Rigatoni with Garlic-Ricotta & Field Roast

Rigatoni with Garlic-Ricotta & Field Roast -- Epicurean VeganThanks to the previous lasagna meal, I had a few ingredients leftover and I needed a fast and easy dinner to throw together. I had some tofu ricotta left, as well as two Field Roast sausage links, so it worked out beautifully. I wanted to make the ricotta more of a sauce, so I added some minced garlic and a bit of vegetable broth to thin it out. When I sauteed the Field Roast, some of the small crumbles got nice and crispy, creating a kind of crumbled bacon taste. Yum! Fresh tomatoes and parsley (basil would be great too) and the meal was ready in 15 minutes.

Rigatoni with Garlic-Ricotta & Field Roast
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Rigatoni pasta
  • 1 C tofu ricotta (see link above)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ C vegetable broth (I used a tsp of Better Than Bouillon + water)
  • 2 Field Roast sausage links, Italian Seasoning flavor
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ C parsley, chopped
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor, then add the ricotta and vegetable broth. Process 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until heated through.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the Field Roast in a skillet with a tad of olive oil.
  4. To serve, top individual servings of pasta with some sauce, Field Roast, tomatoes and parsley. Enojy!

 

 

Vegan & Gluten-Free Lasagna

Vegan & Gluten-Free Lasagna -- Epicurean VeganI’ve had some rice lasagna noodles sitting in the cupboard for quite a while, so I thought I’d finally give them a try. They are from Ener-G (which strangely, I couldn’t find on their website). I was really impressed with them. You can use your favorite ingredients, but I went with tofu ricotta, mushrooms, spinach and Field Roast (which isn’t gluten-free, so omit for a 100% gluten-free dish). The noddles are the perfect size for an 8×8″ pan, so great for a small batch. I also recommend cooking them until they are completely done. Typically, when I make lasagna with regular noodles, I don’t cook them all the way because they tend to cook more in the sauce in the oven. These rice noodles, however, don’t do that, so make sure you cook them completely. I also usually add 2-3 extra ones in case any of the noodles come out ripped and unusable. I would certainly use these gluten-free noodles again—I thought they tasted great.

Vegan & Gluten-Free Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegan & Gluten-Free Lasagna
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 9 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 Ener-G rice noodles (If you'd like, add 2 more if any rip during the boiling process)
  • 2 Field Roast sausage links, crumbled (I used Apple-Sage flavor--again, omit if you want this 100% gluten-free)
  • 2 C mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 C fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • .
  • Tofu Ricotta
  • .
  • 14-oz container extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ⅓ C nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • Optional: ½ C Daiya Mozzarella shreds
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions (about 10-12 minutes).
  3. Prepare the ricotta by placing all of the ingredients, except the Daiya cheese, in the food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Set aside.
  4. Saute the Field Roast in the olive oil and garlic on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  5. To assemble, pour about a cup of the marinara on the bottom of an 8x8" baking pan and top with three cooked noodles. Layer on some mushrooms, spinach and Field Roast. You can also spoon a little sauce on top.
  6. Repeat layers until you've topped the lasagna with the final three noodles.
  7. Pour the rest of the sauce on top.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

 

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

Pine Nut & Cashew Ravioli with fresh mushrooms, tomatoes & basilI’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

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean Vegan

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!

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean Vegan

Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce

Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

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 -- Epicurean Vegan

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!

Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Cashew Cheese

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Season with salt and pepper.

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese  -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash & Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Alfredo Ravioli (and a beautiful white morning)

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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!

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

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Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Vegan pasta dough -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Beet & Cashew Ravioli Filling -- Epicurean Vegan

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

Beet & Cashew Ravioli Filling -- Epicurean Vegan

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!

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

Perfect raviolis!

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Garlic-Butter Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

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

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

Vegan White Lasagna

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean VeganSo 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.

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

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

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Vegan White Lasagna -- Epicurean Vegan

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 . . .

.

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!