Mexican Tortilla Soup

Mexican Tortilla Soup

One of my favorite things in the whole world used to be Qdoba’s Tortilla Soup. I loved it. Couldn’t get enough of it. However, when I looked up the ingredients, I was astonished! It tasted so simple and delicious. There were a ton of preservatives and an ungodly amount of salt. I never would have imagined that it was so processed! So when it came time to develop my menu for a Mexican cooking class at the Conservatory…I knew what I was going to do. This version is delicious, clean, and a perfect “Welcome to Fall” soup!

  • 1 can jackfruit drained, rinsed 
  • 2 Leeks chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 Green Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (diced)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 cup Chunky Salsa
  • 2 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes (15 oz ea.)
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
  • 3.5 cups black beans, drained, rinsed
  • Toppings:

    • 5 Corn Tortillas
    • Avocado 
    • Chopped Green Onions 
    • Lime Wedges 
    • Vegan Sour Cream 

    Jackfruit:

    Lay the jackfruit on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Using your fingers, press the jackfruit chunks and pull apart into large shreds. Set aside.

    On medium heat:

    1. Add leeks and garlic to large soup pot. Sauté in veggie broth, until softened
    2. Add Bell Peppers and Chipotle Peppers, and simmer until softened
    3. Add Jackfruit 
    4. Add all spices and stir well.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes
    5. Add Salsa
    6. Add Tomatoes (with juice)
    7. Add Veggie Broth, and deglaze pan 
    8. Bring to a simmer and stir well*
    9. Drain beans and add to pot
    10. Cover, and simmer on low, or until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

    Tortilla Strips

    1. Preheat oven to 375° degrees
    2. Cut Corn Tortillas into 1/2″ wide strips
    3. Add strips to a plastic bag or paper sack and toss with 1/2 tsp each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt etc.  (You can use oil or a little broth to help them stick)
    4. Lay strips onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes
    5. Toss occasionally to ensure even crisping.

    *If you want to blend the soup and return to pot for a more authentic Qdoba soup, now is the time. Once pureed you can add the black beans and jackfruit, and simmer through until warmed. About 15-20 minutes.

    **If you wish to add more heat: Use 1 tsp of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can until you reach desired heat. 

    When soup is finished, garnish with 1 small dollop of vegan sour cream, minced cilantro, small avocado slice, a few tortilla strips, and serve.

    Deconstructed Burrito Bowl

    Deconstructed Burrito Bowl

    We love bowls! It’s one of our favorite go-to meals and makes for a quick dinner. Most times we just use various ingredients we have on hand. Be warned they are suuuuper filling! You can be super creative with your bowls or just keep them simple. The basic bowl is this: One part grain, vegetables, one part protein (we use beans, tofu, or tempeh), and top with some kind of sauce. In a pinch, I have used hummus that has been thinned out as a drizzle! Top with your choice of onions, herbs, nuts, or seeds.

    Deconstructed Burrito Bowl

    • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed
    • 2 medium russet potatoes washed, cubed
    • 1 medium onion sliced into ¼ ” wide slices
    • 1 red pepper sliced into ¼” thin slices
    • 1 15 oz. can pinto beans (or, bean of choice)
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ¼ c water
    • 1-2 ripe avocados, sliced, or diced
    • 1-cup brown organic basmati rice (any brown rice will do)
    • 1-cup Pico de Gallo (store bought is easiest)
    • 1-cup cashew queso, thinned (see recipe below)
    • Green onions, diced on bias (optional)
    • Cilantro, minced (optional) 
    • Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 400°.  

    Make rice.  I add two cups of water to 2 cups of basmati rice to my Instapot and cook for 15 minutes.    Otherwise, follow package directions.   (You will have leftovers.  You can freeze extra cooked rice in ziplock bag.)

    Peel and dice squash into bite-size pieces.  I use pre-diced store bought and cut larger pieces into 1” cubes.   Wash potatoes and cut into 1” cubes leaving the skins on.  Wash and slice red pepper into ¼” long slices.  Peel and slice onion and in half, cut into ¼” slices.   Add potatoes, squash, red pepper, and onions to a large mixing bowl.  Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and toss vegetables with salt and pepper to coat. Add vegetables to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.   Bake, turning once, for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. 

    While veggies are cooking, add one can of drained pinto beans to a small pot, add cumin, garlic powder, and salt.  Add ¼ cup water, cover, and simmer until warmed through.   Keep warm. 

    Make Cashew Queso:  

    • 1 ½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
    • 8 oz of water
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo (or, cut in half if too spicy)
    • 3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (I use Bragg’s, but you can use any)

    Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender.   Blend until smooth.  In my Vitamix it takes about 45 seconds on high speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides.   ***It is very important that queso is completely smooth.  Add more water 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed and continue to blend until smooth. 

    When vegetables are done remove from oven.   Assemble Buddha bowls.  Add up to 1-cup rice per bowl.  Top bowls with the roasted vegetables, beans, Pico de Gallo, avocado, drizzle with cashew queso, and finish with cilantro and green onions, if using.  

    Enjoy! 

    Vegan Southwest Breakfast Tacos

    Vegan Southwest Breakfast Tacos

    I adore Mexican food. I mean I could literally eat a Mexican dish for every meal. In fact, while we were visiting Colorado this summer we ate at a Mexican Restaurant 8 out of of 11 days. I love the spices, the depth of flavor, and not to mention it’s really easy to “vegan-ize” almost any dish.

    One of our favorites to make at home however, is this tofu scramble. I also adore Dana Shutlz and her Minimalist Baker’s blog. She is truly gifted in the plant-based kitchen and this recipe is a perfect example. A few weeks ago we had 4 couples, their kids, and my mother-in-law over for brunch. Along with mimosas, bloody mary’s, and roasted potatoes with a chipotle cashew queso, this glorious recipe was loved by all! We served them with corn and flour tortillas, and enjoyed them as tacos and burritos! YUM!

    Garnish with salsa, avocados, cilantro, or hot sauce or my favorite Cashew Queso!

    SCRAMBLE

    • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
    • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
    • 1/2 red pepper (thinly sliced)
    • 2 cups kale (loosely chopped)


    SAUCE

    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • Water (to thin)
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)

    Instructions

    1. Pat tofu dry and roll in a clean, absorbent towel with something heavy on top, such as a cast-iron skillet, for 15 minutes.
    2. While tofu is draining, prepare sauce by adding dry spices to a small bowl and adding enough water to make a pourable sauce. Set aside.
    3. Prep veggies and warm a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and the onion and red pepper. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Cook until softened – about 5 minutes.
    4. Add kale, season with a bit more salt and pepper, and cover to steam for 2 minutes.
    5. In the meantime, unwrap tofu and use a fork to crumble into bite-sized pieces.
    6. Use a spatula to move the veggies to one side of the pan and add tofu. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add sauce, pouring it mostly over the tofu and a little over the veggies. Stir immediately, evenly distributing the sauce. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until tofu is slightly browned.
    7. Serve immediately with the breakfast potatoes, toast, or fruit. I like to add more flavor with salsa, hot sauce, and/or fresh cilantro. Alternatively, freeze for up to 1 month and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

    ***PHOTO via Minimalist Baker www.minimalistbaker.com

    BBQ Jackfruit Sliders

    To Eat, or Not To Eat…

    As a society, we are collectively bound by our traditions.   And this Missouri girl is no stranger to how deeply those traditions are woven into my Midwestern fabric. Missouri is a political bellwether state. We are known for smiling and waving to complete strangers. The word “honest” is something we live and die by. A person’s word and a firm handshake are all we need to seal a deal. But we also hold steadfast to our traditions and our bullheadedness has earned us the nickname “The Show Me State.”   Creatures of habit, we like things the way we like ‘em, and change is not welcomed here.  That said, change evolves as slowly as a Bootheel drawl.   Now it’s not said that we can’t change, but you’ve got to show us why we should! Particularly when it comes to what we eat.  

    Kansas City, my hometown, sits on the far western edge of the state, and has had a long history of determining what we eat.  And what we eat…is meat.  The cattle industry, a thriving industry for over 120 years, began in the west bottoms of KC in 1871 where the Livestock Exchange & Stockyards operated for 12 decades.  In 1899, the National Hereford Show was founded as a cattle show in the Kansas City Stockyardsand was later renamed the “American Royal” after a 1901 editorial in a entitled, “Call It The American Royal.”It’s also why my city would eventually name their baseball team, The Kansas City Royals.  Twice a year in October and November, The American Royal is host to livestock and horse shows, a rodeo and a barbecue competition, all of which are held in the former stockyards.  

    Though the stockyards closed in 1991, the meat industry in KC still reigns as King…the King of Barbeque.  From the Atlantic to the Gulf coast, bordered by the western outposts of Texas, my hometown lies in the middle of an area of the United States called the “Barbeque Belt”, an area that houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City.   BBQ is as ingrained in me as any Midwestern heritage could be.  And when I decided to stop eating meat, BBQ was a difficult task to master.  I missed the smoky flavor and the unmistakable smell of BBQ pulled pork.  Until now…

    This recipe comes via Tasty and is one of the best recipes for making jackfruit I’ve found. Simmered in a ranchero sauce of sorts, the jackfruit is then slowly roasted in a 350° oven for 25 minutes. The crispy jackfruit is then added back to a skillet and doused with bbq sauce. It’s truly heavenly and it satisfies my craving for all things BBQ.

    BBQ JACKFRUIT SLIDERS

    Ingredients for 12 servings

    BBQ JACKFRUIT

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
    • 1 ½ teaspoons pepper
    • 20 oz young green jackfruit, 3 cans, in brine or water
    • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
    • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
    • 1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
    • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
    • 1 ¼ cups barbecue sauce

    Preheat oven to 400° Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    1. Drain and rinse the jackfruit. 
    • In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until semi-translucent.
    • Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the jackfruit, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and liquid smoke, and mix well. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until the jackfruit is soft enough to be mashed and most of the liquid is absorbed.
    • Mash the jackfruit with potato masher or a couple of forks, until it looks pulled or shredded.
    • Transfer the jackfruit to the baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
    • Bake for 25 minutes, until the jackfruit is slightly browned and crispy.
    • Remove the jackfruit from the oven, and pour the BBQ sauce over. Mix well.
    • Return to the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly crispy.
    • Use a large bread knife to cut the whole sheet of slider buns in half, spread the BBQ jackfruit on the buns, then top with any additional favorites (pickles, slaw, more sauce!).

    Enjoy!

    Cashew Bechemel–White Sauce

    Big thanks to KSDK “Show Me St. Louis’ for having me back! This recipe is one of my favorite dishes in the whole world! So easy to make and so hard to believe that there is NO cheese, NO cream, No Butter, No Oil! Some may think that is equivalent to no flavor. I say to them…Make IT!


    Vegan Pasta Con Broccoli

    There are only a few meals that truly delight my heart and my palate more than a good pasta. This vegan version of the famous recipe is no exception.   It’s almost hard to believe that there is no cheese, no butter, no cream, and no oil!  The cavatelli pasta is light and creamy and is a perfect medium for this mouthwatering sauce. It’s creamy, delicious, and heart-healthy.  And best of all it can be ready in under 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

     

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    Serves 4

    • 8 ounces uncooked cavatelli pasta
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
    • 1 cup small chopped broccoli
    • 23  cup thinly  sliced fresh Cremini mushrooms
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 cups white Béchemel sauce

    Cook pasta until nearly done, about 8-10 minutes.

    While pasta is cooking, heat large 12-inch rimmed skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms, season with oregano. Dry sauté mushrooms, stirring frequently.  If mushrooms begin to stick, add 2 Tbsp of water/veggie stock and deglaze pan.  Cook until caramelized, season with salt and pepper.   Set aside.

    In a medium saucepan, add tomato paste, nutritional yeast, garlic, and Béchemel sauce. Stir to combine; cook for 3-5 minutes to warm through, add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

    When pasta is nearly done, add broccoli to the pasta water, reduce to medium heat and cook covered, for 2 minutes. Reserve 1-cup pasta water, set aside and drain the remaining water (Do not rinse pasta).  Return pasta and broccoli to the pot.  Add Béchemel sauce and warm through.

    **If the sauce is too thick, add reserved pasta water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

    Remove from the heat; add vegan Parmesan (optional) and serve.

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    Hearty Veggie Lasagna—Test Kitchen Style!

    Hearty Veggie Lasagna—Test Kitchen Style!
    Before Kevin and I became vegan we loved consulting America’s Test Kitchen for recipes.    Their recipes are full-proof and delicious—always the result of hours and hours of testing various methods and ingredients.  ATK recipes are truly the best examples of culinary science!   Each recipe has a “What Makes This Work” abstract that walks you through various ingredients and attempted methodologies before they give you their final version of perfection.   That is very appealing to my “But, I need to know why” personality.  So all of that aside…THIS. LASAGNA.

    Now, I’ve made vegan lasagna before.  Many times, in fact.  But never, ever, like this.  I had always used tofu ricotta, and while the flavor was good, the texture was lacking and it was always too dry.  This recipe skips the tofu and uses cauliflower and cashews that are cooked and blended together.  SO simple, and it gave my lasagna a moist creaminess that it had been missing!  No joke, this is the BEST lasagna I’ve ever had.  I didn’t have any eggplant (we used the last of it for an amazing Baba Ganoush) so I used broccoli (about 12 0z) instead.  It was perfect.  I added the broccoli during the last 15 minutes of roasting the veggies, and it was scrumptious!   So, without further ado…I present this amazing America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody” recipe.

    You’re welcome.

    • For the Tomato Sauce:
      • 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
      • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
      • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
      • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

      For the Filling:

      • 8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into ½-inch pieces (21/4 cups)
      • 11/2 cups raw cashews, chopped
      • Salt and peppers
      • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

      For the Vegetables:

      • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
      • 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
      • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 garlic clove, minced
      • salt
      • 1 pound zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces

      For the Lasagna:

      • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
      • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    INSTRUCTIONS
      1. For the tomato sauce: Process tomatoes, basil, oil, garlic, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Transfer sauce to a bowl and set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
      1. For the filling: Bring 3 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Add cauliflower florets, cashews, and 2 teaspoons salt and cook until cauliflower is very soft and falls apart easily when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain cauliflower mixture in a colander and let cool slightly about 5 minutes.
      1. Process cauliflower mixture, 3 Tablespoons oil, and ¼ cup water in clean, dry food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 2 minutes (mixture will be slightly grainy). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer ¼ cup mixture to bowl and stir in remaining 1 Tablespoon oil and basil; set aside for topping. (Mixtures can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
      1. For the vegetables: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss eggplant and mushrooms with 2 Tablespoons oil, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl, then spread on rimmed baking sheet. Toss zucchini with remaining 1 Tablespoon oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt in the empty bowl. Roast eggplant-mushroom mixture until beginning to wilt, about 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, stir zucchini into vegetables, and continue to roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, eggplant and zucchini are tender, and most of the juices have evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside. (Cooked vegetables can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
      1. For the lasagne: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Spread 11/3 cups tomato sauce over the bottom of the of the dish. Arrange 4 noodles on top. Spread half the cauliflower filling over noodles, followed by half of the vegetables. Spread 11/3 cups tomato sauce over vegetables. Repeat layering with 4 noodles, remaining cauliflower filling, and remaining vegetables. Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top, and cover completely with remaining tomato sauce.
    1. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake until edges are bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking. Dollop lasagne evenly with 8 to 10 spoonfuls of reserves cauliflower topping, and let cool for 25 minutes. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon basil and serve.
    NOTES
    Feel free to substitute a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Keep in mind, if you do, you will use a full jar plus 1/3 of another.

    Photograph via: Pamela Salzman

    Chili Cashew Queso

    Chili Cashew Queso
    What an awesome day on Show Me St. Louis.   Dana and Anthony were fantastic!  Here is the Chili Cashew Queso recipe that I made on today’s show.  The recipe is a variation of a Dana Schultz recipe from “The Minimalist Baker.”    Love her, and love her recipes!

    Just because you give up dairy doesn’t mean you have to give up cheese!   Many things can make milk!  You just need milk with higher fat content to make good rich cheese.  Hence, cashews! I keep this cheese on hand all the time. I use it as a sauce for macaroni and cheese, and as a base for my famous black bean dip!  But one of my favorite things to use it for is the base for a broccoli potato soup!  Sometimes, I just shamelessly stand over the bowl and eat it until I’m about to burst.  Loaded with protein and spices, this cheese sauce it my absolute favorite.

    To heat or reheat microwave, covered, in 30-second bursts, whisking at each interval and thinning with water as needed.  Or re-warm on the stovetop, whisking occasionally and thinning with water as needed.

    AMAZING-10-minute-Vegan-Queso-No-cashew-soaking-involved-just-blend-season-and-add-hot-water-vegan-glutenfree-208x300

    Easy Chili Cashew Queso

    1 ½ C. raw cashews

    1 cup hot water

    3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

    1 tsp sea salt

    1/2 tsp garlic powder

    1/2 tsp cumin

    Pinch chili powder (optional)

    1 chipotle in adobo with a little sauce

    Instructions:

    • To make the Queso, add all ingredients to a high -speed blender and blend until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides at least once.
    • Feel free to substitute salsa, roasted jalapenos, or your favorite hot sauce in place of the chipotle pepper.   The sauce is also really delicious with no heat!

    Mushroom Wellington

    This recipe is an adaptation of two recipes that each had something that I needed!  “The New York Times version” had butternut squash, wine, and cheese, but it wasn’t vegan.   The “Delicious Everyday” recipe had the ONIONS!  But it didn’t have the butternut squash, white wine, or the cheese!  Trust me on this.  Also, it was her beautiful photograph that inspired me to make this amazing dish!  I have included the link to the cheese that I am making.  If you have a Whole Foods nearby, or are lucky enough to have access to Kite Hill or Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses at your local grocery, then by all means, go for it!

    Mushroom Wellington

    Vegan-Mushroom-Wellington-recipe
    Photograph Via “Delicious Everyday”

    SQUASH:

    • 1 small butternut squash (1 1/4 pounds or 18 oz), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (You can buy fresh pre-cut in many groceries!)
    • 4 Tbsp Vegan Butter
    • 1 tsp maple syrup
    • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
    • ⅛ tsp smoked sweet paprika or regular paprika
    • ½ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste

    ONIONS:

    • 3 large onions, peeled and chopped
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    MUSHROOMS & SPINACH:

    • ¾ pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 300 g baby spinach (10 1/2 Oz)
    • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • ⅓ cup dry white wine
    • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
    • 1 (14-to-16-ounce) package puff pastry
    • 1 cup crumbled vegan goat cheese (go here to make your own)
    • Vegan egg wash (see below)
    1. Preheat a very large skillet over Medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons butter (the other 2 Tbsp will be for the mushrooms). Add the squash in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. (If squash won’t fit in a single layer, cook it in batches). Stir and continue to cook until squash is golden, 7 to 10 minutes more. Stir in the syrup, thyme, paprika and 1/4 tsp salt; cook one minute. Scrape mixture into a bowl.
    2. Place a large frying pan over a low to medium-low heat. Add the ½ Tbsp of olive oil followed by onion and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Keep an eye on the onions to make sure they don’t burn.
    3. Remove the onions from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from the baby spinach from the pan and leave to cool.
    4. Turn the heat down to medium and melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and ½ tsp salt. Cook until mushrooms are soft and their juices evaporate, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until the mixture is dry, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper and parsley. Taste and add more salt if needed.
    5. On a lightly floured surface, unwrap the puff pastry. Cut into 2 “5-by-15-inch” rectangles. Spread onions, mushrooms and spinach on each pastry rectangle, leaving 1/4-inch border. Spoon the cheese crumbles over the mushrooms. Spread the Dijon mustard over the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Then spoon the squash over the cheese, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border (it will look like a stripe of squash lying on a bed of cheese and mushrooms).
    6. Brush the exposed borders of dough on each rectangle with wash. Fold the long sides up to meet in the middle and pinch together to seal; pinch the ends, too. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet and turn them over so that the seam is face down. Brush the tops with more wash. Bake until they are puffed, golden, and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

    VEGAN EGG WASH

    • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
    • 1/2 tsp maple syrup

    Cashew Béchamel | Basic White Sauce

    This is one of the best béchamel sauces in the whole entire world. Who says you need dairy to make a good sauce?   Not me!  Besides, this is way better than ANY dairy-based sauces I’ve had.  It’s easy and delicious, and makes enough to have leftovers to freeze! Yep, you can freeze this bad boy! What’s better than satisfying a craving for a Creamy Mushroom Alfredo (it’s a “thing” for me) and knowing that all you have to do is sauté some mushrooms while waiting for your pasta to boil! Grocery store Alfredo sauces be damned!

    This versatile little sauce can be used in a variety of ways! I use it as a base for corn chowder, in my eggplant lasagna, in a delicious Pasta Con Broccoli, as a drizzle over roasted veggies, and I use it to make a hearty delicious vegetable pot pie! This, my friends, is the real deal.

    Basic_B_chamel_3_HD1280.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Rouxbe School of Cooking

    Step 1: Preparing the Cashews

    • 2 cups raw cashews

    • 4 to 6 cups warm water

    In a medium bowl, soak the cashews in water for 3 to 4 hours to soften. Strain, reserving the cashews and discarding the liquid.

    Step 2: Preparing the Sauce

    • 1 cup onion, diced
    • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or substitute stock, if not using wine)
    • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 tbsp onion granules
    • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (literally, just a pinch… Too much can alter the flavor)
    • Pinch of white pepper (Can use black pepper in a pinch) 😉
    • 2 tbsp olive oil (optional if you choose to use oil in this dish)
    • 1 tsp sea salt (optional, but I recommend)

    Method

    First, gather and prepare your mise en place.

    If choosing to use oil:

    Heat the pan to low to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for at least 5-8 minutes to bring out the flavor until translucent. Then continue by adding the garlic and sweat for an additional couple minutes.   Add white wine and reduce until all liquid has evaporated.  (Skip the reduction if not using wine)

    *For no oil sauté:
    (It is easier to sauté, rather than sweat with no oil. So this process may give the onions a bit of color.)

    Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Be sure the pan is heated properly (water test). Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender. Remove from heat.

    Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into the blender.

    To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt (if using). Blend on high speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.

    ***Recipe: Courtesy of Rouxbe Cooking School

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