Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti

Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti -- Epicurean VeganIt’s hard not to please the family with this simple, flavorful dish. Many people think that vegans can’t enjoy Italian food because the cheese factor, but in reality, it’s so simple to veganize. I use my go-to ricotta cheese recipe and Daiya cheese is really delicious, so there’s not reason herbivores can’t indulge in their favorite pasta dishes!

12-13 manicotti shells
1 jar marinara sauce
1-1/2 C sliced mushrooms
2 C chopped fresh spinach
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 C diced onion
1/2 C Daiya mozzarella

Tofu Ricotta:
1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 C fresh basil
2 Tbs fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Cook the pasta until just al dente—it will cook more in the sauce while in the oven. Meanwhile, combine all of the ricotta ingredients in a food processor and blend well. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic and add the onion. Cook under tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti -- Epicurean Vegan

Combine the tofu mixture and the mushroom mixture in a medium bowl. Stir in the spinach.

Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti -- Epicurean Vegan

Pour about a half the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ pan; spread evenly. Using your hands or a spoon, stuff each manicotti shell and place in pan. Cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Mushroom and Spinach Manicotti -- Epicurean Vegan

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5-7 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Mango and Avocado Spring Rolls

Mango and Avocado Spring Rolls -- Epicurean VeganI’ve been wanting to make this type of spring roll for a while—I’ve seen recipes for then in various different places, but all I knew is that I had a very ripe avocado and a very ripe mango that needed to be used. These were delicious! The only thing I had trouble with, was coming up with a dipping sauce. Traditional peanut sauce just didn’t seem right for these. They’re good on their own, but I think a sauce would be nice. Any ideas?

14-16 sheets rice paper
8-oz rice noodles
1-2 avocados, sliced thin
1 mango, sliced thin
1 medium cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 C fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste

Have everything chopped and ready to go. While chopping, cook the noodles according to package instructions, which is only a few minutes.

Mango and Avocado Spring Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan

Fill a pie plate with warm water. I find it best to set it next to the left of my large wooden cutting board (where I’ll be assembling the rolls). Place a sheet of rice of paper into the water and let it soften for about 45 seconds. Carefully pull it out, let it drip any excess water and then lay it out onto the cutting board. Place another sheet in the water so that it’s ready when you need another one. Start with a handful of rice noodles. They can be hard to tear apart, so I found that having some kitchen scissors on hand is helpful. Place into the middle of the rice paper. Add a couple slices of avocado, mango, and cucumber and top with some cilantro and salt and pepper.

Mango and Avocado Spring Rolls -- Epicurean Vegan

Fold in the sides first, then bring up the bottom and roll up. Transfer to a plate. They’re not that difficult to make as long as your work area is set up before hand. Enjoy!

Fort Vegan & The Sustainable Living Fair

(That’s the Seventh-Grader helping set up)

I had a fantastic time at the Sustainable Living Fair here in Fort Collins over the weekend. I volunteered with Fort Vegan, a local meetup. We handed out information and vegan samples, thanks to VegFund. I got an opportunity to meet lots of great people including Mike and Dan of Cruelty-Free World. They are a wonderful couple! They sell vegan products and cookbooks and donate 100% of the profits to animal and human rights organizations. How noble/admirable/kind/awesome/selfless is that?

I made a contribution by purchasing Color Me Vegan and the Seventh-Grader bought a vegan wallet.If you haven’t already, visit Mike and Dan at The Gay Vegans.

In addition to nearly 200 exhibitors, the fair boasted several large areas dedicated to renewable energy, natural heath, green building, green living, and local produce. I also had the pleasure of volunteering with fellow Fort Vegan member, Sara Jelley, who is a personal trainer and recently began her own business, Curvy Fitness. If you are in the area, hate the gym, and want a practical, holistic approach to fitness, contact Sara on her site—she’s a sweetheart!

Fort Collins Sustainable Living Fair

400th Post!!

This weekend, I will be volunteering at the Fort Veg*n –Northern Colorado’s Vegan and Vegetarian Meetup booth at the Sustainable Living Fair here in Fort Collins and I’m really excited. I’m not, however, excited about the forecast—Saturday is shaping up to be rainy. It should still be a fantastic time with lots of great venders (excluding the Weston A. Price folks who will be 2 down from us :( ) But, hey—that’s ok.

In addition to lots of venders, the fair has several keynote speakers lined up including actress Sheryl Lee (she played the unfortunate Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks), as well as Alec Loorz, a 17-year-old non-profit founder.

I’m getting my postcards printed out so that I can hopefully pursue fair visitors to check out Epicurean Vegan and give recipe or two a try.

And . . . a HUGE thank you to VegFund for providing us with some moolah!! Thanks for them, we’ll have some fabulous vegan food samples.

If you are in the area, please stop by. The fair is open 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Saturday. Also be sure to stop at the Cruelty-Free World booth out of Denver. Hope to see you there!

Grilled Portobello Burgers

Grilled Portobello Burgers -- Epicurean VeganPortobello mushrooms are ideal for making burgers and there are a million ways to prepare them. This recipe came from 1,000 Vegan Recipes and very simple to throw together.

3-4 portobello caps, rinsed and patted dry
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Red onion slices
Burger buns
8-10 basil leaves
Sliced tomato

The recipe didn’t specify how hot to heat the grill, so to be safe, we set it on the low side. While that’s heating, whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper; set aside. Place the portobellos directly on the grill. For the onions, we used a piece of foil:

Grilled Portobello Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan

At low temp, it takes about 10 minutes per side. You can bump up the heat since the recipe said 5 minutes on each side. For the final 1-2  minutes of grilling, add the buns and toast them.

To serve, brush the tops of the portobellos with the vinaigrette. I also brushed the insides of the buns. Top with an grilled onion slice, tomato slice, and a couple basil leaves. Enjoy!

Grilled Portobello Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan

Veggie BBQ Tacos

Veggie BBQ Tacos -- Epicurean VeganI was inspired by Vegetarian Times for this recipe. I didn’t have some of the ingredients, but thanks to Green Buffalo Foods (our organic veggie service) I was able to whip up my own version. These were incredibly tasty and something I would make on a regular basis. The BBQ sauce was ideal, adding a distinct and unique flavor.

BBQ Sauce:
1-1/2 Tbs ketchup
1/2 tsp agave
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp to 1 tsp prepared horseradish (depending on how hot you want it)

1 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 C sliced mushrooms
1/2 C diced mild bullnose peppers (Thanks, GBF)!
1/2 C shredded carrot
3/4 C diced red cabbage
1/2 a pkg of Gimme Lean, Sausage-style, crumbled
6 small corn or flour tortillas (I like the small La Tortilla Factory ones–of course, I didn’t have any)
2 Tbs chopped red onion (Thanks, GBF)!
1/2 C sliced cherry tomatoes (Thanks, GBF)!
1/2 C chopped mixed greens (Kiona Mitsuna, Red Mustard, Arugula—Thanks, GBF)!
Optional: shredded vegan cheddar and pickle relish (highly recommend both)

Mild Bullnose Peppers

La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients; set aside. (The original recipe called for hot sauce, but horseradish was way better). To make the tacos, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the peppers, carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms. Cook them for about 3 minutes, then add the Gimme Lean. If you want more of a ground beef-like texture, I recommend using a food processor for the sausage. It’s gets sticky and mushy when trying to crumble it by hand, but it can be done. Just try chopping them up as they cook. Add the sauce and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Veggie BBQ Tacos -- Epicurean Vegan

Serve on tortillas (the guys used corn taco shells) and top with cheese, mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, and relish. These particular mixed green gave the tacos a distinct flavor where regular romaine would have tasted bland. Enjoy!

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary -- Epicurean VeganYesterday was a chilly, rainy day where the sun never made an appearance. Dare I say . . . we’ve stumbled into fall? This soup was perfect for a evening like that. This recipe is from Vegetarian Times and the only thing I’d change is add more potatoes and mushrooms or use less broth to make it thicker. Otherwise, this is a super flavorful, delicious stew—loved it.

3/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
4 Tbs olive oil (I cut this in half)
1-1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
1-1/2 lb cremini mushrooms,
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs)
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, divded
1/2 C dry white wine

Bring 7-1/2 C of water to a boil in a large soup pot. If you want a thicker soup, use less water (or use more potatoes and mushrooms). Add the porcini mushrooms and remove the pot from the heat and let soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes and thickly slice the cremini mushrooms. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs (or 1 if not using as much) and add the potatoes and salt, if desired. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to brown.

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary -- Epicurean Vegan

Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to the pan. Using cheesecloth (I recommend using a thin cotton napkin), squeeze as much liquid from the porchini mushrooms as possible.

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary -- Epicurean Vegan

Finely chop the porcini mushrooms and add them to the pot of liquid. Once the potatoes are browned, add them to the pot and throw the cremini mushrooms in the skillet with the remaining olive oil. The recipe says to cook them until they begin to brown, about 15-17 minutes. For me, this happened within 5 minutes.

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary -- Epicurean Vegan

Add the garlic and 1 Tbs of the rosemary; cook for 20 seconds. Add the wine and simmer 15 seconds. Transfer to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary -- Epicurean Vegan

Puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender and return back into the soup pot. Serve with remaining rosemary sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad -- Epicurean VeganThis salad is great because it can be served hot or cold—perfect for a pot luck or feeding a crowd.

1-3/4 C Israeli/pearl couscous (I used a mixture of whole wheat and regular)
2 shallots, minced
2-1/2 C vegetable broth
3 green onions, sliced
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 C pumpkin seeds, toasted
zest from one medium lemon
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tbs fresh basil, minced
2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1 Tbs garlic
White pepper, black pepper, and salt
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425. In a small bowl combine the asparagus, black pepper, salt, and enough oil to coat the asparagus. Line a baking sheet with foil; layer on the asparagus and roast for 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad -- Epicurean Vegan

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, melt the margarine and add the shallots and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the shallots begin to brown. Add the couscous and combine with the shallots. Pour in the broth, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad -- Epicurean Vegan

Dry-toast the pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they begin to brown.

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad -- Epicurean Vegan
Remove from the heat and stir in the zest, basil, and cinnamon. Transfer to a bowl and stir in green onions, asparagus, and tomatoes. If serving cold, cover and chill for a few hours and stir in the pumpkin seeds before serving. If serving warm, stir the seeds in now. Season with white pepper and salt. Enjoy!

Couscous and Roasted Asparagus Salad -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegetable Pot Pies

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean VeganThe Husband picked these out of the June 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times. Being a former meat and potatoes kind of guy, these immediately appealed to him. Although I have to admit, chicken pot pies were a comfort food that I used to love. These are really easy to make and I’m assuming the recipe would work fine to make one large pot pie instead of 8 small ones. If that’s more up your alley, I’d suggest using a 9×13 pan. Even though theses were quite good, we did find them a bit bland. The leftovers, however, had more time to mingle, so they tasted more flavorful. I suggest adding more of the seasoning, or adding some salt and pepper.

1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs cold Earth Balance margarine, cut into pieces

2 Tbs olive oil (I used 1)
1 medium leek, white and green parts, chopped
1-1/2 C celery, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
8-oz mushrooms, thinly sclied
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-oz (1-1/2 C) red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2-1/4 C low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 Tbs creamy cashew butter (Optional. I left this out since I didn’t have any)
6 asparagus spears, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 C fresh or thawed frozen peas
1/2 C fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels

To make the dough, whisk the flours and salt together in a bowl.  Add the margarine; using a fork or pastry blender, combine it well until no large pieces remain. Stir in 3-4 Tbs of cold water until a smooth dough forms. I had to add about 6 tablespoons of water.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill while you make the filling.

To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the leek, celery, carrots, and mushrooms; saute for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour and garlic and cook another minute.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan
Add the potatoes, broth, and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cashew butter (if using) and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and add the asparagus, peas, and corn.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough to a 1/8″ thickness. Cut into 8 4″ rounds. I used one of the bottoms of my tart pan since they happen to be 4″. Worked perfect.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan
Divide the filing among the 8 1-cup ramekins. Place a dough round on top and press the edges around the sides of the dish with your fingers or a fork to seal.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan
Poke a hole (I cut a hole using kitchen scissors) on the top of each pot pie.

Vegetable Pot Pies -- Epicurean Vegan
Place each pot pie on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean VeganYes, you can make a quiche without eggs. Which also means it comes without cholesterol and bird embryos. Ok, I won’t get all crazy-vegan on my non-vegan readers . . . :) But have you seen Forks Over Knives yet? We watched it last night. Please watch it—I guarantee you will come away from it wanting to make positive changes in yours and your kids’ diet.

So onto the quiche . . . I got the recipe from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. This is so simple to make and tastes rich and creamy. You can also use regular firm tofu for a more scrambly-egg texture–just don’t blend as smooth.  The cookbook offers several variations such as adding spinach, broccoli, or vegetarian bacon bits. I went with the mushroom quiche.

1 prepared 10″ pie crust
3 C (2 12-oz pkgs) firm silken tofu, mashed
3/4 C plain non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 C flour (any kind; I used brown rice flour)
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 Tbs olive or organic canola or safflower oil (I used olive oil)
1-1/2 C finely chopped onions
2 C sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400. Bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes; let cool. (Mine was done at 8 minutes, so check often). Reduce oven temperature to 350.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions; cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they soften. Add the mushrooms and cook another few minutes.

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean Vegan

In the meantime, combine the tofu, milk, flour, nutritional yeast, salt, nutmeg, turmeric, and pepper in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. You’ll probably need to scrapes the sides once or twice and continuing blending.

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean Vegan

Pour into a large bowl and stir in the mushrooms and onions. Pour mixture into the prebaked crust. I accidentally picked up a 9″ pie crust, so I poured the extra batter into two ramekins.

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean Vegan

Remember, make sure you reduce the heat on the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The top will be firm, browned, and slightly puffed up. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegan Mushroom-Onion Quiche -- Epicurean Vegan