(Slightly Modified, Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

2016-03-20 - VI Minnestrone - 0007 [flickr]

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!)

St. Patrick’s Day Spinach & Seaweed Superfood Ice Cream

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

2015-03-01 - Spinach & Seaweed Ice Cream - 0007 [flickr]

Okay, so this ice cream sounds a little sketchy, but it’s actually not half bad! Probably you’ll opt for a dessert drenched in booze for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday – not that I would blame you; may I suggest this Kahlua ice cream? – but with the festive green color, I just couldn’t pass on the fortuitous timing.

The seaweed powder is another superfood that I received for review from Kazu, hence the odd recipe. I only used a teaspoon and a half, though, so the taste is very subtle. It pairs surprisingly well with bananas, and the shocking green color provided by the spinach cuts down on the cognitive dissonance you might otherwise experience.

Plus it’s hella healthy, so there’s that too. And if you use a raw seaweed powder and leave out the sugar and nondairy milk, I do believe that this recipe is a-okay for raw foodies. So…eat up?

P.S. I am seriously considering changing my name to Ice Cream Star. Or maybe Unicorn Pizza Star. Something along those lines. Thoughts?

(More below the fold…)

Candle Cafe’s Homemade Pappardelle with Spinach, Portabello Mushrooms, and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

2014-10-26 - VHC Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - 0005 [flickr]

Confession time: I did not make this pasta from scratch! I am way too lazy for that. However, the roasted red pepper sauce is homemade (do they even sell such a thing in stores?), and furthermore I roasted and peeled the peppers all by my little lonesome. And it took forever, I might add!

Usually I seed and slice them prior to roasting, which is always in olive oil and a glass baking dish. (The olive oil is awesome for reuse in pasta dishes, since it’s infused with pepper juices!) With this method, the peels practically fall off the roasted pepper slices.

This recipe instructed me to spray the whole peppers in Pam, roast them, and then seed, slice, and peel. Instead I compromised by seeding and slicing them, spraying them lightly with Pam, roasting them, and then peeling them once cool. Or at least I tried to: after 40 minutes in the oven, the edges had crisped up so much that the skins were basically melded onto the peppers. It took me 45 minutes and much finagling just to peel half of them! After that I tried a Hail Mary: I roasted them a second time in olive oil, like I would normally. That helped to loosen the skins from the edges a bit, but it was still a struggle to get them all off. Never again! From now on it’s olive oil for this girl and her peppers. (Though I’m sure the other method would have worked well too. Or at least better than the weird Frankenstein process I came up with.)

ANYWAY. The resulting sauce was crazy delicious. I threw some cornstarch in there to thicken things up, but otherwise I followed the recipe to a T. As for the spinach/mushroom mix, I did include spinach but chose not to cook it. (Wilty greens, ew!)

SO GOOD. I need to make red pepper sauce more often, y’all.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Pesto Pizza

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

2014-10-19 - Butternut Squash & Pesto Pizza - 0001 [flickr]

C’mon, admit it: you KNEW this was coming. Every time I find myself with an abundance of produce, I invariably figure out a way to put it on a pizza (P.I.Z.Z.A.).

Before trying my hand at a butternut squash pizza, I did a little googling to see what others have done; this is kind of a mashup of some of the ideas I found. The roasted squash was heavily influenced by the Fall Harvest Butternut Squash with Almond-Pecan Parmesan from The Oh She Glows Cookbook – and the Farfalle with Zucchini, Mint, and Almonds from Vegan Italiano provided the inspiration for the pesto recipe, which is much more moist than usual. The liquidy pesto is insurance against the oven, which always dries my pesto pizzas out more than a little bit.

The result is hella tasty, and definitely one of my best uses of butternut squash to date.

(More below the fold…)

Rawlicious Zuchetti Pesto

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

2014-05-25 - HappyCow Zuchetti Pesto - 0004 [flickr]

One of the two (!) raw pasta recipes in The HappyCowCookbook comes to us, fittingly, from Rawlicious in Toronto. This my very first time experimenting with raw pasta, and I bought a shiny new spiralizer just for the occasion!

So this is a pretty tasty and filling recipe – though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the carbs. (The whole time I was devouring the Zuchetti, all I could think was how amazing the pesto would taste slathered on a giant plate of linguine!) But given that two cups of zucchini packs just 36 calories, I think I just might replace my angel hair pasta with veggie noodles now and again.

The pesto is a pretty rad blend of spinach, basil, lemon juice and sunflower seeds; for extra-lemony goodness, sprinkle a little lemon zest on the pasta before serving. It’s a little wetter than most pestos I’ve tried, which makes it easier to spread on the zucchini noodles. I used dry sundried tomatoes instead of oil-packed ones (the recipe doesn’t specify, fwiw); next time I think I’ll let the dish sit a bit so that the tomatoes can soak up the extra pesto juices.

Not bad, and all the better for super-hot, super-humid days like we had this weekend. So humid even the floors are sweating!

Mayim’s Breakfast Burritos

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

(…for dinner. Always for dinner!)

2014-04-17 - MVT Breakfast Burrito - 0003 [flickr]

So if you already own Mayim’s Vegan Table, you’ll immediately notice that I made a few changes to this recipe. Instead of unpressed, diced tofu – which I’m not really keen on – I used pressed, crumbled tofu to make a scramble. Also, I didn’t have any black beans (SHANE!), so I used navy beans instead. And, as per usual, I shredded my spinach, since cooked spinach gives me the willies. (It’s all slimy and wilty, much like spoiled spinach. Ew!)

Hmmmm. Maybe I should start a tag for fussy eaters. You think? “Fussy eater problems,” or something like that.

Anyway, it’s a solid recipe that’s easy enough to modify based on what ingredients you have on hand. Not quite a scramble, but easily made into one. I’ll admit that the mix of maple syrup and apple cider vinegar made me a little nervous, but you don’t really taste either in the finished product.

Plus you just can’t go wrong with Daiya cheese or burritos. Not. Possible.

(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.

(Sunday Morning) Sunrise Scramble with Roasted Home Fries

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

2014-02-21 - OSG Sunrise Scramble - 0007 [flickr]

I’ll be honest: the tofu scramble recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook isn’t my favorite. That said, it’s still a tofu scramble, and tofu scrambles fucking rock.

My main problem? This one’s got both mushrooms and spinach, the excess moisture of which can prove difficult to cook off. As usually happens when I get ballsy and try to put shrooms in my scramble, the tofu ended up a bit wet and mushy.

Plus, this recipe’s a little different from standard scrambles. There’s no tumeric! (I added a dash, hence the yellow eggy color. Couldn’t help myself!) No soy sauce! Only a touch of nutritional yeast! And not a whole lot of spices to speak of!

Still, given the lack of spices this scramble ended up tasty enough. I probably won’t make it again, but I can hardly call it a disaster.

The home fries, on the other hand? Awesome. These are way easier to make than hash browns (I’ve yet to produce a properly crispy batch) and every bit as tasty.

Mint Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream (with Spinach!)

Friday, June 21st, 2013

2013-04-03 - Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream - 0014

The inspiration for this dessert was simple: I had a huge tub of spinach from Sam’s Club that I needed to use up. Tired of salad, I decided to make it into ice cream. And what taste pairs better with spinach’s bright green coloring than mint? Success! While you can’t taste the spinach, its addition makes this already healthy dessert even better for you.

I still have ~ eight cups of spinach left, though. Chocolate spinach ice cream, anyone? (You think I’m joking, but no so much.)

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream

(Makes about a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
4 cups fresh baby spinach*
1 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bark
powdered sugar or another vegan sweetener, if needed
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Place the chocolate chips in the food processor and pulse until broken up into smaller pieces. Remove and set aside.

2. Place the spinach and the mint extract in the food processor and process until the spinach is broken up into small bits and resembles a paste.

3. Add the bananas 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.

4. Sample the batter and add extra mint extract or a bit of sugar if needed. When satisfied, add the chocolate chips and pulse several times – just enough to mix them into the batter.

5. 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).

* Pro tip: Since spinach is 92% water, the more spinach you add, the more the finished ice cream will resemble sorbet (it’s the water crystals, yo!). I used four cups here – seeing as I had so much on hand – but feel free to adjust the amount to your own liking. Even just a cup or two is sure to give the ice cream a nice, refreshing, minty green tint!

Holy Stromboli!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

2013-04-22 - VI Red Pepper Stromboli - 0002

So my first time making stromboli wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been, thank dog. But the call was close, my friends. (Short version: the recipe called for an ungreased cookie sheet and – surprise! – it took me ten minutes to pry the baked stromboli off the sheet without ripping them in half.)

The recipe is Stromboli with Red Pepper Puree, Spinach and Basil from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. Actually it calls for arugula, but I swapped that out for pureed spinach, which is quickly becoming my preferred method of enjoying spinach. I also added some fried strips of Lightlife bacon, which after cooking was too rigid to leave as-is – I had to break them into little bits. Instead of homemade dough, Klein uses refrigerated French bread dough, which is a huge pain to work with. Whereas you’re supposed to roll it into smaller rectangles, it would rather retain its long, tubular shape. Cue: begging and tears.

Tasty as hell, but it’d be way easier to make my own dough from scratch instead of relying on the refrigerated stuff. Waaaay too hard to work with.

Greek-Style Potatoes with Lemon, Roasted Red Peppers, Kalamata Olives & Spinach

Monday, April 8th, 2013

2013-03-26 - Greek-Style Potatoes - 0008

Lately I’ve been craving the flavors of lemon, garlic, red peppers, Kalamata olives, and spinach something hard. Cue: varying combinations on pizza, in pasta – and now mixed with baked potatoes! And why not? Potatoes make a most excellent flavor canvas.

This dish was inspired by the Garlicky Potatoes with Greens & Olives from Wild About Greens, which I used as a jumping-off point. The original dish is pretty awesome, but mine? Even better. (I know, I know. Down girl!)

You can save time by microwaving the potatoes and using jarred roasted red peppers (or just plain old unroasted red bell peppers), but trust me – it’s worth the extra few hours of prep. Baked potato skins are divine, and if you roast the peppers yourself, you can repurpose their roasting oils in the potatoes.

I baked the potatoes while I was doing my morning workout, roasted the peppers during my shower, and was able to throw everything together just in time for lunch. Or just prepare the potatoes and peppers ahead of time and refrigerate for later use. Yay meal planning!

 

Greek-Style Potatoes

Ingredients

5 large potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons minced garlic
2 red peppers
4 tablespoons lemon juice
~ 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
lemon zest to taste (optional)
2 cups fresh baby spinach

Directions

1. Scrub the potatoes until clean. Bake at 425F for 50-60 minutes, or until tender in the center. Set aside and allow to cool.

2. Clean the red peppers and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a shallow baking pan, combine the peppers, olive oil, and minced garlic. Bake at 450F for 30-45 minutes, or just until the peppers begin to brown and scorch.

3. Transfer the peppers and all their juices into a large, non-stick skillet. Bring to medium-high heat. Cut the potatoes into medium-sized chunks (a little larger than bite-sized – the potatoes will break up a bit more while cooking) and add them, skins included, to the skillet. Mix well. Add the lemon juice (a tablespoon at a time to taste, if you’re unsure how lemony you’d like your potatoes) and the water and continue to stir. Add the olives, salt and pepper, and optional lemon zest. Cover and cook on medium heat for about five minutes, or until the potatoes are tender to your liking. Sample the poatoes and add any extra spices to taste.

4. Add the spinach mixing well, and cook for about 90 seconds, or until the spinach is slightly wilted and bright green. Remove from heat immediately. Enjoy warm!

Optional: for a more complete meal, add a few vegan sausage links! Cut into bite-sized rounds and add them to the skillet with the peppers. Cook on medium heat until nicely browned and then add the potatoes. Proceed as directed.

Betty Goes Vegan with a Big Greek Salad

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

2013-03-21 - BGV Greek Dressing - 0003

I swore I wouldn’t give in to temptation – I have more than enough vegan cookbooks to keep me busy clear through Vegan MoFo 2015, yo! – and oh, how quickly I caved. I did it. I bought a copy of Annie & Dan Shannon’s Betty Goes Vegan. With FIVE HUNDRED “classic” comfort food recipes, veganized. At first glance, it’s kind of like Vegan Junk Food, but hella thicker. Vegan junk food heaven, here I come.

In my defense, Amazon had a great discount on it, and I needed to buy a second book to get the free shipping deal, so there you go. (The other purchase? A boxed set of The Uglies, also on deep discount. Five books for under $40, yay me. In all seriousness though I miss the public library something awful. Our small town doesn’t have a library – it keeps getting voted down, boo! – and once Shane started working at home full-time, the KCMO library became more of a drive than it’s worth. I keep joking that his new boss oughta give him a book allowance. Le sigh.)

Somewhat ironically, the first recipe I tried was on the healthy side: Greek Dressing, enjoyed on a bed o’ spinach, black and Kalamata olives, carrots, and red bell peppers. Impromptu lunch, I guess I’m doing it right?

Tasty, though the lemon pepper wasn’t as strong as I expected. I ended up topping the salad with an extra 1/8 teaspoon of the stuff.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go drool over the pizza and pasta sections.

Linguine with Potatoes, Green Beans, and Spinach-Walnut Pesto

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

2013-02-23 - VI Pesto-Pasta-Beans-Potatoes - 0002

File this one under “different, but in a good way”! Linguine served with boiled white potatoes and fresh green beans and topped with a delicious spinach pesto; recipe via Vegan Italiano.

Klein gives instructions for cooking the pasta, potatoes, and beans all in the same pot for maximum efficiency, but I wussed out and boiled the potatoes and beans first, followed by the pasta. (But in the same water! Down with waste!) I wasn’t entirely confident on the cook times, you see, and am super-fussy when it comes to the tenderness (or lack thereof) of my veggies, so decided that my way was safer. I think I may have “overcooked” the potatoes, at least for this recipe; they were on the soft and mushy side. But don’t think I’m complaining! That’s just what I was aiming for.

The Spinach-Walnut Pesto is almost as tasty as it is messy. Cleaning up the stray bits of pulverized spinach, I felt like I was mopping up Poison Ivy’s murder scene or something. Streaks of green everywhere! The pesto is most def my favorite part of this dish, though – I can see using it on pizza, pasta, breads, or other veggies (baked potatoes!), even. And once the food processor has done its magic, you can hardly tell there’s spinach in there. Consider that a pro tip. Parents/partners/chefs to vegetable haters, I’m looking at you.

Spinach-Basil Pesto Pasta and Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

2013-01-30 - VI Spinach-Basil Pesto - 0002

Tonight – well, last Wednesday night; my queue is pleasantly plump! – was a cleaning out the fridge kind of night. The remains of the spinach I bought for the Cheesy Mac and Greens became Spinach-Pesto Sauce, and the week-old green beans and half a can of diced tomatoes combined to make Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic – both recipes from Vegan Italiano. It doesn’t look like much, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t the most delicious fridge-emptying dinner in recent memory!

The pesto, which comes together in all of three minutes, was good enough as is – though I decided to add a half a cup of walnuts for a little extra bulk. Klein doesn’t say how much pasta one batch will coat, but a pound of angel hair seems about right. Use a little less pasta (or a little more pesto) if you like your pasta extra-pesto-y!

Spinach pesto is actually kind of genius – an excellent way of sneaking spinach onto the plate of someone who normally won’t touch the stuff. Now that I think about it, I’m a little surprised that Wild About Greens doesn’t have a pesto recipe.

As for the green beans, they’re ridiculously good. Granted, they require an hour plus of cook time, but it’s totally worth it (and mostly hands-off, anyway). Mine didn’t get quite as melt-in-your mouth tender as Klein promises, but they came pretty close. Soft and juicy, with an almost buttery taste – mmmmm mmmmmm. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Pro tip: use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, juices and all. You won’t need to add much extra water, and the tomato juice will cook down into a heavenly garlicky sauce. I used the pasta to sop it up, no lie.

Cheesy Mac and Greens

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

2013-01-17 - AVK Cheesy Mac & Greens - 0004

Cheesy Mac and Greens from American Vegan Kitchen. Spoiler alert: the greens are spinach! Popeye would be so proud.

This is definitely one of my more favorite cheesy sauces. It’s a stovetop recipe, so the mac and cheese stays nice and moist and creamy (even the leftovers!). In addition to the standard nooch, flour, and soy milk, there are also some bits of crumbled tofu hiding in there, along with sour cream and miso. So many yummy things!

The spinach is okay – it doesn’t get cooked at all, so it’s fresh and crunchy – but honestly? I think I’d like the mac and cheese better without it. The whole time I was chowing down on cheesy pasta laced with spinach, all I could think was

null

Hoodwinked with the mac and the cheese and the vegetables.