Shredable, Grateable, Meltable Vegan Parmesan

This vegan paleo parmesan can be grated, shredded, sliced, and melted. This is a recipe I created years ago and published on my former WordPress.com blog, but never published on Paleoveganista.com until now. It’s really great, and so similar to the “real thing” that I have to pinch myself every time I doubt it’s vegan. Continue reading

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Cheez-y Tahini Shirataki Fettuccini

cheez-y-tahini-fettucciniMy husband and I have recently experimented with new vegan cheez/cheese substitutions in recipes. When our blender broke and we started using tahini frequently as a base for sauces and dips, etc., John created this Italian-inspired dish and it was such a success that I jumped at the opportunity to photograph and feature it here.
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Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

broccoli stalk fettuccine
Pasta alternatives don’t have to cost $2 per serving. I enjoy using Shirataki noodles just as much as the next paleo enthusiast or carb-conscious person, but the cost adds up. So I thought, why not utilize an ingredient that many home cooks often throw out? I always use the stalk of the broccoli, but usually just add it along with the florets in soups, stir fries, and steamed vegetable dishes. It just occurred to me today to feature broccoli stalks as the star of a dish. The result? Even better than I predicted. Broccoli stalks, when thinly sliced, make a mean fettuccine noodle. The chickpea-cashew cream sauce pairs perfectly, but my favorite element would have to be the roasted tomatoes. Overall, this dish has aesthetic appeal and a lovely flavor profile. To make it even more budget-friendly, toasted sesame seeds can be substituted for the cashews.



Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients

3 roma tomatoes, halved
2 broccoli stalks
salt, for cooking
1 cup toasted cashew pieces* (see how-to in the steps below)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup broccoli water
1 Tbsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice or more, to taste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3-4 peppercorns
Salt to taste

broccoli pasta ingredients

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees..

Using a mandolin (who am I kidding, I don’t own a mandolin) or a knife, slice strips from the broccoli stalks as thinly as possible. Then slice each slice as thinly as possible to create “noodles” (thinner than julienne, as long as the stalk will allow you to cut all the way without inducing breakage).

In a stove pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add broccoli “noodles” and a pinch of salt. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.

chopping broccoli

*The purpose of/inspiration behind this recipe was to make use of broccoli stalks that are often discarded by home cooks and/or the general public—but if your broccoli still has florets attached, use them too.




When oven is ready, place roma tomatoes in an oven pan or on a cookie sheet. Lightly shake sea salt over tomatoes before transferring to the preheated oven.

raw tomatoes halved

Before you start the alfredo sauce…
When broccoli “noodles” are tender (7-10 minutes) use a strainer to extract the water/broth. Return pot of broccoli noodles to the stove, cover, and ignore while you focus on other the other elements in this dish.

broccoli stalk noodles

for the sauce…
Blend 1 cup toasted cashews* with 3/4 cup broccoli water/broth, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 3-4 peppercorns, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

*to toast the cashew pieces…
you will need:
raw cashew pieces
a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan
a plate
a wooden spoon or pair of wooden chopsticks for stirring

cashew

Spread the nuts in a single layer in the skillet. Turn on heat to low (3-4). Stir regularly to ensure all sides are cooked. This takes 15 minutes, or until cashews are lightly brown. If you see traces of dark brown, don’t worry. When dry-roasted/toasted the traditional way in Guatemala, cashews develop spots that are more browned than others*.




*I found a youtube video for a how to make cashews (marañones) from start to finish (literally, the video shows the fruit picked directly from the tree). I’ve witnessed this process before but all I did was take an Instagram photo. I always wished I’d made a video. Now I found one. Shout-out to Arielhz45 for their well-made informative instructional video. The reason why most cashews you find at the grocery store in the bulk bins or pre-packaged by Planter’s or some other company = here in the grand old USA we tend to think everything tastes better with grease and salt. We roast cashew nuts in peanut oil (thanks, Planter’s) despite the fact that cashews have a high fat content already (the good, nutritious fat that comes from whole foods *note: when I write “whole foods” I don’t mean WFM. I write about WFM (Whole Foods Market) occasionally, so I can see how this might seem confusing. From now on, I will refer to Whole Foods Market as such, or I will abbreviate as WFM. When I discuss “whole foods” I mean whole foods as in unrefined, unadulterated, unprocessed foods and/or actual foods as opposed to fruit byproducts i.e. olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or seed byproducts e.g. sunflower, sesame, or canola. Also ingredients that aren’t used as fillers in practically every packaged food, such as the corn byproduct maltodextrin. Get it? Sorry if that sounded fragmented. If so, ask me to clarify via a comment, an email, or whatever other means of communication you choose.

Here is the aforementioned video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TBYddQRWU
and here is an official PeaceCorps video that documents how cashews are made/processed in factories in Ghana (I’ve never been to Ghana, but I do know a lot about cashew processing and the socioeconomic chain of demand surrounding it) also I might be joining the Peace Corps so this video seems relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky8omUFpxVI

the alfredo sauce:

vegan alfredo

the roasted tomatoes:

roasted tomatoes

Julienne the roasted tomatoes and toss with cooked broccoli “fettuccine” and alfredo sauce.

vegan broccoli stalk pasta

 

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Eggplant-Tomato Stacks w/ Vegan Ricotta

eggplant ricotta close up

These eggplant-tomato stacks are inspired by a recipe for eggplant parmesan I found in The Meatless Gourmet, a cookbook published in ’95 by Bonnie Hinman (co-author of the Lean and Luscious book series, as indicated on the cover), a cookbook of my mom’s that for as long as I can remember has sat nestled between New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant (1987). That book always fascinated me due to its endorsement by Francis Moore Lappe (author of Diet For a Small Planet) and influenced by Mollie Katzan, founder of Moosewood Restaurant, author of Moosewood Cookbook, and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Despite my infatuation with those books ever since I can remember knowing what “vegetarian” meant, as I grew older and cut out dairy, eggs, etc. I wondered why the moosewood recipes involved so much butter and cream. The book is gorgeous and deliciously vintage in terms of typography and photography; however, I always found it confusing when turing to a page that exhibited a photograph of a very thin, vibrant-looking individual (or group of individuals) riding bikes or picnicking, when the majority of recipes involved such an asinine amount of fattening diary products.




Of course, this version is vegan—and eliminates the carb- and gluten-laden breadcrumbs and the oil typically present in eggplant parmesan or similar dishes.

Eggplant Ricotta Stacks

Ingredients

1 eggplant
1 beefsteak tomato
1 batch vegan ricotta (see below)
prepared marinara sauce, optional
greens for garnish/side, optional

eggplant ricotta stacks
eggplant stacks ricotta

for the vegan ricotta
5oz firm tofu
2 Tbsp cashew butter
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 artichoke hearts (from a can packed in water)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
black pepper

Add 1 Tbsp chia seeds and 2 Tbsp water to a blender or food processor. Let sit for 2 minutes until it forms a gel.

Add the cashew butter, artichokes, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp water/brine from the artichokes. Add more water/brine if additional liquid is needed for the ingredients to blend. The result should be mostly smooth, enough to pulverize the chia seeds and artichoke hearts—with a texture that resembles a thick sauce. Set aside. Mash/crumble the tofu with a fork or your hands, to achieve a texture similar to ricotta cheese. Add the cashew-artichoke mixture gradually, and stir to combine. Cover, and set aside.




Slice eggplant cross-wise to create circular pieces of 1cm thickness. Spread pieces on a lightly oiled broiler pan or cookie sheet large enough to avoid overlap (a little overlap is ok, and probably unavoidable depending on the size of your eggplant). Broil on low for 6-7 minutes on each side, until lightly browned, turning once. As the eggplant browns, slice the tomato in “standard” cuts i.e. like the type you would find at a sandwich bar or the kind served on hamburgers.

Remove eggplant from oven. When cool enough to touch, proceed to make the stacks.

Create stacks in layers with a piece of eggplant as the base, spread the vegan ricotta, then add a tomato slice; top with another slice of eggplant, then another layer of vegan ricotta, topped with another slice of tomato. In other words: eggplant, vegan ricotta, tomato, ricotta, eggplant, vegan ricotta, tomato.

3 eggplant ricotta stacks

When finished, broil stacks on low for 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes the tomatoes don’t appear fully cooked, return to the oven for another minute or two, checking to make sure they don’t burn.

Enjoy with a side of greens i.e. baby kale (pictured) and marinara sauce for dipping i.e. the Engine 2 oil-free, no-sugar-added tomato-basil marinara sold exclusively at Whole Foods and is suddenly all the rage and I purchased in order to review it (in an upcoming post)

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Heirloom Tomato Fettuccine with Cilantro-Pesto Cheez

vegan heirloom tomato fettuccine

My relationship with pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, linguini, etc.) is interesting. My dad was obsessed with pasta. Pesto pasta, that is– always accompanied by sliced black olives. I remember feeling guilty for eating a few of them whole before slicing and bringing them to the table. My dad’s love for pasta was unwavering and unabashed. Whatever the circumstance– from a potluck or wedding reception to my birthday party or brown bag lunch in the summers for day camp– most every time it was a reused plastic yogurt container filled with pesto pasta, with a smaller reused plastic container of carrots and celery, and an apple from the tree in the backyard. While I got a lot of flack from my classmates for the lack of sugar… no “fruit by the foot”, Go-gurt, jello pudding or snack paks in there…the only packaged “sweet” I ever got was a Nutrigrain bar (remember those?). Anyway, both my parents were very committed to eating right…but it was never as if they decided to “go on a diet” or “cleanse” from years of bad eating or lack of exercise. Continue reading

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