Category Archives: pasta

Soup and Salad From Thug Kitchen

This week, I checked out Thug Kitchen 101 from the library. This is a vegan cookbook written in an interesting style. F-bombs throughout, I had to read it in small doses as the “thug” language was rather jarring! Once I got over the liberal use of swear words, I was able to read the recipes and found several good ones that I must try over the 3 week loan period. I started with these two – Southwestern Salad and Turmeric and Sweet Potato Soup.

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Southwestern Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado

1/4 cup chopped green onions, white part

1/2 cup corn kernels

3 tbsps. fresh lime juice

2 tbsps. rice vinegar (original recipe calls for 3 tbsps.)

2 tbsps. olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp chili powder

Salad:

2+ cups short pasta, cooked

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

1 cup corn kernels

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 tomato, chopped (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups mixed into salad)

(original recipe calls for 1-2 jalapenos)

Place all the dressing ingredients in the blender and blend for 5 minutes until very smooth. Combine cooked pasta, black beans, corn, carrot, onion in a large bowl. Pour in about 2/3’s of the dressing and toss. Fold in cilantro. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes. At serving time, add the chopped tomatoes to the salad.

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Turmeric and Sweet Potato Soup

(See notes below the recipe for the adaptations I made).

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1 small onion, diced

1 yam, diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)

2 tsps. ground turmeric

1 1/2 tsps. dried basil

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp. tamari or Braggs

5 cups vegetable broth

1 can diced tomatoes

1 cup small pasta

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 cups kale

2 tbsps. lemon juice

Water saute onion for about 4 minutes over medium high. Add yam, pepper and jalapeno (if using) and cook for another 4 minutes, adding a tbsp. of water at a time to prevent sticking. Add turmeric, basil, paprika, ginger, cinnamon and tamari and stir for about 1 minute, allowing the vegetables to be coated in the spices. Add the broth and tomatoes and simmer for 8 minutes until yam is tender. Add the pasta, chickpeas and kale and simmer until pasta is cooked and kale is soft and wilted. Stir in lemon juice just before serving and warm through.

Notes:

  • I had a little bit of leftover chickpea and kale curry so I stirred this into the soup

  • I omitted the chickpeas (because there were chickpeas in the leftover curry I added)

  • I used 2 fresh, whole tomatoes, skinned, instead of the canned tomatoes

  • I omitted the pasta and used 1/3 cup red lentils instead which helped to thicken the soup nicely and provided some good nutrition

  • I used 1/2 of a yam plus 4 small, new potatoes, diced, instead of a whole yam

  • I omitted the red bell pepper

  • I omitted the basil and paprika because I didn’t want to change the flavour profile provided by the leftover chickpea curry

  • I reduced the broth to 4 cups

  • I subbed 3 large handfuls of spinach, coarsely chopped, for the kale, because I didn’t have any kale, but had lots of lovely, fresh spinach!

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Asian Noodle Salad with Sesame Tamari Dressing

So, anyone else get sucked into Pokemon Go?

Like I did?

I don’t really know very much about Pokemon beyond a few famous characters:

 

Pikachu1

Pikachu

Jigglypuff1

Jigglypuff

Squirtle1

Squirtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

But sitting at a triple Pokestop with lures catching multiple random Pokemon and eavesdropping on the conversations of the other much younger players taught me that there are some very desirable and rare Pokemon out there and I’ve caught a few! Here are some of them:

 

Arbok1

Arbok

Exeggcute1

Exeggcute

Scyther1

Scyther

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been having so much fun with Pokemon Go that I’ve been a bit distracted! I even missed a massage appointment yesterday because I was so immersed in the Pokemon Go experience! (I rescheduled and have written reminders to myself in various locations so I won’t forget!)

Fortunately, Pokemon Go has not replaced Vegan Meal Creation and I want to share a yummy cold noodle salad I made last night.

Asian Noodle Salad with Sesame Tamari Dressing

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1 375 gram box of spaghetti noodles (whole wheat or added fibre)

4 small-medium carrots, grated or chopped up in a food processor

1/4 of a small purple cabbage, small-medium dice

5 green onions, diced

1/2 a large red or yellow or orange bell pepper, small-medium dice

1 cup green chickpeas (or sub edamame)

several beet leaves, diced (or 2 or 3 handfuls of spinach leaves)

handful of cilantro, diced

Dressing

4 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp tamari sauce

2 tsp Bragg Liquid Soy Seasoning

4 tsp agave nectar

4 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp minced garlic

1/8 tsp chili flakes (or more if you like it spicier)

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside in a large bowl.

Put all the vegetables into another large bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the noodles and use some tongs to toss until evenly coated. If you have time, let the noodles marinate in the dressing for an hour or two or more in the fridge.

Add the noodles to the vegetables and toss until the vegetables are evening distributed through the noodles. If you have time, let the salad marinate for 30 minutes or so in the fridge.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is over in two hours, but that’s not too late for me to publish some greetings and some feastings! For the 11 Valentine’s Days that “Tom” and I have shared, we have tried to bring something special to the day and almost always that something special involves food. We have eaten out or ordered in a time or two, but the thing we usually do and prefer to do is plan a few special dishes which we prepare and eat (obviously) together. This is often a day when we cook something new or something fancy or something expensive. We set an attractive table – you know, flowers, candles, tablecloth, red and white theme … that sort of thing. During the years when we were sharing our house with other people, we would create a private dining space somewhere in the house where we could be alone and focus on each other.

So what did we do this year? Well, this year was kind of a special year because Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend and on a shared day off! That meant we could take a little more care and time for our planning. We thought out a menu yesterday, then “Tom” shopped for needed items (and then some!) while I went to Yoga. Guess where I got my menu inspiration from! Pinterest! In particular, Paint + Tofu and Maple Spice. We wanted to do red, pink, white food and we wanted hearts, so we made:

Roast Potato and Beet Hearts

and

Heart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce

imageAnd here’s how we made it:

Roast Potato and Beet Hearts

2 beets

3 potatoes

olive oil

fresh rosemary

Wash the beets and cut off the ends. Wrap in a foil packet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When cooked, remove from oven, open foil and set aside to cool. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4″ discs. Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut hearts out of the potato discs.

imageWhen the beets are cool, peel, then slice into 1/4″ discs. Cut heart shapes out of the beet slices using the heart shaped cookie cutter.

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Arrange the beets and potatoes on a lightly oiled baking pan and lightly brush the tops of the beets and potatoes with oil.

imageRoast at 395 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip all the hearts and roast for another 10 minutes. During the final few minutes sprinkle rosemary sprigs about the pan.

imageRemove from oven and serve.

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imageHeart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce

Filling

olive oil

1/2 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

4 or 5 button mushrooms, finely diced

1/2 tsp dried thyme

grated zest of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 or 4 handfuls spinach, finely chopped

1/8 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

splash of white wine

a few grindings of black pepper

Heat a bit of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for several minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook and stir. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms release their moisture. Stir in thyme, zest, juice. Add spinach, pine nuts and wine. Cook until spinach is wilted and the wine has cooked off the alcohol. Set aside to cool.

Ravioli

3/4 cup flour + more for rolling

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

1 tsp olive oil

Mix flour and salt together. Mix water and oil together. Add wet to dry and stir with fork to form a dough. Knead the dough ball for 10 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes or more. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each dough ball into a thin sheet. Onto one sheet of dough, make heart shaped imprints using a large heart shaped cookie cutter. (Or, if you have such a thing, use a heart shaped press). Spoon filling onto the hearts, spreading to the edges. Lay the second sheet of dough over the first sheet and the filling. Re-press with the heart cutter and press down right through the dough.

imageRemove the excess dough. Crimp the edges of the ravioli hearts with a fork.

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imageMove the ravioli hearts carefully onto a floured surface. Cook the ravioli by lowering carefully into boiling oiled and salted water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and place directly onto a plate of tomato sauce.

imageTomato Sauce

6 Roma tomatoes, skinned

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, chopped finely

1 tsp dried oregano

couple of grindings of black pepper

Put the tomatoes in a pot and cook/simmer with the garlic, onion, oregano and pepper until the tomatoes begin to fall apart. Chop up with a spoon while cooking. Stick an immersion blender in the sauce and give it a few spins to evenly break up the tomato chunks.

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Gnocchi Two Ways

So how do you even say this word, “gnocchi”? Is it pronounced “nocky” or maybe “nyocky” or even “nyoocky”? However you say it, these potato pasta nuggets, teamed with just the right sauce, can be pretty yummy. Mind you, I’ve had my share of uninspired gnocchi dishes. There is an annual dining event in Vancouver, held in late January, called Dine Out Vancouver. Dozens of restaurants around town participate offering special three course meals. Over the years I’ve noticed more attention being paid to gluten-free diners, vegetarians and, most recently, vegan eaters. Most Dine Out menus will offer a vegetarian option and/or ways to make meals gluten-free or vegan. I sometimes wonder if the restaurants do some kind of colluding as the special menu options are often quite similar. Gnocchi makes an appearance on the menus of several restaurants – it fits the bill as gluten-free and vegan. I’ve ordered this meal a couple of times, however, I’ve always been disappointed. I find that you need a pretty saucy sauce to carry the gummy dryness of gnocchi and the gnocchi presentations I’ve experienced have really missed the boat on that saucy sauce. I don’t order gnocchi at restaurants anymore. Why would I when I can make it deliciously better at home? I showed you how my lovely avocado pesto pairs well with gnocchi in this post. Today I’d like to share some more tasty gnocchi combos.

Oh, I should mention, that “Tom” and I have been enjoying Gnocchetti which are mini gnocchi. We’ve been able to find a brand that has no weird preservatives or dairy and we try to keep a couple of packages regularly available in our cupboard. One day, maybe very soon, I’m going to try my hand at homemade gnocchi, but for now, we’re content with the store bought.

Pesto Primavera Gnocchi

(unfortunately, no picture because we ate it all before I could whip out the camera)!

1 recipe Basil Avocado Pesto

1 small onion, finely diced

1 medium carrot, finely diced

1/2 zucchini, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

about 7 button mushrooms or 3 or 4 baby ‘bella mushrooms, finely diced

several large handfuls of spinach, chopped

1 packet of Gnocchetti or Gnocchi

Prepare the Basil Avocado Pesto and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Water saute the onion by putting the diced onion in a pan on medium-high heat and pouring in a tbsp water as onion begins to stick to pan. Continue to saute, adding a bit of water to prevent sticking, for several minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini and pepper and continue to saute, adding a bit of water to prevent sticking. Add the mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and all the vegetables are cooked. Turn heat to low and stir in the spinach. Continue stirring until the spinach is wilted and incorporated into the rest of the vegetables.

Add the Gnocchetti or Gnocchi into the boiling water (I like to open the package and dump the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi into a bowl and break all the nuggets apart first). Simmer for a couple of minutes until the nuggets rise to the surface and float. Drain in a colander.

Transfer the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi to a large bowl. Add several dollops of Basil Avocado Pesto (about 1/2 the recipe), toss. Add the sauteed vegetables and toss everything together.

Serve with a big green salad. You can even use the Basil Avocado Pesto as a salad dressing.

Mediterranean Gnocchi

(I do have pictures of this dish, but the quality is poor. Supper is prepared and eaten after daylight hours these days so the lighting is artificial and not very good for photography).

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1 recipe Basil Avocado Pesto

1/2 red onion, finely diced

5 artichokes, chopped

7 black olives, chopped

4 sundried tomatoes, soaked and chopped

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

several handfuls of spinach, chopped

a handful of fresh basil

2 or 3 tbsps white wine

black pepper

1 package Gnocchetti/Gnocchi

Prepare the Basil Avocado Pesto and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.

In a frying pan, water saute the red onion by adding the onion to a hot pan and adding 1 tbsp water when the onion begins to stick to the pan. Saute for a few minutes, then add the artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes, red pepper. Continue to saute and stir and add a bit of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add the spinach, basil and white wine and saute and stir until spinach is wilted, everything is well mixed together and the alcohol from the wine has cooked off. Add a few grinds of black pepper.

Cook the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi in the boiling water until the nuggets rise to the surface. Drain in a colander then transfer to a big bowl. Add about 1/2 the Basil Avocado Pesto and toss well. Add the sauteed vegetables and toss until everything is mixed together.

Serve with salad.

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