Bánh Mi Arepas

Banh Mi Arepas | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree #recipeWhen I was an undergrad living in New York City, inexpensive, delicious food was important. There were only so many dining hall omelettes, midnight waffles and Quiznos subs I could eat, so my friends and I were always on the lookout for cheap meals. Aside from Moaz, Vietnamese bánh mi sandwiches and Venezuelan arepas were two quick East Village standbys that fit the bill. Ever since moving out of NYC, I’ve been meaning to make both bánh mi and arepas at home. It’s been seven (holy shit!) years since college, but I finally got around to it by making them both with these bánh mi arepas.

Arepas are gluten free, round, chewy flatbreads made out of precooked cornmeal, traditionally eaten in both Colombia and Venezuela. There are very serious debates on the difference between Colombian and Venezuelan arepas (it seems Venezuelan arepas are more likely to be stuffed), but I’m pretty sure this version isn’t traditional to either country. The filling is based on the flavors of the Vietnamese bánh mi sandwich though “bánh mi” technically refers to the type of bread this sandwich is usually served on, which is like a baguette. The Vietnamese filling of these arepas is highly adaptable to be vegan, vegetarian or traditional with meat. If you’re vegan, the main flavor components to include are the cilantro, pickled veggies, sriracha mayo (vegan if needed) and jalapeños; the protein is completely up to you. I used pulled pork for mine, but omitted the pâté. Baked tofu or tempeh would also work well.

Banh Mi Arepas | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree #recipe

 

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Sprouted Lentil Falafel with Coconut Yogurt

Sprouted Lentil Falafel with Coconut Yogurt | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #recipe

For Christmas this year, Isabel got me Bar Tartine. When I opened it, she immediately said that she regretted buying the book for me. She thought it looked good at first, but seemed to complicated, obscure and fussy for everyday cooking. I disagreed with her.

After owning the cookbook for several months now, I admit that – although I’ve flipped through it often –  until last weekend had yet to make anything from it.  The use of ingredients like black garlic powder, mushroom vinegar, pickled green walnuts and fermented honey make the book fun for weekend projects, but not very practical for everyday use.

This month’s issue of Bon Appetit included a recipe from the Bar Tartine cookbook: “Lentil Croquettes with Watercress and Kefir.” Reading over the ingredients, the recipe in the magazine seemed more accessible and easy than I remembered seeing in the book. I immediately got out my cookbook and compared. While the cookbook calls for “kombu dashi,” Bon Appetit’s version calls for vegetable broth. Fermented honey becomes regular honey, kerfir cream becomes kefir.

It wasn’t until I received this issue of Bon Appetit that I realized something about Bar Tartine: the recipes in the cookbook are written as they are prepared at Bar Tartine in San Francisco. If you prepare them as written, you will produce incredible, restaurant quality food – the type of food you think you could never make at home. I respect this book for that. April’s issue of Bon Appetit, however, made me realize that these recipes are highly adaptable for weeknight cooking. Don’t have black garlic powder? Regular garlic powder will probably work. Never heard of green walnuts? Normal brown ones should taste good too. Even though these more obscure ingredients may help elevate a recipe to a higher level, substituting more common ingredients will still produce delicious results.

Here, I’ve used Bon Appetit’s version of the recipe and adapted it a bit further to make it gluten free, dairy free and vegan. These sprouted lentil falafel use gluten free bread and a simple cashew “ricotta,” from Detoxinista, which is really just soaked cashews blended with a bit of lemon juice and garlic. The arugula sauce is completely optional and, if you’re short on time, I think serving the lentil falafel on a bed of arugula salad would be equally as good.

Sprouted Lentil Falafel with Coconut Yogurt | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #recipe

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Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #paleo #recipe

When I’m home in Boston, lunch and dinner always is made with a side salad: mixed greens, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. That’s it. I usually eat it first before enjoying the more creative part of the meal; the quinoa pizza, sweet potato shepherd’s pie, empanadas, etc. What I love about Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks is that the line between the side salad and main entree is blurred. All of his salad recipes are creative and exciting enough to be the part of the meal that you look forward to.

Since my parents were going away this Easter, Isabel and I went to my parents house last weekend. They have the entire Ottolenghi library and Isabel and I always find ourselves bookmarking a lot of recipes (often adapted to be gluten free or dairy free) and making way too many grocery store trips. This past weekend we had some mangos on hand, so we went for an adaptation of the Alphonso Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad from Plenty More. Instead of chickpeas, we used roasted sweet potatoes and created an Indian-spiced coconut dressing that would be great on other salads and roast vegetables, so don’t worry if you have extra.

Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #paleo #recipe

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Butternut Squash Pot Pie

Butternut Squash Pot Pie | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

I didn’t intend to make this butternut squash pot pie.  A couple weeks ago, right in the middle of third (or fourth) blizzard, Josh was stuck in Baltimore and I was alone in the apartment in need of a project. I wanted to make pie crust – a gluten free and vegan pie crust – and after some searching, I came across this recipe. The pie crust called for vegan butter and vegan shortening, neither of which I usually buy, but included recipes to make both from scratch. Made with a coconut oil base and without weird ingredients, I decided to give both the butter and shortening recipes a try.  The butter surprisingly tasted similar to real butter and the shortening looked convincing, so I continued on to the pie crust. The recipe calls for regular wheat flour, but I used gluten free all-purpose, cup for cup. I was skeptical of the reviews that said the pie crust was “flaky, tender and buttery” and that the dough “rolls like a dream,” but the science was explained and I decided to give it a shot.

As those of you who are gluten free and/or vegan know, many things that claim to “taste like the real thing” are lying. But this pie crust is legit. Roasted butternut squash goes with anything in my book (as seen here, here, and here), and leeks make anything taste comforting to me. The filling for this butternut squash pot pie is extremely forgiving. If you’re vegan, simply substitute the chicken and bacon with chickpeas (as noted in the recipe), more vegetables or even tofu. If you eat meat, other types would be great here too (ground beef, chicken breast, pork – just remember to buy pastured, organic when possible). Leeks, cranberries, sage and thyme give this pot pie a distinctly wintry flavor that will go well with whatever seasonal vegetables you have on hand, so feel free to experiment.

Butternut Squash Pot Pie | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

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Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

I try to get all of my grocery shopping done on Friday night on my way home from work. I love grocery shopping, but if I don’t try to squeeze it in between 5pm and dinner my first glass of wine on a Friday, it takes up too much of my Saturday or Sunday. I hem and haw over what to cook for lunch and dinner for week, what to make for the blog, furiously flipping through cookbooks, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated, Pinterest and by the time I’m out the door, half of Saturday is gone and I’m starving.

Friday night grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily mean my decision making is easier, but it forces me to commit ahead of my old schedule. Last week, I decided to buy ingredients for a “Chinese salad” because 1. more salads and 2. Chinese New Year. The new South End Whole Foods has TWO AISLES of bulk bins and when I spotted bulk black rice (aka forbidden rice), I had a salad vision and went with it.

Orange and Almond Black Rice Salad with soy ginger vinaigrette is full of flavor and texture. If you’re like me and need a break from all the heavy winter foods, this salad will be satisfying. It’s filling, but full of light and crunchy veggies, like cabbage, snap peas and scallions. Isabel has been encouraging me to make these sesame clusters for a while now, and I regret not having made them sooner. Along with the roasted almonds, the sesame clusters give the salad another dimension, making it heartier and more filling than most, perfect as a main dish.

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

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