Vegan cooking tip: Keep it simple {Vegan MoFo #7}

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by JL Fields on October 10, 2012

My Vegan MoFo theme this year is “Go Vegan with JL…In the kitchen!” in which I reply to your questions about cooking in your vegan kitchen.  (I explain a bit more about my theme and plan for my October posts here.)


Today’s issue:

“I love to cook…and often make overly ambitious recipes that frustrate me.”

Me, too! I like the idea of fancy vegan recipes but ultimately they intimidate me and take much longer to prepare than I like.  Good news! It is easy to make interesting, delicious and healthy meals with very few ingredients.

This week I returned home from a trip to Colorado (where I’m moving!) and I had not yet gone to the grocery store. I had purchased a bunch of curly kale, impulsively, the day before we left and it was still fresh and lovely in the crisper of the refrigerator. I scanned my mason jars and saw some black lentils in my cupboard.  I also had homemade vegetable broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Those three things, plus avocado oil, garlic, onion, almond slivers and a bit of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and I was ready to make a super-easy eight ingredient meal.

I love the ease of using a rice cooker so I put the lentils and veggie broth in it (I used 2 cups dry lentils + 4 cups vegetable broth; this made a huge batch of lentils and I froze half), set it on the brown rice setting and let it go for 40 minutes. If you’re using the stove, simply bring your broth to a boil, add the lentils, bring back to a boil, then cover and simmer for 40 – 45 minutes.  When my lentils were just about done I sautéed garlic (3 cloves) and onion (half of a small Vidalia, cut into half moons slices) in avocado oil for a few minutes. Then I added an entire bunch of kale, with a splash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, reduced the heat to low, covered and let steam for five minutes.  After five minutes I stirred in a handful of almond slivers and simmered for another few minutes.  I served the garlic-infused kale over the lentils for a wonderful, comforting meal.

Look at that steaming, piping-hot, hearty vegan meal! Served over brown rice, quinoa or farro, this recipe includes four of the five fabulous vegan food groups (hey, have a piece of fruit for dessert and you have all five!).

Beans, greens and grains are so easy to season and spice up – and require very little work  to prepare (particularly if you opt for canned beans and quick-cooking grains, like quinoa). I think it’s one of the reasons I find a vegan diet so sustainable. It’s not complicated and it’s incredibly easy to eat wholesome meals.

What are some of your favorite six, seven or eight-ingredient vegan dishes?

  • I make big batches of grains–rice, quinoa, farro–in my rice cooker and simply add beans, veggies and a fat to create simple, easy bowls I can take with me to work. I’m also very minimal with most of my ingredients, so a whole avocado smashed up and topped with nooch spread on a couple pieces of Ezekiel bread or a whole grain wrap is an easy sandwich option to serve with a side of veggies. The same can be done with a nut butter/banana or any other combination. When I make a salad, I usually make two considering I’m already cutting up veggies. Then I just add hummus, avocado, seeds, a carb, etc. and I’m good to go!

    Like I said, I like things simple, so I never really use more than a handful of things. Some think it’s boring, but I love it 🙂

    • JL

      Great tips! You can always find a couple of cooked grains in my fridge, too!

  • I too want food to be uncomplicated. I love to cook, but most days just don’t have the time to devote a few hours to cooking my meals! I love my rice cooker & crockpot for this reason, & fortunately, oatmeal & smoothies takes like 1 minute to make!

    • JL

      Yep, appliances are a time saver for me!

  • Great post – it’s great to always have that reminder that you can keep it simple and satisfying! My favorite one-pot, easy dish is green lentils and brown rice topped with caramelized onions and vegan sour cream – yum!

    • JL

      That sounds delicious! I need to caramelize onions more often.

  • Yah, so true that you can do so much with a few ingredients. Spices are a life savor and can give new life to leftovers. My motto (especially in the winter) – when in doubt curry it up!

    • JL

      “Curry it up” LOVE IT!

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