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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Portobello Steak Oscar

IMG_0412 copy.jpgOh my gosh you guys! I recently posted my Avo Benny, which included my new recipe for the most amazing hollandaise sauce, and I am totally obsessed. I wanted to figure out other food to smother with it so I googled ‘recipes with hollandaise’ and I found a dish called Steak Oscar. It’s steak topped with crabmeat topped with asparagus topped with hollandaise. Well, that is easy to veganize:

Steak: Portobello
Crabmeat: Artichokes
Asparagus: Asparagus
Hollandaise: Vegan Hollandaise

This recipe makes enough for one but just adjust it for how many mushrooms you want to serve.

1 portobello mushroom
2 teaspoons olive oil
S and P
3 artichoke hearts
The juice of 1/2 lemon
3 asparagus spears
Hollandaise sauce
Fresh pepper, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Clean the portobello and remove the gills. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake gill side up for 20 to 25 minutes so that the mushroom is cooked and juicy.

Chop up the artichoke hearts and add them to a pan with the juice of one lemon. Toss around until they are heated through and even browning a little bit.

Steam the asparagus.

Heat the hollandaise sauce.

Assemble.

Place the portobello on a serving plate. Stuff with the artichokes. Top with the asparagus. Drown in hollandaise sauce. Add a sprinkle of fresh pepper. Enjoy!

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Book Report: The Edgy Veg + Bonus Recipe for The Token Kale Salad

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Photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

When I went vegan over a decade ago, there weren’t that many vegan cookbooks. Nowadays, a new book comes out each week! There is a kind of vegan genre happening right now – mac and cheese, jackfruit, cauliflower, meatless meatballs, baked goods, and of course, kale salads. Each book has their own spin on things and this one is no exception. I am talking today about The Edgy Veg  by Candice Hutchings from the blog The Edgy Veg (duh!)

The subtitle is 138 Carnivore Approved Recipes which explains the way Candice approaches recipes. She became vegan years ago but wanted to offer her not vegan husband recipes he would approve of. She repurposed family recipes, on trend meals and veganized fast food faves.

And now they are all here in this well designed and easy to read to book. The recipe titles are funny, the headers are slightly irreverent but appealing, and the whole tone of the book is down to earth. The recipes are really detailed including photos for almost every recipe, hacks for when you need to change it up, what equipment you need, and easy to spot icons for gluten-free, quick and easy recipes and recipes that are great for entertaining.

The book is organized into the usual sections: basics, brunch,  soups, salads, snacks, main dishes, side dishes, drinks and desserts. One way I can tell if I am going to like a cookbook is if there are recipes for things I already make myself and there are a fair number in this book like pizza, gnocchi, mayo, bacon, pesto, pancakes, slaw, tacos and even carrot lox (although I still love mine the best!)

And then there are these recipes. Do you like seitan? Become a Master of Seitan: Chicken and Seitan Mastery 2.0: Beef. How about bacon? The recipe is called Bacon, Tho (Bacon 4 ways: coconut, mushroom, rice paper and eggplant.)

Of course there are salads like Deconstructed Pizza Salad and The Token Kale Salad (see below). I happen to love popcorn and there is a cool recipe for Theater Popcorn and Flavor Shakers (Dill Pickle, Nacho Cheese, Chili Cheese, and Salted Chocolate (brilliant!) and Cool Ranch). This really got me: Buffalo Cauliflower Wings 7 ways (7!).  And I love this take on a classic dinner: Steaks with Béarnaise Sauce (that’s portobellos.) The Brussels Sprouts That Don’t Suck recipe is fantastic. I agree, they don’t suck when made this way. And don’t forget dessert: Death by Chocolate Mousse (made with aquafaba!)

By far, the two recipes I am most excited about in this book are the Easy Cheesy Fondue and the Mason-Dixon Crab Melt (which uses the fondue in it). They are incredibly creative and I can just tell by looking at them that they are winners.

My only issue with this book is that it uses some prepackaged vegan meats (like Tofurky, ewww, gross) which I don’t think belong in a well thought out cookbook. Otherwise, I think this is a great book for vegans who are looking for some creative recipes, new and non-vegans who need smart, transitional foods that will bring them over to our side!

Check out The Token Kale Salad, which I got permission to reprint. It’s definitely creative, the dressing is pesto! Why didn’t I think of that?

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Photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

The Token Kale Salad
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

As the saying goes, “You don’t make friends with salad” — until you do. This kale and pesto salad is so beyond run-of-the-mill. Pasta sauce on salad? Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? It’s a match made in BFF heaven. It’s delicious on its own, but let’s face it: salad is a sad meal, so pair it with a burger (pages 209 to 213) or a hearty bowl of Half-Baked Mac and Cheese (page 170). Now, that’s what I call balance.

4 cups shredded dinosaur kale 1 L
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 30 mL
1-1/2 cups Presto, Pesto (page 54) 375 mL
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 125 mL
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper 125 mL
1/4 cup finely diced red onion 60 mL
2 tbsp nutritional yeast 30 mL
1 tbsp hemp seeds 15 mL
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cashews 60 mL

In a large bowl, drizzle kale with olive oil and massage leaves with your hands. Add pesto and continue to massage, until kale is completely coated. Add tomatoes, red pepper and red onion to salad. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds and sea salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine and top with cashews to serve.

Hack It!
It might seem a bit strange to massage your food, but you’ll be amazed at what a quick five-minute rubdown can do. Take handfuls of kale and rub them together. Play some spa music, for the full effect. As you massage, you will start to notice the leaves getting darker in color and becoming silky in texture. The longer you massage your kale, the more it will break down and become less bitter. Massage kale with pesto or dressing of choice and refrigerate up to 48 hours in advance.

Presto, Pesto
Makes 1 1/4 cups (300 mL)

Pesto is the quickest and easiest sauce to make, and it can take any meal from drab to fab. When I was in university, I literally put the stuff on everything: pasta, salad and personal- size pita pizzas. When it comes to sauces, pesto is the besto.

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil 500 mL
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds 125 mL
2 garlic cloves 2
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 45 mL
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil 60 to 125 mL
Sea salt

In a food processor, combine basil, sunflower seeds, garlic and nutritional yeast; process until a coarse meal forms.

Slowly add 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil in a steady drizzle through the feed tube as you pulse. Process until it forms a smooth paste. Add more olive oil, if necessary, if the mixture is too dry. You want the pesto to be moist and spreadable. Season with sea salt to taste.

Store in the fridge for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Hack It!
Add a handful of other fresh herbs for a fun flavor twist. Mint and oregano are my personal faves.

Courtesy of The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore Approved Recipes by Candice Hutchings and James Aita © 2017 www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.

Avo Benny aka Avocado Benedict!

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Introducing the new Benedict! I am calling it the Avo Benny (aka Avocado Benedict) and it is pretty perfect.

Let me tell you what I did to make this Benedict worthy of the name. Hint: the secret is in the sauce. That’s the Hollandaise sauce! I added Black Salt, aka kala namak. Do you know about this yet? It is that salt from India that is known for it’s sulfuric eggy smell/taste. It’s that eggy flavor but without the chickens!

It is really pretty simple to put this together. I made my own English Muffins from Isa’s book Vegan Brunch but of course use store bought ones unless you want to take the time to make them which is literally like 10 minutes. And then stack, pour, and eat!

Eggy Hollandaise Sauce (makes enough for 2 Avo Bennys, that’s 4 halves)
1/4 cup cashew cream*
1/2 teaspoon kala namak
1/2 tablespoon nooch
A few shakes of turmeric
A few dashes of ume plum vinegar
A teaspoon of water, or more, enough to make it pourable

Whisk all of the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings.

*My basic cashew cream recipe is 1 cup cashews just covered with filtered water in the Vitamix and blended until smooth, adding a bit more water until it is the perfectly smooth creamy texture of cream. It tends to thicken up in the refrigerator so I don’t worry if it seems too thin at first. Also, I don’t season it until I am ready to use it so I can turn it into anything I want. Salad dressings, sweet cream, sour cream, and, of course, hollandaise sauce.

Avo Benny
Toast up some English Muffins. Lightly butter them and top with slices of tomato and avocado. Pour hollandaise sauce on top and garnish with a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Enjoy!

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Book Report: Awesome Vegan Soups + Bonus Recipe for Homemade Vegetable Broth Powder

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I am never happier than when a new cookbook arrives in my mailbox. This week I got Awesome Vegan Soups by Vanessa Croessmann of the blog Vegan Family Recipes.

I have to be completely honest and say that I usually skip the soup chapters of cookbooks, but this is a whole book of soups, so I couldn’t exactly skip it. I have to say that I think this little book has some great, family friendly, soup recipes!

And now I am inspired to make more soup. Let’s face it. It is a pretty easy meal to prepare. You can make big batches and refrigerate or freeze them for later. And you control the ingredients and the level of salt. I’m inspired to make some new soups this year! And I will start with some from this book.

The book is organized by season which I think is a really great idea in terms of soup. I am not a big fan of hot, root vegetable soups in the middle of the summer. And this book offers some really interesting, delicious soups that are appropriate for each season.

In the Autumn section, I can’t wait to make the Sweet Potato Chili, the Mixed Mushroom Stew and the Apple Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle (my favorite ingredient discovery of the year!)

From the Winter section, I am looking to hunker down with a hot bowl of the Roasted Root Vegetable Soup and the Creamy Rutabaga Soup.

When the Spring arrives, I will definitely be making the Lemon Asparagus Soup, the Tempeh Tortilla Soup and the Rustic New Potato Stew (hopefully with potatoes from my own garden!)

And finally, Summer. It is so far away now but I can dream of making the Creamy Corn Chowder, the TriColored Pepper Soup with Millet, and the Grilled CornTomato Soup with Guacamole.

And those are just to name a few! I will be making them all year long, so be sure to follow me on Instagram (@lisasprojectvegan) to see how they come out. Many of the recipes call for vegetable broth which I usually make by storing all of my vegetable scraps in my freezer and turning them into stock. But Vanessa has the coolest recipe for homemade Vegetable Broth Powder which I think is genius!

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Onions, carrots, celery, parsley and chives drying

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Homemade vegetable broth powder

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Reprinted with permission

Afew notes on the recipe below.

A. I doubled the recipe.
B. I used fresh parsley and chives from my garden.
C. I shredded the onions, carrots and celery in my food processor.
D. I squeezed a ton of water out by wringing out the veggies in a dish towel.
E. I baked the veggies for an hour.
F. I let the veggies dry out in a bowl for a few days.
G. I dropped the dried veggies into the processor until they became a powder.

HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH POWDER

MAKES 1/3 CUP (45 G) (ENOUGH FOR 10 CUPS [2.4 L] VEGETABLE BROTH)

I love having this vegetable broth powder around. It works the same way you would use bouillon cubes. This is a rough guideline. Add other ingredients and play around with it until you find the right combo for you. Broth powder is usually very salty. Depending on how much you add, it will vary on how much you’ll need to add to make your vegetable broth. This recipe will equal to 1 tablespoon (12 g) for every 2 cups (473 ml) of water to make 2 cups (473 ml) of vegetable broth.

1 yellow onion
1 large carrot
2 ribs celery
1/3 cup (10 g) fresh parsley
1 scallion
2 tsp (10 g) salt
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 175°F (80°C).

Finely dice the yellow onion, and grate the carrot and celery as fine as possible. Chop the parsley and scallion into small slices. Spread the onion, carrot, celery, parsley and scallion on an unlined baking sheet and place in the oven.

After 40 minutes, carefully stir the vegetables around and bake for another 60 minutes. By then, the vegetable should be very dry.

Turn the oven off at this point, but leave the pan in the oven for another 2 hours, or overnight, to allow the vegetables to dry even further. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit out for one day before pulsing it in a food processor until it is pulverized.

Mix the pulverized powder together with the salt, turmeric, ginger and nutmeg. This is your finished vegetable broth powder!

PER 1 TABLESPOON (12 G) SERVING: CALORIES 19 FAT 0.1 G CARBOHYDRATES 4.3 G FIBER 1.2 G PROTEIN 0.6 G

Taco Tuesday: Baja Style Tacos Two Ways (Hearts of Palm & Artichoke)

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Hearts of Palm Tacos

Baja style tacos can be a lot of things. They are usually some kind of light taco filling topped with cabbage, salsa and sour cream. Here are two ways I like to make them using plants: lime grilled hearts of palm and lemon sautéed artichokes.

Both recipes make enough for 3 or 4 tacos.

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Hearts of Palm Tacos

Lime Grilled Hearts of Palm
1 can hearts of palm
1 lime
1 teaspoon sunflower oil (or other high heat oil)
Cabbage, shredde
Scallions, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, chopped
Corn tortillas
Lime cashew cream (1 cup cashew cream + The juice of 1 lime)

Heat a grill pan on the stovetop. Brush with oil. Place the hearts of palm on the grill and squeeze the lime juice over top. Grill until there are grill marks one side and then use tongs to turn them. The hearts of palm will dry out a bit and that makes for a great texture.

Char the tortillas on an open flame. Mix the fresh lime juice into the cashew cream.

Assemble the tacos with the hearts of palm on the bottom. Top with cabbage, scallions, tomatoes and lime cashew cream.

artichoke tacos

Artichoke Tacos

Lemon Sautéed Artichoke Tacos
1 jar of artichokes packed in water, drained
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Cabbage, shredded
Red onions, diced
Tomatoes, halved
Chipotle spiced cashew cream (Cashew cream + chipotle powder)

Heat a sauté pan on the stovetop. Add the artichokes and fresh lemon juice and sauté until heated through.

Char the tortillas on the stovetop. Mix a few shakes of chipotle powder into cashew cream.

Assemble the tacos with the artichokes on the bottom. Top with cabbage, red onions, tomatoes and chipotle cashew cream.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Quiche!

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Mini-Mini Quiches

I have been in search of a vegan quiche for years. I have tried variations using tofu as the base but found them to be too heavy. I have tried using chickpeas and chickpea flour which are both good but also not my favorite. (I stopped making them.) But, here, finally, I have a recipe that works. It is based on the recipe that Selma, the owner and cook of Bloodroot Vegetarian in Connecticut, gave me.

In my post about the new pie crust, I told you how generous Selma is with her recipes. When we were at her restaurant, she suggested I have the quiche for breakfast – I loved it! – and then she let me take a photo of her handwritten recipe. There is also a version in her cookbook.

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Selma’s Recipe

I created my own take on the recipe, of course. I had to adjust it because that’s what I do! I wanted something light and fluffy but creamy as well. I definitely achieved that with a delicious custard using a bit of tofu, cashew yogurt and cashew milk.  of the non-vegans who have tried it have loved it so I know I am onto something! Thank goodness for my new friend Selma. I can’t wait to eat at Bloodroot and see what I come away with!

Now, I’ve made this recipe as mini quiches (18) and as little individual pies (4). I have not tried to make a whole one but I think you would need to at least triple (if not quadruple) the custard recipe I have written. I do think one crust recipe would be fine, but I can’t guarantee you that. I personally like to make food in miniature as I think they are way more fun to serve, and eat, of course, but try it and let me know what you come up with. Also, I happen to love broccoli quiche but lots of different vegetables will work. Just cook them a little bit before mixing them in with custard.

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Mini-Mini Quiches (Tart Pan)

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Mini Quiches (4 3/4″ tarts)

1 coconut oil crust

Roll it out on a floured surface until it is just the right thickness. Use a round cutter to cut little crusts to match the size of your tart pan or individual quiche pans.

Custard (makes about 1 1/4 cups)
3 1/2 oz. tofu (this is why having a kitchen scale is helpful!)
1/4 cup yogurt (I like Forager plain cashew yogurt)
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or potato starch or corn starch)
1 tablespoon nooch
1 tablespoon melted refined coconut oil (or sunflower oil)
1 teaspoon chickpea miso
1/2 cup homemade cashew milk (or store-bought but unsweetened)
1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder (optional!)
Salt, a pinch

Mix all ingredients in the Vitamix or blender until combined and creamy.

Broccoli
1 small head of broccoli

Cut the broccoli off the stem and steam until just soft. Let cool.

Leave aside 24 little broccoli pieces for garnish and mince the rest.

Cut a few pieces for garnish and then Chop it up into small pieces, leaving a few chunkier ones for texture.

Mix the small broccoli pieces with the custard.

Assembly
Press the little crusts into the wells of the tart pans or mini tart shells. Fill each one with the broccoli/custard mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool until they are easy to handle. Take out of the tart pan and serve immediately. They are also good warm and even cool. They reheat well too. Enjoy!

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Mini Quiches (4 3/4″ tarts)