Noodles & Veg

Ah, Vegetarian Times. Some months, there is nothing to cook in there at all. And the other months–a beautiful extravaganza of vegan delights. This month they are totally on their game. This is the first of a few meals I’ve made from the October 2011 issue, and they have all been terrific.

This picture is horrible, though, right? This is the best one! I took about a million pictures, and this one was the only one that wasn’t blurry. ARGH! I think my problem is that the Vegetarian Times dinners are SO much more work, I’ve barely had time to do all the dishes afterwards before crawling into bed.

Anyhow, I believe this one is called “Vegetables and Noodles with Sesame Dressing.” That isn’t the sexiest name for a recipe that I’ve ever seen, but it gets the job done. I would say my only real complaint here is the steamed tofu–why on earth would anyone want to eat just plain steamed tofu. Is there anything less flavorful in the whole world? Even when you put the sauce (which is amazing) on it, it doesn’t help much. I’d recommend marinating it in a little bit of sauce and then dry frying it for some added awesome.


Eggplant & Spicy Sausage

Have I told you how much I love the Spicy Sausage recipe from Happy Herbivore? LOVE IT. So insanely good. And somehow, it manages to taste better every time I make it. This time the texture was amazing–so soft and squishy, but a little crusty on the outside…aaah. And I made it a touch less spicy by adding only half of the cayenne it called for–I discovered the last few times I made this sausage, it was uncomfortably spicy.

For this dinner I just cooked some rotini pasta, and tossed in the marinated eggplant and zucchini from the Trader Joe’s freezer section. Since it comes pre-marinated, it already has it’s own sauce. Just toss with the pasta and you’re good to go. Of course I sprinkled on a little nutritional yeast, and a touch of balsamic vinegar doesn’t hurt, either.

Add in a little crusty bread and this dinner is done! And super easy.


Broccoli & Linguine

Arrrgh! This dinner is so good! It makes me sort of angry to look at the picture and not be eating it. Also, it makes me a little mad at myself that I haven’t made it for so long. This is, of course, Pasta con Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction. I’m really glad I saved it for tonight’s dinner, since I was feeling a little tired and run down today.

I have a few handy tips about making this dish–first, use linguine. I don’t know why it makes such a big difference, but you should for sure use it. I think I made this with regular spaghetti in the past and it isn’t nearly as good. Second, I like to cook the broccoli way, way down. So it’s really mushy and creamy and I even break it up a little bit with the spatula before I mix in the pasta. Last, don’t be afraid of the garlic. If anything, you can put in even more than the roughly 1/4 cup the recipe calls for. I would say this is one time to purchase that pre-peeled garlic, though. It’ll help you get the nice slices without losing your mind.

And by all means, sprinkle with nutritional yeast. You need more of that stuff in your life, you really, really do.



Lazy Lasagna

This dish has many names and many forms: Spaghetti Casserole, Spaghetti Bake, Noodle Pie, etc. But I like to think of it as Lazy Lasagna, because it tastes a lot like lasagna, but you don’t have to fight with those huge crazy noodles. Or worry about layer after layer of application. It’s just a couple simple steps, a lot of dirty dishes, and then you’ve got 8 servings of heaven!

Lazy Lasagna (serves 8):

  • 8oz (dry) spaghetti noodles
  • 14 oz block of firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 T dehydrated onion
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unmilk
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (or about 2 cups), cut into florets
  • 1 recipe of Mushroom Marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)

For the filling:

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the cauliflower on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Roast until tender. Now, start a large pot of water boiling on high. Cook your pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside. In your food processor, combine tofu, nutritional yeast, spices, onion, lemon juice and 1/4 cup unmilk. Blend until creamy. If your processor is on the large side, just add the cooled cauliflower to this mix, with the fresh basil and parsley. (If it’s small, pour out the tofu mixture and add in the cauliflower. You can blend them together by hand after pureeing everything.) Add unmilk in small doses if cauliflower/tofu seems really dry. You’re looking to get the texture of a moist ricotta cheese. Taste for salt, and add pepper if needed.

Now, mix the cauliflower and tofu with the noodles. Make sure to get them really mixed together well, or you’ll have dry patches of just noodles, and wet patches of just “cheese.”

To assemble:

Layer a small amount of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish. Then, pour the noodle filling over that. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top, smooth to make it even. Sprinkle on vegan cheese, if using.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until very bubbly around the edges, and hot all the way through. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before eating. You may need to salt and pepper it again before serving, since this dish is weird and seems to require more salt than you would think possible.

This recipe is wonderful to make changes to–there is so much opportunity for variety! I think a pesto version would be amazing, or with zucchini, eggplant, you name it. I’m excited to see what you come up with! Oh, and I should tell you: it tastes a lot better the next day. Great make-ahead meal.

VegNews Mac & Cheese…tested, and happily, approved!

I must be the only person on the planet who craves mac & cheese in 90 degree weather. With 100% humidity. Thanks, Kansas. Also, if you were wondering, my hair DOES look frizzy. So if you see me out on the street, just avert your eyes.

Anyway, I was interested in trying VegNew’s “best mac & cheese on the planet” because it’s nutritional yeast-free, even though I love the nooch and I’m always happy to have it in my life. Also, I was stubbornly confused about how potatoes, carrots, onions and cashews would make anything that looked passably like cheese. And you know what? THEY DO. This is the BEST faux mac I’ve had (not like I’ve had a ton, but still). I really like my Spicy Mac, but this is a pleasantly simple dish, for when you are craving mac and cheese in it’s purest form.

Notice the bread crumbs? I thought there were way too many, but it ended up tasting just right. Also, look a little closer…closer…yes…those are homemade crumbs! From homemade bread! *Pats self on back*

I think I’d be misleading you if I didn’t say that this dish is high in fat. It calls for a whopping 7 tablespoons of margarine, which equals about 80 grams of fat. UGH. Even when you split it into 8 portions like I did, it’s still a lot for the portion-size. And when I cooked it, I took about 3 tablespoons out (one from the breadcrumbs, two from the sauce). I think I could probably take even more out of the sauce by pureeing some white beans in with the veggies. I’d like to get this down to two or three tablespoons total, so I could eat a larger portion and not feel that heavy greasy ache in my stomach. Do you get that, too?

Despite the whopping fat content, this recipe is definitely a keeper, and will be on heavy rotation when fall and winter come. I’ll probably serve it then with some sweet potatoes, squash, or sauteed spinach. OOH! I can’t wait!


Spicy Mac!

This dish is, for me, what hot dish is for Minnesotans. My mom’s recipe for “Mexican Mac & Cheese” is one of the most comforting foods that I know. And as a vegan, I can’t exactly pound down the sour cream and cheese sauce like I used to. This recipe was high on my list for veganization, and I’m proud to report that it turned out perfect. It wasn’t one of those situations were it tasted “almost the same” or “sorta all right” but rather tasted virtually exactly the same as the original. Even my picky omni husband thought it was a pretty perfect rendition. So, enjoy!

Spicy Mac (serves 4 to 6):

  • 8 oz shell pasta (I used brown rice pasta, because it’s what I had)
  • 1&1/2 cup pinto beans (I used anasazi beans–if you can find them, they are the best beans EVER)–oh, and PS–if you’re using a can of beans, just use the whole can.
  • 15 oz can Ro-tel
  • 7 oz can of green chilies
  • 1 small onion plus 2 T, diced
  • 1 small bag of frozen peas, carrots & corn
  • 2 tsp Tapatio (it’s like Tabasco sauce, but awesomer)
  • 1/2 recipe for Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (drained after being soaked in water for an hour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

First, start the water boiling for your noodles. Then, prepare the cheezy sauce. Once the water is boiling, put the noodles in and cook until almost al dente. You want them to still be a little stiff, or they turn to mush in the casserole. Now, in a large bowl, mix the small onion (without the extra 2 T, you’ll use that later), beans, Ro-tel, green chilies & frozen veggies together. Add the noodles, stir, and then add the cheese sauce. When everything is nicely coated in sauce, add the Tapatio. Put the mixture in a 13×9 (or smaller, just adjust cooking time) casserole dish, top with shredded cheese, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

While your delicious casserole is baking, make the cilantro-cashew cream topping (adapted from Vegan Brunch). This is so easy! Simply take the cashews, 2 T of onion (told you!), cilantro, red wine vinegar & water and mix in a food processor for anywhere from 2-5 minutes. You just want everything to be nicely smooth, with no chunks of nuts at all. If your food processor is like mine, the cashew cream will never come completely smooth. It’ll still taste pretty great, though. After blending, put the cream in the fridge to cool down.

When your casserole is done, take out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. You don’t want to burn your face on hot noodles. When serving, remember to put about a tablespoon of cilantro cashew cream on top of each, and you can always put on as much Tapatio as your heart desires.

Pasta de the place I sorta used to live near

Here’s Pasta de los Angeles, in all it’s mixed-up glory. It’s a recipe I make often from AfR, though it isn’t one of my favorites. But there’s a part of my brain that goes…mmm…hot salsa pasta? Yeah. Tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, black beans–it’s all there. But when I get done making it, I usually don’t want to eat it. Odd, right?

It’s a tasty dish, easy to make, and the spinach adds a looooot, despite the fact it seems like a strange addition. I also like to put in corn, since it gives a hint of sweetness that the original recipe is missing. And I put on lots of hot sauce. Usually Dan’s Texas Dew Drops. Of which I have a massive stash in my cupboard. I LOVE YOU, DAN!