Of all the food genres, I think that what we call “Asian style” is often the most easily veganized. Asian inspired cooking is to rice what Extreme Makeover Home Edition is to a house. It takes that plain ol’ rice, expands it, dresses it up, and adds flavor and pizzazz. The next thing you know, you don’t even remember what that rice looked like before it was morphed into a main course that kicks boil-in-a-bag white rice’s butt.
Dinner tonight is from a cookbook with a title that doesn’t lie: Betty Crocker’s Easy Everyday Vegetarian: Meatless Main Dishes You’ll Love! http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Crocker-Easy-Everyday-Vegetarian/dp/0471753041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349496522&sr=8-1&keywords=easy+everyday+vegetarian+betty+crocker
I used the Asian Rice and Lentil Burgers recipe. It’s perfect for any night of the week, especially a tired Friday evening. It’s very similar to the recipe you see here: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/asian-rice-and-lentil-patties/e848e39b-eb90-420d-b7a5-6631de6a1129
To make this vegan, I omitted the egg and used my go-to binder of 1 tbsp. Cold Milled Golden Flax Seed and 3 tbsp. boiling water. Also, the cookbook has a somewhat easier take than the online link for the vegetable sauce portion of the recipe and advises using 1 cup mixed frozen veggies instead of the carrot and celery. I also added a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce because it’s too watery otherwise. If you cook the rice and lentils ahead, the recipe comes together quickly.
The only problem I had tonight was that the number of people who were going to be home for dinner kept changing. I started the meal with two in mind and ended with five. As a result, I had to cook a second batch of the rice and lentils in order to double the recipe. I really should routinely double recipes. Fridays are the least predictable day of the week when you have teenagers, and that’s saying a lot about the complication rating for Fridays. Be kind to your friends with teenagers. They live in a precarious, capricious world with The Future.
In addition to the musical dinner chairs issue, I couldn’t find my brown lentils for the second batch of rice and lentils. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Woman, you call yourself a vegan and you can’t find your lentils?” It’s okay! I subbed in red lentils instead. I’ll take the pantry apart later to conclude my brown lentil quest.
I “finely chopped” my cashews in a kitchen toy I call “the little guy.” The little guy is extremely helpful and convenient. I use the little guy constantly because he does his job well and is compact and easy to wash. I can even toss his parts in the dishwasher if I’m in a hurry or feeling particularly concerned about dishpan hands.
To go along with this, I steamed fresh green beans in my trusty Rival Automatic Steamer and Rice Cooker (circa 1982). After steaming them, I sautéed them in a pan in sesame oil along with some garlic and ginger grated on a microplane grater and a conservative sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes. They were just spicy enough and went perfectly with the subtle flavor of the rice and lentil burgers.
As I should have anticipated all along, after doubling the recipe and extending my cooking time by about 40 minutes, it DID end up being just my husband and me eating dinner at home tonight. Figures, huh? Oh, well. When those boys come creeping in at, or at least near curfew, at least they’ll have something waiting for them in the fridge – all thanks to their awesomely flexible mom!