Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy Pesto Sauce

Pasta with Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy Pesto Sauce

Lately, I've been making a ton of pasta with pesto sauce.  It's so fast and easy, especially on the nights when we get home from some event and I have little energy for complicated meal prep.  Shortly after running out of the traditional pine-nuts and walnuts a month ago, I stopped using a recipes and began to wing-it with the the one nut I always have stocked in my pantry - cashews.  There was also an abundance of fresh Italian parsley in my little herb garden so that's getting used up.  Paired with the parsley and cashews, fistfuls of my favourite herb cilantro get thrown into the food processor along with some lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.  That's it.  No measuring, no fuss, just whir everything up together with the olive oil being drizzled in at the end and you have a healthy, delicious sauce for your pasta.   Sometimes, if I have a little more energy I'll saute up an onion, red bell peppers, zucchini and a stray veggie sausage to top it off.  This is my new favourite, no fuss meal.

I'll attempt to give you measurements here but don't worry if it's not exact.  The whole point is to use what you have, especially whatever fresh herbs and nuts you have on hand.  Use the ratios that please your palate and experiment, you can't really go wrong!

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy Pesto Sauce


1 cup fresh cilantro (a big handful)
1/2 cup Italian (flat-leafed) parsley or fresh basil
1/3 cup raw cashews (or whatever nuts you have on hand like walnuts, pine-nuts, etc.)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how lemon-y you like it)
salt to taste
1 or 2 cloves garlic
pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/3 olive oil (or whatever amount gives you the consistency you desire)

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor and blend on high until you get fairly small bits.  Scrape down the sides of the processor at least once during this process to incorporate all the ingredients.   While the machine is running pour in the olive oil and process until well blended and an even consistency. Taste for salt and the amount of lemon juice you prefer, it's easy to adjust.  Once your pasta is cooked and drained, pour on the pesto sauce and using tongs or a fork toss the pasta to incorporate the sauce evenly.

As I said above, I like to serve this topped with stir-fried veggies and vegan sausage which I cook at the same time as the pasta.  I love the sweetness of the slightly caramelized onions and peppers paired with the lemony tang of the sauce.

Ingredients ready to whir~!

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy Pesto Sauce

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sage-Scented White Bean Topping

Sage-Scented White Bean Topping

For the past month or two since making the acquaintance of the delightful and talented cookbook author Betsy DiJulio, I have been meaning to try some of the delicious looking recipes found at her blog The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes.  She is an incredibly creative chef and I'm always amazed at the interesting flavour pairings and dishes that come out of her kitchen.   My intention today was to make her Vegan Nachos with Sage Scented White Beans and Cheddar-Spinach Sauce.  I carefully prepared my shopping list yesterday and was sure I had everything ready.  But, I forgot one ingredient; the beer.  Crap.  I think this might be an essential element in the Cheddar-Spinach Sauce.  Okay, moving on to plan two, no problemo!

I simply love bean dip and so the bean dip portion of the recipe was made.  The orange pepper gives it a lovely colour and the fresh sage adds quite a unique flavour.  And best of all, it's really easy to make.  Just fry up some onions, garlic and pepper then add the beans, olive oil, salt and pepper and sage.  (See Betsy's recipe here)

I actually threw it all in the food processor instead of mashing it with a fork on the off chance my little miss would try it if she didn't see the onion chunks.  And now, I can't stop eating it.  I am bloated with happiness and have so far slathered four good sized hunks of toasted baguette with this bean-y wonder.  The rest of my brunch has gone by the wayside.  Bye-bye tofu scramble and greens, hello and welcome to one of my new favourite snacks.  If this is any indication of what's inside The Blooming Platter Cookbook then it's going to the top of my Christmas wish-list.

Sage-Scented White Bean Topping

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Asian Macaroni and Cheese

Asian Macaroni and Cheese

For the third time in two weeks I've made Asian Macaroni and Cheese from Kim Barnouin's new cookbook Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.   I thought it was time I shared my obsession with my friends.  The recipe title is a bit of a misnomer because there is nothing cheesy about it but the secret to the mild, creamy flavour of this baked pasta dish is coconut milk.  I thought this sounded strange at first and wasn't inclined to try this recipe but a recommendation from someone in my cooking group on Goodreads (*waving at Laura) convinced me to give it a chance.  My only complaint is the number of pots necessary to prepare this dish - three on the stove-top plus your baking dish.  The sauce is very mild and consists of coconut milk, water, pureed cauliflower, miso, a tiny bit of mustard and soy sauce.  The top gets nice and crispy when baked with the Panko bread crumbs sprinkled on top.  Along with the tofu, I've tossed in some quick fried broccoli (in place of more cauliflower) to add some colour.  You could easily throw in more veggies to beef it up even more.  This dish is kid-friendly and a great meal that would probably go down well with most people.  We are certainly enjoying a lot of it.  :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breakfast Veggie Jumbalaya

I was about to make my usual tofu scramble for weekend brunch but decided to try something a little different.  Instead of cooking 2 or 3 different dishes, I was feeling a little lazy and thought a one pot dish with veggies, protein and carbs combined was more my speed this morning. This is a great dish for using up odds and ends in the fridge. I found one lonely vegan sausage, cornered a few vegetables and some leftover cooked rice.  I don't know if this tastes anything like a traditional jambalaya but it was definitely tasty, a little spicy and pretty easy.  For the veg, I went with onion, green pepper and yellow zucchini but just about anything would work.  The chili sauce I used here and in most of my cooking is an Asian chili garlic sauce.  It's pretty potent so a small amount goes a long way but you can use whatever you have handy.  I didn't time the cooking of anything but added the ingredients in stages.  Again, no time for fancy plating because we were hungry, today you get another stove-top pot shot.  It may not be beautiful but it tastes great and the leftovers are just as good.

Breakfast Veggie Jambalaya

1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 vegetarian sausage sliced into half moons
1/2 block of firm tofu cubed (approximately)
1 green or red pepper chopped
1 small zucchini sliced into quarter moons  (I'm pretty sure that's not an actually cooking term but hopefully you know what I mean)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce (or to taste)
1-2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tomato chopped
3/4 cup (approximately) veggie stock or water
2 cups cooked rice

In a large non-stick pan stir-fry the onions for 1-2 minutes.  Add the veggie sausage and tofu and cook until nicely browned.  Add the green pepper, zucchini, soy sauce, paprika, thyme, chili sauce and ketchup.  Keep cooking until veggies start to get tender and then add chopped tomato and veggie stock or water.  Cover and let simmer for a few more minutes.  Add the rice and continue to cook (covered) until the rice has plumped up nicely.   Enjoy!

Breakfast Veggie Jambalaya