February 8, 2010

Curried Israeli Couscous

Israeli couscous can be hard to find (many natural food stores carry it in bulk) but it is super tasty and a neat distraction from the "usual" fare. My favorite local grocery sells it at $3.74 per pound, and a pound is about four cups. Four cups of the dry stuff will net you a couple of huge pots of the cooked stuff! So it's definitely worth the money.
I adapted this recipe from one I found at Gourmet Sleuth. I was skeptical when I read the ingredient list (raisins?!), but I have to admit that the dish turned out really nicely. It made a great soul-warming lunch on what has turned out to be a super wet, cold and rainy day here in Texas.
Give it a try!

2 cups Israeli couscous (I've included links at the bottom if you can't find it locally)
5 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped (about half a cup)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup raisins
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/3 cup dried or fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half  (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • In a large saucepan, heat 4 cups vegetable broth and couscous to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, fluff couscous with a fork, cover and put aside.
  • In a skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, pepper and raisins. Saute for five minutes.
  • Add 1 cup vegetable broth, curry, cilantro, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for five minutes or until heated through.
  • To dress the dish, first fill the bottom of your bowl with couscous. Next, ladle some vegetable mixture and broth over the top. Top it off with tomato halves and walnuts.
  • It's unbelievably delicious and filling! It's the perfect dish for a drizzly winter afternoon.

February 2, 2010

Homemade Vegan Cheese Pizza

We love pizza around here, and when it doesn't come vegan-style from the local parlor (seriously, when are the big chains going to catch on to this?!) you have to find new-fashioned ways of doing it the "old-fashioned way." As you know, bread is Jason's thing and he's found a great basic recipe for any homemade pie. Here's how he does it...

1 C warm (hot, but not boiling) water
1 T active dry yeast
2 1/2 C all purpose flour,  with 1/2 C separated
(we tried making this with all whole wheat flour and it turned out great, so if you're watching your intake of the white stuff, feel free to substitute)
1 T salt
1 T sugar (or preferred sweetener - we use agave when we have it)
  • Combine the hot water and yeast in a small bowl, then let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Combine 2 C flour, sweetener and salt in a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the yeast mixture into it.
  • Combine ingredients with a spoon until it can no longer be properly stirred by that method. Then dump it out onto a floured surface and start kneading, adding more flour in small increments if it's really sticky.
  • Once the dough has come together and lost its stickiness-factor, shape it into a ball, place it into a large bowl (the one you already used is fine), and cover it with a towel.
  • Allow the dough to sit for one hour.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • While oven is warming up, take out your dough and cut it in half. 
  • Use a rolling pin to shape your dough to fit either on a large cookie sheet or (like we do it) on a large round baking stone.
  • Use a fork to poke a few holes here and there on your crust.
  • Cook the crust at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the crust from the oven and add your toppings (we use Muir Glen Pizza Sauce, Vegan Gourmet Cheddar, Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella and sometimes we throw on a bunch of veggies when we have them).
  • Place well-topped pizza back into the oven and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until your toppings are piping hot and your crust is just the way you like it. I can't ever seem to make that vegan cheese melt, so that's why it looks weird in the picture, but melted or not it still tastes pretty good.
  • Enjoy!