Tag Archives: Vegan

Quinoa Tabbouleh

24 Sep

I am a lover of Middle-eastern food… ever since I visited Israel 15 years ago, I have been a fan of falafels, hummus, pita bread, rice pilaf, dolmades, among others.

Tabbouleh would be part of that fan list, however, the tabboulehs made usually in Middle-Eastern restaurants are too heavy on the parsley for my taste.  And now that I am trying to avoid wheat sometimes, well I rather order the arab salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and skip the tabbouleh all together.  Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with cracked wheat.

For the last time I cooked in the Yoga Center, I wanted to make a Middle-Eastern inspired menu and it all revolved around the fact I wanted to make this salad.  We made hummus, a salad with mixed herbs including mint, rice with spinach, mushrooms and nuts, which is not like the rice pilafs I am used to having at middle-eastern restaurants, but it fit better for the Yoga appetites.

This recipe also makes use of the abundance of avocados we have right now in Puerto Rico…  and what dish is not instantly improved by adding avocado to it??


Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking


2 cups of quinoa

1 vegetable bouillon cube

The zest and juice of 6 yellow lemons

2 bunches of scallions, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of fresh spearmint leaves, julienned

4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 seedless cucumbers, unpeeled and diced

1 avocado, diced

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


  1. Cook the quinoa first… by adding 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan with the vegetable bouillon cube.  When the water reaches a boiling point, add the quinoa.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, just like you would when making rice.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer until the quinoa cooks, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. After the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and season with ¼ cup of the olive oil and the zest and juice of 3 lemons.  Set aside.  If you are making this ahead of time, you can stop here and store the cooked quinoa in the refrigerator after it has had a chance to cool off a bit.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, onions, parsley, spearmint leaves, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Add the cooked quinoa and toss all the ingredients together.  Season the whole salad with the additional ¼ cup of olive oil, the zest and juice of the remaining 3 lemons, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again well to combine.  Let all the flavors combine about 30mins – 1 hour before serving.

When you’re about to serve, garnish with the pieces of avocado.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

Avocado Pasta

22 Sep

Avocado season is here…  and even though a few slices of avocado is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, and with so many ripening all at the same time, I’ve had to find creative ways to eat them all by myself…

This Avocado Pasta has become the last few weeks in my go-to lunch… it’s easy to make, mainly an assembly of flavors, because all you are cooking is the pasta.  Think of it like a pasta salad meets a guacamole and they decide to hang out together…  It’s refreshing because of the addition of the spearmint leaves.  Do not skip them… it’s partly what makes this dish special.  Trust… and your taste buds will be rewarded.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking



2 cups uncooked pasta, I use gluten-free quinoa pasta

2 medium avocados, chopped

1 shallot, minced

15-20 grape tomatoes, halved

15 spearmint leaves and 5 extra ones, all julienned and separated

5-6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

The juice of 1 lime

3 large handfuls arugula

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic Salt

Salt and Pepper


  1. Cook by boiling your desired pasta in salty water according to the package directions…  I used quinoa pasta this time around.  I buy it at Costco.
  2. While the water boils and past cooks, prepare the avocado mixture – in a bowl mix together the avocados, shallot, lime juice, tomatoes, parsley, 15 spearmint leaves.  Season with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well to combine the flavors.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking

3.  When the pasta is fully cooked, drain it well and add to the bowl where the avocados and tomatoes have been marinating.  Toss well to combine.  Add the arugula leaves, a light sprinkle of garlic salt and extra spearmint leaves and toss one final time to combine and for the arugula to wilt a bit.

Serve immediately.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking

Lau Lau

18 Sep

Lau Lau’s are leaves stuffed with sweet potatoes and steamed.  This is a very typical luau dish in Hawaii.  I have made plenty of times stuffed cabbage leaves (not to self…  share these recipes on the blog), but I have never worked with collard greens, as the recipes I found on the internet called for.   I was prepared to make this recipe with large kale leaves or even cabbage.  I was so pleased to see collard greens in the supermarket. Yay!!!!

Again… this recipe is not difficult at all.  It just has a few steps to it to ensure the end result looks and tastes as good as it can be.

I don’t know how large they make these in Hawaii…  but I had to cook for at least 40 people, and we had 10+ dishes for people to choose from, so I made them small.  I used half a collard green leaf for each lau lau packet.  If the leaf was small, I used one whole leaf.  You can certainly make them as large or as small as you wish.

The folding takes a little getting used to just until you figure out the best way to keep all the delicious sweet potato mash inside the green leaf.

Recipe from KarmaFree Cooking


10-12 collard greens leaves

2 medium-sized white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks

10 cremini mushrooms – chopped

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 large onion, chopped small

1 red bell pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 vegetable bouillon cube

About ½ cup coconut milk

Olive oil

Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add sweet potato pieces and salted water to a boil.  Cook until they’re cooked and can be pierced easily with a fork.  Set aside leaving them in the cooking water to maintain warm.
  2. Fill a large but shallow pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Salt water heavily, as if you’re cooking pasta.  Place a few collard greens leaves at a time and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until slightly soft and color gets bright green.  Transfer to a bowl filled with salted ice water for leaves to cool and stop cooking.  This will also preserve the bright green color.  When leaves are cool, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and sauté onions, peppers, garlic with the vegetable bouillon cube.   Add cremini mushrooms and cook until they get a little color.  Add spinach and combine all the flavors together.  Season with salt and pepper one last time and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add the boiled sweet potatoes and mash them with a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the cooked mushrooms, spinach and veggies to the sweet potatoes and mash it all together.  Soften the mash by adding coconut milk.  Go little by little to make a soft mash.  Try not to add too much coconut milk or it might get soupy.
  5.  Pat dry the collard greens leaves.  Cut away the stem from each leaf.  I then cut each leaf, which are generally pretty large in half, along the same line where the stem used to be.
  6. Place about ¼ cup of mash in the bottom part of the leaf, leaving about 1 inch border, and roll it like you would a burrito…  fold bottom edge   of collard green over filling, fold in sides and roll away from you, creating as tight roll as possible.  Do this until you run out of leaves and/or filling mash.

At this point… you can save them to steam later or you can steam right away.  For the Hawaiian Festival, we rolled them the night before and steamed them the morning of our lunch festival.

  1. Set up a steamer pot with boiling water.  Transfer rolls to a steamer basket, cover pot and steam for 2-3 minutes.  Increase steaming time to 5 minutes if you made these in advance and are coming cold out of the fridge.  Transfer to serving platter carefully with tongs.

The collard greens are hearty, but are already tender enough that they cut easily.  The filling is sweet and savory.  This is great new way to enjoy cooked greens that still look vibrant green.


Veggie Bites of Wisdom #56

16 Sep

Veggie Bites of Wisdom - KarmaFree Cooking

Colombian Breakfast Arepas

8 Sep

I’ve never been to Colombia…  YET.  But I have many Colombian friends who boast the deliciousness of their native cooking – Rubén, Andrew, Karina, Enrique, and my good friend, Dolly.  Whenever we visit our Yoga Center in Queens, she always wants to please our Guruji, and all of us who visit, with many of her Colombian favorite recipes.

Lately, she’s been making us her Colombian Arepas.   These arepas are made with yellow cornmeal and topped with your favorite veggie mixture.  We are busy yogis, so Dolly uses frozen pre-made arepas from La Venezolana, but there are many good brands out there.  Try to pick a brand that’s as natural as possible, with the least preservatives.

Here, I will share the recipe for the delicious topping…

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking


4 corn arepas – the refrigerated kind

6 large white mushrooms, chopped finely

1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped finely

1 yellow onion, chopped

½ red bell pepper, chopped

½ yellow bell pepper, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 tbs garlic and herb butter or use vegan butter if you prefer

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbs soy sauce

¼ cup wáter, if necessary to make a sauce

1 cup vegan shredded cheese – I used Trader’s Joe’s vegan cheddar/monterrey jack mix

Vegan mayonnaise

2 tbs Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. To thaw the arepas, place them in a 350F oven in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper… or place them on top of a griddle.  The oven is helpful because it can fit as many arepas as you want.  This recipe is good enough for 4 arepas, but it’s easily doubled if you need more for your crowd.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle a little bit of olive oil to the garlic/herb butter.  Add the mushrooms
  3. and toss them to coat them with the oil and butter.  Spread them out in the skillet so they can get browned.  Resist the urge to move them around.  Wait until the mushrooms start to give off the smell of a cooked steak…  I know…  I know…  but you’ll remember me when the smell hits your nose.  You might want to turn on the smoke extractor in your kitchen for this one…
  4. When you’re ready to move the mushrooms again, add the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper and toss the whole contents of skillet so the onions and peppers cook.
  5. The arepas should be warm now in the oven… take them out, spread a generous schmear of vegan mayo and place about ¼ cup of shredded vegan cheese on top of each arepa.  Place back in the oven for a few minutes for the cheese to melt thoroughly.
  6. After a few minutes reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and season with the thyme leaves.  After about 1-2 minutes, add the vinegar and soy sauce to start to create a sauce.  If the tomatoes do not give out too much liquid, add a little water to create a sauce.
  7. As soon as the cheese is melted and the mushrooms, onion, tomato mixture is cooked, you can assemble…  Place one arepa with melted cheese onto a plate and cover with a healthy helping, about ¼ of the mushroom mixture over it.  Serve alongside a simple green salad on the side.


I’ve had this dish originally as a hearty breakfast/brunch item… but I have also made it as a light dinner option.   Add a few slices of avocado, and you’ll be golden.  It’s easy to make and super filling.  Hope you enjoy ittoo…


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