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

It’s Easy Being Cheesy!

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!  We use this particular cheese as a sauce for macaroni and cheese, in bean dip, a Rotel dip, and in a 7 layer dip!  But one of my favorite things to use it for is the base for a broccoli potato soup!  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.

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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

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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, 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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Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus

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Adapted from The Wholesome Dish

I love hummus, and my husband has crowned himself the king of hummus.  He makes it all the time.   And his hummus is forever changing.  It’s usually a product of his current culinary whims. Sometimes he adds fresh dill from our garden. Sometimes he adds a nice smoked paprika that we found at our local Indian Grocer. But he is always upping the ante.  For me, I like a simple traditional hummus.  Its simplicity is what makes it good, and I feel like why mess with a good thing? But there are times when you HAVE to change it up.  Like the time I was out of tahini.  Or like the two months I decided to give up all cooking oils.

This recipe does it all.  It is sesame free and oil free.  The creaminess of this recipe comes from the aquafaba.  What is aquafaba you ask?  It is the water that you normally drain from the can of beans, and it’s amazing!  We vegans use it all the time as a sub for eggs in vegan baking. The starchy liquid is a great binder directly from the can, but what really makes it magical is that it whips and creates foam. Aquafaba is therefore able to trap air; giving items structure at the same time it delivers a fluffy crumb and lift.  You can even make meringues!  In hummus, it adds a flavor and a creaminess that can’t be beat!  It’s the perfect sub for both the oil and the tahini!

Feel free to add whatever spices, or beans you want!  That’s the beauty of hummus, it can be as simple as whatever you have on hand, or as complex as you want it to be!   You can use it as a dip for veggies, or thin it out with a little bit of water and use as a dressing.  We love it on top of our Buddha bowls!

This is a keeper.


“Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus”

  • 2 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans, drained but save aquafaba)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (buy it pre-roasted at Fresh Thyme)
  • ¼ cup aquafaba from chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley (dried)
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp pepper (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. Add more aquafaba if you find that it’s too dry. Season to taste. Chill for a few hours, taste again, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  You can use olive oil in place of the aquafaba, but it won’t be as creamy, and you’ll save yourself about 240 calories!

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Best Ever Vegan Ranch Dressing

When I began my plant-based journey, one of the first things I needed to find was a good Ranch Dressing.  I know, I know… But I’d be lying if I denied my love for Hidden Valley!  However, consuming pus laden cow’s milk is gross. And artificial ingredients like Calcium Disodium EDTA, and other nasty fake things like maltodextrin, and monosodium glutamate are not even an option.   I had tried many recipes, but was never fully satisfied. So I finally decided to create my own.  This Ranch is delicious and has impressed even my most diehard dairy loving peeps!

RANCH

  • 1 cup vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo)
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the mother-shaken well)
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Dill
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder

Mix all ingredients together and use enough water to thin to desired consistency.  Let sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can develop.  Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

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The Ties that Bind

“My friend and I were passing some elephants, when my friend suddenly stopped. She was confused as to how these massive creatures were held only by a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds, but for some reason, they did not. She saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds, but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.” –The Elephant and the Rope

As a health coach I often find many of my clients are “held back” by self-limiting beliefs. They either cling to beliefs that no longer serve them, or they still adhere to falsehoods they learned in childhood.   For example, while exploring why a severely obese client of mine over eats, he revealed that as a child, he was expected to eat everything on his plate even after he was full.  As he got older, and serving sizes got larger he continued to eat until his plate was empty.   By the way, did you know the average restaurant meal is now more than four times larger than it was in 1950’s?

So, are you like the elephant?  Were you told to keep eating even after you were full?  Have you tried every diet in the world and still can’t lose weight? Maybe it’s time to dig deeper and find out what’s really holding you back.  What ways do you feel bound and powerless?  The great thing about our belief system is that we can change it. And change it immediately.  Like the mighty elephant, you hold the power, even if you don’t realize it. It’s time to break the rope and finally be free.

 

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Chocolate Cream Pie (Vegan, GF)

I have a love/hate relationship with the word vegan.  On one hand, it encompasses many fundamental aspects of who I am.  Legitimate scientific concerns about my health and the systematic destruction of our planet, topped with my love and compassion for ALL of God’s creatures, far outweigh any desire I might have for a Delmonico Ribeye.  But, on the other hand the word vegan strikes fear into the hearts of most people. And its presumed connotations immediately separate me from the flock. For many, vegans are seen as extremists. Fanatics, who are either angry animal right suffragists, or gaunt, pale hippies who live on scant amounts of lettuce and tofu.  Just Google the phrase, “Vegans are…” and see what comes next. Adjectives like crazy, stupid, weird, and extreme, popped up in my search bar.  But ya know what?  I’m kinda getting over it.

When an “Omni'” eats a meal I’ve prepared, they are intrigued. Almost beguiled by my ability to make not only a palatable, but delectable meal without using any part of an animal.   It’s as if they’ve suddenly realized eating meat and cheese isn’t the only way to be truly satiated.   And one of my favorite ways to showcase my vegan culinary prowess is with this Chocolate Cream Pie.

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CRUST:

• 2 cups raw pecans
• 1/4 cup date sugar or maple sugar (I used coconut sugar and 1 tbsp maple syrup)
• 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional, but highly recommended)

FILLING:

• 2 1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips (add half semi-sweet vegan to make pie sweeter)
• 2 packs of organic firm silken tofu  (I like Mori-Nu Organic firm)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F

To prepare the crust, combine the pecans and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Add the coconut oil, salt and optional chipotle powder and pulse to combine well.
Transfer the mixture to an 8- or 9-inch pie pan (I use an 8″ springform pan). Press and shape the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan to make a pie shell.

Place the chocolate chips in a baking tray or shallow pan, Transfer to the preheated oven and heat for 3 to 4 minutes or just until melted. Watch carefully as the chocolate can burn quickly. Remove from the oven.

While the chocolate is melting, combine the tofu, vanilla and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the melted chocolate and blend until very smooth.

*Note: For the tofu, if you cannot find firm silken tofu, “soft” tofu can be used instead. In this case, use 600 grams total.

Pour the mixture into the reserved pie shell, smooth the top with an offset spatula and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until firm. When firm, slice and serve.

*Modified from Original Recipe via Rouxbe Cooking School.

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