Archive | October, 2009

Vegetarian Cooking rocks!

29 Oct

Natalie Portman on Top Chef: Common misconceptions about vegetarian cooking as reported by Jezebel.com

I love the fact she says that being “adventurous” (with food) and being vegetarian are not mutually exclusive. Check out all the fantastic vegan blogs out there if you doubt this! Actually, much like this author, I feel that becoming vegan forced me to become more aware of my food, enjoy my food more, and turn to a larger variety of foods to balance nutrients. (That could have also been partly due to not escaping into a zone every time I ate to “not think about” the fact that I was eating a dead animal.)  I also noticed that before being vegan, I had a handful of things that I ate pretty much every meal. It was boring, hum-drum and not healthy. (Well, that and the fact that I was actively engaging in my eating disorder, but you already knew THAT.)  Now, having gone gluten-free and vegan, I find myself trying out even more new vegetables, legume blends, obscure nuts, mushrooms and spices, especially since I can no longer rely on good ol’ Tofurky. (sigh)
The author makes some other great notes, but you should read it for your selves. The only thing lacking in this article is a stronger representation for vegans. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians do have it “easier”, but you can add just as much flavor and satisfying (and balanced) nutrition without feta, eggs, or butter.  You DO need to get over the fear of fat.

Let us know what YOU think!

– Peace –

Mags

BTW – I LOVE how the chefs’ faces drop when Natalie says that “the only thing is that she’s vegetarian”. It makes me giggle.

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Eggplant Lasagna

21 Oct

Hello hello hello! It’s Vegan MoFo (still) and although I don’t possess either the time, stomach capacity or financial means to try something new every day of this month, I am trying to post something new every week. Here is what came into my head yesterday. I was initially planning to just do a ratatouille, but then decided that I haven’t done a baked dish in a long time, and it being all autumn-like in the Old Pueblo of late, I decided to make a lasagna. That and the fact that vegan ricotta is fantastic!! Trust me. If you don’t believe me, try this recipe. I believe ricotta was meant to be made with tofu – and this coming from a person who used to eat ricotta straight out of the container!!

What makes this lasagna special, is that it’s also gluten-free! Although technically, it’s more of a layered pasta bake, than a lasagna in terms of construction, it stills hit’s the same spot, is delicious and healthy.

Enjoy!

– Mags

Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant lasagna

Eggplant lasagna

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4 slices

4 Tbs rice or soy flour

4 Tbs flax meal

1/2 tsp salt + more for “sweating” eggplant

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 C unsweetened soymilk

2 Tbs olive oil

***

1 package firm tofu, pressed

2 tsp white wine vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 C nutritional yeast

15 fresh basil leaves

black pepper to taste

(Recipe for Vegan Basil Ricotta adapted from recipe posted by Isa on www.theppk.com. Thank you!)

***

1/4 package Brown rice pasta, cooked al dente

***

tomato sauce for serving (I used D’s Delightful Tomato Sauce.)

Preparation:

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and them sit until you notice beads of moisture on their surface. Pat the moisture off with a paper towel, flip over to the other side and repeat the process. If you let the eggplant “sweat” around 30 minutes total, the cooked slices will be soft and almost sweet. This is great, especially when using larger eggplant, as they can be rather bitter. After you have patted off all the “sweated” juice, rinse the eggplant slices on each side with water, to remove excess salt. If you forget to do this, the end result might not be palatable.

While you are waiting for the eggplant slices to do their thing, prepare the “breading”. I have found it very difficult to “bread” things in a vegan and gluten-free fashion as, from my experience, the most successful breadings happen with the use of a beaten egg and/or milk and bread crumbs/flour. Since all of those things are omitted in my diet, I have suffered through many a soggy or detached breading.  The one I have used in this recipe had fantastic results, and the flax meal adds a nutty and rich flavor that greatly compliments the eggplant.

The preparations of the breading is simple – simply place all the dry ingredients (soy/rice flour, flax meal, spices) in a Ziploc baggie and shake – in the style of good old fashioned shake’n’bake. Pour the soymilk into a saucer or into a bowl. Dip the eggplant slice first in the soymilk to coat, then shake it around in the Ziploc breading baggie until it’s coated. Set aside and continue until all the pieces are covered.

Heat a cast-iron skillet with 2 Tbs of olive oil. Saute the eggplant on each side until nicely browned. Set aside.

Prepare the tofu ricotta. Crumble the pressed firm tofu into a bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, basil and spices and mix.

Fold in the drained al dente brown rice pasta.

Assemble the lasagna, by layering the bottom on a square casserole dish with eggplant. Cover than with the tofu ricotta and pasta filling and cover with another layer of eggplant. If you have enough eggplant slices, do another layer of eggplant in the middle.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Serve with tomato sauce on top.

*** Note: In the future, I would like to try to bake the lasagna with the tomato sauce inside and to try using gluten-free lasagna noodles. But no worries – I will be sure to post the results!!!

D’s Delightful Tomato Sauce

21 Oct

For the longest time, in our household, we purchased all of our tomato sauce ready-made. One glorious day, D. decided to try making his own. “After all it’s cheaper,” he said. Well, not only is it cheaper, but it’s bright, aromatic and absolutely delicious. It beats any other sauce out there. I guarantee it!

I have asked him, and he generously agreed  to share his recipe with EVA followers. (Actually, he got very serious to make sure we got it JUST RIGHT – it was adorable.)

Try it on a home made pizza, in a lasagna, or over your favorite pasta concoction.

Peace and good eating,

Mags


D’s Delightful Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

28 oz can diced tomatoes

6 oz can tomato paste

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

8 cremini or button mushrooms, chopped

8 leaves fresh basil, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/4 tsp cayenne

Preparation:

Pour can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste into a non-stick saucepan. Add 1/4 tsp dried basil and oregano, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer.

In the meantime, dry cook the onions on a cast-iron skillet until browned (note from D: It’s OK, even better if they are slightly burned, they add more flavor.) Add 1 Tbs olive oil to de-glaze the onions. Add in this order, mushrooms, fresh basil, 1/8 tsp dried oregano, garlic and cayenne. Saute for ~ 10 seconds, until the garlic just gets aromatic (don’t burn it) and add to the simmering tomato sauce.

Reduce sauce for about 45 min-1 hour on low-medium heat covered. If you want it to go faster, keep the lid off. Reduce it more if you are planning on using it for a pizza sauce.

Keeps well in the fridge in a jar for about a week (that’s the longest we’ve ever been able to keep it without eating it, so that’s all we can vouch for) and gets even more intense in flavor.

Raving Risotto!!!

14 Oct

Many people fear making risotto, but it’s really ridiculously simple to make and may perhaps be one of the easiest ways to make your dinner feel like you’re eating at a 5-star restaurant. That and dressing your boyfriend up in a tux, lighting some candles whilst surrounded by red roses, elevator music piano and Chef Ramsey screaming in the background, but who has time to do all that? Last night, I made a delightful little risotto and in light of it being Vegan MoFo, I have decided to post about it, especially seeing as I have made several risottos and never once posted about them. Qu’elle domage!!!


Mushroom risotto is always a fantastic way to go. Last night, I decided to stir things up a bit and added marinated shiitake mushrooms along with the button mushrooms. For some added greens, I threw some kale into the pot as well. Nutritional yeast more than makes up for the Parmesan used in traditional risottos. Oh, and I don’t use white white, or red white or sherry. I don’t drink, and most of my friends don’t drink alcohol either, so I don’t put it in. I have experimented with different vinegars instead, but I find it unnecessary. It tends to overpower all the other flavors.


So here it is, a risotto that you will be bound to rave about!


Mixed Mushroom and Kale Risotto

Ingredients:

3-1/4 C vegetable broth or stock

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs Earth Balance

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 C Arborio rice

about 1/2 C  roughly chopped marinated shiitake mushrooms

about 1/2 C sliced button or cremini mushrooms

2-3 C kale, shredded

pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

Preparation:

Heat vegetable stock in pot to boiling. Turn off once boils. In the meantime, heat 2 Tbs olive oil and 2 Tbs Earth Balance in a sauce pan and saute onion until translucent. Turn the heat down to medium and add Arborio rice. Saute until the white rice kernels start becoming clear or about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and kale and saute for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock 1/4-1/2 C at a time stirring pretty frequently. When liquid becomes absorbed add another 1/4-1/2C until all the vegetable stock is used up. Taste the rice. If it is still crunchy (the end result should be al dente, like a good pasta, not mushy or crunchy) add more stock until the rice is al dente. Stir in 1 Tbs nutritional yeast, add salt and pepper to taste and dig in!

Buon Appetito!

-Mags

Thai Soup – just in time for a cold spell

8 Oct

…and by cold spell, I mean 50’s in the night. Yes – we are weather wussies here in Tucson.


Anyway – one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, food-wise that is, is Amy’s Organics Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak). I have always assumed it would be ridiculously difficult to make, so I pass it every time I go to the grocery store with longing in my eyes (and belly). But despair no longer! I have created a recipe that is not only comparable but above and beyond Amy’s canned goodness!! (And doesn’t require outrageous and exotic ingredients! Or fish sauce – euw!)


Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you:


Thai Stew

Ingredients:

1/2 onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

2 Tbs oil (or Earth Balance)

1 medium sized sweet potato/yam (peeled and cubed)

2 small carrots (peeled and cubed)

3 C vegetable broth

handful of fresh green beans (ends cut off and cut in half or bite-sized pieces)

1/2 red bell pepper (slivered)

1/3 block of Trader Joe’s Brand High Protein Tofu (cut into bite-sized rectangles)

~ 3/4 C sliced cremini mushrooms

1 tsp miso

1 Tbs curry powder

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1/2 lime

1 – 13.5 oz can lite coconut milk

2 green onions (slivered)

Preparation:

In a soup pot, heat oil and saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Add sweet potato and carrot and cook for a couple minutes.

Add vegetable broth, stir, bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for ~ 10 minutes.

Add the green beans, red bell pepper, tofu and mushrooms. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Season with miso, ginger, curry powder, salt, cayenne and lime zest and juice. Cook for 3 minutes then add coconut milk and green onion.

Cook for about 10 more minutes.

Serve over rice or with rice vermicelli.

Enjoy!

– Mags