Ok, so I haven't officially signed up to participate in Vegan MOFO because I'm afraid they may reject me since I'm not 100% vegan 100% of the time. But I'm going to participate on my own, if not part of the official group. So here is my first post for this Vegan Month of Food. Even if this blog event doesn't sway everyone to go vegan or vegetarian, my hope is that it will at least encourage people to cut back on the amount of meat they eat on a regular basis. That's how Brad and I got started on this adventure. A few years ago, we decided to try the so-called Flexatarian mode of eating, which just means we made it a point to prepare meat-free meals several times each week (in fact, I think we may have started out with just one or two days, to tell you the truth). That went so well that we decided to eat vegetarian at home when we moved here, and only eat meat when we were out. Admittedly, we fudged a few times and had some pork chops, hot wings, and a few other meatful meals, but overall I'm proud of us for sticking to it as much as we did.
Through that process, and all the information I came across while looking for vegetarian and vegan recipes online and in books, I was blown away by all the evidence that pointed to a vegan diet as the healthiest way one can eat. Wow! I really never knew nor expected that! I also was shocked to learn so much about the global ramifications of a meat-eating diet, the way animals-for-food are raised and treated. Given that, and given that I have led a fairly unhealthy lifestyle up until now, and given that I need to lose a LOT of weight (and by "a lot", I mean more than 100 pounds), it just made sense, and I decided to go primarily vegan back in mid-June. Since then, I have lost 30 pounds, and feel better than I ever have before! I do still eat dairy on occasion, I'll freely admit, but I stay vegan a good 95% of the time, if not more. Looking back and seeing how I have progressed to this point, though, I imagine it won't be long before I'm completely dairy-free. But I'm content to take it one step at a time. Even one year ago, I never in a million years would have seen myself where I am now. I was one of those who said vehemently that "I could never give up meat", or "I would die without cheese", and yet here I am. And I'm so glad I've made the choice to do so!
Now, let's talk about tonight's dinner! It was so delicious! I did heavily modify the Aloo Palak recipe that I found here, and I combined several naan recipes I found around the internet in order to come up with what you see here. I'm immensely pleased with the naan -- it's the best I've had homemade to date -- and the Aloo Palak was incredibly satisfying and delicious...although with all the changes I made to it, I don't know if you can even call it Aloo Palak anymore. I'll just call it "good". I also made another batch of the Spicy Onion and Carrot Pickle we had last night, albeit minus the cilantro, since we were out. Great dinner!
Here are the recipes:
2 large potatoes
2 Tsbp olive oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 bags baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 cup soy milk (or more or less, as desired)
Scrub potatoes, poke several times with a fork, and microwave 10 minutes on high (or you can bake them, but nuking is faster). When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, and cut into large chunks, about 1" square.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add potato chunks. Cook and gently stir until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Add jalapeno, ginger, chili powder, cumin and turmeric. Cook and stir several minutes, until jalapeno begins to soften. Add spinach. Cook and stir until spinach begins to break down. Puree using an immersion blender, if desired. Gradually stir in soy milk, until desired consistency is reached. It should be fairly thick, not runny, but not solid, either. Just go with what looks good to you.
Add potatoes and gently stir into the spinach mixture until heated through. Serve with naan.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 pkgs yeast
1 Tbsp agave nectar
5 Tbsp soy milk
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 to 5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
additional olive oil
Sprinkle yeast over warm water, stir to dissolve, and set aside for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy. Stir in the agave nectar, soy milk and olive oil. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 4 cups of the flour, the salt and baking soda; stir together. With the mixer on low, and using the paddle attachment, add yeast mixture to the flour mixture. When flour is thoroughly incorporated, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Add additional flour as needed to form a very soft dough. It should still be soft and fairly sticky, but should form a smooth ball. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball, and place smooth side down in a greased bowl, turning to coat (the smooth side will be up at that point). Cover with a clean dishcloth and let rise 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
Place a pizza stone in the oven, and heat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes, to heat the stone thoroughly. After 30 minutes, turn the broiler on high.
Punch down the dough, and knead 20-30 times. Pull off a baseball sized chunk of the dough, roll to a little thinner than 1/2-inch. Lightly wet your hands with water, and pat the dough between your hands to moisten slightly. Drape the dough onto the pizza stone, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Brush lightly with olive oil, flip over, and bake 1 to 2 minutes longer, until golden brown. The naan should still be somewhat soft. Remove from the oven, and brush lightly with a little more olive oil if desired. Repeat with remaining dough.
Yield: 6 to 8 naan.