January 27, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
I do my best to support local family-owned restaurants. However, most of the restaurants I go to are vegan; therefore, when it comes to eating out with omnivorous family and friends, sometimes the easiest decision is to go to a chain restaurant. I have been impressed the past few times I’ve been to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
For those of you who have been to Carrabba’s, have you ever had to consciously tell yourself to put down the bread and step away from the dipping oil full of herbs? I swear I could make that dipping oil my entire meal.
This pasta is inspired by the dipping oil at Carrabba’s. I basically made my own dipping oil with tons of herbs, added some tomatoes, olives, spinach, and homemade cream cheese, and mixed in some pasta. It’s so, so good and has lots of health benefits:
- Oregano – has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties that make it effective against some forms of food-borne illnesses and even some antibiotic resistant infections
- Thyme – full of antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage that can boost overall health and help prevent cancer, inflammation, signs of aging and more
- Parsley – contains chlorophyll, myricetin, and vitamin K, which can help prevent cancer and diabetes, as well as improve bone health
- Basil – reduces inflammation and swelling, contains anti-aging properties, and is rich in antioxidants
- Garlic chives – helps prevent prostate, esophageal, and stomach cancer, as well as regulating sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory; folate, found in chives, also helps prevent excess homocysteine, which helps with depression and production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic chives, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 pound of pasta (I used GF Ancient Harvest quinoa rotelle)
Optional add-ins (all highly recommended!):
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into thirds
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
- 2 tablespoons of 5-minute cream cheese (recipe here)
Step 1: Chop the dressing ingredients.
I picked all the herbs straight from my herb garden. Here in Florida, all these herbs are easy to maintain as long as they are watered a few times per week.
Place all the herbs, and other dressing ingredients, in a large boil with the olive oil, mix, and let it sit and relax in there. The idea is to mildly infuse the flavors into the oil.
Step 2: Start boiling the noodles.
Boil your noodles of choice according to packaged directions. When the pasta is finished boiling and it’s time for straining, I like to spray cold water on the noodles for a lukewarm pasta salad experience.
Step 3: Chop/add optional ingredients.
While the noodles are boiling, chop/add the optional ingredients you would like to add to your dish. This might be the perfect time to make your 5-minute homemade cream cheese. I love adding this stuff to pasta!
Step 4: Mix and serve!
Once all ingredients are in finished, add all ingredients to the large bowl, mix, and serve!
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December 23, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
This dish took years to perfect. Yes, YEARS. I’ve been so annoyingly critical of this dish every time I’ve sat down to eat it. Too salty. Not enough flavor. The wrong flavor.
I think I’ve finally found it, though. The secret ingredient is nori, otherwise known as the seaweed that keeps your sushi tucked in so nicely. I bought a pack of nori, milled it up in my blender, and sprinkled some in this sauce. The result was nothing short of a vegan miracle; I was tasting that glorious flavor of the ocean that I haven’t tasted in years. As someone who used to love seafood, it was marvelous to acquire that taste again without harming any of our ocean friends.
Combining the fishy taste of nori, the natural sweetness from coconut oil, and the saltiness of Tamari (or soy sauce), you’ll be on your way to making this delicious vegan lo mein!
Vegetable Lo Mein
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
For the Sauce:
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of nori, milled
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 cup of carrots, diced
- 1 cup of celery, diced
- 8oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
Step 1: Chop and cook your vegetables.
The vegetables don’t HAVE to be the ones mentioned above. In fact, use this opportunity to get rid of whatever you have available. I like to use this dish as a fridge-clearer. Nonetheless, the ingredients above are my favorite ones to use.
Set 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok/deep skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is melted, add in the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally. After about 5-7 minutes, your vegetables should be cooked down properly. Reduce to low heat.
Step 2: Create the sauce in a blender.
While your veggies are cooking down, start by milling up the nori into a pulp in your blender or food processor. I usually mill the entire nori package at once and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for future uses.
Once the nori is milled, combine all the sauce ingredients in the blender until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add this sauce to the vegetables on low heat. Cover the wok/skillet.
Step 3: Cook the rice noodles.
Boiling the noodles isn’t normally the final step, but lo mein is a little different. The noodles need a chance to cook in the sauce for a bit; therefore, the sauce already needs to be ready. This will ensure that your noodles will be full of all the delicious flavors of the vegetables and sauce.
Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Once the water is boiling, place in your noodles. Whatever the package of your noodles recommends for cook time, think about reducing that time by a few minutes. Drain, add the noodles to the wok, stir, cover, and let it cook for another few minutes. The idea is to start cooking the noodles in boiling water and to finish them off by having them soak up the flavors in your wok.
Step 4: Garnish, serve, and enjoy!
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