Aug 312014

Although I’m mostly vegetarian these days, I still have a lot of cookbooks that aren’t. I’m reluctant to get rid of them, however, because they have so many great recipes. Also, I love challenging myself to adapt recipes that contain meat. I know a lot of vegetarians are opposed to eating things that taste like meat, resemble meat, or remind them of meat, but I’m not one of those people. While I recognize that bacon is really bad for my body, I know that it’s very hard to replicate the depth of flavour it adds to some dishes.

This dish is one of those.

I tried my best. I think it’s pretty dang yummy, truth be told. The original — in an old Spanish cookbook — called for only 1 rasher of bacon.

Spanish Stewed Lentils

mmm lentils!

So I gave it my best shot. Here it is:


  • 250g. green or brown lentils
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, or more to taste, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum), chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (this isn’t vegetarian, though you could make your own or buy one of the vegetarian versions out there)
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or more to taste — I probably used upwards of 2 teaspoons
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • dash (or more, but you probably don’t want a lot) of liquid smoke

Soak lentils for a few hours, or use the quick soak method.

Put half the onion, the garlic, the pepper, and tomato in a large casserole or saucepan with the soaked lentils. Add the bay leaf, paprika, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover with water, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Add a teaspoon of salt just before turning off the heat.

Heat remaining olive oil (1 tablespoon) in a frying pan, and add the rest of the onion. Fry until gently browned, then add the liquid smoke and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Fry for two more minutes.

Add the fried onions to the lentil mixture, and check for salt, adding the last 1/2 teaspoon or more if necessary. Add Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco to taste (amounts above are guidelines only), and a splash more of olive oil. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, simmering, for another 5 minutes. Check for taste, adjust accordingly, and serve piping hot when ready.

Serves 4-6.

(Goes nicely with potatoes or rice!)

Jul 222010

Okay, so I'm detoxing again. And adapting recipes again to ensure they are gluten, sugar, and animal-product-free. Here's my latest, adapted from this wonderful recipe at Epicurious. I was really quite surprised by the richness of this recipe. Normally we see tofu in Asian-style dishes, not Mediterranean ones. This one was delightful — very rich flavors. I did not deep fry the tofu, but shallow fried it instead. I used safflower oil because it's what I had in the cupboard. I also didn't have any mirin, so used some white wine with a tablespoon of brown rice syrup dissolved in it (yes, I realize detox means no alcohol, either, but the alcohol gets cooked off in this recipe, so I'm not too worried).

  • 4-8 tablespoons safflower oil, for frying (variable)
  • 1 1/4 pound firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 Roma or 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 4 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup green onions, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
  • lemon wedge


Heat oil in a deep saucepan, wok, or frying pan with tall edges. Working in batches, shallow-fry the cubes of tofu until golden brown, making sure they don't stick to each other. Drain tofu on paper towels.

Dissolve brown rice syrup in white wine.

Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Do not let the garlic brown, but allow it to turn golden. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring carefully, just until tomatoes are soft and begin start to break down. Deglaze with white wine and cook for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the wine to burn off alcohol (you will smell it). Add the tofu and green onions, stir, and season with salt to taste. Squeeze lemon wedge over top just before serving.

Serves 2.