Posts Tagged italian

Award Winning Grilling

In mid-July, our friends Matt and Amber hosted the third annual grill-off. They added a veggie category this year, which was basically an open category for anything vegetarian. I rejoined with Dave and our friend Tom to form our team Grilly D. Williams and compete for the glory. The boys took care of the meat categories, and I made four entries – two veggies, a sandwich and a dessert for the open category.

First, I hung out with these guys.

And fueled myself up with veggies and Sanctuary dressing while waiting for my categories to come up.

First entry:

Grilled Asparagus Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

1 bunch asparagus
large handful fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18-20 button or cremini mushrooms

1. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until slightly charred and crisp-tender. Allow to cool then chop into pieces, reserving the tips for garnish.
2. Place the asparagus pieces, basil, garlic, pine nuts, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. It is okay if some texture remains in the pesto.
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wrap them in foil in a single layer. Grill over medium-high heat until tender.
4. Allow the mushrooms to cool enough to handle, then stuff with the pesto. You can spoon the pesto in the mushrooms, pipe it with a piping bag, or cut the corner off a ziploc bag and use that to pipe. Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Second entry:

Grilled Italian Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 Tbs EACH fresh minced thyme, oregano, sage and parsley
2 tsp capers
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
salt
freshly ground black pepper
tofu ricotta, for example the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance

1. Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.
2. Place the sliced leek, garlic, capers, 3/4 of the herb mixture, the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small grill-safe container such as an aluminum pan. Grill over medium high heat, off the heat, until leeks are softened, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the zucchini flat side down until charred and slightly tender, turning the zucchini to create grill marks. Take the leek mixture and zucchinis off the grill and allow to cool.
4. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, reserving the flesh and leaving at least an eighth-inch shell.
5. Chop about two thirds of the zucchini flesh into small pieces and reserve the rest for another use. Mix the chopped zucchini with the leek mixture, diced tomato and breadcrumbs. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Mix the remaining herbs with the tofu ricotta.
7. Spoon the leek mixture into the zucchini shells, packing it down slightly. Top each zucchini with some tofu ricotta.
8. Carefully place the zucchinis back on the grill to warm through and cook the bottoms slightly. Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Third entry:

Hoisin Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, skin on, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
salt
1/2 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
loaf French bread or four bread rolls
vegan mayonnaise
lettuce
thinly sliced cucumber
cilantro sprigs

1. Place a colander over a bowl. Add the eggplant slices, salting each layer well. Allow to drain for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
2. Lightly oil the eggplant slices with olive or canola oil, and grill over medium high heat until softened and slightly charred.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, tamari and peanut oil in a medium bowl.
4. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the sauce and shake off the excess. Place the eggplant back on the grill for a few more minutes.
5. If there is any remaining sauce, add a little to the eggplant and toss to coat.
6. To assemble, spread some mayonnaise on each side of the bread. Place the eggplant on the rolls then top with cucumber, lettuce, and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 4

Fourth entry:

Grilled pound cake with pineapple, rum sauce and coconut whipped cream. This is more of a collection of deliciousness than a recipe. I started with the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon, brushing both sides with melted Earth Balance and grilling. The cake was topped with grilled pineapple and rum sauce veganized from this recipe. For the coconut whipped cream, I refrigerated a can of coconut milk and scooped the solid cream from the top, then mixed it with a bit of vanilla extract, powdered sugar and xantham gum. The cream was very thick, which worked well to keep it from melting too much when it was placed on the hot cake and pineapple.
I felt really good about the dishes I submitted, but the competition is stiff among our friends! Plus, the judges aren’t necessarily used to eating vegetarian food, so I never know what to expect. But, I won a few prizes! My eggplant bahn mi placed third in the burgers and sandwiches category, and my dessert placed second in the open category. Dave placed with a number of his entries, and Grilly D. Williams won as the best team overall. Plus, my dessert was picked as a judges favorite!

What’s funny is that I spent the most amount of time testing and prepping for my veggie entries, and they didn’t even place. My sandwich and dessert entry were more thrown together, and they both placed. Just goes to show that you should always trust your cooking instincts!

Comments (5)

Cauliflower Ricotta?!

Cauliflower Ricotta, indeed.  This is Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta from Appetite For Reduction.  To make the ricotta, you roast cauliflower then combine it with tofu, nutritional yeast and some other tasty stuff.  Genius!  I pulsed my ricotta in the food processor instead of mashing it like the recipe said to do, and it turned out thicker and a little more difficult to spread, but it was no biggie.  I roasted the cauliflower the night before to speed up the prep work and get lasagna in my belly more quickly.

I substituted beet greens for the spinach, since I was having beets on the side.  I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce, because I can’t seem to make red sauce without them.

I really enjoyed this lasagna for the flavor and comfort factor, and even more so because it was much lighter in comparison to most lasagnas.  If you eat the cauliflower ricotta on its own you can kind of taste the cauliflower, but in cahoots with the whole dish you would never know the secret ingredient.

Reminder – there’s still time to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Appetite For Reduction by going to this post and leaving a comment with a healthy cooking tip.  The contest closes at midnight PST Wednesday 3/9.

Comments (11)

July CSA’s – Pizza, Almondine, Beety Potatoes & Delicious Italian Food

I’m considering participating in VeganMoFo this year.  (If you don’t know what VeganMoFo is, check out Kittee’s post here.)  While some people save up pictures and posts to meet their self-set VeganMoFo post quota, I would like to catch up to at least fairly recent so I’m not blogging about food I ate three months ago!  It’s harder to remember the details of all these dishes, but I will do my best…

7/1/10 CSA:  cauliflower, gypsy peppers, green beans, zucchini, basil and lettuce

peaches, tomatoes, grapes, carrots and a watermelon

Taco salad!  Lettuce, tomatoes, roasted corn, cilantro, a quick ranch dressing made from Trader Joe’s reduced-fat mayo (which explains the weird color and sheen), and to be honest, I don’t remember what the taco part on top was.  I think it might have been sauteed peppers, mushrooms, onions, spices and other stuff – Whatever it was, I remember it being good!

Zucchini pizza on a brown rice tortilla with basil and Daiya mozzarella.

Tofu Almondine with Lemony Green Beans, adapted from Clean Eating Magazine’s Chicken Almondine recipe.  I also had some dry-roasted cauliflower on the side.  The flavor of the tofu and green beans was really good, but it was kind of dry.  I felt some sort of sauce would have brought it together.

7/15/10 CSA:  grapes, lettuce, beets, purple basil, corn and a lemon cucumber

peaches, tomatoes, plums, an onion, a cantaloupe and carrots

I wanted to eat the corn raw, and I remembered that when I was in England I tried corn mixed with tuna salad and actually really liked it.  So, I made some chickpea tuna salad, mixed in the corn, and rolled it up in a Flat Out with lettuce.  Those are Food Should Taste Good chips in the background.  I love their chips!  They’re so good that I don’t buy them very often, because I’ll eat the whole bag much too fast.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided that I would make beet-stuffed potatoes.  I baked the potatoes and beets, sauteed some minced leeks, scooped out the potatoes then mashed the insides with the beets, the leeks, some parsley and probably some sort of vinegar, knowing me.  They turned out a little dry, but tasted really good, and turned everything red!

Clean-out-the-fridge Roasted Veggies:  sweet potato, onion, portobello, tomato, swiss chard and possibly some other things.  I roasted everything except the chard, then tossed the hot veggies with the greens to wilt them slightly.

7/29/10 CSA:  watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers & corn.  I don’t know why they keep sending me watermelons!  I don’t like ’em!

tomatoes, an onion, nectarines, grapefruit and grapes

Salad:  lettuce, corn, black beans, lime-marinated cucumbers, salsa & pepitas.  Super tasty and light!

Caponata over gluten free pasta.  I used this recipe for the caponata.  The raisins and red wine vinegar and capers made this TOTALLY delicious.  The eggplant seemed a little undercooked, but that might have been because I reduced the oil called for a little.  I would definitely make this again.

To go with the caponata and add some protein, I made mashed white beans, I think using this recipe.  They were easy and tasty, with a very satisfying mouthfeel.

I was going to slice the zucchini into long, thin strips and use it as the “noodles” in a lasagna, but I was feeling really lazy the night I planned to make it, so I sliced it into half-moons instead and threw the lasagna together as a free-form casserole.  Still just as tasty.  Also in there was tofu ricotta, spinach, jarred sauce and Daiya mozzarella.  This post makes me feel like I eat a lot of Daiya since I’ve mentioned it twice, but I’m pretty sure the cheese here was leftover from the pizza above.

This isn’t CSA-related, but I wanted to share it because it was really good – Tofu Migas for breakfast.  I’ve never had real migas but have read several descriptions, so I figured I could wing it.  I scrambled the tofu with Mexican spices then added salsa, tortilla strips and some green onion.  I would definitely make something like this again if I had an extra tortilla laying around.

Comments (4)

Beet Hummus, Lots of Veggies, and Pancakes for One

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I realized tonight that I’m going to be even more busy for the next two or three weeks, so I wanted to make sure to get a post in before I go haywire!

Here’s a CSA delivery I got way back at the beginning of June.

broccolini, rosemary, lettuce & bok choy

blueberries, peaches, beets, potatoes, cantaloupe & cauliflower

With the beets and lettuce, I decided to make beet hummus lettuce wraps, even though I had never had beet hummus before.  It just sounded good.

I topped the wraps with shredded carrot and daikon radish, which was a great idea.  Right around this time, I started counting calories and making an effort to lower the fat content of my meals and include more veggies, so you’ll see a lot of meals like this from me for a while.  That’s why this hummus is low-fat, with no tahini or oil.  I went back and forth trying to decide if I should include at least a little tahini, but in the end the beets made the texture and flavor so nice that it didn’t need any added fat.  I meant to include a clove of garlic but forgot, so that would be a nice addition.

Low-Fat Beet Hummus

1 bunch beets, about three large
1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, or 1 1/2 cups cooked
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 dash cayenne
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp minced fresh dill
3 Tbs water

1. Trim the beets, but do not peel.  Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Add beets to water, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until beets are easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and let cool.  Once cool, peel the beets with the side of a spoon and chop.

2. Place beets and all remaining ingredients, except water, in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary.  Add water, 1 Tbs at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 102.58
Calories From Fat (7%) 7.04
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.84g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.09g <1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 311.27mg 13%
Potassium 334.15mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 20.61g 7%
Fiber 4.61g 18%
Sugar 4.72g
Protein 4.11g 8%

Lunch the next day, with leftover risotto and dried pears.

This is kidney bean and broccoli stem ragout.  I meant to use the broccolini in whole for this dish, but by the time I got around to cooking it, the poor broccolini was looking pretty bad, so I just used the thin stems.

With the ragout, I served rosemary-potato-cauliflower mash.  Adding the cauliflower was a nice way to still have potatoes but cut the calories a little.

Lunch the next day, with persian cucumbers and blackberries.

Next CSA delivery:  lettuce, carrots, zucchini, chard & cauliflower.

Tomatoes, strawberries, plums, cantaloupe, blueberries and nectarines.

With the return of summer and fresh zucchini, I returned to my spiralizer.  This is soba and zucchini noodles with carrot-ginger sauce, mung beans, long beans, cilantro and green onion.  I adapted the carrot-ginger sauce from this recipe, but to be honest I didn’t like it very much.  I think I just don’t like fresh carrot juice though, so if it sounds good to you, give it a try!  One great tip I did learn from this meal is that when you mix cooked soba noodles and raw zucchini noodles, you can barely tell the difference texture-wise.  It’s a fantastic way to extend the volume of soba noodles without adding a ton of calories.

Along with the noodles, I sauteed some purple kohlrabi.  I wasn’t going to have a side dish, but when I saw the kohlrabi at the farmer’s market that morning, I had to have it.  I love kohlrabi.

I had leftover carrot-ginger sauce and mung beans, so I combined them with short grain brown rice, arame and steamed broccoli for another meal.

One pot meals rule my world!  This is tempeh with leeks, carrots, swiss chard, mushrooms, capers, tomatoes, white wine and quinoa.  Delish.

To use up the last of the CSA veggies, I turned to Vegan Fire & Spice.  This is the Kashmiri Vegetable Soup.  Simple yet tasty, I really enjoyed the emphasis on cardamom in the spice mix.  You could add protein and greens to this soup and call it a complete meal.  And, because the veggies are cut into chunks, the prep was really fast.

Soup close up!

To go with the soup, I made Many Bean Salad, also from Vegan Fire & Spice.  This certainly lived up to the cookbook title – it was spicy!  I really liked the combination of beans and the addition of peas, which gave the salad a lovely texture.

A few Sundays ago, Dave left the house ridiculously early to attend a Nascar race up in Sonoma, and when I finally got out of bed I had a mad craving for pancakes.  Seeing as I’m doing this calorie counting thing, I wanted to make filling, relatively low-cal pancakes without having any leftovers.  I googled pancakes for one and came across this Buckwheat Pancakes for One recipe, which turned out fabulously.

I didn’t have any buckwheat flour though, so I used half whole wheat pastry and half quinoa flour.  They were a little gummy in the middle, but I actually like my pancakes that way.  Because I only had to cook one batch, these pancakes were much more quick to make than my usual recipe.  And, my entire breakfast was less than 350 calories, including the 2 tsp of blueberry agave nectar on top.  I will definitely be adding this to my weekend repertoire!

Comments (11)

Trying to Eat Well

I’ve been here for a week now, and despite my eagerness to get back to clean, creative eating, there isn’t too much that’s blog-worthy.  The kitchen here is limited, as are my funds, and there is still much that draws me away – there are a taqueria and a pizza place that are both quite good, and bf’s old friends to catch up with.  For now, I do what I can.

My first full day here, I made the lunch I had been craving, a tofu salad sandwich with lots of veggies.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever made, but for throwing it together with no recipe and a limited pantry, it was right decent.

Only bad part was that I was so used to being a piggy that this didn’t fill me up, at all.  I’m slowly coming back around.  I also had it open faced on toast with avocado.

I had been craving spaghetti, so one night we cooked it up.  Whole grain noodles, plain jane store-bought marinara jazzed up with spices, and sauteed chopped baby bella mushrooms.  One the side, zingy lemon pepper zucchini made with earth balance, red pepper flakes, black pepper and lemon juice.  This made for many leftovers.

I’ve also been munching on cherries, which I found at a good price.  They’re big and juicy, but unfortunately not too flavorful.

Yesterday bf and I jaunted off to San Francisco and the East Bay to explore a bit.  Around lunchtime we were in Berkeley and wanting Asian food, and we came across Boat Noodle House on Shattuck Ave.  All the noodles sounded good, but I went for a green curry, which was moderately spicy and very tasty, just like a green curry should be.  Plenty of fresh veggies and basil.  (Don’t know why I didn’t scoot the bowl closer to the rice for a better picture, I always feel awkward taking pictures in restaurants and try to do it as quickly as possible.)

When we came in view of a Whole Foods, I squealed and we had to stop.  I know a lot of people don’t care for Whole Foods, but my stance right now is that I think it’s amazing.  I’ve never been in a place with so many options.  Everything I would normally have to order online or go to a specialty shop for, they have.  Right there.  And premade things like bagels and salads and hot food.  Maybe once I’m used to it it’ll lose it’s charm, but for now:  I ❤ Whole Foods.

We were going to watch bf’s beloved Oakland Athletics play that night, so I bought some food to carry me through the game.  There were so many choices that I had a hard time (not to mention the prepared foods are pretty pricey), so I settled on this meatless chicken salad sandwich.

The sandwich was good, but not great.  The veggies were fresh and everything tasted nice, but I’m not sure I’d buy it again.  Unless I was going to another baseball game and needed a quick dinner.

I also got a vegan banana blueberry muffin out of the bakery case.  (The everything bagels are vegan too, I will definitely be eating my fair share of those.)  The sandwich filled me up before the game, so I brought the muffin in to eat during.  It was huge, moist, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet.  A good deal for the price, though I think I’ll go back to making my own muffins when I can.

I wasn’t planning on buying any other food at Whole Foods, but when I saw the mangoes I knew I had to have one.  They were the hugest mangoes I have ever seen, and on sale two for $3.  Here’s my mango posing with his fruit friends, to show off his size.

I’ve just seen that the kitchen has a blender, so perhaps tomorrow morning I’ll see if it’s powerful enough to make them into a smoothie.

Comments (22)

Eggplant Parmesan

For dinner tonight I knew I needed to use up the last of my Teese and the eggplant in the fridge before they went bad, and since I was hoping to try my hand at eggplant parmesan it worked out swimmingly.  A quick trip to the grocery store yielded the rest of the supplies.

groceries

Having never made eggplant parm before, I studied up on the internet.  Unfortunately, I really wasn’t in the mood for the traditional accompaniment of pasta marinara since I had spaghetti for dinner last night, a couple bites cold after packing my lunch this morning, and then again for lunch.  I REALLY didn’t want any more pasta or marinara.  I wanted to beef up the protein in this meal and wasn’t completely against a red sauce, so it became roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce.  I still wanted a grain and strongly considered polenta, but I didn’t think it would hold up to the eggplant and the sauce, so I decided on bread.  I like to make my own bread as often as possible, but the scope of this meal was spiralling larger by the second, so I bought the one brand name loaf that I really like.  No HFCS, sweetened with raisin juice!

I normally buy roasted red peppers in the jar, and was feeling lazy and leaning toward it today, but I came across these instructions for roasting a pepper at VeganYumYum so I went for it.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll have a gas range, gotta take advantage of it!

roasted pepper

Yeah, my stovetop is filthy.  Deal with it.  Here’s the molted pepper.

roasted pepper

At the same time, I had already sliced and salted the eggplant to draw out some moisture, and I was cooking the lentils and snapping off the ends of my green beans.

I’m not very good at breading things, so I was worried about breading the eggplant.  I took some tips from here, although theirs still look better.  I think my breadcrumbs weren’t quite fine enough (ground them from a stale half loaf of bread I knew I was keeping in the fridge with a purpose, not just because I’m lazy…), and my eggplant was baked instead or fried.  Anywho, I set up the breading station – I rinsed the eggplant slices, made a cornstarch slurry and microwaved it a couple 15 second bursts, and seasoned the breadcrumbs with nutritional yeast, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  Then into the oven at 350 they went for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

eggplant

Meanwhile I made the sauce by pureeing the roasted red pepper, an undrained can of diced tomatoes and some of the cooked lentils.  I added this back to the pan with the rest of the lentils, added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and simmered to cook down the liquid a bit.  With a minute or two left I added this pretty chiffonade of basil, just to wilt it.

basil

When the eggplant were cooked, I topped each slice with some of the sauce, almond parmesan and sliced Teese.  Back into the oven at 400 for a couple minutes, then broiled for a couple minutes to melt the Teese.  I toasted my bread, plated everything, and took about 10 pictures.  Hungry and very ready to eat, I realized I had forgotten to add the basil garnish I had set aside for just that purpose.  I’m glad I took the time to take a few more pictures, because having that focal point made all the difference in the world for the aesthetics of the picture.  I didn’t keep any ungarnished photos, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

eggplant parmesan

In the end, this was a worthy use for the last of the Teese log.  The eggplant spent so much time in the oven that it was a tad overdone, but I’d rather have a squishy eggplant than one that’s not cooked through.  While the sauce tasted really nice, it was quite hardy and overbalanced the eggplant a little.  Next time I make this I’ll just not have spaghetti the three meals immediately preceding.

Comments (11)

Three-Cheese Spinach, Mushroom & Sausage Lasagna

As another use for my ever-shrinking log of Teese, last night I made lasagna.  I layered homemade chunky marinara (with celery and green pepper), uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles, tofu ricotta from the Unstuffed Shells recipe in Vegan Vittles, frozen thawed spinach, baby bella mushrooms, leftover VWAV tempeh sausage crumbles from last week, almond parmesan and shredded Teese.

Here’s one of the inside layers, I thought it was pretty.

lasagna

Just out of the oven.

lasagna

lasagna

I also made Cauliflower Leek Puree.  I discovered leeks last week and now I want to put them in everything.  For the puree, I boiled a chopped head of cauliflower and the green parts of the leek, sliced, for 15 minutes.  I drained it, whizzed it in the food processor with a dash of rice milk, a couple Tbs Earth Balance, salt, white pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  It was really nice, and easy to make for sure.

Here’s the pan after I ate two pieces for dinner, gave two pieces to bf, and packed a piece for lunch today.

lasagna

After I finally ate dinner last night just after 9PM, I remembered why I rarely make lasagna.  Firstly, it takes so long to make!  Sure, if I used jarred sauce instead of homemade I could shaved off 45 minutes, and also I’m so OCD about equal distribution of ingredients that it took me over a half hour just to assemble.  Then an hour to bake and cool.  Okay, so it takes ME so long to make.  A normal person could probably accomplish it in half the time.

My other problem is that it’s so dang delicious that I want to eat it all up, quick.  I already had another piece after lunch today!

Problems aside, this is the best vegan lasagna I have ever made, so hopefully when I have it in me to make it again in about a year it will be just as good.

Comments (5)

Older Posts »