I can’t believe how quickly the summer has ended! Although my husband and I both survived our first few weeks of the semester, we know that life is about to get much busier and even more challenging. Blogging obviously isn’t going to be a main priority (booo, I know) but it will be nice to share some of our adventures as we trudge along through the rest of the school year. Some of the things that will still remain a priority, however, are eating clean and healthy and working toward a simple, sustainable lifestyle. To do that we will definitely have to become more efficient at organizing, meal planning, and prepping and that will certainly be easier with an arsenal of quick and easy recipes.
If you haven’t noticed, one of the things we’ve been trying to do around here is cut down on red meat. Sure there are many vegan dishes out there, including plenty of Middle Eastern options, but gosh darn it when you’re craving a shawarma, sometimes you really need to have your fix. Luckily, I found a way to have just that without the grease and fatty surprises and without all the baggage that comes with eating red meat. Eating portobellos as a meat substitute isn’t something new for us but incorporating meatless substitutes in very classic Middle Eastern recipes is. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? I should note that this recipe has been tested and approved by my brother who leans toward carnivority (not sure if this is a thing). I won’t pretend that he was completely fooled but he had nothing but good things to say (he’s also a man of few words). I guarantee that you’ll be very pleased with this faux shawarma sandwich; the texture and flavor of the mushrooms combined with all of the vegetables and creamy tahini sauce, tastes pretty darn close to the real thing. Not only is it delicious but it is super easy to make and with minimal ingredients too. But you don’t have to take my word for it, try it yourself!
Vegan Portobello Shawarmas
2 pounds portobello mushrooms
1 teaspoon shawarma spice (more if you like it spicier)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt (to taste)
Onions, thinly sliced
Pickled cucumbers or turnips, sliced
Taratoor (tahini sauce)
Note: This recipe makes between 4-6 sandwiches depending on how stuffed you like them.
- Gently wash your portobello mushrooms and slice very thinly.
- In a large pan, drizzle olive oil and add in the mushrooms in batches. Each time the mushrooms start cooking down, add another batch to the pan.
- Once all the mushrooms are in the pan, add in the shawarma spice and vinegar, stir well to incorporate.
- Cook on medium-high until the liquid cooks off and the mushrooms begin to brown, approximately 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare all your sandwich toppings and condiments.
- Open your pita bread into halves and layer on the goodness: portobello shawarma, tomato, parlsey, pickles, onions, sumac, and a drizzle of taratoor.
- Roll up and enjoy!
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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)
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
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:
Lebanese pickles and olives
High quality extra virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl, combine 1/3 fine bulgur and warm water. Set aside for 30 minutes until soft.
- Meanwhile, peel and boil your potatoes in a large pot until cooked and tender.
- 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.
- Once your potatoes are thoroughly cooked, drain and rinse with cool water.
- 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.
- Spread the faux meat base on a plate, making grooves with the fork.
- Top your base in the following order: 1) kammouneh 2) walnuts 3) scallions and herbs
- Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and serve alongside pita bread and fresh herbs and vegetables.
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