Category Archives: Snacks

superbowl vegan artichoke and spinach dip in a bread bowl

i looked up so many spinach and artichoke dip recipes and just could not find what i wanted. i didn’t want low-fat, i didn’t want a complex multi-day cashew soaking process, and i didn’t want fake cheese. i ended up just throwing some ingredients together and wound up with a simple, delicious, and satisfying dip that was exactly what my friends and i were craving for our superbowl-themed movie watching party.

1 bag washed fresh spinach OR 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can artichoke hearts packed in water
2 cloves garlic, fresh
about 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
about 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
about 1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
one round loaf of bread, any kind you like (optional)

preheat oven to 350f if you will be eating this right away.

if you are using fresh spinach, throw it into a dry skillet heated to medium-low and let the water steam off until it wilts. press the spinach up against the side of the pan to release the water and allow it to steam off. if you are using frozen spinach, thaw it and drain it well.

combine all ingredients in a food processor and process til blended. if you don’t have a food processor, mince everything and mix it well.

using a bread knife, cut a circle around the top of the bread and hollow it out. chop the hollowed bread into cubes. place the bread bowl and cubes on a baking sheet and fill the bowl with the mixed dip. bake for 15-25 minutes based on how hungry you are.

for a gluten-free dip, bake it in a small baking dish or large ramekin and use tortilla chips.

i can’t believe this is all i did. i don’t normally have vegan sour cream in the house but someone left some in my fridge from a cookoff recently. and i DO always have vegan mayonnaise and so should you because it’s the best. vegenaise specifically.

trini doubles, yum yum yum

Hello there, friends and vegans! It’s been a while since last I posted; I’ve been working full time AND going to school full time, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Anyway, I wanted to post about my entry in the last vegan cookoff. Just to refresh your memory, the cookoff is a monthly event some friends and I have been doing for four (count em, FOUR) years solid. Everything has to be vegan, and these days, nut-free as well, and it suits the purposes of the aspiring winner to offer a gluten-free entry or option as well, as we have three gluten-free participants. The theme, date, and location is chosen the month before. Everyone brings the components of their dish, assembles on location, and serves small portions to all of the attendees. At the end, everyone who’s eaten votes in each of five categories, and a winner is crowned.


The photo of mine hasn’t been uploaded yet, so here’s one from Tried and True Favourite Recipes!

Our last competition was Caribbean-themed. I made Trini doubles – a street food dish from Trinidad involving chana masala (my favourite Indian dish made with island flavour) stuffed into deep-fried bread dough. It’s simple and it’s delicious. I chose to serve mine with a fresh salsa made of mango, cucumber, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro. The whole thing was quite hot, but so delicious!

Chana Masala for Doubles

Now, I’ve tried to make chana many times before and have never made an authentic-tasting one. This was my first success with a chana masala that tasted like I’ve had it in restaurants.

2 tbsp sunflower/canola/veg oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp caraway or coriander seeds, whole
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1.5 inches thick ginger or 2 inches thin, grated
2 tbsp+ masala mix or chana masala mix powder (NOT garam masala, NOT thai red curry, etc.)
2 cans chickpeas, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small can or 1/2 large can diced tomatoes (ensure you get ones without extra spices)
1 bay leaf

Heat a medium-sized pot on just under medium heat on a burner. Add oil and let it heat for a minute before adding the onions. They should sizzle slightly, but if they spit at all, turn the heat down. Stoves vary a lot, so it’s best to know whether your stove runs hot or cool. Mine runs hot, so I saute my onions on heat 2 or 3 (electric). Gas ranges often run hotter than electric because of the direct and instant heat.

Stir the onions to ensure they don’t get stuck or burnt. While your onions are cooking, in a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, grated ginger, and dry masala. Add a splash of water (I like to use warm) and mix it all together so it combines into a paste.

Once the onions are softened, add the caraway or coriander seeds. Ensure there’s enough hot oil in there to coat the seeds – stir it together and cook until they are toasted. Then, add your spice paste and stir it all together to toast the spices and cook the garlic and ginger.

While this is happening, drain and rinse your chickpeas. Add them to the pot next and stir to coat everything equally in the spices. Next, add the diced tomatoes. This provides some liquid to cook the chickpeas further til they’re soft. If it looks dry, add a little water. Add the bay leaf now and stir.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on and let it go for at least 20 minutes, better at an hour or even more. Continue to stir it every so often and ensure there is enough liquid; you don’t want it to burn to the bottom but you also don’t want it to come out too liquidy at the end. You need to scoop it up with fry bread!

Note on curry powders

Holy mackerel are there a LOT of curry powders out there. There’s Japanese curry, Thai curry, Indian curry, Island curry, and so on, and within each type of cuisine there are a number of variations as far as spice combination goes. For a successful chana masala, you will want a MASALA MIX or a CHANA MASALA MIX. Look for a spice mix that contains coriander, clove, cinnamon, chili, turmeric, and ginger. Chana masala should be heavy on ginger, coriander, and – believe it or not – lemon! You don’t want any lime flavour, nor cumin. If you want to make your own spice mix, use those listed above. A little cardamom wouldn’t hurt either. The “pie spices” complement the chickpea and tomato in chana masala. If you want to vary the spiciness of your dish, making your own spice mix is a great idea. You can chop fresh chilies in with the garlic and ginger, or add chili powder or cayenne with the dry spices.

Fry Bread

This part is super easy. While your chana is simmering, make some bread dough. My bread yeast was dead, so I used instant pizza yeast and actually just made a pizza dough. You don’t have to spice it – just salt it. You don’t need much, either. When you fry the dough, it’ll puff up and bubble so you can cut it open and put chana inside it. YUM.

To deep fry, choose a deep pot with a small diameter. Fill it with about 2 inches of oil with a high smoke point (sunflower/canola/veg oil) and heat it on high. Ensure you have a plate next to the stove with paper towel on it to drain, as well as a metal or silicon (NOT PLASTIC) slotted spoon, tongs, etc. You’ll know it’s ready when you put a wooden spoon in, touching the bottom, and little bubbles immediately rise from the wood. BE VERY CAREFUL if you are new to deep-frying! Tear off little chunks of bread dough and toss them in – do no more than three at a time so the oil doesn’t lose too much temperature. Watch them turn golden, turning if necessary, and then pull out to drain. Serve hot.

Oh, and I won the cookoff with this dish.

Sticky Rice Risotto Balls

I made these sticky rice risotto balls for one of our vegan cookoffs. Everyone loved them!

sticky rice risotto balls
Photo by Jen

For the risotto

4 shallots
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp veg oil
2 cups shiitake mushrooms
2 cups glutinous (sticky) rice
1/2 cup sake, soju, or white wine
7 – 8 cups hot miso broth
1 tbsp tamari or soya sauce
1/2 cup green onion or chive, chopped
Salt, to taste

I tend to go overboard on oil when I make cookoff entries, so you could potentially half this. Heat a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallots. Stir often with a (preferably slotted) wooden spoon until soft. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms and saute, stirring often, until soft. Add the tamari to the broth. Add the rice and sake/soju/wine; stir and let come to a simmer. Once the level of the liquid has gone down, add a cup of broth, stir, and let come to a simmer; let the liquid get low, then add another cup broth. Repeat, stirring often, adding liquid every 5 – 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked – this should take 30 – 40 minutes. Test for al dente and remove from heat. Add salt and green onion, stir to incorporate, taste for flavour, and add more soy sauce or tamari if it’s lacking.

Now you will want your risotto to cool. If you have heaps of time, you can just leave it out, but I put mine in the fridge for about an hour.

Once it’s cooled, lay out some wax paper and start forming them into balls. You can do these whatever size you like.

To stuff

I made a mixture of silken tofu, Daiya, miso, and tamari, but it might be better with some nicely marinated tofu inside, chopped into small pieces. You also don’t need to stuff them at all.

To stuff, flatten a risotto ball, put a small amount of stuffing on top, wrap it up like a purse, and close with a pinch of your fingers. Re-roll gently into a ball.

To crust

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko
1 tbsp sesame seeds
for the egg wash:
1 tsp ground flax
3 tbsp hot water

Mix the flax and water for an egg wash. Put the flour in a shallow bowl or saucer; do the same for the panko, but add the sesame seeds and mix. Dip each ball first into flour, then into the flax mixture, then into the panko and sesame seeds.

To fry

Enough oil to submerge your risotto balls in; you are deep frying. If you don’t want to do that, feel free to bake them. They are still delicious this way.

Heat the oil at medium until dropping a piece of rice into it sets it to rolling and fizzing. Fry each ball til it’s golden brown – BE CAREFUL – and remove gently with heat-safe tongs to a plate covered with paper towel to drain.

I served these with a swipe of creamy Japanese sesame-citrus salad dressing. This will do, or a rice vinegar-soy sauce, plum sauce, or any other dip. Eat with chopsticks or place each one on a toothpick for party-friendly finger foods.