Pesto White Bean Dip and Homemade Bread

This summer has been going by so fast, and I have found it hard to keep up with the recipes I want to post here. Over the past few months I have grown into a hummus fiend; Costco-sized tubs don’t last long enough, so sometimes I make my own. After experimenting with different flavours of this delicious chickpea dip (plain, paprika, and spinach), I decided to use a different kind of bean. I got the recipe for Pesto White Bean Dip from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

1 can white kidney beans, drained
2/3 cups fresh basil, rinsed
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled (bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or fry in a skillet for about 3 minutes)
1-3 tbsp water
Optional: 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast

In a food processor, blend everything except for half of the pine nuts. The more olive oil you add, the richer the dip will be, and the more water you add, the thinner it will be. Stir in the rest of the pine nuts and Enjoy! Delicious in sandwiches and with crackers, and a perfect summer recipe.

Even though I did not make my own bread the time this bean dip was around, I thought this would be a good place to include the Whole Wheat Bread I made recently. I got the recipe from my employer at Bagelino’s, a bagel shop located in downtown Calgary. He won’t give up his secret homemade bagel recipe, but he was willing to share his bread recipe, and threw in some fresh yeast for me to use at home. When he gave me the recipe, he only included the ingredient measurements, but not much in the line of instructions, so I had to apply some techniques from working with fresh yeast at Cordon Bleu.

11 oz warm water
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup white, but you can do whatever combo, as long as you adjust the water as needed)
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted (you can probably guess I used vegan margerine)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp fresh yeast (1 1/2 tsp if using dried yeast)

Combine flour, salt, and butter in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sugar and yeast and then add to flour mixture. Add water and combine. I needed to add a little more flour, as the dough was too sticky, and I did this one tsp at a time. I wanted the dough to be slightly sticky, but also slightly smooth. Knead the dough by throwing it on a lightly floured surface over and over again, folding it on itself, for about 10 minutes. Place in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a towel or a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and knead again for about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a log and place in a lightly greased bread pan. Let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, turning the pan half way through.

A good tip that my employer gave me was to put a about an inch of water into an oven-safe cup and let it sit at the bottom of the oven while the bread bakes. This avoids a thick crust from forming.

The bread turned out really well; about a third of it was gone before it had time to cool down, thanks to Tom and I snacking on it! I plan on making more – in fact, I plan on making double batches and freezing the loaves if I have time in the fall. The nice thing about making bread is that the part that takes time is the rising, so if I have a day of studying ahead of me, why not punch some dough during my study breaks?


Pizza: Vegan Style

After eating vegan pizza at Gratitude Cafe a few weeks ago, I finally found the secret to making vegan pizza: nutritional yeast. I think some people are hesitant to go vegan because they think they will have to give up their favorite dishes, but it seems as though there are substitutes for everything, and they are usually packed with nutrition. Don’t get me wrong – lately I have been really hankering for an egg salad sandwich. Being vegan is not easy, but it is good to know that one must not be deprived of something as delicious as pizza. 

Pizza is one of my specialties, and what I love about it is that you can throw pretty much anything on it, and as long as you remember to mix the dough a couple hours before dinner time, it is pretty simple. When I was a cheese-buying omnivore, the pizza I made used almost an entire brick of cheese, which can be expensive and quite fattening. This recipe uses entirely plant-based products, so it is high in vitamins, fiber, and protein (nutritional yeast is a complete protein). 

Ingredients for the Dough
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp olive oil
dash of salt

Ingredients for the Toppings
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 spaghetti squash
1-2 carrots shredded
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp basil, fresh or dried
salt and pepper

I carefully stirred the yeast into the warm water and let it rest for ten minutes. In a large bowl  I combined the flour, salt, and oil. With a wooden spoon I combined the wet ingredients to the dry until combined, formed the dough into a ball, and placed it back in the bowl (slightly coating it in oil all around), covered with a tea towel. The dough must rise for at least an hour, but two hours is the most ideal. 

Once the dough rose, I kneaded the dough for about five minutes, then divided it in two and rolled out each piece into the shape of my pan. This time I used two different methods to bake the pizza: a pizza stone for one pizza (to be baked in the oven), and tinfoil for the other (to be baked on the BBQ). In the past I have just put the pizzas on a cookie sheet. No matter what, I always lightly oil and flour the baking surface to avoid sticking; however, treatment of the pizza stone is different. I allowed the stone to heat up with the oven, then lightly floured it when I was ready to assemble the pizza. 

To assemble the pizza, I first sauteed the onion, peppers, and garlic with a little bit of oil, then added the basil, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, Tom BBQed the spaghetti squash in quarters until it was tender, and in a bowl I mixed the shredded carrot, spaghetti squash and nutritional yeast (this is the cheese part!). I spread the tomato sauce onto each pizza, then layered the sauteed veggies, followed by the “cheese”. I also sprinkled some more nutritional yeast to top off the pizzas, and added arugula in the last minute of baking. 

Each pizza baked at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. It was amazing to me that each pizza tasted different because of the way they were baked. Next time I will use the pizza stone on the BBQ now that I know how well the BBQ method works. 

This recipe is DELICIOUS. No more will I buy fake-tasting vegan cheese now that I have discovered nutritional yeast!