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vegan miam

Rica Bowl with Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu + Patacones

Today marks our 5th week in downtown Buenos Aires. We will be moving to a different neighborhood near “Palermo” in a few days which also means major packing. Despite the lack of kitchen appliances, we managed to cook and eat pretty well, if not a bit simple, in Buenos Aires. Sometimes it can be nice to get back to the basics but after a while you find yourself longing for an immersion blender or a food processor. One of the dishes we frequently made was the Rica Bowl with Patacones (double fried green plantains). We had patacones in Bogota, Colombia in February and tried our guest contributor Valentina’s recipe to make them. She’s a Colombian vegan living in Miami. ¡Gracias Valentina, patacones deliciosos!

“Rica” means decadent or yummy in Spanish. It sounds like my name, “Rika”, sort of. “Patacones” are double-fried green plantain slices (Colombian), they are also known as “Tostones” in other Latin countries. The plantains are bigger than bananas and harder to peel when green. If you leave them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight they will ripen to yellow and eventually turn brown, getting progressively sweeter and softer. We like our plantains mildly green/yellow.

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

In this post, you will see a variety of Rica bowls with lentil stew, tofu, avocado, greens, fried polenta and/or patacones.

Here are the recipes for the major components:

• “Rica” Lentil Stew
• “Rica” Miso-Mustard Tofu
• “Rica” Patacones

Add them with rice, other types of grains, or even cauliflower rice. Garnish with black sesame seeds, avocado and of course, our Cilantro-Tahini dressing (we don’t have a food processor or blender to make it!)

Let’s start with the “Rica” Lentil Stew. You can add any lentils and variety of vegetables in the stew. We tried green and brown lentils so far. You can eat it on its own. Add more vegetable stock for a brothy version.

"Rica" Lentil Stew

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 stick celery, chopped (optional)
2 medium carrots or 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice (Strianese Whole Peeled D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes )
1 cup hot water, white miso broth or vegetable stock (Edward & Sons Not-Chick'n Bouillon Cubes)
1 heaped cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 globe or small squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
2-3 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: Add frozen peas & corn

Preparation

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and juice from the can, add another pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly.
  3. Add the water (or stock), lentils, paprika, bay leaves, and soy sauce. Add the remaining vegetables (i.e., squash). Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings. Just before serving, stir in the parsley and cilantro.

Notes

This will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator. When you reheat it, you may need to add some water. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

“Rica” Miso-Mustard Tofu is one of our favorite savory snacks, in addition tofu is difficult to find in Buenos Aires. It is widely available in Chinatown, about an hour train ride away (that includes waiting period & stops). The problem is that when an item like tofu sells out, there’s no telling how long it will take for it to be restocked.

"Rica" Miso-Mustard Tofu

Yield: 2-3

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1/2 pound firm tofu, drained for an hour and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 1/2 Tbsp. white miso
1/2 Tbsp. wholegrain or German mustard (otherwise Dijon), to taste
1 /2 Tbsp. soy sauce
a splash of vinegar
2 teaspoons white or black sesame seeds
1/4 cup scallions, green & white parts, chopped

Preparation

  1. Make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine miso, mustard, soy sauce and vinegar.
  2. Heat a large deep saucepan over high heat until very hot for 3 to 4 minutes. Add oil and let heat for 30 seconds, then carefully add tofu slices. Let the tofu cook until slightly golden brown for 2 minutes. Flip for another 2 minutes. Remove and transfer to wire rack; let cool.
  3. In the same oil, add garlic and scallions, cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant for about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce all over tofu and cook until some sides are slightly browned.
  4. Sprinkle sesame seeds over tofu in the end.

Notes

Don’t like tofu? Use eggplant, potatoes, tempeh or other vegan meat alternatives.

Need a bit of heat? Add freshly ground dried Thai chili peppers with the garlic.

Serve these crispy “Rica” Patacones (or Tostones) as a side dish/appetizer with any meal or eaten alone, with dipping sauces. Or you can make soups with them instead of croutons! We found some good green plantains at the verduleria (veggie stall) in Buenos Aires for about $1-1.40 (or $6-8 pesos) each depending on the weight. If you leave them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight they will ripen to yellow and eventually turn brown, getting progressively sweeter and softer. We like our plantains mildly green/yellow.

"Rica" Patacones (Double-Fried Green Plantains)

Ingredients

one green plantain (mildly green-yellow is ok)
sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
salt
parchment paper or a plastic bag
cutting board or a heavy pan with a flat bottom

Preparation

  1. Soak the plantain in hot water for a few minutes before peeling. You will need a cutting board or a heavy pan, with a flat bottom.
  2. Cut a slit lengthwise on either side and cut into 1-inch chunks.
  3. Place them in the hot oil until slightly golden, remove them from the oil. Place on paper towels, then place in the middle of a plastic bag. This will prevent them from sticking to your cutting board or counter top.
  4. Flatten the plantain using the bottom of the pan or the cutting board. The flatter, the plantain better. Toss them back into the hot oil until golden, pat excess oil away with paper towels. Salt lightly.
  5. Plate them, sprinkle them with fresh cilantro (optional).

Notes

Here are step-by-step photos (courtesy of Valentina):


The Rica Bowl (vegan)

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Rica Bowl with Rice Pilaf, Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu, Patacones & Avocado

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Rica Bowl with Rice Pilaf, Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu, Patacones & Avocado

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Rica Bowl with Rice Pilaf, Black Sesame Seeds, Avocado, Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu, Sautéed Spinach and Sweet Patacones (this time, we got a slightly browned plantain and it turned out very sweet/soft. Stick with greener or slightly green plantains for Patacones!)

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Rica Bowl with Rice Pilaf, Black Sesame Seeds, Avocado, Lentil Stew, Miso-Mustard Tofu, Sautéed Spinach and Sweet Patacones

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Lentil Stew with Fried Polenta Sticks, Avocado and Black Sesame Seeds. I will reveal a recipe later this week for Fried Polenta Sticks, stay tuned.

The Rica Bowl (vegan)

Vegan Lentil Stew with Fried Polenta Sticks, Avocado and Black Sesame Seeds

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Here is the view from our flat in downtown Buenos Aires. I took it on Instagram. Pretty sky, isn’t it?


Have you ever tried Patacones or plantains? Share your favorite lentil recipe.


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