White Bean-ball Wedding Soup

Well, it’s “Monsoon June” here in Calgary. At least, it has been for the last couple weekends. I’ve been itching to use my new hiking boots and forwent a day trip to the mountains this Saturday because of rain. As such, a rainy day meal was in order. And, with company coming over, I thought I’d pull out a new recipe.

I’ve owned Thug Kitchen for a while now. It was given to me by my cousin  Leigh and her husband John for Christmas one year, and it is certainly time that I post about it.

The first noticeable thing about this cookbook is that it is written in a bossy and blunt tone of voice, using profanity in a humorous way; even the instructions of what to do (“eat like you give a f*ck, as the tagline says). Beyond this comical twist, the book has a lot of interesting recipes, and  how-to’s for basic plant-based eating, such as the ABCs of a good salad, rice/noodle bowls, and smoothies. It is a great cookbook for beginner vegan eaters, most certainly. It has some great looking soup and salsa recipes too that I am itching to try. And, the thing I really like about this cookbook is that it strays away from the stereotype of being vegan as a feminine or a hippie sort of thing, having a more macho vibe. I think this book can reach a different audience than say, Plant-Powdered Families by Dreena Burton.

OK, let’s get to it. I made the recipe called Wedding Soup with White Bean Balls and Kale.  I served it with a baguette, and it fed three of us, leaving enough leftovers for someone to have a lunch the next day. The bean-balls are great on their own too, which meant that we had more broth than bean-balls left over.

Here is my version of the recipe in the book. I changed some quantities and instead of a “no-salt all purpose seasoning” (which involved a google search to see what that is), I made up quantities for some other spices, which went well with the bean-balls.

Ingredients for the bean-balls
1 large onion, diced
3 cups of white beans (canellini or kidney), I used 3 small cans, (398 ml each)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used fresh bread crumbs that I made from the ends of bread and froze)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil (I used a truffle olive oil, YUM)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
1/4 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Ingredients for the soup
1 tsp cooking oil (grapeseed, canola, or olive)
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup small dried pasta (I used bow ties, but anything that size or smaller would work)
9 cups vegetable broth (I often thin out my broth with water to make the broth last longer)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups chopped kale (the recipe called for 4 cups but I thought it might be too much)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

I started by preheating the oven to 400*F and preparing a large baking sheet with parchment paper on top.

In a large bowl I mashed the beans until they formed a paste with a small amount of chunks. I then added 1/4 cup of the diced onion (reserving the rest for the soup), and the rest of the bean-ball ingredients, stirring until combined. I formed the bean-balls into the size of golf balls, making a total of 26 balls. They could be slightly bigger or smaller too. I put the bean-balls in the oven for 25 minutes, flipping them after about 15 minutes.

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While the bean-balls were in the oven I started on the soup. I heated the oil in a large pot and cooked the onions, carrots, and celery all at once for 3-5 minutes. I added the garlic and let it saute for another couple minutes. I then added the broth and let it come to a boil. The pasta was added and cooked until still a tad al dente, as it will continue to soften as it sits in the soup. I turned off the heat and added the lemon juice, kale, parsley, salt, and pepper.

To serve, I placed 4 bean-balls in a bowl and added the soup on top. The bean-balls soften quite quickly, so I let everyone serve themselves so the soup didn’t sit too long before being consumed.

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This was a fun new recipe for me; I quite enjoyed making it. And, it was well received by all. It made a great lunch the next day, too!

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading 🙂

Stay tuned for some road trip adventures coming up! I’m not sure how often I will get to post, but I’d sure like to, as this is a great space for a travel blog.

Comfort Spinach and Bean Pasta

Hello everyone! Well, it has been a while since I have written about recipes. I took a break from blogging about food because I was travelling in the United States, and wanted to share my adventures away from the kitchen (also, I did not have a real kitchen for three months… Just a camping stove). Now that I am back, and starting to get settled in a new city, I am getting back into cooking. Tonight I made a recipe from Fine Cooking, a magazine full of delicious, drool-worthy recipes and interesting tips in the kitchen. I found this recipe for Pasta Shells with Spinach and Cannellini Beans in their latest issue. Here is my adaptation of it, vegan-ified:

Ingredients for the “Parmesan” Cheese
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
pinch salt

Ingredients for the Pasta
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large box spinach (around 9oz)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (navy beans or white kidney beans would also do the trick, in my opinion)
3/4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp red pepper flakes
500g pasta (I used penne, but the original recipe called for large shells)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
“Parmesan” cheese to taste

To make the “Parmesan” cheese, I pulsed the almonds and nutritional yeast in a blender until the almonds turned into a powder. Be careful not to over-blend, as the oils from the almonds can release and start to create almond butter if pulsed for too long. I reserved the cheese in a bowl for later.

In a large pot, I boiled the pasta in salted water until cooked, and then drained it. The pasta was rinsed with cold water to stop it from cooking more.

In another pot, I heated 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat and sauteed the garlic for 30 seconds. I added the spinach in large handfuls, letting it reduce when the pot became full. Once all the spinach  was added and reduced, I added the beans and 1/4 cup of the broth. I let the mixture boil for a few minutes, until the liquid reduced by half. I added the rest of the broth, the red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt. The pot was removed from the heat at this point.

I tossed the pasta with the sauce, along with the last 1 tbsp olive oil. I added all the lemon juice and seasoned the pasta with salt and pepper. The pasta may need up to an extra 1/2 cup of liquid if it is too dry, but mine did not.

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I served the pasta with a generous helping of the “Parmesan” cheese on top, and ate it with a kale salad with vegan Caesar salad dressing, made by my beau. We each had seconds of the pasta and agreed that it was a great comfort food.

Creamy Pasta Salad

Spring has sprung, and the hot weather is slowly becoming the norm. Big salads have become one of my go-to dishes for lunches, which can last me two or three days if I make enough. I have posted other salads before, such as Everything Salad, and Asian Millet Salad, but this one is perfect for the summer time. Great for picnics, work/school lunches, potlucks, and BBQs. In case you didn’t know, hummus is a delicious addition to any salad dressing, adding protein and creaminess to the veggies. I put hummus on everything. For some other cool ideas about how to use hummus, check out this.  One of the best things about using hummus instead of mayo is that you do not have to worry about the amount of time it has been left out of the fridge if bringing it on a picnic.

Ingredients for the Salad

3 cups uncooked pasta, cooked using the package directions (I used whole wheat bow pasta)
1/2 cup chopped kale or spinach
1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
3 diced green onions
Nuts and seeds of choice (I used pumkin seeds, hemp seeds, and cashews)

Ingredients for the Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hummus
1/4 cup vegan mayo, or  hummus
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper
Optional: 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

I washed and chopped all the veggies and tossed them with the nuts and seeds. I placed all the dressing ingredients in a jar, covered it with a lid and shook it until all the ingredients were combined. I poured the dressing over the veggies. Depending on how many veggies you have, you may need to adjust the dressing recipe. Also, it is very easy to substitute any veggies or leave any of them out entirely.

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Vegan Cauliflower Creamy Pasta

Creamy pasta is one of my favourite comfort foods, and I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe that I found on ohsheglows.com. This is a website I use very frequently to find new interesting vegan recipes, especially when I am not sure what I want to make for dinner.

Let’s face it – typical alfredo sauce has nothing particularly healthy in it. This recipe takes vitamin-rich cauliflower and turns it into a delightful pasta companion, without using butter, parmesan, or cream. I love using vegetables creatively, especially to create comfort food; for example, I used spaghetti squash as cheese on vegan pizza.

Ingredients for the sauce
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into pieces
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Juice from 1/2 small lemon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients
Box of pasta, cooked
Optional: broccoli, cut into small pieces

I began by steaming the cauliflower until I could easily insert a fork into the florets. In a small pan I heated the oil and lightly sauteed the garlic. I put all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pureed it until smooth. I steamed the broccoli separately, then added the sauce and broccoli to the cooked pasta, and heated the dish until hot. This is a simple, delicious, and nutritious meal. Comfort food with a healthy twist.

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Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has been my favorite food pretty much since I was able to eat solid food. As such, I was pretty excited to try making a vegan version of my favorite dish. One of the people I am living with right now has been vegan for two years, and has a cookbook called Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. I decided to make the recipe called “Mac-oh-geez”.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (don’t use much more than that)
Sauce:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (I used soy milk)
3/4 cups cashews
1/2 cups almonds
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
2 tsp arrowroot powder (my vegan housemate had this in her pantry and let me use it, but I think cornstarch would work too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil (I used grape seed oil)

Bread Crumb Topping:
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oil

I preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly greased an 8 by 12 inch baking dish.

I cooked the pasta in slightly salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. It is important to remember that the pasta will keep cooking in the oven.

I put all the sauce ingredients in a blender, but reserved 1 cup of the soy milk. I blended the mixture until smooth, then added  the rest of the soy milk and blended it some more.

I put the cooked noodles into the prepared baking dish, and poured the sauce on top. It looked very saucy, but it really thickened up in the oven.

I mixed the bread crumbs and oil together and poured on top of the casserole, then covered it in tinfoil and baked it for 17 minutes. Then, I removed the tinfoil and baked it for another 7 minutes, until the top started to turn golden brown.

Overall, the mac and cheese looked exactly like the casserole I make with cheese, butter, and milk, and it tasted similar, but of course, not bang on. There was a slight sweetness to it that I am trying to understand; maybe the soy milk is responsible for this, even though it was unsweetened. But, with a little bit of pepper on top, and this dish can definitely satisfy the mac and cheese craving.

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Funny side note: with my peanut allergy, it can be very difficult to find nuts that were not processed on the same equipment as peanuts. Usually pistachios are easy to find in the grocery store, but not much else. Thankfully, Costco sells a brand called Kirkland that has many different options that are not processed with peanuts. I was able to buy a bag of almonds, but the bag of cashews had the “may contain” label on it. However, I found a bag of mixed nuts and fruit that were safe and had cashews in it! So, for this mac and cheese recipe, I picked out the cashews one by one. Yes, these are the lengths I will go to to try out a new recipe.