Hearty Vegan Beanless Minestrone

I love minestrone, but I usually wind up picking around the beans. That’s what’s great about making my own: no beans to pick around! Of course, if you like beans, add ’em on in. I won’t stop you. Honestly though, there’s so much going on in here that they’re not even necessary. The swiss chard gives it a rustic heartiness that’s great for winter.

This soup can be prepared vegan if you opt out of the Parmesan cheese on top.

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 bunch swiss chard: ribs removed and chopped, leaves torn into pieces
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1.5-2 cups small pasta (e.g. elbows, shells)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot, saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes until soft, then stir in tomato paste.

Add swiss chard (ribs and leaves), whole peeled tomatoes (with juice), 8 cups of water, salt, and all-purpose seasoning. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 35 minutes.

Bring the soup back to a boil and mix in the arugula and pasta. Boil for 5-10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with grated Parmesan if using.

The Best Vegan* Macaroni and Cheese Ever

I don’t maintain a strictly vegan diet, but copious amounts of dairy upsets my stomach. As you can imagine, that makes it challenging to satisfy my mac & cheese craving. I’ve tried numerous vegan mac & cheese recipes over the years, and this one is the only one I’ll eat. I like it because it doesn’t call for nutritional yeast, which I’ve never been crazy about.

Here’s the deal: While this doesn’t taste exactly like mac & cheese, it 100% fulfills my mac & cheese craving. I’ve served it to plenty of non-vegans and no one has ever been disappointed.

*Asterisk included because I make mine with real butter. It can easily be made entirely vegan if you use margarine or Earth Balance though.

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts of water
  • 8 ounces macaroni
  • 2 slices of bread, toasted and torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup butter (or a vegan alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the toasted bread and 1 tablespoon butter to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a food processor, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup butter, mustard, lemon juice and black pepper. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the food processor and process until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended “cheese” sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

*Recipe adapted from Veg News*

Zucchini Lasagna Boats

IMG_0745

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • A couple tablespoons marinara sauce
  • 5-10 mini mozzarella balls, sliced thinly
  • A couple basil leaves, sliced
  • A couple tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides of the zucchini, leaving about a 1/4-inch. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and Italian seasoning.
  4. Brush both sides of your zucchini halves with olive oil and place side by side in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
  5. Scoop your ricotta mixture into the zucchini halves and top with salt and pepper. Top with marina sauce.
  6. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and place mozzarella slices on top. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until mozzarella is melted and zucchini is tender.
  8. Remove from oven and top with sliced basil.

Polenta Cakes with Pico de Gallo

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Makes about 3-4 small servings. Can be served as an appetizer, a side or an entree.

Ingredients

  • 1 18-oz. tube polenta, sliced 1/4-1/2-inch thick
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • A few tablespoons chopped cilantro (adjust to your preference)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • A few tablespoons quick-pickled shallots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded smoked Gouda

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in pan over medium-low, then pan fry the polenta until golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side).
  2. While the polenta is pan frying, mix together your pico de gallo. In a medium-sized bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, lime juice. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. When your polenta is ready, remove it from the pan and place on a couple piece of paper towel to blot the oil.
  4. Arrange your polenta slices on a plate, sprinkle with shredded smoked Gouda, and top with pico de gallo. Finally, top with quick-pickled shallots.

Seitan Tacos with Ancho-Lime Sauce

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Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup water

Tacos:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1  8 oz. package cubed seitan
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 6 6-inch soft corn tortillas, warmed
  • Shredded lettuce for garnish
  • Salsa for garnish
  • Guacamole for garnish

Directions

  • To make sauce: Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To make tacos: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Add seitan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 4 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat. Stir in cumin and chili powder.
  • Assemble the tacos: Smear some of the ancho-chili sauce on the tortilla, then top with lettuce, seitan/onion mixture, guacamole, salsa and cheese. You can switch up the order, but that’s the order I prefer.

*Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times*

Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Spread

Makes 4 sandwichesIMG_6160

Ingredients

For the dill spread:

  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • fresh cracked pepper

For the sandwich:

(All measurements are approximate, as different sized bread requires different amounts. You get the idea though.)

  • ~2 tomatoes, sliced
  • ~1 avocado, sliced
  • ~1/4 red onion, sliced
  • ~1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • ~2-3 radishes, sliced
  • 4 slices Provolone
  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 8 slices good quality bread (I used onion foccacia bread here)
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Directions

  • Add all the ingredients for the dill spread to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Smear dill spread onto each slice of bread. Top with lettuce, Provolone, tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, cucumber, onion, radishes and avocado. Cover with the remaining four slices of bread.

*Recipe adapted from Food & Wine*

Spinach and Ricotta Galette

Ingredients

IMG_5025

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7.5 oz fresh baby spinach (about 13.5 cups)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (Note: I don’t like things too garlicky, so I go light on the garlic. Feel free to go heavier!)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago, divided
  • salt + pepper to taste

Directions

First, start out by making the crust.

  • In a food processor fitted with the flat paddle attachment, stir the flour, salt, and sugar together.
  • Add butter to flour mixture and mix (on a KitchenAid mixer, which is what I use, this is Speed 2) for about 30 second to 1 minute. Make sure you don’t over-mix it. You want the mixture to stay crumbly and the chunks of butter to be about the size of peas. (Note: If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter.)
  • Stir in the parsley and chives
  • Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix until it is fully incorporated.
  • Add 1-2 more tablespoons of the ice water mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.
  • Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine.
  • Put dough on a lightly floured surface and pat it together to make one uniform piece. Flatten into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes-2 hours.

When your dough is almost done chilling, start putting together your filling.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large skillet or pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil.
  • Once the olive oil is hot, add the garlic and onions, stirring frequently for a few minutes until the onions begin to look translucent.
  • Add the spinach, stirring frequently until it has wilted and cooked down.
  • Transfer the mixture from your skillet or pan into a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add 1/4 cup ricotta and 1/4 cup asiago and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out your dough and assemble the galette.

  • Roll your dough into an 11-inch round. (Note: If it has been in the refrigerator for the full 2 hours, it may need to sit out at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before you can roll it out.) Transfer the rolled out dough onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: Try your best to make sure there aren’t any cracks where the filling can leak through.)
  • Spread 1/2 cup ricotta onto the dough, leaving 1 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle with asiago.
  • Spread the spinach mixture over the ricotta and asiago, again leaving 1 1/2 inch border.
  • Sprinkle remaining asiago on the top.
  • Gently fold the pastry over the spinach mixture and cheese, pleating if needed to hold it in.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with your lightly beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

*Recipes adapted from All-Butter Crust Recipe*

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Brown Sugar Vinaigrette

This is my attempt to recreate a hybrid of two delicious salads I recently had at local restaurants Area Four and The Sinclair.

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegarScreen Shot 2015-08-30 at 6.06.34 PM (1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 8 oz. container of mozzarella balls, halved
  • 3-4 tablespoons capers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
  • 4 slices rye bread, toasted until it’s hard and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Directions:
  • Assemble the dressing by whisking together the red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Slowly add the extra virgin olive oil, whisking until blended.
  • Add tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, capers, parsley and almonds to a bowl.
  • Mix in the dressing and toss well.
  • Serve with rye croutons on top.
The salad will keep well in the fridge for a few days, though it’s definitely best the day of. I keep the croutons in a baggie and add them on top when I serve it so that they don’t get too soggy.

Pickled Strawberry Salad with Green Beans and Radishes

I love this recipe because once I made the pickled strawberries and the dressing, I was able to keep all the ingredients separate throughout the week and assemble a fresh salad each night.

This recipe made about 4-6 servings for me.
Ingredients:

  • 10-16 strawberries Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 3.44.11 PM (1)
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • A couple cups of fresh green beans, chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 container arugula
  • ½ cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint
  • kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fruity olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon reserved pickling vinegar
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds, halved or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint

Directions

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and 1 tablespoon honey to a boil with star anise and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 3 minutes then remove from heat and let cool. Add strawberries and marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from pickling liquid and set aside.

In a small bowl combine ricotta, 1 teaspoon honey, and some of the chopped mint.
Combine olive oil, reserved picking vinegar and remaining teaspoon of honey in a small bowl and whisk well for dressing.

Toss arugula with dressing. Spread ricotta mixture on a plate, top with arugula, strawberries, radishes, and green beans. Garnish with almonds and extra dressing as desired. Add fresh mint to taste.

*Recipe adapted from Pickled Strawberry with Roasted Beet Salad*

Gnocchi with Tomato Broth

Homemade gnocchi is a super easy way to impress all your friends.

Makes about 4 servings.

Tomato Broth Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oilScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 6.28.45 PM (1)
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes with juices
  • Small handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Gnocchi Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes (3-4)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface

Directions

Bake the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, pierce the potatoes a few times with a fork, and cook them for about 45-60 minutes, turning halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when a knife can easily pierce through them.
Make the tomato broth. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the carrot, celery, and onion, and cook together for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more. Pour in the wine and cook until it is reduced by half, for several minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, mashing them a bit with a spoon, and the basil and stock, and simmer until the tomato broth thickens slightly, for about 45 minutes. Strain out the vegetables in a fine-mesh colander, and season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until needed.

Make the gnocchi. Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes after baking, then peel them with a knife or a peeler. Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. Cool them to lukewarm, about another 10 minutes. Add the egg and salt, mixing to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour, and mix to combine. Add the next 1/2 cup flour, mixing again. Add 1/4 cup flour, mixing again. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of flour. You want the dough to be soft but only a little sticky (so that it won’t stick to your hands) and able to hold its shape enough to be rolled into a rope. Knead the dough together briefly on the counter for a minute.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch lengths. At this point, you can use a floured fork to give each piece the traditional ridges, but you don’t have to. Place the gnocchi on a plate.

Cook the gnocchi. Place the gnocchi, a quarter-batch at a time, into a pot of boiling well-salted water. Cook the gnocchi until they float, about 2-4 minutes, then drain.

Assemble the meal. If you need to, heat the broth back up to a simmer, then spoon about 1/2 cup into a bowl. Gently drop the cooked gnocchi into the tomato broth. Top with shredded Parmesan, thin strips of basil, and ricotta (optional).

*Recipe adapted from Gnocchi in Tomato Broth*