CAVATAPPI CARBONARA WITH COCONUT BACON

Convincing a skeptic that vegan dishes can actually be creamy won’t be difficult after they try this dish. A classic carbonara is typically made with eggs, cream, parmesan and bacon. This plant-based version has all the flavour and decadence of the traditional pasta dish, but without using any animal ingredients. The creamy sauce is made from soaked cashews, cooked potatoes, and soft tofu.

The cavatappi (I used Banza brand, which is featured in our  Chickpea Revolution Cookbook), is made entirely from chickpeas so it’s high in protein and gluten-free. It maintained its shape and al dente texture perfectly, even after mixing with the warm sauce. Our leftovers the next day were delicious and not even slightly mushy.

I typically purchase my coconut bacon from health food stores, but I found a simple 4-ingredient recipe online here. It was quick to make and I’ve got a good amount remaining to use this week in other recipes.

This pasta is perfect for a special night in or for entertaining at home. Kids love it too!

Ingredients 

1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 10 minutes
1  8oz (227 g) box Banza cavatappi
3/4 cup potato, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice from 1 small lemon
1 cup firm tofu, cubed
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup coconut bacon,  store-bought or homemade (see link above)
1/4 cup vegan parmesan, store-bought or homemade (I used a recipe from the new Hot for Food cookbook)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions (I found 9 minutes was perfect, considering I was adding a warm sauce which would allow the pasta to continue softening).
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Add potatoes to a high speed blender, along with soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, tofu, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and water. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Transfer mixture to a small pot and cook through on medium heat, stirring constantly.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Divide among bowls or present on a serving plate. Sprinkle with coconut bacon, vegan parmesan, and fresh parsley. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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CHICKPEA RIGATONI WITH SPICY VEGAN SAUSAGE

This recipe is derived from a popular bucatini recipe that’s been featured in the Toronto Star and Food and Wine. I’m a big fan of rigatoni as I find it’s the ultimate comfort pasta. I was delighted to discover that my favourite chickpea pasta brand (Banza) carries a rigatoni shape in their product line.

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For the sausage, I used a vegan chorizo from Trader Joes. I found it had a great spice build in, and fried up really nicely in the olive oil (even forming a crunchy-ish texture).

 

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The sausage simmers for about 30 minutes in a prepared tomato sauce, and once the milk, creamer and peas are added, it simmers for an additional 10 so all the flavours are blended nicely.

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Be sure not to over cook the pasta so it maintains its shape and texture! Pair this classic Italian dish with some fresh bread and a bottle of chianti for cozy and romantic night in.

 

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Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vegan sausage, crumbled (I used Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (regular, not low-fat)
1/4 cup vegan coffee cream
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
Salt
1 box Banza rigatoni
2 tablespoons shredded basil

Directions 

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the vegan sausage and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
  2. Partially cover the saucepan.  Cook the tomato sauce over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir in the milk, cream and peas and simmer over low heat for 10 more minutes. Season with salt.
  3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and gently toss into the tomato sauce mixture. Place in bowls and top with the shredded basil. Serve immediately.

VEGAN DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES

 

For those people who crave a little bit of dark chocolate at night time, these brownies fit the bill. They’re so rich and satisfying, you really only need one square and you’re good to go (for realsies).

The original recipe called for black beans, but I’m on a chickpea kick (check out our Chickpea Revolution Cookbook!) , so I subbed for black chickpeas. These can be found in most major grocery stores, in the international section. I soaked mine over night and then simmered on low for about an hour and 45 mins. So there’s a bit of a time investment, but I normally cook a big batch at once and freeze in small zip lock bags (in about 1.5 cup portions, which is about the amount in a can of chick peas). I do the same for other beans and when I need some for a recipe, I grab a bag, run under warm water to thaw and I’m good to go. It’s a great way to up your protein in recipes avoid the BPA that’s found in most canned goods. It’s also a much cheaper way to use beans.  Continue reading “VEGAN DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES”

SESAME TOFU TERIYAKI ON SOBA

 

A cooking class with The Chef and the Dish helped me master the art of all-things teriyaki! This tofu version is simple, healthy and delicious. I make 4 servings at a time and either share nicely with others, or pack three servings away for lunches during the week. I find soba noodles really keep well in the fridge and don’t really need to be re-heated (i.e. if you are avoiding the science experiment microwave at your workplace, just enjoy the noodles cold). Pure buckwheat is gluten-free, but some versions of soba noodles do contain gluten. Be sure to read the labels. Continue reading “SESAME TOFU TERIYAKI ON SOBA”

5 MINUTES WITH THE VIET VEGAN

I started to follow Lisa (aka The Viet Vegan) on Instagram when she was named as one of the top 15 vegan accounts to follow on Blog TO. She’s amazing!

Lisa is funny, personable, downright friendly, and highly skilled in the kitchen. Vietnamese food is amongst my favourite, and Lisa proves that going going vegan does not mean giving up this delicious style of cooking.  She recreates childhood comfort favourites with ease, and is able to vegan-ize anything she gets her hands on! Her YouTube channel has taught me everything from how the hell to use lemongrass, to making the best vegan nachos. She even talked me out of getting granite counter tops!  Continue reading “5 MINUTES WITH THE VIET VEGAN”

5 MINUTES WITH DOUG MCNISH 

I met Doug McNish at the 2015 Vegfest in Toronto where I tasted his life affirming vegan polenta poutine (pictured above). I was new to veganism and at the point where I was admittedly weary of anything that looked savory and cheesy (rookie mistake). I asked him if the dish was vegan, to which he smiled and replied, “I am a vegan chef!!!” (and then asked about the movie I’d just seen…my ticket stubs were on the counter). He was friendly and personable and the kind of guy you want to sit down with and talk about all things vegan. Continue reading “5 MINUTES WITH DOUG MCNISH “

COMING TOGETHER IN THE KITCHEN

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Many of us have non-vegan partners, and this experience allowed my husband and I to enjoy a cooking class together that was customized to suit each of our preferences.

The company  – The Chef and the Dish – allows you to connect with international chefs and learn how to make a variety of different dishes, from the comfort of your own kitchen! I think it’s a great excuse for a date night with your partner or a friend, and would make an amazing gift (you can order gift certificates).

I wrote about the company in my first published article in a national newspaper and I’m beyond excited!! Continue reading “COMING TOGETHER IN THE KITCHEN”

5 MINUTES WITH LAUREN TOYOTA OF hot for food

hot for food is hands down one of my favourite vegan sites! Lauren is impossibly cool, making anyone more inclined to want in on the vegan lifestyle. The first time I stumbled across one of her recipes (it was their Ridiculously Easy Vegan Peanut Butter Cups), I knew we were gonna get along just fine.

What I love about their food is that it’s accessible to everyone. It’s not all about kale and quinoa…think Cinnamon rolls, breakfast tacos, and pierogies. Comfort food with a vegan twist. Personally, I didn’t become vegan in order to eat “healthy” food all the time. Of course I try and eat a balanced diet,  but I want the food to taste good and I want to enjoy cooking it. I also want recipes that my non-vegan family and friends can enjoy too. So stop what you’re doing, visit their site and sign up for the hot for food YouTube channel. You’re welcome!

I was lucky enough to connect with Lauren Toyota for a few minutes and have her answer a few burning questions for me. Read on:

  1. What’s the last thing you ate?
    Mary’s Crackers with hummus
  2. Which vegan chef do you most admire and why?
    Probably Chloe Coscarelli because of the empire she has built. She now has 2 restaurants, one on the east coast and one on the west coast. Baller!
  3. What’s the one dish you’ve created that’s scored you the most high fives?
    Nacho cheese sauce and cauliflower buffalo wings
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Mentally stable
  5. What’s the one ingredient can’t you live without?
    Nutritional Yeast
  6. Do vegans have more fun?
    Duh!
  7. What kitchen item do you most often buy for wedding gifts?
    I have never bought a kitchen item as a wedding gift! Haha I usually give money because it’s so easy.
  8. Where’s the last place you went to on a date? (and what did you order?)
    Tori’s Bake Shop. But 3 nights out of the week they do a late night dinner menu and it’s the best. We had a cheese platter, gnocchi, and some kind of salad with apple and spring peas.
  9. Did becoming vegan bring out any unexpected character traits in you? i.e. are you funnier now than ever before?
    I think the most impactful part of becoming vegan is just how it’s affected my well being physically, emotionally, and mentally in so many positive ways. It sort of connected a lot of dots for me.
  10. What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about vegan food?
    That it isn’t always raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, taste-free or fun-free and that there is more than one way to be vegan and eat vegan.

 

A KINDER COBB SALAD

I can only be convinced to eat a salad for dinner if it’s really awesome, filling and hearty. This cobb salad fits the bill! Not only is it downright pretty, but it contains a tonne of protein, good fats, and veggies. I actually made two identical salads- the one pictured was brought along to work the next day and kept me full for the afternoon.

The creaminess of the dressing and the avocado is a great contrast to the crunch of the slaw and almonds.

It’s easy as can be and of course – if you’re feeling lawless – the components can easily be swapped up. Try beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans. Mixed peppers would work well, and any type of nut will do.

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 cups shredded cabbage (I used pre-packaged broccoli slaw)
1 avocado, cubed
1 tomato, cubed
1/4 cup roasted almonds
1/2 block smoked tofu
corn from one cobb (i’m ok with raw, but if you prefer slightly cooked, place in boiling water for 5 minutes)
coconut bacon (I buy mine from Tori’s Bakeshop)
1/4 cup vegenaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions 

Whisk vegenaise, dijon, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss with slaw until completely blended. Arrange slaw on two plates. “Layer” your ingredients in long strips across the slaw. Top with coconut bacon. Enjoy!