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Pasta Puttanesca

September 8th, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

A fellow vegan blogger, Maya, from The Keen Kitchen, posted a Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca yesterday.  It brought back a lot of memories as puttanesca was one of the very first raw vegan dishes I made way back when I decided to swap the meat for better health.  I have to tell you, I follow about 5 blogs religiously, and I love the Keen Kitchen.  It often touches a part of my past or my taste buds, and she has inspired me more than once in my own blogging.  Puttanesca is one of the many examples thus far that I’m very excited to share with you.

Back in the day, when I was racing, I was invited to an Italian themed dinner party.  It is often a toss up when I get invited to a dinner party as to whether or not I should attend.  Not everyone cooks vegan, and I’m never quite sure if there will be something for me to eat (which if often very important when drinking copious amounts of brilliant wine), nor do I want to put anyone out when I have been invited into their home to break the bread!

On this particular night, I decided to make a pasta trio by Green Chef Chad Sarno.  This  is another one of my favourite blogs, as I come from a carnivorous fine dining background and the food on the Green Chefs is of the same caliber of fine dining excellence.   The presentation alone keeps me inspired and excited about vegan food. One of the three recipes offered here was a raw vegan Puttanesca, and I love it to this day.

I’ve made a few adaptations to this recipe tonight as I wanted to serve it with spelt spaghetti (I didn’t have the time to make zucchini fettuccine).   I’ve also hit is with a considerable amount of lemon juice and olive oil which is slightly different to the original recipe.

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  12 minutes

1/2 cup olives, Kalamata, green and black olives (pits removed and finely chopped)
3 tbsp capers
½ c sun-dried tomatoes re-hydrated and julienne
3 tbsp olive oil
lemon zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small red onion fine diced
1 fresh red chile minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Bring enough water to boil for your favourite pasta.  I used a spelt spaghetti tonight.  Do not over cook!

Prepare the puttanesca, making sure the ingredients are finely  and uniformly chopped.  It can be tempting to use a food processor here, but you will get the best results hand chopping (trust me, I’ve attempted the short cut).

Toss everything together with the cooked pasta and enjoy!  Quick, simple, and delicious!

**please note, most of the protein from this dish comes only from the pasta (which isn’t huge).  You could add some toasted nuts or nutritional yeast to bump up the protein if you like.

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto

June 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s July 1 tomorrow and summer still hasn’t really arrived so it’s time again for an “earthy” hot meal tonight (although this would serve up nicely on a patio as well with a nice glass of pinot grigio).  I wanted to do something really quick and easy so that I could enjoy the rest of the evening without too much work or clean-up.  This is what I came up with:

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion (chopped finely)
olive oil for sautéing
3-4 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
1/4 cup soy milk
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup Daiya Mozza Shreds
Salt & Pepper to taste
a few cherry tomatoes for garnish

Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice named after the town of Arborio Vercellese, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. Like pasta, arborio rice is prepared al dente, which means that it should be slightly firm to the bite – a degree of doneness that might seem underdone in ordinary white rice.  Because this rice undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, arborio retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases this starch, giving risotto its creamy consistency.  Arborio rice is also used for rice pudding.  I feel another post coming on – rice pudding is MY FAVOURITE!!

Measure the peas and set aside to thaw slightly.

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add finely chopped onion. Stir often until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook an additional 4-5 minutes covered and stirring occasionally until the mushrooms start to lose their moisture.  Remove the lid and cook off the liquid until the mushroom and onions start to brown (this might take 10 minutes or so).  Add rice and stir to evenly coat,  about 1 minute.

In a separate pot, heat the vegetable stock to a simmer.

While constantly stirring rice, pour in the white wine. De-glaze the pan with the white wine (that’s just fancy talk for adding the white wine to the pot and letting it simmer until the lovely caramelized bits have loosened off the side of the pot and combined into your sautéed mix).   Scrape up and stir in any brown bits from pan bottom. Stir often until rice absorbs wine – about 1 to 2 minutes.

Gradually pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth. Stir often until liquid is absorbed, add the second cup and repeat this until all the stock has been added to the rice and is fully absorbed.  If rice is not tender, continue to stir in stock, 1/4 cup at a time, until the rice is tender. Once all the liquid has been absorbed , and the rice is tender, stir in the Daiya and continue to stir until it has melted.  Add peas and stir often until hot – another  2 to 3 minutes, and finally add spinach and continue to stir until it has wilted. Spoon into bowls and polish off the remainder of the wine you opened to de-glaze the pan.

Garnish with a few cherry tomatoes and perhaps a few pine nuts.  Enjoy!

Penne with Fresh Pea Cream

June 20th, 2011 § 5 comments § 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
Serves 6

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.





Creamy Avacado and Asparagus Pasta

June 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § 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
Serves:  2

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!)


Bok Choy Ravioli with Pumpkin Coconut Cream

March 30th, 2011 § 7 comments § 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
Servings:  4


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.


Rich & Zesty Tomato Pecan Pasta

February 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m usually not a huge fan of tomato-based sauces unless they are topped with oodles of cheese. I much prefer a creamy alfredo or a rich pesto. This, however, is THE best tomato sauce that I’ve ever had! As far as I’m concerned, it even ranks right up there with the pesto or alfredo!

I’ve adapted the recipe from “Oh She Glows”, one of my favourite blog spots. For personal preference and nutritional value, I swapped out the walnuts for pecans and upped the garlic and onion. As for the nutritional yeast, it may seem like a strange addition, but it’s the ingredient that gives the sauce its cheesy rich taste that hits the back of my tongue and makes my mouth water!

I’m sure you’re going to fall in love with this pasta dish too! It’s the bomb!

One 28oz can organic crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves (or more), minced
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed & chopped finely
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 large handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1tbsp agave nectar
Pasta of your choice (I used Kamut Linguini)

Place the pecans on a cookie tray and gently roast for a few minutes, keeping an eye to make sure they do not burn.  When you start to smell their aroma they are done!  Remove from the oven, let cool and roughly chop.  Set aside.

Chop onion and garlic. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil or grapeseed oil. Add in the onion and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook on low for another 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add in the oregano and stir well.  Now add in the crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, and nutritional yeast.  Stir. Bring to a low boil and then simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.

Add the agave nectar to take the edge off the acid in the tomatoes.  Stir in the chopped pecans and the chopped spinach.  Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes on low heat.  Serve over pasta and garnish with basil leaves and additional pecans.

No Cow Macaroni and Cheese

October 26th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

I’ve been sick all week and after a long day of work with my head pounding and my eyes feeling like they’d been in front of a computer for 9 hours….I wanted a little comfort food.

This is really easy to make and was in a bowl, on the couch, in front of the TV within minutes.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 2
Cooking Time: 15

8 ounces brown rice (or other wheat free pasta) macaroni
3 cups Daiya cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter
2 cups unsweetened rice milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 tbsp rice flour
rice milk to make slurry (about 1/4 cup)

Boil enough water to accommodate your pasta. Cook according to the instructions on the bag.  Drain, rinse and set aside (while the pasta is cooking, I start my sauce so the draining will actually come near to the end of the making of the sauce).  In a separate pot, melt the butter.  Add the black pepper, paprika and nutritional yeast and stir until blended.

Add the rice milk and over medium heat bring the mixture close to boil.
At this point, I add the cheese.

Daiya cheese is brilliant. It is soy free, and tastes and acts just like real cheese from stretch to melt….this stuff is the best!
In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I should make a whole batch of this recipe as I was home alone and I didn’t know it it would reheat well (as many non dairy cheeses don’t). I remember my brother eating the glutinous, starchy, sticky, Kraft dinner leftovers as a kid and I didn’t know if my cold recipe would come back to life….but Daiya is amazing. Reheated the next day this creamy mix came back just as if it had never cooled down.

Stir constantly as the cheese is melting.

This will take a few minutes, so as I am doing this, I also make a flour slurry in a cup to thicken the sauce a bit.  Take your flour and add a bit of rice milk to it, just enough to make a paste.  When that paste is smooth, add a little more rice milk and keep stirring until its smooth again.  Continue this process until you have a slurry mixture of rice milk and flour that is the consistency of runny wallpaper paste.

Add a bit of the melted cheese mixture into the slurry and stir until combined.  Add a bit more.  Continue to add until the cup is full and then add the slurry mixture back into your sauce (this insures that the flour mix does not heat up too quickly).  Stir until combined and remove from heat.  Continue to stir for a few more minutes.

Taste the sauce to make sure the flour taste has cooked off.  Season with salt more pepper if desired (the Daiya cheese has a fairly strong cheesy taste so this isn’t always necessary).

Add your cheese sauce to your noodles and stir until combined.  You want to make sure you cover each noodle with sauce and that the tubes fill up with cheesy goodness!

Dish into bowls and enjoy

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