Monday, September 9, 2013

Vegan Mofo: Pasta from the Garden

One of the first dishes I learned to cook upon going vegetarian when I was 16 was a variation of this dish. For years, my mom has been making a simple yet drool-worthy pasta with tomatoes, garlic and basil (that is, when she's not swearing off carbs altogether.) She would saute  tomatoes and garlic in a saucepan with herbs and toss it with pasta. The whole dish took, like, 20 minutes to make. I always thought of cooking as this lengthy and tedious process, but that pasta dispelled all of those myths for me. To be fair, at the time I learned to cook this, I was smothering it in butter and Parmesan cheese. Here is a healthier, dairy-free and grown up version of one of my favorite pasta dishes during my adolescent years. Note: for the full teenage-Katie effect, be sure to wear heavy eyeliner, read only Chuck Palahniuk novels and listen to Minor Threat real loud.

Roasted Heirloom Macaroni

3 c. macaroni
3 medium-large heirloom tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper
canola or olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 head of garlic
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1/4 c. almond milk
5-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and quarter and set aside. Slice the tops off of the pepper, de-vein it and do a large dice and set aside. Peel each garlic clove and combine all vegetables in a baking dish or a sheet pan. Drizzle oil and balsamic vinegar over top of the vegetables and then sprinkle them with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss the vegetables around in the baking dish and rub with your hands to coat each vegetable with the oil, vinegar and spices evenly. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables start to char slightly.

Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Remove the vegetables from the oven. In a food processor, add the vegetables, residual oil/vinegar from the bottom of the baking dish, nutritional yeast, almond milk and fresh basil and process until smooth. You might want to add another drizzle of balsamic vinegar to the food processor. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over macaroni and garnish with additional basil.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Vegan Mofo: Weekend Breakfast. 'Cousin Benny.'

Breakfast is easily my favorite meal of the day. Through the week, my breakfasts are mega-lame and consist of instant oatmeal or soy yogurt. But, on the weekends, when I drag my lazy ass out of bed, I look forward to something hardy like tofu scramble or biscuits and gravy. This recipe combines the two.

I call this dish "Cousin Benny" because it seems like a cousin of a Benedict. Instead of a poached egg, I use scrambled tofu; instead of a hollandaise, I make a country gravy. Scrambles and gravy are a surprisingly addictive combination. Make this your Sunday brunch.

Cousin Benny

1 16 oz block tofu
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3-4 scallions, minced

Gravy (for 1 or 2 servings):
1 tbsp non-dairy butter
1 tsp canola oil
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
2 tsp black pepper, or less depending on your preference

toasted English muffins

Drain and rinse the tofu under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.

In a large saute pan, drizzle some olive oil. Saute the onions until they become translucent over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minutes, stirring constantly as to not burn the garlic. Crumble tofu into the pan and continue to break it up with as it cooks. Add spices and stir to coat tofu, onions, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low until most of the water of has been cooked out of the tofu.

In a separate small pan, melt butter over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to create a roux. Add the oil to thin it out slightly if it is too think or crumbly. Slowly whisk in the almond milk until you have a gravy consistency. Whisk in spices, adjusting to taste. Turn off heat and set aside until ready to assemble.

Spoon the scramble over the split English muffins. Ladle some gravy over top of the scramble and garnish with scallions. Serve with hash browns or tomato slices. Yum!