Soy Chorizo Vegan Chili

We are so behind on our post schedule it’s not even funny but I figured as long as I’m not posting this recipe in June, we’re cool (your standards change when you’re a parent of two). So March is less than a week away but that means NOTHING here in Michigan because our weather is a wild card of unpredictability (sigh). I’m not totally complaining though because for those really chilly spring days, we have just the recipe to warm up our bones and souls. If you’re in graduate school like us or lead generally busy lives, this is another easy and delicious recipe to add to your meal plan during those really hectic weeks.

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As I’m sure I mentioned before on here, we are always looking for ways to cut down on our meat consumption and a few years ago I stumbled across this pretty stellar soy chorizo at Trader Joe’s for just $1.99. I know, right?! At first we used it in our egg scrambles but one day it hit me that it would make a great meat substitute base for a vegan chili. Spoiler alert: It does! Not only does it have that perfect ground beef texture but it’s so spicy you may find you don’t even need to season your chili at all. You can also cut the preparation time for this recipe by opting for canned beans instead of dried beans but either way, your watch, wallet, and tummy will be satisfied with this hearty bowl of goodness.

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Soy Chorizo Vegan Chili

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup of finely chopped carrots
1 cup black beans, cooked
1 cup kidney beans, cooked
1 12 oz. package of Soy Chorizo, casing removed and crumbled
1 15 oz. can  of tomato sauce
4 cups water or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: *If you prefer your chili to be less thick, you can add more liquid to water it down. *You can also tweak this recipe to your liking and include more vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and corn. *I find the soy chorizo makes the chili spicy and flavorful enough for our taste, especially with the kids in mind, but if you find the flavor isn’t cutting it for you, you can add the following: 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional).

Directions
1. In a deep pot, drizzle a bit of olive oil and sauté your onion, and garlic on medium heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Next add in the carrots and soy chorizo. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the ingredients are well incorporated.
3. Finally, add in the water/stock, beans, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then let simmer on low until reduced and thickened, about 20-30 minutes.
4. Taste the chili and season to your liking or adjust the thickness.
5. Ladle your chili into bowls and serve with vegan cheese, non-dairy sour cream, and crispy tortilla chips.

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If you liked this recipe and tried it, we would love it if you would share or leave a comment below. For more related content, you can find us on Instagram where we share more of our day-to-day and Pinterest where we share our ideas and inspiration. And as  always…

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Chickpea soup with tomato pickle salsa (Hummus M’Sabaha)

Ever since I purchased an Inkwell Press Meal Planner back in January and forced myself to commit to meal planning, we have been pretty consistent about practicing Meatless Mondays. Having a set genre for each day has really helped narrow down the selection for the menu, which is something I had a hard time doing prior because I enjoy making many different things. Today I’m sharing one of our favorite meatless dishes that’s nutritious and simple to make. It’s very similar to another Lebanese dish called foul and hummus except it’s without the foul or fava beans. Foul and hummus is usually eaten for breakfast and while I enjoy it now, I used to HATE it growing up. It was just too heavy for me and it wasn’t nachos or pizza so I was understandably upset when I could smell the distinctive aroma of garlic and fava beans wafting through the air. My father, the negotiator that he is, would allow me to leave out the fava beans as long as I ate everything else and that’s how my love for this dish of hummus m’sabaha blossomed. Traditional Lebanese hummus m’sabaha is much thicker and creamier than what I show here. Usually it’s roughly mashed and a little bit of tahini is added for creaminess. This spin on my childhood favorite is like a mix of hummus m’sabaha and lablabi, a Tunisian chickpea soup. We personally enjoy the combination of the light lemony, garlicky broth with the texture of whole chickpeas.  And speaking of broth, please don’t use canned chickpeas. Technically you can but if you do make sure to drain the chickpeas well and simmer them in a vegetable stock or bone broth. Starting with dried chickpeas is essential for getting flavorful chickpea broth that is not a metallic tasting goop.

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I always soak the dried chickpeas on Sunday evening and boil them first thing on Monday morning. My recipe calls for two cups because that’s what I soak but we don’t necessarily eat all two cups unless I planned to eat leftovers the next day {usually we don’t because it’s Taco Tuesday ;)}. Whatever I don’t use I will freeze for a rainy day. I grew up learning to cook from my father who never measured ingredients so I’m still working on how best to write and share these family recipes. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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Chickpea soup with tomato pickle salsa (Hummus M'Sabaha)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
10-12 cups water
2-4 garlic cloves, minced*
1/2-1 cup lemon juice*
high quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
salt & pepper to taste

Salsa:
1 cup diced Lebanese pickled cucumbers
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

To serve:
Radishes
Lebanese pickled cucumbers
Sweet onion, sliced
Pita bread
Lemon
Fresh herbs like mint and parsley

*Note: If you’re not afraid of flavor, you might consider adding more garlic and lemon juice.

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add your chickpeas and baking soda and cover with water. Let the chickpeas soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and cover with 10-12 cups fresh water in a lidded pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer covered for 30-45 minutes or until tender.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, mince your garlic cloves with salt until you have a smooth paste.
  4. In the meantime make your salsa by combining diced tomatoes, diced pickles, chopped mint, and chopped parsley.
  5. Once the chickpeas are tender, add in your garlic paste, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You can use your pestle to give some of the chickpeas a quick mash for thickness if you desire. Let simmer for another 10 minutes then adjust seasoning to your taste.
  6. Ladle into individual bowls, drizzle with olive oil generously and top with sweet onions and salsa. Serve with fresh pita bread and garnishments of your choice.

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Lebanese Green Bean & Tomato Stew (Loubya Bi Zayt)

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Gardening season is officially in full swing and you know what that means, right?  Fresh, delicious vine-ripened tomatoes hand-picked from your very own backyard. After putting all that hard work into growing your garden, you’ll certainly want to savor the fruits of your labor.  Fresh tomatoes are perfect for salads, salsas, and sauces but why not try something new? Loubya bi Zayt, a Lebanese dish of green beans, onions, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, is the perfect way to showcase your garden harvest. The tomato and olive oil combination is delightful and if stewed properly, results in a satisfyingly gelatinous texture. My father, whom I learned this recipe from, would cook the green beans with fresh finger peppers or jalapeños for a spicy kick. Since I have two little ones who eat with us, I don’t add any heat during the cooking of this dish but instead top my own plate with red pepper flakes for a nice kick. This dish is delicious on its own served with pita, green peppers, and sweet onions but it can also be treated as a side to a sizzling barbecued steak. In the past when my acid reflux was too much to handle, I would make basmati rice to serve alongside the green beans to break up the acidity of the tomatoes. Whichever way you serve this dish, you will not be disappointed. The best part? It’s super easy to make and requires just 3 main ingredients.

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Lebanese Green Bean & Tomato Stew (Loubya Bi Zayt)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:
5 medium tomatoes, ripened
4 white onions, finely diced
2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1 cup of water
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Clean and trim your green beans, cutting them into 1-2 inch pieces.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil in a large pot and sauté half of your finely diced onions until translucent and light brown. You can sauté all the onions at once to save time but the dish will be on the sweeter side no matter how much salt you add.
  3. While the onions are slowly caramelizing (careful not to burn), blend the ripened tomatoes in a blender with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t want the tomato seeds or skin then strain before adding to the pot.
  4. To the pot, add in your green beans, garlic, and the rest of your onions and cook for 5-7minutes, stirring gently. You want the green beans to pick up flavor and color but make sure they don’t steam or they will taste rubbery.
  5. Finally, pour in the fresh tomato juice, diluted tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of olive oil and bring to a boil before turning the heat on low. Let it simmer uncovered on low heat for about 30-40 minutes until the green beans are tender and a thick gelatinous texture begins to form.
  6. Serve hot as the main dish or let it cool and serve as a side.

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Lebanese Lentil and Rice Pilaf (Mdardara)

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We know we haven’t posted in a while but we have been a bit busy working on some fun DIY projects around the house as well as an exciting project that we will be announcing next week. Although our lives are busy, we wholeheartedly believe in eating healthy homemade meals. It might seem difficult to strive for but there are plenty of healthy and simple meal options that one can make in a pinch. That’s why today I’m sharing one of our favorite vegetarian meal options that we enjoy almost every other week. I didn’t like this meal much when I was a child but it grew on me to the point that I now crave it as an adult. It’s a pilaf made of rice, onions, and lentils topped with more crispy caramelized onions and served with yogurt, crunchy radishes, and a side salad. It is both nutritious and delicious.

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To be honest though, there is one downside to making this dish. ONIONS. Your house will smell like onions, you will smell like onions, your car will smell like onions. The smell of onions will permeate your life for days. But I can promise you that it will all be totally worth it! I look back now and laugh but I remember in my early undergraduate days when I’d be getting ready to leave the house for my evening class and my father would start cooking this meal. I would try to race through the kitchen and out the side door but to no avail. That split second in the kitchen was enough to have me reeking. It’s funny to think that now, as a mom, I will be responsible for ensuring my family has their fair share of embarrassing, onion-filled moments. The circle of life. How beautiful 😉

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Lebanese Lentil and Rice Pilaf (Mdardara)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup white rice
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 large yellow onions, cut into half rings (optional)
4-5 cups of water*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

*Note: I use 2 cups of water to parboil the lentils and 3 cups to cook the onions, lentils, and rice together. Even on the lowest setting our stove gets very hot and cooks very fast. You may find you only need 2 cups of water rather than 3.

Directions

  1. Rinse your lentils under cold water and remove any small debris.
  2. In a small pot, parboil your lentils in 2 cups of water for 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside for step 5.
  3. Meanwhile in a larger pot, begin caramelizing your finely diced onions in olive oil. This will take time so be patient. Keep the fire on low and stir every so often until you have beautiful golden brown (but not burnt) onions.
  4. Add the remaining 3 cups of water to the onions and bring to a boil. Stir well, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the rice, lentils, salt, and pepper into your onion mixture. Stir well, cover, and cook until all the water has been absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).
  6. While your rice and lentils are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry your onion rings in batches until crispy and golden brown. Let drain on a paper towel until ready to serve. This part of the recipe is a bit unhealthy and you can skip it though it won’t be the same. Or you can slow caramelize your onions (I have done this many times) but it will take more time and they won’t be as crispy.
  7. Top your mdardara with the crispy fried onions and serve with yogurt (to keep this meal vegan leave the yogurt out), radishes, mint, and a fresh salad.

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What are some healthy meals you hated growing up but grew to love as adults? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Potato Kibbeh (faux Lebanese steak tartare/kibbeh nayeh)

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Oh pregnancy cravings. You always have a way of being exactly what I’m not supposed to have. While we don’t eat a lot of red meat in our diet, I repeatedly craved kibbeh nayeh (a Lebanese dish made of fresh raw meat, bulgur, and spices) during my first pregnancy and now find myself craving it with my second. For obvious reasons, raw meat is a no-no but I was determined to see my craving satisfied by creating a stellar vegetarian substitute. When I first attempted to make faux kibbeh during my first pregnancy, I happened to only have yellow potatoes on hand and this turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise. I have since tried this recipe using your average Idaho potatoes and let me tell you it simply isn’t the same! The waxiness of the yellow potato gives you that authentic meat-like texture and flavor that other potatoes don’t. Just take my word for it and you won’t be disappointed.

We didn’t eat kibbeh nayeh much growing up but when we did it was an absolute treat. For many Lebanese, the highlight is the meat but for my dad the thought of devouring mouthfuls of raw meat was just unappetizing. We ate this meal a particular way: a light amount of meat thinly spread, heavily topped with crunchy bulgur, walnuts, and aromatic spices, drenched in olive oil so rich you could drink it, garnished with fragrant herbs like basil and mint, and served alongside fresh sweet onions, radishes, and other crunchy veggies and treats. This is what I have sought to recreate in this recipe; not just faux meat but an entire medley of exquisite flavors that make for a simple, nutritious, and delicious vegan lunch or dinner. This recipe makes quite a bit because we enjoy it so much that we have it for lunch for a few days. So if you’re looking for a recipe that makes weekly meal planning a bit easier, this is definitely a keeper!

Potato Kibbeh (faux Lebanese steak tartare/kibbeh nayeh)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

Faux meat base:
3lbs yellow waxy potatoes
1/3 cup fine bulgur
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 cups of kammouneh*
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon high quality extra virgin olive oil

*Kammouneh:
3 cups fine bulgur rinsed and thoroughly drained and dried
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried ground basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much heat you can handle)

**You can also get kammouneh for kibbeh nayeh from your local Lebanese butcher if you live in the Dearborn area. I have some stored in my freezer which I use to make this recipe.

For serving and garnishment:
Scallions
Basil
Mint
Jalapeno peppers
Sweet onions
Radishes
Walnuts
Lebanese pickles and olives
Pita Bread
High quality extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 fine bulgur and warm water. Set aside for 30 minutes until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and boil your potatoes in a large pot until cooked and tender.
  3. While your potatoes are boiling, make the kammouneh in the food processor by mixing the 3 cups of thoroughly drained bulgur (remove any excess moisture) with the kibbeh spices. The bulgur will stay slightly crunchy and will take on a reddish hue.
  4. Once your potatoes are thoroughly cooked, drain and rinse with cool water.
  5. This step can either be done with a potato masher or handheld mixer in a large bowl or in the food processor. You will want to whip your potatoes while warm and incorporate the 1/3 cup of soft bulgur, tomato paste, kammouneh, olive oil, and salt and pepper until perfectly seasoned. The amount of kammouneh that you add is flexible-start with 1 cup and if you feel it needs a bit more flavor and texture then add a bit more.
  6. Spread the faux meat base on a plate, making grooves with the fork.
  7. Top your base in the following order: 1) kammouneh 2) walnuts 3) scallions and herbs
  8. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and serve alongside pita bread and fresh herbs and vegetables.

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