Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce

Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganAs you probably know, I love pasta. I’m very fortunate that I don’t have a gluten intolerance, but I have to say, these zucchini noodles make a wonderful pasta substitute with it’s fresh flavor and slightly crunchy texture. This is a very easy dish to throw together and you could easily add your favorite veggies such as bell peppers or artichokes. You  may recall my first zucchini noodle recipe with pesto as sun-dried tomatoes  and I really love my spiralizer . . .
Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganThis works fabulous and is so easy to use. I haven’t spiralized any other veggies yet, but it takes only a few minutes to turn small to medium zucchinis into wonderful noodles. Pasta with cream sauce dishes (my favorite!) are notorious for being full of fat and calories (thanks to dairy products) but even cream sauces made with nuts can be up there too, but fortunately, between subbing in zucchini noodles and the fact that nuts are full of healthy fats and calcium, you don’t have to feel guilty about loading your plate with these “noodles.”

INGREDIENTS:
4-5 small to medium zucchinis
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced
3 C mushrooms, sliced
Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce
1 C macadamia nuts
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 C white wine
1/2 C water
The rest
1-2 tomatoes, diced

DIRECTIONS:
Spiralize your zucchinis into a large bowl and set aside.
Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganNext, start the sauce by pureeing the nuts and garlic clove. While the machine is running, add the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Add the white wine, water and apple cider vinegar. You’ll probably need to scrape the bottom edge of the food processor bowl and continue to puree until completely smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over low heat until warm—keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Also, if it’s too thick, whisk in some water or vegetable broth.
Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganIn a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and saute for 5-8 minutes, or until the onions are softened and browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for just a couple of minutes.

Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganTransfer the veggies to a bowl and add the zucchini noodles to the skillet. You might want to add a tad more oil, or even some water to the skillet. Zucchini will cook pretty quickly and I recommend using tongs to turn the noodles over medium heat.
Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganOnce the noodles cook down a bit, add the mushroom and onion mixture and mix together.
Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce -- Epicurean VeganYou can either transfer the noodle mixture to a large bowl and coat with the sauce and serve family-style with some tomatoes on top, or create individual servings topped with a ladle of sauce and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles with a Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4-5 small to medium zucchinis
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 3 C mushrooms, sliced
  • .
  • Macadamia Nut Cream Sauce
  • .
  • 1 C macadamia nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ C white wine
  • ½ C water
  • .
  • The rest
  • .
  • 1-2 tomatoes, diced
Directions
  1. Spiralize your zucchinis into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Next, start the sauce by pureeing the nuts and garlic clove. While the machine is running, add the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Add the white wine, water and apple cider vinegar. You'll probably need to scrape the bottom edge of the food processor bowl and continue to puree until completely smooth.
  3. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over low heat until warm---keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Also, if it's too thick, whisk in some water or vegetable broth.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and saute for 5-8 minutes, or until the onions are softened and browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for just a couple of minutes.
  5. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and add the zucchini noodles to the skillet. You might want to add a tad more oil, or even some water to the skillet. Zucchini will cook pretty quickly and I recommend using tongs to turn the noodles over medium heat.
  6. Once the noodles cook down a bit, add the mushroom and onion mixture and mix together.
  7. You can either transfer the noodle mixture to a large bowl and coat with the sauce and serve family-style with some tomatoes on top, or create individual servings topped with a ladle of sauce and tomatoes. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce

Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganHere I go again with the ravioli! Well, these could be like more like perogies, actually. Plus, I also added spinach to the dough which is definitely new for me. I’d been wanting to try that for a while now and I’m so glad I did. I’m already trying to figure out what other vegetables I can use to make pasta with. I made everything up earlier in the afternoon when I had some extra time, so when it came dinnertime, it was easy to throw it all together. The mushroom sauce with truffle oil is the perfect, light sauce for these raviolis; nothing too heavy and thick since the raviolis themselves have got some girth. Between the sauce and the fresh chives in the filling, this meal is packed with flavor and taste.

INGREDIENTS:
Dough:
1-1/2 C semolina flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C warm unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs olive oil
1 C minced spinach (about 4 C of fresh spinach leaves)
Filling:
2 medium potatoes
1 Tbs vegan margarine
1/8 to 1/4 C almond milk
1-2 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mushroom-Truffle Sauce:
4 Tbs vegan margarine
2-3 C mushrooms, sliced
5 Tbs flour
1-1/2 to 2 C vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbs truffle oil

DIRECTIONS:
To prepare the dough, whisk together the two flours and salt. Add the olive oil and warm almond milk and blend a little to create large clumps of dough. Add the spinach.

Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganBlend well using either a wooden spoon, or your hands.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganKnead on a floured surface for 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more flour; the spinach adds a bit of moisture to the dough. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganYou can go about making the filling two ways: nuke the potatoes in the microwave until they are done, let them cool slightly, then peel them. The other way, is to peel them first, dice them up and boil them in either water or broth until they are tender. I went ahead and microwaved them, but you choose. I then transferred the cooked potato to a medium bowl, mashed them up, then added the margarine, almond milk, chives, salt and pepper. You can also use the food processor to make the potatoes super creamy and whipped, but I’m a lumpy mashed potato kind of girl, so I just used a potato masher for mine.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganTo make the raviolis, I love using my pasta maker and ravioli plate. If anything, I highly recommend the ravioli plate, but you can easily roll the dough out thin enough without using a pasta maker. I usually tell readers to THIS POST for a more detailed description of how to use the ravioli plate, as well as some helpful links. Fill each ravioli with about a teaspoon or so of the potato filling.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganIf you find that the dough is sticking to the ravioli plate (which I did), I recommend lightly spraying the plate with cooking spray and they’ll pop right off next time. I then transferred them to a baking sheet sprinkled with some semolina flour (which keeps the raviolis from sticking to the pan). I ended up with 54 raviolis. These can sit out and dry a little while you prepare the sauce.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganTo make the sauce, saute the mushrooms in the margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and coat the mushrooms well. Little by  little, add the vegetable broth and stir. Once it starts to thicken, add a little more broth and keep doing that until you’re out of broth. Let it thicken up, but if it seems to be taking a while, turn the heat off, and let the sauce sit. It will get thick.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganNext, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the raviolis in 2-3 batches. I often hear that you shouldn’t cook more than 6 or 7 at a time, but I did them in two batches. First of all, they should be served immediately after being removed from the water (3-5 minutes) and second, they tend to stick together if you transfer them to a colander and wait until they’re all cooked before you serve them. I didn’t find any problems with cooking 25 at a time. Do what feels right to you though. If you’re going to cook them in several batches, I recommend oiling a large bowl and use a slotted spoon to transfer the raviolis to the bowl. The oil will help keep them all from sticking to one another.
Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce -- Epicurean VeganLadle some sauce over the raviolis and enjoy!

20140802_205442

Potato-Filled Spinach Ravioli with Mushroom-Truffle Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • .
  • 1-1/2 C semolina flour
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ C warm unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 C minced spinach (about 4 C of fresh spinach leaves)
  • .
  • Filling:
  • .
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 Tbs vegan margarine
  • ⅛ to ¼ C almond milk
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • .
  • Mushroom-Truffle Sauce:4 Tbs vegan margarine
  • .
  • 2-3 C mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 Tbs flour
  • 1-1/2 to 2 C vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs truffle oil
Directions
  1. To prepare the dough, whisk together the two flours and salt. Add the olive oil and warm almond milk and blend a little to create large clumps of dough. Add the spinach.
  2. Blend well using either a wooden spoon, or your hands.
  3. Knead on a floured surface for 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more flour; the spinach adds a bit of moisture to the dough. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. You can go about making the filling two ways: nuke the potatoes in the microwave until they are done, let them cool slightly, then peel them. The other way, is to peel them first, dice them up and boil them in either water or broth until they are tender. I went ahead and microwaved them, but you choose. I then transferred the cooked potato to a medium bowl, mashed them up, then added the margarine, almond milk, chives, salt and pepper. You can also use the food processor to make the potatoes super creamy and whipped, but I'm a lumpy mashed potato kind of girl, so I just used a potato masher for mine.
  5. To make the raviolis, I love using my pasta maker and ravioli plate. If anything, I highly recommend the ravioli plate, but you can easily roll the dough out thin enough without using a pasta maker. I usually tell readers to THIS POST for a more detailed description of how to use the ravioli plate, as well as some helpful links. Fill each ravioli with about a teaspoon or so of the potato filling.
  6. If you find that the dough is sticking to the ravioli plate (which I did), I recommend lightly spraying the plate with cooking spray and they'll pop right off next time. I then transferred them to a baking sheet that is sprinkled with some semolina flour (which keeps the raviolis from sticking to the pan). I ended up with 54 raviolis. These can sit out and dry a little while you prepare the sauce.
  7. To make the sauce, saute the mushrooms in the margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and coat the mushrooms well. Little by little, add the vegetable broth and stir. Once it starts to thicken, add a little more broth and keep doing that until you're out of broth. Let it thicken up, but if it seems to be taking a while, turn the heat off, and let the sauce sit. It will get thick.
  8. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the raviolis in 2-3 batches. I often hear that you shouldn't cook more than 6 or 7 at a time, but I did them in two batches. First of all, they should be served immediately after being removed from the water (3-5 minutes) and second, they tend to stick together if you transfer them to a colander and wait until they're all cooked before you serve them. Do what feels right to you. If you're going to cook them in several batches, I recommend oiling a large bowl and use a slotted spoon to transfer the raviolis to the bowl. The oil will help keep them all from sticking to one another.
  9. Ladle some sauce over the raviolis and enjoy!

 

Cashew Cheese Risotto

Cashew Cheese Risotto -- Epicurean VeganJust so you  know, we’re not messing around with this risotto. I shudder to think what my vegan life would be like without cashew cheese. Obviously, the pure joy of the Creamy Macaroni with Cashew Cheese, would just not exist, as would the Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Cashew Cheese and the Pine nut and Cashew Ravioli. Not a vegan world I’d want to live in, folks. And the beauty of it all, is that cashew cheese is so simple to make, a monkey can do it, so it just doesn’t get any better. This baked risotto dish is creamy, decadent and outta this world (and into vegan heaven). And did I mention it’s easy to make? Ready in 50 minutes? No standing at the stove constantly stirring like traditional risotto; this entree (or side dish) practically cooks itself. Served solo or with garlic bread and a salad, you’re well on your way to cashew cheese nirvana.

INGREDIENTS:
5 C vegetable broth
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C onion, diced
16-oz mushrooms, sliced, then cut in half
1-1/2 C green onion, sliced
2-3 C fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 C white cooking wine
2 Tbs vegan margarine
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 recipe cashew cheese (see below)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cashew Cheese (makes 1 cup)
1 C raw, roasted and unsalted cashews (whole or pieces), soaked in hot water 1-2 hours
1/2 C water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:
Start the cashew cheese first. Soak the nuts in a bowl with enough boiling water to just cover the nuts. Let sit 1-2 hours. Drain, rinse and transfer to a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of water and puree. While the machine is running, add the salt, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary; set aside.
Cashew Cheese Risotto -- Epicurean VeganPreheat oven to 350. Combine 4 cups of the broth with the rice in a Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. While the rice is baking, prepare your other ingredients. With about 10 minutes of cooking time left for the risotto,  heat the olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once the garlic starts to brown, add the mushrooms and green onion. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and let it cook 2 minutes. Once it starts to wilt, remove from the heat.
Cashew Cheese Risotto -- Epicurean VeganWhen the risotto is done (all the liquid is absorbed), stir in the remaining cup of broth. Then add the white wine, vegan margarine, salt and pepper. Stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes; this is what releases the starches and makes the risotto nice and creamy. Add the nutritional yeast and all of the cashew cheese. Stir until well combined. Fold in the mushroom-spinach mixture. And that’s it! Serve and thoroughly enjoy!

Cashew Cheese Risotto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 5 C vegetable broth
  • 1-1/2 C Arborio rice
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C onion, diced
  • 16-oz mushrooms, sliced, then cut in half
  • 1-1/2 C green onion, sliced
  • 2-3 C fresh spinach, chopped
  • ½ C white cooking wine
  • 2 Tbs vegan margarine
  • ¼ C nutritional yeast
  • 1 recipe cashew cheese (see below)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cashew Cheese (makes 1 cup)
  • 1 C raw, roasted and unsalted cashews (whole or pieces), soaked in hot water 1-2 hours
  • ½ C water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
Directions
  1. Start the cashew cheese first. Soak the nuts in a bowl with enough boiling water to just cover the nuts. Let sit 1-2 hours. Drain, rinse and transfer to a food processor. Add ½ cup of water and puree. While the machine is running, add the salt, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Combine 4 cups of the broth with the rice in a Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. While the rice is baking, prepare your other ingredients. With about 10 minutes of cooking time left for the risotto, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once the garlic starts to brown, add the mushrooms and green onion. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and let it cook 2 minutes. Once it starts to wilt, remove from the heat.
  4. When the risotto is done (all the liquid is absorbed), stir in the remaining cup of broth. Then add the white wine, vegan margarine, salt and pepper. Stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes; this is what releases the starches and makes the risotto nice and creamy. Add the nutritional yeast and all of the cashew cheese. Stir until well combined. Fold in the mushroom-spinach mixture. And that's it! Serve and thoroughly enjoy!

 

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

Creamy Chick'n and Mushroom Soup -- Epicurean VeganWow, two posts in two days! I’m on a roll! We have had three days of rain, which is great—we need it (my lilac bush loves it):
20140508_164036but it makes me want to hunker down, get cozy and cook something comforting. Soup was in order. I had these chicken-free strips from Beyond Meat, so I decided to go for a hearty, satisfying soup.
Creamy Chick'n and Mushroom Soup -- Epicurean VeganI’ve used this product for enchiladas and thought they’d be great for this soup. I think the strips lose a bit of firmness when boiled, but that didn’t bother me; the flavor was still great. When it comes to fake chicken, I think Beyond Meat is the best tasting and uses the most natural ingredients. They’re not only vegan, but non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, hormone-free, cholesterol-free, and has 20 grams of protein for every 6 strips. Good stuff, especially great for feeding those omnivores in the family.

INGREDIENTS:
1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Creamy Chick'n and Mushroom Soup -- Epicurean VeganAdd the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.
Creamy Chick'n and Mushroom Soup -- Epicurean VeganIn a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

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

Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean VeganI’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.

Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean VeganAs 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.
Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean VeganI ended up with 44 raviolis . . .
Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean VeganI 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.
Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean VeganBring 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!
Pine Nut and Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Basil -- Epicurean Vegan

Wild Mushroom & Miso Soup

Wild Mushroom and Miso Soup -- Epicurean VeganFor mushroom lovers like us, this soup certainly made us very happy. Some friends had brought it to a get together and we all demanded the recipe. It is from The Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  This soup requires just a tad of prep work, but then it all goes into the slow cooker. Not only is this soup savory and full of flavor, but the mushrooms are packed full of immune boosters—perfect for fighting off the winter chills and colds.

INGREDIENTS:
1 (1/2 oz) pkg dried porcini mushrooms (I could only find the 3/4 oz package, which I used all of)
1 C hot water (I added a bit more since I used more mushrooms)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks, (mostly white parts and a little of the green) sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked peppercorns (I used ground—didn’t have the peppercorns)
1 bay leaf
8-oz shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and thinly sliced (I recommend adding more–they cook down quite a bit)
8-oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered (Again, I’d add more)!
6 C vegetable broth
1 C water
1/4 C miso
Optional: fresh snipped chives

DIRECTIONS:
In a small bowl, combine the dried porcini mushrooms and the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes, using a fine mesh strainer, drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Finely chop up the porcinis and set aside. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrot and celery for about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and porchinis. Cook for a minute, then add the reserved liquid.

Wild Mushroom and Miso Soup -- Epicurean VeganTransfer to a slow cooker and add the shiitake and cremini mushrooms, along with the broth and water.

Wild Mushroom and Miso Soup -- Epicurean Vegan

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours OR on low for 6 hours. Stir in the miso and cook on high for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and ladle into separate bowls; garnish with chives. Enjoy!

Layered Polenta Casserole

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean VeganThis is how tonight’s post-dinner conversation went between father and son:
        “This is going to be deee-vine for tomorrow’s lunch,” father said as he placed the leftovers in a container.
        “Wait, who said you get them all?” his son said, grabbing hold of the dish.
        “You will lose an arm, son,” father said firmly. 
A wresting match in the kitchen ensued. I don’t know who the victor was; I walked away, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating the leftovers for breakfast. Yes, it was that good.

INGREDIENTS:
1 pre-made polenta log (I used the sun-dried tomato & garlic variety), cut into 18 slices
2 C spinach, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 C bread crumbs or panko
1/2 C Parmezano Sprinkles (recipe below)
Parmezano Sprinkles: (from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook)
1/2 C blanched almonds
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 tsp light miso
Heaping 1/4 tsp salt
Sauce:
4 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 Tbs flour
1 C vegetable broth
1/4 C almond milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean Vegan

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375. To make the Parmezano Sprinkles (which I recommend making ahead of time) combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until you have little crumbles . . . then refrigerate.

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean Vegan Combine the chopped spinach, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms in a bowl along with the basil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean VeganTo prepare the sauce, melt the Earth Balance and add the garlic. Saute about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Next, add vegetable broth a little at time, whisking constantly until everything is incorporated over medium heat. The sauce should begin to thicken. Slowly add in the almond milk, an 1/8 C at a time and whisk thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Add a ladle of sauce to the bottom of an 8″ baking dish—just enough to coat the bottom. Place 9 slices of the polenta on the bottom and sprinkle with about 1/4 C of the Parmezano Sprinkles.

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean VeganNext, layer on the spinach mixture—pack it down if you have to, but get it all on there. Top with the remaining 9 slices of polenta . . .

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean Vegan. . . then remaining sauce, the bread crumbs, and another 1/4 C of the Parmezano Sprinkles.

Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean VeganBake for 20-25 minutes. Let it sit for  about 5-6 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!
Layered Polenta Casserole -- Epicurean Vegan

Quinoa & Veggies with a Tahini-Miso Dressing

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganQuinoa is such a fantastic lunch option. It’s packed with protein and it can be made so many different ways, that it’s pretty hard to get bored with it. I wanted a light dressing for this and came up with this tangy tahini-miso goodness. I also love adding nuts for a bit of crunch to these types of dishes, so I threw in some toasted almond slivers. Delish!

Alter Eco Rainbow Quinoa, Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

INGREDIENTS:
1 C quinoa (I like this Rainbow Quinoa from Alter Eco)
2 C vegetable broth or water
1-1/2 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted
Dressing:
1 tsp tahini
1 Tbs yellow miso
1/8 C almond milk
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

DIRECTIONS:
Rinse the quinoa in fine mesh strainer with cold water. Combine it with the broth (or water) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until there is just a little bit of water left, about 12-15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and green onions, but don’t combine—cover and let the veggies steam 3-4 minutes. For the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth.

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganOnce the mushrooms have softened, stir them into the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, nuts and dressing. I recommend adding a little dressing at a time in case you don’t want it all. I had a little left over.

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganGently fold and combine everything. Enjoy!

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean VeganI’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

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean Vegan

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.

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean VeganMeanwhile, 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).

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean VeganDrain 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.

Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta -- Epicurean VeganAdd 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 . . .

Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce -- 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.

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

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

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