Bean Ball Spaghetti from the Vegan Athlete Cookbook

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

2014-04-11 - VAC Bean Ball Spaghetti - 0001 [flickr]

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.

2014-04-11 - VAC Bean Ball Spaghetti - 0005 [flickr]

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

2014-03-21 - Fusilli & Lemon Roasted Veggies - 0002 [flickr]

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…)

Pasta Primavera with Roasted Vegetables

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

2014-03-11 - 101GFVI Pasta Primavera - 0003 [flickr]

So this is another one from 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes – obviously not gluten-free, since I used regular noodles, but easily gluten-free-enized. The veggies here are roasted, which makes for an easy, no hassle meal: if you’re in a time crunch, slice your veggies up beforehand, and just pop ’em in the oven as needed. There isn’t any sauce, but the olive oil and lemon juice provide a little extra moisture. If you love lemons like me, sprinkle a little lemon peel on for added oomph.

Sadly this particular cookbook is in desperate need of an editor: the ingredients list calls for nooch, but the directions don’t tell you what to do with it (!). I had the exact same problem with the last pasta recipe I tried. That’s okay; luckily, it’s hard to go wrong with nooch. I sprinkled it on top of the pasta at the same I added the veggies. Tomatoes, zucchini, and roasted red peppers, but feel free to use whatever strikes yer fancy. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil and bake at 375F (up from the suggested 350) for 30-40 minutes or until tender.

(Not Exactly Gluten Free) Tomato Walnut Pasta

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

2014-03-06 - 101GFVI Tomato Walnut Pasta - 0003 [flickr]

Though this Tomato Walnut Pasta is from Daniel Nadav’s 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes, it’s hardly gluten-free, on accounta I didn’t bother using GF noodles. Since I’m not GF, I really just bought this book for the pasta sauce and pizza combos. And it was just 99 cents. And it’s only the third vegan Italian cookbook I’ve heard of, gluten-free or otherwise. So there’s that.

The sauce, which is a combination of tomatoes, walnuts, spinach, and basil, is pretty tasty. Nadav didn’t include any garlic (blasphemy!), so I thew some in there. A little too much, actually – I added several tablespoons of garlic to the saucepan before I realized that the tomatoes I’d picked, cooked, and frozen last October also had garlic in them. No harm no foul. Well, maybe a bit of foulness. Breath-wise, that is. Whatever.

As I’ve been flipping through this cookbook, I’ve found a ton of mistakes. Most are aesthetic – inconsistent font styles, for example – and merely offend the perfectionist in me. But this particular recipe calls for 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast…and then doesn’t tell you what to do with it. (Sniff it? Trippy!) The options are pretty limited: add it to the food processor with the spinach, basil, and walnuts, or mix it right on in with the sauce. I went with the former, although I don’t think it makes much difference in the end. It all ends up on one plate.

Anyway. Good recipe. If you’re half as into Italian food as I am, and willing to wade through editing errors and such, 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes might be worth a try. It goes on sale for zero (that’s free!) every once in awhile, so you can always add it to your wishlist until then.

Review coming…maybe.

Immunity-Boosting Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

2014-02-26 - OSG Immunity Tomato Sauce - 0001 [flickr]

and lentils and chia seeds and basil and garlic and – well, you get the idea. Angela Liddon packs her tomato sauce with savory goodness.

So, I’ll be honest: this isn’t my all-time favorite pasta sauce. But to be fair, I am super-Italian, and have been enjoying pasta at least once a week my entire life. I have long since perfected my own dream red sauce recipe. (Spoiler alert: it involves roasted red peppers.) But I have to admit, I love the idea of adding red lentils to pasta sauce, and the chia seeds are a nice extra too.

Well done, even by own fussy standards.

And this is the last recipe on my to-do list before I review The Oh She Glows Cookbook! Check back Monday for the review.

Luxurious (Read: Cheesy!) Tomato-Basil Pasta

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

2014-02-16 - OSG Tomato-Basil Pasta - 0001 [flickr]

I’m pretty sure the “Luxurious” in the Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta (found in The Oh She Glows Cookbook) is code for cheesy. And if it’s not, it should be. Put vegan cheese on ALL the things!

This dish is reminiscent of the Spaghetti Cake from Bake and Destroy (and before that, the Spaghetti Pie from American Vegan Kitchen) – only it’s not cooked, of course, and the white sauce is made of cashews instead of tofu. Naturally, the white sauce is combined with red marinara sauce to make a delicious hot pink (traffic cone orange?) mess.

So good, and super-easy to make. The cook time on this one is just 30 minutes, so you can whip it up in a snap. (Though I prefer to let my tomatoes simmer for awhile so that they get nice and tender.)

15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

2014-02-14 - OSG Creamy Avocado Pasta - 0007 [flickr]

Wow.

I’ve enjoyed avocado pasta before, but this is just…WOW.

The sauce is deliciously simple: avocados, garlic, basil, lemon. (The lemon? It downright OWNS the pasta.) Blend in a food processor, mix with the pasta, and serve.

The hardest part about this dish is the timing: since avocados oxidize quickly (thus turning an unappetizing shade of brown), you want to use the sauce immediately. Or at least if you want to snag a halfway decent photo of it.

This is another recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, but – yay for you! – it’s also available on Angela’s website.

Go! Blend! Eat!

No regrets.

Well, maybe just one: I don’t have any leftovers!

Spaghetti Not-Cake

Friday, January 10th, 2014

2014-01-04 - Unbaked Spaghetti Cake - 0002 [flickr]

So remember that Spaghetti Cake I made for New Year’s Eve? Yeah, well, I didn’t even last a week before I decided to experiment with an unbaked version! Turns out, there’s not much tinkering necessary: I just made the pasta sauce (with an added zucchini and roasted red pepper for extra chunkiness; also, in the spirit of cleaning out the fridge!) and tofu-cashew ricotta as instructed and then mixed them both with the cooked pasta and, voilà!, dinner is served! The resulting sauce is kind of like a marinara-alfredo hybrid: rich, creamy, oh-so-hearty, and super-decadent.

Initially the plan was to set some extra sauce aside for dipping (dinner rolls, nom) but, as it turned out, the “meatier” parts of the sauce kind of naturally separated from the noodles when I stirred it all together, so measuring and parsing seemed unnecessary.

Plus the once-baked version requires 45 minutes less bake time AND one fewer dirty dish, so it’s a win-win. There’s no breadcrumb-nooch topping on this one, but you can always sprinkle some homemade parm on there if you’d like. Almost the same thing! Or just toast some nooch and breadcrumbs and use that instead. Tasty either way!

This is one of those rare pasta dishes that tastes better fresh out of the pot, but it’s still damn good the next day.

The Great CriFSMas Food (and More) Roundup, 2013 edition!

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It felt like I did a ridiculous amount of baking this Christmas – so, when I went and looked back at last year’s roundup, I nearly fainted in disbelief. (Full disclosure: there may have also been a food coma involved, due to the copious amounts of sugar I’ve been ingesting.) Did I seriously make a dozen plus batches of cookies last year? Little old me?

Fun story: after feeling super-smug and self-satisfied over my achievement of baking FIVE WHOLE BATCHES of cookies in one day, I headed on over to tumblr – where some lady posted about the 40 donuts and multiple trays of cookies she baked in one afternoon. Whoops! There goes my self-confidence!

So anyway, here’s the Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2013 edition! But with bonus x-mas presents and vegan pop culture observations.

First up: the noms. As per usual, let’s start with dessert, shall we? All the cookies are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, a review of which I’ll probably have for y’all soon. Unless. Maybe I need to try out a few more recipes? You know, for the love of science and books and all that is holy and sugar-dusted.

2013-12-22 - VCC Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies - 0001

Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies – With their copious amounts of liquor and strong rummy taste, these cookies aren’t for kids. Very tasty and easy to bake, though I opted to make my glaze into more of an icing, so as not to risk the cookies sticking to one another during storage. If you go this route, start out with less rum. I ended up with way more icing than I could use. Or drink! (Yes, I actually tried that.)

2013-12-22 - VCC Caramel Pecan Cookies - 0003

Chewy Caramel Pecan Cookies – SO GOOD! Caramel and pecans, what’s not to love? Well, the cookies’ inherent stickiness, for starters: I had to refrigerate the sheet of cookies for about ten minutes before I was able to peel them from the parchment paper without tearing the cookies to shreds. I wonder if my batter was too wet; the caramel pecan mix didn’t get especially thick, which resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. Further experimentation may be required.

Also, pro tip: these cookies have mad spread, so space them far, far apart. As in four cookies to a medium-sized tray. No kidding!

(More below the fold…)

Cookbook Review: The Cheesy Vegan, John Schlimm (2013)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

It’s easy being cheesy!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a free copy of this book for review at my request.)

Vegan cheese! No two words in the English language are able to arouse the excitement, the vociferous debate, the unbridled passion of vegans quite like “vegan cheese.” (Except – maybe – “free pizza”!) Whether arguing about the merits of Daiya vs. Teese or swapping our favorite cheesy sauce recipes, us vegans love to cut the cheese. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

John Schlimm’s latest cookbook, The Cheesy Vegan, doesn’t disappoint. Filled with recipes for cheesy sammies and cheesy pizzas and cheesy pasta dishes and cheesy soups and sides (and an entire chapter of mac & cheese! ONE WHOLE CHAPTER!), there are also a ton of recipes for homemade cheeses: Cheddar. Mozzarella. Brie. Swiss. Feta. Ricotta. Blue. Jack. Muenster. Wine. American. Cottage. Cream. Parmesan. Nooch cheese. You name it! If it’s cheesy, it’s in here.

Better yet, the cheeses are all pretty easy to make: just blend and chill. I’ve been on the fence about whether I should give Artisan Vegan Cheese a try, since (from what I’ve seen) some of the recipes border on alchemy. But these are actually recipes that homemade cheese novices like myself can pull off with some ease!

While choosing recipes to test for this review, I tried to select dishes that would allow me to experiment with a variety of the homemade cheeses. Six weeks, seven cheeses, and thirteen (plus!) meals later, and I think I’m finally ready to do this!

For what it’s worth, I’ve been allergic to milk my entire life – so I’m not exactly the best judge of whether vegan cheeses taste or even behave like their non-vegan counterparts. Luckily, my husband was more than happy to help with the taste-testing and opinionating. (We’ve both been vegan since the mid-aughts and consider ourselves connoisseurs of vegan cheese.)

With that disclaimer out of the way – let’s get cheesy!

(More below the fold…)

Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Friday, October 18th, 2013

2013-10-05 - VP Cheeseburger Pizza - 0005

My Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce,
spread on Julie Hasson’s Cheeseburger Pizza!
——————————

So this is a recipe of convenience that turned out to be even tastier than the more time-intensive version. Usually I cook tomatoes on the stovetop, slicing the grape and cherry varieties in half to release the juices. One day I found myself with a ton of tomatoes that needed cooking asap – they were on the brink of going bad – but not enough time to dice them all. Instead, I just tossed them all in a baking pan – after washing and inspecting them for bugs and blemishes, of course – and roasted them in the oven, along with a few fresh red peppers. It was a slow process, but one that didn’t require much oversight. The finished sauce was incredible, with a deep, richly layered taste.

After baking, I blended the tomatoes in a food processor to make pizza sauce – nearly as smooth as the store-bought stuff, and definitely more delicious – but you can also leave the tomatoes as-is and use it like a marinara sauce. Or blend half of the tomatoes to get the best of both worlds. You’ll wonder why you ever settled for the canned stuff!

 

Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

(Makes enough sauce for two to three 12″ pizzas, or one to one and a half pounds of pasta.)

Ingredients

8 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (or 8 cups larger tomatoes, diced into marble-sized pieces)
1/2 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red peppers, cut into large, bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
water, if needed

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large glass baking pan, combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red peppers. Bake, uncovered on the center rack, at 350F for two to three hours, or until the peppers begin to brown. Stir every half hour to prevent the tomatoes from burning.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor. Add the seasonings and pulse until fully blended. For a chunkier sauce, set 1/2 cup of the tomatoes aside prior to blending; mix them in with the sauce when done. If the sauce is too thick, add some water (a tablespoon at a time will do ya!) to thin it out. Serve on pasta, or use as a pizza sauce.

Optional: After baking, mix the seasonings with the tomatoes and serve on pasta, like a marinara sauce.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage (0009)

Well, this is it. We’ve reached the end of Vegan MoFo VII, my friends. It’s been fun, it’s been hectic, it’s been waistline-expanding. And I can’t wait to do it all again in August! (I’m already brainstorming next year’s theme. True story!) Luckily, September 30th just so happens to fall on a Monday – and what better note to end on than one final Mac & Cheese Monday?

This recipe’s courtesy of Shane, who wanted to veganize a macaroni and cheese recipe from his childhood. What he came up with is a kind of mashup of our favorite stovetop recipe, various oven-baked dishes, and a few of our go-to alfredo sauces. The result is a rich and creamy, twice-baked dish with two cheeses (cheddar AND mozzarella; three if you sprinkle a little vegan parm on top!), pan-fried sausage, and a generous helping of breadcrumbs to garnish.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage (0004)

We used Tofurky brand sundried-tomato sausage, which are mildly spicy. I would’ve liked to have played up the sun-dried tomato angle – may be with the addition of some dry (not oil-packed) sun-dried tomatoes, tomato flakes, or even fresh cherry tomatoes – but Shane decided to take it in another direction. Ah well. Next time maybe?

The sauce also contains cashews and nutritional yeast (and no margarine!), making it slightly healthier than our Creamy Mac & Cheese. Which, if you couldn’t tell by now, if the bar by which we judge all other macaroni and cheese recipes!

Shane’s newest concoction measures up rather well: it’s flavorful, rich, and creamy – and the breadcrumbs give it a nice crunch. Baked mac & cheese dishes can sometimes be a little dry, but this one’s almost (so close!) as moist and saucy as the stovetop version. Definitely one of my favorite experiments.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage (0019)

Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 vegan sausage links (we went with Tofurky, but you can use your own favorite)
16 ounces (4 cups) elbow macaroni (or similarly sized pasta)
3 cups soy milk
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
12 ounces vegan mozzarella shreds (we used Daiya)
8 ounces vegan cheddar shreds (we used Follow Your Heart)
enough breadcrumbs to cover a 9×13 pan
vegan parmesan to garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Slice the sausage links into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pan; fry until golden brown. Set aside.

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

4. In a blender, mix the soy milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, soy sauce, and corn starch until well blended. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat om medium-high until it starts bubbling. Add the cheese shreds and stir until the cheese is mostly melted and blended. A few lumps are fine.

5. Mix the macaroni, sausage, and cheese sauce in a pot until the sausage and macaroni is well coated. Put the mixture into 9×13 pan and cover with a thin coating of bread crumbs and optional parmesan.

6. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. If the breadcrumbs are slow to brown, you can set the oven to broil for the last minute or two – but keep a close eye on the breadcrumbs, as they can burn quickly!

7. Serve warm and gooey!

And lick the plate clean in Kaylee’s memory, okay?

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage (0007)

 
null
 

FIN.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday, I’ll miss you most of all.

Z is for Ziti All’amatriciana

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Z if for Ziti All'amatriciana [Betty Goes Vegan] (0005)

You guys! Can you believe that VeganMoFo ’13 is nearly over? We did it!

To celebrate, I give you this big, steaming plate of Z-is-for-Ziti Ziti All’amatriciana. Only I used penne in place of ziti, on account of we have just about every type of pasta in the pantry save for ziti. That and I’m a big old cheater. Surely you can forgive me, this being the last letter of the alphabet and all?

So this recipe, like many of the others I blogged this month, is from Betty Goes Vegan. The sauce is a mix of diced tomatoes, mashed tofu, and some other goodies. I also threw in some tomato powder and tomato flakes to help add extra flavor to the tofu, but I bet tomato paste would work just as well. (I just didn’t feel like breaking open a whole new can.)

I’m a little fussy when it comes to tofu (in fact, for the letter T I briefly toyed with the idea of writing a Fussy Vegan’s Guide to Hiding Tofu in Your Favorite Dishes, but scrapped it in favor of Tuscan Bread Soup; but, seeing as it’s a question I’m asked with some frequency, I might just write that article anyway) and prefer my tomato sauce without it. Even so, it turned out tasty enough and I licked my plate clean.

The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of ziti, which even now seems so small as to be a typo. I multipled it by eight and cooked four cups (dried) of penne, figuring that I could set the extra aside if I made too much. I didn’t need to – the sauce coated the pasta just fine. I think three cups might be the sweet spot though. Or maybe I just don’t know my pasta All’amatriciana – is it a dish that’s supposed to be awash in sauce?

Served with a few hearty slices of Easy Olive Oil Garlic Toast, also from Betty Goes Vegan. If enjoying bread with pasta is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

 
null
 

Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Slow Cooked Mac and Cheesy

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Mac and Cheesy [Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker] (0006)

This week’s mac & cheese is a bit of a departure from the norm, since it’s slow cooked. The afternoon that I made it the thermometer topped 90F, so it was rather refreshing not to have to stand over the stove for an hour plus. Just ten minutes to cook the broth and taters and that was it. Shiny!

Aside from last year’s Christmas pizza, we really haven’t had a ton of luck with our slow cooker. To be fair, we haven’t done very much experimenting with it, either. Can you say “vicious circle”? I even own a copy of Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker – it was a x-mas present to myself, actually! – but it hasn’t provided the motivation I’d banked on. Slow cookers require so much advance planning, yo! So not my forte.

Luckily, the Mac and Cheesy recipe is easy peasy, at least as far as crockpot dishes go. It takes maybe a half hour to set up, and then just 2 1/2 hours to cook. Technically you’re supposed to soak the cashews overnight – ugh, there go the preparations, getting away from me again! – but I let them sit for a mere hour and it worked well enough.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Mac and Cheesy [Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker] (0001)

Veggie broth, cashews, and boiled potatoes form the base of the cheese sauce, which is further seasoned with nooch, mustard, miso, lemon juice, onions, garlic powder, and pimientos (or roasted red peppers! I used a combo and it was mmm, mmm good!). Additional Daiya (or whatever) cheese shreds are optional, but after two hours of cooking, the cheese sauce was so thick and creamy that I didn’t think them necessary. (Ugh I know, what’s wrong with me!? Someone rush me to the doctor stat!)

The finished dish is tasty, but of course not as deliciously junky as one made with 100% procressed vegan cheeses. I used gemelli in place of the traditional elbows or (for me) shells, on accounta I wanted to add some variety to the pictures. As it turns out, the sauce is so thick than you can barely see the shape of the pasta under all the saucy goodness. Shane thought it was fusilli! Ah well.

The recipe only makes eight ounces of pasta, but I was able to double it without trouble. (Though I did have to process the cheese sauce in two batches. My slow cooker may be big enough to handle a double batch; my blender, not so much.) Don’t try this at home unless you have at least an 8-quart slow cooker, as the original recipe calls for a minimum of four!

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Mac and Cheesy [Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker] (0003)

 
null
 

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0003)

So this meal started out as the Tuscan Bread Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook – but I tinkered with it enough that I’m no longer sure it qualifies as either “Tuscan” or a “bread soup.”

First up, the white beans had to go, on accounta beans make my belly bloated and gassy. I replaced those with a cup of mini pasta shells. And celery? Ew! It’s so stringy, like a coil of dental floss. I swapped that out for carrots. I also used fewer onions and more garlic, ’cause that’s how I roll. And more broth – vegan chicken instead of vegetable, since that’s what’s in my cabinet – so there would be leftovers. Fresh tomatoes, too; ’tis the season! Of course I just had to make the bread garlic, which I then served alongside the soup rather than under it; I just couldn’t bear the thought of diluting its extra-awesome garlicky flavor. (With minced garlic AND garlic powder. That’s what I’m talkinbout!)

This soup was so kickin’ that I decided to write down the modified recipe, since it’s definitely something I plan on making again. Probably it’s a little more in the area of a minestrone now, but that’s okay. A soup by any other name.

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0010)

Some Kind of Soup, Not Necessarily Tuscan Bread Soup

(Adapted from the Tuscan Bread Soup found in Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 large carrots, diced
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup miniature shells (or the teeny tiny pasta of your choice)

4 large slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
a dash of garlic powder

Directions

1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and cook on medium until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release some of their juices.

2. Add the carrots, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the carrots and tomatoes are to your liking. (I prefer mine on the tender side.)

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic bread. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread onto the bread and let sit until step #4. When the soup’s nearly ready, bake the bread at 450F for five to ten minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

4. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Add the miniature shells and cook for about five minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove from heat and enjoy while hot. You can either pour the soup over the bread in a large bowl, or serve the bread alongside the soup for dipping.

 
null
 

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)

 
null
 

R is for Rosemary Vegan Chicken and Olive Orzo

Friday, September 20th, 2013

R is for Rosemary Vegan Chicken and Olive Orzo [Betty Goes Vegan] (0001)

So this is a rather simple, easy dish from Betty Goes Vegan. With pan-fried vegan chicken strips, red peppers, Roma tomatoes, green zucchini, Kalamata olives (not enough, imho, but I say that about all the things), and orzo pasta – one of the more underutilized pasta shapes, if you ask me. (Love that baby pasta!)

The rosemary is rather understated, so you may want to add a little more, depending on your tastes. Ditto on the salt.

Overall, a nice filling weeknight meal. I’m stuffed.

 
null
 

Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (0005)

I can’t quite drink this cheese sauce, but I can pretend.
——————————

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!

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (0002)

Shane burned the bread crumbs a bit, but I consider this one of his tastier mistakes.
——————————

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.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday - Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (0006)

Tip it!
——————————

 
null
 

Bonus Vegan MoFo: Mac-and-Cheese Monday!

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Bonus Vegan MoFo - Mac & Cheese Monday (0001)

I hadn’t planned on finessing vegan mac & cheese into my alphabet theme – but when I saw that Mac-and-Cheese Monday had become an “official” theme, I just couldn’t resist! And, let’s be honest, it’s not like I need an excuse to enjoy macaroni and cheese, mkay.

This is a little different from our traditional (dare I say infamous?) recipe, with its mix of Follow Your Heart and Daiya cheeses. Shane was in the mood to experiment, so for today’s recipe he diluted a Daiya cheddar cheese sauce with vegan broth and added nutritional yeast for an extra cheesy flavor. He used the Cheezy Sauce in Veganomicon as a jumping off point – the result is kind of a mash-up of the two recipes.

It’s not quite as tasty as my old favorite, but it’s pretty close. And healthier, too: Shane calls this one Creamy Mac & Cheese Lite.

 

Creamy Mac & Cheese Lite

(Cheese sauce is modified from the “Cheezy Sauce” in Veganomicon, page 214.)

2 cups vegan vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard
8 oz (1 bag) Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
13 oz soy milk
4 oz margarine

4 cups pasta of choice (small elbows and shells work well)
3 cups water

1. Heat the vegan broth in a small saucepan, bringing it to almost boiling. Add the flour, and whisk until completely mixed.

2. In another saucepan, cook the garlic and oil for a few minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Mix in the broth and stir together. Add the nutritional yeast, whisking the mixture together until smooth. Heat on medium until mixture begins to bubble and thicken.

3. Stir in the mustard, lemon juice, and turmeric until completely mixed. Stir in the soy milk and margarine until mixed. Add the cheese shreds, and stir until the cheese is melted into the rest of the mix. Once fully mixed, put on simmer, stirring occasionally.

4. In a deep skillet or wide, shallow sauce pan, cook the pasta according to the directions provided on the package in three cups water. Stop when about 90% done and drain, leaving a little hot water with the pasta. (This will mostly cook down as you continue to heat the pasta.)

5. Mix the cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring well. On medium low heat, let the pasta continue to cook, until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir constantly during this last step so that none of the pasta or cheese sticks to the pan. Serve warm topped with hot sauce, vegan bacon bits, or more macaroni and cheese!

 

Bonus Vegan MoFo - Mac & Cheese Monday (0007)

 
null
 

G is for Gnocchi

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

G is for Gnocchi [Betty Goes Vegan] (0005)

Unlike pierogies, vegan gnocchi is super-easy to find in regular grocery stores, and so I’ve never been tempted to try making it myself. That is, until this whole alphabet thing came into my kitchen. What else to make for the letter G than one of my favorite carb delivery systems?

As it turns out, this experiment? Totally confirmed my suspicions. Gnocchi is a food better bought than made. As per usual, it was the blending of the baked potatoes that proved the most trouble; by the time I was done, blobs of mashed potatoes covered one whole side of my kitchen, and I was ready to retreat to my soft, comfy bed for a nap. According to the directions – I made the Whole Wheat Gnocchi from Betty Goes Vegan – I was to blend the potatoes until “soft and fluffy.” Instead, mine turned into a giant, gooey blob, the likes of which you’re apt to see in the cheesiest of ’70s B movies. (I suspect I left them to cool too long; you’re supposed to blend them while still hot.)

At this point I was rather skeptical that I could ever transform this monster dough into something edible but alas, I powered through and ended up with a batch of gnocchi that may be lacking in the looks department, but is pretty tasty nonetheless.

G is for Gnocchi [Betty Goes Vegan] (0002)

Gnocchi-in-progress.
——————————

They’re not the prettiest things, but hey. It’s only my first time, right? I vacillated between making shell and cornucopia shapes (most of which came to resemble vulvas), and while it took me awhile to work through all the dough, the process went much faster once I got the hang of it. Supposedly the recipe only makes two servings, but we ended up with five hearty bowls full, at least. With sides, this could easily serve six to eight people. I counted the gnocchi as I boiled them – twenty at a time, in a large stock pot – and there were 128 total. Big ones, too!

Annie recommends topping them with basil, but I opted for homemade marinara sauce, owing to the abundance of tomatoes in my garden. I mostly winged it, but the final concoction was rather similar to this Greek-Style sauce.

Stick-to-your-ribs good, though next time around I’ll mostly likely get my gnocchi from a bag.

 
null