Creamy Spinach and Portabella Pasta

 

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach pasta

I haven’t been doing much cooking lately, I am now 39 weeks pregnant and standing up for too long in the kitchen isn’t exactly the highlight of my day.  But I will say that this dish doesn’t take long at all to cook, you just need to prepare the cashews a couple hours in advance by soaking them.  Altogether, this dish took about 15 minutes to cook.  Of course, I used my food processor to chop my garlic and my parsley, so I kind of cheated.  And the cashew cream was made in my Vitamix (which I highly suggest all kitchens have! lol)  But cooking in stock speeds up the process tremendously, while making it 100x more healthy.

I had made this once before and had wanted to put it up my blog but we ate it so fast that I didn’t get to take a picture!  This time around, I made sure to get a picture in before hand, with the help of my mom who is here from NJ waiting for her new grandson to be born.  =)

  • Pasta of your choice (or rice, as my husband had it)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 portabella mushroom caps, diced (keep them diced fairly big, this is the “meat” of the dish)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter (For flavor only, feel free to omit)
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cashew cream (Recipe here)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley

 

In a saute pan, heat up the vegetable stock until steaming and then add the onions and mushrooms.  Cover and cook  over medium heat for 4 minutes.  After the 4 minutes are over, remove the cover and continue to cook, letting some of the liquid cook off, which should take another 2 minutes or so.  Be careful not to burn off too much liquid or the food will begin sticking to the pan.

Add the garlic, the vegan butter (if using) and the can of tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat another 2 minutes, stirring to mix it all together.  Stir in the lemon juice, the nutritional yeast, and the cashew cream.  Your sauce should turn from a brown liquid to a nice thick white-ish brown color.  When it starts to bubble, lower the heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a side of parsley, and possibly extra cashew cream.

 

 

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Creamy Avocado “Alfredo” (Vegan)

avacado "alredo"

 

This dish was created because I had pasta and an avocado that was going to go bad if I didn’t make it.  After much thought, I figured I would make a nice creamy sauce, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure it was going to taste very good.  I was pleasantly surprised, it came out rich and delicious, and though I don’t usually like cooking in butter (even vegan butter)  I figured one time was worth it.  The garlic is very strong here, so if you have an aversion to very garlic-y dishes, by all means use less.

 

Avocado Alfredo:

  • 6 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 cup unsweetened regular almond milk
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, warm up the butter, and then cook the garlic quickly, keeping it from burning, about 5 minutes.

While the garlic is cooking, place the avocado and milk in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add the avocado puree to the pan where the garlic should be nice and fragrant, add the basil, the lemon juice, and nutritional yeast.   Cook it about 3 minutes, and then season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a slice of lemon.

Vegan Rose Sauce over Quinoa Pasta (vegan, gluten free)

Pasta with Rose Sauce

 

Before I was vegan, this was my favorite pasta sauce.  But anything with heavy cream is just heavenly, right?  I think its up there with bacon.  Its also full of bad fat and cholesterol and all the other bad stuff associated with dairy milk.

So this is my vegan version, healthified (yes, I just totally made up a word) by healthy sauteing instead of using oil, and cashew cream.  I used quinoa pasta (vegan, gluten free) but choose whatever pasta you enjoy the most.  This would be awesome over Penne, or other cut noodle.

Cashew Cream

You can see that it is thick enough that when I put a fork into it, it stuck.

 

To make Cashew cream, take a cup of raw cashews and soak them in a glass jar over night.  Make sure they’re submerged in the water.  In the morning, drain them out of the water and put them in a high speed blender. (I use a vitamix) Cover them up with new water, just enough to cover them up to the top.  Blend them all up, and you are left with cream!  If you want a more milky texture, just add more water, if you want it thicker..you guessed it, add less water.  If your blender isn’t a high speed one, you might need to use a cheese cloth to strain out any chunks that might not have gotten blended up.

This made about 2 cups of cream.  Store any left over in the fridge, up to 4 days.  You can even freeze it.

This cream is so versatile!  Add some lemon and salt to make sour cream.  Add some stevia and vanilla, and you have a delicious topping for dessert or pancakes.  Add some lemon, garlic and dill and you have yourself a dip!  Cashew cream is a staple in any vegan kitchen and the recipes you can use it in are never ending.  I’ve even seen recipes making this into whipped cream  but I haven’t tried that yet.  Just whatever you do, make sure you use RAW CASHEWS.  And make sure they are whole, chopped cashews are usually dried out.

 

Rose sauce

Rose Sauce:

  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 an onion (or 1 whole one if its small) finely diced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can organic tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

healthy saute the onion and garlic, covered, for 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and basil and stir to combine. Cover it up and let it cook 20 minutes over medium low heat.  Add the cashew cream and let it  cook, uncovered, another 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

Usually you want to add spices to the very end of cooking so that you don’t over cook them and miss out on all the health benefits.   However, when cooking a sauce or a soup, the nutrients and enzymes in the spice will be released into the sauce, not lost, especially if you are cooking it with a cover on.  If you are cooking something like a chicken or a steak however, season it at the end of the cooking process so that you don’t burn and cook out all the properties of your spices.  If you don’t cook with a lot of spices, its a wonderful way to add flavor without adding things like salt.  Plus spices have an array of health benefits.

On dried Herbs, from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85:

“Even through dried herbs and spices like basil are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried basil, try to select organically grown basil since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating basil may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.)”

 

 

Gluten free pasta with healthy sauteed eggplant, mushrooms and fresh herbs (vegan)

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I love speghetti, but what I hate is the guilt I feel after eating it.  When I found Organic Quinoa pasta made by Ancient Grains, I was like a kid in a candy store.  I don’t always eat gluten free, but I try as hard as I can, and one thing that I had a hard time with was all the gluten free pastas on the market.  This one, however, really tastes and feels like regular pasta.  The first ingredient is corn flour, but since its organic I don’t have to worry about GMO’s.  The asparagus on the side was purple asparagus that I picked up at the farmer’s market.  I just steamed them for 5 minutes and left them like that.  If you are one who dislikes plain vegetables  you can add some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove and salt and pepper.

This whole meal comes together in less then 20 minutes, and what usually would be a very fattening meal is transformed into a wonderfully nutritious dinner.  The usual method for cooking eggplant is to cook it in oil, but eggplant is VERY absorbent and all that oil just gets sucked right in.  Healthy sauteing cooks it up in under 5 minutes, plus you get the added nutrients from the broth and no added fat.

Healthy sauteed Tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbls vegetable broth
  • half of an eggplant cubed 1 inch thick
  • 5 crimini mushrooms, cut thin
  • 2 vine tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • half a can of tomato paste (about 2 tbls)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 5 julienne basil leaves
  • 2 tbls minced parsely
  • 1/2 tbls dried oregano (you can use fresh, up it to 2 tbls)
  • salt to taste

Heat up the vegetable broth in a pan, when it starts to steam add the eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes   Cover, and let it cook about 3 minutes.   Uncover, let it cook a minute more, stir if the eggplant is cooked through, then add the remaining ingredients.  Stir it all up, the paste should make it nice and thick.  Take it off the heat, add a pinch of salt, and serve over the quinoa pasta.   I would usually sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the top, but I was out to night.