(Slightly Modified, Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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I enjoyed this soup more than a month ago and finally decided to share it. (IBTD. D, as in depression. It saps you of your will, man.)

Anyway, it’s another one from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano: (Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone. Modified by me, because I am a fussy, hard to please mofo.

This recipe calls for zucchini, which I didn’t have, and celery, which I don’t like: so I swapped them both out for more carrots, which I have in spades and love love love. It also has shredded cabbage – two cups – but I used pulverized spinach instead (hence the soup’s dark, greenish color).

I’ve been trying to sneak spinach into more and more dishes. It amazes me how some of the prominent, healthy vegan bloggers I follow can (claim to?) consume a pound of leafy greens a day. Like, I can’t even. How do you find the time to eat anything else?

I guess that, when you cook them, they wilt down to a more manageable volume. But I either have to eat my leafy greens fresh and crunchy or shredded until they’re unrecognizable; easily mistaken for spices. Cooked greens have a texture entirely too similar to spoiled greens for my taste.

Luckily, since spinach doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s easy to slip into other foods. Pasta sauce is a favorite, and when combined with basil it goes well in pesto. I’ve even made banana ice cream with a hint o’ spinach!

Since this minestrone has cabbage, I figured it’d be an easy swap – and it was! Aside from the coloring, you don’t even notice that the spinach is there. My food processor made such quick work of the spinach that it looks like extra basil. Like, a crazy amount of basil!

The soup is savory and filling, like minestrone should be. There aren’t a ridiculous amount of ingredients – Klein’s recipes are usually pretty simple and no-nonsense – and the whole thing doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to throw together. (Although you do start out by simmering the veggies for an hour, so there’s that. But there’s very little babysitting involved!)

Candle Cafe’s Sweet Potato and Apricot Tzimmes

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

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Orange food is orangey!

With carrots, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, orange juice, and orange peel, among other things. (Namely cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice, with a little extra cinnamon sugar for sprinkling.) Boil, bake, bada bing, bada boom.

Actually I think the boiling is overkill; the carrots and sweet potatoes were so tender after ten minutes on the stove top that I wasn’t sure that they’d hold up to 30 minutes of baking, too. Probably you could jack the temp up from 350F a bit and bake them a little longer in lieu of boiling?

Also, I wonder if maybe I overdid it with the carrots and sweet potatoes; I used the correct amount of each (six and four), but there was no way the recommended ten cups of water would have covered them all for boiling! I used at least three times that much. They barely fit in my 9″x12″ baking pan!

Anyway, the result is super-tasty and a nice departure from my normal side dish routine. Plus they made my house smell heavenly while they were baking, so that’s good too.

Candle Cafe’s Quinoa Vegetable Cakes

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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I’m a sucker for homemade veggie patties, and the Quinoa Vegetable Cakes from Vegan Holiday Cooking are among the tastiest I’ve ever had! Technically they’re a “cake,” not a burger, but they’re pretty much the perfect size for slapping between two slices of bread, so there you go.

The batter is a mix of quinoa, onions, carrots, and red peppers, half of which you blend into a mash using a food processor (resulting in the burgers’ psychedelic neon orange color). Add breadcrumbs, shape into patties, and bake!

The primary spice is cilantro, which made me a little nervous; I’m not the biggest fan (tastes like soap!). To my surprise, the cilantro isn’t at all overwhelming, and actually adds a rather nice flavor to the finished patties.

You’re supposed to bake these bad girls at 350F for ten minutes, after which time they should be nice and crispy. Mine weren’t, even after twenty minutes in the oven, so I cranked the heat up to 400F to get the job done: about ten minutes on each side. (The recipe also doesn’t say anything about flipping, but that’s the only way I could get both sides nice and crispy.) The next time I make these, I’ll go right to 400 degrees; ten to fifteen minutes on each side ought to do it.

These are freaking amazing when served with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mustard, and Vegenaise (pictured above) – and even better when you swap out the fresh vettable topping from friend onions and mushrooms. YUM.

Turkish Zucchini Pancakes (with leftover White Bean Farro Soup!)

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

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Along with the pesto for Sunday’s Butternut Squash Pizza, these Turkish Zucchini Pancakes from Vegan Eats World feature the very last of this season’s home-grown zucchini. (Yay! I did it! Now I can go back to stuffing my fridge with junk food!) Other goodies include carrots, white and chickpea flour, scallions, onions, and – an unexpected surprise for your taste buds – dill!

I’ve made zucchini pancakes about a million and twelve times now, but these are the best I’ve had in recent memory. Maybe it’s because I actually took the time to wring out the zucchini shreds in a towel instead of just throwing them in a colander and leaving gravity to do all the work? Whatever, I’m not complaining. Plus the leftovers heat up nicely in a frying pan or on the griddle.

I served them with leftover White Bean Farro Soup, the picture of which came out much prettier (and clearer!) this time around.

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White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiana Topping

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

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You guys, this might be my favorite Vegan Eats World soup yet! It’s super-hearty, with farro wheat berries (my first ever time trying them! and they are AWESOME!), tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and cannelini beans (or great white northern, in my case; forgot to go shopping, OOPS!). Spinach or escarole is optional; I shredded mine into little itty bitty pieces so it wouldn’t get all wilty and slimy. (HATE cooked leafy greens.) It gave the soup a nice, festive Christmasy feel and kind of overruled the need for parsley. Way tasty, all around.

The topping is an Ethiopian/Mediterranean mashup involving cooked chickpea flour and lemon juice to make a tangy, parmesan-like garnish. It pairs most excellently with the soup and adds an unexpected kick. So good!

I’ve already claimed dibs on the leftovers.

Beer-Bathed Seitan Stew and Oven Pommes Frites

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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Continuing with our “enough onions to cry a small army to sleep” theme is this Beer-Bathed Seitan Stew from Vegan Eats World. This one’s got 3 yellow onions – a full pound and a half! My eyes were aching for hours after dinner, no lie. Even though I cheated and just used two onions. I KNOW I AM THE WORST.

Also present: carrots, homemade seitan, dark beer (vegan, of course!), mushrooms, and various spices and seasonings including but not limited to thyme (a ten on the savory spectrum), brown sugar, and tomato paste.

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The broth is quite gravy-like, making this stew the perfect topping (or dip!) for oven-baked fries. I don’t know why I don’t make my own fries more often, y’all; do it right, and they are tastier than the frozen stuff by far.

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Shane was nice enough to make the Seitan Coriander Cutlets ahead of time, along with a batch of 5-Spice Seitan for his own snacking needs. (He likes to put them in burritos, along with some rice and beans.) The former are oven-baked while the latter recipe uses a steamer. He was happy with the results, but wasn’t so crazy about the amount of aluminum foil he burned through. Experiments with boiling the cutlets are forthcoming. Stay tuned!

“Like an Egyptian” Lentil Soup

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

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The Season of Soups continues with the “Like an Egyptian” Lentil Soup from Vegan Eats World. Super-yummy and easy to make, with lentils (green, brown, black – take your pick!), carrots, fennel (love!), cumin, coriander, and onions.

Lots and lots of onions: one yellow onion, added directly to the soup, and three red onions, caramelized first. My eyes are still recovering from all the onion-induced crying, y’all.

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Looks like BRAAAAAAAINS!
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I kind of cheated, though; my skillet could only easily fit two onions at a time, so I got a little lazy and just went with two red onions. I think it was just about perfect; any more and it might have skewed the onion-to-lentil ratio in favor of the former. Then I’d have to rename this “Like an Egyptian” Onion Soup. So much paperwork.

An interesting side note re: the onions – you cut them in half and then slice them into half-moon shapes. These totes look like noodles once they’re added to the soup. It’s a little disconcerting. But also not a little tasty.

Carbs & Rec: Happy Cauliflower Day! (Belated, but still.)

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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Technically Cauliflower Day was yesterday, but I would have had to preempt the very first Waffle Wednesday in order to make it work, and that simply would not do! As much as I love cauliflower, sweet breakfast food trumps it every. single. time.

Also a technicality: Cauliflower Day celebrates the first AND LAST time that Leslie and Ben ate cauliflower together. Leslie did not care for it. So really, this dish should feature broccoli, pizza, ice cream, or some other food that isn’t cauliflower.

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But wait! Stay with me here.

(More below the fold…)

Tricolored Vegetable Pasta with Sun-Dried Marinara and Cashew Cheese

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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Another raw pasta dish from The HappyCow Cookbook – this one courtesy of G-Zen. I like the greater variety found here; in addition to zucchini noodles, there are also spiralized beets and carrots. Much more interesting than plain old zucchini! (But the beets? Hella messy! I cannot imagine trying to eat this pasta in public.)

The marinara sauce is pretty tasty too; I was a little unsure of the dates, but you can’t really taste them in the finished product. You’re supposed to serve the sauce at room temp, but mine was cold owing to several of the ingredients (I keep the dates and sundried tomatoes refrigerated), so I warmed it up on the stove top a bit.

The cashew cheese resembles Ricotta more than it does Parmesan; soaking the cashews prior to blending them introduced extra moisture that isn’t usually present in vegan Parm recipes. Weird, right? Still good, though, and Shane used the cheese to soak up all the extra beet juice.

Not bad, and since dinner was so low-cal, I was able to double down on the ice cream cones later that night. (Kidding! Thought about it though….)

Bean Ball Spaghetti from the Vegan Athlete Cookbook

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

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At this point I own more vegan cookbooks than I could ever hope to use in my life – even if I made a new recipe every day, from now until I’m a hundred, weekends included. (The same goes for book-books, so there you go. If I have one addiction, it’s paper. And pizza. And ice cream. And dogs. So four. Four addictions.)

Zoey Sampson’s Vegan Athlete Cookbook is a freebie-for-review that I scored via Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program. (Free stuffs. Make that five addictions!) As per my SOP, the very first recipe I tried was pasta-related: namely, the Bean Ball Spaghetti (really rigatoni) with homemade sauce and store-bought garlic breadsticks.

These not-meatballs are a mix of beans (the recipe calls for pinto; naturally, pinto was the one single type o’ bean that I didn’t have in my cupboards, so I used a mix of light red and great northern), carrots, parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, and spices. Mix the batter in a food processor, shape into little balls, and bake in the oven for twenty minutes. Pretty simple. If I could suggest one modification to the recipe, though, it’d be to process the wet ingredients first, then slowly add in the dry. My middle-of-the-line food processor struggled to mix everything at once; the batter’s just too durn thick. Or even mix in the dry ingredients by hand, come to think of it.

Also. After baking, Sampson directs you to transfer the balls to the sauce and simmer for ten minutes. I could tell just from gentle handling that the balls weren’t sturdy enough to hold together in sauce. (Not to mention, there were too many balls to fit in the pan! Somewhere in the order of 32 to 36. I kept count, and then promptly forgot. Sorry!) I threw half a dozen in with the sauce just to test my theory and, sure enough, they crumbled even under gentle handling. My advice? Make double the marinara sauce and serve the balls on the side, smothered in the stuff.

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The verdict: it’s an okay recipe – the balls are tasty enough and easy to throw together – but not my favorite vegan meatball recipe of all time. I suspect that Shane will repurpose the leftovers into a burrito of some type. Stay tuned for breaking news.

Fusilli with Roasted Lemony Vegetables and Tofu Ricotta

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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This is a little something I threw together using scraps of this and that from the fridge: a few miscellaneous Russet potatoes; a just-cut red pepper; the lone surviving green zucchini from a pack o’ three; the last of a bag of frozen corn. If you don’t want to go quite so heavy on the carbs (this dish requires a post-dinner nap, I tell you what), omit the potatoes and double down on the other veggies. Or you can bulk up on the veggies anyway for a greater veggie-to-pasta ratio.

I used the ricotta recipe from The Cheesy Vegan, but there are plenty of tofu-based versions on the web.

 

Fusilli with Roasted Lemony Vegetables

Ingredients

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)
1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Russet potatoes, diced into 1/2″ pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1/4″ rounds
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon peel

16 ounces fusilli, or other small, bite-sized pasta
tofu ricotta for serving

(More below the fold…)

Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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I can’t quite drink this cheese sauce, but I can pretend.
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When I was planning this month’s menu, I left my four “free days” open for the Iron Chef challenge – and, while I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t going to be a weekly thing this year, I’ve got to say that Mac & Cheese Monday more than makes up for it! If you know me, you know I’m all about three things: pizza, ice cream, and macaroni and cheese. It’s not like I need another reason to enjoy a cup of hot, creamy liquid gold – but then again, extra motivation sure doesn’t hurt. The things I do for VeganMoFo!

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Shane burned the bread crumbs a bit, but I consider this one of his tastier mistakes.
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This week’s dish is one I’ve been meaning to try for a few months now: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese from Vegan Yumminess. (And yes, I deliberately omitted the scare quotes because ain’t no one gonna tell me that cheese HAS to come from torture and exploitation.) As the title suggests, the cheesy sauce is a blend of cooked cauliflower, carrots, nutritional yeast, and olive oil (the only significant source of fat in the whole shebang). It’s a far cry from the crazy decadent stuff I so love – but, as far as healthy vegan comfort food goes, this one’s a winner!

I mean jeez, you can’t drink a mug of Daiya every day, can you? (Wait. CAN YOU!?)

Anywho, the sauce is super-creamy – not dry, like some baked mac & cheese can be – and the bread crumbs really add that extra ooomph!. Plus, I kind of have a soft spot for cauliflower, so often neglected for its more colorful cousin broccoli.

Incidentally, Shane broke the jar of our blender last week (he swears he only tapped it against the porcelain sink before it shattered, but I have my doubts) and we literally JUST received the replacement in time for Mac & Cheese Monday. You see? Even the universe wants me to eat macaroni and cheese on the weekly.

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Tip it!
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Maple-Roasted Carrot Banana Ice Cream

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

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So this ice cream has got it going on: with both bananas and carrots, it’s got a serving (or two or three, depending on how big you like your sundaes!) of fruits and veggies, all in one delicious dessert. I got the idea for it while reminiscing about the Carrot Cake Banana Ice Cream I made last summer (mmmm, carrot cake ice cream!). Here, the carrots are roasted in a maple syrup-bourbon sauce (the bourbon is optional, but gives it a nice kick!) and then blended into a fine mash using the food processor.

Personally, I think that the bourbon’s the most distinct taste, but Shane’s undecided. We’re both big fans, though. Try it and see for yourself!

 

Maple-Roasted Carrot Banana Ice Cream

(Makes about three quarters of a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 large carrots, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan bourbon (optional)

3-4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
brown sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a 9″x9″ baking pan with the sliced carrots. (4-5 large carrots halved lengthwise and halved or quartered into thin slices should be enough to do it, but use your own judgement!) In a measuring cup, whisk the maple syrup, olive oil, and bourbon. Pour the mixture on top of the carrots and mix well, making sure that all the carrots are coated. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Toss the carrots and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft and tender. Remove from the oven and (carefully!) transfer the carrots and their juices to a food processor. Process until smoothly blended. Allow the mash to cool on the countertop before continuing.

2. When you’re ready to make the ice cream: Add the bananas to the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

3. If the ice cream isn’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of brown sugar (or other vegan sweetener) to taste.

4. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

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Tofu Scramble with Roasted Vegetables

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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This is just a little something I threw together (several times, actually) during the chaos that was May. Leftover roasted veggies in the fridge + about-to-expire tofu = nearly effortless breakfast for dinner deliciousness.

Now if only I could eat my feelings away…

 

Tofu Scramble with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

2 large potatoes
3 large carrots
1/2 onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to take

1 pound firm tofu, lightly pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon chives (or parsley)
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste (optional)

Directions

1. Begin by roasting the vegetables. (This step can be done an hour or a several days in advance; just store the roasted veggies in an airtight container in the fridge until ready for use.) Preheat the oven to 450F. Wash, peel, and chop the potatoes and carrots. Cut the carrots into largish bite-sized pieces; the potatoes should be slightly larger, as they’ll break down a bit while cooking in the scramble. In a large baking pan, combine the carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper; mix well. Spread the vegetables out so that they’re in a single layer. Bake, uncovered, at 450F for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Stir once halfway through. When done, set aside.

2. Lightly press the brick of tofu to drain the excess moisture. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat (add an extra tablespoon if necessary). Add the diced onion and cook for about five minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another five minutes.

3. As the onion and garlic are cooking, place the tofu in a large bowl and mash it with a fork until it becomes crumbly.

4. Pour the tofu into the skillet and mix it in with the onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, cumin, turmeric, and the salt. Mix well. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the moisture from the tofu has evaporated. Add the roasted vegetables and chives and continue to cook until the veggies are warm and the scramble is to your liking. Serve warm.

Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup & Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Epic mealtime was epic.

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After a slew of cold and rainy weather, I was craving some hot soup and warm bread something crazy. Enter: Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook (hint: not just for vegetarians!) and Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli from Vegan Italiano, by Donna Klein. (Reviewed yesterday, in point o’ facts!)

Rich, creamy, and super-savory, the soup is a new favorite. It takes a little extra planning, since you’ve gotta roast the veggies beforehand, but it’s so worth it. (Bonus points for using leftover roasted vegetables.) You’re supposed to process the whole shebang in a blender or food processor, but I like my soup a little chunky, so I set about 1/3 aside – you can spot a stray carrot piece in the photo above.

Pre-blender, the soup resembles chicken noodle, with potatoes playing the role of featured carb. Also quite delicious! Not creamy, but still totally nom-worthy.

The bread pie was more of a pain; the refrigerated french bread dough didn’t take kindly to my efforts to reshape it from a rectangle to a circle. But I persevered and, while the pie ended up a bit misshapen (like all my pies inevitably do), it was still really good.

The top and bottom pieces didn’t completely fuse together, so I was able to remove the top piece for dunking purposes. Turns out that this soup? Was made for bread.

Craving, satisfied.