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Tag Archive: vegetables

Spinach Cannelloni (gluten-free + vegan)

July 6, 2014 1 Comment Print this page

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Do you see all of that cheese in there, from the ricotta inside to the mozzarella on top?! There is no way this thing is vegan.

But it is.

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That’s right. I made not one, but two different kinds of vegan cheese for this recipe. Sheer madness. And you don’t miss the dairy or regular pasta at all in this cannelloni: it’s just as cheesy, indulgent, and flavorful as its heavy Italian counterpart. The best part is that after you’re done with dinner, you’ll feel full, but not greasy or sluggish like after sitting down to a decadent ristorante meal. That’s the magic of cashew cheese: tastes great and feels great going down.

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Originally, I wanted to make stuffed shells…but I couldn’t find gluten-free or even whole wheat ones anywhere, and I looked at three different supermarkets! Sure, there were brown rice shells on Amazon, but I wasn’t willing to shell out $11 for a meager box of pasta when it would cost a third as much in the store.

Instead, I re-strategized and picked up a box of brown rice lasagna at Whole Foods and sought out to make cannelloni, one of my mom’s favorites when she and my dad go out for Italian food. I haven’t eaten the “real thing” in years, so I thought it would be fun to try.

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A word of caution: this recipe does take some time to assemble. There are lots of components, and proper timing is crucial. I recommend making the two vegan cheeses and the tomato sauce beforehand for quick assembly on a weeknight; if it’s a weekend or you have some free time, by all means do this all in one sitting.

But I promise you…the result is so worth it. Yum.

Ready to become an Italian-yet-vegan god/goddess? Let’s get started.

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We’ll first start off with this simple tomato sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add 1/2 of an onion, diced finely. Saute until slightly browned, about 5 minutes, then add 1 large clove of crushed garlic. Stir to incorporate and add 1 tablespoon of dried basil, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, along with a generous pinch of salt.

To the onion, garlic, and herbs, pour in 1 14 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 1 14 ounce can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, and 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste. I love the combination of regular and fire-roasted because it gives the sauce a little heat without it being overwhelming, and it nicely compliments the tomato flavor.

Bring the tomato sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes, then taste. Chances are, your sauce might taste a little acidic; I recommend adding a pinch of unrefined cane sugar or coconut sugar just to balance it out. Sounds weird, but it really works!

In the blender or with an immersion blender, blend the sauce until few bits of onion remain. Set aside until ready to use.

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Meanwhile, rinse and dry off the equivalent of approximately two cups of spinach. If you got big leaves, chop it up a bit–if you got baby spinach, don’t bother.

Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, and when hot, add the spinach. Saute just to slightly wilt, only a minute or so, then immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool to room temperature–you can speed up the process by putting it in the fridge.

While the spinach cools, make the ricotta “cheese” inspired by this recipe: in the bowl of a food processor, blend 1 3/4 cups of soaked raw cashews with 1/2 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until everything is well-blended but NOT smooth, about 1 minute. It should be the texture of “real” ricotta cheese and there should be no big pieces of cashew. (That’s just gross.)

Once your spinach is cool, place it over a fine mesh strainer in the sink and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Then, transfer it to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Stir the spinach into the ricotta “cheese” and set aside.

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Now is a good time to bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once bubbling, add in 12 gluten-free lasagna noodles–I used brown rice because I tolerate it well and there are just three ingredients (rice, rice bran, and water). Use whatever noodles float your boat–or substitute thinly sliced zucchini, if you’d like.

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Here’s the trick: cook your pasta for ONLY five minutes. This ensures that it’s pliable but still not cooked on the inside. Your cannelloni will be spending 30 minutes in a hot oven, so you want to leave the pasta very al dente to prevent it from becoming a mushy mess later on.

Once the five minutes are up, strain the pasta and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for now.

If you want to, make some vegan mozzarella “cheese.” You can follow my recipe here with step-by-step photos here.

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It’s now time to assemble! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out a 9 x 13 dish and pour (approximately) 1 cup of your prepared tomato sauce on the bottom. Use a spatula to spread it out.

To roll the cannelloni, take one lasagna noodle and lie it flat on a clean surface. Add a large scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons) of the prepared vegan ricotta “cheese” and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. It should cover 3/4 of the noodle, not the entire thing.

Then, using a good amount of torque, roll up the noodle with the filling inside. Place it seam-side down in the dish with the tomato sauce and repeat with the rest of the lasagna noodles.

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Please ignore the iPad in the back.

The cannelloni should fit snuggly in the dish. That’s what you want! Cover the top with another cup and a half of tomato sauce, then use a small spoon or ice cream scoop to put the vegan mozzarella “cheese” over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling. To get the cheese on top to be golden-brown, brush it with a little olive oil and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Voila! Hard work, but oh my gosh, INCREDIBLE.

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What is your favorite Italian dish? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Rutabaga Fries and Healthier Hasselback Potatoes

February 10, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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So, as you may or may not know, I work at a farmer’s market. A winter farmer’s market.

And you know what that means? Roots. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of roots.

When the market began back in November, there was kale. Fresh baby spinach. Brussel sprouts. Salad greens. But as November turned to December and fall turned to winter, the amount of green slowly diminished. People began arriving early so they could buy up anything that wasn’t brown or white before everybody else. I soon found myself with a serious problem. Friends, family, readers: I developed VEGETABLE HOARDING.

A few weeks ago, the vendor that sold her produce next to me had kale. KALE. Just a few precious bags of leafy, crunchy goodness. It was a little hard-hit from the snow and extremely cold weather, but it was green, and I wanted it. BAD. I proceeded to immediately reserve four bags for myself, then laughed with relish at my success. (It was incredibly delicious, by the way.)

Right now, in the heart of February, only the toughest of the veggies have lingered on at the farmer’s market. Sweet potatoes. Gnarly celeriacs. Fat, twisted carrots. Baby beets that definitely need a cuddle instantaneously upon purchase. While they may not be beauty pageant winners, I love them all the same, and I’ll always work with what I’ve got.

Let’s start with rutabaga.

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Everyone, this is a rutabaga.

Hi, rutabaga!

He (or she?) is very hearty in appearance, with a bulbous middle and slightly stringy top. Upon sniffing this magnificent creature, you’ll detect almost cabbage-like notes. You know why? It’s because both plants belong to the Brassica family, which also includes cauliflower, collard greens, and broccoli. This means your kitchen will be a little stinky, too, but no need to fear–rutabaga tastes awesome. Especially when paired with some spices for flavor and color.

Usually, when I’m working with a new vegetable, I cube it and roast it in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then taste and determine what it needs for next time to enhance its flavor.  I didn’t do that with rutabaga–I went straight to matchstick mode to make oven-baked fries.

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Crunchy on the outside and just a bit creamy on the inside, these fries are a wonderful change of pace from your typical vegetable side dish. I like them plain, but I bet they’d also be super tasty with Citrus-Infused Mayo on the side.

First things first: preheat the oven to 450 degrees and take out two medium rimmed baking sheets.

If you’d like, peel the skin off of your rutabaga–it’s not absolutely necessary–and slice it into thick matchsticks. Want to make cutting a little easier? Cut off the rutabaga’s bottom so it can stand up on its own on your cutting board!

Once properly cut, put the rutabaga matchsticks in a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, 1-2 teaspoons of paprika (depending on how spicy you want them), 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. When all are evenly coated, divide the matchsticks evenly among the two baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that both sides get properly crisped. Serve immediately with your favorite meat, poultry, or white fish. (May I recommend the Crispy Sweetbreads?)

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Onto our next installment of winter vegetable madness: HASSELBACK POTATOES.

OK, so unless you’ve been living under a foodie boulder for the past, er, year, you’ve probably seen countless of pictures of hasselback potatoes floating around the internet. Unfortunately, all of these recipes are LOADED with butter and cheese…and while I have a problem with neither in moderation, I don’t think that a vegetable side dish should contain an entire stick of butter and up to a cup of cheese. That basically defeats the purpose of a vegetable, don’t you think?

Then, one day, I was hanging out in the kitchen watching Barefoot Contessa, because I was bored and my T.V. channels are pretty much exclusively the Food Network, the Weather Channel, and Kids 13 when Arthur is on. (I am not a tasteful T.V. watcher, mind you.) I was about to turn it off when Ina started talking about potatoes. Immediately, a picture of mini hasselback potatoes popped up on the screen, and I darted downstairs to look  up the recipe.

I was so excited. Hasselback potatoes. Without any butter and cheese. And mini-sized. Yes.

My recipe is slightly adapted from Ina’s; I also used a combination of baby golden and purple potatoes for color and variety. These are so pretty and so tasty…I could eat the entire batch, if you wanted me to. Really.

Just like the rutabaga fries, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get out the biggest rimmed baking sheet you have–you’ll need lots of space for these potatoes!

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Unless you’re a knife pro, you’re going to need some help cutting up the potatoes. (FYI, I used about 1 lb.) Here’s a great trick: use a spoon that’s about the same size as the potato you’re using! Every 1/4-inch or so, cut down until you hit the spoon. Repeat until you reach the end of the potato, and here’s what it should look like…

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It holds together, but you still have the cuts you want for crispy hasselback potatoes!

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and transfer them all to a big bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary, and a good crack of black pepper.

Pour the coated potatoes on the baking sheet, and bake until tender on the center and crispy all over, about 40 to 45 minutes. Give the pan a shake every 15 minutes to make sure the potatoes don’t stick!

Serve immediately with your favorite main dish: I’d recommend either Spatchcocked Chicken or the Easiest Roast Pork Ever.

My dad thought they looked like armadillos. What do you think?

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And there you have it! Two tasty vegetable sides that are actually in season.

What’s your favorite winter vegetable? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Healthier Hasselback Potatoes

February 10, 2014 Print this page

OK, so unless you’ve been living under a foodie boulder for the past, er, year, you’ve probably seen countless of pictures of hasselback potatoes floating around the internet. Unfortunately, all of these recipes are LOADED with butter and cheese…and while I have a problem with neither in moderation, I don’t think that a vegetable side dish should contain an entire stick of butter and up to a cup of cheese. Mine are made with olive oil and rosemary, and are so pretty and so tasty…I could eat the entire batch, if you wanted me to. Really.

 

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time 50 min
Yield 4 servings

1 lb of potatoes (I used mini Yukon Golds and Purple)

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of dried rosemary

A good crack of black pepper

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get out the biggest rimmed baking sheet you have–you’ll need lots of space for these potatoes!

Unless you’re a knife pro, you’re going to need some help cutting up the potatoes. Here’s a great trick: use a spoon that’s about the same size as the potato you’re using! Every 1/4-inch or so, cut down until you hit the spoon. Repeat until you reach the end of the potato.

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and transfer them all to a big bowl. Toss with the olive oil, salt, rosemary, and black pepper.

Pour the coated potatoes on the baking sheet, and bake until tender on the center and crispy all over, about 40 to 45 minutes. Give the pan a shake every 15 minutes to make sure the potatoes don’t stick!

Serve immediately with your favorite main dish: I’d recommend either Spatchcocked Chicken or the Easiest Roast Pork Ever.

My dad thought they looked like armadillos.


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Rutabaga Fries

February 10, 2014 Print this page

Upon sniffing this magnificent vegetable, you’ll detect almost cabbage-like notes. You know why? It’s because both plants belong to the Brassica family, which also includes cauliflower, collard greens, and broccoli. This means your kitchen will be a little stinky, too, but no need to fear–rutabaga tastes awesome. Especially when paired with some spices for flavor and color.

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 35 min
Yield 4 servings

1 large rutabaga

2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

1-2 teaspoons of paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

First things first: preheat the oven to 450 degrees and take out two medium rimmed baking sheets.

If you’d like, peel the skin off of your rutabaga–it’s not absolutely necessary–and slice it into thick matchsticks.

Once properly cut, put the rutabaga matchsticks in a large bowl. Toss with the melted coconut oil, nutritional yeast, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. When all are evenly coated, divide the matchsticks evenly among the two baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that both sides get properly crisped. Serve immediately with your favorite meat, poultry, or white fish. (May I recommend the Crispy Sweetbreads?)


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Greek Salad

January 5, 2014 , Print this page

I adapted my recipe from Ina Garten’s–I added more veggies (yay!) and decreased the amount of dressing and cheese to make it a little lighter to better compliment the rest of the meal. If you’re serving this salad on its own, feel free to add a little more oil and/or feta to make it a bit heartier. You can also add some grilled chicken, fish, or hard boiled eggs–all three would be tasty, too!

Ingredients

Prep Time 20 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 20 min
Yield 4 servings

FOR THE SALAD:

3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 large cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, sliced (optional)

3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1/3 cup of diced calamata olives (optional)

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

FOR THE DRESSING:

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons of dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

Put the lettuce in a large bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and 1 diced red bell pepper, then toss to combine. You can also add the sliced red onion, but I didn’t, because raw onions and I don’t exactly get along.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, oregano, garlic, and salt. Once combined, pour over the salad and toss it really well–all of the leaves should be coated to perfection. Let sit for at least fifteen minutes to let all of the flavors meld.

Just before serving, add in the feta cheese (if using), calamata olives (if using), and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. Toss again to incorporate.

Serve on its own as a vegetarian main or with Pesto-Marinated Lamb and Baba Ghanoush for a tasty Greek meal.


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