Cherry Apple Almond Couscous – aka, a party in my mouth. Awww yeah.
It’s the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo!) and Day 3 brings another fall-worthy dish. I’ll give you a break from the pumpkins, though, and just bombard you with apples.
This recipe comes from what has quickly become one of my favorite cook books, Vegan Yum Yum. This couscous was supposed to be stuffed into delicata squash, but I just made it on its own as a tasty side dish. I made it with a red delicious apple instead of the recommended Granny Smith. Sorry, Granny. No hard feelings!
Well, I did. I mean, they’re just weird. They look funny. They certainly don’t look edible; they look mean!
I’ve had a variety of food aversions in my life that really have no true foundation. I’ve dispelled many of them over the past year. Kiwis are one of my favorite fruits. (Former aversion: they’re furry and ugly… on the outside. Oh, what I could learn from the kiwi fruit!). Mushrooms, as weird as my brain still thinks they are, happen to be delicious. (Former aversion: they’re fungus. Who eats fungus?!). I had no “real” reasons to dislike these foods – just head games.
And so it is with the artichoke. I’ve actually been psyching myself up all year to “try” artichokes. I’ve had them in the form of spinach and artichoke dip, a small handful of times. I like that dip. But tonight, after much kitchen talk with my cousin’s wife (and her reaction of sheer joy and passion for the weird artichoke), I decided to finally pull the trigger and make something with an artichoke in it.
I flipped through my growing collection of cookbooks, and found myself back in the sweet embrace of my latest cookbook crush: the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. (I can’t help but feel I’m cheating on Isa. I’m so sorry, Isa!) I love that every recipe in VYY has a photograph to accompany it. And so far, I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried from this book. For as much gushing as my friends have done over artichokes, I was surprised to find very few artichoke recipes in my collection. That’s fine – Vegan Yum Yum it is!
I made the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke salad, and stuffed it into a pita. (I like food I can eat with my hands, and for something that felt as daring and scary as eating artichokes, I needed the comfort factor for my inner utensil-shunning child). I toasted the pita-wich on the panini press, and behold:
Golden Chickpea & Artichoke salad in a pita with kale chips on the side
I must admit – with such a simple ingredient list, I wasn’t sure this was going to work. I had visions of tossing the pita to the birds and hoofing it to the fridge for a bowl of cereal for dinner. The first bite actually scared me a little – it seems I didn’t mix the lemon juice well enough and I got a really smirky first bite.
But after that…
Chickpeas and artichokes were in the hizzouse!
I got more excited with every bite; it was delicious!
Gratuitous chickpea action
What can I say? VYY is 3/3. 100% yum. And this one was super easy, to boot.
So, to the artichoke: I’m sorry I ignored you for so long. You’re tasty and I can’t wait to try you in more dishes.
Side note: I didn’t have any almonds on hand, so I used cashews instead. Nom.
Other side note: the blob on the plate is Isa’s Sanctuary Dressing – a veganized ranch stand-in that I am currently obsessed with. It’s from her Appetite for Reduction cookbook. Great for dipping!
Side side note (how many sides does this thing have?!): the co-star here was kale chips. They’re my uber favorite way to eat greens. Nutritious and dippable! They’re ridiculously simple to make. Someday I’ll write a tribute to kale chips, but in the meantime, Kath has done a video on how to make them:
This is the Creamy Basil Pasta from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. What makes it creamy if it’s vegan, you ask?
I know, right? I wouldn’t have believed it either. But there it is. I wanted to eat the entire pot of this.
Since my long run got delayed due to rain, I figured I might as well carb up with some pasta tonight. Will run tomorrow. See how that works? 🙂
This sauce is not only delicious, but super easy to make. Very few ingredients – a couple tomatoes, a little tomato paste, cashews, and some seasoning. Really! I love my food processor! (I have a KitchenAid 7-cup model).
Toss with pasta (organic whole wheat pasta, in my case!) and nom!
My friend asparagus came along for the ride. I love to have asparagus with pasta. Every time I think of Italian food, I want asparagus. Is that normal? At any rate, it’s just steamed and sprinkled with a little sea salt.
This, my friends, is a vegan recipe that I declare is better than the “original” – and this is no April Fool’s joke!
Double Decker French Toast Plate
The Magic Brown Truck Fairy stopped by yesterday and dropped off a new cookbook – Vegan Yum Yum. I’m a fan of the blog, and finally decided to break down and get the book. As I poured through it last night before bed, I had visions of wonderful breakfasts dancing in my head.
I had some surprise good news on the scale this morning – I’ve officially lost 100 pounds since December 2009 – so I had even more reason to make a special breakfast today!
It was a bit of an adventure making this French toast; it was my first time cooking with a cast iron skillet. Needless to say, my first few pieces weren’t pretty! (That won’t stop me from eating them!) I got better at the timing and the flipping as I went along, but it’s still probably a good thing that the French toast is mostly hidden by fruit.
My only complaint about Vegan Yum Yum is that some of the recipes have a lot of things that I try to eat only in moderation – margarine (i.e. Earth Balance), all-purpose flour, etc. So I decided to try to health-up the Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast recipe, and dare I say, it turned out wonderfully!
My modifications from the original recipe were to use almond milk instead of soy milk, agave instead of sugar, half whole wheat flour/half all-purpose flour instead of all all-purpose flour, and to add some ground flax seed. I also used nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine to grease the skillet.
It rolls in around 427 calories (you could lay off the fruit some to drop that number, but this is pretty much my standard breakfast, in the 400-600 calorie range).
One last note: if you’re still soaking your pancakes, waffles, and French toast in fake maple syrup (I’m lookin’ at you, Aunt Jemima!), for the love of whatever you love, stop it! Get yourself a bottle of real, 100% pure maple syrup. It tastes ridiculously better, and is – must I say it – real food, instead of a bottle full of chemicals. And you won’t need to drown your poor breakfast to enjoy it. Just a drizzle will do, because it’s so naturally sweet!