Air Fryer Pantry Falafel

I used to have a mix to make Falafels….it was SO good.  And then it was discontinued (it happens) and we were on the hunt for an easy DIY recipe we could make almost as quickly as the mix allowed.  I did what any person does these days….headed to my ole’ friend Pinterest and did a quick search.  And let me tell you, there are 100’s of recipes out there!  I even searched amongst my colleagues, both Epicure and The Academy of Culinary Nutrition, and everything I came up with used fresh parsley and dry, soaked for 24 hours, uncooked chickpeas.  I can say after many attempts, the fresh parsley is a MUST, but I have created a recipe that works with tinned chickpeas because, let’s be real here, ain’t nobody got time for 24 hours of soaking beans!!  

prep

25 minutes (this includes chill time)

Bake time

18-20 minutes

makes

Ingredients

  • 1 596mL tin of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp Creamy Garlic Hummus Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Guacamole Mix
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry parsley.  Remove stems as best as possible.  Place in a food processor or high-power blender.  Pulse until well chopped but not mush.
  2. Add chickpea flour, baking soda, oil, lemon juice and spices.  Pulse again to combine.
  3. Add chickpeas and pulse until well combined and chickpeas are chopped but not smooth (we’re not making hummus!)
  4. Remove blade from food processor and chill bowl in fridge 15 minutes (or longer if you’re not ready to cook)
  5. Using a 1/4 C scoop form 7 equal patties.
  6. Place evenly spaced on the racks of an Air Fryer and air fry (400F) for 18-20 minutes depending on crispiness desired.  Switching trays halfway through cooking.
  7. Serve in a pita or naan bread with fresh Tzatziki, peppers, pickled red onion, lettuce, tomatoe, olives, feta…all your favourite fixings!

Notes

I used the Guacamole mix in place of chopped onion, garlic and cilantro here because I wanted to limit the number of non-pantry ingredients required.  If you do not have the mix, you can add 2 cloves of fresh garlic, 1/2 a chopped white onion and fresh cilantro to taste (I can’t stand the stuff so I’d add as little as possible but go wild!)

Similarly, the Creamy Hummus Mix is used in place of more garlic, cumin and Corriander.  It also adds some nutritional yeast and sesame goodness!

If you do not have an air fryer, you can bake on a lined sheetpan at 400F for 20 minutes.  Or you can pan fry for approximately 6 minutes per side (or until desired crispiness) with some extra avocado oil in a medium-high skillet.

Easy Pepper Steak

This recipe was inspired by a Freezer Meal Workshop and the need to use up loads of garden tomatoes from my dad’s neighbour!  She sneaks into his garage and leaves them on the stoop when he’s at work so he can’t say no to them! Funny thing is, he grows his own as well so he winds up with more than he knows what to do with when he’s mostly just cooking for him and my mother.

It has quickly become my eldest daughter’s favourite and when I say we’re making it for dinner she squeals with delight!  It comes together really quick if you’re using fast fry steak and has so many robust flavours it’s sure to become a fave at your house too!

prep

10 minutes

cook time

20 minutes

makes

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs fast fry or round steak, thinly sliced
  • 3 large bell peppers, sliced
  • medium red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1.5 lbs field or vine tomatoes 
  • 1 can tomatoe paste
  • 1/4 C soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic or 3-4 cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Beef & steak seasoning 
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red chilis to taste

 

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • Brown rice Ramen noodles

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or high powered blender, combine tomatoes, tomatoe paste, coconut aminos, minced garlic, beef & steak seasoning, honey, salt, pepper & crushed chilis.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Heat avocado oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.
  3. Add sliced steak and onion and quick-fry 2-3 minutes until onion starts to soften.
  4. Add mushrooms and peppers and fry until soft. 6-9 minutes.
  5. Bring 8 C water to a boil and prepare noodles.
  6. While noodles are cooking, add tomatoe sauce from blender to pan with steak and veggies.  By the time noodles are cooked as per directions, your sauce should be heated through and beginning to simmer.  Drain noodles, serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Notes

If using a tougher cut of beef, you could add all ingredients except oil and noodles to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.

Alternatively, if looking for ways to store summer garden veggies for later use, prepare sauce as directed in step 1.  Add all ingredients besides oil and noodles to a freezer safe bag or container.  When ready to use, thaw overnight in fridge and heat until beef is cooked through in wok or large saute pan.  Alternatively, dump everything into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Soup

It’s that time of year here in Southern Ontario where we’re reaping the benefit of ALL the delicious things we’ve been tending in our gardens all summer!  Tomatoes are likely plentiful if you’ve been even slightly successful with your plants – that’s one of my favourite things about growing tomatoes is that they don’t require too much effort or know-how to still reap a successful crop!!  There are so many things to DO with all those tomatoes – some require more effort than others; if you’re into canning you can put up sauces, salsas and stewed to get you through the winter! If canning isn’t something you’re ready to tackle quite yet, there are also lots of recipes you can create and freeze if you have the space!  This one falls into that category!  Although it’s so good you’ll need to make a triple batch if you want to have enough left to freeze for later! 

prep

10 minutes

Bake time

1 hour 15 minutes

makes

8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs tomatoes – include at least 1/2 lb sweet cherry tomatoes along with any other variety you’ve successfully grown!
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 full bulb garlic (at least 6 cloves)
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Pesto Sauce Mix
  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 C Vegetable Broth (prepared)  or homemade stock
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional for a little extra kick)
  • Fresh grated Parmesan and fresh basil for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash and cut tomatoes, carrots and red pepper into large chunks. Leave cherry tomatoes whole. Peel garlic.
  3. Place all vegetables on a lined sheet pan.  Generously drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp dry Pesto Sauce mix, salt and cracked black pepper over everything and toss to coat.
  4. Roast for 1 hour.  Check after 30 min to move vegetables around on tray.
  5. Remove roasted veggies from oven and  transfer everything from the pan including juices to a large, high-powered, VENTED blender and blend until smooth.  If you have a smaller blender, you may need to do in two batches as the hot liquid may cause an explosion if you don’t have a vent!  If you have a hand-held immersion blender you can skip this step and just blend everything in the next step!
  6. Transfer blended veggies to a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add prepared vegetable broth (or homemade veggie stock!) and heat through, about 5-7 minutes.  
  7. Add remaining 1 Tbsp Pesto Sauce mix and balsamic vinegar.  Taste and add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes as needed.
  8. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan and fresh basil.

Notes

If you have neither a vented blender or an immersion blender, you may want to allow the roasted vegetables to cool slightly before attempting to blend in a regular blender.  Hot stuff in a blender will build up pressure and could result in a hot explosion and subsequent injury!

If you don’t have Pesto Sauce mix, you can roast veggies with just salt, pepper and olive oil and use a prepared pesto in the final step.  You may need more than 2 Tbsp of prepared pesto (or a homemade pesto) to achieve the desired basily, garlicky flavour!

Serve with cheesy garlic toast or Nana’s Cheese Tea Biscuits! It’s a family favourite!

If you want to make it even more hearty so you get a fully balanced meal out of it, add 1 cup of cooked (or canned and rinsed) white beans before pureeing!  Blast it all with the high powered blender and you’ll have an even creamier soup loaded with protein too!

4 Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas are always popular here!  Really, any Mexican food is….my kids don’t care how it’s presented: Huevos Rancheros, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, pulled chicken nachos….they love it all!  

This recipe is really easy and never disappoints, and is a great meatless meal if you’re looking to add more plant-based options to your weekly meal plan!

prep

4 hours (if soaking beans)

30 minutes if using canned

Bake time

25 minutes

makes

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup each – black beans, kidney beans, great northern beans (or any white bean of choice) and pinto beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked OR use 2 cups of tinned, mixed beans.
  • 1 Cup finely chopped veggies of choice – mushrooms, peppers and zucchini all work here!
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 796 ml tin of crushed tomatoes or 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Poco Picante Salsa mix
  • 2 Tbsp fajita seasoning 
  • 10 10 cm corn or flour tortillas, warmed slightly so they don’t crack when you fill them
  • 1 Cup shredded cheese
  •  
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1.5 Cups of the crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Nacho Cheese sauce mix

 

 

Instructions

  1. For the sauce: either simmer the crushed tomatoes and seasoning in a saucepan for 20 minutes on the stove or cook in multipurpose steamer in the microwave for 10 minutes.
  2. If using dry beans, be sure to soak them for at least 1 hour up to 4 before cooking.  Rinse soak water – do not use soak water for cooking!
  3. Add rinsed beans and 2 C of fresh water to multipurpose steamer, cover and cook 22 minutes on high in the microwave.  Or add soaked beans + 4 cups fresh water to a large pot and cook 50 minutes until tender.  
  4. Heat avocado oil in a large pan.
  5. Saute onion until translucent.
  6. Add chopped veggies, remaining tomatoes and seasonings.
  7. Simmer 10 minutes until sauce starts to bubble.
  8. Stir in cooked or tinned beans until warmed through.
  9. Stir 1/4 cup of shredded cheese through the bean and vegetable mixture.  Remove from heat.
  10. Spread 1/4 cup of prepared sauce on bottom of a 9X13 pan.
  11. Evenly fill tortillas with bean mixture.  Be sure to roll and lay seam-side down in the pan with the sauce. Pack them in fairly tightly to fit all 10 in the pan.
  12. Spread remaining sauce over top.  Cover and cook in a 400 oven for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove cover, spread remaining cheese over top and bake another 5 minutes until cheese has melted.
  14. Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, fresh guacamole and salsa and maybe a little Sangria! 

Notes

1 Cup total of dried beans will soak and cook up to 2.5 Cups cooked beans.  If using tinned, choose smaller tins, rinse and you can freeze what you don’t use to use the next time!

I prefer not to use foil in my cooking and cover my baking dish using the silicone bake & roll.  Less waste, so easy to clean and less concern for what might be leaching into your food!

You don’t have to use red onion, I just love the slightly sweet flavour the red onion offers and it contains anthrocyanins – a flavonoid in red, purple and blue plants that give it their great colour, but also have antioxidant effects!  Why not add a little anit-inflamatory boost to your cooking when you can!

Roasted Vegetable & Lentil Bolognese

Is Meatless Monday a “thing” in your house? Are you trying to add more plant-based recipes to your weekly meal plan?  Or are you just frugal and looking for easy ways to use up all the pantry staples you have stocked up on and aren’t entirely sure what to do with?  Never fear!  I have a recipe that will appeal to (hopefully) everyone in your house!  Who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta anyway?  Unless of course you’re gluten-free, in which case, use your favourite pasta in place of classic spaghetti!  This recipe was created when my 2nd daughter was starting solids and I was looking for a few new ways to bring kid-favourites to the table.  I am generally not a huge proponent of hiding food from my kids, but adding lentils to this sauce instead of meat is almost undetectable by them and comes together really quickly for pennies a plate!  Change the level of spice in your sauce, add other veggies for colour and texture. Sprinkle with your favourite cheese and it’s a hit every time!

prep

10 minutes

Bake time

1 hour Roast

20 minutes simmer

makes

8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup red lentils, soaked and rinsed
  • ½ – ¾ Cup water (or homemade vegetable stock if you make your own)
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers (red & yellow work well)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 full bulb garlic or 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 3 cups tomatoes (at least half should be fresh for roasting)
  • 1 tsp Pesto Sauce Mix (or dried Basil) or 1Tbsp fresh, chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp Marinara Sauce Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Chimichurri Mix
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 Cups chopped vegetables of choice  (mushrooms, green peppers)
  • 2 Cups coarsely chopped greens such as kale and spinach
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak lentils approximately 1 hour.  1 Cup will expand to 2 C when soaked.  This is fine.
  2. Coarsely chop peppers, onion, zucchini and tomatoes. Toss chopped vegetables with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. 
  3. Spread on a lined baking sheet.  Place full bulb of garlic (skin on) on baking tray as well.
  4. Roast everything  together approximately 1 hour at 325F. Reserve all pan juices.
  5.  While lentils are soaking and vegetables are roasting, chop mushrooms, peppers, fresh herbs and greens.
  6.  Rinse soaked lentils and add to a deep pan.  Cover with the vegetable stock/water and bring to a low boil. 
  7. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is almost completely absorbed by lentils. Approximately 15 minutes.  Add more water 1Tbsp at a time if necessary as liquid is absorbed.
  8. While lentils are simmering, peel roasted garlic cloves.  Add all roasted vegetables and pan juices to a high powered blender or food processor.  If you are using tinned tomatoes, add them to the blender now too.  Add herbs, chilies and remaining olive oil as well.  Pulse until sauce is smooth.
  9.  When lentils have absorbed most of their water, add coarse chopped vegetables and cook approximately 5 minutes until they begin to get soft. 
  10. Add tomato sauce to pan, stir and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer 15-20 minutes to allow herbs to infuse flavour and sauce to reduce. 
  11.  While sauce is simmering, cook your favourite pasta as directed.  If using zucchini noodles, they will likely only need to be tossed with hot sauce to warm.
  12.  5 minutes before you are ready to serve sauce, taste and add salt & pepper if necessary. 
  13. Add chopped leafy greens to sauce and stir in completely.  Allow greens to combine with sauce and soften.  When greens are wilted, sauce is ready to serve!
  14. Pour sauce over your prepared pasta or zucchini noodles.  Garnish with nutritional yeast or cheese if you like!

Notes

If you do not have Marinara Sauce Mix or Chimichurri Sauce mix, use your favourite dried herbs (basil, oregano, chilies etc)

Roasting the tomatoes and peppers with the herbs brings out so much more flavour, but if you are pressed for time, you can use fresh or tinned tomatoes that have been blasted in the blender or food processor.  Simmer 10 minutes longer if using fresh tomatoes.  If using just fresh tomatoes I also recommend at least a few tablespoons of tomatoe paste to really bring out the tomato flavour.