Friday, July 25, 2008

Caprese Salad

For those of you who would think that it's impossible to enjoy a Caprese Salad without the mozzarella, think again. I have found an excellent substitution to the "C" word in the form of a pignoli ricotta.

The recipe comes from Raw Food Real World, an excellent "uncook" book that I use ALL of the time. In fact, that's where I've been the last five or so odd months, tinkering around with my new dehydrator making things like buckwheat pizza crusts, cranberry and maple "grawnola", macadamia cheese, and my personal favorite, "Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagne." This shit is the biz-omb. I've made this so many times that the pages for the book are splattered with pesto and tomato juice. Incidentally, this is where the recipe for the pignoli ricotta comes from.

No dehydrator necessary for this recipe, it's super easy and tastes wonderful on a warm summer's day. Serve it on a bed of greens, or just serve it plain, on a plate with a little olive oil drizzled over the top and a touch of sea salt. YUM!

Caprese Salad:

1 tomato sliced to desired thickness
basil leaves for each tomato slice
pignoli ricotta (recipe to follow)

2 cups raw pine nuts, soaked for 1 hour of more
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (if you don't have this, it's not a recipe breaker)
1 tsp sea salt
6 Tbsp filtered water

Place the pine nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, until combined. Gradually add the water and process until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta.

To Serve:
Place tomato slices on plate, cover each slice with a basil leaf, add a dollop of pignoli ricotta, drizzle with olive oil and add a touch of freshly ground sea salt.

You can store the leftover ricotta in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to a week.

(In the picture, I added a dollop of the pine nut pesto instead of the fresh basil leaves.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Black Bean and Yam Ragout with Grilled Polenta

This is the first recipe I actually created on my own. Wait, I should clarify that...This is the first recipe I created on my own after ordering it twice at The Good Earth.

With that being said, I believe that I "created" it because I didn't have a recipe to follow, and the fact that it came out to taste freaking delicious must make me some sort of culinary genius.

For the Polenta, I use Bob's Red Mill polenta mix. I love Bob's products, and you can find them at almost any grocery store, they're natural and priced right.

If you don't like polenta, you can use brown basmati rice...It's your choice, nobody is holding a gun to your head ferchrissakes.

Black Bean and Yam Ragout with Grilled Polenta

For the Ragout:

1 large onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeƱo pepper, chopped fine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups veggie broth
1 large yam, diced into 1 inch chunks
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup Orange Juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons tamari or gluten free soy sauce
One avocado, sliced
Dried hot pepper flakes

In a large deep skillet cook the onion, the garlic, and the jalapeno in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the yams and veggie broth, cover and cook over medium to low heat stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the yams are soft.

While the dish is simmering, prepare the polenta according to the directions, I like to add a little agave nectar while it is simmering to add a little sweetness.

Mix the corn starch and O.J. in a small bowl. Stir in the tomato paste and the O.J. mixture, along with the tomatoes, black beans and tamari into the the pan with the veggies and bring the ragout to a boil, stirring. Simmer the ragout for 2 minutes and season it with salt and pepper.

Spoon ragout over the top of the prepared polenta and garnish with sliced avocado and hot pepper flakes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baked Macaroni and "Cheese"

Son of a bitch.

If I would have known that I could eat macaroni and "cheese" like this, I would have been vegan long ago.

This grub is so good it makes me want to cry...Or quite possibly even plummet myself to the ground in a fit of rage and throw a temper tantrum that would rival that of a three year old girl who just got her favorite toy swiped out of her sweaty palms by her bastard older brother.

It's just that good.

Not only does it taste great, but it tastes great without all the saturated fat and cholesterol of your traditional "Mac and Cheese."

For the pasta, I used my favorite "Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta" that has a great texture and, as advertised on the package is "not mushy!"

So, if you're looking for a blast from the past, and a dish that will bring you to tears, this is your bag, baby.

[UPDATE June 13, 2010: Since I posted this recipe back in 2008, I've added a little more "cheesiness" to the dish in the form of Daiya Mozzarella style cheese. It makes it a bit more creamy, a bit more stringy, and a bit more "watch out while I slam my fist through the table in an uncontrollable spasm of delight." Yup. It's just that good.]

Baked Macaroni & "Cheese"
From the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Veg News
Serves 6

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 oz macaroni
2 Tbsp + 1/3 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
2 Tbsp shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
3/4 cup Mozzarella style Daiya vegan cheese (optional)

1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.

3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened veggies and 1 cup cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

4. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta, blended "cheese" sauce and Daiya, if using, until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the "cheese" sauce starts to bubble and the top has turned golden brown.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Soup

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this freaking soup.

I found this recipe in the December 2004 issue of Organic Style Magazine...which consequently is no longer in print...But don't let that sway you from making this soup! It's excellent, damnit!

When you make this, choose wild mushrooms-chanterelle, black trumpet, hen-of-the-woods, shitake, oyster, or cremini-that are moist to the touch, with no shriveled, dried edges, bruises, or spots...There's nothing worse than a shriveled beaten mushroom.

If you don't want the trouble of peeling and cutting hard squash you can instead substitute diced carrots or parsnips, but I say grow a pair and cut the damn squash...It's what makes this recipe.

Also, I use Bionature Gluten Free Pasta. Keep in mind that it only asks for one cup pasta, and please only use one cup...Otherwise when you refrigerate the leftovers (if there are any leftovers, oink) the pasta will soak up all the juice and you'll have nothing but gigantic soggy pasta, and you don't want that...Unless of course you like gigantic soggy pasta, then I would suggest visiting a good therapist, there are 12 steps for people like you.

Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 to 6

8 cups veggie broth
1/2 oz dried porcini or morel mushrooms
1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced red onion
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, tough stems removed, cleaned and sliced
1 cup small gluten free pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat broth in a large stockpot. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl; pour 1 cup hot broth over mushrooms; let soak 20 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter or paper towel. Add mushroom liquid to broth. Rinse mushrooms and dice; set aside.

Add squash and bay leaf to broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add all mushrooms and saute until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes, adding a little broth if they become too dry. Transfer to stockpot. Add pasta and cook until pasta is done and squash is tender, 5-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with parsley.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Coconut Rice

This recipe is so easy to make my six year old nephew could throw this together blind folded, gagged, and with one arm tied behind his back. With that being said, if you can't somewhat successfully prepare this dish there is something wrong with you and you should ask yourself how you can make it through the day.

I had a dish similar to this at a local Mexican restaurant. I was unable to use the sour cream, and had them hold the cheese, but when I made this at home I was able to throw on some Tofutii "Sour Supreme" which does add more than just leaving it out. You can use soy cheese, but be careful which brand you use as some brands include casein, which is a milk protein. Personally, I'm not a fan of soy cheese and think that the sliced avocados on top more than make up for it.

Also, when I made this I just used plain brown basmati rice, because I didn't want to fuss and I just wanted to make a simple, easy dinner. However, if you have time I will include a recipe for Cilantro Coconut Rice that I think would go great with this.

Oh, and do yourself a favor and make (or buy) some fresh salsa for this. If I catch anyone using "Pace" or anything like "Pace" I will drag them out into the street and shoot them. O.K., maybe not...But I will be extremely disappointed. I bought the salsa I used from the deli at Whole Foods, but I'll include a simple recipe for those of you who would like to make one.

Black Bean Tostadas

2 cans black beans
6 plain corn tostadas (found in the Mexican section of your grocery store)
Tofutti Sour Supreme
Fresh salsa
One avocado, sliced

Drain the black beans of their liquid and place in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until warm.

Spread Sour Supreme evenly on tostadas, cover with black beans, sliced avocado, salsa and another dollop of Sour Supreme. Serve with rice.

Quick and Easy Salsa

4 lg. ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped scallions
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced jalapeno pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the halves into 1/4" and dice. Place in a medium size bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Let sit, loosely covered, at room temperature for the flavors to blend. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 4 hours.

Cilantro Coconut Rice

3 cups basmati rice
3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1 Tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh jalapeno
3 Tbsp Canola oil
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups packed fresh cilantro
4 scallions, chopped

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350.

Wash rice in cold water until water is almost clear. Soak rice in cold water 30 minutes, then strain well.

Spread coconut in a shallow baking pan and toast in oven, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Cook ginger and jalapeno in 1 Tbsp oil in a 4 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until chile is softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in water and 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to large bowl.

While rice cooks, pulse together coconut, cilantro, scallions and remaining 2 Tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor until finely chopped.

Add cilantro mixture to cooked rice and stir gently until combined well.

Makes 10 servings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stop Mocking Me, Chickpea Salad

I've seen variations of this salad marketed as "Mock Tuna Salad" and "Mock Chicken Salad." Why do people feel it necessary to associate a perfectly good food with that of other foods?

Who knows, maybe they feel that they are getting more if they are eating tuna and/or chicken. I say those people are crazy.

The chickpea is a good source of protein and iron, and an excellent source of fiber. Plus is has no cholesterol so it won't clog your arteries.

Now, on to the Vegenaise.

I love Vegenaise, and if I were stranded on an island and I could choose one thing to bring with me I would honestly have a hard time deciding between chapstick and Vegenaise. And the more I think about it the more I think that the grapeseed oil in Vegenaise could double as chapstick...So there you have it.

And just when you thought this salad couldn't get any better, don't forget about the flax seed oil. This is not necessary for the salad to taste good, it just adds some healthy Omega 3 oils that are known to help reduce inflammation. So if you have some, add it, if not then it's not a recipe breaker.

Once again, I have to say that when I make this, I usually turn it into a hodgepodge of ingredients, and I don't really measure anything. I'll stick to the basics, and know that if you don't like sweet pickles you can use celery, or if you don't like mustard, you can leave it out, if you want more Vegenaise then add it, because ultimately it's up to you. So quit pouting and make this however you want to.

You can serve this on top of fresh spinach with sliced avocado, or you can put it on a piece of gluten free toasted bread or crackers...Whatever blows your skirt up.

Stop Mocking Me Chichpea Salad

1 15 oz can Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup sweet pickles, finely chopped
2 Tbsp red onion finely chopped
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp. flax seed oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl, mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher until most of the beans are mashed.

Combine everything else and mix well with a fork.

Season to taste.

Monday, January 21, 2008


That's right...SEAFOOD GUMBO. (Gasps from concerned "Vegans" abound).

I'll be the first to admit that every once in a while I like me some seafood. So sue me. And when I saw a picture of this recipe on the cover of "At Home With Kowalski's" I knew that this would be a perfect opportunity to have an affair with an old friend.

So, Seafood and I got down and dirty and created an unforgettable gumbo that was well worth the risk of jeopardizing my veganhood, as it was.

Just so ya'll know, I had to replace some butter with Earth Balance vegan margarine, and some "Wondra flour" (whatever the hell that is) with garbanzo fava flour and arrowroot because, well, I'm not THAT dirty.

Half way into making this dish I decided that "Chef Jeff" (the creator of this recipe) is a complete wussbag, so I added in some cayenne pepper to make this a little more hot...Cuz seafood and I like it hot, damnit.

I also replaced the recommended "Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic Seasoning Blend" with "Old Bay Seasoning" because I like to slum it a little.

Now, seeing as I have no need to scarf down two pounds of seafood in any measurable amount of time, I halved this recipe...O.K., that and the thought of 24 ounces of clam juice made me gag...Seriously...No two people need to consume 24 ounces of clam juice in a 48 hour period. Unless there is a bet involving a substantial amount of money, then I say knock yourself out.

With that being said, if I were feeding more than two I would suck it up, take the risk of clam juicing nightmares and buy the damn juice. I'm just not quite ready for such a big step, and Seafood understood..Because like we all learned in Seventh Grade health class, and from the Lifetime network, "No means No."

So, enjoy it while it lasts, because these are few and far between.

Jenni's Naughty Seafood Gumbo

4Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Margarine
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup Garbanzo Fava Flour
1/2 tsp Arrowroot
2 (12 oz jars) clam juice
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb raw sea scallops
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Or more if you're not a total wuss)
2 Cups Basmati Rice (Cook rice according to package)
~snipped Italian parsley

In large skillet over medium heat, melt the Earth Balance; saute peppers, onion and celery until translucent (about 5 minutes).

In small bowl, combine tomatoes, flour, and arrowroot; stir into pan vegetables over low heat (6-8 minutes). Add clam juice, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Add shrimp, scallops, Old Bay, and cayenne, continue cooking until seafood is fully cooked (10-12 minutes).

To Serve: Divide gumbo among each of eight soup bowls; place ladle of rice in center of gumbo, garnish with parsley.

Serves 8...or four really hungry SOB's

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Veggie Cassoulet

My friend Anna made this dish for me when she had me over for lunch a few weeks ago and since then, I have prepared this twice! With that being said, I didn't take the above picture because I ate it too fast to be able to take one...OINK...Instead, I snaked the above photo from Epicurious, where incidentally this delicious recipe came from.

Veggie Cassoulet

Makes four servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 zucchini, chopped
2 celery stalks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups drained canellini beans, liquid reserved
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
4 slices gluten free toast (I used Genuine Bavarian Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread that can be found at your local Whole Foods or Natural Food Store)

*I also added one package of shitake mushrooms, some fresh chopped sage, and for the tomatoes I choose a can that also included chiles for a little kick!

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook zucchini, celery, onion, salt and pepper until soft, about 8 minutes. Four minutes into it add the shitake mushrooms. After veggies are soft, mix in garlic and cook, stirring, another minute. Combine veggies, tomatoes, beans, 1/4 cup of the bean liquid, thyme, sage and bay leaves in a 2qt baking dish. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve warm with toast on the side.