Veggie and Tofu Chow Mein

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This was as easy as can be to make, and yet it looks like a dish you’d order at a Chinese or Thai restaurant (in my humble opinion, lol). It was quite delicious, low-fat, healthy, filling, and super easy and quick to make. If you make the tofu ahead of time (which I’d made the day before), it’s nothing to throw this together. The key here (as in the case of making any dish requiring quick and hot cooking) is to have all your ingredients ready before getting that wok or heavy skillet hot with oil.

INGREDIENTS

1 pkg extra-firm organic tofu (cubed and then tossed in a little olive oil and baked in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, turned, and baked another 15 minutes or so)
1/4 pkg. dried linguini, broken in half and cooked per pkg. directions, then drained in cold water and put aside
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced lengthwise
1 onion (sweet or yellow), sliced lengthwise
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally
1 carrot, sliced diagonally
Vegetable oil (I used a light vegetable oil blend)
Soy sauce
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Roasted sesame seeds
Cucumber (few diagonal slices to garnish the plate)

METHOD

After preparing all the ingredients above, heat oil in a heavy skillet (or wok) over high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and stir quickly for about 30 seconds before adding the red bell pepper. Stir for about a minute before drizzling about 2-3 tbsp. of soy sauce over the vegetables. They’ll steam up. At that point, I added the minced garlic and the grated ginger, and stirred it well into the mixture before adding the cooked linguini. Add more soy sauce to taste, mix well. Plate onto a platter and sprinkle with some sesame seeds. Garnish with the cucumber. Serve immediately.

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Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato and Bread Soup)

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This Tuscan soup is more like a hearty stew than a soup, and it may not look great but it’s so incredibly flavorful and delicious. It only requires a few ingredients and can be made very quickly. In Italy, it’s made year-round with a few modifications; in the summer months when plum tomatoes are aplenty and ripe, they make it with fresh tomatoes. When the tomatoes are not in season, they make it with canned plum tomatoes. If you make it with the canned tomatoes, make sure to buy Italian-made because they will have nothing added (no salt, no preservatives—just tomatoes). And I have never tasted better tomatoes than fresh Italian tomatoes. They are exquisite. I watched about five Italian YouTube videos to see how differently each chef makes this dish, and I made mine based on theirs. There are a few ingredients that you don’t change: lots and lots of fresh basil, vegetable broth, stale crusty bread (I used a white Artisan-style bread), and of course the tomatoes.

INGREDIENTS

1 28-oz can Italian-made (I used Cento) crushed tomatoes (you could use whole)
1 beefsteak tomato (skinned), chopped (I added this because I wanted more chunky tomato)
1 32-oz carton organic vegetable broth (or, you could make your own)
About a half a loaf of stale Artisan-style hard bread, cut into ~2-inch chunks
About 2 cups of fresh basil — I used fresh from my garden
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (you could use leek bulb, instead)
3 carrots, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, whole but smashed (you’ll remove them once the soup is cooked)
EVOO (high quality)
Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

Generously swirl olive oil into soup pot and heat on medium. Add the garlic and stir around for a few minutes in the olive oil. Next, add the carrot, celery, and onion. Stir to mix and let cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, but not brown. Add the canned (and/or fresh chopped) tomatoes, stir well to mix. Tear about a third of the basil into the mixture (never cut or use scissors—always tear it). Mix and let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Add about half of the carton of vegetable broth, stir. Add the bread, mix well and simmer on low. Add some more torn basil leaves, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Simmer and let the bread become really soft and mushy. Remove the garlic cloves. Serve in individual soup bowls, garnish with fresh basil, and (optional) drizzle a little olive oil over top.

Curried Cauliflower with Garbanzo Beans

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I posted this recipe last week when I made it. It appears to be one of the favorite Instagram food photos on my new account, so it deserves some recognition here! I love cauliflower, and I’m always looking for new and creative ways of preparing it. This dish was hearty enough to stand on its own; I added garbanzo beans to it, and of course a host of other ingredients that made the flavor of the dish pop like a weasel. So, here it is!

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower, washed and cut into bite-sized florets
1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, washed and drained well
1 medium-sized tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
1 handful of fresh cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of finely chopped garlic (or less, if you’re worried about your breath)
2 tbsp yellow curry
1 tsp Garam Masala (an Indian spice for those of you unfamiliar with it)
1/2 cup water (or vegetable broth)
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of half a lime, plus a wedge for the plate

METHOD

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the curry powder and Garam Masala, and mix well. Continue cooking over low heat to let all the flavors blend for another 3-5 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and mix well so that they are coated with the curry mixture. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir-fry for about a minute or two before adding the water (or vegetable broth). Add the garbanzo beans, stir well, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid to test the cauliflower for doneness. Depending on how well you like your cauliflower cooked, you can cook a few minutes longer with the lid on. Remove the lid, and if there is still liquid, let it evaporate by cooking a few minutes longer. When all liquid has evaporated, add the tomato and the cilantro, stir well and cover. Turn the heat off and let it sit for a few minutes. Test for salt and pepper. Plate into bowls, squeeze a little lime juice over each bowl, and garnish with a wedge of lime on the side.

Smoked Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fettuccine “Alfredo”

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This is a slight departure from my typical vegan recipes, but it was a special occasion in that my sister had sent me some smoked salmon from Canada for my birthday. I am, as I have mentioned on here before, 99 percent vegan/1 percent salmon. 😉 I couldn’t wait to have some, so I decided to concoct a vegan version of Fettuccine Alfredo, and then add the smoked salmon to the sauce. The classic Fettuccine Alfredo would include dairy (cheese, cream, butter), but I replaced those ingredients with unsweetened, organic soy milk, Knorr Leek Recipe Soup Mix (1.8 oz Packet), and organic ground flaxseed. It was a delectable dairy-free, low-fat dish packed full of protein and other nutrients. I’ll definitely make it again.

INGREDIENTS

Smoked salmon (about 8 oz)
16 oz fettuccine pasta
1.8 oz pkg Knorr Leek Recipe Soup mix
Organic ground flaxseed (about 2 tbsp…depending on thickness desired)
Unsweetened organic soy milk (I used 1 cup less than in the soup mix recipe)
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp EVOO
Sea salt, and pepper to taste (best to add salt at the end because the Knorr mix and the smoked salmon are both salty)
Garnish of basil and/or rosemary

METHOD

Bring a large pot of salted water over high heat to a boil. Add the 16 oz of fettuccine, and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes until they’re golden brown. Turn heat down to low, and then stir in the Knorr Leek Recipe Soup mix. Gradually add the soy milk, stirring constantly, and turn heat up to medium-high while stirring. The mixture will thicken, but not enough to make an Alfredo sauce. Add the desired amount of ground flaxseed, continue stirring. Once the mixture is of the right consistency, turn the heat off. Mix in the smoked salmon (broken into small pieces). Taste for seasonings, and adjust. Drain the cooked fettuccine, and add to the sauce; mix well. Garnish with rosemary and basil.