Bruschetta



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This is one of my favorite dishes because it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I’ve had it as all three, sometimes in one day.  It’s a really great cheap Summer meal if you have an oven.  Just heed the main rule of broiling: DON’T LEAVE THE KITCHEN WHILE BROILING THE BREAD!

There’s something really satisfying about bruschetta.  It hits all the little places in your tastebuds that make you happy, and deeply satisfies you at the same time.  It’s also incredibly healthy.  Chow down on this Italian delicacy. Usually, this performs as an appetizer, so feel free to use it that way at your next occasion.

Let it be noted that this is the first dish that taught me to keep a HIGH quality olive oil around at all times.  The greener the better. Don’t be fooled by green glass.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • Crusty white bread (I’ve used good quality whole wheat before, just make sure it has a nice crust and an inside that stands up well to toppings.) Slice it thick.
  • 2-3 cups of the sweetest small tomatoes you can find. cherry tomatoes are great, “Earli Girls” are best, in a pinch you can use Romas. Chop them as small as you can. Remove seeds if you have picky eaters.
  • 2 cloves of garlic – one for the garlic press, one cut in half.
  • 1 cup of finely minced basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (mozzarella flavor is best)
  • 2 Tbs high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbs high-quality olive oil
  • finely ground salt/pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine 1/2 cup “cheese”, diced tomato, diced onion, minced basil, one pressed garlic clove, balsamic vinegar,  1 Tbs olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Toss well, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Place your thickly sliced bread on a baking sheet and turn your oven to broil on high
  3. Cut one of your garlic cloves in half and rub the cut side it on each slice of bread to transfer the flavor
  4. sprinkle the “cheese” shreds on the bread slices evenly in one layer.
  5. Drizzle olive oil on the bread
  6. Then broil the bread slices until the “cheese” until melted. This happens quickly, so don’t leave the kitchen. Just keep checking. This makes the bread toasty, ingrains the garlic and melts the cheese in one go.
  7. Once the “cheese” is melted, pull the slices from the oven.
  8. Place bread slices on your serving plates and top with the tomato mixture.  Try to drain out the tomato liquid if you have picky eaters. (I don’t mind if my bread gets slightly soggy with the tomato juices.)
  9. The final touch is to drizzle everything with one more pass of olive oil. Then munch.  You’ll be in heaven.

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There’s so many ripe,  sweet tomatoes and basil out right now that people are giving them away.

I don’t know what it is about basil, but it instantly makes me happy. It seems to be the perfect herb- turning light dishes into meals that taste rich and complex. Paired with garlic, basil is irresistible.

You’ll notice there’s some zucchini I threw in there on the side…that’s because I eat zucchini in everything these days.  If I don’t have a more elegant plan for it, I just sauté it in a little olive oil/salt and put it on the side of my main course.  My boss grew a gigantic one that took me more than a week to eat!  Never pay for zucchini in the Summer unless you live in the North Pole.

This pesto recipe is the same as the one we use for our pesto pizza, it couldn’t be simpler. Just prepare the pesto, mix with your diced tomatoes and combine with your choice of drained, hot pasta.  Appearing here is linguine.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3-1/2 cup raw unsalted pine nuts  (toasted is a nice touch for deeper flavor, if you have time) Substitute almond slivers, if you can’t find pine nuts.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 5 medium sweet tomatoes, diced as small as possible
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 4 servings of your favorite pasta, cooked and hot (but make the pesto first!)

Directions:

  1. Combine 1/2 tsp salt, garlic, olive oil, nuts and basil in food processor until finely ground
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste, scrape down sides of the bowl to combine everything thoroughly
  3. Put diced tomatoes in a medium bowl, then add basil mixture, combine well and taste for salt/pepper balance.
  4. mix with your hot pasta, combine well, and enjoy!

 

Cherry Pie


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Fun fact: the taste and fragrance of cherry pie (and cherry Coke,) is actually almond extract, not cherry itself.  So whenever I get the urge to re-live the experience of cherry pie, I take a little whiff of my almond extract from the cupboard. :)

This is not a top secret recipe. It’s just the recipe on the back of the label of  the red, tart Oregon Cherries.  The only change I made was the addition of lemon juice: about half a small lemon, added after the almond extract.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 regular-sized cans Oregon Red Tart Cherries (if you use the giant can, halve the cherry juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance
  • 2 crusts for a 9-inch pan (I use a store bought vegan one.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Drain the cherries and reserve the juice from one can. (half, if you’re using the big can.)
  3. In a saucepan, stir the cherry juice into the combined mixture of the cornstarch and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cherries and almond extract. Then add the lemon juice.
  5. Pour filling into pastry lined pie pan. Dot with butter or margarine. Adjust crust, seal and vent.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes or until crust browns and filling begins to bubble. If necessary, cover edges with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool pie several hours to allow filling to thicken before slicing.

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$7.50 – serves 3

In the realm of “no-egg salad sandwiches”, this is a delectable veggie-packed alternative to my scrumptious tofu salad sandwich. But this concoction has a little extra kick with the curry powder. The chewiness of the tempeh, the crunch of the celery, the tangy lemon and creamy veganaise…..it’s irresistible and healthy.  Tempeh is cited for its health benefits all over the web. If you’ve never had it, take a little time to look it up.  Any flavor tempeh will work in this recipe.  I usually put some sliced tomato in my sandwich before piling this on. And I keep some vinegar-y hot sauce on the side for a little excitement every few bites.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (1 package) Tempeh
  • 3-4 ribs celery, sliced thin (depends on how much crunch you want.)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1-2 Tbs lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2  tsp curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup veganaise
  • black pepper to taste
  • for a fancy splash of color and flavor, throw in some chopped parsley at the end

Directions:

1. Cube tempeh and steam for 15 minutes.

2. Prepare vegetables while the tempeh is cooking.

3. When tempeh is done, allow to cool slightly. Mash with a fork in a large bowl. Mix in the carrot, celery, and onions, and stir well.

4. Add the lemon juice, curry powder, stock powder, and celery seed. Mix well. Add vegan mayo, beginning with a couple tablespoons, and adding more if you want it to be creamier. Season with black pepper and your parsley, if using.

5. Let salad sit at least an hour before serving in your favorite sandwich bread. Pitas are highly recommended, and so is toasted rye.

This would be really good if served stuffed in some hollowed out and drained cherry tomatoes as appetizers!

 

The Perfect Taco

 


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…or burrito, if you have the patience to fold it up that way.

From left to right, How to make it:

- Strips of portobello, red onion, red and orange bell pepper and broiled, skinned poblano stir fried with fajitas seasoning, olive oil and  and garlic

- Fresh salsa: dice up a fresh seeded jalepeno, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro, add salt, sugar, lime juice and a little vinegar, stir well.

-Heated Uncanny Refried Beans (so convenient and tasty!)

- Pan heated Boca Grounds

- Chunky guacamole: avocado, red onion, a dash of cumin, cilantro, lots of lime juice, salt. Muddle together and stir well.

- Locally made tortilla  that contains no hydrogenated oil or palm oil

- And you have to have Cholula. Other hot sauces are welcome to join, but Cholula is the main squeeze.

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One of the best vegan pizza recipes on the planet. Coincidentally, the original, untweaked  recipe came from the cookbook “Vegan Planet”. How apropos.  The scent of the baking pesto and tomato  intoxicates you, and you’ll never miss the cheese as you bite into this mouth-watering dish. Make your own crust or grab a pre-made fresh pizza dough from the store for a faster process.  Top with soy cheese shreds if you wish, but it’s not necessary. The pesto and tomato mixture on its own is delicious, and meant to be the only topping.

 Serves: Depends on the size of your crust. Most store bought fresh doughs make 8 small pieces. This recipe is for your average sized pizza pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe of your favorite homemade pizza dough ( or fresh pizza dough from the store.) Raised and rolled out to a 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbs Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted pine nuts  (toasted is a nice touch for deeper flavor, if you have time)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more more adding to taste in later stage.)
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • optional:  a generous amount of your favorite soy cheese. (We love Follow Your Heart mozzarella shreds.)

How-to:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2. Put garlic, pine nuts, 1/2 tsp salt, and basil in food processor and grind until fine

3. Leave processor running and add 1/4 cup olive oil through the feed tube until thoroughly mixed. Get in there with a big spoon and manually stir it so its well combined, then spoon into a big bowl.

4. Place your rolled dough onto a lightly oiled pizza pan, poke holes throughout the dough with a fork.

5. Bake dough for 10 minutes

6. Combine diced tomato with pesto mixture in in your big bowl. Toss gently to combine, then add salt and pepper to taste and mix well. (Do not fail to add more salt at this step, it definitely needs a little extra-1/2 tsp at most.) As you taste, try not to eat it all.

7. Remove dough from oven, spread tomato/pesto mixture evenly onto dough, leaving a 1/2 inch of the edge bare.

8. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden

9. If you’re using soy cheese shreds, take pizza out and sprinkle those on and bake once again until cheese is melted. (About 5 minutes.)  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

10. If not using cheese shreds, at step #8, bake until crust is fully golden brown.

11. The final step is to drizzle the last 2 Tbs of olive oil on top of the pizza before serving.

Prepare to gluttonize.

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This lasagna is one of our top favorite dinners of all time. We used to make it only on special occasions because it’s time-consuming and compels us to stuff ourselves and endure the shame of gluttony.  (It’s sooooo delicious.)  But we’ll often put it together if we have a little extra time on the weekends.  It’s even worth making in the summer when firing up the oven is unreasonable.  Yields lunches and dinners for several days, as it keeps well.  Gear yourself up to battle for the leftovers and be advised that one serving never seems like enough.  This dish is so good, you should eat it on your cheat day.

Original recipe modified from Vegetarian Times.

Note: if you are not strictly vegan, just make this with normal cheese shreds and normal cream cheese and you will have an amazing dish on your hands!!

Super-Addictive Vegan Lasagna – 10×10 pan

Makes 8 huge pieces

SEASONED “RICOTTA” FILLING

  • 10×10 pan – or as close as you can get to this size
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1 12-oz. pkgs. firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 8-oz. pkg. vegan cream cheese
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • salt/pepper to taste

 LASAGNA

  • 2 jars of your favorite red sauce (I highly recommend Mario Batali Marinara or Tomato/Basil.)
  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles (don’t worry, they cook in the sauce- no need to pre-boil.If you’re scared, get the no-cook kind.)
  • 2 cups soy grounds (Boca grounds are perfect)
  •  1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced and roughly cut
  • 1-2 cups shredded soy cheese (we use Follow Your Heart Shreds)

Directions: Requires Food Processor!

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil until golden. Add spinach, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer this mixture to food processor. Add tofu, cream cheese, basil, and nutritional yeast, and purée until mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Taste it, it is heavenly.

2. Brown grounds and mushrooms in pan on stove until fully cooked. (To save time, take care of this while the spinach mixture is cooking.)

3. Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cover with one layer of uncooked noodles, then spread an even layer of of filling, a good sprinkle of the grounds/mushroom mix, and ladle on another one-quarter of sauce.

4. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, grounds mixture. Keep layering, then finish with final layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle top with soy shreds. Any remaining sauce should go around the edges and any bare areas.

5. Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 minutes, or until bubbling hot. Uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

6. Enjoy this epic meal.  You will not be disappointed.

Pictured above is a small portion of the exploding Himalayan Blackberry bushes right outside our apartment window.  They are delicious and juicy, but I let the birds have them this year.

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