Pine Nut & Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Basil

PineNutCashewRavioli2I’m finally back with a new recipe! As much as I love them, I don’t use pine nuts often because they’re rather pricey, but I picked some up on sale. They add such a decadent flavor to dishes and this is no exception. Combined with cashews, they make an ideal stuffing for ravioli. The fresh veggies on top complete the meal.

INGREDIENTS

Dough

1-1/2 C semolina flour
1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C warm unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs olive oil

Filling

1/2 C pine nuts
1 C roasted, unsalted cashews
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 C fresh spinach

Topping

2 Tbs Earth Balance
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 C cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 C fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs red wine
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

You can soak the nuts for several hours to overnight, or to speed things up, in a medium bowl, pour boiling water over the nuts and let sit for 2 hours. Sometimes, I only soak them for an hour or so; I don’t mind if the filling isn’t perfectly smooth, so it’s up to you. To prepare the dough, whisk together the two flours and the salt. Whisk in the warm almond milk and oil. Sometimes it’s easier to use your hands to combine everything; use what works. Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside. To make the filling, drain the nuts and add them to a food processor. Process them for about 30 seconds to get them a bit pureed. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree 1-2 minutes until smooth. Set aside.
20140411_173050As you probably recall, I like to use my pasta maker and a ravioli plate to make raviolis, and I have to say, the process gets easier and quicker each time. I recommend at least getting a ravioli plate—you can find one for under $20 on Amazon.
20140411_175640I ended up with 44 raviolis . . .
20140411_183459I then let them sit for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepared the topping. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes and basil; season with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the Earth Balance and add the garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for two minutes, then add the wine and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and basil.
20140411_185555Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the ravioli (about a dozen at a time) for 3-5 minutes. They will float to the top and puff up a little when they’re ready. I usually serve them as they finish cooking so they stay hot. If you want to cook them all first, I suggest transferring them to a large, oiled baking sheet. Otherwise, they’ll stick together. Serve with a scoop or two of the fresh topping and enjoy!
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Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta

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I’m so happy there are some leftovers! The original recipe uses real ricotta, but not only did I make use my go-to ricotta recipe, I also added/omitted some ingredients. Ricotta cheese has so much fat it’s ridiculous (10 g/fat, 6 g/saturated fat) so even if you do eat dairy, I urge you to try my tofu-version that contains 5 grams of fat, and only 1 gram of saturated fat. Plus, you’ll also benefit from the protein and the no cholesterol! Also, if you think roasting garlic is a pain, it’s really not. It’s so easy to do and takes only 30 minutes, in which time, you can prepare all of your ingredients. Ideally, if you can roast the garlic and make the ricotta the day before, it will be even more flavorful by the time you make this dish. I think you’ll find this is a great main meal or side dish that will please even picky eaters.

INGREDIENTS:

 Tofu-Ricotta:

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

The rest:

1 lb bow-tie pasta (any variety would be fine)
6 cloves of garlic (or more if you want)
Olive oil
1-1/2 C cherry tomatoes, halved
4-6 C fresh spinach, chopped
2 C mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 C reserved pasta-cooking water

Ricotta Pasta

DIRECTIONS:

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 425. Cut off the tips of each garlic clove and place on a piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up loosely in the foil, place on a small baking sheet, and roast for about 30 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

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Meanwhile, however, prepare your other ingredients. To make the “ricotta,” combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, but don’t blend it yet until the garlic is done. You’ll want to add the garlic cloves and blend everything together, along with the 1/4 C of the reserved pasta-cooking water. So until the garlic is ready, at least throw together the ingredients to get started. Cook the pasta according to package instructions while you saute the mushrooms in a small pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Chop your spinach, slice those tomatoes, and finish off the ricotta by adding the newly roasted garlic and water. (For the garlic cloves, gently squeeze an end and the skins should come right off, then discard).

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Drain the pasta and rinse with hot water to remove as much starch as possible. Return the pot to the stove and over medium-low heat, add the spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms; saute with a smidgen of water until wilted and heated through.

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Add the pasta and ricotta and combine everything thoroughly, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

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Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce

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It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of August. Right now, I can see a few leaves on the Sumac trees outside my window, already turning red. I feel as though I missed a great deal of our Colorado summer, spending it rather, in different parts of the U.S. (and in one case, another country). We experienced the gorgeous summer days of Victoria, BC, Seattle, San Francisco, a couple balmy days in San Diego, Sacramento, Napa, and finally wrapped up the season’s fun in New York City. I feel truly blessed that I was able to go on these trips with the people I love and adore. This morning, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have such times and that my family and I have our health. A young teacher at my son’s school, passed away last night from cancer. He had just celebrated his one-year anniversary with his wife. I didn’t know him, but he was to be my son’s English teacher this year. My heart goes out to his wife, who is also a teacher at the school. It makes me appreciate even more, the times spent together as a family. One of my favorite times is cooking with the Ninth Grader and the fun we have together making messes in the kitchen. This meal would not have come together without his help; him holding up the sheet of pasta dough while I crank it through the pasta maker. It may have looked like a circus stunt, but the results were nothing less than spectacular.

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta dough:

2 C semolina flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 C warm almond milk
2 Tbs olive oil

Pesto Sauce:

2 to 2-1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C parsley
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 C lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
1 C pine nuts (sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds would work great, too)
3 Tbs Earth Balance margarine

The rest:

2-3 C mushrooms, sliced
1 C green onions, sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large tomato, diced
1 C walnuts, chopped and toasted

DIRECTIONS:

To make the dough, whisk together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the warm almond milk and olive oil. I recommend using your hands to then blend everything together thoroughly. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. I divided the dough into fourths and proceeded to feed each section through the pasta maker to make long sheets, then through the fettuccine portion. I found that four hands make this job much easier, if not necessary. You’ll want to let the pasta dry up a little. I don’t have any pasta drying racks, so I improvised . . .

Drying pasta

These methods worked beautifully. Time-consuming, perhaps, but a necessary step—otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of fettuccine noodles stuck together in one big mess. While the pasta drying, make up the pesto. You can also make this earlier in the day to save time. Toss the basil, parsley, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend for about a minute. Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Transfer to a covered dish and refrigerate until ready to use. To make the sauce, I added about half of the pesto and 3 Tbs of Earth Balance to a small saucepan over medium to low heat. Let the butter melt, stirring often.

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Now would be a good time to get a large pot of salted water boiling. While you’re waiting, heat the one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion.

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Saute 3-5 minutes, depending on how cooked you want the mushrooms to be. Meanwhile, the Ninth Grader toasted the walnuts in a small, dry skillet.

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Have your dinner plates ready because once the water is boiling, the small batches of pasta will cook quickly. I think I cooked all of the pasta in 4 batches. This recipe will easily feed 6 people. The pasta will stick together if you cook it all at once, so I recommend having everyone dish up as you go. You can also drizzle a little olive oil over the cooked noodles to keep them from getting sticky. Top each serving with a tablespoon or two of pesto sauce, mushroom mixture, tomatoes, and walnuts. Enjoy!

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Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Cashew Cheese

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A BIG thank you goes out to Luminous Vegans for this outstanding recipe. When I saw it a couple of weeks ago, it immediately bookmarked it. This also reminds me a bit of the Sweet Potato Ravioli I made a while back, which was also a favorite. Everyone loved this—a keeper for sure. The only thing I did different was made a full box of jumbo shells (about 40 shells), otherwise, I followed the recipe as it was. These are not overly squashy tasting, thanks to the amazing cashew cheese. You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to use, which is a time saver, but not a must. From start to finish, it took me about an hour and a half of (easy) prep and cook time.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box jumbo shells

1 large butternut squash

1/3 C chives, chopped

1/3 C basil, chopped

salt and pepper

1 jar marinara sauce

Cashew Cheese:

2 C raw cashews, soaked in water for up to 2 hours, then drained

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs almond milk (I did add about another tablespoon)

1 tsp tahini (I accidentally used a tablespoon, hence, the extra almond milk, but it all worked out)

1/2 Tbs onion powder

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450. Cut the butternut squash in half. Roast for 30-45 minutes. Oven temps and cooking times vary, so check after 30 minutes; the squash should be tender and soft.

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Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine all of the cashew cheese ingredients and puree until smooth. Pretty easy. In a medium bowl, combine the chives, basil, squash and about 1/2 to 3/4 C of the cashew cheese.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Of course, while all this is going on, boil the shells (10-15 minutes). Once drained, stuff each shell with the filling. Don’t get too heavy handed—you can always add more to any of the shells.

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Layer on the jarred marinara sauce. I used about 3/4 of a jar. The rest will be great for a quick spaghetti lunch this week.

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Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Alfredo Ravioli (and a beautiful white morning)

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First, I had to snap a few pictures this morning of the snow because by tomorrow, most of it will be gone. This is a photog’s dream and the time I love snow—so beautiful.

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So anyway, as you probably know, I go through phases when I discover certain meals. For example, when I discovered stuffed peppers, I made about 10 different versions . . . same with frittatas and tofu scrambles. Now I’m on to my latest obsession: Ravioli. At least I have the process down to a science so preparation goes a lot smoother. I was hankering for some of this Alfredo sauce, but I was also craving ravioli. Typically, I don’t like to pair ravioli with a heavy sauce, but to hell with rules; this was too good not to try. I changed up the dough a little because I didn’t have enough semolina flour and it worked out nicely. These are stuffed with tofu ricotta and fresh spinach—a fabulous combo. For a more in-depth description on using a ravioli plate, check out this version.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1 C semolina flour

2 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C almond milk, warm

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling:

14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1/3 C Daiya mozzarella (optional)

2 C chopped spinach

Sauce:

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs pine nuts

1-1/2 C water

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/16 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Start with making the dough. In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the almond milk and oil. Using a spoon, or your hands, combine well. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic, and set aside.

Next, throw together the ricotta. Combine all of the ingredients, except the spinach and cheese, in a food processor and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the spinach and cheese. Set aside.

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Next, roll out the dough. I used my pasta maker, but you may certainly use a rolling pin. Lay one long sheet over the ravioli mold and fill each pocket with just over a teaspoon of filling.

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Lay another thin sheet of dough over the top, press down and use a rolling pin to seal the edges. Again, refer to this post on how to use a ravioli plate. Place the raviolis on a baking sheet and repeat the process until you have used up all of the filling. I had just a small amount of dough left, but not much. I had 75 raviolis when it was all said and done. Cover and set aside.

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Time to make the sauce. Using a blender, grind the cashews and pine nuts to a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until completely smooth—about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stir in the black pepper. I sauteed the mushrooms first, then stirred them into the sauce.

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Keeping the sauce warm on very low heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. I cooked about 12-15 raviolis at a time for about 4-5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, place them in a strainer. Serve immediately, or lay them out on a large pan, otherwise, they’ll stick to each other. You can drizzle a little olive oil on them as well, to keep them separated. Ladle on some sauce and enjoy!

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Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce

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I’ve had this “Sexy Beet Ravioli” bookmarked since last April and I figured it was high time to give it a try. After 3 hours and 15 minutes in the kitchen, the meal was ready (this included making a salad). Good thing it was worth it! This dish definitely ranks in the top ten meals I’ve made and despite the long prep time, I’d make these again for sure. You have to like beets. Even though I’ve eaten them plenty of times, I’ve never roasted them before, but piece of cake! The original recipe said it yielded 12-15 raviolis. It was hard to gauge what size raviolis that made, so I decided to double everything. I would have been fine to just double the filling and the sauce, but not the dough. Luckily, the dough is outstanding and I now have a batch in the freezer for another pasta meal. With the doubled filling, I got about forty-eight  1-1/2″ square raviolis. Don’t be freaked out by the prep work. You can certainly make up the dough and filling ahead of time and store until ready to assemble the raviolis. Regardless, freshly made pasta is just going to take more time, but in the end, it’s worth it! (Perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner)!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough: (not doubled)

2 C semolina flour

1 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C warmed almond milk

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling: (Doubled)

2 beets

2 C raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour in water

1/2 C water

1 tsp salt

2 tsp nutritional yeast

Garlic Walnut Butter sauce: (Doubled)

8 Tbs Earth Balance

8 cloves of garlic, crushed (You could roast the garlic while roasting the beets . . .)

1 C walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

To roast the beets, preheat oven to 425. Scrub the beets clean, remove the greens, and wrap in foil. Roast for one hour. You can also be soaking the cashews during this time. To prepare the dough, whisk together the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the warmed almond milk and olive oil.

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Blend well with a spoon, or your hands and then transfer to a clean surface. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth, un-sticky ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate if not using right away.

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To make the filling, drain the cashews and add them to a food processor. Chop up the roasted beets and along with the other filling ingredients, add them to the food processor.

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Process until smooth. You’ll end up with a very hot pink filling!

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I used my pasta maker to roll out the dough, but you can also use a rolling pin. I also used my ravioli plate, which was the best thing to happen to raviolis . . . it’s so easy to use and it ensures a closed edge, unlike using a fork. You can find one at Amazon . . . this one is for $13!

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Perfect raviolis!

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the raviolis—about 8-12 at a time—and remove with a slotted spoon once they float to the top, in roughly 2-3 minutes. I transferred them to a large colander, but be sure you drizzle with a little oil as they will a stick to one another as they cool.

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The sauce is quite easy to make and you can just throw the ingredients into a small saucepan while you cook the raviolis. I didn’t brown the garlic, I just threw it all in at once, let the butter melt, and stirred it every minute or so.

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Serve the raviolis with a drizzle of the sauce and thoroughly enjoy!

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Vegan White Lasagna

So there are moments in history where you want to slap your forehead and say, “Seriously?” The OJ Simpson acquittal. . . Lady GagGag’s meat dress . . . the recent attacks on Sesame Street . . . Oh, and the terrible call that cost cost the Green Bay Packers the game against the Seattle Seahawks a couple of weeks ago . . .(that’s for you, Jessie)! I had a moment of forehead-slapping-followed-by-a-REALLY? when I forgot a key ingredient in this meal. Pesto. See . . . I even made it:

But I made it earlier in the day and forgot to use it. Wheresma pesto? In the fridge. For those of you unfamiliar with “wheresma,” let me give you a brief history. My dear and wonderful husband apparently earned the nickname, “Wheresma” because he often asked, “Where’s my (this)?” “Where’s my (that)? Enduring, right? No. Wheresma makes an appearance every once in while . . .

Anyhoo . . . I have to admit, the lasagna just wasn’t the same without the pesto. I highly recommend you don’t forget this ingredient. It was still tasty and leftover-worthy, but it didn’t have the flavor I was hoping for, so don’t forget the pesto!

INGREDIENTS:

Ricotta:

1 12-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C vegan mozzarella

Pesto:

4 C basil leaves
1 C Italian leaf parsley
1 C pine nuts
4 cloves garlic cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
2/3 C olive oil
6 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

White sauce:

3 Tbs Earth Balance
1/4 C flour
2 C almond milk
1/2 C white wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1/3 C nutritional yeast (this is in the ricotta, so if you can leave this out, otherwise, I think it’s a great addition)

The rest:

12 lasagna noodles
5 C kale, cut into 1-2″ pieces
2 C sliced mushrooms
1 C onion, diced
olive oil
Vegan mozzarella, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Save yourself a headache by making the ricotta and pesto a day ahead, or at least earlier in the day. (Just don’t forget about them). For the ricotta, combine everything but the vegan mozzarella in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. To make the pesto, combine everything but the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Add the nuts and Parm and blend well.

I like using traditional lasagna noodles, as opposed to the no-boil variety. The trick is to not boil them too long. They’ll cook the rest of the way later on in the oven. I also made a small batch (8″x8″) pan, which meant cutting 2-3″ off the noodles in order to fit the pan. I ended up with 4 layers, but feel free to make 3 layers in a 9×13″ pan. So . . .to begin, start the noodles. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes, or until the onions get tender. Add the mushrooms and kale and cook a few more minutes, until the mushrooms soften and the kale wilts.

To make the sauce, melt the Earth Balance. Slowly whisk the flour, a little at a time until you reach a thick paste.

Whisk in the milk a little bit at a time until there aren’t any clumps left. Stir with a whisk over medium-high heat until thickened, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water. Pour about half of the sauce mixture on the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish. Lay 3 lasagna noodles (you’ll need to cut the noodles to fit) on the bottom of the pan. Spread on about 2 Tbs of ricotta on each noodle, then a layer of the pesto. Top with a thin layer of  the mushroom/kale mixture.

Repeat layers, ending with the final three lasagna noodles. Pour the rest of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with some vegan mozzarella if you’d like.

Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Vegan Vacation: Santa Fe, Taos and Montrose & Ouray, CO

Rio Grand Gorge outside Taos

Wow, where to start?! It’s good to be back, but it sure felt great to get away for nearly two weeks. I will try to keep this brief, but I have LOTS of wonderful food to bring you. Santa Fe and Taos are full of spectacular restaurants, so it wasn’t hard to find places to eat, even for vegans and vegetarians. I will say, when eating out in Santa Fe and Taos, be prepared to spend some dough. The average cost for the three of us (including wine or margaritas) for any meal, was $40-$45. The portion sizes, however seemed large, so splitting meals, or taking half your meal home with you (if possible) is a great idea. So first up . . .

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SANTA FE

BLUE CORN CAFE

133 Water Street

Located just off the plaza in Santa Fe, this is a pretty decent option for vegans and vegetarians. We started with some chips and salsa (which are not complimentary). The salsa is delicious. We opted for the most vegan item: the Marinated Portobello Fajitas ($14.95) that came with onions and bell peppers, not to mention all the fixins’. (I worked around the sour cream and cheese).

This is a good-sized portion that two people could have easily split—I wish we had; it was a lot of food, but really tasty.

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THE AZTEC CAFE

317 Aztec Street

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place! If fact, we ate here three different times. This is such a cool little cafe that offers a wide range of organic and natural whole foods. They have a great covered patio…

Our first visit was for breakfast. The Husband and I went with the Vegan Burrito and the Eight Grader went with the vegetarian one. The vegan one was filled with potatoes, black beans, and other great stuff (sorry, I forgot to write the ingredients down…)

 We came back for breakfast again, and the guys went with their vegetarian quiche, and I had their homemade, raw muesli with fresh fruit. OUTSTANDING! And it came with almond milk. Even better. This kept me full all day long—a great choice before a long day of hiking.

Almond milk latte!

We then hit up the cafe for lunch and the kid went with a bagel with jam while The Husband got the portobello sandwich:

I decided the kale salad with cashew dressing was up my alley. So delicious!

This is a must-stop-at-destination if you’re visiting Santa Fe. Great service, reasonable prices, and excellent food.

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ATOMIC GRILL

103 East Water Street

This was a great option for a quick lunch. It was a pretty popular place and had a great outdoor patio. Not to mention a really extensive beer and wine list. We started with some chips, salsa, and guacamole. (Awesome, freshly-made guac)!

The guys ordered cheese pizza (yeah, I know…the guys will cheat and eat cheese when sometimes eating out. At least they’re vegetarian!) I wasn’t starving, so I went with the spinach and strawberry salad (minus the feta cheese).

Fresh and fabulous. It was perfect after having chips and guac, too.

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CAFE PASQUAL’S

121 Don Gaspar

This is actually located next door to The Atomic Grill. If you’re willing to splurge a bit, this is a must! Excellent! They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and it’s important to have reservations for dinner; it fills up. We tried to hit it up the first night, but it was full until 8:30, so we made a reservation for the following night (a Friday). The only space available was at the community table that seats about 10 people. I have to say, that was the way to go. We had a great time chatting with the rest of the diners at the table—it was a really fun experience. The restaurant has tons of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options; it was pretty hard to decide. I went with the organic Tofu Mole Enchiladas:

It came with a jicama salad, cilantro rice, and corn bread (not vegan–so they subbed in their signature grilled banana). I’m not a real big banana fan to begin with, so I wasn’t lovin’ the grilled version. But that’s ok, the rest of the meal was outstanding. The sauce definitely has a bite to it, but not overly spicy.

The Eighth Grader went a la carte by having a vegan chile relleno and vegan tamale with green chile:

The Husband opted for the Plato Supremo: a vegan chile relleno, vegan tamale, and a tofu mole enchilada.

The food was probably the best we’d had in Santa Fe . . . and the priciest. For the three of us (plus a bottle of wine) was about $140. But the service and atmosphere is also incredible—it was well worth it.

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THE TEAHOUSE

821 Canyon Road

The Teahouse is located at the top of Canyon Road. It has its own parking lot, so keep that in mind—it’ll save you from trying to find parking on Canyon.

They have an outdoor patio, but the seating is somewhat limited. The area is large, but there aren’t a ton of tables. We were fortunate to snag one…

The kid went with a green tea…which he loved…

…and a scone and a bowl of fruit.

The Husband and I had their veggie sandwich (GF bread is an option, btw), with hummus, cucumber, sprouts, and bell pepper.

It was good, but it didn’t blow us away. It was a bit dry, actually. Some Vegenaise would have been great.

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TAOS

BENT STREET DELI

120-M Bent Street

This is located just off the plaza in Taos. It offers breakfast and lunch only. The place we were staying recommended it for vegan and vegetarian options. I’d say it definitely has plenty of vegetarian options, but not as many vegan ones. But of course, it’s not difficult to make them vegan. The kid ordered the SW Spud, a potato smothered with beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and veggie green chile. He wasn’t impressed; said it didn’t have much flavor. Luckily, my Taos Hum was plenty big enough to share with him.

I forgot to ask for no feta, so I spent a little time picking it out…oh well. It was delicious! (Hummus, tomato, red onion, sprouts, cucumber, and salsa). The Husband had the Pita the Greek with black olives, feta, sprouts, onion, tomato, and cucumbers. He really liked it.

We stopped here again for breakfast. While the kid had the vegetarian tamale (a special), the husband went with a croissant sandwich with egg. There aren’t many vegan breakfast options, so I went with an English muffin and potatoes…

I also got a soy latte!

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MICHAEL’S KITCHEN

304 C N Pueblo Road

This place is a local favorite, especially if you like diner-like food. There isn’t much for vegans, but there are some vegetarian options. The Hubby went with a vegetarian burrito:

And the kid had the French toast:

I had the granola pancakes. They were really good, but way too much! Four pancakes was a lot, so I recommend either splitting an order, or seeing if you can have half an order.

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ANTONIO’S: A Taste of Mexico

122 Dona Luz

This was certainly one of our favorite places to eat. Great food. It was raining, so we couldn’t enjoy the beautiful patio . . .

but that’s ok…it was the food we really cared about. This restaurant certainly seemed to be a hotspot. Maybe it just seemed that way since the patio was closed, but the place was packed—and it was a Tuesday night! We started with drinks (of course). The Husband ordered a margarita ($7.50) and was really disappointed. He said it was “severely weak” and decided not pay for another one that was sure to be watered down. I went with wine. I was hoping for a decent-sized glass because the wines-by-the-glass start at $8-9, but it was pretty skimpy. Oh, well, it’s probably a good thing anyway. So for booze, you may not get your money’s worth.

Antonio’s is known for their guacamole that they make right there at table. For $9 a bowl, you too could have some. We decided not to. But what a cool idea.

The guys started out with the Tacos de Papa a la Creama. They’re mashed potato stuffed taquitos with a cotija cheese on top. I tried a bite sans cheese and holy cow! It was delicious. They loved these.

For dinner, The Husband and I both ordered the veggie tacos. I ordered mine with no cheese, but asked for a side of guac. I was surprised that even though I didn’t get cheese, they still charged me $2.50 for the tiny cup of guacamole. It was yummy though. The Husband’s were pretty spicy, but mine weren’t—the heat is going to vary depending on the pico de gallo. We both thought these were great.

The kid went with the nachos, which was 6 really large tortilla chips, each topped with cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and pico de gallo. He wasn’t thrilled. It’s an appetizer, but the server said it was big enough for a meal. He was expecting your typical pile of chips with all the fixings, and it was disappointing to him. Overall, this was a great place for really delicious Mexican food—I recommend it.

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DRAGONFLY CAFE & BAKERY

402 Paseo del Pueblo Norte

This is a great option for vegans and vegetarians! When I looked at their menu online, they had me at Kale and Quinoa Salad! They serve a brunch on Sundays from 9-3, and are open 11-9 Monday-Saturday. We stopped in on Monday for lunch. I had a soy latte in addition to the salad.

The salad was amazing! (Kale, quinoa, onion, cucumber, mint, carrots, almonds, dried apricots, and a lemon vinaigrette).

The guys both ordered the Dragonfly Enchiladas with organic spinach, mushrooms, and white beans, topped with tomatillo salsa, goat cheese and tomatoes.

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STELLA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT

112 Camino de la Placita

Yes, Italian food in New Mexico. After several days of Mexican food, we were ready for a little change and man, did we luck out. Stella’s is a gem of a restaurant located just off the plaza. The prices are incredibly reasonable and included in the meal are trips to the olive bar with a variety of olives and garlic.

The liquor is also reasonably priced as well. We each got a glass of prosecco for $5 per glass. The service is also exceptional. We started with the Italian Truffle Fries for $4. SO GOOD!!

I then ordered the eggplant Parmesan, served with pesto garlic toast. (The Parm was easy to brush off)  I love that it wasn’t drenched in sauce like what most restaurants do. It was delicious!

The Husband ordered the Mushroom Ravioli. These had ricotta inside (which is not listed on the menu description, so be sure to ask first). I couldn’t resist a bite…yum.

Oh, and all the entrees are served with a side of vegetables. Love that! The Eighth Grader ordered the vegetarian lasagna. We highly recommend Stella’s, especially if you’re wanting a change from Mexican food.

On our last day in Taos, we had a little picnic along the Red River. We had stopped at Trader Joe’s while in Santa Fe, so we picked up some goodies.

We picked up a Daiya Cheese Wedge (absolute best vegan cheese—ever! plus, my newest food obsession) and some apples at Cid’s Health Food Market (Taos’ answer to Whole Foods) and had a great snack while reading the latest issue of VegNews.

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MONTROSE/OURAY

I didn’t get pictures of the food, but I will recommend El Jimador in Montrose, CO for Mexican food. I had the veggie burrito. The margaritas were also quite good!

In Ouray (probably the most beautiful town in Colorado!) we went to the Ouray Brewery. Check out these great bar chairs!

This is definitely a local (and tourist) favorite. Even at 3:00, it was packed. They have great rooftop dining, as well as two more floors of dining room. They offer six of their own brews and quite a variety of pub food. I had the portobello wrap–outstanding! And The Husband had their vegan burger. He said it was THE BEST vegan burger he has ever had. Sorry for the lack of pics, but trust me, this is a must-stop if you’re in Ouray.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my culinary cruise through Santa Fe, Taos, Montrose, and Ouray. We certainly had fun eating our way through these great towns!

Vegan & Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese

I am so excited to share this recipe with all of you! Having to give up soy is a little less traumatic now that I’ve come up with a delicious soy-free ricotta cheese. After I made the switch from no wheat and no soy, The Seventh Grader wanted stuffed shells. Of course. And . . . like the power of suggestion, I wanted stuffed shells in the worst way. So I couldn’t use my go-to riotta cheese, nor use regular jumbo shells. Thankfully, I found these “Grand Shells” from Tinkyada.

The ingredients are simple: brown rice, rice bran, and water. They’re a little smaller than the typical flour-based jumbo shells . . .

. . . but it’s not a big deal. They also don’t fold over like regular shells do either. Again, no biggie. Also, cooking these are a bit different. Bring water to a boil, add the shells and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the shells sit for 20 minutes. The shells definitely aren’t mushy like some brown rice pasta can be. In fact, they’re pretty al dente—almost too much. If you want them a little softer, I’d leave them for 25-30 minutes. Overall, very impressive! I thought they were delicious.

So onto the ricotta. This recipe makes quite a bit—great for a big pan of lasagna. Feel free to half it for a small portion, otherwise, it makes almost 4 cups.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C blanched almonds

1 C cashews

1 C cold water

1/8 C olive oil

3-4 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil

1 Tbs fresh rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 C Daiya cheese,  Mozzarella flavored

DIRECTIONS:

I threw the cashews in a bowl of water while I blanched the almonds. Soaking the nuts are not necessary, unless you have the time and want a really smooth ricotta. Add them to the food processor.

Add the water, oil, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. This may take a few minutes to get it real smooth, especially if you opt not to soak the nuts overnight, which I did not. It just depends on your preference. I happen to like the nutty texture.

Next, add the basil, rosemary, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Blend until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.

I had some jumbo shells as well as tofu-ricotta in the freezer, so for the guys, I made them regular stuffed shells. Since I don’t have celiac disease and not concerned with cross-contamination, I combined both in the pan.

Layer on some sauce and Daiya cheese and you’re good to go. Bake covered for 25 minutes at 375.

Enjoy!

Vegan Calzones

The Seventh Grader wanted calzones for his birthday dinner and it’s so easy to let guests make their own with their choice of ingredients. I made some tofu ricotta cheese, had mushrooms, spinach, black olives, and green bell pepper to fill up the calzones. Bake, then top with warm marinara and you’re ready to eat!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

I packet (2-1/4 tsp) yeast

1 C warm water

2 Tbs agave

1/4 C olive oil

3-1/2 C flour

1/2 tsp salt

Calzones:

Veggies of your choice, such as: spinach, mushrooms, tofu ricotta, bell pepper, roasted red pepper, Daiya Mozzarella, etc.

1 jar marinara sauce (This was enough for 5 calzones)

DIRECTIONS:

Using a mixer, combine the water, yeast, and agave and blend well. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to get foamy. In medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. With the mixer running, add the oil, then gradually, the flour.

Squeeze the dough together tightly and knead it a little to get a smooth ball. Place it in a large, oiled bowl.

Cover with a dish towel and place it in a warm place for about an hour. It ought to nearly triple in size.

Punch it down and transfer to a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3-5  minutes, or until you no longer hear “dough-farts.” I divided the dough into 5 parts or five calzones, but you can easily get 6-7 calzones from this recipe. I rolled them out ahead of time and layered them in between sheets of waxed paper.

If you do this, I recommend lightly greasing the waxed paper sheets. I then placed the stack in a large ziplock and stored them in the fridge until we were ready to assemble them.

Preheat oven to 350. Fill up the calzones with whatever veggies you’d like. You can also ladle some marinara sauce inside, too. I’ve never been good about making things like this look pretty, so we ended up with a motley crew of calzones.

Bake for 12-15 minutes–not too long, or the tops will get hard and crunchy.

Top with some marinara sauce and enjoy!

Home-Made Ravioli

I bought a pasta maker many years ago and used it a few times. Then, two years ago, when we moved, I couldn’t find the damn thing. Even though it was something I hardly used, I was determined to find it. But I couldn’t. I figured it had run off with my white Chantel soup pot because it too, was missing. So last December, I was digging around in the laundry room for something else entirely, when I opened a bin that was supposed to contain miscellaneous crap. Well, there it was. Along with soup pot. I let out a celebratory yelp and the Husband rushed in, wondering what my deal was. When I showed him that I finally captured the elusive kitchen appliance, I assumed he’d be as excited as I was and happy that I’d quit lamenting over losing the thing. But he didn’t seem too thrilled.  He left the room and returned with a wrapped box, about the same size of the box I held in my hands. “I’ll take this one back tomorrow,” he mumbled. He had gotten me a new pasta maker to replace the one I “lost.” He was really happy that I found it, but then he had to come up with something else to give me for Christmas.

So jump to October 2011, nearly a year later. It was the first time I used that stupid pasta maker since finding it. I know, it’s terrible . . . the Husband wasn’t even home to enjoy these raviolis! But now that I have some practice, I’ll make more of an effort to use it because there’s nothing like fresh pasta. Making fresh pasta, however, isn’t always easy, especially raviolis—it will take some trial and error to get these right. Regardless of their less-than-pretty appearance, they were delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1 C flour

1 C semolina flour

Dash of salt

1 Tbs olive oil

1/2 to 3/4 C water

Filling: (I used my go-to ricotta cheese recipe)

1-14oz 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

1/2 C Daiya mozzarella shreds

The rest:

1 jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Using a food processor with the sharp blade, pulse the flours and salt together. While the machine is running, add the oil and water. The dough shouldn’t be sticky.

Knead the dough using some all purpose flour. Using small pieces of dough, feed it into the pasta maker—the widest setting, then one notch thinner, then a third time on the next thinner notch. The Seventh Grader and I didn’t quite figure this method out until halfway through, but oh well, we had fun experimenting. His job was to cut the rolled out dough into squares.

Place the squares on a cookie sheet or cutting board to dry a little—about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients, except the mozzarella, in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Place a small scoop, about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each ravioli square.

There are other ways of doing this. I think it’s better to NOT cut squares first, but to have a long piece of rolled out dough, place the filling dollops in a line and fold over the dough, then cut using a pastry wheel to seal the edges.

I finally got smart and used the pastry wheel to seal the edges instead of a using a fork, but accumulated an unusable pile of dough shrapnel.

Anyway, we ended up with pretty ghetto ravioli.

In batches of 5-6, add them to boiling water and cook for about 2-3 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon. Top with warm spaghetti sauce and enjoy!

Mushroom & Spinach Manicotti

It’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!

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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.

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

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.

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

Product Review: Nate’s Meatless Meatballs (Meatball Sandwiches)

I was never a meatball sandwich kind of gal—something about eating balls of meat that didn’t quite appeal to me. The men of my household, on the other hand, seem to gravitate toward these kinds of cancer-licious subs (or at least, they used to). Here we are coming up on a year of veganism and this is the first time I’ve made “meatball” sandwiches. I’ve made seitan meatballs before, which are pretty damn good, but this time, I needed something quick, so I went with Nate’s Zesty Italian Meatless Meatballs. Of course, I forgot how much I paid for them since I bought them (frozen) last week, but I’m pretty sure they were under $4 for 12 oz.

So here’s what I did:

Opened a jar of marinara sauce, poured it in a pan and then dumped the meat-free balls in.

Let simmer about 10-15 minutes. Toast some French rolls for a couple of minutes under the broiler and bada-bing, you’re done.I recommend using your absolute favorite marinara and/or adding some spices because the “zesty Italian” I was expecting wasn’t all that zesty. They needed some kick–not that flavorful. With that said . . . they were very “meat-like”, but without the grossness of real meat. :) The consistency was much like beef and they certainly didn’t have a weird “fake” taste. Quite satisfying.

I sliced them in half using tongs and a serrated knife–you can try doing this while they are frozen. They stack better in the bread if sliced.

Layer on some vegan mozzarella on the rolls, then some sliced “meat” balls and then some more cheeze—that easy.

Spinach & Mushroom Ravioli

I lost my pasta maker. You’re probably wondering, how on earth do you lose a twenty-five pound kitchen appliance? Well, if I knew that, it wouldn’t be lost, right? ;) Somehow, it didn’t make the one mile move to our new house a year ago—and we didn’t use movers; just us. Apparently, the pasta maker in question ran away with my Chantal soup pot because it’s missing as well. Not sure what kitchen conspiracy happened, but I’m hopeful that someday, both (and whatever else was in the box) turns up. So I don’t recommend making ravioli without a pasta maker, otherwise, the process is a lot harder than it needs to be. The taste however, was well-worth the work. There’s nothing like fresh pasta.

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta Dough:

1/3 C nutritional yeast

2 C flour

1 Tbs olive oil

Dash or two of salt

1/2 to 3/4 C water

The rest:

1-1/2 C sliced mushrooms

1-1/2 C chopped spinach

1 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

1 jar marinara sauce

Yummy, gluten-free sauce

In a food processor with the sharp S blade, pulse the nutritional yeast a few times to make a fine powder. Then switch to the plastic dough/bread blade.

Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine. While the machine is running, add olive oil and water to form an elastic-y dough.

Roll out small pieces of dough at a time into a long rectangle. I used a pizza cutter to slice into squares. Place some spinach, 2-3 mushroom slices and a pinch or two of cheese.

I then folded over one side and pinched the edges.

To seal the edges, I used the pizza cutter to the three sides.

I ended up with 18 pretty ugly raviolis that I placed on floured waxed paper, otherwise, if they sit too long, they will stick to the surface and it would be a terrible mess.

I boiled about 3-4 raviolis at a time, then transferred to an oiled, glass dish. Be sure to turn the ravioli once to cook the tops and bottoms—about 1 minute per side.

Brush the tops with olive oil as well. Ladle sauce over individual servings and top with any remaining vegan mozzarella. Enjoy!

Lasagna Roll-ups

This is an easy twist on a classic. I’ve seen these done where you place the roll-ups on the side so the cute, frilly side of the noodle faces up, but I could just see things going wrong for me, so if you’re feeling brave, by all means, go for it!

INGREDIENTS:

My go-to tofu ricotta:

1 14-oz firm (or extra firm) tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

The rest:

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 Tbs olive oil

18 lasagna noodles

3-1/2 C fresh spinach, chopped

2 small zucchini, sliced very thin

10 mushrooms, sliced very thin

8-0z vegan mozzarella, shredded

1 jar marinara sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Cook noodles for about 7-8 minutes. Make sure you don’t cook them all the way—it’ll be easier to use them if they’re very al dente. Crumble tofu into a food processor. Add nutritional yeast, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Puree well. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup of vegan mozzarella.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and garlic. Add the zucchini and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook just another 2-3 minutes.

Put a thin layer of marinara on the bottom of a 15″ baking pan (I forgot to do this, but its no big deal). Use a spoon or rubber spatula to spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on a lasagna noodle. Next, layer on some spinach, zucchini mixture (only about 8-10 pieces) and a little cheese.

Carefully roll up noodle and place in the pan.

Once all 18 noodles (one of mine was broken, so I have 17) pour the rest of the sauce over the rolls and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 3-5 minutes. Enjoy!

Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Pesto Sauce

This is such an easy meal to whip up when you have very little time. I typically keep prepared pesto in the freezer for such times and of course, I still I have the huge block of cashew cheese that is conveniently stored in the freezer as well. Done in less than 25 minutes!

INGREDIENTS:

12-14 oz spinach fettuccine, cooked

1-1/2 Tbs cornstarch

2/3 C non dairy milk (not rice milk–too thin)

1/3 + 1 tsp vegetable broth

1/3 C prepared basil pesto

2 Tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cashew cheese, shredded (Optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in milk and broth. Add pesto and whisk thoroughly. Return to low to medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. I added the 1 teaspoon of broth here to thin out the sauce just a little. Ladle sauce over individual bowls of pasta and top with cashew cheese. Enjoy!

Kale, Chard, and Tofu Calzones

When I said I was making calzones tonight, The Husband joked, ‘Oh, yeah, those nine pounders?’ Ok, yes, these calzones typically run a little big. I should call them “No Joke Calzones.” They’re a little different than the other calzone recipe I’ve made by adding the same tofu mixture that I use for lasagna and stuffed shells. I had some leftover tofu mixture so I just threw in the freezer—I’ll use add it to a batch of lasagna at some point. This is also a great recipe for sneaking in some extra veggies, especially for the kids—they’ll never know!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough: (from Vegan Planet)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

3/4 C warm water ( I found that I needed another 1/2 cup)

2-1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

Pinch of sugar or natural sweetener

1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for spreading

The Tofu mixture:

1-14 oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil (I also threw in a tablespoon or two of fresh rosemary)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

The rest:

4 C chard and kale, chopped (you can also add in some spinach)

1-3.8 oz can of sliced black olives

6 mushrooms, sliced

1-1/2 C vegan mozzarella cheese

1 jar marinara sauce

DIRECTIONS:

To make dough: Place yeast in a small bowl. Add 1/4 C of the water and stir to dissolve. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. To make the dough in the food processor (like I did), combine the flour, salt, and sugar, pulsing to blend. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture through the feeding tube, along with the olive oil and as much of the remaining 1/2 water (I needed another 1/3 C in addition to the 1/2 C) as necessary to make the dough hold together. To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, olive oil, and remaining 1/2 C water until well combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large oiled bowl. Spread a small amount of oil on top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Use immediately or store for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator or for 3-4 weeks in the freezer. Make sure it is tightly wrapped in plastic.

To make tofu mixture: Add tofu, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to a food processor and process well until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese.

Preheat oven to 375. Punch the dough down and divide it into fourths. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a 1/4″ thick circle. Divide the filling equally between the dough circles, leaving a 1″ border around the edge. I layered on some tofu mixture, greens mix, olives, mushrooms, and cheese.

Fold over one side and roll up the bottom part and press with a fork to seal the edges.

Place on a baking sheet lined with foil that is slightly greased. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

In the meantime, heat the sauce in a small saucepan. Ladle a scoopful on top of each calzone and add a bit of cheese. Enjoy!

Pasta with “Meat” Sauce

It really doesn’t get much easier than this, especially when you’re short on time to make dinner. It was my night to host writer’s group, so I needed something quick to whip up. I used Boca Crumbles, but Field Roast makes an Italian “sausage” that I think would work nicely as well.

INGREDIENTS:

14-16oz pasta, cooked

1 jar spaghetti or marinara sauce

1 bag Boca Meatless Crumbles (use as much as you want–depending on how “meaty” you want it)

Vegan mozzarella, shredded

Optional: 6-8 mushrooms, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

I added the frozen  Boca Crumbles directing into the pan with the sauce, warming them together. I also added some sliced mushrooms and simmered everything for about 10-15 minutes. Top pasta with the sauce and cheese and you’re done! This is a great combination of carbohydrates and protein and perfect for the night before a hike or activity when you need some extra umph. Even for my morning run, I tend to go further, longer. Never a bad thing. Enjoy!

Spinach and Pesto Lasagna

Oh, man. Have you ever made it to vegan food nirvana? Well, this lasagna will take you there. Of course, you’ll have to come back, but you can always go back for seconds. It looked so good as I assembled it, I wanted to eat it right then and there. I used my previous pesto recipe as well as my “ricotta” cheese recipe that I use for the stuffed shells and vegetable lasagna. To make things easier, I made those earlier in the day. I also decided to use regular lasagna noodles instead of the no-boil variety, and I was a little weary, but not only were they easy to use, we preferred them over the no-boil ones.  I just cooked them very al dente since they will continue to cook later in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

3 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine

2 shallots, minced

1/4 C all purpose flour

2-1/2 C almond milk

1/2 C white wine

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

2 portobellos, diced

“Ricotta Cheese”:

1-14oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil leaves

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 to 3/4 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

Pesto:

2-1/2 C fresh basil leaves

1/2 C parsley

1 C pine nuts

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/8 C lemon juice

1/3 C olive oil

3 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

The rest:

2-1/2 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

4-5 C baby spinach

12 lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making the “ricotta” mixture and pesto earlier. To make pesto, combine the basil leaves, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and process until well combine and smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To make the tofu mixture, combine all ingredients except the mozzarella cheese in a food processor. Process until smooth and then transfer to a bowl. Stir in the cheese and again, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil the noodles until al dente–don’t have to cook them like regular pasta. While these are boiling, start the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the margarine over medium to high heat. Add the shallots and saute for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the flour and white wine. Add the almond milk and lower heat; cook until it begins to thicken, stirring often. Add salt, portobellos, and Parmesan cheese.

Spread a ladle full of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.  Make sure you rinse the noodles with water to keep them separated—you may have to do this a few times throughout the process. Layer 3 noodles on the bottom of the pan, on top of the sauce. Next, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the tofu mixture onto each noodle. Do the same with the pesto. Then add a later of spinach, then sprinkle on some cheese.

Top with 3 more noodles and then another 1-2 ladles of sauce on top. Repeat layers 2 more times and then top with remaining 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes. For the last 5-7 minutes of baking, you can remove the foil and continue baking in order to melt the cheese on top. Let sit a couple of minutes before slicing up. Next stop: vegan food nirvana.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Tofu Calzones

Now that’s a calzone!

I’ve noticed I’ve been making a lot of pasta/Italian dishes like the Stuffed Shells and Lasagna–no reason, really–perhaps the rainy weather is prompting cravings for comfort food…whatever the reason, I’m not complaining.

The spinach part of the recipe makes quite a hog of a calzone, so if you’re not into that, I recommend either halving the spinach/tofu mixture or doubling the dough recipe to make more calzone that can be stored in the fridge or freezer…or make smaller calzones–8 instead of 4. As the recipe stands, you could easily split one between two people.  Add your favorite pizza toppings if you wish…I added mushrooms, olives (black, green or both), vegan mozzarella. Try Smart Deli ham with pineapple…you name it. I also warmed up 1/2 a jar of marinara sauce to pour on top–a must!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C cooked, chopped spinach, squeezed dry

4 oz soft silken tofu, drained

Salt and pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-16oz pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled (I use 14 oz since that’s all I had)

1 Tbs minced fresh basil leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

Optional: your favorite calzone/pizza toppings like mushrooms, olives, vegan ham, pineapple…

Optional: 1/2-1 C vegan mozzarella

Optional: 1/2 a jar of marinara sauce (Muir Glen Organics only has 4 grams of sugar–much less than my previous favorite–Newman’s Own)

1 recipe Traditional Pizza Dough (below):

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

3/4 C warm water

2-1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

Pinch of sugar or natural sweetener

1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for spreading

DIRECTIONS:

To make dough: Place yeast in a small bowl. Add 1/4 C of the water and stir to dissolve. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. To make the dough in the food processor (like I did), combine the flour, salt, and sugar, pulsing to blend. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture through the feeding tube, along with the olive oil and as much of the remaining 1/2 water (I needed another 1/3 C in addition to the 1/2 C) as necessary to make the dough hold together. To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, olive oil, and remaining 1/2 C water until well combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large oiled bowl. Spread a small amount of oil on top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Use immediately or store for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator or for 3-4 weeks in the freezer. Make sure it is tightly wrapped in plastic.

(I decided to store it in the fridge for about 45 minutes and it continued to rise…)

Anyway…

To make calzone: Preheat oven to 375. In a blender or food processor, combine the spinach, silken tofu, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and set aside.

(I recommend having the rest of the ingredients ready to go before proceeding).  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the firm tofu, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring , until any liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach mixture. Taste and adjust the seasonings, the set side to cool.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half (to make 4 calzones, divide into fourths). On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a 1/4″ thick circle. Divide the filling equally between the dough circles, leaving a 1″ border around the edge. (This is where I smooshed in fresh mushroom pieces, olives and a bit of vegan mozzarella).

Fold the empty half of the dough over the filling and press down along the edge with your fingers, then seal with a fork.

Place on a lightly oiled pizza pan or baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

If using, heat marinara over the stove and pour a ladle-full over the calzone. Top with a pinch or two of vegan mozzarella and enjoy!

Recipe source: Vegan Planet

Vegetable Lasagna

This lasagna is delicious, simple and healthy! I used the same tofu mixture recipe as the Stuffed Shells and it was perfect for this meal. I used the no-boil lasagna noodles since they’re such a time saver–just make sure that every inch gets covered with sauce, otherwise, any bare spots won’t cook and will be crunchy.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs olive oil

12 no-boil lasagna noodles

2-1/2 C zucchini, sliced thin

2-1/2 C portobello mushrooms, sliced

2/3 C onion, chopped

1 14-oz pgk. extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 jar marinara sauce, divided into thirds (I like Newman’s Own)

1/4-1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

8-oz vegan mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375.

To make tofu mixture: Add tofu, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice to a food processor and process well until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onions, zucchini and mushrooms in the olive oil for about 5-8 minutes, just enough to soften them.

In a 15″ baking pan, line the bottom with 4 of the lasagna noodles. Top with half of the tofu mixture, half of vegetables, sprinkle with a layer of cheese and then 1/3 of the sauce.

Top with another 4 noodles, the other half of the tofu mixture and other half of veggies. Add another thin layer of cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Top with remaining 4 noodles, rest of sauce and rest of cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells

Ricotta what?! Who needs ricotta? These stuffed shells are outstanding and the tofu mixture can easily be used for lasagna. If you don’t have fresh basil, use 1-1/2 tablespoons of the dried variety. In the past, I’ve also added about 6 large spinach leaves after processing everything else. Great way to get some added calcium and veggies. Also, if you don’t have any French or Italian bread, make garlic toast easily with leftover hamburger or hot dog buns. I had some whole wheat hamburger buns in the freezer, so I thawed them briefly in the microwave, spread them with some Earth Balance and sprinkled them with garlic salt. Pop them in the oven under a high broiler while the shells cool after baking.

INGREDIENTS:

1 12-oz pgk. jumbo pasta shells

1 14-oz pgk. extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 jar marinara sauce (I like Newman’s Own)

1/4-1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1-1/2 C vegan mozzarella, shredded and divided

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Add tofu, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and lemon juice to a food processor and process well until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.

Cook shells according to package instructions, but subtract a couple of minutes–you want the shells very al dente so that they do not split. Pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 15″ baking dish. Stuff each shell (about 43 of them) with 2-3 tsp of tofu mixture and place in pan. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and enjoy!

Garlic-toasted hamburger buns

Seitan Meatballs

One bite and these “meat”balls were an instant favorite that I’ll be making often. They’re actually quite easy to make and prep time was only about 10 mins at the most. The recipe is from Vegetarian Times and includes a sauce recipe, which I didn’t have time for, so I just used jarred sauce. Already looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow…

INGREDIENTS:

1-16-oz pkg. seitan (I used 2-8oz pkgs of Westsoy’s beef-style seitan–in the red box)

1/2 C pecans

1/2 C whole wheat breadcrumbs (used regular–couldn’t find whole wheat)

1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

1/4 C chopped fresh basil

1/8 tsp dried oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs)

3 Tbs olive oil, divided

1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp egg replacer powder

16-oz pasta

1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray (I used foil and sprayed that–baked-on cooking spray is a pain to scrub off of  baking sheets)! Crumble seitan in food processor . Add pecans; pulse to blend.

Transfer to a bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, 1 Tbs olive oil, and soy sauce. Whisk egg replacer with 1/4 C water until frothy; fold into seitan mixture.

Shape mixture into 18 (I got 20) balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, and brush with remaining 2 Tbs oil.

Bake 20 mins, turning once, or until crusty and lightly browned. I didn’t bother turning them and they turned out great.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and divide among serving bowls. Top with sauce and meatballs. Enjoy!

UPDATE: These made GREAT meatball sandwiches!

A Smarter Fettuccine Alfredo

This comes from my friend over at Tried and Tasted Recipes Even though the original recipe isn’t vegan, it was super easy to veganize–and so delicious! I of course, added 1/3 C of Tofutti sour cream for extra creaminess and mushrooms and green onions and she added peas and carrots (another great variety).

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces fettuccine, uncooked
1 1/4 cups fat-free reduced-sodium vegetable broth
4 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup Tofutti cream cheese
3 tablespoons Rice brand parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 C nutritional yeast (optional)
1/3 C Tofutti sour cream (optional)
5 mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 green onions, sliced (optional)
Handful of frozen peas and carrots (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Cook pasta according to package instructions. At this time, I sauteed the mushrooms and green onions in a small skillet.
Meanwhile, combine broth and flour in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cream cheese spread, 2 Tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese, the nutmeg and pepper; cook 2 min., stirring constantly with wire whisk until mixture boils and thickens. I had trouble getting the sauce to thicken, so I added a tiny bit cornstarch/water mixture and presto! It thickened immediately. If using, add nutritional yeast and stir to combine. I then removed it from the heat and stirred in the sour cream.
Drain pasta. Toss with sauce (and veggies, if using) Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and parsley.
I served this with leftover salad from the previous night and some fabulous olive bread!

Serves 4.
Enjoy

Hurry Up Alfredo

This comes from Lauren Ulm’s cookbook, Vegan Yum Yum and is by far the best non-dairy “cheese” sauce I’ve tasted yet! The only thing I changed was adding 1/2 C Tofutti sour cream which made this sauce perfectly creamy!

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 C small pasta
Sauce:
1 C soy milk
1/3 rounded raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 C nutritional yeast
3 Tbs tamari (or soy sauce)
2 Tbs Earth Balance (or Smart Balance) margarine
1 Tbs tahini
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch salt
Black pepper, to taste
2-4 garlic cloves
I added 1/2C Tofutti Sour Cream and used SMOKED paprika and WOW! It was so creamy and flavorful!

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add noodles. Cook until tender, but not mushy. Meanwhile, to make sauce, mix all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. When noodles are finished, drain and return to pot. Add as much sauce as you’d like and heat and stir. (What I did is transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and heat–this is also when I added the Tofutti sour cream. Then I just ladled the sauce on a serving of pasta). Top with Rice Parmesan and enjoy!

Note: for leftovers, I don’t recommend microwaving them. Keep sauce separate from pasta leftovers and reheat sauce in a pan over the stove and nuke the noodles. Sauce gets too dried out otherwise.

Recipe source: Vegan Yum Yum