Linguini with lentils and fresh vegetables in a creamy lemon-garlic sauce

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Ahhhh… I’ve been on a bit of vacation and it was so nice to get back into the kitchen and creating. This recipe for linguini with a creamy lemon-garlic sauce is fast, easy, fresh and tangy. Use whatever blend of veggies you like. I used what arrived in my weekly organic farm box, but broccoli, zucchini, chard, corn kernels, even water chestnuts, would all make excellent additions or substitutions.

Next post, I’ll include a variation of this recipe that leaves out the almond butter. It’s ideal for people who have nut allergies but still want the zing of lemon-garlic dressing.

Ingredients

10 oz uncooked linguini

½ cup uncooked black (a/k/a beluga) lentils

1 red pepper diced

2 cups snow peas cleaned and cut in half

½ cup slivered almonds toasted (optional)

For the sauce

Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)

2 Tbsp almond butter

3 cloves garlic – minced

2 Tbsp olive oil or other light-tasting oil

1 Tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1 tsp hot chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Place the lentils in a small pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the water is absorbed. When cooked, add to the bowl with the pasta. Add the snow peas and red pepper and any other vegetables you’re using.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small glass or bowl and mix well. Pour over the pasta, lentils and vegetables and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds if using.

Serve up and enjoy. This dish makes 3-4 large servings and is equally delicious hot, cold or at room temperatures. Do store it in the fridge though!

A stack o’ quesadillas with black beans and sweet potato

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So this happened in my kitchen the other night. Someone had told me, quite definitively, that quesadillas must have cheese and could not have beans. “Oh yeah,” I thought to myself. Let’s see about that.

I created a stack of beany, cheesy, creamy quesadillas and baked them all together. Black beans and sweet potato give the dish an incredible creaminess. The result is , if not authentically Mexican, still a fiesta in your mouth!

Ingredients

3 large tortillas or even flat bread

1 cup of shredded vegan cheese – I used Daiya pepperjack flavour cheese

1 cup of bottled salsa

1 cup of unsweetened, unflavoured plant-based milk

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups cooked black beans (a 15 oz can drained and rinsed)

1 red pepper diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 onion diced

1 sweet potato

1-2 Tbsp chipotle adobo sauce (optional but mmm… the spice!) or a jalapeno, deseeded and minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)

1 cup fresh spinach finely chopped (optional)

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

Directions

Wash but do not peel the sweet potato. Dice it and either microwave it or bake it until it’s soft. If you’re baking it – 350F for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Mix the milk and the salsa together and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and saute until the onion is softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, basil and oregano and heat through. Add the chipotle adobo sauce or jalapeno if using and heat through. Switch off heat. Add the beans, sweet potato, spinach and cilantro and mix together.

Oil a 9” pie plate or other casserole dish. If you’re not using a round dish, you will have to cut the tortillas to fit the dish. Line the bottom with one of the tortillas. Add half of the black bean mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Spoon 1/3 of the salsa/milk mixture over top. Repeat with another tortilla, the remaining bean mixture, 1/3 cup of the cheese and 1/3 of the salsa/milk mixture. Place the last tortilla on top. Pour the remaining salsa/milk mixture over then the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Let the dish stand for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy mac and cheese – finally!

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It finally happened. After testing quite a few vegan mac and cheese recipes, I have found one that I like. Hooray! This recipe is straightforward (like Grade 8 Home Ec straightforward), uses only inexpensive pantry/fridge staples, and can be ready in the time it takes to cook pasta.

The result is a creamy, satisfying and filling meal that will keep you revved for hours.

My coworker refers to this as mac and yeast and you’ll soon see why.

Ingredients

12 oz of macaroni, fusilli or other firm, short pasta

½ onion minced finely (or even whizzed in the blender)

4 Tbsp vegan margarine

4 Tbsp flour

3 cups unflavoured plant-based milk

1½ cups nutritional yeast

1-2 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

MacandCheese2

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the margarine on medium heat in a 1 quart pot. Sauté the onion in the margarine until the onion is softened. Add the flour and stir until you have a roux (a thick paste of flour and margarine/onion). Add half the milk and whisk constantly until the roux is incorporated into the milk and you have a smooth sauce. Add the rest of the milk, the mustard and all the seasonings. Stir to incorporate everything together and simmer stirring regularly. This will make the sauce thickens slightly. Add the nutritional yeast and stir in to combine.

Once you have a sauce that’s the consistency of a thin pancake batter you are good to go since the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. Pour over your pasta and enjoy.

This dish is great with hot sauce or chili sauce and a side of green peas and broccoli.

I want to add that I have heavily based this recipe on an existing Internet recipe that I printed off months ago with no attribution showing. So…. if you come across a similar recipe elsewhere on the ‘net, they, not me, are the originator!

Baked curried tofu with creamy coconut rice

curriedtofu.jpgI absolutely love marinated and baked tofu. Depending on the marinade and how thinly or thickly you slice the tofu, you can create a range of flavours and textures.

The dish is easy to make though you need to allow time for the tofu to marinate.

The rice is a tasty side that comes together effortlessly. The sauce is my vegan riff on a traditional Indian raita – a cooling yogurt-based sauce that accompanies spicy dishes.

Make the tofu

Ingredients

14 oz block extra firm tofu

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp water

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic minced

Directions

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Mix all the other ingredients together and spoon a small amount into the bottom of a shallow dish. Place the tofu in the dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers Spoon the marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate in the fridge 1 to 4 hours

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.

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Make the rice

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

3 cardamon pods (or about ½ tsp ground cardamon)

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 chili sliced (optional)

½ cup peas

Shelled pistachios for garnish (optional)

Directions

Add everything but the pistachios and peas to a pot and stir together. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas. Top with pistachios if using.

Make the raita

Ingredients

½ cup unsweetened soy-, nut- or coconut-milk yogurt (not coconut-flavoured yogurt but yogurt that is made from coconut milk)

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

½ cup diced cucumber

1 shallot diced finely

Directions

Mix everything together and serve with the tofu and rice.

I enjoyed this meal with a beet and mandarin orange salad on the side.

Spread it on thick! A creamy, herbed cheese

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Growing up, my nickname was Mäuschen or Little Mouse because I loved cheese so much. So could I have just one go-to vegan cheese recipe? No way! I have several. Here’s another.

This creamy, spreadable cheese is flavoured with herbs and is wonderful on crackers or as shown here on toasted bread with a topping of braised onions and apples.

Ingredients for the cheese

1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-4 hours

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

½ cup water

½ tsp miso paste

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

½ to ¾ tsp sea salt

¾ tsp dried minced onions (you can substitute 1 Tbsp fresh, minced chives if you have them)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 -2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

1-2 tsp fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Add the cashews, hemp seeds, water, miso, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and minced onion (do not add fresh chives if you’re using these!) to a blender and process until very smooth. Have patience and persistence – the smoother the better.

Add the fresh dill and any other fresh herbs you’re using and stir to combine

Store the cheese in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let it sit for a few hours before serving to let the flavours blend. This cheese will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can find two more vegan cheese recipes – for a ricotta and a mozzarella-style cheese in my easy 3-cheesey lasagna recipe.

To make the braised onion and apples

1 onion sliced

1 ½ apples cored and diced – do not peel. You can use any kind of apple, but I would go for a less expensive variety for this dish.

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or other wide-bottomed sauce pan. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the apple and maple syrup and continue to sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. The onions will become golden and the apples will be soft but still in pieces – you don’t want to make an apple sauce!

Serve on top of the spreadable cream cheese or you can even mix it into the cheese and then spread on bread or crackers.

Seize her salad….and eat it yourself

SeizeHerSalad

If you like creamy, garlicky Caesar salad dressing, pay attention.

This recipe comes from Esther’s Kitchen Esther being the wonder pig. My embellishments are the kale, chickpea croutons and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Get out your blender and let’s get started.

Ingredients

One head romaine lettuce – washed and torn into bite sized pieces

TIP – check prices. It’s December in Canada and a big head of local, organic kale costs less than the imported romaine so this salad is got the nutrition boost of kale. Mmm.

½ cup water

1/3 cup tahini

1/3 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds

Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)

1 tsp miso

2-3 cloves garlic

1 medjool date, stone removed

Salt and pepper to taste. I used about ¼ teaspoon each.

Directions

Put everything but your salad greens into the blender and blend until creamy. You will have a thick dressing, but it should not be a paste. If it is, add a bit more water and keep blending.

Put your greens in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and toss well. I added roasted chickpeas (see recipe below) and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Roasted chickpeas

½ cup cooked chickpeas patted dry

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp each of black pepper, smoky paprika, garlic powder

Toss all the ingredients together in a cup or small bowl. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool before eating. When they are done the chickpeas will be almost melt-in-your-mouth crunchy; they won’t have any chewiness/moisture to them. If they don’t have that texture, roast the chickpeas for another 5-10 minutes.

Mushroom stroganoff…. the Russian revolution of good taste continues

Stroganoff

One of the first meals I ever made was for a dinner party my much-older sister was hosting. I was 11. She was having friends from university over and asked me to cook beef stroganoff. It was one of the most heart-stopping (literally – beef, butter, sour cream, egg noodles) dishes I’ve ever made. And so good.

Here’s a mushroom stroganoff that’s cleaned up its act and yet is as creamy, rich and satisfying as my original dish. My recipe is heavily based on the one by Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Note – you do have to do some prepping at least 2 hours before you want to start cooking because the cashews need to soak and the tofu needs to marinade.

Ingredients

225g / 8 ounces of fusilli or rotini pasta

¾ cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours

1½ cups vegetable or mushroom broth

12 ounce package tofu

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp red cooking sherry

3 Tbsp A-1 sauce

1 tsp salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon smoky paprika

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

225g cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about ½ pound)

1 tsp dried thyme

½ cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp tomato paste
Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Make the tofu

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Place the tofu in a shallow dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers.

In a small bowl or glass mix 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp cooking sherry and 1 Tbsp  A-1 sauce. Pour over the tofu and place the dish in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a small baking sheet in a single layer. Pour any remaining marinade over it. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. When it’s done, remove from the oven, let cool a bit and then cut into bite-size strips.

Make the sauce

Place the soaked, drained cashews, the broth, 2 Tbsp A-1 sauce, the balsamic vinegar and the salt and pepper in a blender and blend until you have a creamy sauce. Set aside.

In a large pan or pot (you want a nice wide bottom on the vessel for sautéing… if your bottom is nice and wide too, well that’s just fine!), heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until they’re translucent. Add the thyme and paprika and heat through.

Add the mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms release their liquid and then start to brown. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and wine and stir. Then add the cashew-based sauce and heat through. You might want to let the dish simmer for a few minutes to let it thicken though my sauce was already very thick. Add the sliced tofu and mix to combine

Serve over the pasta. Tell your friends you’re having stroganoff. Offer to share…. Enjoy!

Creamy, sundried tomato and almond pasta

SundriedTomatoPasta

I was definitely built for long-term survival! While other people have a sweet tooth, I have a fat tooth. This pasta dish satisfies my love for creamy, rich sauces and yet is completely plant based and healthy. Oh, it’s delicious, fast and easy too. Does it get any better??

Ingredients

12 oz uncooked pasta (I used farfalle pasta)

½ cup sundried tomatoes (mine are not oil packed)

¼ cup raw almonds

¼ cup almond butter

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp sea salt

A few grinds black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil (omit if you’re using oil-packed sundried tomatoes)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup fresh basil torn in pieces

Directions

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil (or microwave it) and put the sundried tomatoes in the broth to soak for about 10 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, put all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a thick, creamy sauce. Yes. It’s that easy.

Drain the cooked pasta and put in a large bowl. Toss with the sauce.

Additions: If I have cherry tomatoes, I sometimes throw a few in the blender for an even tomato-i-er flavour.

I think this dish would be great with a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach or kale added to the pasta pot right before draining the noodles (just enough to blanch the greens).

I love this dish with broccoli and peas.

This recipe is my mildly modified version of the recipe from Laura Machell.