Full Plate Generation

Still Smokin’: Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

This is a follow-up to my post on Smoked Shitake Mushrooms. The flavor of the smoked shitakes are so intense that a little goes a long way, so I’m still trying to come up with some recipes to use them up. I like to use cashew cream as a base for creamy pasta sauces and the smoked shitakes made me think of Pasta Carbonara. For this recipe I made a creamy sauce with raw cashews, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and a few smoked shitakes. (If you don’t want to smoke the shitakes, you can use liquid smoke.) I had about a half pound of cooked rigatoni pasta in the fridge that I “re-boiled” for 1 minute then added a cup of peas. I reserved some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed. I stirred a few spoonfuls of the sauce into the pasta and peas. You can use as much or as little of the sauce as you like and add a few extra slivered smoked shitakes if you want a more smoky taste and some “meaty” texture. This dish came out creamy, smoky and oh, so yummy. It’s rich tasting, yet won’t weigh you down. This makes a nice meal to serve for a special occasion or you can make the sauce ahead of time and enjoy a decadent meal any night of the week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Smoky Creamy Cashew Sauce

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons tahini
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 garlic clove
A few slices of smoked shitake mushrooms
water

Process all ingredients in blender, adding more water to achieve desired consistency.

Use on potatoes, broccoli or other vegetables. Thin out and toss with cooked pasta.

08 Jul 2017

Some Like It Hot: Thai Stir Fried Vegetables

Thai Stir Fry

I sometimes wonder why people living in hot climates like to eat hot, spicy food. For instance, Thai food is known for its curry dishes. Thai curry pastes range from “Panang” or red which is the hottest, through “green” which is moderately hot, to “Massaman” or yellow which is mildly hot. I’ve tried them all and even the Massaman is not so mild. Perhaps if you eat hot food it makes the world around you seem not so hot. I wonder . . .

I started making my own curry pastes in an effort to reduce the amount of sodium in our diets. It takes some effort to find the ingredients and to make the curry paste, so if sodium is not a problem for you simply buy a container in an Asian section of your supermarket. A little goes a long way and you can store it in the refrigerator for months.

I picked up a head of broccoli at my favorite Amish farm stand. It had a nice crown of florets, but it also had a huge stem. I usually discard the stem, but I thought it would make a nice addition to a stir fry. I also used red bell pepper, celery, carrots and scallions in the stir fry (and no broccoli florets). This was a perfect way to use up broccoli stems which I would normally throw out. The broccoli stem’s texture is similar to that of the other vegetables, so everything cooks at the same time. I used some red curry paste and a small amount of Thai coconut milk to season the vegetables. I recommend starting with one teaspoon of curry paste and adding more according to your heat tolerance. The vegetables have a nice crunch and the sauce is intensely flavored and aromatic. This dish comes together so quickly and is so tasty that I’ll be making this on a regular basis. Why sweat it outside hovering over a hot grill when you can beat the heat inside with this Thai Stir Fry? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Thai Stir Fried Vegetables

1 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems (use leaves if you have them)
1 large bunch of scallions (about 8)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons Thai curry paste
¼ cup Thai coconut milk

Heat a non-stick wok on medium-high heat. Add vegetables and stir-fry until fork tender and the edges start to brown. Add curry paste and coconut milk and heat one minute. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

22 Jun 2017

Tofu Trials: Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

Five Spice Tofu & Snow Peas

I bought some beautiful snow peas the other day at an Amish farm stand. When snow peas are fresh from the fields they really don’t need to be fussed over. In fact, I’ll eat a handful of them while I’m getting them ready for steaming. I only had a pint of snow peas and no other vegetables that would go with them, so I decided they would make a nice side dish for tofu. I purchased an air fryer a few months ago and like the way it makes tofu. Here are a few things I’ve learned about air frying tofu.

  • Marinating the tofu is pointless. The tofu doesn’t absorb the flavors of the marinade and the exterior does not crisp up.
  • It’s much easier and I’ve had better results just sprinkling or coating the tofu with dry spices and letting it sit for a few hours. (You probably don’t even need to wait before cooking.)
  • I also discovered that pressing the tofu makes it too dry. Since the tofu spends enough time in the fryer (or oven), pressing out the excess liquid is an unnecessary step and does not enhance the texture.
  • To achieve a glaze-like surface, I’ve had good results cooking the spiced-coated tofu until it starts to develop a crisp exterior, then tossing it with barbeque sauce, maple syrup or other “glazey” ingredients.

For this recipe, I sprinkled some Chinese Five Spice on the tofu, air fried it for 15 minutes, then tossed it with a smidgen of oil and maple syrup and continued air frying until it had a crispy, glazed surface. The meal was rounded out with steamed snow peas and Jasmine rice then drizzled with a ginger-peanut sauce. This turned out to be a simple meal that’s simply delicious. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven. You can use this method to come up with your own favorite tofu recipe by just varying the spices and glazes. If you like Texas barbeque, try sprinkling the tofu with a smoking rub, then coating it with your favorite barbeque sauce. Serve it with potato salad and corn on the cob. Or how about an Indian version that’s sprinkled with curry powder and coated with chutney and served with samosa potatoes or Basmati rice and peas? I’d love to hear about your own tofu trials. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu
½ teaspoon Five Spice powder
½ teaspoon oil (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

Cut tofu into 1” pieces and add to bowl. Toss with Five Spice seasoning and allow to marinate for a few hours.

To make in an air fryer:

Arrange seasoned tofu in a single layer if possible. Set temperature to 350F and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from fryer and place into mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and oil and toss to coat. Return to fryer basket and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until crisp. Serve immediately with steamed vegetables and rice.

To make in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place seasoned tofu in a single layer on parchment paper. Bake until tofu starts to dry out and brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place in mixing bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup and toss to coat. Return to baking sheet and continue baking until the exterior of tofu is glazed and brown. Serve immediately.

16 Jun 2017

Remodeling: Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Mushroom Gyro Wrap

Long before adopting a plant-based diet one of my favorite sandwiches was a Greek Gyro. I started out ordering them with the “mystery” meat that’s sliced from a slab of lamb (and who knows what else) spinning around on a rotisserie. I migrated to Gyros made with grilled chicken breast thinking that was a healthier choice. Some time ago I remodeled my Gyro with this Greek mushroom and chickpea version of the “mystery” meat which is very tasty, but requires a small amount of effort. I wanted to come up with a newer model that was scaled back in terms of prep time and calories. My latest remodeled Gyro recipe has two key aspects that I wanted to replicate, one being the distinct flavor of marjoram, rosemary and garlic and the other being the creamy tang of Tzatzki sauce. I decided to grill some cremini mushrooms (I would have used portabellos if I had them) and seasoned them with garlic powder, marjoram and rosemary.  For the Tzatziki sauce I used a combination of raw cashews (for creaminess) and soy yogurt (for tanginess). I make my own since I don’t like what’s available in the stores near me, but you can use store-bought vegan sour cream or just plain soy yogurt to keep it simple. After grilling and seasoning the mushrooms, mixing up the Tzatziki, and slicing up the tomato, lettuce and onion, I took a pocket-less pita out of the freezer only to find that it was dried out and lost it’s ability to bend without breaking. Luckily, I had some fresh (and supple) flour tortillas on hand, which made for a lighter and neater wrap. With its Greek-inspired seasonings, mushroom “meatiness”, creamy Tzatziki sauce, onions, lettuce and tomatoes this wrap has everything I want in a Gyro. Start remodeling your life today by building yourself this healthy and delicious Mushroom Gyro Wrap. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Gyro Wraps

Makes 6 to 8 wraps

Olive oil (optional)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (cremini or portabellos recommended)
dried marjoram, to taste
dried ground rosemary, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
Flour tortillas
Lettuce, chopped
Sliced tomatoes and onions

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (You can coat the skillet if desired.) Add mushrooms and cook until brown and most of liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms with marjoram, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup plain, non-dairy yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
Salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Drain cashews and place in container of high-powered blender. Add just enough water to cover and process until smooth. Place into a small mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble Gyros:

Place a tortilla on piece of aluminum foil. Layer the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Tzatziki sauce on tortilla. Roll up forming a conical-shaped wrap and secure with aluminum foil.

Mushroom Gyro

16 May 2017

Ole! Chipotle Sweet Potatoes & Taco Kale

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

I like to get the most out of my food, so I try to come up with recipes that can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve been thinking about some type of empanada to make for Cinco de Mayo. I wanted it to be easy and definitely not fried. The “easy” parts were baking sweet potatoes, sauteeing kale and defrosting black beans. What’s nice about these recipes is that they can be enjoyed in so many ways. We had the sweet potatoes, kale and black beans plated for dinner one night and I used the left overs to make the empanadas a few days later. The empanadas can be filled a day before you plan to bake them, so this makes them perfect when planning a party. You could also use them to fill burritos or enchiladas. I’m hungry, how about you? Let’s enjoy our dinner tonight and come back for some empanadas later in the week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Note: As long as I’m putting on the oven, I usually make a large quantity of sweet potatoes to have for other meals during the week.

About four large sweet potatoes
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (from a can)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a few potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until very soft and the juices start to ooze out of the potatoes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, measure out two cups and place in a small bowl. Add one canned chipotle pepper and mash to combine.

Serve as a side dish or as a component in burritos or empanadas.

Kale with Taco Seasoning

1 lb. kale, de-ribbed and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons taco seasoning

Set an instant pot to saute setting. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of water and taco seasoning, then place kale on top. Set instant pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release and remove cover when safe. To cook on stove top, saute garlic in a large non-stick skillet, add water and kale. Cover and cook until wilted, then remove cover to allow liquid to evaporate.

30 Apr 2017

Bowled Over: Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Have you ever been “bowled over”? The term is synonymous with amazed or astonished. When I uploaded this photo of my Fennel, Farro & Fagioli it struck me how a dish of full of beans, fennel, farro and greens could have the ability to bowl me over. This recipe hits on so many aspects of a complete whole food, plant-based meal. It’s made with beans, greens, vegetables, whole grains and uses very little/no oil and salt. Who could ask for anything more? Bowl someone (or yourself) over today with a bowl of Fennel, Farro & Fagioli. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Fennel Farro e Fagioli
Makes 4 servings
1 small onion
1 small fennel bulb
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil (optional)
½ tsp. fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups white or red beans (or two 15 oz. can)
½ cup uncooked farro
3 to 4 cups water
1 teaspoon Better Than Boullion vegetable or “No Chicken” base (optional)
a few handful of arugula or other greens
Cut onion, fennel, carrot and celery into pieces. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Add garlic and pulse a few times.
Coat bottom of large saucepot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. (You could heat 2 tablespoons of water to omit the oil.) Add vegetables and cook until softened and lightly browned. Add ground fennel and red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add farro, beans, water and bouillon. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Add arugula during the last few minutes of cooking.

16 Feb 2017

Sultry Soup: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

When I think of Mediterranean cuisine, one word comes to mind: sultry. What appeals to me about this food is how somewhat common herbs, spices and aromatics get blended into a dish in an exotic way. A few weeks ago, Bruce and I tried out a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time. The Mediterranean Grille serves tasty food with a Moroccan and Turkish influence. We ordered a vegetable tagine, Zalouk (eggplant dip) and Turkish Red Lentil Soup. Everything was so delicious that I couldn’t wait to come up with my own versions. Why am I so excited about this soup? Well, it’s made with one of my favorite legumes, red lentils. It contains bulgur, a grain that I’ve wanted to include in my recipes but haven’t gotten around to. And, I love the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. It comes together quickly, cooks in one hour and fills your home with an enticing aroma. You can round out your meal with some olives, a bowl of your favorite hummus and warm pita or rustic bread. Oh, this is so good.Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

makes about 3 quarts

1/2 cup soaked bulgur (see notes)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups vegetable stock or water
Lemon slices for serving

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, lentils and bulgur into the onions and stir to coat. Add the tomato paste and water or vegetable stock; bring to a boil, then cover and cook until soft and creamy, about 1 hour. Ladle into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

To soak bulger: Place ¼ cup dry bulgur in small bowl and cover with ¼ cup boiling water. Let stand 1 hour. This should yield ½ cup of soaked bulgur.

 

25 Jan 2017

Multitasking: Cannelini Beans & Sun-dried Tomatoes in an Instant Pot

White Beans & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Multitasking. The term goes back to 1965 and refers to the ability of a computer to apparently process several tasks, or computer jobs, concurrently. The term has since been expanded to “human multitasking”  as an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, over a short period of time. There are therapeutic benefits of being “in the moment” and concentrating on one task, but sometimes life just does not allow for that. I owe today’s recipe to my need and ability to multitask. The morning started out as usual. Take out and feed Caitie; breakfast with Bruce and he’s off to work; a little therapeutic internet surfing for me; and meal planning. When I looked at the time, it was after 8:00, which is the time to get Mom out of bed. I had some cannelini beans soaking on the counter to be used to make pasta fagioli. I typically make this dish on the stove, but decided to throw it together in my Instant Pot. I sauteed a lot of garlic then added sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper, the beans, water and some seasonings, set the timer for 8 minutes and let the pressure release naturally. In that time, I was able to get Mom ready, put in a load of laundry and start re-organizing the linen closet. The aroma that was drifting up to the second floor (and lingers throughout the day) was so intoxicating that I couldn’t wait to come downstairs to taste the beans. It was only 9:30 in the morning and I was enjoying some toasted sour dough bread with a spoonful of creamy, garlicky beans. What a way to start the day! Whether you’re a single  professional, working mom or dad, or a busy home economist, this is a great way to get things done and still enjoy a healthy, delicious meal. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Fagioli for Instant Pot

1 lb. cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight and drained

1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
¼ cup chopped garlic (about 6 extra large cloves)
Crushed red pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2-3/4 to 3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Cooked pasta or farro for serving

Set electric pressure cooker to saute setting. Heat olive oil and garlic and cook until starting to turn color. Add red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes and stir. Add about 2 tablespoons of water and cook about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Pressure cook for about 8 minutes and let pressure come down naturally. Remove cover when safe. If there is too much liquid, set to saute and reduce to desired thickness. If not enough liquid, add additional water. Stir in parsley before serving. Serve with cooked pasta or farro.

11 Jan 2017

A Votre Sante: Holiday Nog

Holiday Nog

Holiday Nog

I’ve been of legal drinking age for almost 40 years and I’ve yet to have eggnog. While the thought of consuming raw eggs never appealed to me (the taste, the viscosity, the salmonella), a creamy drink to celebrate the season does sound like a nice idea. A typical eggnog recipe contains eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar and bourbon or rum. Italians toast to one’s health with “salute” or “cin-cin”; the French say “a votre sante”. When I think about it, it seems a bit ironic to toast to good health with a drink that is anything but good for you. Anyway, the other day I made a pretty plain smoothie for Mom and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top. I poured whatever didn’t fit in her tumbler into an old-fashioned glass and had a taste. Hmmmm. I wondered if this is what the “eggnog experience” is all about. With that in mind, I added some holiday spirit, (in this case, rum) to my glass. Mmmmm. This certainly will make my season sparkle. I can’t call this drink “eggnog” because there are no eggs in it, so I’ll just call it “Holiday Nog”. The combination of almond milk, bananas, dates, almond butter, flax meal and rum whipped up nice and creamy with a subtle sweetness. A flurry of nutmeg added a delicate spiciness to my nog. This nog is so luscious you can serve it at a tree-trimming or holiday cocktail party, yet healthy enough to celebrate every day of the season. So, from the bottom of my heart (and with a clear conscience) I toast to your good health. Have a Vegi-curious day.

Holiday Nog

Makes about three servings

12 oz. soy or almond milk
1 large banana, cut into chunks (can be frozen)
6 dates
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon rum extract or 1 Tablespoon real rum
1 Tablespoon golden flax meal
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg plus more for serving

Place all ingredients into blender container and process until smooth. Pour into old-fashioned glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg.

08 Dec 2016

Thinking Outside of the Squash: Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

A popular way to make spaghetti squash is to serve it with tomato sauce or bake it in a fashion similar to lasagna. Well, I think it’s time to think outside of the squash. I’ve been hanging onto a recipe for Fideos Rossejat for a few years. Fideos Rossejat is a paella-style dish that’s made with fried fideos (broken spaghetti). The original recipe has chicken and chorizo and I’ve also seen versions that include lobster. Besides the fact that chicken,chorizo and lobster are a thing of the past for me, I also didn’t like the idea that the fideos are fried in oil. Well, I guess there are too many aspects of this recipe that don’t fit in with my way of cooking that it didn’t make sense to salvage it. However, there is one aspect that is worth saving — the sofrito. Sofrito is a sauce used as a cooking base in Spanish cuisine consisting of garlic, onion, paprika and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. For this recipe I left out the oil and added a charred red pepper to give it another layer of flavor. I baked the squash with fresh garlic and stirred together the sofrito while the squash was in the oven. The squash “noodles” were then added to the skillet. You can serve the squash at this point, or you can place it in the oven to crisp it up a bit. Many of the Spanish restaurants we used to go to would serve thick slices of fried potatoes as a side dish, so I served the squash with some not-so-fried potato slices. It seems like you can get spaghetti squash year round in any grocery store the US, but now this is the time of the year to pick them up from a local farm stand or farmers market. It’s also time to think outside of the squash. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise & seeds removed
3 to 4 garlic cloves, pressed
Olive oil (optional)

Sofrito:

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch of saffron
½ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350F. Place squash cut side up on rimmed baking sheet. If using oil, lightly coat the cut side of the squash with oil. Rub surface with garlic. Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender and shreds when scraped with a fork.(This could take about 1-1/2 hours.)

While the squash is baking, prepare the sofrito. Lightly coat a deep skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat. Add preppers and cook until beginning to char. Add onions and continue to cook until the onions turn golden brown, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, paste and saffron and continue to cook until the tomatoes turn dark red. Add the wine and cook until it is almost completely evaporated.

Using a fork, scrape out the contents of the squash. Add to skillet and toss until the sofrito is well distributed. Optional: Cover the skillet, place in oven and bake until it begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and serve.

Not-So-Fried Potato Slices

Slice potatoes 1/4″ thick. Lightly coat a non-stick electric griddle with olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and set it to the highest setting. Place potatoes on griddle in a single layer and cook until they are browned on both sides. This takes a long time, so be patient. If you don’t have concerns about using oil, you can pan fry them in a deep skillet with about 1″ of vegetable or peanut oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Nov 2016

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