Savory Fruit

I’m not usually a fan of fruit in my entree. Raisins and apples can go in salads and citrus gets a pass. At least I thought I didn’t like fruit in things. During my French cookbook obsession I found a recipe for a chicken-sweet potato tagine with prunes. It sounded weird enough that I might like it. I’ve done raisins in tagine before and thought it was ok and I happened to have two pounds of prunes that really needed to be used it. Don’t worry the recipe didn’t call for two pounds, more like eight prunes. The only change I made to the recipe was to swap chickpeas for the chicken. It does call for a lot of saffron which I miraculously had. This was the first time I made something that had a very strong and distinct saffron flavor and I can’t say I loved it. Possibly the mix of saffron and prunes, each very distinctive, might have been overwhelming. It was good that night for dinner but I couldn’t bring myself to eat the leftovers the next afternoon.

I served it with couscous and some sauteed chard and mushrooms. The tagine recipe is from Around My French Table.


From Scratch

A while back I finally sat down and made enchilada sauce from scratch. I’ve wanted to do this for years but never got around to it. This goes for a lot of things ‘from scratch’. I cook a lot of stuff at home and try not to rely on store bought portions of recipes, but sometimes it’s just easier. Canned sauces, tins of curry paste, pre-mixed curry powder. I suppose to a lot of folks cooking anything at home means ‘from scratch’ but to me it means you started out with identifiable single ingredients. Someday I’d love to make homemade curry pastes and powders. Maybe seeing how easy and tasty the enchilada sauce turned out will inspire me. But for now I’m happy with my sauce.

I’m trying to recall now, but I think this was based on the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I liked it a lot but would like to use a mix of peppers next time, maybe anchos, guajillos, and New Mexico chiles.

Enchilada Sauce

4 dried ancho peppers
1 tbsp. oil
1 med. onion
3 cloves garlic
15 oz. can of roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and cover with boiling water. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and cook for several minutes, until it begins to color. Add garlic. Mince soaked peppers and add to onion, if it seems dry add some of the soaking water. Cook for a couple minutes then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until it has thickened. Add cilantro and take off heat. When slightly cooled run through a blender or food processor.

This made enough for one 9×13 pan of enchiladas. The recipe I used for the unpictured final product was from the Fall 2011 Penzey’s catalog, a recipe submitted by Dane Kuttler. I was intrigued when I first saw the recipe because you boil the sweet potatoes in vinegar and soy sauce. I just had to try it. I usually make up my own filling as I go along but it usually includes sweet potatoes, can of black beans, can of diced tomatoes, and spices.  For this I tried to stick with the recipe but clearly changed a few things for vegan and health reasons.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

5-6 ww flour tortillas
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, divided
1 batch enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Wash and chop sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces. Put the potatoes, soy sauce, and vinegar into a medium saucepan, cover with a lid, and boil until potatoes are soft and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, cumin, and ancho until fragrant, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the black beans and a little water or more vinegar and turn heat. Let it warm through then take off heat.

When the potatoes are done slightly mash then, then mix the black bean mixture and potatoes together. Add 2/3 c. vegan cheese and mix in. Put a third of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Fill the tortillas with a few good spoonfuls of filling and place seam down in pan. Continue until pan is full. Spread the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sauce is slightly bubbling around the edges of the pan. Cool slightly and enjoy.


It may sound weird on the tongue, but it tastes just fine. Most traditional moussaka has lamb and cheese and all that jazz. But vegan moussaka doesn’t need all that malarkey. I had an eggplant that needed using and I didn’t want to go the curry route. I’ve made the Veganomicon moussaka before and its damn tasty. Trouble was I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I improvised and created an incredibly untraditional recipe. This is based off the VCon recipe which you can find in the book, or if you’re a broke college student its floating around the interwebs. In which case you should ask for it at the next appropriate holiday.

Moose Kaka? No, no – Moussaka 

1 eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 sweet potato, you get the picture – trimmed and sliced



1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes, but sauce would save a step)

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. each dried thyme, oregano, rosemary

Salt and pepper

Nut Cream

1 lb. silken tofu

2/3 c. almonds or walnuts (I used a mix of both)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 rounded teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Pinch of mace

Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Oil some sheet pans and arrange the sliced veggies on them. Roast 15 minutes for the zucchini and eggplant, and 20 minutes for the sweet potato.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting and the sauce a’simmerin’ you can make the nut cream (terrible name but I don’t know what else to call it, maybe walnut ricotta). Pulse the nuts until evenly chopped. Add the lemon juice and grind to a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add the rest of the cream/ricotta ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings if you need too. 

At this point the veggies should be nearing done and the sauce is ready. Turn off the stove, turn down the oven to 350ºF and take the veggies out. Let them begin to cool either on the pan or if you have limited space (such as myself) put them on a plate and out of the way. If you used tomato sauce kudos to you. If you used diced tomatoes then scrape the cream/ricotta into another dish and puree the tomato sauce. Now, assemble!

In a 9×13 pan layer a good 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Now in goes a layer of eggplant then sweet potato. Another layer of tomato sauce and 1/3 to 1/2 the nut stuff. On goes the zucchini, the rest of the eggplant, rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the nut cream/ricotta.

The original recipe calls for putting this in for 35-40 minutes. I think mine was in for an hour, but thats because not all the dinner participants were there. I took mine out after an hour, let it cool, then popped it back in to warm it up later. I think this made it really nice. We all know lasagne is better the next day because its had time to set, same thing here. Don’t try to cut it up immediately out of the oven. Your patience will be rewarded. 

But no picture, you have to make it yourself. We ate it too quickly and the remains disappeared into a lunchbox.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of KarynMC.