Posts Tagged pesto

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!

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Summer CSA’s

I stopped taking pictures of my CSA deliveries for a while there.  I like winter squash, greens and citrus plenty, but after a while they’re not that exciting.  When summer produce starting arriving my interest was renewed!  Before I get to that, here are a few dishes that used up the last of my winter and spring produce.

Fajita-style poblanos, fennel and mushrooms over polenta cakes with lettuce, tangerine salsa, beans and a bit of Daiya.

I had some sweet potatoes sitting around and decided to try to make a sweet potato based bbq sauce.  It turned out a little grainy but tasted good enough on tempeh.  In the back is a brussels sprout and corn hash.

To use up some root veggies, I made this Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings from Eating Well.

I used Tofurkey Italian Sausage and subbed egg substitute in the dumplings.  This was a very hearty and tasty dish.  You cook the dumplings right on top of the stew!  Some of my root veggies were beets, which turned the whole thing red and a little sweet.  Next time I would probably stick with neutral colored roots.

Black bean and sweet potato hash with cumin, coriander and orange; steamed broccoli on the side.

6-9-11 CSA - corn, lettuce, peppermint, carots and radishes

cherries, cantaloupe, tomatoes

This orzo salad was for Vegan Happy Hour.  I caramelized shallots then reduced some balsamic vinegar in the same pan, and blended the mixture with mayo and seasonings.  The orzo and dressing was tossed with diced tomato, raw corn and fresh basil.

This isn’t CSA related, but these blackberries came from my backyard!  We had some friends over on a Saturday and I had a bowl of freshly picked berries, so I made the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Joy of Vegan Baking into a cake, subbing berries for the chocolate.  I added some cinnamon, which was a great compliment to the banana and berries.  This was a perfect snack cake – moist but not dense, sweet but not too sweet.

6-16-11 CSA - bok choy, avocado, lettuce, cilantro

melon, strawberries, carrots, gypsy peppers, tomatoes

Peppermint tea!  I’m not a huge fan of mint in food, so I boiled a pot of water then seeped a whole bunch of mint.  Strained, chilled and served cold with stevia and lemon, it was a great treat.

After my last CSA delivery included basil, I was wondering what I could use to make an interesting pesto other than nuts.  Lucky for me, that very same day Gena of Choosing Raw posted a recipe for hemp pesto.  Perfect!  I dont’ love hemp seeds as is, so I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate them into my diet.  I used only one tablespoon of oil, and mixed the pesto with some shirataki noodles.  In the back are some green beans cooked with coconut oil, onion, lemon and fresh dill.  I really liked the pesto, and had the leftovers on toast with arugula and sliced tomato.

Lastly, one of my favorite ways to use up random veggies, the hot dog salad.  This salad included lettuce, tomato, gypsy peppers, radishes, carrot, cilantro, sliced veggie dogs and Cesar Chavez Dressing from Appetite for Reduction.  What is most important about this picture is that I finally figured out how to take a good picture of a giant salad!  Normally I just pile stuff in the salad bowl while I chop it up.  For this picture, I kept a bit of each topping off to the side then sprinkled them on top at the end so that you can see all the pretty colors!  Obvious to some, maybe, but I was pretty proud of this accomplishment.

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Showin’ Off My Skills

As part of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College, each student had to present a 15 minute cooking demonstration with a recipe including three assigned skills.  It was like teaching a cooking class in front of my classmates, complete with nutrition information.  My skills were blanching & shocking, cutting a medium matchstick, and using a food processor.  I racked my brain for about a month for a good way to combine these seemingly unrelated skills, and here is what I came up with!

Broccoli Pesto Pasta Salad with Apples & Chickpeas

This gluten free pasta dish is easy to prepare and features a great variety of textures.  It is a little high in calories as a four-serving main dish, but if you want to reduce the calories you could omit the apples or chickpeas, or divide into smaller portions and serve with a salad.

8 oz gluten-free spiral pasta, such as Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta Garden Pagodas
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into small florets (about 5 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 Tbs white miso
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the pasta
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 medium apple, cored and diced
1 large carrot, shredded
water (if desired)

1. Cook the pasta according to directions on package, just to al dente.  Drain, rinse and put in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and toss to coat.  Set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.  Add the broccoli to the water and boil for 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice water to shock.  Drain and shake off as much water as possible.
3. Place the walnuts in a food processor and process to the size of large breadcrumbs.  Add the miso and nutritional yeast and pulse to combine.
4. Add the garlic, parsley, broccoli and salt and process until incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
5. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until well combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  If needed, add a little bit of water to thin to desired consistency.
6. Add the chickpeas, apples and carrots to the pasta.  Add the pesto and mix gently to combine well.  Serve at room temperature.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 695.29
Calories From Fat (49%) 341.75
% Daily Value
Total Fat 39.3g 60%
Saturated Fat 4.82g 24%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 623.75mg 26%
Potassium 614.6mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 77.36g 26%
Fiber 10.86g 43%
Sugar 6.27g
Protein 15.61g 31%

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And For My Next Post…Here’s a Bunch of Food.

There’s always a bad reason for not blogging, but here’s a good one:  My internet didn’t work for two weeks!  But I’m back now, and what better thing to do than post a whole bunch of random food and get caught up?  Some of this stuff dates from last October.  Eep!  I’ll jump right in.

Ginger Cashew Tofu from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, with fried quinoa

Salad with chickpeas, sauerkraut, crackers and “special sauce” dressing

Whole wheat pasta with cooked beets and beet greens.  Turned the whole thing red!

Pizza burrito!  Leftover pizza toppings wrapped up and served with pizza sauce.

These potatoes were sold as “teeny tiny potatoes” at Trader Joe’s.  How cute!  Roasted whole, with broccoli & tofu scramble.

Roasted Fennel Salad from Veganomicon – test run before Thanksgiving.

Amaranth porridge with apples and pecans

Tempeh Tetrazzini, adapted from a magazine recipe.  Was tasty but dry.

Teriyaki tofu and veggies with red quinoa

This was a total clean-out-the-fridge dinner before I left to visit family for Christmas:  sauteed cabbage and carrots with shredded bleu Sheese and brown rice.  It sounds weird, but it worked well enough.

Shells n’ cheese n’ Tofurkey.  Mom was making mac n’ cheese with leftover ham for the rest of the family, and she made the white sauce with Earth Balance and soy milk so that I could partake too.  I added shredded Follow Your Heart cheese, cooked shells, diced Tofurkey slices that needed to be used up, and some spinach so I could pretend that it was slightly healthy.

“Special Tofu” with peanut sauce and jasmine rice, from Royal Orchid restaurant in Ocala, Florida.  Beautiful and delicious.

Fried rice with red cabbage and baked tofu

Braised red cabbage and carrots

Roasted root veggies with greens and tahini sauce

Tofu scramble and an English muffin to scoop it up

Butternut squash stuffed with rice, kale and vegan sausage, served with mushrooms.  This was super tasty.

When the weather started warming up, we decided to grill twice in one weekend.  For this plate, I bought every vegetable worthy of grilling – baby squashes, radicchio, mushrooms, asparagus and garlic scapes.  We also had some grilled toast and drizzled everything with balsamic reduction.

The next day it was a little more simple – store bought baked tofu, a marinated portobello, brown rice with carrots and hijiki, and steamed veggies with gomasio.

Hot and sour cabbage stir fry with noodles and cilantro

For this tofu scramble, I crisped some diced potatoes first then added the tofu and other ingredients, and finished it with fresh dill.

Savory amaranth with broccoli and pecans

Pasta with parsley pesto, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic-roasted veggies

Crunchy salad with black eyed peas, hemp seeds and spicy apple cider vinegar dressing

Teriyaki tofu bowl with short grain brown rice, raw red cabbage, steamed broccoli, green onion and extra teriyaki sauce

Gardein Crispy Tenders!  I bought these to try when I had a coupon, and I LOVE them.  They’d be good with any sauce, but they were especially good straight out of the oven with warm marinara.  The only problem with these guys is that I could easily eat the whole package at once.

Seasoned mashed fava beans with red bell pepper on Ezekiel toast for breakfast.

Springtime brown rice risotto with fresh peas, aspragus and dill

For a light side to go with the risotto, I dry-roasted some cauliflower that was liberally seasoned with a dry rub mix.

Ahhhhhhh, I feel better having purged my unposted photos a little!  Hope you enjoyed it too.

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Homework #5

Even though I already finished the Natural Chef program at Bauman College,  I still want to catch you guys up on the rest of what I did there.

For our fifth homework assignment, we had to go to a farmer’s market, pick out an organic farm, find out some information about them, and design a day’s worth of recipes using what they had available – two recipes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Additionally, two of the recipes had to be raw.

I chose Lopez Farms at the San Leandro Bayfair farmers market.  They’re not certified organic, but they are pesticide-free which is good enough for me.  Here is what they had in mid-December.

(Their lettuce was only $1 a head last weekend – score!)

It was tougher for me to come up with breakfast recipes than lunch or dinner.  I didn’t want to resort to a tofu scramble, so it was difficult to find a way to use multiple vegetables in breakfast dishes.  Here is what I came up with.

Savory Amaranth Porridge

To make a thinner porridge, just add more broth or some water.  I love adding fennel seed to breakfast recipes because it’s reminiscent of a sausage-ey flavor.

8 oz tempeh, cubed
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, diced
1 cup amaranth
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add the tempeh and simmer 20 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, crumble the tempeh and set aside.

2. Place the coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and saute 1 minute.  Add the cumin, paprika, fennel seed and celery seed and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the brussels sprouts, carrots and a large pinch of salt and saute for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the tempeh, mix and remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, place the amaranth and broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable mixture to the amaranth, stir well and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and stir in nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve hot, topped with toasted pine nuts.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 487.93
Calories From Fat (40%) 195.13
% Daily Value
Total Fat 23.17g 36%
Saturated Fat 8.6g 43%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 430.23mg 18%
Potassium 976.63mg 28%
Total Carbohydrates 52.86g 18%
Fiber 10g 40%
Sugar 4.18g
Protein 25.33g 51%

Ginger Beet Smoothie

Beets for breakfast?  Why not?

3 medium beets
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 prunes, chopped
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2-3 tsp agave nectar
1 cup ice

1. The night before, preheat the oven to 400.  Wrap each beet in foil and bake for 1 hour.  Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

2. Unwrap the beets, use a spoon to scrape the skin off and cut into pieces.

3. Place the beets and all remaining ingredients in the blender, starting with 2 tsp agave nectar.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add more agave nectar if needed.  Serve cold.

Servings: 2

Amount Per Serving
Calories 159.65
Calories From Fat (3%) 4.18
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.5g <1%
Saturated Fat 0.07g <1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 97.48mg 4%
Potassium 713.39mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 38.2g 13%
Fiber 4.31g 17%
Sugar 29.95g
Protein 3.05g 6%

For lunch, a little soup ‘n’ salad…

Creamy Cauliflower & Chickpea Soup with Parsley Coulis

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Parsley Coulis
1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs water

1. Steam the cauliflower florets for 20 minutes, or until very soft.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil.  Add the garam masala, coriander, cardamom, turmeric and cayenne and cook for 1 minute, stirring and swirling the oil almost constantly.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft, stirring frequently and being careful not to let it burn.

3. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender and add the chickpeas and milk.  Blend until smooth and pour back in the pot.

4. Place the cauliflower and 2 cups of broth in the blender and blend until smooth.  If your blender is small you may need to do this in batches.  Pour into the pot with the onion mixture.

5. Add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and white pepper to the soup and whisk to combine.  If the soup is too thick, add 1/2 cup broth.  Heat the soup, whisking occasionally, until heated through.  Taste the soup and add more salt, pepper or cayenne if needed.

6. Meanwhile, rinse the blender.  Place the coulis ingredients (parsley through water) in the blender and blend until as smooth as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides.

7. To serve, ladle the soup into four bowl and drizzle the coulis over each serving.

Servings: 4
Yield: 4 servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 321.49
Calories From Fat (22%) 69.56
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.05g 12%
Saturated Fat 3.55g 18%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 907.59mg 38%
Potassium 1529.58mg 44%
Total Carbohydrates 51.85g 17%
Fiber 15.63g 63%
Sugar 14.08g
Protein 17.02g 34%

Poppy Seed Coleslaw

This stuff is like coleslaw crack.  I easily could have eaten all four servings at once.  So good!

1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, shredded
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs fresh orange juice
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1 dash onion powder
1 dash garlic powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp poppy seeds

1. Place cabbage, red pepper, carrot and celery in a large bowl.

2. Drain the cashews and place them in a blender.  Add the remaining ingredients except poppy seeds to the blender (water through black pepper).  Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides if needed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and add the poppy seeds.  Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 227.33
Calories From Fat (50%) 113.69
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.4g 21%
Saturated Fat 2.24g 11%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 412.5mg 17%
Potassium 643.03mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 24.01g 8%
Fiber 6.82g 27%
Sugar 11.78g
Protein 7.02g 14%

For my dinner recipes, I tried to be a little more fancy.

Lemony Raw Swiss Chard Salad

This tasty raw salad is best the day it is made.

1 bunch chard, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 pinches sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp lemon zest

1. Place the swiss chard in a large bowl.  Place the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small jar, close the lid and shake until well combined.  Taste the dressing and add more salt or pepper if needed.  Pour the dressing over the chard.  With clean hands, massage and squeeze the chard until it reduces in size and feels more tender, a few minutes.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Place the shallots in a small bowl and cover with water.  Set aside for 1 hour.

3. After an hour, drain the shallots.  Add the shallots to the chard and mix well.  Transfer the chard to a serving bowl.  Sprinkle the raisins, lemon zest and more freshly ground black pepper over the salad.  Serve cold.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 217.26
Calories From Fat (43%) 92.81
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.53g 16%
Saturated Fat 1.46g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 410.09mg 17%
Potassium 876.52mg 25%
Total Carbohydrates 30.17g 10%
Fiber 2.49g 10%
Sugar 7.6g
Protein 5.03g 10%

Tofu & Potatoes En Papillote with Leeks & Parsley Pesto

En Papillote is just a fancy term for “in paper”.  The red wine marinade gives the tofu a really pretty rosy color and great flavor.  And, the parsley pesto is good with everything – especially pasta!

1 lb extra-firm tofu
2 cups red wine
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs tamari
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 leek, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
Parsley Pesto
1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 1/2 tsp white miso
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
lemon slices, for garnish

1. Pat excess water off of the tofu.  Place the tofu on a plate and place another plate on top.  Balance a few heavy objects such as canned food on the top plate and press the tofu for 30 minutes.  Drain the excess water.  Place the tofu on its side and carefully slice the tofu into eight thin pieces.

2. Combine the red wine, balsamic vinegar, tamari, lemon juice and smashed garlic in a container large enough to hold the tofu slices.  Submerge the tofu and marinate for at least 1 hour.  Drain.

3. Preheat the oven to 375F.

4. Cut four pieces of parchment paper into 15″ x 15″ squares.  Fold each square in half.  Draw a large half heart shape on each rectangle and cut out.  Open each piece flat.

5. Place one piece of tofu on one side of a parchment heart.  Place two to three potato slices on top, then layer another piece of tofu and a few more potato slices.  Top with one fourth of the leeks.

6. Fold the paper over the ingredients so that the edges meet.  Starting from the top of the heart, fold and crimp both edges of the paper so that the packet is sealed, overlapping the folds and twisting the bottom corner.  Repeat with the remaining paper and ingredients.

7. Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto.  Place the walnuts in a food processor and process until they are the size of breadcrumbs.  Add the miso, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt and pulse until combined.  Add the parsley and process until finely chopped.  With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly.  You may not need to use all of the oil.

9. To serve, open the packets and top with pesto and a lemon slice.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 431.98
Calories From Fat (49%) 210.98
% Daily Value
Total Fat 24.1g 37%
Saturated Fat 3.11g 16%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 230.15mg 10%
Potassium 920.72mg 26%
Total Carbohydrates 40.04g 13%
Fiber 7.46g 30%
Sugar 3.11g
Protein 17.16g 34%

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Weeknight Meals

May is a busy month for me this year – I’m going out of the state twice, once for fun and once for work, my birthday falls in between those trips, and there’s the usual baseball games and other stuff going on.  So I haven’t had a lot of energy to focus on my cooking.  I still eat well I suppose, but it’s been more of a matter of just getting decently healthy food in my belly.

I’m calling this Cheater’s Channa Palak Masala.  Method:  Steam-fry or saute a diced onion, add minced fresh garlic and ginger, add chickpeas and a can of diced tomatoes, put in a whole lot of whatever seasoning you find appropriate (I used curry powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander, dry mustard and cayenne), and add spinach to wilt at the end.  Delicious, quick, easy, and nutritious.  I was going to serve this over rice but was too hungry to wait the hour for brown rice, so I used whole wheat orzo, which didn’t really go with the masala that well.  On the side are roasted sweet potatoes seasoned with coriander.  The coriander is a tip I picked up from Vegan With A Vengeance’s sweet potato fries, and I will probably never roast sweet potatoes without coriander now because it’s so good.

I had a laugh when I saw that Lindsay from Happy Herbivore made Channa Masala just a few days after I did using about the same recipe, with an option to add spinach.  This was even funnier because as I was making mine I decided to steam-fry the dish with water rather than using oil and this made me think of her.  Great minds think alike!

One of my favorite ways to use up random veggies, tofu scramble!  I don’t follow a recipe, nor do I write one down, but my scrambles usually involve turmeric, about a ton of nutritional yeast, yellow mustard, a splash of soy milk and maybe some soy sauce.  This one also had zucchini, carrots, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms and fresh basil.  Yum yum.

I had planned to also make strawberry corn pancakes (a la VCON blueberry corn pancakes) and have full on breakfast-for-dinner, but by the time I got home I had neither the energy nor the patience to actually cook two things.  So I threw together this fruit salad, which made me realize that I don’t eat fruit salad enough.  I always have singular fruits and rarely put them together.  I liked adding the orange sections because the juice acted like a dressing and kept the bananas from turning brown.

I found myself with a lot of fresh herbs in the fridge threatening to go bad, so I had decided to make some pesto pasta.  But then that day I got a MAD craving for tomato sauce, so I spent most of the day trying to figure out how to have both marinara and pesto, and whether that was even a good idea.  Turns out it is!

I made this meal completely from what I just happened to have at home.  The pesto was made with a little bit of mint, thyme and oregano, a lot of parsley, pine nuts, and no basil whatsoever.  The crumbly stuff on top is supposed to be tofu ricotta but I used frozen and thawed tofu, which I knew wasn’t a great idea from the beginning.  I wanted tofu ricotta though, and the frozen tofu was the only tofu I had.  So the tofu stayed crumbly and spongy and didn’t get creamy like normal, but bf said that he actually liked it that way, so go figure.  (On a side note, bf ate what I ate for dinner TWICE last week.  I think it was a freak coincidence, or that he was just feeling lazy and cheap.  Fine with me!)

Anyway, I mixed cooked whole wheat spaghetti with organic jarred sauce, layered it in a casserole dish with the pesto and ricotta, and baked it for 20 minutes.  I’m calling it spaghetti casserole.  I wasn’t sure how this would turn out – I knew it would be edible, but didn’t know how great it would be.  It was great!  The pesto really did the trick.  Parsley pesto is good.  Oh, and this dish totally reminded me of the spaghetti pie my mom used to make with leftover spaghetti when I was young.  Vegan spaghetti pie?  Hmmm…..

With the bisketti, I had a side salad from whatever-I-could-find-in-the-fridge:  lettuce, carrots, radishes, corn kernels, clover sprouts that surprisingly had lasted a long time, and goddess dressing.  A fine side salad, indeed.

Here’s a weeknight meal made out of necessity, but then actually remade and written down cause it was so good.

This is  Salad Stirfry, and I’ll write more about it soon.  I love how colorful it is!

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