Monthly Archives: April 2011

Yukon Gold and Spinach Masala

I saw this recipe from Vegetarian Times pop up on my Facebook news feed today and it just so happened I had almost all the ingredients! So, I decided to throw it together even though I already loaded the fridge for the week. It was quick, (as in about 20 minutes), easy and tasted fantastic.

I added about half a bunch of kale in with the spinach it calls for and served it over quinoa instead of rice, but any combo of greens I imagine would be good. I didn’t have any cilantro on hand, so I omitted it, but I think it would add to it nicely if you like cilantro.

If you like Indian food, even a little bit, you should try this. I think it’s going to become a staple around here — and I’m sure it will be a little different each time depending on what veggies I have in the refrigerator.

• 2 Tbsp. canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
• 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (4 c.)
• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 1 1/2 c. (I only had one small onion, but look forward to more next time)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
• 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
• 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
• 1 tsp. ground coriander
• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 can coconut milk
• 6 oz. fresh baby spinach
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 1/2 c. water, divided
• 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
• cooked rice, quinoa, etc. to serve with

1. Steam potatoes in steamer basket over simmering water 10 minutes, or until just tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute eight minutes, until golden and soft.

3. While that was cooking, I employed my new favorite small appliance, the Black and Decker Food Chopper. I tossed a few cloves of garlic, about a 3-inch piece of ginger and a chopped jalapeno in there and let ‘er rip until they were all minced. I bought this about a week ago and it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while — with all the garlic I mince at work, I swear it saved me at least 20 minutes on Monday.

4. After the onions are sufficiently cooked, add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant.

5. Stir in coriander, cumin and turmeric.

6. Add steamed potatoes and saute 1 to 2 minutes to coat with spices.

7. Add coconut milk and 1/4 c. water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.

9. Stir in spinach and/or other greens, garam masala and 1/4 c. water and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until greens are wilted.

10. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Service over rice or another grain.

Vegan Creamy Asparagus Soup

Our latest cooking club happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day and we went with a “green” theme. Although I never met a green vegetable or fruit I didn’t like, my two favorites are definitely kale and asparagus. For this, I went with asparagus and decided to make asparagus soup.

I found a vegetarian version on with great reviews, so I decided to make vegetarian and vegan versions so we could taste test them both. One of the things I have gotten better at during my vegetarian cooking exploration of the last few years is substituting various ingredients with others — I don’t think I’ve had a total fail yet, which makes me much more adventurous!

The vegetarian version uses plain yogurt, which makes the soup tangy and for the vegan version I used coconut milk, which makes the soup a little richer and with a definite coconut milk flavor in the background. I think next time I might mess with a little curry too. Both versions were delicious, but can you really go wrong with coconut milk? I think the vegan version was my favorite…

I’m sure there are many different ways you could change this up — and other vegetables you could use in the place of asparagus! In my personal chef business, I hope to never use a can of “cream of ______” (fill in the blank) soup if I can help it. Something as easy as this makes me wonder why anyone would. Here’s what I came up with.

• 1 lb. fresh asparagus (my guess is you could use frozen in a pinch)
• 3/4 c. chopped onion
• 1 3/4 c. vegetable broth
• 1 Tbsp. butter or vegan butter (Like my favorite, Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 pinch ground black pepper
• 1 c. soy or almond milk (I went with plain almond milk)
• 1/2 c. yogurt or coconut milk
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, parm substitute or nutritional yeast (optional)

1. Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus and set aside.

2. This step I decided to do on my own — you can skip it if you like and I’m sure it would be just fine! I put all of the vegetable broth in a saucepan and  placed the ends of the asparagus in with it. I simmered it for about 20 minutes to infuse the asparagus flavor into the broth, then removed it from heat (I think I put a little extra broth in there in case some cooked off). Remove asparagus ends with a slotted spoon and throw away.

3. Place asparagus and onion in small saucepan with 1/2 c. of broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

4. Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish if you like, and puree the rest in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pan until smooth, then pour into a bowl and set aside.

5. Melt butter in the pan, then stir constantly while sprinkling in flour, salt and pepper into it. Don’t let the mixture brown — cook while stirring for about 2 minutes.

6. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 c. broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

7. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the pan, the whisk in the yogurt or coconut milk and lemon juice.

8. Stir until heated through and ladle into bowls. Garnish with asparagus tips and cheese or nutritional yeast if desired.