Vegan Almond Cheese Spread

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I’ll just start with sharing that this recipe is adapted from this Vegetarian Times Almond Feta and basically has the same ingredients.  I had made the Almond Feta recipe once and it was just too time consuming.  I had to go to different stores to find cheesecloth, then I had soak almonds for a day?? Come one.  Do the blending and then drain for hours which I had trouble getting the cheesecloth layered and tied right.  And THEN I had to bake it.  No no no, not for this girl. I discovered I could get just as good of flavors but slightly different texture by skipping a lot of that nonsense.  This is more of a spread, a delicious one. The big difference is by not draining it there is still more water in it, so I bake it at bit higher temperature and find that more of the water evaporates and leaves you with a nice dip or spread.And would make a good base for adding in other flavors so stayed tuned…I expect more versions of this.

Oh and I made this with Trader Joe’s ingredients too!

More photos below!

 

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Ingredients

1 cup raw slivered almonds

Juice of one lemon (about 3-4 Tbsp)

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled

Salt & pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, optional

Method

Add almonds to a dish or container with 1 cup hot water and let soak 2-4 hours (if you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vita Mix, then soak for 8 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Transfer almonds and water to blender with everything except the parsley – you don’t want it to be green unless it’s St. Patty’s Day ;). Puree until smooth.  Adding a little extra water if needed.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in parsley (you can reserve some for a garnish). Transfer to a lightly oiled small baking dish.

Baked for 30-40 minutes. Drizzle with olive and serve. I think this is best served warm right out of the oven.

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Simple Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta

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Another one of my vegan recipes you can make from ingredients at Trader Joe’s! I love me some pasta. All kinds but one of my favorites is a tomato basil with simple but delicious favorites!  I’ve whipped this up with grape tomatoes , a new favorite are these Villagio Marzano tomatoes from Trader Joe’s but if you can’t get those, any grape tomatoes will do.  One items i forgot in the photo was the pine nuts, you don’t have to have them but i sure do love them!

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Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients

8oz linguine (1/2 package), reserving 1/2 cup cooking water

2 Tbsp good olive oil

1/2 small onion, peeled and diced

2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 package Trader Joes Villagio Marzano Tomatoes (or 2 cups grape tomatoes), halved

Fresh basil leaves, torn or chiffonade

1/4 cup pine nuts

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Cook linguine according to package to al dente and make sure to add lots of salt to the water!

Add olive oil to skillet and warm over medium heat, add onion and salt and pepper.  Saute 3 minutes until soft and translucent.

Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes – do not burn or let it get brown.

Add wine and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half.

Add in tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until soft.

Reduce heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the pasta water, along with linguine and let simmer on low for 1-2 minutes, add remaining if water if needed.

Remove from heat, stir in as much basil as desired, season with salt and pepper to taste, crushed red pepper (if using), top with pine nuts, drizzle with olive oil and serve!

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Eggplant Zucchini Dip

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This is a super easy, healthy and tasty dip made with few ingredients.   It kicks off my series on vegan recipes made with ingredients from Trader Joes!  Using some frozen and already prepared items they have, makes this a breeze and quick to whip up.  Just note the tahini sauce is not your basic tahini paste, their’s is in the refrigerated section by the hummus and is made with the paste but already has the other ingredients in it. See photo below.  You’ll also use the frozen Misto alla Griglia (aka grilled eggplant and zucchini)

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Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

1 package frozen Trader Joes Misto all Griglia eggplant & zucchini

1/4 cup Trader Joes Tahini Sauce

Juice of half a lemon

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 fresh parsley leaves

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Defrost eggplant and zucchini according to package directions.

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse or puree to desired consistency.  That’s it.

Serve with pita chips, crostini, as a spread on sandwiches…

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MistoAllaGriglia

Photo credit: Trader Joes

Potato & White Bean Soup with Kale

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This is a hearty soup complete with a protein and starch, and it is also really comforting on a cold day.  Mushrooms add a little extra savory flavor, as does the nutritional yeast if you choose to use it.  It also adds nutritional benefits such as vitamin B12 (learn more).

Serves 4

Ingredients

Olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

1 heaping cup of chopped mushrooms (i like shiitakes)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

6 cups good vegetable broth (recommended – Not Chick’n Broth bullion cubes)

1 can navy or great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 sprig rosemary

3 large kale leaves, thick stem removed and chopped (i prefer lacinato kale over the curly kale)

Method

Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of a stock pot and heat over medium low heat for a couple minutes.  Then add onion and mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute 5 minutes or until softened.

Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.

Stir in nutritional yeast to thoroughly mix.  Then add wine stirring and scraping bottom to get any bits on the pan (that’s all the good flavor).  Simmer about 5 minutes until reduced by half.

Add potatoes, broth, beans, and rosemary.  Increase to high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

Remove rosemary sprig.  Transfer 1-2 cups of bean and potato mixture with a little of the broth to a blender.  Puree then add back to pot.

Stir in kale and simmer 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to bowls and serve with a yummy crusty baguette!

 

 

Baked Falafel

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Falafel, pita and hummus… three of my favorite things on a plate.  Of course traditional deep fried falafel is great but definitely not healthy.  Luckily I’ve finally created my own recipe for baked falafel which also happens to be vegan as well.  These will freeze well too so you can always have some ready to go!  Also see below for my favorite healthy store-bought falafel.

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Makes 10 patties

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 cup of diced onion

1/3 cup flat leaf parsley

1 Tbsp tahini

2 Tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1-2 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp whole wheat flour

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mash chickpeas in a bowl with fork until it’s a crumbly mixture. Set aside.

Add garlic, onion and parsley to food processor and process until finely chopped and combined.

Next add the mashed chickpeas to food processor along with tahini, bread crumbs, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. Process until combined, adding the water 1-2 Tbsp of water as needed. You may need to scrape down the sides with a spatula in between processing.

Once combined, empty into large bowl. Add the flour and mix, you should be able to form into large ball. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add a Tbsp of water. If it’s too wet, add an additional Tbsp of flour.

Form into 10 small patties (approximately 2 inches). Place on baking sheet lightly greased with olive oil or cooking spray. Bake for 5-6 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

PS – This a was the photo from my original post in 2011.  Gasp!  This is awful!

Lemon Basil Cashew Cream Pasta

Behold the power of the cashew.  When soaked and pureed, it morphs into a cream that is vegan’s blank canvas to work from.  In this dish you really wouldn’t know there wasn’t any actual cream.  Refreshing lemony, basil sauce smothered all over pasta and topped with pine nuts.  Yes, pine nuts are expensive but they are well worth it here as they complement the other flavors very nicely.

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Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

Olive oil

1/4 cup diced onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped garlic

1/3 cup cashews soaked overnight

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 – 1/3 cup vegetable broth, water from cashews or plain water

1 handful of basil leaves (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

Method

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Add to blender with cashews, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of broth and basil.  Blend until pureed, adding additional broth as needed.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat and add enough pasta water to just cover the bottom.  Add in sauce and pasta and stir for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Add a tablespoon of pasta water at a time if needed to thin out. Add salt and pepper to tasted and drizzle with olive oil if desired.  Serve topped with pine nuts.

Summer Vegetable & Lentil Taco Filling

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On my quest to create some awesome vegan recipes with ingredients you can buy at Trader Joes,
I stumbled upon an easy taco filling.  Substitute any other of your favorite vegetables!  Just take note that their taco seasoning is bit spicy so go easy with it and if you want to use less you can add in some cumin or other spices for flavor without the heat.

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Makes enough for 6-8 tacos

Ingredients

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 small onion, peeled and diced

1 small zuchinni, ends removed and diced

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 Tbsp taco seasoning

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup vegetable broth or water

1 small tomato, diced

1 bag Trader Joes frozen Melodious Blend Lentils and Green Garbanzo

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Method

Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat.  Once hot, add onion and zuchinni.  Saute for 5 minutes giving a couple stirs.

Add in garlic and taco seasoning and cook 2 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Stir in broth, then add frozen lentil and green garbanzo mix, tomatoes, and corn.  Stir, then raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer.  Cook 5-6 minutes until cooked through and sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.  Serve in tortillas, over rice, nachos.

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White Bean & Herb Burgers

I love, love, love sandwiches.  There’s just something awesome about stuffing a bunch of stuff between bread.  I like making vegan burgers with beans because it’s great vegetarian protien component.  You can also freeze these so you have them on hand.  For toppings I used arugula tossed with lemon vinaigrette, tomato and of course avocado, just because I add it to everything and it’s fantastic.  Next time I would try topping it with sauteed garlic mushrooms…mmmmm!  As for bread, it would be great on artisan bread but I just happened to have an everything bagle slim and although not that fancy, it was still great!

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Makes 6 burgers

Ingredients

1/4 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 15oz. can cannellini beans

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp tahini

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or gluten-free flour)

1/2 cup frozen shredded hashbrowns or cooked brown rice

Canola oil

Method

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Optional step: lightly saute onion and garlic before adding to food processor.

Add onion, garlic and herbs to food processor and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add beans, lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper.  Pulse several times until mixture comes together but is not pureed.  A few pieces of beans and texture is good in these.  Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in breadcrumbs and shredded hashbrown pototoes or rice.

Divide mixutre in to 6 portions and roll into balls.  They should be equal size so make any adjustments then form into patties.  Lightly dust each one with flour on each side.

Heat lightly oiled skillet and cook each patty 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Transfer to baking sheet and finish in the oven for 15 minutes.

Veggie Lasagna with Tofu Cashew Ricotta

Yep, this lightened up, healthy lasagna is vegan but you really won’t miss the cheese, I swear.  I know because I always loved cheesy baked pasta dishes so I if I was going to create a cheeseless lasagna, it had to be good.  I skip using any type of packaged vegan cheese on this because I’m really picky about how I use those and I wanted to preserve the other flavors going on here.  Of course you can always switch up the veggies based on what you like or have on hand.  One important tip, do pick a good quality pasta sauce if you don’t make your own.  I love Rao’s, Marinelli’s, and Paesana sauces.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

Basil Ricotta

¾ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hrs

½ block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Low-sodium broth for sautéing

2 portobello caps, gills removed, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 heaping cup chopped broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

2 cups pasta sauce

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all the basil ricotta ingredients to a food processor and process until it all comes together.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few  tablespoons of broth, just enough to barely coat bottom of the pan.  You don’t want too much liquid because you want the veggies to brown a bit.  Add portobello, bell pepper, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in broccoli and garlic and, adding a little more broth as needed. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Assemble lasagna: (note: you will have to trim noodles to fit and you may not use them all).  Coat bottom of a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, top with half the veggies.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on top.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, veggies and sauce.  Now top with the last layer of noodles, ricotta and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

 

Crispy Tofu Tacos

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so it couldn’t be a better time for perfecting some of those Mexican inspired recipes, of course done vegan and healthy.  When I teach cooking classes people always ask me for tips on cooking tofu.  I think getting the right texture is the biggest challenge when cooking with tofu.  In this recipe I’ve used one of my secret weapons, the vacuum packed tofu that’s already been pressed.  Not the kind in water that you have to drain and press yourself.  This way you cut out a step and the tofu already has that firm texture.  You definitely wouldn’t a watery, mushy mesh of tofu in your tacos. Yuck.

 I love the House Foods Vacuum Packed Tofu, and the Cutlet is great too because it also has a “skin” on it, as well as great texture. And bonus – they’re CERTIFIED ORGANIC and NON-GMO CERTIFIED. So, so important when buying soy products. You can read more about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) on the Non-GMO Project site.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)

1 8oz. package vacuum packed tofu such as House Foods (not the kind in water)

1/4 cup diced onion (or add 1/2 tsp onion powder to spices)

4 crispy taco shells, warmed in the oven

Fixins: Avocado (mashed with a pinch of salt), pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, hot sauce

Method

Mix spices in a bowl, then add soy sauce.  Crumble tofu into the bowl and mix with a fork to further break up tofu and thoroughly coat with spices.

Heat a skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil.  Add tofu and onion.  Cook over medium-heat, stirring a few times, for about 5-8 minutes.  Spoon into tacos shells and pile on the fixins!