So there I was, needing dinner with no Seamless deliveries in sight. My eyes fell on the housewarming gift I’d just received from my friend Lisa McComsey--The Vegan Cheat Sheet, a book she co-authored with vegan chef Amy Cramer.
Disclaimer: I’m a meat-eater. However, I feel a plant-based diet has a lot of benefits. My vegan and vegetarian friends are all nice, kind, even-tempered, energetic, successful people. Every last one. Coincidence? Nah, I think it’s the plants. But I digress.
Flipping to the “No-Brainer Recipes” section of the book, I was relieved to find them truly simplified and clearly written out. I could do this! Now, what to make. . .aha! Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I had just read that Naomi Watts enjoyed these at a recent magazine cover shoot. Glamorous and healthy—perfect. Off to the grocery store with my shopping list.
One by one I tossed items into the cart. “Wow, how easy is this,” I thought. I’m practically a chef already. All I need now is nutritional yeast and then I’m good to go. That’s got to be in the baking section. Let’s see, it should be around here somewhere. Hmmm. Ah, okay, found some tiny packets of active dry yeast hiding on a shelf. Success! Right? Wait. Something was nagging at me. A quick Google search of “are nutritional yeast and active dry yeast the same thing?” informed me firmly that no, they are not. Back to square one.
Aisle after aisle, I went on the quest for nutritional yeast, my dream of quinoa-stuffed-mushroom deliciousness fading fast. Finally, in the organic section, a beacon on the bottom shelf: Red Star Yeast Flakes. Google: “Are yeast flakes the same thing as nutritional yeast?” Yes, they are! Game (back) on.
Back home, I proudly displayed all my ingredients on the counter, ready to get to work. Wait a sec though, what about. . .and what about. . .hold on, just need a few minutes with my new pal Google:
- How do I prep portobello mushrooms? (You have to remove the gills! Who knew? Thanks, YouTube)
- What amount of dried basil equals 1 tablespoon fresh basil? (Oops, I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough before shopping)
- Is vegetable broth the same as vegetable stock? (Well, not technically, but the tiny differences didn’t alarm me)
- How do you wash quinoa? (Lacking a fine-mesh strainer, I had to rig up a paper towel drainage system)
Conclusions: Vegan recipes can be amazingly delicious, I can actually cook if I put my mind to it, and most important, Google is a novice cook’s best friend.
P.S. Wish me luck. Tonight I’m attempting The Vegan Cheat Sheet’s Eggplant “Parmesan” recipe—mainly because I can use more of that hard-won nutritional yeast.
Bond with Erin over nutritional yeast (or anything else) on Twitter, @erin1217.
Chef Erin shows off her culinary prowess (recipe follows.)
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (p 97)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups kale
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Place quinoa, garlic, kale, and vegetable stock in a medium pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in basil and tomato paste. Scoop 1/4 mixture on top of each mushroom cap.
- Place stuffed mushrooms on a baking sheet and sprinkle each with nutritional yeast. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot.