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!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ba-cun Ranch Broccoli Salad

I love broccoli salads. A lot. Like a lot-a lot. There are a million variations of broccoli salad to choose from to fit anyone's pallet. Sometimes I prefer a fresh broccoli salad, with a bright vinaigrette and some lemon. Other times, I prefer comforting and creamy broccoli salad - that's where this broccoli salad comes into play.

 I used the homemade mayo recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen in this salad (which is fantastic, and I will probably never waste money on store bought vegan mayo again.) You could certainly substitute Vegenase or Toffuti Sour Cream to make the ranch sauce though. I also recommend throwin in some scallions, diced tomatoes and shredded carrot. Throw in some fake bacon sprinkles, and you've got yourself a new spin on an old classic.

Ba-cun Ranch Broccoli Salad
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/4 cup soy bacon bits
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup vegan mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dill
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp pepper
dash of cayenne
pinch of salt

Combine mayo, lemon juice and spices in a large bowl with a whisk. Toss in broccoli florets to coat. Sprinkle with the soy bacon bits and serve!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Soup On the Cheap!

I've been trying to cook from my plethora of cookbooks more than usual lately. I have a very bad habit of buying new cookbooks with reckless abandon, but then I never actually try the recipes. The cookbook I've been trying out this week is Vegan On the Cheap by Robin Robertson. I've had this one for years, but I usually just rely on her bulk recipes such as the Baked Seitan Loaf on page 51.

First up, the Almost Instant Chickpea Tomato Soup. This soup was so easy to make and only required like, 5 ingredients - most of which I always have on hand. The recipe calls for you to puree the chickpeas, but I need some texture in my soups. This soup has a creamy, tomato-y base and tastes like summer in a bowl. I garnished it with some fresh basil from the garden. Any dish that has an ingredient "from the garden" is superior to all other dishes. Just sayin'. P.S. sorry about the craptastic iPhone picture. I swear this soup tastes better than I make it look.

This was a great way to use up the unreasonable amount of kale I picked from my mom's garden last week. Robin's Caldo Verde has a simple spice mixture of marjoram and crushed red pepper. I used double the amount of red pepper called for to give it an extra kick. I think adding some lemon zest/juice would be a nice addition to this flavor profile. This is definitely a comforting winter soup, and I do not necessarily recommend eating it when you live in humid-ass Huntington, West Virginia. P.P.S. Soup isn't complete without a big chunk of crusty ol' bread.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Simple Panzanella Salad

Quick post today. One of the the most wonderful things about summer is all of the fresh herbs. My favorite herb is basil, and I've found a way to sneak it into a lot of recipes so far - like this delicious panzanella salad!

Fewer dishes are more rustic than a bread salad. This takes minutes to make and incorporates the perfect combo of balsamic, basil and tomato. Throw in some crusty, stale bread, and you've got yourself a bona fide meal.

Simple Panzanella Salad

4 cups stale bread, torn into thick pieces
1 large tomato, diced into large chunks
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp canola or olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced or crushed*
1 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in oil while whisking. Add bread and tomatoes to the bowl and toss to coat evenly with the dressing. Top with fresh basil and serve!

*Since you're using raw garlic in this recipe, you want it to be chopped extremely fine. A good way to achieve this so that you don't take a big bite of raw garlic is to peel the skin off of the clove, while leaving the clove intact. Don't smash the garlic like you would for a rough chop! Using a zester, grate the garlic into your dressing bowl. I can't lie, I picked this technique up while watching an episode of Rachel Ray. Now go spread this culinary wisdom!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Avocado Potato Salad. Summer in a Bowl.

Long time, no post. Let's get back to it with this wondrous potato salad. Summer's in full swing, and that means two very important things: avocados are at their peak and cookouts are happening everywhere. It's a great time to be a vegan, or you know, a human. I'm trying to incorporate a lot more avocado into my diet for various reasons. It's one of the most bad-ass super foods out there. Amino acids, anti-inflammatory properties, good fats, etc. Also, it tastes pretty great. Try this really easy potato salad to squeeze more avo into your diet!

Avocado Potato Salad

3 Yukon gold potatoes
1 avocado
3 scallions
1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp basil
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp sriracha
salt and pepper

Scrub and dice potatoes. Boil them in salted water until they are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.

Halve your avocado, remove the pit and scoop the innards into a food processor. Add the spices, herbs,  lemon juice and sriracha to the food processor. Blend, while drizzling oil into the food processor. If needed, add up to a tablespoon of water to thin out the avocado mixture.

Drain the garbanzo beans and add to a large bowl with the potatoes. Slice your scallions on a bias and add to the bowl. Pour the avocado sauce over the potatoes. Stir well to incorporate and add salt and pepper. Drizzle with additional sriracha or sprinkle some fresh minced cilantro over top. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Northern Falafel

One type of bean that I always keep in the cupboard is great northern. They're by far the cheapest beans regardless ofr where I go grocery shopping. This version of a falafel is little mushier than traditional garbanzo falafel. All of the flavors are still there, though. I drizzled a lemon tahini dressing and a cucumber mint dressing over the pitas. Super tasty!

White Bean Falafel
2 cups cooked or canned great northern beans
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying

Combine beans, onion, garlic and spices in food processor. Pulse ingredients until well incorporated. Don't over process, you don't want it to be too mushy. Put processed ingredients into a large bowl and add flour, salt and pepper. Incorporate well. Add more flour if your mixture is too mushy. Take tablespoon sized portions and roll into balls. Fry in olive oil until golden brown all over. Serve in a pita, duh. Deez balls are also great on salads.