VeganMofo 2012

It wasn’t like she knew all that much about football. Nope, Evie was there for the tight ends and drinking games.

Exiting the elevator, she could already smell the odd mix of eight different perfumes and hear the high-pitched chatter of female interns. Kim answered the door, “There you are! I was beginning to think Mitch had you tied up the rest of the afternoon.”

“No way! I am the reigning food queen of your girly games. I have a duty,” Evie replied, unloading her BBQ kale chips on the soapstone kitchen island. Then her eyes grew wide when she spied the bowl of gorgeous green tapenade.

“You’re not the only one who with a fetish for kale. Babs made this…uh…hey Bab’s! What did you call this?” Kim yelled as if the intercom were never invented.

Green Envy Tapenade came the answer. Ah yes, something to give Evie a little competition in the kale department. Evie puckered at the sharp briny edge of Bab’s so-called Green Envy on a chunk of crusty bread. Her eyes rolled, yes, this would be great with a very dry, authentic German Riesling. But first, she had to get Babs to tell her the recipe.

Yells from the living room indicated the drinking games had begun. With any luck, there’d be enough butt patting from just the Bears alone to make Babs spill the beans.

Green Envy Tapenade

  • 1 and 1/2 cup green olives
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 of your biggest basil leaves
  • 5 small to medium Tuscan kale leaves, stems removed
  • 3-5 T. olive oil
  • Optional: a few shreds of vegan mozzarella

Put all items in a food processor and process until slightly chunky spreadable consistency. You might need to add a dribble of more olive oil to keep the blades turning. Play it by ear (which never makes sense because you should really play it by sight). Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

Assemble the Bruschetta:

  1. Spread tapanade on slices of baguette.
  2. Top with mozzarella if you’re opting in.
  3. Roast under broiler just a tad to heat. Serve with a dry white wine.

Don’t tell Evie but Bab’s adapted the olive tapenade recipe on, merely increasing the amount of olives, adding kale and topping with vegan mozzarella.

While Mitch was still sleeping, Evie got ready for her morning run. Heading down the hall, she was full of energy she hadn’t felt in weeks. Sprinting out the lobby door, her mind was on Mitch, still lying on her bed with just a swath of cloth, looking like a Roman painting. He was a fine specimen: taller than her but not by much, muscular but not overly so, considerate but not a softy, and he didn’t overheat like her old, two-cup food processor. He seemed dependable, in every way.

No sooner than she hit Lakeshore Drive, her cell phone begged for attention from her front pocket. “They really shouldn’t make these things vibrate so…effectively.”

It was Kim, wanting a TPS report on Mitch.

Evie explained, while huffing toward Grant Park, that though they had many things in common and last night had been pretty great, something was missing. “Kim, he even brought me a cupcake! Way better than getting flowers.”

“So what’s the problem? Did he puke on your kitty?”

“No, it’s just…” She sighed and laid it all out, “he asked if I had any Bud Light.”

Kim snickered into the phone.

“I mean, I made this 4-star dinner, massaged a cart-load of kale—and you know what that does to me—got all the breading photo perfect on the tofu cutlets…I even ironed the table cloth! And he wants a Bud Light to go with that?”

There was silence, then, “You know Evie, that’s really nothing.”

“So I’m being shallow?” Evie knew the answer.

“Little Missy, if he’s not a microbrew, then you just have to accept that. Or move on. Now go home, get cleaned up and come over this afternoon for the game. And don’t forget to bring some munchies,” then Kim teased, “and I don’t mean Mitch.”

Kim was having the Bettys over for game day, girl style. That meant lots of Oreos and ice cream along with the requisite BBQ fare. Evie’s standard contribution was her famous BBQ kale chips. Little did the Bettys know, her secret ingredient was a bottled sauce.

Heading back to her place, her mind was still on Mitch. She decided she would not hold his beer preference against him as she had other implements in mind before turning him loose.

Quickie BBQ Kale Chips

  • Curly kale, washed and torn into chunks, no big stems. Curly kale is the better choice due to its perky nature and the ability of its curls to hold the sauce.
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce, I used Annie’s Sweet & Spicy (gluten free) because the sweet edge complements the kale nicely.
  • Optional: a healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Not neccessary but a very nice addition.
  1. Wash and spin the kale chunks in a salad spinner (or pillowcase method, or towel dry). Get as much water off as possible.
  2. In a very large bowl, drizzle BBQ sauce over the kale and work it onto every leaf but don’t overly massage the kale. It needs to maintain its sturdiness to withstand the heat of an oven.
  3. Now is the time to sprinkle on some nutritional yeast, once there’s some sauce for it to stick to. Toss lightly and sprinkle some more.
  4. If using an oven, preheat to warm or your lowest setting. I’ve seen some recipes that call for 350F but I was afraid I’d burn the kale because my tiny oven is so freaky. The warm setting took longer but nothing burned.
  5. Spread the kale on pa archment paper-lined baking sheet and pop in the oven.
  6. Check every five minutes and turn the chips when they start crisping up so they dry on both sides. I found that if I didn’t turn them, they sort of flattened to the pan and were difficult to remove later. My batch took about 15 minutes.

Serve with a good microbrew, very cold.

The doorbell startled Evie as she fixated on breading the tofu slices perfectly. She loved making Susan’s Pistachio Crusted Tofu recipe and always got lost in the smell of the ingredients.

Dusting her hands quickly over the sink while checking her reflection in the window, she listened to make sure the iPod was still on tonight’s playlist. Then she half-jogged to the door, slowing as she approached so she didn’t sound too desperate.

Opening the door, she noticed he looked even hotter by the light of the hallway fluorescents. “Dang…how does he DO that?” she puzzled.

“I hope you don’t mind, I brought you a cupcake for dessert.” Mitch said. She just about swooned a little too noticeably, marveling at his thoughtfulness and his wonderfully butch name.

As he walked past her toward the kitchen, she caught a whiff of his day; the grunge of the subway, his Thai lunch, and the smell of his new car. She inhaled quietly. Yep, “the only thing that smells better than him is my Green Meanie Martini,” she mused.

He sauntered to the fridge looking every bit a cool Instagram. Opening the door, he paused while peering at the many fancy jars and bottles. He shifted to the other foot then asked, “Don’t you have any Bud Light?”

Making a Green Meanie Martini

Make the ginger syrup and kale juice ahead of time and refrigerate until needed.

  • 1 ounce ginger syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 ounce kale/apple juice (how to do this in a blender below)
  • 2 ounces limoncello (or 1 to 1 ratio of limoncello and vodka)

Add syrup, juice and limoncello to a shaker with ice. Shake, pour into martini glass and garnish with lemon.

Ginger Simple Syrup

  • 3/4 to 1 cup thinly sliced ginger, no need to peel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  1. Bring all ingredients to a soft boil, turn heat down to medium-high and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s done when it reduces by about half, bubbles like a syrup, and a taste test confirms a strong ginger flavor.
  2. Strain into seal-able container and refrigerate until needed. Yields about a cup of syrup.

Kale/Apple Juice via a Blender

  • 1 bundle of kale leaves, torn from stem (about 14 leaves)
  • 1 large apple, chopped (your choice of flavor)
  • 1 cup water
  1. Place items in blender as follows: chopped apple, then kale, then water. Blend until very smooth with no visible chunks. I use a Blendtec and have not tried this in a normal blender.
  2. Strain resulting smoothie in a nut bag or paint strainer bag over a big bowl. Paint strainer bags are about 1/4 the prices of a nut bag and you can get them at the hardware store.
  3. Go slow, if it splatters on you, it can stain. Twist the bag like you would a garbage bag and slowly squeeze the juice from the pulp.
  4. Pour juice in a jar and refrigerate until needed. Attempt to clean the bag. You may save the kale pulp and use in soups or smoothies.

TIP: I used Lacinato Kale for it’s milder flavor but you could try other kales of course.

Massaging avocado into her kale always aroused her faster than watching Sam Elliott in Roadhouse. “Seriously, I should just keep an extra vibrator in the kitchen,” Evie mused, leering at her Blendtec. No, she would never force herself on her favorite kitchen toy no matter how much kale she massaged. Besides, the cord wasn’t long enough.

Plus, she still had the rest of dinner to prepare. At least the hottie she met at the Bone Yard the night before wasn’t due to arrive for another hour. If he were here now, she was positive he wouldn’t get a chance to try her kale.

50 shades of kale, avocado fava bean salad

Kale is a great leafy green for dinner salads since it stays firm for hours.

Massaged Kale Salad with Avocado and Marinated Beans

Make marinated beans a day ahead by mixing:

  • 1 can beans, rinsed and drained (use garbanzos if fava beans aren’t your type)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (reserve remaining juice for assembling the salad)
  • handful of parsley, chopped

Assembling the salad:

  • 1 avocado
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (or more if you like lemon)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 big bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1 large roma tomato or 2 small, chopped
  1. Chop and mash the avocado with the lemon juice.
  2. Add kale and massage until kale is about half the bulk that it was originally. Salt as desired.
  3. Plate kale and sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, marinated beans, and extra avocado if you have some right before serving.

TIP: You can plate the massaged kale ahead of time because it stays firm for as long as you need. But don’t dress it with additional chunks of avocado until right before serving since they will brown quickly.

IDEAS: This is actually a very flexible salad. I find fava beans to be a tad earthy so I’ll likely try garbanzos in the next batch. Some folks like lots of lemon and others, not so much. If you have a vampire problem, then of course, add more garlic. I always use more avocado than a normal person would but I’m an avocado junky. The point is, once you’ve got your kale massaged, you can top it with a wide variety of veggies.

Why did she keep eating these huge, tasty wraps for lunch? Was she so hard up for a decent date that she was taking it out on her food? Evie was beginning to feel stuck in a rut and even co-workers were starting to joke about the shape of her food in relation to her love life. Still, today’s wrap with leftover Smokey Kale Hummus was much tastier than Mr. Smokin’ Hot from last night’s wine tasting.

Indeed, it was the most bland hook-up she could recall since college. While the silent type didn’t really bother her, she hated it when she had to do all the work. And he just lay there, looking hot of course but still, he was completely uninterested in anything except his iPhone. She couldn’t wait to kick him out.

“What is it with guys?” she thought, “Relationships are like a good recipe where all ingredients play a role. Relying on one ingredient to carry the load just doesn’t work.”

Kim, who Evie referred to as Alpha Intern, slithered into the lunchroom right in the middle of a big bite. “Well, I guess somebody didn’t get enough dinner last night. That’s the biggest wrap I’ve seen you eat yet! I don’t suppose you’d give that up to go with the Bettys to the Bone Yard after work?”

Evie stared at her wrap, “Well, that’s a hard choice but…ok, can we cut out early?”

50 shades of kale, smokey hummus wrap with veggies

Incorporating kale into things like hummus is a very easy way to get your greens on in your lunch box. Easy prep, yummy food.

Smokey Wrap with Veggies

  • 1 large whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 schmear of the smokey kale dip
  • layer of greens, whatever kind you prefer but should be not too stiff
  • 3 or 4 slices of avocado
  • slices of carrots (use prepared baby carrots to save time)
  1. Warm the tortilla slightly in the microwave or dry skillet then spread the smokey kale dip on 2/3 of the tortilla. You’re going to roll it toward to side without dip.
  2. Layer the lettuce and veggies on the spread of dip.
  3. Roll gently. If you use a whole wheat tortilla like me, it might be too stiff to tuck the ends and that’s ok. Just roll and slice in two sections.

Serving suggestions: A side of salted fresh tomatoes or avocado is always good. But avoid onions if you’re prowling around after work later.

After the humiliating act of publicly eating the long, thick, green collard wrap filled with leftover kale and quinoa pilaf for lunch, Evie decided to regain her composure by perusing the Green Grocer event calendar, for dessert. A foodie event would be just the thing to get her mind back in order. And she just might meet someone nice, pleasant, with an experimental bent.

Having missed the Beaver Dam Pepper Tasting last month, she opted to sign up for The Green Grocer Wine Tasting which happened to start immediately after work today. She’d have to take the Blue Line at precisely the time she hated and put up with the sweaty and leering Mr. Space Invader who always found her and stood too close, behind her.

Cassie, the owner of Green Grocer, is usually at the wine tastings and perhaps could recommend a great red. Something fresh, clean, with experienced undertones of cherry and hard wood. Something that would go perfectly with the crudités and smokey kale hummus dinner she planned later. Nothing like wine, hummus, and pita bread to mop up a girl’s woes.

50 shades of kale, smokey kale hummus

This hummus makes an awesome dip for lunch or dinner.

Smokey Kale Hummus

  • 1 clove garlic (more if you have a stalker)
  • 1 can chickpeas, liquid reserved
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/2 of one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon tahini if you’re not on a low fat diet, otherwise omit
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups torn kale
  1. Remove stems from kale and tear leafy parts into large chunks. Steam kale until just barely bright green. Run under cold water to stop cooking then squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, process garlic, chickpeas and lime juice, adding small amounts of the reserved chickpea liquid if too dry for blades to turn.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except kale and process until very smooth.
  4. Adjust salt to taste and process to blend.
  5. Add kale last and process until broken up but you can still see leafy bits.

Serving suggestions: Goes great with a variety of crudités and there will be plenty left for lunches during the week. A red wine with heart is good company when dining alone.

NOTE: This recipe is a compilation of two of my faves: Kale & Sundried Tomato Hummus from Vegan Yum Yum and FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s Chipotle Chickpea Dip.

Evie screwed the lid back on the jar of cumin quickly. Its smell reminded her too much of the socks he deposited all over her tiny apartment—the size of which concentrated the acrid scent further. Even though she had mostly liked the smell of him, the smell of his chest while she lay her head down, she preferred the smell of him freshly showered. Not the smell of BO, cumin. “Same thing,” she thought, scrunching her nose.

Cumin just would not work for the pilaf she had in mind for dinner tonight, especially if she wanted to reheat it for lunches at work. Making up her mind, “Microwaved cumin pilaf. WET dirty socks. HIS socks, blech.”

Rather, she’d keep the pilaf simple and pleasant, doable on a daily basis during lunch. Unlike her ex.

50 shades of kale, kale quinoa pilaf

Quinoa and kale pilaf punctuated with pistachios and something sweet like mangoes or apples.

Quinoa & Kale Pilaf

  • 2 small shallots or 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 2 Not-Chick’n Broth cubes
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced sweet fruit (I used an apple but mango would be awesome as well)
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios (shelled, roasted and unsalted)
  1. In a large sauce pot or stock pot, saute onions and garlic in 1/4 c. water over medium high heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Add spices and give it a good stir, cook for a minute but don’t let the pan dry out.
  3. Add quinoa, remaining water, ginger, not chick’n cubes and bring to a boil.
  4. Top with kale but don’t stir in, cover quickly, lower to simmer and cook for 10 minutes
  5. If your pistachios are not already roasted (Trader Joe’s sells roasted and unsalted pistachios ready to go), do so now by stirring quickly and constantly in a hot dry skillet until fragrant. Do not allow to blacken. Transfer to bowl.
  6. Remove lid from quinoa after 10 minutes and add red pepper, apple and pistachios. Stir and either continue simmering if not all the liquid is absorbed or turn off heat and let flavors mingle a few minutes.

Serve warm or cold. Garnish suggestions: whole, shelled pistachios and/or chopped cilantro.

Makes enough for 2 people’s lunches for about a week. Or provides a bottomless pit of comfort for one person dining alone.

Hey all!

I’m getting really excited for this year’s VeganMofo! My theme will be 50 Shades of Kale. Each post will have both a suggestive (yet not too slutty) story and a recipe. It won’t be as sleazy as the book, 50 Shades of Grey, because I want to keep this from getting stuck in parental controls since we did have some teenagers participating last year, if I recall.

Of course, each recipe will include kale, many will be rather healthy but all will provide comfort to our heroine as we follow her through the storyline.

See you October 1st!!


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