Sunday, July 31, 2011

Raw Zucchini "Pasta" with "Alfredo" Sauce, Vegan Apple-Sage Sausage, Sungold Tomatoes

A few days ago, a friend brought over a huge zucchini from her garden. I thought that it would be fun to make a raw "pasta", since my wife enjoys most of her non-dinner meals raw. I did a little searching online and found a simple recipe (that took literally 15m or so to make!) online called Alfredo Sauce and Zucchini Noodles.

It was so easy to make. We don't have a food spiralizer, but I just used a simple shredder. I guessed that a 5" or so length of zucchini would make for a good "pasta", so cut the zucchini 5" from the end and grated it.

For the sauce, I pretty much followed the recipe that I found. I took a cup of raw cashews and soaked them for 15m (the recipe suggested 30m). I drained and put the soaked cashews into our VitaMix blender, along with a garlic clove, juice of a small lime, half a cup of water, a half tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast, and a dash of salt. I blended on high for maybe 15 seconds till nice and creamy - and that was it! The sauce tasted surprisingly rich and tasty.

I served the sauce atop the noodles, with some freshly ground black pepper. I also lightly sauteed a vegan Field Roast Grain Meat Company apple-sage artisanal vegan sausage (so it wasn't a raw meal, but that wasn't my goal) and briefly heated some pine nuts. I sprinkled the nuts atop the pasta dish and served the sausage to the side.

My wife loved the meal (I liked it, too!) and told me that she had only had Alfredo sauce once and hated it. I realized that I've never had this sauce - and don't even know what it really is. Hmm.... let me check online ... it looks like it is a cream - Parmesan cheese - butter sauce -- yikes, how fatty that sounds! So, I don't know how a traditional Alfredo sauce is supposed to taste, but I enjoyed our meal!

My favorite tomatoes are Sungold - they're so sweet! They rounded out the meal. We're hosting a party at a restaurant tomorrow, but I should be cooking again on Monday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prepared Achari Mushroom with Malaysian-style Lentil Stuffed Parantha

I came home late from an appointment and had very little time to put dinner together. I keep some handy but also good-quality convenient foods around for such circumstances. I have had good luck with pre-cooked Indian meals sealed in an aluminum bag and ready to boil, and found a brand I'd not used before, Kohinoor. Their Achari Mushroom ("fresh button mushrooms cooked with pickled sauces and aromatic herbs") sounded good but I didn't notice the spice level hot label till I served.

I served this dish with a Malaysian-style lentil stuffed parantha, also rather spicy. A dollop of soy yogurt I thought would (and did) help. Dinner was reasonable, but my wife and I both found it too spicy - and the pickles with mushrooms was a little strange mixture.

Kale and Crimini Mushroom cooked in Meyer Lemon Infused Olive Oil, Quinoa

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"Rough" Pesto with Asparagus and Spinach, Leftover Green Tomato-Seitan with Madagascar Pink Rice

Tonight, I wanted to use up the leftover green tomato-seitan dish from a few nights ago; I heated it, along with the Madagascar pink rice. I also made an interesting and simple asparagus dish in a cast iron pan. I ran out of oil, so used some Earth Balance margarine.

I cut asparagus into maybe 1 1/2" lengths. I started sauteeing a large diced shallot, adding a large handful and a half (just a little at a time) of spinach a few minutes later. When the spinach was cooked down significantly, I added the asparagus and cooked for a few more minutes, then served.

I had forgotten to dollop on a little bit of a pesto variant that I had made last night, and added that after the first few bites. Yesterday, we took a supply of basil from a friend, and I intended to make pesto by blending the basil leaves with walnut, garlic, and olive oil. But I only had a little bit of olive oil left, so had a rather rough and not smooth sauce. But it tasted fine and actually complemented today's asparagus dish well.

Last night for the 4th of July, our vegetarian society had a potluck dinner. We also distributed vegetarian literature at a fun festival for the three days ending yesterday. After the dinner, we went out for fireworks, but they ended up being rained out, alas. Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Creamy Mushroom and Kale Soup, Tempeh with Green Beans and Pine Nuts

I had some cremini mushrooms on hand and yesterday my parents gave me a quart of white mushrooms that they didn't want. I decided to make a creamy mushroom soup. My experience with my VitaMix is that many dishes come out fine ad hoc, but soups generally, at least for me, need a recipe to start with.

Anyway, I thought I would challenge that today and use my normally decent sense about what foods might work well together to create a new blended soup. I used a raw mushroom soup recipe that I found on the web as initial inspiration and came up with this recipe (the soup was so interesting and good that I may try to publish it at some VitaMix recipe sites).
  1. I put into the Vita-Mix about 8 medium white mushrooms (a quart), 5 small cremini mushrooms, a large shallot (peeled), and 3 medium potatoes, similar to Yukon Golds
  2. I blended briefly at 40% power, just to chop; much of the mushroom ended up pureeing, which was fine
  3. I sauteed the mix over medium-high for about 7-10 minutes till it gave out a nice mushroom aroma and the mushroom was cooked down a little
  4. I put in the Vita-Mix 2 cups of fresh homemade almond milk, 1/4 cup raw cashews, 4 leaves (stem and leaf) kale, 1T red miso, 3/4t cumin seed, half of a jalapeno (seeds and all; the soup had a little bit too much - but still quite acceptable and nice - of a "kick" to it, so next time I'd add a quarter jalapeno), about a tablespoonful of fresh lemon sage, and a pinch of salt
  5. I added the sauteed vegetables and blended on high for about 5 minutes till steamy hot
I served the soup topped with a sauteed mushroom mixture (4 large creminis chopped and sauteed down, with about a tablespoonful of rosemary, mixed with some freshly ground black pepper). I also put some crispy prepared onions on top.

I made an interesting course of tempeh as well. I sauteed some tempeh over medium-high heat, adding green beans when the tempeh was almost done. Just before completion, I added some pine nuts, stirred for a half minute or minute till the nuts barely showed some browning, then served.

Dinner was good! The kale added a nice surprise to the flavor of the soup. I think this soup is a winner.