Savory Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini

Here’s what I had:

  • A beautiful heirloom round yellow zucchini
  • 4 ears of white sweet corn
  • 1 pt of fresh shelled lima beans
  • 1 lb. of baby purple-skinned potatoes
  • A few red onions
  • Leftover fresh baby spinach
  • Various pantry odds and ends

Here’s what I made:

Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini with Roasted Baby Purple-Skinned Potatoes

 

Here’s what I did:

I sliced the potatoes thin, coated them with oil and some Spike’s Veg Magic and baked them at 425F for 15-20 mins.  Wanted to get the taters done first so I could snack on them while cooking the rest!

While the potatoes cooked, I scooped out the middle of the zucchinis and mashed up the insides with 2-3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast and some Kosher salt.  I sauteed 2 small red onions and a clove of garlic in some coconut oil and then added the limas.  I put a lid on the pot and left them alone until the lima beans were bright green and tender (about 3-4 mins).  Once the limas were tender, I added the cheesy squash and the corn.  I let that get happy for another 2-3 mins before tearing up some spinach and letting it wilt in.  The zucchini and corn were both sweeter than I was feeling for dinner, so I had to taste and adjust the seasonings a few times.

Suffering Succotash! …Couldn’t help myself

Meanwhile, I gave the round zucchinis a massage in some evoo, Kosher salt, and black pepper.  I reduced the heat on the oven to 375F (the potatoes were long-since done and already being snacked on).

It’s like they were calling my name!

I baked the zucchini for about 15 mins, or until just short of tender.  Then, I stuffed the zucchini halves and baked them for another 5-7 mins, or until the squash were tender and juicy (but not at all mushy).

Little heirloom boats of awesome waiting for the oven

At the end, I layered the leftover potatoes in a casserole dish and topped them with the juicy leftover succotash.

 

What would you have made with these ingredients?  Do you prefer to plan out your meals or just jump in the kitchen and see what happens?  Does your cooking style change from season to season like mine?

 

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Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagna

I don’t make that many lasagnas.  I don’t know why.  They’re the perfect way to eat GF pasta (which can often turn out less than stellar).  I’m not sure if it’s that they intimidated me, or if I thought they were too much work.  But!  Nevertheless with my success with this recipe, I’ve got a new regular dish to add to my rotation, and I’ve found my lasagna mojo!  I made this lasagna using a creamy white wine tomato basil sauce that uses ground roasted cashews to replace the cream, and it came out absolutely fantastic!  Because I haven’t had much time these day to head to the market, I’ve had to focus my cooking efforts to include convenience without sacrificing quality.  So for this recipe, I used both fresh and frozen ingredients, allowing me to maximize flavor, health, and convenience.  A homemade sauce, fresh herbs, and high-quality store-bought products made this dish healthy and easy.  This recipe is great for a busy weeknight but still satisfying and impressive enough to share with friends on the weekend.   A new favorite!

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagna:

Oh lasagna, I'm so glad we're friends now.

Equipment:

  • Medium casserole dish, food processor, medium saute pan, large stainless steel pot with lid, colander, wooden spoon, spatula

Ingredients:

For the sauce

  • 3 fresh tomatoes, 1 chopped into big chunks, the other 2 diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 heaping cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ~10 big fresh basil leaves, cut into small ribbons
  • 1/4 evoo
  • Dry white wine (to taste)
  • Water (as needed)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

For the lasagna

  • ~10 fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach
  • 6 oz roasted red peppers, in water/vinegar brine (not oil), cut into strips
  • 1 box (GF) lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 block soft tofu, sliced thin
  • Spike’s low-sodium vegit magic
  • (GF, Vegan) Breadcrumbs (mixed with 1-2 tsp of dried parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

For the sauce

  1. Add the cashews, tomato that was roughly chopped, tomato paste, 2-3 Tbsp of water and a big pinch of kosher salt to the food processor.  Blend, scrape down the sides, and keep blending until the mixture is silky smooth.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion.  Saute 2-3 mins until softened and then add the chopped garlic.  Saute another 2-3 mins, or until the garlic and onions are just starting to brown.  Add a big pinch of salt, pepper, the diced tomatoes and the cashew-tomato mixture from the blender.  Let cook 1-2 mins, or until simmering.
  3. Once the tomatoes are starting to get hot, add 2-3 splashes of a dry white wine (to taste) and/or a few Tbsp of water.  Without extra liquid the sauce is very thick and creamy.  I wanted mine a little thinner, so I ended up adding probably 3-4 Tbsp of wine and the same amount of water.  Add the basil and let simmer together 5-10 mins or until all of the flavors are deliciously incorporated.

For the lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease the casserole dish with evoo.  Lay down one layer of lasagna noodles.  Then, lay down a thin layer of roasted red pepper slices (just dot the bottom with 10-12 pieces. It doesn’t need to be a continuous layer).  Top the pepper slices with a thick layer of spinach, and then spoon on a generous layer of 1/3 of the sauce.
  3. Top the sauce with another layer of lasagna noodles.  Then, lay down a layer of the sliced tofu (should use the whole block).  Top the sliced tofu with a generous sprinkling of Spike’s seasoning, a sprinkle of salt, and a generous layer of the fresh basil leaves.  Top the tofu-herb layer with spinach and then another 1/3 of the tomato sauce.
  4. Add the last layer of noodles.  Top once again with a layer of roasted red pepper strips, a thick layer of spinach and the last 1/3 of the sauce.  Sprinkle on a generous topping of the seasoned (GF Vegan) breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 mins, or until the top is crunchy and the sides are bubbling.  Broil for 1-2 mins if needed to toast the breadcrumbs (I’ve found that some GF breadcrumbs don’t toast easily unless under direct heat).
  6. ENJOY!!

Vegan Tamale Pie

What’s Tamale Pie?  I’d never heard of it until I saw this video recipe on YouTube.  I instantly saw that recipe full of ground beef and white flour and thought “Yeah, I can make that GF vegan.”  It turns out that Tamale Pie is one of the most delicious Tex-Mex casseroles I’ve had in a looong time.  It’s a layered casserole of spicy veggies and homemade cornbread that is very freezer-friendly.  I’ve been keeping pretty darn busy over the past few months, so I’ve had to maximize my time by taking advantage of my stock of pre-chopped frozen veggies.  I could also see this casserole lending itself easily to using up leftover roasted veggies.  Of course, I’d prefer fresh veg, but hey, if using frozen veggies means I get a hot homemade meal in the middle of the work week, then I’m all about it!

Vegan Tamale Pie: 

Fresh cornbread and spicy veggies are a magical combination.

Equipment:

  • Heavy-bottomed/Cast-Iron skillet with lid, liquid & dry measuring cups, measuring spoons, large casserole dish, medium mixing bowl, wooden spoon, spatula, knife, cutting board, range

Ingredients: (makes a gigantic casserole for a week+ of eats – feel free to cut the portions down!)

  • 1 16 oz bag of assorted frozen veggies, thawed – I used a mix of organic carrots, broccoli, green beans, spring peas, lima beans and onions.  But when I make this again with fresh veggies, I’ll probably go for peppers, broccoli, and summer squash
  • 12 oz frozen corn
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 “can” of kidney or black beans
  • 1/2 cup TVP
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin (more to taste)
  • Dried or fresh cilantro to taste (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup GF AP flour
  • 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored soy milk
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp raw vegan sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or other neutral oil
  • Vegan cheddar slices (I used this time, but I really don’t think it’s necessary if you’re not into substitute cheeses. I’ll probably leave this out next time.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Combine the GF flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the oil, soy milk, and water to the bowl and mix with a fork.  Batter should be runny and still somewhat lumpy.  Don’t worry about getting it smooth. Set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, saute the fresh onions for 1-2 mins and then add the fresh garlic.  Saute another minute, or until the veg are starting to soften.  Add the beans and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir and heat 1-2 mins or until the beans are heated through.
  4. Add the thawed veggies, the jar of salsa, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 Tbsp cumin, the textured vegetable protein, and the veg stock.  Stir, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Then cover and reduce the heat.  Let the veggies simmer 5-10 mins or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and re-season as needed.
  5. Grease the bottom of your casserole dish.  Pour in half the cornbread batter and then evenly sprinkle a layer of corn kernels over the cornbread batter.  Carefully spoon the hot veggie mixture over the cornbread batter.  Because the batter is runny, you want to prevent it from just running up the sides of the dish.  If you’re using vegan cheese, grate or shred your cheddar into the other half of the cornbread mixture and then pour the cheesy cornbread batter over the hot veggies.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45-60 mins at 425 F, or until the top cornbread is a deep golden brown and the contents are bubbling hot.
  7. ENJOY!!

Ramen Noodles with Dignity!

I don’t know how ramen is treated in other countries, but here in America, ramen noodles are strictly associated with college students and last resort, cheap, quick-fix meals.

As a college student who more often than not needs both cheap and quick food, I love me some ramen.  But, as a gluten-intolerant college student, my ramen noodles are considerably more expenisve than the 19-cents a pack variety.  $2 doesn’t sound like a lot for a meal, but it is a tough sell for a pack of ramen.  The plus side?  My ramen noodles are whole grain, sodium free, and organic.

So, where’s the pride?  Why does ramen have to be so bad for you and the “he thinks we’re friends, but we’re really not” resident in the American kitchen?  It doesn’t.  And at $2/pack, I’m out to get my money’s worth by adding just an extra 10 minutes to the rip open and boil routine.  I’ve used only pantry staples to jazz up my ramen to keep it convenient, but you could make it really fancy with some fresh scallions and edamame.  Believe me, it’s worth the extra few minutes!

Ramen with Dignity:

Sorry about the bad photo, but it's late and I'm in a rush - the perfect time for some delicious ramen!!

Equipment:

  • Small saucepan, knife, cheese grater, cutting board, stove top

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 block firm silken tofu, diced
  • 1 pack buckwheat or brown rice ramen noodles, whatever flavor you prefer (I can’t give enough props to King Soba’s GF ramen!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Evoo
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Heat a small drizzle of evoo in the saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the onion with a big pinch of salt.  Stir and saute 1 minute and then add the tofu cubes.  Stir and saute 2-4 minutes or until the onions are soft and the tofu is warmed through.
  2. Add the grated carrot and peas.  Heat for 1-2 minutes and then stir in the seasoning packet from the ramen.  Make sure everyone’s coated, and then add 1 1/2 cups tap water.  Taste test your broth and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.  Add the ramen and boil 4-6 minutes, or as recommended by the package.
  4. ENJOY!!

Yellow Thai Curry with Baked Tofu

First things first – Thank you thank you to everyone who visited my blog last night!  I had about 20x as many hits in 3 hours as I usually get in a whole day!! And thank you to whomever pinned my Cooking Tips and Tricks page to Pinterest!! I’m so glad so many people are reading and liking what they see enough to share!  Although you may never read this, I still thought I’d at least try to say thanks! 😀 You guys totally made my day.

And now for something equally awesome: Thai curry.  I recently fell in love with Thai food. I found a great Thai restaurant nearby and almost fell over when I realized they had literally dozens of gluten free vegan/vegetarian options.  Usually when I eat out, I have to seriously compromise both on flavor and on what I’m willing to overlook (the vegan becomes more vegetarian).  So you can imagine my excitement when I had that feeling of “I can’t decide what to get!!!” — I never get that feeling anymore!! 😀

The first night I ordered take-out I decided to splurge on a 2 entrees and a soup so I could kind of sample what was available.  I instantly fell in love with the sweet, thin-brothed curry and knew I had to save my wallet by learning to make this dish.  This is my new favorite dish for a Saturday night in, curled up with a glass of wine and a season or two of an old British sitcom.

This dish lends itself well to any vegetable, making it very market-friendly.  Since it’s January, tonight’s curry is full of heartier veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and parsnips.  If you like you can also scramble an egg and add it in.  Because the veg is so flexible, the real trick is to make sure you’ve got authentic curry paste.  I strongly recommend ordering your curry paste online or in an authentic Asian foods supply store before overspending on a jar of imitation curry in a grocery store.  It will be many times cheaper per serving and the flavor will be spot on!!  It will also have a much longer shelf life.  Here’s the curry paste I use and highly recommend.  Lastly, when shopping for curry paste, make sure to check the ingredients label! Many Thai curry pastes contain shrimp paste, and are therefore not truly vegetarian.

Yellow Thai Curry with Baked Tofu: (as listed serves 8-10, or one curry fanatic for a whole week)

Crunchy veggies in a light, spicy, and slightly sweet sauce. Seriously, what could be better?

Equipment:

  • Wok (or round-bottomed pan), wooden spoon or spatula, baking sheet lined with a Silpat (or use a non-stick sheet), large bowl, tea pot/kettle, medium sauce pan, colander, metal spatula, whisk, spoon, knife, 2 plates, paper towels, cutting board, range

Ingredients: (all veggies can vary based on preferences and availability!)

  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets/pieces
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced into half-moons
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3-4 new potatoes, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 7-8 shiitakes, stems removed and caps sliced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp yellow Thai curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Fish sauce or salt
  • Raw sugar/agave syrup
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • Coconut oil
  • Spike’s very low sodium Vegit Magic veggie seasoning (or similar seasonings/mix)
  • 8 servings of rice vermicelli or bean thread (brown rice is also and excellent option)
  • Salt and Pepper

Update (July 2012): To lighten this up during the summer (or when serving those who don’t dig on the sweet sauce), I’ve started adding the zest and juice of a lime to the broth.  Also, while the curry and coconut milk are warming, I’ll steep fresh garlic and chopped spring onions in the sauce too, adding an extra layer of flavor.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Remove the tofu from its packaging.  Drain the tofu, and wrap it in paper towels.  Place it between two plates and top with the can of coconut milk.  Let the tofu sit, pressed under the weight of the can for at least 15 minutes.  Prep your potatoes.  When the tofu’s ready cut it into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Place the tofu and potato pieces onto your baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and then generously sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Spike’s veggie seasoning.  Toss with your hands to make sure everyone’s feeling the love.  Bake for 50-60 mins on an upper rack at 450 F, turning with a spatula half-way through.
  4. Prep the rest of your veggies.  Fill your tea pot or kettle with water and bring it to a boil.  Place your noodles in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water.  Let sit 5-10 minutes or until the noodles are soft.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  5. Warm the can of coconut milk in the sauce pan over med-low heat.  Whisk in about 2 Tbsp of curry paste and the vegetable stock.  Season with a pinch of salt (or dash or two of fish sauce) and then sweeten to taste.  Try starting with about 1 tsp of the sugar and then taste and adjust seasonings/sweetness as desired.  Set aside and keep warm over low heat.
  6. Melt a Tbsp or two of coconut oil in the bottom of your wok over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, and cook 1-2 minutes or until starting to soften, then add the carrots and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper as needed and slowly add each of your vegetables in the order of longest cook-time to shortest cook-time.  Be careful not to add too many veggies at one time to prevent cooling off your wok too much!  Stir-fry the veggies a few minutes until they reach your desired texture, and make sure they’re all lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.   I like to add the mushrooms at the very end so they can keep their firmness.
  7. Add the baked tofu and potatoes to the wok, and then pour on the curry sauce.  Give the veg a good stir in the sauce.  Serve the hot curry over the noodles (or rice) and slurp away!!
  8. Enjoy!!

Potatoes and Shallots Baked in a Basil, Garlic Vinaigrette

Well it’s January, and if you live in the northern hemisphere, that means it’s likely that you’re enjoying a few more potatoes this time of year than normal.  I happen looooove potatoes.  They’re especially helpful as satisfying alternatives to bread in this chilly weather for those of us with gluten sensitivities.

The only problem with many of the potato recipes I know and grew up on is that they’re loaded with cream and/or cheese.  This extra fat coating around a potato’s carbs can quickly lead to the dreaded food-coma.  When it’s winter time and sheer availability means potatoes in every meal, then the last thing I want is to have that “I shouldn’t have” feeling after everything I eat!  So, this week I thought I’d post some light and healthy potato dishes that are satisfying and for both my taste buds and my waist.

This potato dish is loaded with cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and shallots.  To keep it light, the sauce is a tangy vinaigrette that is a complete 180 from your typical creamy potato bakes.  This dish is an awesome example of how to cook for some with dietary restrictions (like my gluten-intolerant vegan self): Innovation > Imitation!

Potatoes and Veggies in a Tangy Basil, Garlic Vinaigrette:

Mmmmm that's a bowl of hot, steamy goodness

Equipment:

  • Measuring cup (at least 1 cup), med/large casserole dish with lid or dutch oven, fork or small whisk, measuring spoons, knife, cutting board, oven.

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium red new potatoes, sliced into 1/4″ slivers
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 5-6 small shallots, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/8-1/4 lb of spinach, cleaned
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into big chunks/florets and then sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup evoo
  • Additional salt and pepper to season

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Prep your veggies.  Combine the basil, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, wine, vinegar, mustard, veggie stock, and evoo in a mixing cup.  This should come out to be about 1 cup of vinaigrette.  Whisk well with a fork/whisk until combined.
  3. Splash a small amount of the dressing on the bottom of the casserole dish.  Cover the bottom with a layer of sliced potatoes.  On top of the potatoes sprinkle a layer of carrots, then cover with a layer of sliced cauliflower, and a thick layer of shallots.  Splash more dressing to give the veggies a nice coating.  Top with a full layer of spinach.  Season the spinach with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  4. Repeat until all of the veggies are used and/or the casserole dish is full. Potatoes –> Carrots –> Cauliflower –> Lots of Shallots –> Vinaigrette –> Spinach –> S&P.

    I love that moment when I open the lid, look down, and think "Oh, thank God that worked."

  5. Top the casserole with a layer of potatoes and then pour all of the leftover dressing on that top layer, making sure everybody’s feeling the love.  Bake, covered at 450 F for 1 hour or until the casserole has sunk a bit, the dressing is bubbling, and the potatoes are soft (my dish shown above was filled to the brim before baking). Serve hot.
  6. Enjoy!!

Heidi’s Magic Sauce

I found this recipe over at 101cookbooks.com.  The author is not overstating the seemingly endless ways that this sauce can be used.  It’s now a regular staple in my fridge (right next to the sriracha).  Come Winter, the limited selection of fresh produce available will make this versatile sauce an absolute necessity.   It also works perfectly for insane weeks like this one.  Today for lunch, I enjoyed it over a small side baked potato with some chives and a pinch of nutritional yeast.  Tonight, I’m using up leftover green beans and mushrooms by roasting them (in some of the sauce) and then using more magical goodness as a sauce over quinoa pasta.  You can use this tangy sauce on leafy salads, steamed or stir-fried veggies, or over a plain bowl of rice when $$ gets tight.

This sauce is good for a week to ten days in the fridge.  It does tend to solidify a bit in the cold, so let it sit on the counter a few mins and stir before serving.  This sauce is also best after it has a chance to sit at least over night (if not 2-3 days).  I’ve gone ahead and doubled the recipe for you – you’ll thank me when you haven’t run out after 48 hours!

Heidi’s “Magic Sauce”:

Magic Sauce shown here over roasted green beans, sweet white onion, crimini mushrooms, garlic cloves, and quinoa pasta

Equipment:

  • Medium saute pan/saucepan, mortar and pestle (or a heavy spoon and a small bowl), silicone spatula, measuring spoons, liquid measuring cup, stove top
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup evoo
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 4 med cloves garlic, smashed into a paste with a pinch of sea salt
  • 2 well-crumbled bay leaves
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • The juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in the saute pan slowly over low heat.  Once the oil is hot (you can tell by holding your hand closely to the surface), remove it from the heat.
  2. While the oil is heating, gently pound the fresh herbs with a mortar and pestle.
  3. Stir the paprika, garlic, salt, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes into the oil.  Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.
  4. ENJOY with almost anything!!