Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

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November 21, 2014 By

As a vegan, you sometimes have to take a deep breath and go to a normal restaurant. I met up with my sister at a local restaurant in Stuart, FL at a restaurant in the downtown area called Eighteen Seminole Street Italian Bistro. Italian restaurants are almost completely safe for vegans, as you can always settle for spaghetti and veggies if they don’t have much to offer.

They had a dish called Linguini Puttanesca, which was the only menu option I could eat. I’ve never had it before. Linguini alla Puttanesca is literally “linguini of the whore” in Italian. Well, smack my ass and call me a whore, because this dish was fantastic. It was salty and tangy, which was a fun change from the plain ol’ spaghetti sauce I’ve been eating for 25 years.

Here is my version, “fattened up” with some lentils to give it a meaty texture. This one is A+ husband/boyfriend approved. It’s so easy to make: in fact, this recipe is only broken up into 3 steps! Enjoy!

 

Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the food processor:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 oz, or 1/2 cup, tomato paste
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs, or 1 sprig, fresh oregano
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Other ingredients:

  • 1 pound of pasta (I use Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Quinoa Linguini)
  • 1 15oz can of lentils, drained
  • 1 cup of Castelvetrano olives, pitted and cut into thirds
  • 2 tsp capers
  • basil, for garnish (optional)

 

 Step 1: Make the tomato sauce.

Throw in all the food processor ingredients into your food processor. Mix until fully incorporated.

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Traditional Italian cuisine dictates that Puttanesca is made with olive oil. However, since Puttanesca is a salty dish, I decided to use coconut oil instead of olive oil. The coconut oil has a subtle sweetness that can help offset the tang a bit, so it complements the sauce well. Not only that, but apparently, olive oil doesn’t do well in high heat, but coconut oil does. I’ve been trying to mix up my recipes to only use olive oil in raw dishes.

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Once your sauce has been mixed, pour the sauce into a sauce pan set at medium heat. When the sauce starts bubbling, set heat to low.

 

Step 2: Cook your pasta.

In a separate pot, boil your pasta until cooked. Strain and rinse your noodles when finished. Set aside, if necessary. Normally, my everything seems to be finished by the time the noodles are finished cooking, so I jump right in and serve!

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Step 3: Add the olives, capers, and lentils to your sauce.

I’m an olive snob; I only buy my olives from Whole Foods’s olive bar. These were the olives that turned me on to liking olives in the first place, so it’s been hard to endure low-quality olives when I’ve already had the best. Therefore, I refuse to buy my olives anywhere else. Their Castelvetrano olives are out of this world!

I also buy my lentils canned. It sounds sketchy as f, but it’s actually not that bad! The lentils are organic and come in a non-BPA lining can, so I trust the source. A sad amount of attempts were made (years of trying) to try and transform dried lentils into that texturally-perfect plump consistency, but it never, ever worked for me. Ever since I’ve found organic canned lentils in my local grocery store, it has changed my life. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and perfect for a perpetual lentil failure like me.

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Anyway, add in the olives, capers, and lentils. Mix. Cover the sauce and let it sit until your pasta is ready.

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Step 4: Serve!

Pour some sauce on top of the pasta, garnish, and serve!

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Before you go…

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

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July 1, 2014 By

I love experimenting with vegan pizza. This is my fourth pizza on the blog, officially making pizza the most versatile dish ever. It’s all about the base.

My other three pizzas include:

And now, the latest edition to the vegan pizza brigade: the creamy garlic base!

I’m proud of this one. The creaminess imitates the presence of cheese. I’m also thrilled by the fact that this is soy-free and free of processed ingredients!

 

Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes (most can be done during prep time)

Yield: 8 slices

 

Ingredients

GF Pizza Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Cashew Cream Base/Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled (or soaked in water for 8 hours)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8-1/4 cup water (depending on how thick you want it. I opted for 1/4 cup.)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Pizza Toppings:

  • 4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1 small handful of arugula
  • 1 small handful of pine nuts

 

STEP 1: Make the pizza crust or knead your dough. 

For all the glutards out there (don’t worry, guys… I’m a part of the community, so it’s cool), I have provided a great gluten-free recipe hereIt’s from Bob’s Red Mill’s website. I have tried more than a handful of different pizza crust recipes, and that one is by far my favorite one.

GF pizza crust works way differently in terms of how it’s handled. Regular dough requires kneading to spread it onto a pizza pan. GF pizza crust is more of a smoothing process, as the dough doesn’t “bounce back” like normal dough does. A great tip for smoothing the GF dough onto a pan is to keep your hands wet.  This prevents your fingers from transforming into those of a dough monster.

GF crust needs to go through a preliminary cooking stage before any toppings go on. Place the crust in the oven at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Take out and set aside.

 

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STEP 2: Prepare toppings that need to be cooked down beforehand.

After the mushrooms and onions are chopped, let them simmer in the coconut oil until they are sweating, which will take 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Spritz them with lemon juice during the last minute. Set aside.

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STEP 3: Prepare the cashew cream. 

This is a great step to tackle while Step 1 and 2 are cooking.

If you did not soak your cashews and have a very strong food processor or milling device (I use my Nutribullet milling blade. A coffee grinder will probably work, too.), mill the cashews and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. Mix until creamy and smooth.

If you did soak the cashews, drain the cashews and mix well in the food processor with the garlic. Once the cashews are completely liquified, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy and smooth.

If you want a thick cream, opt for 1/8 cup of water. I wanted my base to be the consistency of a drizzle, so I measured out 1/4 cup instead. It’s all about preference.

 

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

 

STEP 4: Put the crust with base and precooked toppings in the oven.

Start with pouring the cashew cream on the crust and spreading it to the edges. Make sure to save some for the drizzle at the end! Sprinkle on the mushroom/onion mixture as the topping. Place in the oven for 6-7 minutes at the same temperature.

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STEP 5: Chop and prepare raw toppings. 

I love mixing fresh, raw toppings with cooked toppings on pizza! Grape tomatoes and arugula worked very well with this recipe. Complete this step while your base is still cooking.

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STEP 6: Once the base is done cooking, dress up the rest of your pizza! 

Add on the tomatoes and arugula, along with pine nuts and drizzle. Slice it up and enjoy!

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So, I went to sit down in front of the TV to relish this tasty lunch I made when I found THIS. TWO SLEEPY BEEPY BABIES.

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Be still my heart.

 

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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The Best GF & Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

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April 20, 2014 By

I have improved this recipe! If you want to see it (trust me, you do), click here!

 

Vegan cheese is famous for sucking horribly. I wholeheartedly agree with the stereotype vegan cheese has unfortunately made for itself. Known for its texture of rubber and taste of plastic, vegan cheese doesn’t deserve to be called cheese at all. “BUT IT MELTS NOW!” Awesome. You know what else melts? Wax. Which is what vegan cheese tastes like.

In my opinion, the only acceptable vegan cheese is vegan cream cheese. Spot-on texture and accurate taste.

What’s worse is that vegan cheese is being used to make awful renditions of vegan macaroni and cheese. 99% of what you see on Pinterest labeled at Vegan Macaroni and Cheese is pure crap. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’m sorry, but nutritional yeast cannot perform vegan miracles.

I was in a dark vegan macaroni and cheese place. That is, until I finally found what I was looking for. No Daiya. No nutritional yeast. It was a vegan miracle. It was made by Alisa in Alaska. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

I’ve been making the recipe above for about six months, but the more I ate it, the more I realized that something was missing. It just wasn’t cheesy enough. Maybe it was a little too lemony. Whatever it was, I just needed to tweak it a bit.

It was then that I realized that I bet I could achieve the cheesiness I craved through vegan cream cheese. At that moment, the clouds separated and the sun shone through. I finally achieved the greatness I had chased for over a year.

Here is my rendition of vegan mac and cheese. It’s the best homemade vegan macaroni and cheese out there, guaranteed.

 

The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz box of elbow noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa noodles)
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped (russet potatoes are yummy, too!)
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 tub vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
  • gluten free bread crumbs (optional)

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STEP 1: Cut up the sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your sweet potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in a pot with the 1 cup of water. Bring items to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

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STEP 2: Boil the macaroni noodles. When finished, strain and rinse with cold water.

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STEP 3: Mill/process the cashews, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

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STEP 4: When your pot of veggies is done, pour the contents into a food processor (including the water). Grind until pureed. Add the cashew mixture and vegan cheese and continue to puree until fully incorporated.

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STEP 5: Get out your favorite macaroni dish, line with cooking oil, and add the noodles, “cheese”, and broccoli. Mix contents with a spoon.

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I’ve heard that breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese is a southern thing. If so, it’s the best southern tradition I know. Sprinkle on your bread crumbs before sending your dish into the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.

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Thirty minutes later…

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Mmmm, finally. Edible vegan macaroni and cheese.

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Lentil Soup in a Homemade Veggie Broth

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February 9, 2014 By

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Central Florida. After a rainy, disgusting week, it’s sunny and beautiful, with a high of 71 degrees. Oh Florida, it’s great to have you back!

After a stellar morning involving a morning run, yoga in the park, and some partner yoga with my best friend, I came home wanting a great lunch. We haven’t had a big grocery run in about a week, and we need to clear out the ripe veggies in the fridge to make way for the new ones. “Perfect for soup!” I thought.

Much to my dismay (initially), I realized that my stash of vegetable bouillon was all gone. What started out as a soupy defeat quickly turned into a chance to be creative. I didn’t have an hour to simmer my veggies to make stock (who does?), so I decided to use the same approach as I did to make my instant cashew cream: mill it up!

In order to successfully make this soup, you’ll need a really powerful food processor, or some type of milling device. If not, you’ll end up with a chunky broth, and nobody wants that.

This soup was tasty, quick, fridge-clearing, packed with nutrition, and didn’t take a lot of ingredients!

 

Lentil Soup in a Homemade Veggie Broth

Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes combined

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

Broth:

  • 2 cups ripe tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes that were getting a bit wrinkly)
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 cup water

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of organic lentils, strained and rinsed
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 4oz quinoa pasta – OPTIONAL – (I used Ancient Harvest Garden Pagoda quinoa pasta)

 

STEP 1: Create the broth.

Prep your stove by setting your pot on medium-low heat. That way, when your broth is ready, you can make it instantly hot.

Take the broth ingredients, except the water and salt, and put them in your food processor. Mill those ingredients together until it has become completely smooth liquid.

Once your veggies are smooth, pour your soup onto the pot. Add the water and salt.

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STEP 2: Strain and rinse your lentils.

Add the lentils to the pot.

Why the canned lentils? I’ve tried raw lentils a countless amount of times through soaking, simmering, adding baking soda, and a combination of all three. No matter what I did, I couldn’t ever seem to get my lentils to be that puffy, soft consistency. They would ALWAYS turn out a bit crunchy. I finally gave in and bought organic lentils, and I haven’t looked back since! It doesn’t hurt that they’re also quick and easy.

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STEP 3 (optional)Prepare the pasta.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in 4oz of quinoa pasta to boiling water, allowing the pasta to boil for 6 minutes. Strain and add to the pot when ready.

 

STEP 4: Add chopped veggies to the pot.

While the pasta water is heating up, increase the stove to medium heat. Chop the onion and mushrooms and add the two to the pot. Cover with a lid until you add in the pasta, about 6-8 minutes.

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STEP 5: Ready to eat!

We prepared Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls to dip into our soup.

By the way, it’s REALLY difficult to get a great picture of soup. Here is my best attempt.

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

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June 15, 2013 By

As a vegan in the kitchen, my mentality is that if there’s something awesome to eat, there’s a way to veganize it.

I was watching Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel the other day, and on it, they made homemade ricotta cheese. I was fascinated by the little amount of ingredients required, the chemistry of the ingredients, and how simple it was to execute.

Now, I’ve seen those posts on Pinterest on making vegan cheeses, and some of them are lengthy, failure-laden processes. I once tried to make cashew cream cheese that ended up a goopy mess instead of a spreadable, edible delight. (I’ll get it down eventually.) Until then, let me assure you that this ricotta cheese is almost dummy-proof.

Oh, and by the way, you’re about to find out that Little Miss Muffet was a sick freak for indulging in curds and whey at the same time, especially when it comes to this recipe.

Anyway, here’s my vegan adaptation of Extra Virgin‘s ricotta cheese!

 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup

 

Ingredients:

4 cups of soy milk with a 4.5 grams of fat (sadly, almond, coconut, and hemp milk do not work)

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

 

Directions:

Step 1: Place a pot on the stove and place the ingredients in. You want your mixture to reach a temperature of 175° F. If you have a gauge to help you monitor this, GREAT! If you don’t (like me), turn the burner temperature on medium high and wait for the mixture to bubble and steam.

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At this time, you’ll see the curd start to separate itself from the whey. The curd is your future cheese! Resist the urge to stir it up, as this might make your cheese stiff.

Once it reaches 175° F (or bubbling/steaming status), let it sit for 5 minutes.

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It might look like puke now, but it’s actually creamy goodness on its way.

 

 

 

Step 2: While your curds are… curdling… prepare your cheese cloth by placing 2-3 layers over a colander. After your curds have sat for 5 minutes, transfer the pot over to your cheese cloth. Carefully spoon out the curds and place them on top of your cheese cloth.

 

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Step 3: Once you have gathered all of your curds, wrap your curds into a ball, tie it with a rubber band (or butcher’s twine if you’re really fancy), and tie it above your kitchen sink to let it strain for 5 minutes.

 

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A strainer is ideal, but This Vegan Girl did not have a strainer to use at this time. Clearly not a gourmet chef here.

 

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Step 4: Once your cheese ball as hung for 5 minutes (take your minds out of the gutter, people), untie the cheese cloth from around the sink head, place the ball in a bowl, and open it up your present to reveal a ball of ricotta cheese!

 

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Cool, huh? I had some fresh oregano on-hand, so I chopped it up finely and mixed that in my ricotta for some added flavor. It opens up a world of possibilities for your cheese and your intended flavor, but you may also leave it as is.
You may refrigerate your cheese for up to 5 days.

 

I have used this recipe as a staple in my Easy Ricotta Pizza, where you DON’T have to settle for vegetables on dough anymore!

 

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

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