one green planet
one green planet

Growing up, my usual meals were not too exotic – there was American food, Italian food and Jewish food (Eastern European). Later I learned to love Chinese food. It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to appreciate the food of other cultures starting with Indian and Jamaican food. Once I learned to cook, I discovered how much fun it was to create global cuisine. Knowing the different flavor profiles of various ethnic cuisines allows you to cook dishes from everywhere and anywhere. The more I learn about different ethnic cuisines, the more I realize they have more similarities than differences. There are variations of the same dishes but with different spices, sauces and flavors. If you are bored with eating the same dishes over and over again, why not spend one day eating around the world. That’s right, in just one day you can cover the entire globe by preparing meals from different cuisines. Come with me on this global day trip as we travel around the world in eight vegan recipes.

1. Breakfast

Xi Chopstix (1)

Good morning! Let’s start our day in China with a vegan version of a traditional breakfast dish. Xi Hong Shi Chao Jidan is Chinese Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes (or literally Stir-fried Tomatoes with Eggs). In its veganized form, the eggs become tofu scramble making the name Xi Hong Shi Chao Dofu with means “Stir-Fried Tomatoes with Tofu.” Whatever you decide to call it, this is an amazing twist on the usual tofu scramble.

Heat 1 Tbs. peanut oil in a deep skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 medium onion, sliced, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1-inch fresh grated ginger and cook until the onion is softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Break 1 block of extra-firm tofu (pressed and drained) into chunks and add to the pan. Mix the tofu into the onions and let the tofu cook until it browns a bit, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp. ground turmeric and 1 tsp. black salt to the pan. Toss the tofu so the spices cover it completely and turn all pieces of the tofu yellow. Pour 1/3 cup water into the pan and mix the tofu well. This helps the spices to distribute more evenly. Add the white parts of 4 chopped scallions and 1 large chopped tomato to the mixture. Stir and cook until the tomatoes are heated through, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat off. Add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and garnish with the chopped scallion greens.  For tips, check out 7-Step Guide to Making the Best Tofu Scrambles and How to Make Your Own Chinese Food at Home.

2. Lunch

falafel (4)

We are off to the Middle East for lunch because I’m craving falafel. These fried chickpea fritters are a popular food is Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Some nations, such as Egypt, use fava beans instead. Falafel can be eaten alone as a snack, atop a salad, in a mezze platter or stuffed in pita bread with garnishes and tahini. To make Baked Falafel: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add 2 cups cooked chickpeas, 1 small chopped onion and 3 garlic cloves into a food processor, pulse a few times and then process into a thick paste. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, ½ tsp. turmeric, ½ tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp. black pepper, 2 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro and 2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley. Mix well. Add up to ¼ cup chickpea flour, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until the mixture holds together. Using a small scoop or tablespoon, roll the mixture into balls the size of a ping pong ball. Arrange the falafel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping the falafel halfway through. Serve in pita bread with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, Tzatziki sauce and tahini sauce. For more falafel recipes, see Baked Falafel Salad + Two Creamy Dressings, Ayurvedic Falafel, Falafel Tacos, and Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint-Tahini Dressing.

3. Appetizers/Tapas

potatoes in bowl

After a long day of travelling and sight-seeing, I’m famished. My plan is to have a multi-course dinner spread out over time and the map. For appetizers, let’s go to Spain where tapas – snacks, finger food and small plates – are an important part of Spanish culture. They keep people going between meals and into the night. One of my favorite tapas is Patatas Bravas which are cubed fried potatoes served in a spicy tomato sauce. It is considered one of the spiciest dishes in Spain which explains the name: bravas means” fierce” in Spanish.

Peel 4 large russet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Heat an inch or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the potatoes and fry them until they are crisp on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the potatoes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle them with kosher salt. In a small saucepan, heat another spoon of olive oil and add 1 ½ – 2 cups of tomato sauce. Let the sauce cook for 5 minutes and then stir in 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. paprika and 1 tsp. hot sauce. Taste for any seasoning adjustments and add salt if needed. Place the potatoes in a bowl and pour the sauce over them. Serve warm. For more potato recipes, see 10 Global Ways to Cook with Potatoes and for more Spanish dishes, read How to Make Your Own Spanish Food at Home.

4. Soup

kale soup (10)

Those potatoes were sooo good and Spain is so beautiful but it’s been a few hours and I’m starting to get hungry again. Let’s not go too far and have a hearty bowl of soup in Portugal. One of my favorite soups is Caldo Verde or Portuguese Kale Soup. Caldo Verde is Portuguese for “green broth” and is often served at Portuguese celebrations. Caldo Verde typically contains potatoes, onions and kale. In my interpretation of this soup, I used all these ingredients plus cannellini beans and vegan sausage for added heartiness and yumminess.

In a large pot, heat 1 Tbs. of oil over medium-high heat. Cut 4 links of vegan sausages into coins and add them to the pot. Cook them until they are just browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot. Do not eat them. Ok, you can taste one piece but just one. Yeah, good luck with that. If the pot is dry, a 2nd Tbs. of oil. Add 8 halved Yukon gold potatoes and 1 large chopped onion. Cover the pot and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 fresh bay leaves and 6 cups chopped kale to the pot. Cover and let cook for 2 minutes or until the kale starts wilting. Add 1 ½ cups cannellini beans, 2 cups diced tomatoes and 6 cups vegetable broth. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the sausage back in (whatever’s left of it), cover the pot and let simmer about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot, preferably with crunchy bread for dunking. For more recipes, see 10 Ways to Make Soup with Global Flavors.

5. Salad

greek salad w bacon (5)

That soup really warmed me up and gave me the energy I needed to make it all the way to Greece. There are so many delicious Greek dishes but since we still have three courses to go after this, let’s have a salad. It’s funny, I never liked Greek salads because I didn’t like feta cheese or lemon but my palate has since evolved. To make my Greek Salad with Vegan Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette: combine 1 chopped head of romaine lettuce, 2 chopped plum tomatoes, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 diced bell pepper, 1 diced cucumber, ½ of a diced red onion and 8 – 10 sliced Kalamata olives in a large bowl. To make the dressing, combine the juice of ½ fresh lemon, 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ½ tsp. dried oregano and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Top with 4 oz. of crumbled vegan feta cheese. Garnish with scallion greens and lemon slices. Learn to make your own vegan feta like this Macadamia Nut Spreadable Pepper-Herb Feta. For another Greek treat, try these Lemon, Basil and Tofu Feta Stuffed Mushrooms.

6. Entrée

tofu guisado (11)

It’s been a long day and I don’t know about you but I could use some sunshine. Let’s head to Puerto Rico for our dinner entrée. My vegan version of stewed chicken with rice sounds like the perfect dinner. To make my Arroz con Tofu Guisado: cut a block of extra-firm tofu (pressed and drained) into cubes. In a deep bowl, combine the juice of one lemon, ½ cup water, 2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, dried oregano and kosher salt, 1 tsp. black pepper and 2 tsp. brown sugar for the marinade. There should be enough liquid to completely coat all the tofu. If there isn’t, add more water. Let the tofu sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Warning: you will reserve the marinade after removing the tofu.

After the 30 minutes, heat 1 Tbs. oil in a Dutch oven or a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. brown sugar and stir it into the oil with a spatula. Before the oil can get too hot and burn, add some of the tofu cubes to the pot. Cook the tofu in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook until the tofu is browned, about 4-5 minutes, then turn the pieces and cook until the cubes are browned on all sides. Remove the browned tofu cubes to a plate and continue to cook the remaining tofu cubes, adding more oil as needed. When all the tofu is browned and crispy, set it aside. Add 1 diced onion to the pot and toss to coat in the browned oil. Let the onion cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 3 diced stalks of celery and 3 diced carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. green olives, 6 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp. dried oregano and mix all the vegetables together. Add 8 oz. tomato sauce to the pot, followed by 2 Tbs. of fresh chopped parsley or cilantro and 2 bay leaves. Add in the reserved marinade. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the yummy, caramelized bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir everything together and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the liquid reduces a bit. Return the tofu to the pot and add the water or broth. The tofu should be covered with liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, then partially cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is to your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning adjustments. Serve with rice and garnish with more parsley or cilantro. Learn about more ways to cook tofu in How to Cook Tofu with Global Flavors and 7 Tips to Make the Perfect Tofu Dish.

7. Sides/Snacks

Kale Parathas (2)

Since my entrée came with a side dish, I didn’t really need to make one then. However, it’s been a few hours and I’m feeling like a snack. Let’s head to India and get some stuffed flatbreads called parathas. They can be made with whole wheat or chickpea flour. I like to make parathas that are stuffed with kale. You can stuff them with whatever you choose. To make Kale Parathas: in a bowl, combine 2 cups flour, ½ tsp. kosher salt and ½ tsp. garam masala. Add up to 1 cup of water until you have a stiff dough. Knead the dough into a smooth ball, cover it and let it sit while you prepare the filling. Saute a diced onion in oil and add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a bunch of stemmed and chopped kale. Season with ½ tsp. each garam masala, ground cumin and ground coriander and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper. Cook until the kale has wilted. Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces about the size of golf balls. Roll each ball into a flat disc and roll into a flat patty that is as thin as a tortilla. Put ¼ cup of the kale mixture into the middle of each disc and fold the edges of the dough over the mixture to form balls again with the kale on the inside. Gently roll out the dough again, being careful not to break the parathas. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry each parathas for 2-3 minutes or until golden and browned in places. Serve with raita, an Indian dipping sauce. For more recipes, see How to Make Your Own Indian Food at Home.

8. Dessert

banana beignets (1)

It’s hard to believe we could have any room left for dessert but by the time we get to the United States, we’ll be hungry again. Though the term beignet is French in origin, French colonists brought the dessert to New Orleans in the 18th century and these fried pastries are so popular, in 1986 beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana. Banana is a favorite type of beignet in Creole cooking.

To make my Gluten-Free Banana Beignets: mash 3 very ripe bananas in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and ¼ tsp. almond extract. Add 1/3 cup sugar and mix well. In another bowl, sift 1 ½ cups gluten-free, all-purpose flour, ¾ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg and ½ tsp. ground cinnamon. Combine the banana mixture with the flour mixture. Mix well. Add 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer, mixing, until the batter is smooth and thick like waffle batter. Let the batter rest while you heat the oil. Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. If you are measuring the temperature, it should be 350 degrees (I just stick a wooden spoon into the pot and see if bubbles form around it). Using a soup spoon, gently drop heaping amounts of batter into the oil. Let cook until they are golden brown, turning to cook on all sides. When done, remove beignets from the oil with a spider and drain on paper towels. Fry them in small batches, about 3 or 4 at a time, so the oil stays hot. If the oil gets too hot, reduce the heat. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. For more French recipes, check out Paint Us Like One of These Vegan French Recipes and to celebrate Mardi Gras, see this recipe for King Cake.

Whew! I’m exhausted and my tummy is full and happy. Eight different dishes and each came from a different country. It just shows that when you learn the different ethnic flavor profiles, you can travel the world without ever leaving your kitchen. Where should we go next?

All Image Source: Rhea Parsons

Lead Image Source: Southwestern Tofu Scramble With Greens