July 3, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
I used to think that spring rolls were too intricate for an amateur cook like me to make. It turns out that assumption was false; spring rolls are actually a fancy imposter. A spiffy poser, if you will. A sophisticated con artist.
Despite what the spring roll’s bright colors and flawless presentation lead you to believe, spring rolls are incredibly easy to make. You can assemble 8 spring rolls in about 20 minutes from start to finish if you’re working alone. Although rice paper isn’t raw, the veggies inside will be, making this a mostly raw delight.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 spring rolls
- a package of rice paper / spring roll paper (found in the International aisle or Asian section of your grocery store)
- nori sheets (found in the International aisle or sushi-wrapping section of your grocery store)
- 1/2 large cucumber, cut into strips
- 2 carrots, skinned and cut into strips
- 1-2 hass avocados, cut into strips
- 5-10 green onions, cut in half to shorten length
- one bunch of sprouts or frisée
- 8 romaine lettuce or cabbage leaves, cutting out thick ribs
- vegan cream cheese (optional)
- sesame seeds (as garnish)
- 6 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Wasabi powder
Step 1: Prepare the veggies.
For the nori flakes, I take a package of nori sheets, put it in a blender/food processor, and blend until the nori is milled. These flakes make a great seasoning!
Cut your cucumbers, carrots, and avocados into 3-4 inch (7-10 cm) strips. The green onions can stay intact. Cut out the thick ribs from the lettuce; if you leave them in, your roll might look like it has weird bones sticking out of the sides, making it harder to assemble.
Step 2: Assemble the spring rolls.
Have an assembly station ready: rice paper, a large bowl or pie pan filled with warm water, a plate for creating/rolling the wraps, and a plate to place your rolls when they are done.
When ready, place a sheet of rice paper in the warm water for 10 seconds. The paper will start to soften. Next, place the softened rice paper on the assembly plate. In the middle of the paper, spread your cream cheese (optional), sprinkle a pinchful of nori flakes, and place on your cucumbers, carrots, green onion, avocado, and sprouts. As for the lettuce, if you are using romaine, try to compact it on top of your veggies as much as possible to make rolling easier.
Roll your spring roll like a wrap; take a horizontal edge and wrap it around the vegetables, fold the sides in, and continue to wrap until everything is secure. I always thought rice paper would be delicate, but it actually can take a slight beating. Rice paper is clumsy finger approved!
Tip: The rice paper should be wet, yet sticky. If it takes more than a minute to assemble your roll, you’ll find that your rice paper will start to become DRY and sticky, which makes it impossible to wrap. In other words, don’t drag your ass.
You can choose to cut them in half to see the beautiful contents in the middle, or leave them whole for easier eating!
Step 3: Make the dipping sauce.
I find a lot of Asian sauces to be too much, so I make something simple: Wasabi powder, minced garlic, and Tamari (or soy sauce). Whisk together and place in a bowl.
Step 4: Garnish and enjoy!
Sprinkle those sesame seeds on your savory blankets of rainbows and chow the f down.
They see me rollin’. They hatin’.
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February 19, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
You’re probably here reading this because you love green beans as much as I do. I love this versatile… vegetable? legume? Who cares? Green beans are delicious and so adaptable. They can stand alone as a side dish or be mixed in with a main dish. They can be heavy or light. Salty, spicy, or sweet. Green beans are the ketchup of the vegetable world (by American standards, anyway).
This is my go-to recipe if I need a scrumptious side dish. It’s packed with flavors you love and it makes your house smell amazing. It also looks pretty, which impresses guests. Ultimately, perhaps the best thing about this side dish is that it only takes 20 minutes from start to finish.
Savory Green Beans
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: side item for 2-4 people
- 12oz of fresh whole green beans, stems removed
- 4 tablespoons grape seed oil OR melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoons of soy sauce or Tamari (gluten-free)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- Shaved almonds (garnish)
- Sesame seeds (garnish)
Step 1: Boil and blanch the green beans.
Green beans are delicate, meaning that it is imperative that the cook time is taken very seriously. If not, you’re either going to end up with an under cooked, uncomfortably crunchy green bean; or an overcooked, unattractively limp, and mushy green bean.
Boil a pot of water. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the green beans, boiling for 4 minutes. While the green beans are boiling, prepare a large bowl full of ice water.
Once the green beans have finished boiling, place the beans in a strainer, strain the hot water, and immediately dump the green beans into the ice water. If you’re new to the green bean scene, placing the hot green beans in ice cold water is called blanching. The reason for blanching is to halt the cooking process of the vegetable, as the heat from the green bean will continue to cook the green bean after you remove it from the boiling water. Blanching leaves you with a perfectly crisp result.
Step 2: Create the savory sauce.
This step can be done while the green beans are boiling. Heat up a skillet on the stove at medium heat.
After that, combine the oil, Tamari (or soy sauce), garlic cloves, and sesame oil in a small bowl. To bind the oils and Tamari, whisk the ingredients quickly for 30 seconds.
Step 3: Pan fry the green beans.
Once the green beans have been blanched and the savory sauce is ready, place the green beans and pour the sauce into the skillet. Have the green beans cook for 7-10 minutes, moving the contents around with a spatula every few minutes to avoid sticking/burning. Your end result should not yield limp green beans; however, you are wanting the green beans to have absorbed some of the liquid.
Step 4: Garnish and serve.
Once the green beans are finished cooking, serve. Garnish the beans with sliced almonds and sesame seeds for added crunch, flavor, and beauty.
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December 23, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
This dish took years to perfect. Yes, YEARS. I’ve been so annoyingly critical of this dish every time I’ve sat down to eat it. Too salty. Not enough flavor. The wrong flavor.
I think I’ve finally found it, though. The secret ingredient is nori, otherwise known as the seaweed that keeps your sushi tucked in so nicely. I bought a pack of nori, milled it up in my blender, and sprinkled some in this sauce. The result was nothing short of a vegan miracle; I was tasting that glorious flavor of the ocean that I haven’t tasted in years. As someone who used to love seafood, it was marvelous to acquire that taste again without harming any of our ocean friends.
Combining the fishy taste of nori, the natural sweetness from coconut oil, and the saltiness of Tamari (or soy sauce), you’ll be on your way to making this delicious vegan lo mein!
Vegetable Lo Mein
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
For the Sauce:
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of nori, milled
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 cup of carrots, diced
- 1 cup of celery, diced
- 8oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
Step 1: Chop and cook your vegetables.
The vegetables don’t HAVE to be the ones mentioned above. In fact, use this opportunity to get rid of whatever you have available. I like to use this dish as a fridge-clearer. Nonetheless, the ingredients above are my favorite ones to use.
Set 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok/deep skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is melted, add in the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally. After about 5-7 minutes, your vegetables should be cooked down properly. Reduce to low heat.
Step 2: Create the sauce in a blender.
While your veggies are cooking down, start by milling up the nori into a pulp in your blender or food processor. I usually mill the entire nori package at once and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for future uses.
Once the nori is milled, combine all the sauce ingredients in the blender until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add this sauce to the vegetables on low heat. Cover the wok/skillet.
Step 3: Cook the rice noodles.
Boiling the noodles isn’t normally the final step, but lo mein is a little different. The noodles need a chance to cook in the sauce for a bit; therefore, the sauce already needs to be ready. This will ensure that your noodles will be full of all the delicious flavors of the vegetables and sauce.
Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Once the water is boiling, place in your noodles. Whatever the package of your noodles recommends for cook time, think about reducing that time by a few minutes. Drain, add the noodles to the wok, stir, cover, and let it cook for another few minutes. The idea is to start cooking the noodles in boiling water and to finish them off by having them soak up the flavors in your wok.
Step 4: Garnish, serve, and enjoy!
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