2/29/2016

whole wheat pasta with creamy vegan pesto

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I've said it before and I'll probably never stop saying it: pesto is one of my favorite things, ever. Put it on pasta, on toast, on whatever (or just hand me a spoon) and I am going to be happy about it. It's one of those transformative foods that doesn't take much effort but can really pump up any dish.

Since I've recently mastered the world of vegan mac and cheese thanks to the magical capabilities of the cashew, I had to ask: what about the other very, very not vegan sauce that I typically steer clear of? I am, of course, talking about the very, very typically dairy-laden alfredo sauce. Slathered on top of fettucine was one of my favorite ways to enjoy this decadent dish when I was a kid, care-free of what all that heavy cream was doing to my insides. But couldn't there be a way to replicate this? With what I now know cashews and a little nutritional yeast can do, I thought: yep, it's worth a try. Combine that gumption with my passion for pesto and I knew a master recipe was about to be born.


For this recipe, you'll need:

1/2 pound of your favorite whole wheat pasta (farfelle was my shape of choice)
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least two hours**
2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon organic corn starch
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups kale***
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium cauliflower, cut it florets (optional)
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

**The longer you can soak your cashews, the better. If you know you're going to whipping this up later in the day, drop them in a bowl of cold water first thing that morning. 

***Kale pesto has sort of become my standby, but you can use any favorite green or green herb you like: chard, spinach, mint, etc. Of course traditional basil would be amazing, but it's not exactly plentiful in February. Try what you like and see what works best for you. 

If you're going to top this lovely dish with some roasted veggies, begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss your cauliflower in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven for fifteen minutes. After that time, add your tomato halves and cook for 15 minutes more until the tomatoes start to soften and the cauliflower begins to brown.


Meanwhile, preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat your remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add your onions, sautéing for about 5-7 minutes. Add 1 clove of your garlic and sauté for one minute more. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the package instructions.

In a blender (the more power, the better), add your onions and garlic along with your soaked cashews, almond milk, corn starch, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Basically: everything. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. 


Transfer your sauce (the texture of which will be pretty thin right now, but don't worry) back to the medium saucepan. Get the heat up to medium and cook for about five minutes, whisking often, until thickened. (What you're looking for is a sauce that coats your whisk/spoon and doesn't easily drip.)

Keeping an eye on your sauce, add your kale (or green of choice), remaining clove of garlic and toasted almonds to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, about ten pulses or twenty seconds. Toss in with your sauce, which should now be getting close to done. 


Pour your sauce over your prepared pasta and fold together until evenly coated. Serve as is or top with your roasted veggies (other toppings that might be great: broccoli, scallions, caramelized onions, bell peppers). I dare you, I really do, to tell me it doesn't taste exactly like the alfredo you remember.

Looking for other things vegan yet creamy?

2/22/2016

vegan ginger citrus ice cream sandwiches

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When you're knee-deep in the vegan ice cream making world, it's only a matter of time until ice cream sandwiches arrive on the scene. I have dreams of different ice cream/cookie combos all the time. It can get really weird in the best possible way.

This combination daydreams usually begin with the ice cream flavor. To me, this makes sense. After the flavor is fully formed in my mind, I then ask myself: what kind of cookie would go with this? When it comes to a fresh ginger ice cream with a zingy dash of grapefruit zest, the obvious answer to me was a chewy molasses ginger cookie. You thought the same thing, right?


For this recipe, you'll need:

For the ice cream:

2 15-ounce cans organic coconut milk (full fat is best!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest*
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
1 teaspoon ground ginger, optional (for a little extra bite)
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot

For the cookies:

1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

*When it comes to zest, it makes the most sense to reach for organic citrus if possible. The rind is where a lot of the yucky stuff hides and nobody wants to fill their perfectly good ice cream with yucky stuff. Also, if you're not a grapefruit girl (for shame, but it's cool), I have no doubt that orange or lemon zest would be just as tasty.


In a medium stockpot, add your coconut milk and sugar. Grate in your citrus zest and fresh ginger. If using, add your ground ginger. Thoroughly whisk together and bring this mixture to a light simmer over medium heat.

Put a few tablespoons (two to three) of your warm ice cream base into a small bowl. Add your arrowroot and whisk together until completely smooth, eliminating all lumps. Add the arrowroot mixture back to your base and whisk together for about one minute more. Remove from heat.


Transfer your ice cream base to a large bowl and refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or up to overnight. At this point, you can make your cookies and have them ready-to-go for sandwich assembly. Or they can be made the day of if you don't trust yourself to maintain an equal cookie ratio. Hand raised.

Whenever you decide to make the cookies, start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together your oil, sugar, molasses and milk. Add your vanilla extract and whisk well.

Sift in your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Fold together until it forms a sticky dough. Roll the dough into tablespoon size balls (this batter will spread out quite a bit, so go easy) and transfer to your baking sheets, flattening slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly darker on the bottoms. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 


Once your ice cream base has completely chilled, it's time to churn: add to your ice cream maker of choice and follow the given instructions for your appliance. (If you're using the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment, like me, the churning will take about 15-20 minutes on a medium speed.) When your ice cream has churned to the correct texture (think soft-serve), transfer to a freezer safe container and store in the very back of your freezer to harden completely. This should take about 4-6 hours, depending on the coldness of your freezer.


And now assembly! Place a 1/4-1/2 cup size scoop of ice cream on the underside of one cookie and press together using another cookie for leverage. You can even out the sizes with the back of a spoon or you can leave them rough around the edges - no judgement here. Transfer back to the freezer on a parchment lined baking sheet to refreeze, about 10-20 minutes. 

This flavor combo is not subtle at all - oddly warm, if that's even a workable description for a frozen food, sweet and spicy. A winner!

Want more ice cream and cookies?




2/08/2016

vegan chickpea loaf

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When you commit to the vegetarian and mostly/sometimes vegan life, everyone tells you there are certain things you'll always miss, certain food staples you'll never be able to replicate. In a lot of ways, I wholeheartedly disagree with that. In others, I thought, sure, maybe you're right. Though I did recently have some melty vegan cheese that made me nearly reform this way of thinking.


Still, classic comfort food recipes have to be adapted, modified and veganized. And there's always that moment of hesitation when I pull a new recipe out of the oven or turn the burner on low and wonder: will this be any good?

Sometimes there are flops, sure. It's part of how we learn. But this particular take on a classic meatloaf that is completely meatless and eggless is everything I wanted it to be.


For this recipe, you'll need:

For the loaf:

3 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of salt

*The cans of organic chickpeas that I get are 15 ounces each, so you'll need a little less than two cans. Save the extras to put on top of a salad or in a smoothie (you won't taste it, promise!) for a little extra protein boost.


Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch loaf pan. I suggest also lining the pan with parchment that hangs out over the sides so that you can easily remove the loaf when it's out of the oven. (See above.)

Working in batches, pulse all of your loaf ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until chopped but not liquified as a little texture is what makes this recipe really sing. After each batch, add to a large bowl and fold together. Press into your prepared pan and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.


In the meantime, whip up the glaze. I don't know about you, but all of the traditional meatloaf I've ever had was covered in an inch-thick layer of ketchup. Don't get me wrong, ketchup is my everything, but I don't think it's ever meant to be the star of the show. It's a really solid backup dancer that you notice and think, wow, okay. But the second it starts headlining in Vegas or being the full flavor profile of your dinner, something has gone wrong.

But anyway, this glaze is kind of the grown-up take on ketchup. If you're lacking an ingredient or two, a nice smokey barbecue sauce or, of course, ketchup are solid stand-ins.


In a small bowl, whisk together all your glaze ingredients until smooth. After 30 minutes have passed, get your loaf out of the oven and evenly spoon the glaze over the top (a rubber spatula is good for this). Transfer back to the oven for another 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool out of pan for at least ten minutes before serving. The longer it sits, the firmer it gets/easier it is to cut. But if you're hungry now, slightly crumbly chickpea loaf will have to do.

Long live the chickpea!





2/01/2016

vegan chocolate peanut butter ice cream

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If you're looking to become a vegan ice cream expert (hand raised), first you have to master the basics. Once you get there, you can then move on to making those basics even better. Chocolate is good all on its own, sure. But once you add peanut butter, your ice cream game is immediately elevated. You've gone from basic to classic with the addition of one magical ingredient.


For this recipe, you will need:

2 15-ounce cans organic coconut milk (Full fat is best!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar

In a medium stockpot, add your coconut milk, sugar and cocoa powder. Thoroughly whisk together and bring this mixture to a light simmer over medium heat.

Put a few tablespoons (two to three) of your warm mixture into a small bowl. Add your arrowroot and whisk together until completely smooth, eliminating all lumps. Add the arrowroot mixture back to your base and whisk together for about one minute more. Remove from heat.


Transfer your ice cream base to a large bowl and refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or up to overnight. Once completely chilled, it's time to churn: add to your ice cream maker of choice and follow the given instructions for your appliance. (If you're using the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment, like me, the churning will take about 15-20 minutes on a medium speed.)


While your ice cream is churning, put your peanut butter and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Stir together, eliminating any sugary chunks. Put in the microwave at thirty second intervals, stirring between each. The goal is to get the peanut butter and sugar to meld together as well as warming the peanut butter to a slightly thinner texture, making it easier to ripple between layers of chocolate. 


When your ice cream has churned to the correct texture (think soft-serve), transfer to a freezer safe container, spooning generous amounts of your peanut butter between each layer. Swirl it together with the back of a spoon to more evenly incorporate. Move your container to the very back of your freezer to harden completely. This should take about 4-6 hours, depending on the coldness of your freezer.

If chocolate-peanut butter is your go-to, this is definitely the ice cream for you.

Want more frozen treats?