June 24th, 2011 § § permalink
June 24. Dear Summer. I miss you. We should hang out again soon. Love Melissa.
Normally at this time of year I’d be tossing the raw foods and salads, but on June 24th, we just endured a torrential rain storm, followed by hail, and the temperature outside is nothing to be desired. Hm. Ok…I guess it’s back to winter food!
Ever since I saw a version on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives, I’ve wanted to do a vegan version of this Irish classic and I took the hail storm as my que. I’ve just used an ale that was in the fridge, but feel free to experiment with your favourite beer (I’m going to try Guinness next!).
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Oil for sauteing
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 medium waxy potatoes cut into 1″ cubes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
12 fluid oz of beer – your choice
1 tsp tamari
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 pkg Daiya Cheddar cheese shreds
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven (that’s the fancy term for “large pot”). Saute the onions and potatoes together over medium heat, turning constantly. You want to “caramelize” the onion and potato together as it creates the character for this soup. Continue to cook the potato and onion mixture until the potatoes are cooked. Put half the mixture into a high-speed blender and add the vegetable stock (to the blender). Blend until smooth.
Add the potato/onion puree mixture back to the pot and add the other half of cooked potato and onion.
Stir in the mustard, the beer, the tamari, nutritional yeas and Daiya cheese shreds. Reduce the heat to medium/low and gently heat the soup back up to temperature, until the cheese if fully melted and the alcohol in the beer has cooked off.
Season with paprika and salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with salted crackers (I’ve used pita chips here). Enjoy!
June 20th, 2011 § § permalink
More green. I can’t get enough. This time I’ve used peas to create a creamy sauce with zero cream (not even a vegan version). Peas are a great source of protein. This dish serves up 22 grams of it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing
1/2 chopped white onion
2-3 large garlic cloves
2 1/2 cups light vegetable broth
16 oz bag of frozen green peas
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup of loosely packed basil leaves
1 lb organic crimini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
about 10 spears of asparagus
12 oz egg-free penne or other pasta
Boil about 4 quarts of water for pasta.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until translucent. Place all the ingredients up to the basil (not including the mushrooms or asparagus) in a vitamix or other high-speed blender and add the onions. Blend on high until smooth.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes (until they start to release some moisture). Add the asparagus and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Pour the pea mixture back into the skillet that you’ve been using to saute, and gently heat the sauce until it’s hot (do not over cook or it will lose its bright green colour – not to mention nutrients).
Combine the cooked penne and the pea sauce. Plate and top with sautéed mushrooms and asparagus.
June 20th, 2011 § § permalink
I love anything green. It’s my favourite colour. From the bridesmaid’s dresses in my wedding to anything St. Patrick’s day. Green, Green GREEN!! I LOVE green and this pasta dish is no exception to the rule.
Not only do I love the colour green, but you can usually get a sense of the nutritional value of a vegetable by its green colour. Asparagus is:
- Low in calories, only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.
- Contains no fat or cholesterol.
- Very low in sodium.
- A good source of potassium
- A source of fiber (3 grams per 5.3 oz. serving
- An excellent source of folic acid
- A significant source of thiamin
- A significant source of vitamin B6
- One of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.
And to compliment that asparagus, avocados contain high amounts folate, and potassium. Avocados are also higher in potassium than bananas are, and will fight high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. avocados contain good fats and are extremely high in monosaturated fats. These fats will improve the healthy fats levels in the body and help control diabetes.
Avocados are high in fiber. Most people do not get enough fiber in their daily diet-avocados contain about 10grams of fiber per one avocado.
Avocados maximize nutrient absorption from vegetables. Eating a few slices of avocado with a salad promotes the body’s ability to absorb health-promoting carotenoids which provide the body with much-needed nutrients.
Avocados can actually be used to promote a healthy weight. Despite its high caloric and fat content, this fruit can be helpful in promoting weigh management. This is because its monosaturated fats speed up metabolism, as well as give the person eating it a feeling of fullness quicker and thus, reducing the temptation to eat foods high in sugar or carbohydrates.
This dish is both creamy and delicious and loaded with nutrients. Modified from the recipe on one of my favourite food blogs http://ohsheglows.com/ this dish still whips up in about 15 minutes flat.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
1 medium-sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste (i’ve used 3 cloves, but I I love garlic as much as I like green, so you could also take it down a few notches here if you are a vampire)
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Basil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used kamut udon noodles)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 10 spears asparagus sliced thinly
1/4 cup pine nuts for sprinkling
Bring water to a boil stove-top to cook the noodles.
Place everything in a food processor except for the asparagus (and the noodles). Blend until creamy. If you need a little bit extra liquid to loosen the mixture (it should be thick and creamy, but not stiff) you can add a bit more lemon juice.
Boil the noodles according the the package directions. If you use the soba noodles as I have, they only take about 6 minutes. Throw the asparagus into the boiling water with the noodles when there is about 3 minutes left in the noodle cooking time.
Drain the noodles and asparagus and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Garnish with fresh basil and serve with garlic toast. Heaven.
*note: this pasta actually makes about 3 servings if you are having bread with your meal. It does save in the fridge for about a day before it starts to lose it’s green and turn a off-green (but it still tastes great as leftovers the next day!)
June 9th, 2011 § § permalink
Game 4. Although the sun has started to shine and the atmosphere has started to feel warm and summery and my palate usually sways towards fresh salads and raw foods at this time of year…. I had a hankering for a little pub food to spice up game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs….with a SwapMeat twist of course!
When I think of English pub food, I think of Fish and Chips, Cornish Pasties, Chips and Gravy – a heart attack on a plate so to speak. Yum!! And for that reason I steer clear of animal product as I would be down the pub every night! Tonight however I’ll replicate those tasty treats into a healthier version of pub on a plate with my gluten-free bean pasties and nut butter parsnip fries. This meal should keep you out of the cardiac ward for a while longer.
A pasty, sometimes known in (West) Cornish dialect as tiddy oggy, and sometimes as pastie or British pasty in Canada, is a filled pastry case, associated with Cornwall and Devon, in the south-west of England, UK. It is made by placing the uncooked filling on a flat pastry circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The traditional Cornish pasty, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe, is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked. Today, the pasty is the food most associated with Cornwall and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy according to Wikipedia.
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Makes 6-8 medium pasties
**I have also filed these under “quick dinners’ because if you make extra and freeze them uncooked, it’s just a matter of throwing them in the oven on a night where you have less time to make dinner!
For the Filling:
3-4 peeled and chopped potatoes (I prefer a waxy variety)
½ peeled and chopped onion
3 tsp vegetable stock granules
1 cup rinsed and drained kidney beans
black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to at 375F.
I have some pastry left in my freezer from a Quiche recipe I made a few weeks ago which I will use. If you want to make it from scratch, you can find the recipe here. Alternately, you could use your own favourite pastry recipe.
To make this like a traditional “meat” filling, you can process your raw vegetables in a food processor by shredding them. This will give the filling a more “minced meat” like consistency. Alternately, you could chop your veg into about 1cm cubes for a chunkier filling, but I might suggest that you sauté the filling in a pan before filling the pasties if you choose to go this method. Once your vegetables are chopped or shredded, transfer them to a bowl, add the beans and the vegetable stock granules. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Roll the pastry out to about 1/8” thick and cut into about 4” rounds. Spoon the filling into the centre of each pastry circle. Dampen the edge of the pastry with water, fold pastry over to form a half circle and pinch together.
Place the pasties onto the prepared baking sheet, brush each non-dairy milk, and prick with a fork to let the steam escape.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with Nut Buttered Parsnip Fries (they will change your life)! Or a fresh green salad.
Go Canucks GO!!
May 30th, 2011 § § permalink
This is good stuff – what more can I say? This dish comes together in about 20 minutes flat. A gnocchi dish is incredibly easy to make and is very inexpensive. My neighbourhood grocer, Donalds market, has gnocchi on sale this week for $1.39 a package, and in this recipe, that serves about 4 people. I keep packages in the freezer and when I’m running short on time, gnocchi can go straight from the deep freeze, right into the boiling water and be done in about 3 minutes. I load this up with mushrooms and grape tomatoes – but you could really add any of your favourite veg – play around!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 375g pkg gnocchi
grapeseed oil for sauteing
1/2 recipe for vegan pesto
10-15 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
4 cups mushrooms (chopped or whole)
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup frozen green peas
I recommend reading through this recipe before you begin. You want to time your gnocchi cooking time with the sautéed vegetables so that everything is ready at the same time. This can take a bit of practice. If your gnocchi is done a little too quickly, it will sit aside and stick together. You want to avoid that.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. When it boils, you will add your gnocchi keeping in mind that the gnocchi only takes about 3 minutes to cook – so you can really wait right until the end of the veg cooking to do this..
I like to cut my vegetables into pieces that are about the size of a piece of gnocchi. Sometimes I’ll leave the mushrooms whole for a textural treat. I’ll leave that up to you.
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat some oil and saute the mushrooms until tender (about 10 minutes) I do all of this as my water for the gnocchi is heating to a boil. Add the red pepper to the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes. I never want to overcook my vegetables. You will lose the nutrients and the crispness of the lightly sautéed veg is a nice textural compliment to the gnocchi.
You want to time the cooking of your gnocchi with about the time you add your red peppers to the sautéed mushrooms as the gnocchi will take about 3 minutes to cook – it’s very quick. You can tell they are done as the dumplings float to the surface. As the dumplings start to float to the water’s surface, add your frozen peas to the sautéed vegetable mixture. Give a good stir and then drain your gnocchi (again, this is a timing thing. You want your peas to stay nice and green and not turn brown from over-cooking).
Add the cooked gnocchi to your sautéed vegetables and about half a recipe (about 1/2- 3/4 cup) of your pesto. Toss with the chopped grape tomatoes (you don’t want to cook these – the heat of the gnocchi and sautéed veg will just bring them up to a nice temperature).
Voila. Dinner in about 20 minutes.
*note – gnocchi does contain wheat flour.
May 1st, 2011 § § permalink
The original recipe for the Quiche’s batter can be found at Vegalicious Recipes. I’ve altered a few things from the original recipe and added a few of my favourite Quiche vegetables. I’ve also used a vegan, gluten-free pie crust. I found it really difficult to develop a gluten-free pastry recipe that was similar to a wheat crust (and tender and flakey like a wheat crust). In the end, I chose to use a flour mix from the Gluten Free Pantry that was formulated for a pie crust. It worked beautifully and took the guess-work out of the flour ratios.
1 x 9″ wheat free pie crust
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups wild mushrooms
1/2 lb fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
8 tablespoons chickpea flour
5 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I’ve used unsweetened almond)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tomato, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
Slow roasted Garlic Cherry Tomatoes for the top
Preheat the oven to 400 (F).
For the slow roasted tomatoes, slice 2 baskets of sweet cherry or grape tomatoes and place in a roasting pan. Chop 6-8 cloves of garlic and toss into the tomatoes with a little olive oil. Slow roast at 250F for about 2 hours.
In a saute pan, saute the asparagus until al-dente. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Santee the mushrooms until they start to sweat and lose their liquid.
In a blender, mix the chickpea flour, water, soy milk, vinegar, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, and tomato. Puree until it is a smooth batter.
Cover the bottom of the raw pie shell with a layer of fresh pesto. Place the sautéed vegetables in the bottom of the pie shell and sprinkle with Daiya cheese. Pour the batter over the vegetables.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the batter becomes solid.
Top with roasted cherry tomatoes and enjoy!
April 19th, 2011 § § permalink
Before Daiya became available in Canada, I used to order a cheese-less pizza from the local pizzeria and pretend like it was something enjoyable. It somewhat filled the gap – but nothing like the real thing if you are a lover of cheese. Cheese was something that I was afraid I would miss dearly when I gave up the animal product, but it was only a matter of time before there was a fantastic vegan equivalent on the market… Daiya cheese.
First it came in the form of Loving Hut; my little guilty pleasure vegan fast food hangout that served pizza topped with great toppings and Daiya cheese. Loving Hut also made things like vegan Caesar salad, “chicken” nuggets, and poutine made with mushroom gravy and Daiya mozza! I was in heaven if the need to indulge ever came over me. Then, one sad day, Loving Hut burnt down and it never came back. It still brings a tear to my eye to think of it. Sadly Loving Hut fell off the Vancouver circuit.
But one day – one GLORIOUS day, Daiya cheese came to Canada! Now all North Americans alike can make a perfect pizza that doesn’t cost them a Loving Hut arm and leg. My pizzas taste (If I may toot my own horn) like pizza found in the land of the boot – it doesn’t get better than this! I can’t say enough wonderful things about this stuff. It behaves EXACTLY as cheese should. It melts, it stretches, it re-heats beautifully – it IS cheese! Daiya does a cheddar and a mozza version of shredded cheese and they have recently added a new flavor: PepperJack! Tonight my vegan friends, we gave this new heavenly flavor a whirl on one of our Canucks playoff game pizzas. The outcome? Brilliance.
I can’t take credit for these pies. Jason made them both from scratch tonight (dough and all!). I’m not posting a specific recipe for toppings with this blog entry because pizza is really a personal creation. He made a “Meat” Lovers pie with Daiya PepperJack and an Italian Veggie with Daiya Mozza. The one thing I would suggest is that you don’t want to use too many vegetables that contain a lot of water or you will end up with a soggy crust as the water is released during baking. If you really want to load your pizza, I’d suggest cooking off, or roasting the veg in advance, but on pizza, sometimes less is more. A few mushrooms, some spinach, a little red onion….the list is wide open for you to create the pizza masterpiece you can call your own. Finish with a light layer of Daiya and bake in a 450F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble and the crust is golden. Here is Jason’s pizza dough recipe, but you can always use a pre-made pizza shell in a pinch, which you can buy at most grocery stores.
1 cup water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups spelt flour *
1/2 + 1 tbsp kamut flour*
1 3/4 tsp yeast
*you could use any glutenous flour here
Jason made this in the bread machine on the dough cycle, but you could just as easily make it by hand. In the bread machine place all the ingredients into the machine in the order that they appear and set the machine as per the instructions for the dough cycle. If making by hand, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for a few minutes and then combine with the dry ingredients. Knead by hand until a dough consitency is reached, and then let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour in the bowl under a tea towel. Roll and top with your favourite toppings.
We baked this pizza on a pizza stone in the oven at 450F for about 25 minutes. Makes two medium-sized thin crust pizzas.
Happy Pizza Night everyone!
March 30th, 2011 § § permalink
There is a restaurant on Cambie Street in Vancouver called 3G. It hits the spot for some vegan dim sum or sweet and sour “chicken” when the craving arises. Its our guilty pleasure when we need a break from cooking, although it’s mostly soy and wheat based mock meat (like I said…our guilty pleasure). 3G does however make an amazing, from-scratch veggie gyoza made with minced bok choy which gave me the idea for this recipe.
I’ve used pre-made won ton wrappers (which are made with rice flour and have no egg) to make the ravioli. They are great when you have a stuffed pasta craving, but no time to make the pasta which can be time-consuming. These can be found at your local Asian market in the frozen food section.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
grapeseed oil for sautéing
1 pkg of won ton wrappers (makes about 34 ravioli)
7-9 baby bok choy, finely chopped
1/2 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 15oz can premium organic coconut milk
1/2 15oz can of organic pumpkin
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
Juice of 1 lime
sea salt and pepper to taste
*make sure you read the ingredients on the won ton wrappers. Some brands are made with egg and wheat.
Boil a large pot of salted water for cooking the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat some oil and sauté one shallot until translucent. Add the chopped bok choy and continue to cook until the bok choy has released some liquid. Add the chopped pecans and set aside. You don’t want to cook the bok choy so much that it loses its colour. You want it to remain bright green.
Build the ravioli. Take one won ton wrapper and put about 1 1/2 tsp of the bok choy filling in the center. Moisten the edges with water and place another wrapper on top, pressing the edges gently to make sure the ravioli is sealed. Place each ravioli on a baking sheet, but do not stack as they will stick together. I used some cling wrap in between layers to avoid this. Place the tray of built ravioli in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to secure the seal around the edges. You could very well make these in advance and freeze them or keep them in the fridge for a day or two before cooking them up.
In a skillet, sauté the other shallot until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and add the Thai red curry paste. Let simmer a few more minutes while the ravioli cook in boiling water. Squeeze in the juice of one fresh lime to finish.
To cook the ravioli, gently add them one at a time to boiling salted water. I worked with a batch of 5. If you add too many, they will stick together. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then place each ravioli in the simmering sauce. Once in the sauce, I added 5 more ravioli to the water bath and then plated my first batch.
Place the ravioli on a plate and add a little extra sauce if desired. Garnish with freshly chopped scallion or chopped parsley.
March 25th, 2011 § § permalink
This one has been on the docket for quite some time now and when I woke up to rain this morning after a glimpse of spring the last two days, I was inspired to bring this classic comfort food to the table tonight. I’ve used canned lentils in the pies here, but you could also cook dried lentils if you have the time.
Lentils are type of pulse from the legume family. They are high in protein, folate, fiber, and vitamin B. Lentils also contain the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine, not to mention they are an excellent source of iron. Who needs beef when you’ve got the lentil?!
Prep Time Stovetop: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes stove top, 30 minutes in the oven
2 large sweet potatoes
2tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
grapeseed oil for sautéing
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 15oz can brown lentils (or approximately 2 cups cooked lentils)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 cup organic vegetable stock
4 tbsp rice flour
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1″ cubes. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil on high heat, cooking until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, drain off the water, and add the milk and Earth Balance. Mash with a fork or a potato masher until smooth and creamy.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat some oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute over medium heat until the onions start to become translucent. Add the thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and the lentils.
In a liquid measure, add the 4 tbsp of rice flour. Cover the flour with a bit of stock and mix until well combined. Fill the liquid measure with stock to the 1 cup mark and add to the lentil mixture, stirring constantly. The liquid will start to thicken quite quickly. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 3 more minutes, or until the flour has cooked off. Add the peas and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the lentil mixture into 6″ individual pie containers (4). Top with the sweet potato mash and sprinkle with a little paprika.
Bake at 425F for about 30 minutes. The pies will be bubbly and the sweet potato will have browned.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
March 24th, 2011 § § permalink
With a lack of sleep the night before, and early rise this morning followed a long day of work, dinner tonight had to be quick, simple, and satisfying. You can all relate I know!
Pesto can take something plain and somewhat bland, and turn it into something bold and satisfying as you are about to find out. I’m calling this “risotto” because it isn’t risotto in its traditional form made with Arborio rice, cream, butter and cheese. The cannellini beans and the pesto give my version of risotto that creamy, “cheesy” texture that fool your buds into thinking otherwise. If you don’t have the time to make your own pesto from scratch, or you don’t have the means, Jason recently discovered a great little vegan pesto product by le Grand. The only down side to this product is the protein content (there isn’t any). I make my fresh pesto with cashews which supply the protein needed, but if you in a pinch and want to try this ready-made pesto, you can always mix in a little nutritional yeast to boost the protein, or sprinkle the dish with seeds or nuts (or even better…both!).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
½ cup short grain organic brown rice
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 cups mushrooms, quartered
Grapeseed oil for sautéing
¼ cup fresh or ready-made pesto
1 15oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
Cook the rice according to the directions.
As the rice is cooking, wash and chop the vegetables.
About 10 minutes before the rice will be finished, heat a little oil in a large sauté pan and add the mushrooms. Sauté about 5 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and let the mushrooms sweat slightly (about 10-15 minutes). Remove the lid and add the beans. The mixture will be a little soupy at this point.
With the heat at medium high, continue to cook the mushrooms and beans until the juices have cooked off. Once the mixture has no liquid, remove from the heat and add the rice, pesto, and tomatoes and toss together until mixed. Toss gently, trying not to mash the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and garnish with a basil leaf or sprinkle with some sesame seeds or toasted pine nuts.
Relax with a large glass of red wine and enjoy!