Frances Fisher is one of those stunningly versatile, gifted actors (most recent film credits include The Lincoln Lawyer, The Roommate, and Jolene), that I’ve had great reverence for since my own thespian days.
As an actor, she is captivating on every level. As a person – her kind, generous nature matches her talent with a delicious impishly fun sense of humor, and girls’ girl attitude in spite of the ultra glamorous yet seemingly effortless beauty that seeps from every pore.
I say effortless, but I know for a fact she walks the talk. She eats ultra healthy food, has that same flawless, glowing complexion I’ve noticed with other vegan friends, observes a strong spiritual practice which I’m sure includes daily meditation, does regular power plate workouts (made famous by Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow) at my friend Karen Cummings-Palmer‘s Core London at the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills, and drinks Perfect Water (I can’t wait to tell you more about this micro-filtered, ecologically conscious, alkaline based water chalked full of health benefits. That is, now that I’ve finally tasted it firsthand, because I’m very picky about how my water tastes).
I promised you all I would try to regain a little balance in my life, so how could I possibly resist the invite to come “Celebrate Life, Taurus Birthdays, and Whoever’s Pilots Get Picked Up!” Frances went on to promise “a delicious pot of raw you won’t believe it’s vegan chili and a huge salad and lots to drink. Please bring a little somethin’ To wet your whistle or fill your belly….. And your bathing suit,” that part I conveniently forgot.
Like Frances, her home is perfection but warm and inviting at the same time. I tried to stay in the kitchen where the healthy stuff was, but the cupcakes were screaming “come drool over me!” Inspired by Frances, I wanted to bring something vegan that had a lot of flavor, texture, and depth of character to it. I came up with this “vegan delight,” for lack of a better name, for the pot luck. I feel confident sharing the recipe with you since it seemed to disappear quickly to a lot of Mmmmmmm’s (and I rather liked it too, if I say so myself).
I used a specific brand of grain blend, Trader Joes Harvest Grain Blend, but you should be able to find something similar close to where you live, or mix your own – it consists of Israeli couscous, red quinoa, and split pea garbanzo beans with some dried red peppers and spinach. The same goes for the vegan sausage – if you can’t find Hot or Sweet Italian, use any vegan sausage and add fennel seed, and a little extra garlic and red chili flakes. If you’re not vegan – hot Italian turkey or pork sausage will work. I did a double batch for the party.
1 pound Broccoli and/or Broccolini, cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 package Trade Joes Hot or Sweet Italian Sausage-Less Sausage (turkey or pork if your not vegan), sliced lengthwise, then cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
1/2 pound Trader Joes Harvest Blend
salt and pepper to taste
1). Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, shock in ice-water, and drain; set aside.
2). Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet, add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 30 seconds. Add the vegan sausage, and brown well, stirring frequently, about 7-8 minutes; set aside.
3). Bring vegetable broth to boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add Earth Balance and Harvest Grain Blend to the boiling broth, bring back to boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or according to package instructions. Rinse to remove any excess starch that might cause the grains to stick together. Drain well, then mix in remaining olive oil, cooked sausage, and blanched broccoli and broccolini. Season to taste and serve hot or at room temperature.
This is pretty much a whole meal in one dish, but I like some simple grilled vegetable, or maybe a tossed green salad along with it too.
So which one of you is going to join the party, and come up with the perfect name for this dish?