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.)

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.

Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Friday, October 18th, 2013

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

Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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So I actually enjoyed this bad girl more than a month ago, during the first days of Vegan MoFo when fresh tomatoes were still abundant. Alas, I couldn’t find a way to work it into my theme – which, let’s be honest, already included its fair share of pizza! – and so it sat in my drafts folder. But that’s okay! Store-bought tomatoes will work too. Or just file this one away in your to-do list for next summer. I know I am.

Inspired by the Lemon Pepper Garlic Bread in Betty Goes Vegan, this Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza is different from previous bruschetta pizzas I’ve made in that it’s twice-baked. To start, I covered the raw, pie-shaped dough with olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon pepper and then baked it for about ten minutes before adding the bruschetta. (After which I baked it again, obvs.) This is kind of how you do garlic bread, and it allows the crust to soak up all the flavorful, oily goodness. It smelled so good baking in the oven that Shane joked about eating it as-is. I might have agreed, if I’d made a dipping sauce.

The dough is delicious – it has a rich, buttery flavor – and of course the bruschetta rocks. I threw some corn on there too; with its yellow color, I associate it with lemon pepper, and often pair the two together. Vegan mozzarella is both optional and highly tasty, but we omitted it for a slightly healthier pie. (Add it at either the beginning or the end of Step 6, if you’re gonna. I won’t judge.)

2013-09-01 - Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza - 0013

Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza

Ingredients

…for a Fluffy White Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

…for the bruschetta

2 cups tomatoes, finely diced
1 to 2 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

…for the pizza

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1/4 corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Directions

1. Several hours prior to making the pizza, prepare the dough. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and water; mix until completely blended. Add the salt and olive oil and mix well. Add the flour in stages (about 1/2 cup at a time) and mix until the flour forms into dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand and shape into a ball. Cover loosely with a towel and leave the dough to rise, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

2. Next, make the bruschetta. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

3. When you’re ready to assemble and bake your pizza, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

4. To assemble the pizza, start by spreading a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly.

5. Next, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil onto the crust. Using a basting brush, lightly brush the olive oil over the entire pizza, distributing it as evenly as possible. Add the minced garlic and do the same. Finish by sprinkling the lemon pepper on top (I use my index finger and thumb for the most consistent results). Bakes at 425 degrees for about ten minutes, or until the crust begins to firm up (but before it starts to brown).

6. Remove from the oven and carefully add the bruschetta, along with some (but not all) of the juices. Once batch should be enough to cover a 12″ pizza. Add the corn.

7. Bake at 425 degrees, for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is browned to your liking. Serve warm, topped with vegan parmesan if desired.

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W is for White Bean Pizza

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

W is for White Bean Pizza [Vegan on the Cheap] (0005)

Tuscan White Bean Pizza, that is! This recipe’s courtesy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap, which I’ve owned forever but haven’t had much occasion to use yet. (Seriously, I’ve accumulated enough cookbooks at this point that I could cook from them once a day for the rest of my life and never run out of new recipes. It’s a wonderful problem to have, anyway.)

Both the dough and pizza recipes are super-simple: the white sauce is all of five ingredients (salt and pepper excluded) and the dough, even less. My only modification was to double the sauce; one batch hardly seemed sufficient to cover a pizza. I figured that, if I got stuck with any leftovers, I could always use ’em as a dip. Also, I ran the mashed white beans through a food processor for an ultra-creamy sauce; the hand masher just wasn’t doing the job.

On another note: there are just a few days – and letters – left. Any bets on what I’m making tomorrow?

 
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V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie [Betty Goes Vegan] (0008)

WOW. Like I’ve seriously been sitting here at my keyboard for five minutes, trying to think of something, anything, to say about this Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie from Betty Goes Vegan, and this is all I can come up with. Just, wow.

I mean, talk about yer vegan comfort foods. This is basically just a giant plate of junk food. And I mean that in the best way possible!

The “crust” is a blend of vegan ground beef (Lightlife, in my case), bread crumbs, A1 steak sauce (A rather common ingredient in Betty Goes Vegan! I bought a bottle just for this cookbook!), red onions, and some other goodies.

V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie [Betty Goes Vegan] (0001)

Press it into a pie plate, bake until golden brown (the directions say five minutes, but I easily tripled that), and then add the potato “filling.”

V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie [Betty Goes Vegan] (0002)

Baked potatoes, mashed into creamy goodness (skins and all!), and seasoned with garlic, nutritional yeast, and veggie broth, then mixed with bacon bits and cheddar cheese.

V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie [Betty Goes Vegan] (0006)

Top with more cheddar, bake until gooey, and dinner is served!

Garnish with tomatoes, pickles, french friend onions, or legit onion rings. (That last is my idea. I tried it with the leftovers and it was hnnng!)

V is for Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie [Betty Goes Vegan] (0021)

Totally worth the twenty dishes it generated. Okay, I’m exaggerating. We’ll call it a baker’s dozen.

And now for the obligatory Dean Winchester gif. BECAUSE PIE!

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Updated to add: Vegan MoFo central is giving away a copy of Betty Goes Vegan to five lucky readers as we speak! Talk about serendipity. Go enter here.

 
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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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Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!)

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!) (0002-18)

Originally I’d planned on making a quiche from either Vegan Brunch (Classic Broccoli!) or Betty Goes Vegan (Quiche Lorraine!) to represent the letter Q – and then Shane brought home a ginormous, 3-pound bag of hash browns. (I needed one whole cup for another recipe. Yeah.) With freezer space at a premium, I got the idea of making a quiche with a hash brown crust. So I hit the internet and, lo and behold: it’s been done before. Yay!

This recipe is a mashup of the hash brown quiche recipes found online and a Spinach Mushroom Quiche I made for VeganMoFo last year. Because I have a slightly oversized pie plate – 10″ versus the standard 9″ – I increased the amount of hash browns used from three to four cups, and added an extra teaspoon each of margarine and olive oil. If you have a smaller pie plate, just use three cups hash browns and two tablespoons each of margarine and olive oil. The salt is optional, but tasty. I like my potatoes with a little sodium, you know?

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ll ever make a quiche with a traditional crust again. The hash browns are the perfect complement to the quiche’s egg-like filling. It’s basically the fanciest means of eating breakfast foods for dinner. Universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult, yo.

Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!) (0001)

Hash Brown Quiche

4 cups hash browns
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon margarine
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed, diced, and pressed to remove excess moisture
1 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup plain nondairy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional; I used cheddar Daiya)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
vegan parmesan cheese to taste (optional; see recipe here)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the hash browns, margarine, olive oil, and salt; mix well. Grease a 10″ pie plate. Transfer the potato mix into the pie plate and press down firmly, on the bottom and sides, until you have an even “crust.” Bake at 450F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes start to turn golden.

(Pro tip: if the top of the crust isn’t browning fast enough, set the oven to broil and leave it in for an extra minute or two. Be careful not to burn the sides, though! But if you do, just cover them up with the quiche filling; no one needs to know!)

3. As the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook on medium heat until the mushrooms are browned to your liking. Stir frequently. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. In a food processor, combine the tofu, nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, chives, garlic powder, and salt. Process until smooth. Sample the batter and add any extra seasonings to taste.

5. In a large bowl, fold together tofu, mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, and cheese (optional). Pour the mixture into the pie crust; top with the tomato slices and a bit of vegan parmesan cheese if desired.

6. Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until the quiche is firm and lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

 
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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.
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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.

 
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F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Friday, September 6th, 2013

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0009)

Really you can make this recipe using any loaf of fresh bread, but hey! I needed an F, so French bread it is.

This is a dish I make with some frequency in the summer months. Bruschetta is an excellent way to use up a bunch of tomatoes in one fell swoop; doubly so when you load it up on a pizza! Homemade dough, pita bread, store-bought bread – doesn’t matter. I’m like MacGyver, yo; I can make a pizza out of anything.

This time around, I used Trader Joe’s Mozzarella-Style Shreds instead of my standard Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Shane and I happened to take a trip south of the city last month, and we hit up not one but two Trader Joe’s stores: one on the Kansas side of the border, the other in MO. It was my first visit, and I was not at all impressed: both stores are on the small side, rather unorganized (with product shoved haphazardly over the – open! gasp! – freezer cases), and not very vegan friendly. As far as we could tell, the Kansas store doesn’t even stock any vegan meats or cheeses! The Missouri store is slightly bigger, but its vegan meat/cheese section is maybe two feet wide. (Compare this to the wine section, which occupies at least 1/5 of the entire floor space.) Neither store had a single vegan pizza on the shelf. Ahem.

In addition to their famed soy ice cream (which both stores had in stock, yay!), I had hoped to pick up some whole wheat pastry flour and TVP chunks – both of which I struck out on. But when I stumbled upon the mozzarella shreds, I decided to give ’em a try. The vegans on tumblr seem to love them.

My thoughts? Meh. They taste okay and melt quite well, but stick to the roof of your mouth like crazy (not to mention my stupid Invisalign attachments!). I prefer the taste of Daiya and Follow Your Heart, though I do appreciate TJ’s ready meltability. It’s something I might buy again, if I ever find myself in another Trader Joe’s. So, not very likely.

 

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0002)

 

French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Makes three to four servings.

Ingredients

4 cups tomatoes, finely diced
4 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes (optional but tasty)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 loaf French bread
margarine
vegan mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

2. When you’re ready to make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 425F.

3. Cut the French bread into three or four sections (depending on its length). Next, slice each section in half lengthwise, as if you were making a sub. Spread a bit of margarine on the top of each piece of bread; just how much you’ll use depends on the thickness of the bread. You want to use enough margarine to lend a little extra moisture to the pizza, but not so much that it’ll soak through to the bottom of the bread and weaken the integrity of the pizza. If you’ve ever made garlic bread using margarine, you should have a good idea how much is appropriate for the task at hand.

4. Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread. Start with the solids (tomatoes and garlic) and, when done, drizzle a bit of juice on top. You should have enough bruschetta to cover a loaf of French bread, but you may have some leftovers, depending on how heavy your hand. Top with a bit of vegan mozzarella cheese.

5. Transfer the bread onto a baking stone or baking sheet (lightly coated with cooking spray). Bake at 425F for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese, warm and bubbly. Enjoy immediately.

 
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B is for “Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0003)

 

I know, I know! Two Doctor Who references in two days – what is this, a Whovian VeganMoFo? Actually, that sounds pretty awesome, but I’m afraid not. Next year, maybe?

So this is a pasta dish that I’ve been meaning to try for months now, and VeganMoFo gave me a pretty handy excuse. I absolutely adore the combination of garlic, lemon, tomatoes, red peppers (roasted! is there any other kind?), Kalamata olives, and spinach, so much so that I put them on all the things; see, for example, my Greek-tyle couscous, pizza, and potato recipes. The spinach in this one is chopped into small bits, on accounta wilted spinach leaves give me the heebie jeebies. But if you’d rather leave them intact, just add ’em to the veggies at the end and cook for several minutes.

Of course you can serve this on top of any shape pasta your heart desires: gemelli, rigatoni, elbows, shells. But bow ties?

 


 

“Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Pasta

Ingredients

16 ounces bow-tie pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
4 ounces spinach, fresh
2 roasted red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces (if home roasted, include the oily juices!)
1/2 to 1 cup Kalamata olives, depending on how much you like Kalamata olives (I LOVE THEM!), pitted and halved
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (dehydrated, not those packed in oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon peel
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

1. In a food processor, process the spinach until paste-like. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook on medium for several minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for another five minutes. Add the spinach, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt and pepper and continue to cook on medium, stirring well. Once the tomatoes have started to become tender, cover and simmer on medium.

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

4. When done, toss the pasta with the veggies and parsley. Serve warm!

 

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0004)

 
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“Triple Threat” and “Tomato Throwdown” End-of-Summer Pizzas

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

2013-08-24 - End-of-Summer Tomato Pizzas - 0006

You know you want it.
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Late August/early September is usually the point at which I find myself overwhelmed by the pints and quarts and sometimes gallons of tomatoes spilling out of my garden. 2013 – despite my lackluster record of plant care – has been no exception. Last year I made and froze a ton of tomato sauce – but since freezer space is at a premium this year (ugh so morbid!), that isn’t really an option. And so I’ve basically been eating them on everything: pizza, pasta, salad, sandwiches, as side and snacks, you name it.

Which brings me to the “Triple Threat” and “Tomato Throwdown” End-of-Summer Pizzas, which were last weekend’s attempt at using as many tomatoes as possible. Spoiler alert: the final tally was seven cups of tomatoes on two pizzas. Mission accomplished.

The “Triple Threat” pizza is actually rather light on fresh tomatoes (one to one and a half cups; my original goal of two cups was overreaching) – but the sundried tomatoes, red sauce, and (optional) tomato powder-infused crust make it extra-tomato-y. (Hmmm, maybe I should have named it the Quadruple Threat? Imma go out a limb here and guess that most of you don’t have tomato powder on hand, though, making Triple Threat the safer bet.) Of course you can also make your own pizza sauce for maximum impact (or swap out the store-bought sundried tomatoes for oven-roasted ones); I just ran out of time and stovetop space.

Also making an appearance here, and for the first time ever on this blog: Trader Joe’s Mozzarella-Style Shreds. I had some left over from an upcoming VeganMoFo dish, and in the spirit of emptying the fridge, tossed the rest of the bag on the pizza. Be careful – not all of TJ’s soy cheeses are vegan (boo!), so read those labels carefully.

In a surprise upset, the cheeseless “Tomato Throwdown” pizza proved my favorite of the two. The sauce is so amazing that additional toppings would just be so much noise. Shane said it best: “There’s just so much going on here. SO MANY FLAVORS!” And no less than six cups of tomatoes, yo.

(More below the fold…)

Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad II (Now with a no-bake, oil-free creamed corn sauce!)

Monday, August 19th, 2013

2013-08-10 - Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad II - 0004 [flickr]

This is a slightly different version of the Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad I posted last week, with a no-bake, oil-free sauce made up of creamed corn and assorted spices. I omitted the zucchini – I don’t really love it raw – and added some nutritional yeast because it’s awesome. I also threw in some scallions, but I wasn’t a big fan, so nixed them from the final recipe. It’s not quite as tasty as the original, but it’s a little healthier and requires less time standing over a hot stove – perfect for this steamy August weather.

Pro tip: this is one of those pasta dishes that’s a million times better the next day, once the pasta has absorbed some of the excess juices. I used large elbows because that’s what I had on hand, but probably it would taste even better with a thicker, heartier pasta, such as bow ties or even penne. I could even see this served on top of fettuccine.

 

Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad II

Ingredients

1 cup (about 1/2 a 15-ounce can) creamed corn
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Kalamata olives, sliced (optional)
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
one pound medium-sized pasta (about 4 cups uncooked): shells, bow ties, elbows, etc.

Directions

1. In a large bowl or tupperware container, combine the creamed corn, minced garlic, nooch, lemon juice, lemon pepper, and salt; mix briskly until well-combined. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, and corn, and mix until combined. Set aside.

2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and combine with the vegetables. Add extra spices to taste. Enjoy warm or chill for a cold pasta salad.

Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad

Monday, August 12th, 2013

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After a week of not tending my garden (I’m the pits I know!), I went outside only to discover a grocery bag’s worth of ripe grape and cherry tomatoes hanging from the vines. AND I still had some store-bought ones in the fridge! Since I needed to use ’em up ASAP and didn’t have much time to cook, I went browsing through some of my old tomato recipes. I settled on a mashup of the No Cook Marinara Sauce and Lemon Pepper Zucchini Salsa. The result is a delicious summery dish, filled with all your seasonal favorites: tomatoes, basil, lemon, zucchini, and corn. So tasty! Definitely filing this one away for future use.

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Lemon Pepper Pasta Salad

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1 green zucchini, diced
1/2 cup black or Kalamata olives, sliced (optional)
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
one pound medium-small macaroni shells (about 4 cups uncooked): shells, bow ties, elbows, etc.

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the corn and cook for several minutes (if fresh) or until defrosted (if frozen). Add the zucchini, olives, garlic, basil, lemon pepper, and salt and continue to cook on medium until the zucchini is tender to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and combine with the halved tomatoes and corn/zucchini combination. Add extra spices to taste. Enjoy warm! (Or cold. It’s your pasta salad, yo.)

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Vegan Pizza Daaaaay!

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

To start we made calzones filled with mozzarella Daiya, broccoli, cauliflower, black olives, grape tomatoes (sadly not home-grown – not yet!), and roasted peppers (red and yellow). You can tell that we’re amateurs when it comes to calzones – both of ’em leaked a little. Oh well, practice makes perfect – so we’d better keep eating! (Like I need an excuse, pfffft.)

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We had some dough left over, so we washed it down with a Kalamata olive crust pizza. Soooo stuffed.

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Gonna go watch a movie and pass out now mkay.

(Oh and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! I only have like a dozen entries so far, so your odds are spectacular!)

Spaghetti per Mimi – and a new-old favorite!

Monday, April 29th, 2013

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After tearing through Vegan Italiano, I finally sprung for a new cookbook that’s been on my wishlist forever: Nonna’s Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan. Yup, I bought another vegan Italian cookbook. OF COURSE I did. My last name is Garbato, after all.

I’ve been kind of slow to start this one; the recipes are interlaced with tips and anecdotes about Italian cooking, so that the cookbook really deserves a more thorough reading than I’ve been able to commit to as of yet. But when I was hit with an undeniable pasta craving, I cracked it open and decided to make the first pasta dish I came upon: Spaghetti per Mimi. It’s a really hearty sauce with tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, Kalamata olives (my favorite!), peppers, onion, garlic, and some other goodies. Easy and delicious!

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Served with a new-old favorite, Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic from the aforementioned Vegan Italiano. This is hands down one of my favorite recipes in the book, second – well, third – only to the pan-fried pizza and roasted pepper sauce. Melt in your mouth good, I now buy a pound of fresh greens beans every time I go to the store, just so I can cook up another batch. Way better than green beans have any right to be.

Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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Ugh, this was SO GOOD!, you guys. Penne (really fusilli; of course I run out of penne the one time I actually need it. OF COURSE!), carrots, broccoli, and zucchini in a avocado-cashew cream sauce. There are supposed to be fresh grape tomatoes in there too, but the tomatoes currently available in the Midwest taste like iceberg lettuce, so I didn’t bother with ’em. Definitely gonna try a proper version of this dish come summer. I can’t wait to get my garden on!

And this time I have a recipe to link to! Go try it and we can be kitchen pals or something mkay?

Linguine with Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Garlic Sauce (and a Side o’ Kalamata Olive Bread!)

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

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Donna Klein brings it with a recipe for pasta sauce you can make IN THE OVEN!: Linguine (really fettuccine) with Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Garlic Sauce. Just mix all up it in a bowl, transfer to a greased baking pan, and cook for thirty minutes and voilà! – you have red sauce. Okay well that’s not entirely true; you have to pulverize half of it in a food processor before serving, but that’s simple enough. The sauce is a really tasty mix of green peppers (or, in my case, green and red) and stewed tomatoes in a 1:1 ratio. The peppers sweeten up a bit when roasted so the sauce has a really rich, complex taste: savory, but with a hint of sweetness.

I doubled the recipe in order to use up four bell peppers that were decomposing in my fridge much more quickly than anticipated; consequently, the peppers took nearly twice as long to roast in the oven. The more you know!

Served with a side of Kalamata olive bread. I know, that was quick right? The bread is topped with the Olive Crouton mix (also) from Vegan Italiano, plus an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Probably I should have tripled the oil, at least – the bread-slash-toast was a little on the dry side, though still tasty. Even so, that’s alotta oil!

Seitan Brew Stew (now with homemade Savory Seitan!)

Monday, March 4th, 2013

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As I was throwing this together – and I use that term casually, as though it didn’t take me a good 45 minutes to prep all the ingredients! – I wasn’t entirely sure I’d like the combination of beer with tomato juices. The tomatoes were the last thing to go in, and at that point the stew seemed so perfect – just the right amount of smoky and savory – that I was worried about fudging it up. That, and something about beer and tomato juice just sounded sketchy to me. But hey, I’m a fussy eater; it’s in my nature to turn up my nose at just about everything!

Which begs the question, why this recipe? Well, Shane made a batch of seitan in the slow cooker last weekend, so I had four half-pound loaves to use up. (This stew calls for a pound, and I froze the rest.) Necessity.

Turns out that beer with tomato juice, rosemary, and thyme? Pretty tasty! Throw in a pound of potatoes and some carrots, and you’ve got yourself one hearty pot of stew!

The ingredients are reminiscent of Dinty Moore’s Beef Stew, which I loved as a kid. Omit the tomatoes and replace the beer with vegan beef broth, and it could be a dead ringer. You know, minus the actual death. Note to self: must try sometime.

Both recipes – the Seitan Brew Stew and the homemade Savory Seitan – are from American Vegan Kitchen, which I reviewed last week. And I’m still motivated to try new recipes: that should tell you just how much I love this cookbook!

fwiw, the seitan was really easy to make, and doubly so since we went with the slow cooker variation. Not only is it less hands-on than the baking method (wherein the cutlets are fried prior to baking), but you don’t have to waste any aluminum foil either. It does take 7 hours longer to bake though, so planning ahead is key. Shane started his a bit late in the day, and had to stay up past his bedtime to remove the roasts from the crock pot. Don’t be Shane!

Tomato and Bread Stew with Pasta

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

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Orzo, to be exact. The most adorable of all the pasta shapes! They’re just baby pastas, yo!

This is yet another dish from Vegan Italiano, which I seem to be devouring in record speed. Most of the recipes are ridiculously simple, with ingredients lists coming in at a dozen items or less. You can see the attraction, no?

This soup-stew-bread pudding-thingie has just eleven: olive oil, white wine, veggie broth, onions, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, pasta, and toasted Italian bread. Throw it all together and you’ve got one hearty bowl of carbs.

The only thing I’ll change the next time around (and there will be a next time, oh yes!) is when I add the bread, namely: closer to the end of the cook time, rather than with the orzo. After fifteen minutes simmering in broth, it’s hardly recognizable as bread anymore. More like little blobs of mush. Tasty blobs they are, but I still prefer chunks. I like my bread with some bite, okay.