, Epicurious.com, and multiple cookbooks, I came across this recipe in Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen: Summer Potatoes Stewed with Eggplant, Peppers, and Olives. How perfect.

Another round of recipe experimentation!

Recipe: Eggplant-Sweet Potato Stew—Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, recipe follows.

Tweaks:

  • Reduced 3 tbsp olive oil to 1 tsp for stew + 1 tsp for browning eggplant.
  • Replaced fingerling potatoes with sweet potatoes.
  • Omitted olives. (For some reason, I don’t enjoy the flavor of olives used in cooked dishes. By themselves or as part of an antipasto platter, I adore them! But not in my cooking, thank you very much. You could certainly include them if you swing that way.)
  • Added 1 can chickpeas.

 

Lessons Learned for Next Time:

  • After 20 minutes of salting the eggplant, they still hadn’t released very much moisture. I would recommend allowing the eggplant to leach out their bitter juices for more like 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Though the recipe calls for simply slicing the eggplant, I would either cube it or halve the whole thing and then slice it. The pieces of eggplant, while delicious, were a bit large to fit into one bite—and I certainly don’t envision myself cutting up veggies to eat my stew.
  • Serve this over a grain! I didn’t because my mother and I prepared some roasted corn on the side, so I had enough starch in the meal without additional rice or quinoa. However, a grain would soak up all the succulent tomatoey juices oozing from this stew. Mmm…

Local Ingredients: Eggplant and yellow bell peppers from Pederson’s Produce, red cipollini onions from Jones Valley Farm, sweet potatoes from the Plahnt Farm, heirloom tomatoes from JenEhr Family Farm, garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm, and parsley from my garden.

Meal Checklist: Protein–chickpeas. Whole Grain–technically none, though corn could be considered as such. Vegetables–eggplant, onion, sweet potato, bell pepper, tomato, garlic. Leafy Green–broccoli. (No, not really a “leafy green,” but it’s green and a member of the hihgly nutritious cruciferous veggie family, from which kale also descends.)

Eggplant-Sweet Potato Stew (Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free)

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs small eggplants (the slender Japanese varieties work especially well.)
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, halved and sliced (quartered if larger.)
  • 2 large bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips (a mixture of red and yellow is quite asthetically pleasing. Just make sure they’re NOT GREEN! Ick.)
  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced (can substitute 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, but who would want to with peak-season heirlooms? Not me, no siree.)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Generous handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas or 2 cups freshly cooked
  • Black pepper to taste

Slice eggplant 1/2 inch thick (halve or quarter the slices if using larger eggplant). Toss with a teaspoon or two of salt and set aside for 30-45 minutes in a colander (this leaches out moisture from the eggplant, reducing its natural bitter taste and tendency to absorb oil). Rinse and pat dry. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a wide skillet, add the eggplant, and cook over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom. Turn and cook the second side, about 10 minutes total. The eggplant doesn’t need to cook all the way through since the stewing will take care of that.

While the eggplant browns, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, potatoes, and peppers. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 6 to 8 minutes until spottily browned. Lower the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, pepper to taste, garlic, and parsley. (If using canned tomatoes, add about a cup of water to ensure adequate moisture.)

Once the eggplant has finished browning, add it to the sweet potato mixture. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook slowly until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. (The longer you cook it, the more the flavor concentrates into sheer tastiness.)

Serve over a grain like I didn’t and enjoy the fruits (rather, veggies!) of late summer’s bounty.

Comment Provoking Questions: What is your favorite vegan protein powder? How about your favorite smoothie in which to use it? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you absolutely adore sweet potatoes?

Until next time, Ali.

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