Category Archives: Vegetarian

Lentil loaf

Red lentils

Turns out, cooking split red lentils has nothing in common with cooking regular brown lentils. Or maybe I just buy a lot of stale brown lentils. After soaking the red lentils in water for an hour, I put them on the stove. I think they were done even before the water boiled. So now I’ve got a few cups of lentil mush. It’s delicious mush, but never-the-less, still mush.

Cooked lentil mush

That’s OK.

The lentil loaf turned out fine anyway. I based the loaf on Bella’s recipe. And by “based on,” I mean, “Hmmm, a lentil loaf sounds delicious, but I don’t actually have any of the ingredients she used, so I’ll make it up as I go along.”

That’s OK too.

I used lentil mush instead of lentils, fine brown bulger instead of brown bismati rice, mustard and worchestershire sauce instead of BBQ sauce, eggs instead of egg subsitute, red pepper flakes and oregano instead of cajun seasoning, and I added a cup of shredded zucchini. I did keep the mirepoix, because who doesn’t like a good mirepoix?

Mirepoix

A-OK.

The first lentil loaf turned out pretty well. It tasted great, but it only rises to spectacular when paired with more ketchup. Bertrand adores it. Go figure.

Lentil loaf

Since I had leftover lentil mush and bulgar, I decided to make a second loaf! I replaced the celery with a huge handful of chopped parsley, and put as much dijon mustard in as ketchup. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Lentil loaf II

And leftovers for lunch this week. ;)

Egg Scramble

Veggies on a plate

Oh, egg scrambles, how I love you so. Delicious vegetables. Lots of protein. Not lots of calories. It’s a perfect way to start my day (and a perfect way to use up old vegetables before I hit the market on the weekends).

The recipe is simple: chop whatever vegetables you like, sautee them, pour eggs over veggies, cook eggs, eat. I usually have tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchinis, and onions on hand, but it works well with spinach, leeks, and celery too.

Egg scramble. Yum!

Recipe for Easy-Peasy Egg Scramble

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes (or 250g)
  • 3 green peppers (or 125g)
  • 3 baby zucchinis (or 125g)
  • Half a large yellow onion (or 75g)
  • 1-1/2t vegetable oil (you can use olive, but I don’t like the taste)
  • 6 eggs (2 whole eggs, 4 egg whites)
  • 2T skim milk
  • 2t salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Chop vegetables. Toss with 1t salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  2. Sautee vegetables in oil.
  3. Beat eggs, milk, and 1t salt.
  4. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.
  5. Gently turn to avoid burning the eggs.
  6. When the eggs are cooked, you’re done! Bon appetit.

Nutrition information

This probably goes without saying, but nutrition information is going to vary wildly between egg scrambles, especially if you’re like me and tend to eye ingredients and use whatever vegetables are in your fridge. The recipe above could easily serve 3 or 4 people, but I like a hearty breakfast before a long hard day of relaxing at home.

Servings: 2 | Calories: 180 | Fat: 9g | Carbs: 17g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 17g

Vegetable skewers

IMG_6758

Now that we’re hitting the beach several times a month, I need some good, portable, grillable recipes. Just grill delicious meat and fish you say? Guess what Bertrand and I gave up for Lent.

Enter the vegetable skewer.

Benin’s got delicious cheese. It’s kind of like ricotta, except that it’s solid, has a tofu-like texture, and doesn’t melt, and grills up perfectly. Oh wait, it’s nothing like ricotta.

Start your skewers soaking. This is so they don’t turn black on the grill (or in the oven). This is less important if you’re not a freak about aesthetics.

IMG_6749

Optional: blend up a basic Beninese sauce for your marinade (recipe to come this week), heavy on the ginger and the hot peppers. Wait, there aren’t any hot peppers in that recipe? Just chop up a tablespoon oo so, and add it to the blend mix. Add in a teaspoon or so of salt and a tablespoon of oilve oil. Don’t cook the sauce!

Then, chop a bunch of vegetables. Also chop some pineapple and wagasi (or leave the wagasi, if you’re not in Benin).

IMG_6757_1

Toss marinadeable veggies (zucchinis, pineapple) and wagasi with the┬ámarinade. If you didn’t make a marinade, toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt.

Build your skewers! Leave chunks of onion in tact. They are more delicious that way.

IMG_6759

I cheat and roast my skewers in the oven for 20 minutes before heading out to the beach. This cooks all of the vegetables, so all I have to do once I get to the beach is reheat on the grill. When I’m cooking at home, sans grill, I roast for 30 minutes, turning and rotating the skewers halfway through.

Grill.

Eat.

IMG_6760

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Mmmm...tortilla soup!

You’d think leftover tortillas would be easier to get rid of. Unfortunately, once they’ve started to go a bit stale, their usefulness in Tex Mex dishes is a curve approaching zero. Tacos and burritos are definitely out. Quesadillas are OK, but they take a lot of cheese and oil, two foods I’m not enthusiastic about right now. Enchilladas are really best with fresh or day old tortillas. Four or five days out, they’re not flexible enough to wrap around fillings and they absorb the sauce poorly.

Enter tortilla soup, a recipe that actually works better the older and dryer your tortillas. And while most recipes call for corn tortillas, this one use flour (mostly because it’s all I’ve got), giving the fried chips a wonderful nutty taste. Continue reading

Homemade flour tortillas

Finished tortillas

I have been searching for a perfect tortilla recipe since I landed in Benin 5 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. They’re so versatile and so important to the Peace Corps diet, and yet, I hated making them. Doughs that were too stretch to roll right, crunchy rounds that didn’t fold around taco fillings, and tasteless recipes that just weren’t up to scratch.

No longer. Continue reading

Keyan Curried Cabbage

Kenyan Curried Cabbage

Here in Benin, you can either buy ridiculously expensive meats at the grocery store, or you can go to the market. The meat is sourced from the same places, but the market doesn’t have fridges and does have a lot of flies. The solution is to go early in the morning and either cook the meat as soon as you get home, or shove it in your freezer. Hassle hassle hassle. Usually we only eat meat on the weekends, when I have the time to buy it, prep it safely, and have planned ahead enough to create a dish that will last for several days. Continue reading