Pasta with Cashew Cream & Cheese

Pasta with Cashew Cream and Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan(Unfortunately) most of us probably grew up on the boxed mac and cheese stuff, and likely, so have our kids. And kids like their mac and cheese. Instead of giving them that nasty, chemical-filled boxed junk, try making this kid-pleasing version using grated vegan cheese and cashew cream. Not only is it creamy, but it actually tastes cheesy and pretty darn delicious. While this may not top the list of the most healthiest vegan dishes, it’s miles from the fat-laden dairy version. Cashews are loaded with heart-protective monosaturated fats, antioxidants, calcium and protein. You can use your favorite vegan cheddar such as Daiya, Follow Your Heart or even make your own. This is also an easy recipe that your kiddos can help out with too!

INGREDIENTS:
16-oz uncooked pasta, such as elbows, shells or spirals
1 to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth (it just depends on how thick you want it)
4-oz vegan cheddar, shredded (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 C cashews, soaked for at least an hour in hot water (if you can; no biggie if you can’t soak them)
1/2 C water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 dashes of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional ingredients: sneak in those veggies by adding peas, carrots or broccoli. Or spice it up with green chilies or salsa.

Pasta with Cashew Cream and Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the pasta according to package instruction, or until al dente. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. If you soaked the cashews, drain them and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely ground, scraping the sides of processor bowl if necessary. Add the water, apple cider vinegar and salt. Puree 2 minutes, or until smooth. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Over medium-low heat, fold in the grated cheese,  cashew cream, broth and nutritional yeast. Combine well and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. If using, add the optional ingredients and stir until heated through. Enjoy!

Pasta with Cashew Cream & Cheese
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 16-oz uncooked pasta, such as elbows, shells or spirals
  • 1 to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth (it just depends on how thick you want it)
  • 4-oz vegan cheddar, shredded (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
  • ⅓ C nutritional yeast
  • 1 C cashews, soaked for at least an hour in hot water (if you can; no biggie if you can't soak them)
  • ½ C water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional ingredients: sneak in those veggies by adding peas, carrots or broccoli. Or spice it up with green chilies or salsa.
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instruction, or until al dente. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. If you soaked the cashews, drain them and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely ground, scraping the sides of processor bowl if necessary. Add the water, apple cider vinegar and salt. Puree 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  2. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Over medium-low heat, fold in the grated cheese, cashew cream, broth and nutritional yeast. Combine well and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted.
  3. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. If using, add the optional ingredients and stir until heated through. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies {Gluten-Free}

Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganThis amazing dish will be ready in less than 30 minutes but will taste like you spent a good hour on it. I came across Viviana Foods gluten-free & vegan lemon garlic orzo and it looked pretty interesting, so I thought I’d give it shot.
Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganThe orzo is ready in about 7 minutes and all I had to do was just had to chop some veggies and herbs and saute some for just a few minutes. The flavor is fantastic; I only seasoned it with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. The only downside is that the orzo costs around $7! Yeah, it was a splurge. I guess I was so drawn to the cute little package.  So it may not be something I’d buy on a regular basis, but it really was tasty!

INGREDIENTS:
1 8-oz pkg. Viviana Lemon Garlic Orzo
1 tsp olive oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C green onion, sliced
3/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6-9 minutes. Test it for doneness. You’ll want to use a fine mesh strainer to drain the orzo, otherwise you’ll pretty much lose most of it down the drain. Rinse with hot water and return to the pan.

Gluten-Free Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies -- Epicurean VeganWhile it’s cooking, however, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion. Saute over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes—just until the mushrooms start to cook down. Fold the mushrooms and green onions into the orzo and season with salt and pepper. Top individual servings with some basil and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Orzo with Fresh Veggies {Gluten-Free}
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 8-oz pkg. Viviana Lemon Garlic Orzo
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 C mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ C green onion, sliced
  • ¾ C fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6-9 minutes. Test it for doneness. You'll want to use a fine mesh strainer to drain the orzo, otherwise you'll pretty much lose most of it down the drain. Rinse with hot water and return to the pan.
  2. While it's cooking, however, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion. Saute over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes---just until the mushrooms start to cook down.
  3. Fold the mushrooms and green onions into the orzo and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Top individual servings with some basil and tomatoes. Enjoy!

 

 

Dreamy, Creamy Pasta Salad

Vegan Dreamy, Creamy Pasta SaladThis is the perfect picnic pasta salad . . . okay, perfect for any time. Summer is around the corner and chances are, you’ve got some get togethers on the horizon (the Fourth of July will be here before you know it), so this is a flavor-packed, crowd-pleasing salad sure to be gone in minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

16-oz of pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 C green onion, sliced
2 carrots, shredded

Sauce:
2 cloves of garlic
12.3-oz pkg. Mori-Nu Silken tofu, firm or extra firm
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs yellow miso
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dill
2 Tbs vegan sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile, chop up the garlic cloves in the food processor, then add the remaining sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
20140526_154005Add the veggies to a large bowl . . .
20140526_153127. . . add the pasta and then fold in the sauce. Combine thoroughly; serve immediately, or chill in the fridge. Enjoy!
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Creamy Kale & Mushroom Pasta

Kale PastaKale and mushrooms. Two of my favorite veggies. Together with pasta: a new favorite meal! It’s incredibly easy to make and will be ready in no time.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C onion, minced
3 Tbs flour, divided
1 C vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced, then cut in half
2 C kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C green onions, sliced
Optional: 1/3 C Dairy-free sour cream
12-14 ounces pasta of your choice (I used rotini)

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over  medium heat; cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions, and cook another 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add two tablespoons of the flour and coat the onions well; cook 1 minute. Little by little, add the broth and whisk until the mixture is thickened. While I prepare the sauce, I had the kale and mushrooms in my steamer pot. They only need about 5-7 minutes to steam, so keep an eye on the pot; I find that kale can get bitter-tasting if it gets over-steamed. Once it turns bright green, it’s perfect—remove from heat.

Stir the nutritional yeast into the sauce, along with the salt, pepper, thyme and nutmeg. In a small cup, whisk together the almond milk with the remaining tablespoon of flour. Again, little by little, whisk it into the sauce until it has thickened. Stir in the lemon juice. Combine the cooked pasta with the green onions and the steamed kale and mushrooms.
20140524_194257Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and combine well. If using, add the sour cream and mix thoroughly. Season with more salt and pepper if you’d like, serve and enjoy!

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

Meatless Mushroom Ragu

Meatless Mushroom Ragu -- Epicurean Vegan

Hello! I didn’t forget about all of you; I’ve had a very busy month of traveling. I spent a couple of weeks traveling around Northern California on a little book tour—you can read about it HERE if you’d like. I now get to spend 8 days in New York City this month with my dear friends Kerrie and Nicole! I’ve thrilled to be going on this trip, especially since I’ve never been to the Big Apple. I’m hoping I get a chance to check out some of Alicia Silverstone’s favorite NYC vegan eateries while I’m there. Any recommendations of your own?

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying not living out of a suitcase for a few days and I finally got back in the kitchen. I recently picked up The Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook and decided try the meatless ragu. I made a few changes to the recipe, however. You may not think to haul out the slow cooker during the summer, (let alone for vegan food), but it beats using the oven to heat up the house and we’re not regular grill users, so the crock pot is a great idea. The only trouble is that the smell of everything cooking might make you hungry all day. Most of the recipes in the cookbook include instructions for what to prepare the night before and what to prepare the next day—a real time-saver. There wasn’t much to do the night before, so I threw it all together in about 15 minutes around noon.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 C onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Field Roast sausages, Italian Seasonings flavor, crumbled
1 28-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 C mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs port wine
Chopped fresh basil
Optional ingredients: diced zucchini and/or bell pepper
1 lb Rigatoni pasta

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil, until the onions are tender, a bout 3-4 minutes.

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Transfer the onions to the slow cooker. Next, add the Field Roast to the skillet and over medium heat, saute until browned, 3-4 minutes as well.

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Transfer the Field Roast, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper, vinegar, and wine in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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Serve over cooked pasta and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!

Meatless Mushroom Ragu -- Epicurean Vegan

 

Alfredo Ravioli (and a beautiful white morning)

Alfredo Ravioli -- Epicurean VeganFirst, 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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DSC07688So 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 VeganNext, 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 VeganLay 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 VeganTime 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 VeganKeeping 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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Roman Pasta Soup with Potatoes

Roman Pasta Soup with Potatoes -- Epicurean VeganThis is definitely a carb-lover’s soup! You certainly don’t have to use pasta and potatoes, but I think they work really well together in this soup. I used to make this soup a lot about ten or twelve years ago, but sort of forgot about it, especially since it used real bacon, but like most meat dishes, this one is easy to veganize. It’s incredibly easy to make and versatile, too. I think some chopped kale or mushrooms would be great additions.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 veggie bacon slices, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped
8-9 C vegetable broth
3 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 C pasta shells, uncooked
Black pepper, to taste
Daiya mozzarella

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and veggie bacon and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cook another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are slightly tender. Add the pasta and cook 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through. Season with black pepper and serve with Daiya cheese on top. Enjoy!

Pasta & Kale with Lemony Cashew Cream

Pasta and Kale with Lemony Cashew Cream -- Epicurean Vegan

This makes a great summer dish! If you don’t have any kale on hand (why wouldn’t you?!) you could use any leafy green such as chard or spinach. I also think sliced mushrooms, sauteed asparagus, or zucchini would also work well in this. The sauce isn’t overly rich and has just a hint of lemon, plus it’s a breeze to make.

INGREDIENTS:

4 C pasta
2-3 C kale, chopped

Cashew Cream:

2 C raw cashews
water

The rest:

2 tsp yellow miso
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the cashews in water for a few hours, preferably overnight. Drain and rinse the cashews, then place them in the blender. Add 2-1/2 cups of water and blend until smooth. The results will resemble heavy cream. This makes about 4 cups. You’ll only need 1-1/2 cups for this recipe, so I store the rest in a mason jar in the fridge. It will also keep in the freezer for a couple of months.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together 1-1/2 cups of the cream sauce, miso, lemon juice, and black pepper in a small sauce pan. The sauce will already be thick, so it’s just a matter of heating it through.

Just when you’re about to drain the pasta, add the chopped kale to the pot and let it cook 1 minute, then drain.

Pasta and Kale with Lemony Cashew Cream -- Epicurean Vegan

Serve the pasta with the cashew cream drizzled on top. If you’d like, season with a bit of salt. Enjoy!

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine -- Epicurean Vegan

“To err is human.” I found myself quoting Alexander Pope as I made this dish from Big Vegan. Apparently, I wasn’t very good about reading the ingredient list, or directions when I decided on making this dish this week. I didn’t realize that it calls for dried mushrooms. Didn’t pick those up. It called for fresh parsley. Didn’t get that. It called for a cast iron pan. Still haven’t bought one. But that’s OK! I improvised and this turned out to be an amazing dish, mostly because I did not screw up the sauce. It’s a fantastic sauce that I will be making again and again. It’s full of flavor and isn’t too thick or too thin, and is so easy to make. The Husband called it a vegan stroganoff. The recipe also calls for seitan, but I’m not a fan, so I left it out. Below is my ad libbed version that I promise won’t disappoint! In fact, I got nixed out of the leftovers, but thankfully, there was some sauce left so I made some rice and had a satisfying lunch.

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine -- Epicurean Vegan

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tbs rice flour
1 Tbs olive oil
2 C shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 C almond milk
1/4 C white cooking wine
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs white miso
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch turmeric
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz portobello caps (3 of them), thinly sliced
16 oz dried fettuccine
1/4 C toasted walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the shiitakes, green onion, portobellos, and cook until browned. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to combine.

Whisk together the almond milk, wine, miso, tomato paste, yeast flakes, nutmeg, cayenne, and turmeric. Reduce the heat on the mushrooms to low and slowly add the sauce, little by little, stirring as you go to keep it from burning. Season with the salt. It won’t be a real thick sauce; you just want it heated through.

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine -- Epicurean Vegan

Drain the pasta and serve it with a ladle or two of sauce on top along with the toasted walnuts. You can also mix the sauce with the pasta, but I like to usually keep them separate. Enjoy!