Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto

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Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto. I served mine with roasted asparagus – NOMS.

This is LITERALLY one of my all-time favorite spring dishes! It is packed full of delicious springtime flavors, and is just the right amount of warming for cooler spring evenings. I’ve adapted this recipe from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks – but I have completely veganized it! My vegan version retains all the creaminess you commonly associate with risotto, without any dairy, eggs or gluten – wooohooo! Major crowd pleaser right here, folks. It is seriously soooo delicious, and includes one of my favorite veggie combinations – leeks and mushroom (mmmmm). It’s the perfect dish to whip up for a dinner party with your homies – it seems impressive, packs a flavorful punch but when you get down to brass tacks it’s just a really damn delicious one pot meal. YUM. Let all the spring sunshine in, here we go!

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Everything you need for Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto – veggie broth, lemons, yellow onion, leeks, Arborio rice, Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, parsley, chives, your favorite kind of mushrooms.

Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks
  • 12 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 Tbsp vegan margarine, like Earth Balance
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast*
  • ~1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh chives and flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley to serve

*To un-veganize this recipe, just replace with 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Directions

Step One: Prep your veggies (check out my Leek Cleaning Tip here). Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, until it softens. Add your mushrooms and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until they are softened and brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
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The mushrooms, leeks and garlic cooking up in my saucepan. I chose pre-sliced mushrooms out of pure time-saving laziness – I highly recommend you do the same πŸ˜‰ You can choose any mushrooms you like – I chose baby bellas and shiitake because they are my faves. Cremini mushrooms would be bomb here, too!

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Here are the cooked mushrooms and leeks after they’ve been transferred to a large bowl while you use the same pan to cook your rice. YUM. Try not to eat all of them while you’re waiting for your risotto to achieve perfection! πŸ™‚

Β Step Two: Add 2 Tbsp of Earth Balance to the pan and cook the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is golden and soft.
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Sometimes I wish that Bubbles and Booyah was scratch and sniff because the smell of onions cooking is just bomb – mmmmm!

Step Three: Stir in the rice and toast for one minute, stirring frequently (don’t let that rice burn!). Add 1 cup of veggie broth and cook gently while stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed.
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You definitely don’t want to burn the rice. Toasting the rice helps to develop a nice toasty, nutty flavor. If you prefer your risotto to be super creamy but without nutty flavor, skip this step (I mean – if I were you, I wouldn’t – but it’s up to you!) πŸ™‚

Step Four: Continue to add ~1 cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly, and allowing each cup to be absorbed before adding more. This will take about 20 – 25 minutes, and the risotto will turn thick and creamy, and the rice should be tender but not gluey or sticky.
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This is what the rice + the first cup of stock looks like. Sorry, I got distracted half way through and forgot to take any more pics – you can check out my Vegan Paella post to see more risotto-in-action shots.

Step Five: Once the risotto is done, add the leeks and mushrooms, remaining Earth Balance, grated lemon zest and juice, nutritional yeast and half the herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
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I prepped all my herbs, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest before starting the risotto (it really does keep you occupied for 30 minutes while you’re cooking it, so in order to avoid burning my rice, I prep everything before hand so I can just dump it in). This should give you a feel for the amount of fresh herbs, butter and lemon-y stuff I threw in there. Do not be afraid of the Earth Balance! If you’re stingy, it won’t taste as good (usually I try to keep the amount of oil/veg butter I add to my dishes in check, but this is one of the few dishes that is a free-for-all, and I’d throw the entire stick in there if I could).

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Here is what the risotto looks like once everything is added. I actually forgot to reserve half the herbs to sprinkle on top of the finished product, and I just threw them all in – whoops! It doesn’t really matter, but if you’re making this to impress others, it really adds a nice little flair to the presentation. πŸ˜‰

Step Six: Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining herbs sprinkled on top. Enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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The finished product! Voila!

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Dude, I know I say this frequently – but this dish is sooooooooooo bomb. I get really excited to eat my lunch when I pack leftovers of this dish. It has a great balance of flavor, and I really love how the lemon offsets the earthiness of the leeks and mushrooms, and then you throw in the creaminess of the risotto and vegan cheeze – and DAMN that is good. I’ve had it both vegan and un-vegan, and it is seriously so delicious both ways. I was kind of nervous making it without Parmesan cheese (so I bought some at the store as a back up in case I had cold feet), but I tried a small “test batch” with the nutritional yeast and it was JUST as creamy and delicious – YUM! I hope that you guys enjoy this dish as much as I do – it is seriously so freakin’ good.

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This recipe was adapted from this book (see pg. 284). Thanks to my sister J for giving this to me for Christmas many moons ago, it’s one of my absolute FAVE cookbooks ever (as you can tell from all the post-its). πŸ™‚

I hope that you all have a great Thursday today!! It is rainy and cold here today in Boston, but I think we will finally see some warmer temps tomorrow and this weekend! Hooray!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Enjoy your day, everyone.

With warmth,

L

Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad

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Woohooo! Tomorrow is the first day of Spring! It’s finally here! Even though it was 19Β°F / -7Β°C with a wind chill of 7Β°F / -13Β°C this morning when I went to boot camp (which was beyond epic, and if you want to know why check out my Instagram video of us playing adult Hungry Hungry Hippos at 6 am this morning), I have moved past winter meals and am going straight for the good, warm-weather stuff. Don’t get me wrong; I love stews, stewps and everything in between, but I am ready for some fresh, crunchy, light dishes (also I’ve been eating my weight in vegan So Delicious Coconut Almond Ice Cream Bars, so…yeah). This delicious vegan and gluten free quinoa dish is a spring/summer staple in my kitchen; not only is it SUPER quick and easy (you can whip up this sucker in under 30 minutes), but it’s really quite versatile. It holds its own as the main attraction (you could eat just this and have a pretty balanced meal, which I frequently do on those warm days when you don’t want to actually cook anything), but it also makes a good summer BBQ/party side dish, and the leftovers are phenomenal served over greens (i.e.hello lunch pack!). It’s packed with nutrients too: the brightly colored veggies are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and the quinoa adds an additional protein boost, bringing the final tally up to 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber in a single, ~330 calorie serving. And, even though it tastes (almost deceptively) fresh and light, it is still hearty and filling. If you REALLY want to go for it, throw some of my L’s Best Baked Tofu on top, and you’ve got a super protein packed dish – YUM. Also, it’s just like really pretty and nice to look at. Without further ado:

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Here’s what you need: sesame seeds, grated carrots, shredded cabbage, quinoa, fresh ginger, frozen edamame, bell pepper, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame
3/4 cup of grated carrots
5 rainbow mini bell peppers, diced (or about one whole bell pepper)
1 cup red cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 inch of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Step One: Get all your veggies ready. In a large glass bowl, place frozen edamame (no need to thaw, simply tossing with the warm quinoa later will do the trick), carrots, peppers and cabbage.

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Step Two: Start the quinoa. Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the quinoa, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes.
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You can use whatever kind of quinoa you’d like, I actually combined white, sprouted and red together (dude, you know when you have like a tiny bit left of each kind and your pantry is overflowing with 80% empty bags of every kind of quinoa under the sun? Well that is what was happening, so I just threw them all together and it worked like a charm).

Step Three: Meanwhile, whip up the dressing. Whisk together the sesame seeds, rice vinegar, ginger and sesame oil.

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Step Four: Combine. Once the quinoa is done, scoop the warm quinoa over the veggies, and toss with the sesame ginger dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Throw the steamy quinoa right on top of the veggies.

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Toss well with the dressing to combine.

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So colorful! πŸ˜€

Step Five: Enjoy! πŸ˜€

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photo 3 (3)YUMMMMM. Season with an extra drizzle of rice vinegar if you’d like, and enjoy! This dish is omnivore approved, I made it frequently over the summer and it was always a fan favorite among friends and family (it was my Go-To “dish to pass” for most of the summer parties I attended). It’s light but filling, and full of good stuff for you. Throw whatever else you’d like in there – steamed asparagus, leeks, zucchini – whatever else you have on hand/think would add some spring flavaaa – it is sure to be delicious. Also, if you’re not a quinoa addict like I am, brown rice is an excellent grain stand-in here. I’m definitely excited for the leftovers later tonight, the cold weather be dammed!

I hope you guys enjoy this dish as much as I did, and I hope you all have a great Thursday! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L ❀

xoxox

L’s Kale and Chickpea Stewp

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Hi All! Well that was fun, wasn’t it? I seriously flexed my shoveling muscles yesterday and gave several clueless folks some lessons from L’s School of Snow Removal – Western New York style (I am the shovel master). I actually find shoveling kind of cathartic, and it makes you realize how small you are in the scheme of things (and shoveling for several hours replaced my intense boot camp workout yesterday). Anywho, all zen-ness aside, it was a fun snow day. Now, it’s back to the grind! I was one of six people (!!!) in spin class this morning (usually there’s a waiting list and passive aggressive territorial fights over bikes) and the rest of the gym was a ghost town at 5:30 am. Two feet of snow has never stopped me, and it’s not about to now! We had fun comparing shoveling stories and figuring out what weird parts of our bodies that are sore (for me, left tricep, obliques, and obvi the shoulders).

If you guys are freezing your rears off in the Northeast (it’s a balmy 12Β°F / -11Β°C here in Boston this morning), or if you’re just in need of something delicious, healthy and comforting, then you should def try this kale and chickpea stew-p (nope, that’s not a spelling error, but the term for a dish that straddles the line between being a stew or soup – see my Spanish-Style Lentils recipe for more info on this term). I went for a complete freestyle and threw this bad boy together a few nights ago, solely based on the contents of my fridge, and it turned out to be AMAZING. And, it’s vegan and gluten free to boot! Without further ado:

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All the ingredients you need for my Kale and Chickpea Stewp: spices, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, bell pepper, kale, sweet potato, onion, garlic, veggie broth, chickpeas. Oh, and that wine. Yeah, you’ll need a glass of that too while you’re cooking.

L’s Kale and Chickpea Stewp

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions (or 1 large)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (plus a few shakes, if you like it hot like me!)
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 32-oz package of veggie broth
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper (I used several mini-peppers instead)
  • 1 28-oz can of diced tomato
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and pre-simmered for 90 minutes* (or 1 – 2 15.5-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)

*I highly recommend you do this ahead of time, draining the chickpeas after simmering and storing them in a glass container overnight in the fridge like I did.

Directions:

Step One: Heat the oil in large saucepan. Saute the onion until softened, about 5 or so minutes.
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Don’t worry, I know that you guys have NO idea what diced onion looks like sauteing in a saucepan, so I will continue to provide shots of this in all my recipes. πŸ˜‰

Step Two: Add all of the spices, garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring for a minute.
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Coriander, Cumin, Oregano and Cayenne all ready to be added in (aka, basically the reason that the flavors of this stewp are elevated from basic to rad).

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You definitely don’t want to burn these spices, so if you’re not into stirring continuously for one minute, cut the time in half to 30 seconds. It’ll still be amazing.

Step Three: Add the broth and kale, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to wilt the kale.
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You definitely want to crank the heat up here to really wilt that kale (I’m also impatient as sin, so I stir constantly while the stewp is bubbling away to wilt the kale and I can move on to the next step).

Step Four: Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juice, and bell peppers, simmering the stewp with the lid ajar until the veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.
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Your kitchen should be smellin’ pretty bomb right about now.

Step Five: Adjust any seasonings as necessary (I personally did not add anything). Serve hot with a crusty bread and enjoy! πŸ˜€
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As you can see, I’m not a very successful kale de-stemmer. Whatevs. Here’s the stewp after simmering for about 25 minutes. SO GOOD!

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You’re going to want to dive right into this stewp after shoveling your car out for two hours.

This was awesome. It’s almost like a tomato soup with a spicy, earthy flavor kicked up a couple notches, and all your fave veggies and beans thrown in. It’s super thick and delicious. A bowl of this will warm you right to the bones. It’s perfect for the tundra conditions we are experiencing in Boston today.

Side note: I find it endlessly entertaining that there is a Boston PSA instructing folks to “Clean off Ya Cah!” I find this humorous because, in Western New York where I come from, this is not optional. What kind of d***head doesn’t clean the snow off their roof? Well, apparently enough people that it actually becomes serious issue and you WILL get ticketed if you are seen flying down Interstate 93 (or 95) with a Frozen-worthy trail of snow soaring behind your vehicle. So please folks, if you were just in the brutal snowstorm and Juno left you a little present on your vehicle: clean off ya cah. Charlie Baker and the rest of Massachusetts will thank you. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ How did you guys fare with the snow?? Tell L all about it in the comments because you know I love that shiz. πŸ™‚

I hope you guys are safe, warm, and enjoying your day today. It’s hump day!! Woo wooo!!

With a little extra warmth today,

L ❀

Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L

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Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L: warm, comforting, nutrient rich!

Now that we are in that month or so that is happily smushed between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and bursting with holiday cheer, I wanted to take a break from all the rich, decadent and elaborate holiday meals and bring it back to simple, flavorful, healthy and warming comfort food. This meal is high in nutritional value, flavor, and is so simple: it’s a single pot meal that cooks up in just about 35 minutes. Lentils are one my favorite legumes – they are fiber and protein all stars! Just one cup of cooked lentils provides: 90% DV (daily value) of folate, 63% DV of fiber, 37% DV of iron, 36% DV of protein, 21% DV of potassium (plus 28% DV of vitamin B1, 25% DV of vitamin B5 and 21% DV of vitamin B6) – aka they are total powerhouses of nutrients. The spices in this meal are saffron and smoked paprika (pimeton), which are the major players in one my favorite Spanish dishes – paella. Here they lend a smokiness and earthiness (yeah, so weird but I couldn’t think of how to describe saffron, some connoisseurs say it has a metallic-honey, with grassy, or hay-like notes – idk, those descriptions sound suspect – but saffron is the BEST even though it is so dang expensive) to this dish. I like to describe this lentil dish as “stewp” – a hybrid between a soup and stew – perfect for serving with some crusty bread, or pouring over your favorite grain (brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley…you name it). YUM!

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Ingredients for Spanish-Style Lentils: veggie broth, lentils, onion, celery, carrots, saffron, and paprika. Not pictured: wine (bc I was totally drinking it straight out of the bottle to “taste” it), parley for garnish and a bay leaf or two.

Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 – 3 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of dried lentils, washed and picked over
  • 2 cups of veggie broth (or more, depending on how soup-y you like your stewp)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 tiny pinches of saffron (1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
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All of the herbs/spices in a small bowl, with my finger for reference size. Saffron is SO expensive, so just add as much as you can spare, even one pinch will give pretty stellar flavor to the dish.

Directions

Step One: Heat the olive in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots for a few minutes, until they are softened (5 – 7 minutes)
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Saute the vegetables over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes.

Step Two: Add the spices and saute for 1 minute.
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I accidently dumped my bay leaves in there while sauteing the spices. I would try to pick them out if you do the same (I did, only minorly burning my fingers), but it’s not a make-or-break situation. They can be put in with the veggie broth and wine.

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Give it a good stir to ensure that the spices are evenly distributed and get a nice little saute to pop the flavor up a few notches.

Step Three: Add the veggie broth, wine and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Stir in the lentils, and allow the mixture to simmer on medium-low heat, partially covered for about 35 minutes, or until the lentils have softened.
While you’re waiting, enjoy a glass of that dry red wine! πŸ˜‰
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Carefully add the veggie broth – I always start with 2 cups of broth and then add more if desired. This time I added an entire container of broth (4 cups) and the stewp was more on the soup end of the spectrum – great for dipping my crusty bread in there! πŸ™‚

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Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of wine. I added closer to 1/2 cup because I wanted more for drinking (duh).

Step Four: Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread or over your favorite grain, and enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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Enjoy your lentils with a glass of your leftover red wine!

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Add some fresh (or dried, in this case!) parsley for garnish.

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I served my lentils with crusty bread to dip into the stewp-y part. YUM!! SO goood! πŸ˜€

This “stewp” is balls to the wall amazing. It’s warm, comforting and versatile – you can make it more of a soup, or stew, depending on your preference. It’s an easy, one-pot meal that is one of my go-to’s for busy weeknight dinners. There isn’t much to it (but has that comforting earthiness), and the simmering time gives you enough downtime to enjoy a glass of that dry, red wine that you add. The perfect ending to a crazy day, if you ask me. πŸ˜€

I added some crusty, whole grain bread to it (and a glass of wine to savor), but as I mentioned before – don’t feel limited. Serve over a cup of wild rice, red quinoa, or farro if you’re looking for more of a stick-to-the-ribs stew. So, so delicious. It really hit the spot I was craving – healthy, flavorful, and filling. Perfect for an early December evening meal πŸ˜€

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did last night! Yummmm!!! πŸ˜€

Happy Tuesday, all! ❀ πŸ™‚

xo,

L