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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

VEGAN THAI COCONUT SOUP (TOM KHA TOFU)

When I was younger and unattached, I spent close to a year in Thailand. I loved a million things about the country –  the warmth, the people, and the food. The spices were so varied and complex, meaning I could eat the same type of food every day (soup) and yet always enjoy a variety of flavours. A good amount of food in Thailand is vegetarian, so I happily ate my way through the country without a problem. I remember it as being incredibly family friendly, so I’m dreaming of the day when I can take my little ones there on a holiday.

What I love most about this Tom Kha Tofu recipe is how easy it is to make: from pot to bowl, we’re talkin’ 10-15 minutes. What I also love about this soup is how spot on it is in terms of tasting exactly like thai takeaway. Everyone is hella impressed when I serve this! It’s pretty light, so I find it’s best to eat/ serve as a starter vs. a main.

It’s also a very clean recipe, and will definitely be a staple during my upcoming 2 week cleanse with naturopathic doctor Christina Carreau. Subbing in almond milk vs. pure coconut milk reduces the fat content.

(note: I doubled the recipe below so i had leftovers for lunch).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3/4 cups of almond milk (original)
  • 3 tbs green curry paste
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup thin sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz tofu, cubed
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro as a garnish

Directions

In a large pot, mix the coconut and almond milk, the green curry paste and the tamari. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, mushrooms and tofu. Cover again and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn off the stove and stir in maple syrup and lime juice. Serve and top with cilantro and a sliced lime

 

CLEANSING DETOX SOUP

I’m about to embark on a 2 week cleanse with my naturopath Christina Carreau from Degen’s Health Group in Scarborough and the recipe below is part of her meal plan. To me, a spring cleanse is a great way to press the reset button in my body. I feel like I’m down with the clean eating part, but not drinking coffee (and, who are we kidding, wine) for 2 weeks is really challenging for me.  I do it because the benefits are remarkable – after a cleanse I feel lighter, have more energy, I sleep better (and wake up easier…normally we’re talking multiple hits of the proverbial snooze button each morning), and develop a stronger connection to the food I’m preparing and eating.

The recipe below makes an enormous amount of soup. Enough to last you for several meals through out the week. Enjoy a large bowl with a side salad for dinner, or pack it up for lunch. Between meals, this is a great soup to warm up in a mug for a quick snack. It’s packed with veggies, so you know you’re getting ample nutrients.  I tried to let the spices do the talking in this dish – the cinnamon and cayenne added such a great kick that I didn’t have to add much salt. I threw in a can of chick peas for an added fiber / protein boost.

Recipe from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, florets
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (I used powdered)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • fine-grain sea salt (I used a few cranks of Himalayan pink salt ) and black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups water (or 4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water)
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • juice from ½ of a small lemon (or a whole lemon, depending how much lemon flavor you like)

 

Directions 

In a large pot, add the water and turn on the heat to medium-high. After it’s hot, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and fresh ginger. Stir and cook for 3 minutes, adding in extra water or broth as needed (another ¼ cup). Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper plus salt and pepper to taste. Add in the water or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10- 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add in the kale, cabbage and lemon juice near the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Enjoy!

Feeling Lawless? 

No one’s gonna call the cops on you if you switch up the kale for a gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard (or at least I got off lucky when I did this). I also threw in a can of chick peas, for kicks.

EASY GINGER-GARLIC CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE

I admit it, I’m a bit obsessed with the humble cauliflower. But it’s really a magical veggie and its uses  in vegan cooking are endless. Imagine my surprise when my mother-in-law taught me how to make fried “rice” using cauliflower! Not that there is anything wrong with rice but cauliflower offers some added nutrition and a bit of variety to your usual veggie bowl.

This recipe is so simple – only 10 minutes to prep (most of this is spent grating the cauliflower, but this task will take less and less time the more you do it) and 15 mins to cook. It’s great as a main or a side and is perfect re-heated for lunches during the week.

Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 whole head of cauliflower, leaves and stem removed and discarded
1 inch piece of ginger, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 pkg Yves veggie ground
1/2 cup Bragg’s or soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

DirectionsBreak cauliflower into large chunks and grate using a cheese grater. You may need to use a knife with the end pieces to save your fingers from getting cut!

Heat oil on medium-high in a non-stick skillet. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add veggie ground round and cook for 3 minutes. Add grated cauliflower, frozen peas and Bragg’s / soy sauce and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!!

 

 

Feeling Lawless? No need to add the veggie ground if you’ve got something else on hand. Another protein, such as diced tofu, would work really well too. And the veggies (apart from the cauliflower) can be swapped up too – try mushrooms, broccoli or peppers. If you have access to the famed “vegan egg” (I can’t find it in Canada!) you can add that too to make a classic Chinese Fried Rice.

 

 

“CHEESY” ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & POTATO CHOWDER

There’s nothing more comforting than a big bowl of chowder for dinner. Back in my fish-eating days, I could be talked into almost anything over a bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl. This vegan version is just as tasty (bread bowl optional) and really easy to pull together. Have it for dinner one night and then re-heat leftovers during the week. It’s filling, so add a side green salad and call it a day. Kids love it, because it looks “plain” and the taste isn’t overwhelming. And my husband, who has a strange penchant for corn, said this dished passed with flying colours.

The first time I made this dish, I left out the daiya cheese. Using nutritional yeast alone, it just didn’t have the cheesy flavour I was looking for. The recipe below is super cheesy (the carrot helps with the colour) and the pepperjack gives it a subtle spicy kick.

Ingredients: 

1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 large carrot, roughly sliced
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 head cauliflower
4 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
6 cups veggie stock
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded pepperjack Daiya
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
slices or shredded vegan cheese for topping

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut Cauliflower into small florets and place on parchment lined baking sheet, along with cubes of potatoes, and slices of carrots. Place whole garlic cloves in between florets. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and combine well with your hands. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cauliflower, carrots and garlic with tongs, stir potatoes and allow to roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare veggie stock and set to simmer.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook onions for a few minutes. Add chopped cilantro and cook for one more minute. Add onion mixture to the broth along with salt, nutritional yeast (you may need to whisk this in to help dissolve). Once veggies are roasted, add to the soup mix and allow to simmer on low for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Once cool (ish), use hand blender (or stand blender in batches) and blend until smooth. Return to pot. Add pepperjack daiya and warm up enough to allow cheese to melt into soup (about 10 minutes on low). Add corn kernels for last 5 minutes. Serve topped with some additional cheese, and enjoy!

 

Feeling lawless? This recipe is pretty forgiving. Veggie stock + roasted cauliflower/garlic is plenty enough for a tasty soup, if that’s all you’ve got. The potatoes add some thickness and the yeast / Daiya combo makes it cheesy. You can easily leave out the onions / cilantro and sub for another herb i.e fresh basil.

If you’re keen to eat this out of a bread bowl, try a small sourdough loaf. Cut a circle in the top and pull off the “lid”. Scoop out the bread on the inside, leaving a bowl (for heaven’s sake, don’t throw the bread away!! It’s perfect for dipping into the soup). Fill the bowl with soup and cover with the lid until ready to serve. FUN!

 

BUCKWHEAT NOODLES WITH KALE PESTO AND VEGAN PARMESAN

I know, I know. This doesn’t do much for our reputation as being kale-smoothie guzzling hippies, but I just…can’t…help…myself with this one! Kale pesto, smothered on steaming hot noodles, is a match made in heaven. Not to mention all that Vitamin K!

Folks, this recipe is EASY street. The pesto keeps for about a week in the fridge and noods take, what, 5 minutes to cook? The Parmesan (if you choose to add…but who’s kidding who…just do it) can also be made in advance and stored for a long time in the cupboard as it contains only dry ingredients.

This is a beautiful dish to serve to guests, who will not only appreciate how pretty their plate is, but also your effort to amp up their fibre intake.

The kale pesto is adapted from a Front Door Organics recipe and the Parmesan is adapted from a Simple Vegan Blog recipe. 

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients:
8-10 leaves kale, stems removed
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
1/2 cup parsley
2-3 tbsp vegan parmesan* (optional)
250 grams buckwheat noodles (I used King Soba Sweet Potato & Buckwheat)
Toppings such as grilled red peppers, black olives, fresh micro greens or herbs (optional)

Directions: 
Use a food processor on pulse to chop the kale, basil, garlic, sunflower seeds, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice until finely chopped. Gradually add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions, approximately 5-6 minutes

Use about 1/4 cup of the kale pesto mixture per serving of pasta. Mix throughly with warm noodles and serve. Enjoy!

*For the parmesan: combine 1 cup unsalted cashews, 4 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 1tsp fine sea salt in a food processor or blender until mixture is crumbly and fine.

Feeling Lawless? Pesto can really be made with anything green. I’ve made pesto from cilantro, basil, etc. You want to make sure there’s enough olive oil to get it nice and smooth, and salt is also key. Then take the flavour where you want it. Extra garlic? No problem. Toasted pine nuts vs. sunflower seeds? Go for it! The best way to perfect your pesto is to just play around with it – keep adding more of what you like until it’s perfect (and don’t worry, too much pesto is never a bad thing – use on sandwiches, pasta and as a dip throughout the week).

CASHEW MUSHROOM LOAF

A vegan can often find a plate full of “sides” a bit tiresome, and so this loaf hit the spot at a recent holiday function. It was easy to prepare and cook the morning of the dinner party, and then slice once I arrived. Everyone tried a slice! Everyone LOVED it!

The recipe was provided to me by my veggie box provider, Front Door Organics, who kindly include inspirational recipes with each delivery. Helpful when I’m in a bit of a rut, or just don’t have time to think about what to do with all the goodness delivered to my door. The recipe was adapted from the original in Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time:
 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 oz bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 oz mushrooms, chopped (about 1 cup)
salt and pepper
8 oz cashew nuts (about 1 cup)
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (optional)
2 – 4 purple carrots, cooked and mashed
2-3 red potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/4 cup kalamata olives (optional)

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft.

Grind the cashews in a food processor and mix with the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Mix in mashed potatoes, carrots, rosemary and thyme. Add the onion and garlic into the mixture. Dissolve the yeast in a half a cup of hot water and mix into the vegetable – nut mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the rest of the oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms until soft. Grease a 2 pound loaf pan, then press in half the nut mixture. Cover with a layer of mushrooms and top with the rest of the nut mixture (I added in the kalamata olives to this “half” of the mixture). Press down well. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

When cooked, remove the pan and let stand for 10 minutes before turning onto a plate. Serve hot, warm or cold. Slice loaf to serve. Enjoy!

Feeling Lawless? The “binding” ingredients in this dish are a must – cashews, potatoes (although plain white are ok), and breadcrumbs. However, the rest is up to you to mix and match. Cauliflower or broccoli would be a nice addition if you’re not one for mushrooms (make sure they are very soft once you sauté). The spices are up to you as well. Basil vs. rosemary would be a good swap.

VEGAN FARMER’S PIE

When I first became vegan, I was secretly worried that I’d be really really hungry, alll the time. I’m a gal who really likes to eat, so I stocked up on carbs, carbs, carbs (like, the white, complex kind). “BEING VEGAN IS SOOOOOO EASY!!!!” (I wanted to yell from the rooftops, as I stuffed my cakehole with pasta, baguettes, bagels, pizza, burgers, etc.) Turns out, it’s not actually so good to fill up on that stuff…and totally misaligned with a mantra I’ve been trying to remember more and more these days:

every time you eat, is an opportunity to nourish your body.

Trust me, there are many meals that are questionable in terms of nutrients (i.e. the Fritos and tequila I refer to in my “about me” page), BUT, for the most part I tried to keep things healthy and nourishing.

This dish is a grand slam in terms of nutrition, taste, effort required to make it, and ability to satisfy a hungry crowd. It’s a modified / veganized version of a recipe by the same name in “The Ontario Table” by Lynn Ogryzlo (which has lots of lovely vegan recipes, btw).

Yield: 6-8servings
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour (total)

Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
3 cups cooked lentils
2 tbsp canola oil or Magic Vegan Bacon Grease (if you really want to impress)
2 pkgs Yves original veggie ground
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
8 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed
3 tbsp soy or almond milk
1 veggie bouillon cube
2 tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
Salt and pepper
2 cups mixed veggies (fresh or frozen): try broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, mushrooms)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup whiskey (optional, but tasty) or water

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (190C). Peel sweet potatoes. Cut into chunks and put in a pan covered with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook sweet potatoes until done, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil or “bacon grease” over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic for 1 minute or until onions are soft. Add the veggies and cook for 5 minutes. Add the veggie ground and lentils and cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and mix well. Add whiskey or water, bouillon cube, thyme and season well with salt and pepper. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Mash sweet potatoes with margarine and soy / almond milk. Spoon veggie ground/lentil mixture into a 9 x 13 in pan. Top with sweet potato. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Feeling Lawless? This dish requires three things: protein/grain, veggies, and potatoes. Depending on what’s in the fridge, you can mix it up! A friend of mine doesn’t like ground round, so exclusively uses lentils. The veggie options are endless too – use whatever is in the fridge/freezer. And if you don’t like sweet potatoes, use regular potatoes! Spices can be as simple as salt and pepper and whatever dried options you have on hand. The other thing that is nice on this dish is a bit of melted vegan cheese – sprinkle on the dish during the final few minutes of cooking.