Day 213: It’s a Spooky Soup Kind of Day

Day 213 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it another rainy and cool day to the mountains of Colorado. Over the past week, most days have been similar to today which is rather unusual in the land of 300 sunny days per year. Most everyone is complaining about the rain for one reason or another. I, however, love it! Perhaps my love of gloom and Halloween says something about me as a human being??? Regardless, I used the day to create a lovely rich soup with purple cauliflower. It is colorful, healthy, simple, delicious, vegan (of course), and absolutely perfect for your autumn gatherings. Enjoy!

Instructions
1- Microchop two large heads of purple cauliflower.
2- Toss the broccoli in a pan (or slow cooker as I did) with four cups of your favorite vegetable stock. I always have vegan stock on hand because I save my stems and scraps throughout the week, regularly simmering them down with herbs, garlic, white wine, water and spices.
3- Simmer until soft.
4- Pour the simmered cauliflower with broth into a blender, adding two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 cup of vegan half and half and blend until smooth and creamy.
5- Serve with freshly ground pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper.

Day 206: For the Love of… Avocado

It should come as no surprise that the avocado has become more popular than ever. It is everywhere and many have a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ attitude toward the fruit (yes, it is a fruit). Over the the past few weeks, I have been seeing a new avocado option, deep fried avocado, pop up on countless restaurant menus. I’ve tried it in the deep fried state on its own as an appetizer, in tacos, and on toast. Today, day 206 of the Nowhere To Be Project, brought me to the delicacy that is a fried avocado burger! It was so good that I’ve begun test trials of frying avocado at home. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, but in the meantime be sure seek out any and all sources of fried avocado and try them at once.

Day 203: Eat It Raw (and Roasted)

My trophy kohlrabi

The past few days of the Nowhere To Be Project have been very food focused and day 203 continues the trend. Several days ago I talked about kohlrabi, a vegetable that I just learned about from Celia Brooks at an event for her latest book SUPERVEG Related Blog Post and Related Blog Post. I’m told the name translates as German cabbage. I asked for kohlrabi ideas from readers and literally EVERYONE said “eat it raw”! I’m not a huge salad eater, but gave the raw kohlrabi a chance by making Celia Brooks’ recipe for a mint and kohlrabi salad (page 74 in SUPERVEG).

Crisp and fresh…that’s how I’d describe this lovely little salad

Not only was the end result a beautifully colorful plate (almost too pretty to eat), but the combination of crisp mint leaves and crunchy and mild kohlrabi was so refreshing. I altered the recipe a bit by using dairy-fee plain yogurt and omitting the poppy seeds and honey from the dressing. I also added pea shoots for extra pizazz. This salad reminded me of spring and I would compare the taste of raw kohlrabi to that of jicama. I used just half of my kohlrabi on the salad and decided to try a bit of an experiment with the remainder of the elusive vegetable.

My two secret ingredients for unbelievable roasted kohlrabi

I cubed the second half of the Kohlrabi and tossed it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. I then spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet before generously sprinkling them with freshly ground salt and pepper. Next I grabbed my fakin’ bacon bits (Frontier Co-op Bac’ Uns) and favorite freeze dried garlic nuggets (Rinaldo’s Organic) and thoroughly coated the cubes. I popped them in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes to finish the job. I ended up with the most delicious outcome…crunchy flavorful crust on the outside and smooth mild flavor on the inside. Interestingly, the kohlrabi took on a completely different flavor when cooked…somewhere between fried zucchini and roasted potatoes. Will I go for a kohlrabi again if I happen upon one? Absolutely! I mean, who doesn’t love playing with their food?

These roasted kohlrabi cubes may look like apples, but they taste like a luscious mix between potatoes and fried zucchini

Day 201: Soup Weather

Day 201 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it a chilly and rainy autumn day. For me a gloomy and chilly day just screams soup! I adore soup for so many reasons beyond the fact that it warms the soul! It is simple and inexpensive to make no matter where you are (RV, dorm room, etc.). It can be made out of almost anything and is so easy to pack full of nutrients. It is great for make ahead on-the-go and freezer meals, and it is usually very healthy. My soup adoration naturally kicks in gear at this time of year and remains strong until spring.

Today’s yummy soup was creamy broccoli and cheddar. I have struggled to create a satisfying vegan version of this classic soup for a while, but today’s outcome was a breakthrough. I used my slow cooker as I so often do with soups. It is literally set it and forget it cooking with a very gourmet outcome! My soup was bursting with healthy broccoli AND was rich, creamy and cheesy! The incredible flavor of the soup was balanced by a slightly toasted slice of fresh baked sourdough bread. I added a few fresh pea shoots as well for added crunch. Soup weather perfection!

Instructions
1- Drop four cups of broccoli florets into a slow cooker and cover with four cups of vegetable stock, cooking until the broccoli is very soft.
2- Use a potato masher to break up any large chunks of broccoli in the slow cooker before adding half a cup of vegan half and half and two ounces of your favorite vegan cheddar, whisking everything until blended.
3- Cover and simmer for ten additional minutes before serving.

TIP Once a week I use all my cast aside vegetable and herb stems, leaves, and stalks to create my own vegetable stock. I just drop them all in my slow cooker with a couple cups of fresh water, along with a splash of lemon juice, olive oil, white wine and salt and pepper, simmering for a few hours before draining off the broth when complete.

Day 200: Desperately Seeking Kohlrabi

My trophy kohlrabi

Day 200 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought me a mysterious gift…kohlrabi. I just learned about kohlrabi last week from chef and author Celia Brooks at her SUPERVEG book signing Related Blog Post. She raved about the merits of this elusive and mysterious vegetable so much that I became obsessed with getting my hands on one. I inquired at three different grocery stores without a sniff of luck. Most of those I queried were like me, completely kohlrabi illiterate. I had all but given up on ever sinking my teeth into one when just as with love, I happened upon it when I was least expecting it (during my usual Sunday visit to the Vail Farmer’s Market). The lovely ladies of Trout Creek Farm always bring the finest produce to the market and on this day the holy grail that is Kohlrabi was included in their harvest. I snatched one up for just $2 along with my usual bounty of sprouts and greens.

All that’s left now is for me to decide what to do with my prized kohlrabi. I could use it to create a salad with mint and poppy seeds as exemplified by Celia Brooks in SUPERVEG?!? Or maybe I should be more indulgent and make fries out of it?!? I’m going to give it a day or so to consider it. If you have any clever ways of preparing kohlrabi, I’m dying to hear them. Please connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or via email at nowheretobeproject@gmail.com. I’ll be sure to share the fate of my kohlrabi.

Day 137: Going Beyond Hamburg with the Burger

Day 137 of the Nowhere To Be Project was all about burgers (not the first time and sure won’t be the last:). Legend has it that the hamburger was created in Hamburg, Germany when ground beef was mixed with garlic and onions and served in an open-faced sandwich. This may be the case, but as a chronic world traveler and part-time hamburglar, I can confidently say that America has commandeered ownership of the hamburger. It’s no surprise then that a U.S. company has created what they call the Beyond Burger. The Beyond Burger is a very popular plant-based hamburger patty. It is the brainchild of the Beyond Meat Company, an innovator in plant-based options. The Beyond Burger is nicknamed the “bleeding burger” because its appearance and texture resemble that of a traditional beef hamburger. With the growing interest in healthier plant-based options, the Beyond Burger has become a very hot commodity with many stores struggling to keep it in stock. It is also popping in at many chain restaurants in the U.S. and the U.K.

As a burger-loving vegan, I prepare Beyond Burgers quite frequently. I either pan fry them or grill them. In my opinion, the pan frying gives them more flavor and a rich crust.

I am always trying to add a new twist each time I make them and today, I must say that I took the burger way, way beyond in the best of ways.

To begin, I warmed a tablespoon of avocado oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Next, I added sliced white button mushrooms to the pan, sprinkled them with a bit of garlic salt and sautéed them until they were just shy of crispy. I then placed a thawed Beyond Burger patty in the same pan, cooking it for about three to four minutes on each side. During the final minute of cooking, I spooned two tablespoons of Treeline soft french-style herb-garlic nut cheese on top of the patty and covered the pan with a lid. Once the cheese had warmed, I popped the patty onto thick piece of toasted sourdough bread coated in a layer of dijon mustard. The final touch was made when the mushrooms were spooned over the burger and a second slice of sourdough was placed on top. Yum!

I have not been compensated in any way for this post and have no vested interest in Beyond Meat or Treeline Cheese. As always, I write about my perspective alone.

Day 130: Cultural Immersion Via Gastronomy

Day 130 of the Nowhere To Be Project fell on a Sunday. No matter where I am in the world, summer Sundays are synonymous with farmer’s markets. Buying local food directly from the source provides an unmatched opportunity for cultural immersion. If you’re like me, you worship food and understand that it, alone, holds the key to truly understanding the nuances of a locale.

The farmer’s market in Vail today was bursting with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and squash. These flavors reminded me of a delicious Tuscan Panzanella I once experienced (yes, food should be an experience!). With that sensory memory as my inspiration I created a quick yet magnificent slow cooker lasagna. It is naturally plant-based and dairy-free, and to be completely honest, it is so decadent that you wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t told you! Enjoy and be sure to share!

TUSCAN PANZANELLA LASAGNA🌿🍅

Ingredients

1/2 pound assorted varieties of squash, thinly sliced*

1/2 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced

4 cups of your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara sauce**

1 ball of fresh plant-based mozzarella cheese, sliced***

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Oven ready dried lasagna noodles****

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

-Begin by drizzling a bit of the EVOO into the slow cooker.

-Add a ladle full of tomato sauce to the slow cooker.

-Crack the lasagna noodles to fit the slow cooker, creating a single layer on top of the sauce.

-Drizzle a tad more EVOO on top of the dried pasta.

-Use the 1/2 of the sliced mozzarella to create the filling for the first layer of the lasagna, topping it with another layer of dried pasta and a ladle of sauce.

-Use the sliced squash to create the second layer of the lasagna, dusting it with EVOO, salt and pepper before adding another layer of dried pasta and more marinara.

-Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a single layer directly on top of the dried pasta.

-Sprinkle the chopped basil and garlic on top of the tomatoes along with another light dusting of EVOO, salt and pepper.

-Crumble the remaining mozzarella on top of the tomatoes before pouring the remaining sauce in the slow cooker.

-Cook on high for two hours and then turn the heat to low and cook for another hour or so, until brown and bubbly.

-Let the lasagna sit at room temperature in the slow cooker crock for 30 minutes before serving.

-Serve with garlic bread to mop up every morsel of deliciousness!

Notes

*I used patty pan and zucchini squash.

**Victoria White Linen is a wonderful option (and what I used) for simple marinara sauce.

***Miyoko’s makes an amazing vegan mozzarella that tastes and melts just like dairy cheese. I used this in the dish.

****Never assume that any pasta is vegan as many are made with eggs. I used Pastamoré dried lasagna noodles, purchased at the farmer’s market.