Saturday, April 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Roasted Fennel, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

I did something dangerous a few days ago: I went to the grocery store without a list of what to buy! *gasp*  If I can learn to limit my impulse purchases, I really should do this more often.  Going to the grocery store without a rigid plan let's me build my meals around what's fresh and on sale.  On this trip, the fennel was on sale and also looking particularly fantastic, so I grabbed a bulb and planned out this pasta dish.  I'm very pleased with how this dish turned out.  The mushrooms are very meaty after being roasted, and the fennel and tomatoes caramelize and taste slightly sweet.

When I head down to Houston in a few weeks, I'm planning on making this dish for Boyfriend, but I'll add artichokes and fresh rosemary.  I'll then have to ruin it by adding marinara sauce to Boyfriend's portion, because he doesn't believe in pasta without marinara... To each his own...

Whole Wheat Pasta with Roasted Fennel, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes
Makes 2 large servings

• 3 servings of cooked whole wheat pasta (I used penne and fusilli because that's what i had)
• 1 large fennel bulb, cut into bite-size slices
• 1 pint plum tomatoes, quartered and seeds squeezed out (it doesn't take as long as it sounds!)
• 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut in half, or quarters if large
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 4 ounces of fresh mozarella, optional (without it, this would be vegan)

Preheat the oven to 425° while you prep.  Spread the fennel on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add the tomatoes and mushrooms.  Drizzle with more olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss.  Put the baking sheet back in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and mix the vegetables.  Put back in the oven for the final 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and toss the vegetables with the pasta, adding a bit more olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.  Top with mozarella, if desired.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Recipe Reviews from Vegan Yum Yum

I recently tried out two recipes from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook: one great, one bad.  The first recipe was the Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Collard Greens and Quinoa:

This tofu dish was delicious- sweet and slightly spicy!  The quinoa and sauteed collards were light in flavor, and when I make this again I'd make extra glaze and keep the collards and quinoa simple.   The real star was the glazed tofu.  Lolo (from the Vegan Yum Yum blog) adds sugar to her sauce for the tofu, which is what makes it "glazey".  I rarely add sugar to anything, but after making this dish I've been adding it to my stir fry sauces quite often.  I also loved her "tofu geometry"- cutting the tofu into triangles.  I am unreaonably finicky about making sure I fry each piece of tofu on at least two sides, and I've found that cutting the tofu into triangles instead of squares really makes it easier to flip the pieces with a spatula.

The other recipe I tried was the creamy broccoli dal, and I'm sorry to say it was very disappointing.  I would love to hear whether anyone else has made it and what they thought of it.  When I had my first bowl of soup, I thought the spices were lack-luster and the soup was not as creamy and thick as I had expected.  I tried the soup again the next day, since broccoli soups tend to be better the next day, but it was just as blah as it was the night before.

Despite my disappointment in the Creamy Broccoli Dal, I still wholeheartedly recommend Vegan Yum Yum's cookbook.  Soon after I bought the book, I made the Red and White Cauliflower Bake and the Baked Mac and Cheeze.  The Mac and Cheeze was pretty good (although not as good as the real thing), but the Red and White Cauliflower Bake was AMAZING.  It has a layer of marinara sauce, then creamy cauliflower, tofu ricotta and finally bread crumbs on top.  It was so creamy that eating it felt sinful, but when I calculated out the nutrition facts it wasn't too bad: about 480 when the casserole is divided into 4 large servings.

I recommend you check out, if you haven't already.  If you like what you see, buy the cookbook!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vegan Spinach-Shiitake Sushi Risotto

Tonight I had planned to make a barley and spinach side dish from a Whole Foods recipe, but found dead worms in the barley that had been sitting in my pantry for who-knows-how-long. I should have figured. Gross.

I had already started sautéing an onion in a big pot, so I threw in some minced garlic and checked out my fridge and pantry to see what I could do with what I'd started. My first thought was risotto, but I didn't have any Arborio rice. I did have sushi rice though- so why not?  I also had the spinach I was planning to use for the barley dish, some vegetable broth, and a bag of frozen, sliced shiitakes. (I found a 10-ounce bag at Whole Foods for $3.39!)  I used these items to make my "risotto", then added in some Daiya "cheese" that I recently discovered at Whole Foods. (By the way, have I mentioned I love Whole Foods?)

The result was fantastic.  The texture was creamy, and there really was not much of a difference between this sushi risotto and more traditional risotto.  In fact, I think I'll probably use sushi rice for risotto from now on.  Using it instead of Arborio rice would keep me from overstocking my pantry (a problem I'm currently battling), and sushi rice is usually easier for me to find at a bargain.

Another awesome thing about this risotto: It's BRIGHT green!  Dad and I should have made this for St. Patrick's Day!

Vegan Spinach-Shiitake Sushi Risotto

• 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1 cup sushi rice
• 2 cups frozen, sliced shiitake mushrooms
• 1 cup packed spinach
• 1 cup water
• 2-3 cups (?) vegetable broth (I didn't measure and usually don't, I just go by when the risotto is the consistency I want)
• 1/2 cup Daiya dairy-free cheese

In a large saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tbs olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent.  Add the sushi rice and toss it in the olive oil.  Add enough vegetable broth to cover the rice and stir occasionally, letting the rice absorb the broth.  Measure the shiitakes, chop up any large slices, and add them to the rice.  Blend the spinach and water, then add it to the rice.  Stir slowly while letting the rice absorb the the spinach-water.  Once that has been absorbed, add more vegetable broth until the rice is cooked and creamy.  Stir in 1/2 cup Daiya "cheese" and chow down!