Navy Bean Vegetable Soup with Crispy Kale and Noochy Parm

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This may be one of my favorite soups and it is so easy it is a little ridiculous to even call it a recipe. I like to make a big pot with already cooked beans and it comes together in a snap. Dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes.

Makes 3 to 4 bowls

1/2 onion
1 carrot
1 celery
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon veg broth powder *
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cooked navy beans (cannellini beans or kidney beans would work too)
2 cups filtered water
S and P, to taste
Bunch of kale
Nutty parm, for garnish

*If you don’t have broth powder, use 2 cups of broth or a bouillion cube (according to the directions.)

Dice the onion and water or oil sauté in a big soup pot it until it starts to soften. Thinly slice the carrot and celery and add to the pot. Toss around and cook for a few minutes. Press the garlic over the pot and add the veg broth powder. Toss around to coat. Add a little more water or oil, if needed.

Add the tomato paste and stir around. Add the beans, water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all of the vegetables are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. The longer you cook it, the more the beans will break down and it get kind of creamy.

Take a handful of kale and drop it onto a hot skillet. Cook until bright green and starting to get crispy.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with kale and nutty parm.

Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower

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I originally learned how to cook by hanging out with my mother in the kitchen growing up. I learned her basics, her specials for the holidays and her one famous chocolate cake. I have veganized many of her recipes but I am always looking for new ideas.

How about this one from the Barefoot Contessa?! I love the way Ina Garten cooks. She makes easy yet elegant food and much of the time, very veganizable. This is my version of her Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower. The flavors are super delicious together. Capers! lemon! and ricotta cheese! Oh my!

I like to make these directly in bowls that I can bake in the oven. You would probably have to double the recipe for a 8×8 baking dish.

Makes 2 bowls

4 oz. shells
1/2 small head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon capers, drained
A few shakes of garlic powder
The juice of 1/2 lemon
A few dollops of ricotta
1/4 cup pasta water
Seasoned breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for sautéing and garnish
Salt, a pinch

Preheat the oven to 350.

Get the shells going and cook until just before al dente, about 8 minutes.

While the pasta is going, chop the cauliflower into little florets, about the size of the shells and sauté it in a little oil until it starts to soften and get brown, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta (reserve some pasta water) and add to the cauliflower.

Add the capers, garlic powder, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, to taste. Add some pasta water to develop a light sauce.

Stir in the ricotta and distribute it evenly.

Divide into your baking bowls or turn out into a baking dish.

Top with breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is browned and crispy. Enjoy!

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Taco Tuesday: Charred Maitake Tacos

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Maitake mushrooms, also known as Hen of the Woods, are one of my favorite culinary delights to play with at home. Truth be told, my husband does not like mushrooms so when I make them, whatever is on the plate is all for me.

Remember the tinga tacos I posted this year? Well, here is another, slightly easier but just as tasty taco recipe. And it is simple, it is kind of not really a recipe. I think I should just call it an inspiration! I like to top my tacos with all kinds of things. Today it’s smashed avocado, tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, lime juice and sour cream.

Makes 3 to 4 tacos
1 big maitake mushroom (or a few littler ones)
2 teaspoons DIY taco seasoning (or your favorite taco seasoning)
Corn tortillas
Smashed avocado
Cherry tomatoes
Scallions
Cilantro
Fresh lime juice
Cashew sour cream (add lemon juice or vinegar to plain cashew cream)

Place the maitakes to a big nonstick skillet, cast iron if you have one. Sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon taco seasoning. Turn the heat to medium. Place another heavy skillet or pot on top of maitakes to press it down. Put something in the pot to keep it steady and even.

The maitakes will start to cook down, release their juices and flatten out. Listen for the sizzle and check them in a few minutes. At some point, the bottoms will be blackened. Use tongs to flip them over, season, and then char the other side.

Simply slice them up and build your taco!

Scallops Fra Diavolo

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One of my favorite things to do is to veganize familiar dishes. How about spicy fra diavolo sauce? According to Wikipedia, “fra diavolo” is Italian for “devil monk.” That sounds really wicked and has nothing to do with sauce, except for the devilish spices maybe?  Anyway, the sauce itself is already vegan, and for the main ingredient I use trumpet mushrooms as scallops. Together, the sauce, pasta and scallops make for an amazing dish for date night, any old weeknight, or just lunch when you are home by yourself and want something delicious. Ok, that last one is for me!

I posted scallop as mushrooms once before but I think I cracked the scallop code by marinating the mushrooms first. This creates a much for “familiar” texture, if you know what I mean.

This recipe makes enough for 2 big bowls of pasta. Use regular or gluten free spaghetti. Whatever works for you!

Mushrooms
1/2 lb. trumpet mushrooms
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup vegan white wine
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or even more to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil

Sauce
1/2 onion, sliced into half moons
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pasta
1/2 lb. pasta
1 tablespoon salt

Trim the tops and bottoms of the mushrooms, leaving the stems. Discard the bottoms and save the tops for another recipe. Cut the stems into scallops, about 1 inch thick. You will have 18 to 20 scallops.

Add the scallops to a big bowl and cover with water and wine. Top with another bowl that fits right inside so the liquid is pressed into the mushrooms. Soak for 3 to 4 hours.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta water, and set aside.

Drain the liquid from the mushrooms. Heat a nonstick skillet and add the olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the scallops. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the scallops are seared. Use tongs to turn them and cook the second side for 2 to 3 minutes. Take out of the pan and set aside.

Add another teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and add the onions. Sauté on medium heat until fragrant and translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir around. Add the crushed tomatoes, white wine, oregano and salt and combine. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add the scallops back into the tomato mixture and toss to coat. Stir in the fresh parsley, reserving some for garnish.

Add the pasta to the sauce and two tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Toss together until everything is coated with sauce. Garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve on a big platter and enjoy!

Mini Yogurt Bundt Cakes (Omnivore Approved!)

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Whenever my parents come over, I try to impress them with my food. And while they complain that they “need protein” they inevitably compliment everything and leave with a full bellies.

This day was no different. After a delicious meal of broccoli quiche, bagels and carrot lox, I served these little bundts.

I created this recipe because when I was experimenting with that quiche, I had lots of yogurt on hand. I am not one to waste anything so I googled yogurt cake and it turns out there is a French cake called, wait for it, French Yogurt Cake! It’s the first cake kids in France learn to make and one of the only things they make at home because they don’t need to make dessert due to the plethora of lovely patisseries on every corner.

So, I played with my vanilla cake recipe adding the yogurt and it came out dense and tangy. So if that sounds good, then this cake is for you! My Dad ate one right then and there and then took one home. That is the best compliment I could ever get.

Note: this is a very thick batter which yields the dense texture. I am not a scientist or an official baker, but I think that if you think the batter is too thick, you can thin it out a bit with some extra water. Try it and see what happens. You might need to cook the little cakes a bit longer.

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2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (for color)
1 cup vegan cane sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup filtered water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.

In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and turmeric.

In another bowl, use your fingers to rub the lemon zest with the sugar until the zest is distributed. It is like you are trying to infuse the sugar with the zest. Next, add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and mix well.

Combine the dry and wet mixtures. Using a 1/3 cup measure, divide evenly between the mini bundt wells.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool to the touch and then turn out onto a cooling rack. Enjoy plain, topped with glaze, or filled with vanilla cashew cream and berries!

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Za’atar Carrots

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Do you know za’atar seasoning? It is one of those Middle Eastern spice mixes that adds a certain something to anything you are cooking. I love the mix from the Teeny Tiny Spice Company. It has a base of lemony sumac berries with marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano, white sesame seeds and a bit of Himalayan pink salt. We love it on pretzels but for an easy side dish, how about these carrots?

Carrots
Za’atar
Olive oil

Peel and slice the carrots into sticks. Toss with a a little olive oil and seasoning. Bake on a lined baking tray for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are al dente. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Rigatoni with Sugo Finto (Meatless Ragu)

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I love pasta and I make it for myself for lunch all the time. If you read this blog regularly, you know this about me. So, if you are like me, then, you will absolutely love this dish. It’s inspired by a recipe by Mario Batali called “sugo finto” which technically means fake sauce but all that means is that it is a meatless bolognese.

I take issue with the idea that this sauce if fake, because there is nothing fake about this! All of the ingredients are real, and it’s fresh, delicious, meat free and healthy. Plus, it is simple to make. The sauce comes together in the time it takes to make the pasta. That is my kind of meal.

Make as much as you want – double, triple or quadruple the recipe!

Serves 1

Rigatoni, enough for 1
1/2 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 clove garlic
Handful of fresh parsley
Handful of fresh basil
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water + pasta water, if necessary.

Get the pasta going. Process the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley and basil in the processor until fine. Set aside for a moment.

Toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet until fragrant. Set aside.

Keep the skillet on the fire and add the vegetable mixture along with the oil.

Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables are softening. Add tomato paste and mix around. Cook it out for a minute or so and then add water. Stir around and cook on low heat while the pasta finishes cooking. If the sauce seems too thick, add some pasta water.

Use a spider strainer to lift the pasta out of the water and drop it into the sugo finto. Mix in half of the breadcrumbs and toss around to coat the rigatoni.

Serve with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Curried Corn Soup

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My cousin owns a restaurant in Ashland, Oregon. A friend of mine was traveling to the area and I suggested she go to the restaurant. Turns out she had been there on her last trip and had been dreaming of the curried corn soup she had there ever since. So I asked my cousin to hook me up with the recipe and lucky for me he did!

The recipe made three gallons of soup! Holy moly! But, I adapted it to serve 4 nice bowls of soup. Here are the directions he sent: small dice veggies, sauté with spices, add coconut milk and water, simmer, and add fresh herbs to serve. I will give you a little more info on that front. But, just so you know, the recipe called for Thai red curry paste which I don’t like so I left out the curry paste. If you like that stuff, go ahead and add a little but I think this version is pretty damn tasty.

Note: vegetable sizes vary, so use your judgement. This soup should be chunky so maybe add a few more potatoes or pepper if necessary!

1/2 onion
3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 green pepper
2 carrots
6 red potatoes
1 can organic corn
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coriander, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 can coconut milk
1 cup water
The juice of 1 lime
Salt, a pinch
Splash of tamari or coconut aminos, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
Scallions, for garnish

Dice the onion and slice the shallots. Add to a soup pot and water or oil sauté until they start to soften. Press the garlic and add to the pot. Dice the green pepper, slice the carrots and cut the potatoes into quarters. Add to the pot. Add the corn, curry powder, ginger powder, coriander and turmeric. Toss around to coat the vegetables. Add the coconut milk, water, lime juice, a pinch of salt and a splash of tamari or coconut aminos. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. Taste and adjust salt.

Serve with fresh cilantro and scallions. Enjoy!

How to Make Cashew Cream

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Smoooooooth!

I get asked all the time how to make cashew cream. So here it is and it’s not complicated. I blend cashews and water in my Vitamix and turn them into a perfectly smooth cream. The texture is out of this world and until I got my Vitamix I had no idea it was possible. So, I am a big fan. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can soak your cashews overnight and use a regular blender. I can’t guarantee the level of smoothness. But trust me, it is time for a Vitamix if you don’t have one. I use my at least once if not twice a day and it has changed my life. I know the price is hight, but it is well worth it.

Anyway, to make cashew cream, you will need:

1 cup raw cashews
Enough filtered water just to cover the cashews
Another 1/4 cup filtered water, if necessary
Storage jar

Add cashews to the Vitamix or blender. Add enough water to just cover the cashews. Blend.

Depending on the strength and age of your machine, your cashews may not be perfectly smooth.

I have two Vitamixes. In one, my first blend looks like the first photo below and I need to add a bit more water. In my other Vitamix (it is newer and the blade is sharper) the first blend comes out perfectly smooth.

Check the consistency before adding more water!

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Cashews after first blend 

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Cashew cream after adding a bit more water

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Beautiful cashew cream!

To turn your cashew cream into anything you want, add flavors.

For sour cream, add a dash of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. You will have to play to balance the flavors out. The longer it sits, the more tart the sour cream will become.

Make hollandaise sauce, easy creamy salad dressing, chipotle crema, lemon or lime crema, sweet maple cream, really anything that you can think of!

Wicked Healthy Beet Tacos

IMG_0409 copy.jpgDo you know the guys behind the Wicked Healthy website? They are brothers Chad and Derek Sarno and they are pretty wicked cool. They are both professional chefs and their food is wicked and healthy. I came across this recipe that the brothers collaborated on with the Purple Carrot and I had to make it at home.

It’s easy like all of the recipes I make in my house but the key to this is the way they suggest roasting the beets – peel, slice, a little oil, bake. I usually wrap them in foil whole and then roast and then peel. But I have to say that I like this method better and just might replace my old method.

12 oz red beets
1 T olive oil
2 T sherry vinegar, divided
4 oz Lacinato kale, destemmed and leaves roughly chopped
1 red onion (chop one half and thinly slice the other half)
1 avocado, halved
1 jalapeño, trimmed and deseeded (use as much or as little as you’d like depending on your heat preference)
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup plant-based mayo (I used my own homemade cashew mayo)
Fresh cilantro
1 t vegetable oil
salt and pepper
4 whole wheat tortillas (I used corn tortillas)

Preheat oven to 400. Wash, dry, peel, then slice the beets into thin wedges, about 1/2-inch thick. Place onto a baking sheet and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, or until tender. Let slightly cool, then drizzle with one tablespoon of the sherry vinegar.

Organize your kale, onion, avocado and jalapeño.

Add the chopped portion of the red onion and half of the avocado to a food processor. Add the garlic, plant-based mayo, cilantro, the remaining tablespoon of sherry vinegar and desired amount of jalapeño. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Season with a pinch or two of salt.

Preheat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and sauté until just wilted, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Note: you can easily do this without oil, just toss into a dry pan and wilt.)

Wrap the whole wheat tortillas in foil and warm in the oven for a few minutes. Or, char the corn tortillas on an open flame. Slice the remaining avocado half, if using.

Lay the warmed tortillas on plates and top with a dollop of the avocado salsa, spreading to coat. Layer on the roasted beet, sauteed kale, sliced avocado and sliced red onion. Top with any remaining avocado salsa.

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