Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cooking For a Boatload of Vegetarians

To cook for four people on a sailboat for a week in the British Virgin Islands, three of whom were vegetarians, I walked the bulk aisle of Berkeley Bowl to look for dried goods that I could bring along with me and that would be versatile in making lunches and dinners.  In particular, I was looking for protein sources, which can be hard to find for vegetarians when you're shopping in the islands.

I compiled this list of directions for those staples, and since I already had it typed out I thought I would share along with notes on how they worked out.  I hadn't been very conscious  of Fantastic Foods as a brand before this trip, but my friend Alex -- a fairly dedicated meat-eater -- said the veggie burger from their mix was the best one he'd ever eaten.  The hummus and falafel were both also very good and convenient.

Directions for cooking things for BVI

Fantastic Foods Falafel

(1) In a large bowl add 1.25 c water to bag of falafel mix
(2) Let stand 15 mins [I only waited about 5 minutes and it was fine]
(3) Form mix into 1” balls, add 1tbsp water if feels too dry [I had to add several more tablespoons]
(4) Heat ½” of oil to ~375 deg [not really necessary to have a thermometer . . . about medium-high heat, watch how fast they are cooking, and if the oil starts to smoke pick up the pot or turn it off until it stops]
(5) Fry falafel balls for about 3 mins

Fantastic Foods Nature Burger

(1) Mix equal amounts of veg burger mix and boiling water in a bowl; ¼ c for each 3” veg patty
(2) Let stand for 10-15 mins until cooled and stiff
(3) Form into ½” thick by 3” diameter patty
(4) Pan-fry on medium heat [if you made thicker patties you may want to cover while doing so to ensure the center gets hot]

Fantastic Foods Powdered Hummus

I've taken this stuff camping before, and it worked well on the boat also.  Only marginally less good than store bought hummus and much easier to transport.  Add pine nuts, more olive oil, salt/pepper, and/or paprika to the top to make it fancier.

(1) Mix 1 cup dry hummus in bowl with 1-1/2 cups warm water
(2) Add 3 tbsp olive oil
(3) Stir with fork
(4) Chill for five minutes


(1) Soak ahead of time for a few hours (optional for Adzukis)
(2) Cover beans in pot with water plus an inch or so
(3) Bring to boil
(4) Simmer for 40 mins to an hour for Adzukis, 2 hours for black beans
(5) Season to taste


The most ridiculously-easy to cook grain.

(1) Add 1.25 c boiling water to 1c couscous in a bowl
(2) Let sit five minutes


I make lots of this at home and freeze it in small tupperwares to have as a side.

(1) Sauté onions and carrots in olive oil. That means medium-high heat for about five minutes. You can put the onions in five minutes before the carrots so they get more time to carmelize if you want.
(2) Add twice as much water as you have lentils to the sautéed stuff, and add bullion (or I prefer "Better Than Bullion" brand, which comes in a jar).
(3) Add the lentils. "French" lentils (not actually from France) are my favorites.
(4) Bring to boil
(5) Simmer partly covered until lentils are al dente, about 25 minutes. I like mashing it partly with a stick blender or a hand potato masher.

Forbidden Black Rice (Lotus Foods)

(1) Add 1.25c water to 1 c rice
(2) Bring to boil
(3) Cover and simmer for 25 minutes

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