Vegan Eats World this entire pan of Pastichio Vegani.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

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As if The HappyCow Cookbook wasn’t keeping me busy enough, Da Capo Press sent me a copy of Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World for review. Two cookbooks at once; the insanity right? I can barely juggle one at a time.

Originally published in 2012, a shiny new paperback edition of Vegan Eats World came out a few months ago. I liked the original cover well enough, but I’m seriously digging the paperback version. You know what I want to see on the cover of my cookbook? Food, food, and more food. Please!

Since I’m a seriously fussy eater, I figured the international bent of Vegan Eats World would provide a nice challenge for my taste buds. I already have a list several pages long of the recipes I want to try (and a corresponding shopping list several miles long!) – but of course, my very first is a pasta dish. OF COURSE. Greek Eggplant Lasagna, otherwise known as Pastichio Vegani, eggplant optional.

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This lasagna, you guys? Totally my favorite. Of all the times. For starters, it doesn’t call for lasagna noodles, so no laboring over a giant, steaming hot cauldron, gently stirring giant lasagna noodles while whispering a prayer to the great Spaghetti Monster in the sky that they’ll come out with minimal rippage.

The top, cheesy, crispy layer is what Romero calls an “almost-Bechamel topping” (I hadn’t heard of Béchamel sauce until earlier this month, and now I’m seeing it everywhere!). It’s a tofu and cashew-based cheese that’s cooked until it’s firm and crispy brown on top. You guys! I could seriously just eat the cheese by itself.

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Then there are two layers of pasta slathered in a roux sauce (again, the roux is so surprisingly tasty that I could eat it as is) separated by a layer of chunky veggie sauce with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. The sauce has a special surprise: a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, complemented by the nutmeg in the almost-Bechamel topping. I have to admit, I was a wee bit nervous putting these two spices in pasta; it’s not my usual way of doing things. But the end result was pretty awesome: the cinnamon gives the sauce an extra kick that’s spicy, but not hot; and the nutmeg just rounds the cinnamon out. Hella good.

My favorite part, of course, are the corners:

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Next time I’m totally gonna make this in a brownie pan. THEY’RE ALL CORNERS!

So yeah, my first attempt from Vegan Eats World? A massive success. Luckily, there are only a few more Mediterranean-style pasta dishes here, so even if I play it safe and stick with pasta to start, sooner or later I’ll have to move on to more adventurous (to me!) fare.

S is for Skillet-Style Lasagna

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

S is for Skillet-Style Lasagna [Betty Goes Vegan] (0006)

In the middle of making this dish – lasagna noodles sticking to the bottom of the pan, tomato sauce splattering every oven-adjacent surface – I thought to myself: “I’ve made a huge mistake.” But when the first bite passed my lips – tender noodles, rich sauce, melty cheese – it pretty much made the whole hour-long affair worthwhile. Worth repeating, actually. This is some forking good pasta, people.

In theory, the Skillet-Style Lasagna from Betty Goes Vegan is supposed to be a rather no-fuss, no-muss, one-dish meal. And while it’s true that it only requires one dish – a skillet, and the bigger, the better! – it’s a lot fussier than the directions let on. I suppose this could be due to my choice of pasta noodles: the recipe calls for mafalda noodles – a sort of mini-lasagna – which I was unable to find anywhere. (And believe you me, I looked!) I briefly considered using elbows or rigatoni, but that felt too much like cheating, so I opted for regular lasagna noodles broken into smaller pieces instead. Some of the mafalda I found online resembles lasagna sliced horizontally – long, thin, ribbon-like strips – while other versions look like shrunken lasagna noodles. At first I tried replicating the thin, frilly noodles, but by the end I was in such a rush that I snapped the lasagna into thirds, resulting in square-ish pieces.

So basically you fry the onions, garlic, and soy meat in a large skillet, and then throw in the pasta sauce, spices, and (uncooked) noodles, along with a little extra water for cooking. The noodles cook on the stovetop, along with the sauce, supposedly in ten to twelve minutes or so. Perhaps the lasagna is thicker than malfada, but I stood over that hot stovetop for at least a half hour before the lasagna was al dente. And it’s not the sort of job you can leave unsupervised, either; more than a few minutes without stirring, and the noodles clung to the bottom of the pan. Dislodging them proved no small task, either – the skillet was so full that more than the gentlest of nudging sent pasta sauce flying over the rim and onto the backsplash. (Exhibit A: My filthy mess of a skillet.)

S is for Skillet-Style Lasagna [Betty Goes Vegan] (0002)

When done, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese (Daiya) and bake at 350F for five minutes or until the cheese is melted. I kept in in an extra five, just to make sure all the noodles were baked through. When all was said and done, a half hour meal took me at least an hour to make.

THAT SAID. This is some ridiculously good pasta. Next time I’ll probably try it with a smaller, thinner pasta – something that cooks in less time and isn’t too terribly difficult to stir. That should speed things along. Also, the soy meat is optional, imho. It makes a nice, meaty sauce, but you could just as easily swap it out for veggies or whatnot. I like veggies, veggies are good.

On the side is a slightly different version of the Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. Instead of canned tomatoes and fresh green beans, I used what I had on hand, namely fresh tomatoes and canned green beans. It’s not quite as phenomenal as the original, but it’s pretty damn close. Good enough for me, seeing as my fridge is stuffed with fresh grape and cherry tomatoes from the garden.

I could seriously eat this meal all day.

S is for Skillet-Style Lasagna [Betty Goes Vegan] (0011)

 
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LASAGNA PIZZA!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

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Don’t ask me why I decided to make such a labor-intensive pizza on a day when the heat index topped 100F –

so much sauteing! and the boiling! hot noodles! please dog just let me crawl into a hole filled with ice cream and die!

– but I did and it was totally worth it. Best pizza I’ve had in a while. 180+ minutes to make, less than 8 minutes to eat. NO REGRETS.

Inspired by a pie from Ian’s that I spotted on tumblr, this pizza sports a layer of lasagna as I typically make it: namely, filled with tender, sauteed goodness like mushrooms, garlic, carrots, zucchini, and cauliflower. And cheese. Mozzarella Daiya as far as the tongue can stretch!

To wit, a cross-section:

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Just look at all that hot, juicy veggie action! What do vegans eat? THIS, PEOPLE! THIS IS WHAT VEGANS EAT!

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Head on over to the PPP blog for the recipe!

criFSMas 2010: The Big Fat Saucy Vegan Food Post

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

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So. We’ve harassed and humiliated the dog-kids. You’ve seen my shiny sparkly goodies. Twice! And yet, my holiday blogging would not be complete without a FOOD POST!

While x-mas is oftentimes an excuse to overindulge, this year I went overboard – owing in no small part to the fact that I handmade a number of gifts, including a couple tons (okay, I exaggerate, but not by much) of chocolate goodies.

But let’s begin at the ending, shall we? As in: criFSMas dinner!

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I did most of the cooking the day before – which was, for us, the 23rd – so that we could be as lazy as possible the day of. I prepared a deep-dish lasagna feast with tons of veggies (green and yellow zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic) and plenty of oozy, gooey cheese (in this case, cheddar and mozzarella Follow Your Heart). (Jump to the end of this post for the recipe!)

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I also breaded and froze some vegan mozzarella sticks – my first-ever batch – so they’d be nice and ready for their date with the deep fryer next day. Spoiler: they are terribly delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. (Recipe via Hell Yeah It’s Vegan!)

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(More below the fold…)

Potato and Onion Lasagna (aka, "Pierogi Casserole")

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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Being a lover of all things pasta-related, I totally ♥ pierogies. (Or ‘rogies, as I call ’em, cuz we are all BFF like that.) I’d eat them damn near every day if I had access to an endless supply, I tell you what. Unfortunately, I’m both too lazy to make them from scratch, and too vegan to purchase most prepackaged varieties off the shelf. If it’s not the animal “meat,” it’s the dairy cheese; if it’s not the dairy cheese, it’s the chicken eggs. Sigh.

Thus far, I’ve only been able to find one “accidentally vegan” pierogi in-store: Mrs. T’s Potato & Onion Pierogies. But not the “baker’s dozen” size; heaven’s no, that would be too convenient! Nope, those Mrs. T’s Potato & Onion Pierogies contain eggs. I’m talking about the food service size, silly! Which is only sold to consumers in a few store chains, including the east-coast based Wegmans, where once upon a time I not only lived, but worked. (I know, I know.) Now that I’m located more than 1,000 miles away, I have to rely on that old standby – you know, dear ole ma – for my ‘rogie fix.

And so it was that, near the end of winter, I found myself nagging my mother to send me a few bags of pierogies before the weather warmed up. The morning after one desperate, pleading phone call home (what do you expect? my freezer was completely devoid of pierogies!), I found a recipe for Pierogi Casserole in my inbox. While very NOMy-looking, I figured that this was my mother’s kind and gentle (and somewhat passive-aggressive?) way of telling me to make my own goddamn pierogies. Alas, I was mistaken, because she overnighted a box of 144 pierogies (not to mention some assorted Liz Lovely cookies which can only be described as delectable) by week’s end (and well before reading my own niggling reply to the recipe; hello, technophobia!). Cynical and jaded, who me?

Anyhow, I digress. I decided to give the recipe a spin, Mrs. T’s or no, and holy dog am I glad I did! It took, like, forever to make (major planning FAIL on my part), but this is one seriously yummy dish. Naturally, I veganized the original and projected my own tastes and preferences onto it; feel free to do the same! This is a rather basic white potatoes, onion and vegan cheddar formula, but you can mix it up with the addition of soy sausage or soy bacon bits, or use mashed sweet potatoes as a filling instead.

So many possibilities! So much NOM! And no cruelty required!

(More below the fold…)