Tag Archives: soy crumbles

Albóndiga Sandwich

11 Jul

One of my favorite ways to eat albóndigas is in a sandwich… just like the ones I used to have in Subway, way back when.

Sometimes I make a sub sandwich with a whole wheat demi baguette… but sometimes I do dainty and make them open-faced to control the amount of bread and to make them more suitable for a gathering too. Wouldn’t you love to have one of these sandwiches for a tapas party???

Here are the basic ingredients… you put it together in your favorite way.


Soy Albóndigas
Criollo Tomato Sauce
Lettuce strips
Vegetarian Mayonnaise
Bread – I personally like crusty breads for this because they stand up better to the tomato sauce

You could make it into a submarine sandwich… or cut the baguette into rounds and serve them open-faced with a single soy albóndiga on top.

Soy Albóndigas

7 Jul

I remember when I was a little girl, way before ever imagining of becoming vegetarian, I used to dream of ordering the Spaghetti and Meatballs at the Crystal Palace restaurant at World Disney World. I would go in and order the same thing every single year when we visited the park. The spaghetti my grandma used to make had the meat crumbled or “molida” in the sauce, never made into a meatball. It’s just not the norm here.

Here in Puerto Rico, albóndigas are mostly made as an appetizer for parties and you eat them with toothpicks. They used to be my appetizer of choice to make using those frozen meatball from Sam’s Club – so easy and so delicious. A Xmas party wouldn’t be the same without them… or guineítos en escabeche.

I may be vegetarian now, but I still crave the creamy “meatiness” of those albóndigas with tomato sauce. And every once in a while Mary and Angie, from the Yoga Center, satisfy my cravings. But what happens when they’re not around. I needed to learn to make my own, no?


1 cup of textured soy protein
½ onion, chopped finely
¼ green pepper, chopped finely
2 tbs sofrito
½ vegetable bouillon cube
½ cup balsamic vinegar – you can use the cheaper one here
3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Herbamare Seasoning to taste, I use about 1 teaspoon
¾ cup garbanzo or chickpea flour
Canola Oil to fry them
  1. First you need to soak the soy protein back to life… place in a medium-sized bowl with plenty of water for the soy to absorb and reconstitute. Allow between 20-30 minutes for the soy to rehydrate. After the soy turns soft, drain it and squeeze as much water from it as you can. Set aside for a little while.
  2. In a medium skillet or sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and peppers. Sautee the onions and peppers for a few minutes then add the sofrito, vegetable cube, garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  3. When the vegetables are softened a bit, add the textured protein to the pan. Mix well to combine. Add a tad bit of olive oil if the mixture seems too dry. Add the Herbamare seasoning. Add the balsamic vinegar and lower the heat to a simmer and cover so the soy cooks in those juices and absorbs the flavors. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the soy to finish cooking with the residual heat of the pan and burner. Allow the mixture to cool off a bit before continue to forming the albóndigas.
  4. When the soy mixture has cooled off a bit, transfer it to a medium sized bowl and add the garbanzo flour to form a sort-of paste. Mix with your clean hands for better mixing.
  5. Using a heaping measuring tablespoon, portion out the soy to form albóndigas about the size of a ping pong ball.

Here you can do 1 of 2 things: Freeze them individually in a sheet pan and then store them in freezer bags for future use… or fry them right then a there. Your call…

To cook them… fry the albóndigas in about 1 inch of canola oil.  I fry them over medium high heat, but make sure the oil is not too hot to avoid the albondigas to cook too much on the outside and not enough on the inside.  A nice golden color is what you’re going for.

Tomorrow I’ll post the recipe for the tomato sauce you can eat these with… easy and delicious!!

Mexican Lasagna

5 May

Today we celebrate 5 de Mayo… which many US people think it’s the celebration of the Mexican Independence and of great consequence to Mexicans, but it’s not so…   I believe 5 de Mayo it’s a nice holiday to them but not nearly as important as the celebration of their Independence, celebrated on September 16.  I know… I moved to Chicago around that time and it was impressive the amount of Mexicans with huge flags riding on their cars up and down the main avenues.  However, on 5 de Mayo, not nearly enough…

I think it’s just easier in English to say “5 de Mayo” than to say “16 de Septiembre”… you know, that issue with the rolling r’s.  So if the US wants to celebrate Mexican culture, let them do it at the beginning of the Spring/Summer season… it’s more festive anyhow.

Jumping on the bandwagon myself, I decided to treat my friend AnnieMariel to lunch the other day with a Mexican-inspired lunch.  The theme had dual-purpose – to celebrate the upcoming 5 de Mayo and to support our Mexican friends whose been getting such a bad rap lately with all this “swine flu” news.  They’ve been hurting health wise and they will continue to hurt due to decreases in travel to Mexico.  It’s just unfortunate that the level of poverty over there just prevents people to seek medical health as easily or rapidly as we do here in the US and probably that’s part of the increased severity of the cases there.

Both AnnieMariel and I had trips planned to Mexico that were abruptly cancelled or postponed.  So we want to support them symbolically with our lunch…



About 8 corn tortillas
4 tomatillos, washed well and quartered
1 medium onion, chopped into large pieces
6 garlic cloves
The Juice of 1 lemon/lime
¼ cup textured soy protein, re-hydrated in about 1 cup of water
2 tbs sofrito
1 vegetable bouillon cube, divided in half
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
¼ tsp Herbamare
1 cup Italian-blend grated cheese
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola Oil Spray


This is a simple recipe, but we need to take care of a few steps before we assemble. 

  1. First you need to re-hydrate the textured soy protein.  Place the soy protein in a medium bowl or measuring cup and fill it with water and wait for it about 30 minutes to re-hydrate well.

For the tomatillo salsa…

  1. In a pyrex pan, place the tomatillos, onion and garlic.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Mix them all together to make sure everything is well-coated with the oil.  Roast in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, or until you see the onions and tomatillo getting caramelized on top.
  2. Wait a few minutes until the tomatillos/onion mixture cools down a bit.  Transfer the contents of the pyrex to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the juice of a green lemon and pulse a few times to make a thick sauce.  Set aside.


While the tomatillos are roasting in the oven, we can make the soy picadillo… but this soy picadillo is dryer than the versions I have showed you before…

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, drizzle about 1 tbs of olive oil, add ½ of the vegetable bouillon cube and the sofrito.  Cook for a few minutes and add the soy protein after you’ve squeezed out as much water as you can from it.  Mix it all together to combine.  I want to add some moisture to help it cook along… so I add the vinegar at this point.  Season it with a bit of pepper and Herbamare. 
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until the soy looks cooked, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Set aside too.


  1. In a medium tall-sided skillet, warm up about ½- ¾ cup of water with the other ½ vegetable bouillon cube to make a vegetable “broth”.  Add about ¼ cup of the tomatillo salsa to this broth and whisk well to combine.
  2. In a medium-sized glass dish sprayed with canola oil spray we’ll start layering the lasagna…
  3. Take the tortillas and cut in half 4 of them.  This will help you layer them as evenly as possible in the glass dish. 
  4. Take about 1/4 cup of the thinned tomatillo salsa and place it at the bottom of the dish.  Now dip in the thinned tomatillo salsa one whole tortilla and 2 halves.  Place them on the bottom of the dish. 
  5. mex-lasagna-2
  6. Now spread intact tomatillo salsa on top of the tortillas to create a layer and sprinkle a third of the cooked soy picadillo.
  7. mex-lasagna-1
  8. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, a layer of the grated Italian cheeses and sprinkle a third of the pepitas.  
  9. mex-lasagna-3
  10. Now we start all over again, starting with the tortillas, creating 3 layers and finishing off with wet tortillas covered with parmesan cheese, Italian blend cheese and pepitas.
  11. Place in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.




I always turn off the heat in the oven and leave it there for a few minutes until the lasagna settles a bit.

It takes a few steps, but your hard work will be rewarded…    it tastes very Mexican because of the corn tortillas, but the tomatillo salsa gives it a nice tang, different than a regular tomato-based sauce.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did… and  ¡¡VIVA MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO!!

Macarrones (Soy Crumble Macaroni)

19 Jul

In Puerto Rico, when you mention the word macaroni, people do not think about any cheesy version or salad… people have in mind a mixture of pasta and meat sauce.  I decided to make a version using some Soy Picadillo I cooked the day before.

This is easy, super quick and gives you another use for that Soy Picadillo you may have left over in the fridge…



1/3 of a packet of whole wheat or kamut macaroni
1 cup of Soy Picadillo
Kosher salt – to salt the boiling water
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Salt liberally with kosher salt and add pasta.  Cook until al dente, for about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat up the picadillo in a small saucepan if it was refrigerated.
  3. Drain the pasta when it’s ready and return to the pot where it cooked.  Add the picadillo and mix together well.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and toss again to fully combine.
  4. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan if you’d like.

Soy Picadillo

18 Jul

When I decided to become a vegetarian, I personally made a conscious decision that I did not want to start to eat things that resembled the meat products I was used to eating before.  For some reason, I thought that would not help me modify the way I thought about a plate of food.

People always think of a plate of foods in the terms of – animal protein, starchy and vegetable side dishes, as opposed to looking at a rice dish or a veggie gratin as their main course accompanied by a salad.  That’s why many meat-eaters always ask us the tired question… “You’re a vegetarian??? Then, what do you eat???”

Because of this I consciously decided to keep soy products at a minimum when I first made the decision to become vegetarian.  But soy products are good and have a very useful role within vegetarian cooking.  One of them is textured soy crumbles.  One of my pet peeves is when people call it “soy meat” or “carne de soya”, arrrrgh!!!!  The correct name is textured soy protein or, in Spanish, “protein de soya”.  It’s not meat, so why even mention it in the name??

Textured soy protein is sold in bulk at most health food stores and it resembles cereal – a bit like Grapenuts, I think.  It comes in a variety from light to dark and from medium to even little cubes.  I particularly like the medium ground, the lighter the better.  Here’s a picture of the one I refer to, but a bit darker in color than what I usually prefer, but it still works for our purposes.

When cooked, textured soy protein takes on the characteristics of ground meat.  And just like any meat product, the key is in the seasonings.  If not seasoned well, that’s when vegetarian cooking starts getting a bad rep.  But seasoned well, it can even fool the biggest meat-eater out there…. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.

Picadillo is the Cuban/Latin terminology for ground meat in a tomato sauce.  It’s super versatile – to eat on top of rice, to use in a lasagna, to use as the filling for alcapurrias or pasteles, to use inside a pastelón… you name it!!!  So here I’ll show you my version of Soy Picadillo… a great basic to have in your vegetarian arsenal…

SOY PICADILLO – Revised on 01/31/2013

2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs sofrito
½ of a vegetable bouillon cube with sea salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup textured soy protein
1 15oz jar of stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tbs tomato paste
¼ cup ketchup
2 bay leaves
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire powder sauce
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning
¼ cup green olives (optional)
2 roasted sweet bell peppers (optional)
2 tbs of capers (optional)
Kosher salt to taste
  1. First, we start by hydrating the soy protein.  Soak the crumbles in a medium-sized bowl and cover with filtered water.  Soak for about 20 minutes, until the crumbles are soft to the touch.
  2. After the 20 minutes are up, drain the soy crumbles using a colander, rinse with new running water and squeeze dry as much as possible, just like you do to frozen spinach when you defrost it.  Set aside.  The soy will smell a lot like cereal at this point… do not get discouraged.  This will all change once we cook it with all our seasonings.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sofrito, the bouillon cube and the chopped onion.  Sautee for a few minutes until the onion softens a bit.  Add salt to season the onions and a bit of pepper if you fancy.
  4. Add the drained soy crumbles to the pot.  You could possibly add a little stream of olive oil to this to prevent the soy to stick to the bottom and sides of the pan.  Remember, soy does not contain fat.  To this, add the stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, ketchup, bay leaves, Worcestershire powder and Herbamare seasoning.  If you’re adding the olives, capers or sweet peppers… this is the time to add them.  Check the sauce level…  you should have a fair amount of liquid that will become a sauce, if you feel the mix is a bit dry, add a bit more water.
  5. Cover and let the mixture come to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 40-45 minutes.   You can just turn the heat off, and let it continue to cook with the residual heat for about 15 minutes more… besides, it’ll be too hot to handle immediately.

It’s ready… now you can use this Soy Picadillo in your favorite application.  I used it first as the filling for lasagna.


Ok…. I know some of you might be thinking… IS SHE NUTS?!?!?!  Worcestershire sauce traditionally has anchovies!!! How can she tell us to use it on a vegetarian dish!!!  Well, this Worcestershire powder from McCormick’s is a new discovery for me.  All the ingredients and seasonings of the traditional L&P sauce I used to buy before SANS the anchovies.  Now, be careful with the pepper, because this has pepper and you can over-pepper your dish.     Ever since I published this recipe originally it was brought to my attention that the “natural flavor” on the ingredient list might possibly be anchovies.  So I do not recommend using this product anymore.  I do use vegan Worcestershire Sauce available at health foods across the country.  Make sure you buy vegan to make sure there are indeed no anchovies in the product.

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