Rasta Pasta Salad

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January 12, 2014 By

Happy New Year, everyone! I officially went vegan on January 1, 2013, so here’s to 1 full year of veganism!

Pasta salad is an easy go-to for anyone. It’s perfect for big groups and entertaining. You can arrive with a vegan pasta salad to an event and no one will bat an eye. It’s a wonderful “clear the fridge” dish, too, as it is so versatile. Every time I make pasta salad, different veggies go into it, depending on what’s chilling (literally and figuratively) in my fridge.

For a long time, I was going through a trial-and-error period with my pasta salad recipe, particularly the dressing. In the past, I’ve tried to make the dressing from scratch, but something always went wrong. Too lemony. Too tart. Way too much balsamic. Too creamy. Too salty. Too bland. For someone who loves pasta salad so much, I couldn’t seem to get it right. It was a dark place.

Then, my sister and I decided to cook it together one day, and it was PERFECT. Who knew that the answer to my pasta problems was someone so close to home?

Cooking with others is so fun. I always come out of it feeling like I’ve learned something new. So here is the product of collaboration and deliciousness.

Oh yeah, and the Rastafarian thing? This is definitely not an authentic Rastafarian dish by any means. It’s only based on the matching flag colors. 😉

 

Rasta Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients

Pasta Dressing:

  • 8 tbs EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar (In a pinch, any vinegar will do, really. I used Apple Cider.)
  • 2 heaping tsp Veganaise (or as I like to call it, “goops.” Two goops of Veganaise.)
  • 2-3 tbs Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Quinoa Pasta (gluten-free deliciousness; so much better than any GF pasta out there)
  • 1-2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 can, or 7.5 ounces, chickpeas
  • salt/pepper as garnish

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STEP 1: Cook the pasta.

Start boiling that water and get the pasta started! When your pasta is finished cooking, strain it and run it under cold water. Pasta salad shouldn’t be hot, so cooling off your pasta right after cooking keeps it cool and firm. Set aside or place in the fridge if you are still working on the meal.

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

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STEP 2: Create the magic sauce!

There’s a science behind the sauce, so don’t throw in everything at once and mix.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic first. Whisk it quickly for about 30 seconds. This will allow the two opposing ingredients to blend. Add the Veganaise next and whisk, but not like a crazy person this time. Just normal whisking. After that, you may add the other pasta sauce ingredients in any manner you’d like.

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STEP 3: Chop up those veggies!

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STEP 4: Mix all ingredients.

The fun part! Get a great, big bowl and mix the pasta, pasta sauce, veggies, and chickpeas all together! Add more salt and pepper as needed.

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RASTA!

 

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Extra pepper on mine, please!

 

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Gluten-Free Coconut Curry Wrap

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August 25, 2013 By

I’m back after a two-week hiatus! It’s been a crazy time for me: BACK TO SCHOOL!

For teachers, back to school week can be a whirlwind of never-ending to do lists that never seem to get finished, questions without answers, and yawn-induced trainings/meetings.

It’s not all bad, though. It’s also an exciting time to get creative, get organized, and start anew!

 

Speaking of starting anew, I am in need of fresh, cutting-edge lunch ideas. Canned soup and PB&J’s should NOT be on my lunch menu everyday this school year. Being vegan means I mostly take leftovers from the night before, but sometimes, no leftovers are to be had. I need an easy lunch that is nutritious, will fill me up, and most importantly, can be made in a snap.

I decided to remake a restaurant favorite: Coconut Curry Wrap.

Matt, my gluten-free boyfriend, and I both indulged in this flavor-packed wrap! His wrap contained egg, so I enjoyed a spinach wrap. This wrap can be enjoyed hot or cold, which is perfect for a great lunch for work.

 

Coconut Curry Wrap

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Yield: 2 wraps

 

Ingredients:

  • wrap (Goodbye Gluten! wraps are a yummy GF option, however, not vegan)
  • about 10oz of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 handful of leafy greens
  • 1/2 cup Veganaise
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

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STEP 1: Cut up your tofu into cubes.

I cooked my tofu cubes on a tabletop George Foreman grill. I sprayed the grill with olive oil and cooked the cubes for about 8 minutes, flipping the cubes occasionally.

Since my George Foreman acts like a giant panini press, it helped drain out some of the inner tofu juices while cooking. If you plan on pan-frying your tofu, I suggest lightly pressing your tofu with a paper towel before cooking in order to infuse it with olive oil instead.

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STEP 2: While your tofu snaps, crackles, and pops, combine your glorious creamy mixture of Veganaise, a garlic clove, coconut shreds, curry powder, agave nectar, and salt. When the tofu is finished grilling, add it to your Veganaise bowl and mix it all together. Set aside.

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STEP 3: Cut up your celery, walnuts, and dried cranberries.

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What a beautiful color combination.

 

STEP 4: Begin to build your tasty creation! Lay out your wrap and add your tofu, celery, walnuts, and cranberries, while topping it all of with your leafy greens. (I topped mine with kale, my personal favorite.)

Matt's GF wrap to the left, my spinach wrap to the right.

Matt’s GF wrap to the left, my spinach wrap to the right.

 

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Wrap it all up tightly and cut in half so you can enjoy the satisfying visual of the inner contents!

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Happy lunch-packing!

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Portobello Sandwich with Spicy Garlic Mayo

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August 6, 2013 By

Oh, the mushroom. So juicy, so versatile, and so delicious.

And yet, so easy to mess up when it comes to something like a sandwich/burger.

You don’t want it too juicy, as it will turn your bread into undesirable mush. You don’t want to undercook it, as it has a dry texture and a lack of succulent flavor. Not to mention that portobellos have a habit of breaking, which can just ruin the presentation. (Don’t laugh… It’s important to me!)

Portobello mushrooms make a great meat substitute for sandwiches. They’re filling, luscious, and omit such a wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor! I was determined to make the perfect portobello sandwich, but first, I had to think of the best way to cook those problematic portobellos.

And then, it hit me: I have a George Foreman grill! It sits out on my back porch and it’s a hassle to clean, so it barely gets any love. However, I knew that the grill would be the ultimate solution to my over-juicy mushroom problem.

 

OOOOH, a solution indeed. This sandwich is fantastic.

This sandwich is hearty, succulent, and tangy. It’s stacked high with flavors that complement each other beautifully. The mushrooms have just the right amount of juice & flavor without doing unpleasant things to the bread. It’s like a burger with class. It’s the perfect thing to pack for lunch, or could be a delightful addition to a vegan barbeque.

 

Portobello Sandwich with Spicy Garlic Mayo

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

Yield: 1 sandwich

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of hearty bread (GF people, I’d recommend an Udi’s bagel)
  • 4-5 portobello slices (or 1 portobello mushroom, sliced)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup alfafa sprouts
  • 1/4 spinach
  • 2 Dill pickle slices
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • mustard (optional)

 

Spicy Garlic Mayo Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs Veganaise
  • 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, miced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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STEP 1: Begin by heating up your grill to a medium high heat. On my grill, I put my setting on 4, with 5 being the highest setting. Basically, you want to hear your mushrooms sizzle.

Drizzle your portobellos with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After that, throw them on the grill. After 5 minutes, flip them over and let them cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Drizzle lightly; I swear mushrooms are more absorbent than sponges!

Drizzle lightly; I swear mushrooms are more absorbent than sponges!

 

Tsssssss!

Tsssssss!

 

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After cooking for 5 minutes, they reduce in size and turn golden brown.

After cooking for 5 minutes, they reduce in size and turn golden brown.

 

 

STEP 2: While the ‘bellas are sizzling away, start cutting up your veggies and creating your mayonnaise by mixing the mayo ingredients in a small bowl. I was surprised at how simple it was to make the mayo fit the desired taste I was looking for! Go me!

Take out the bread, spread on the mayo, and… ohp! The mushrooms are ready!

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Look how excited the bread is!

 

 

STEP 3: Gather your mushrooms and start building your masterpiece! The order of your stack can be the crucial difference between a firm sandwich and a jumbled mess, so choose your order wisely.

I started off with a spinach base with the mushrooms on top. (In hindsight, the tomato would’ve fit nicely underneath the portobellos, but that’s up to you to decide.)

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Next, I went with the avocado, followed by the tomatoes and onion. I only had grape tomatoes on-hand, which made things a bit more topple-y than I wanted, but whatever. Tomato, tomata.

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Finally, I added the alfalfa sprouts and topped it with the sliced pickle. NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.

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I added mustard on the top slice before completing the sandwich, but it’s optional. The sandwich is still amazing without it.

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And voila! In 3 easy steps, you’ve got yourself a lovely gourmet sandwich.

 

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Happy devouring!

thisvegangirllogo

 

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Chickpea Salad Sandwich

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July 3, 2013 By

Ever since turning vegan, there are certain foods that I find myself gravitating toward time and time again. For me, that food is the chickpea. Can we agree that chickpeas are the #1 vegan food?

 

I find myself using chickpeas to create a multitude of substitutions. Whether mashed, cooked, or raw, these beans are something I can always count on for good texture.

 

I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I find myself craving a salad sandwich. You know, egg salad or tuna salad.  It’s not an every day craving, but its one I have maybe about once every 2 months or so. Well, leave it to chickpeas – once again – to save the day in a time of a vegan craving crisis.

 

Here’s my take on a chickpea salad sandwich. It’s gluten-free, so Celiacs can use GF bread or GF crackers to make this thing happen for them, too.

 

 

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Yield: 3-4 sandwiches

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, washed, and patted dry
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 5 petite pickles, thinly sliced
  • 8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • ¼ – ½ sweet or white onion, diced
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup Veganaise*
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • ½ of a lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • dash of sweetener (if using Veganaise, in order to really make those flavors pop!)
  • fresh spinach (optional)
  • your favorite vegan and/or gluten free bread (make sure it’s thick… this sandwich can get heavy!)

 

 

*SIDE NOTE: I’m visiting my boyfriend in Mississippi, and there was NO Veganaise to be found at the local grocery store! If you are in this predicament as well, I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Plain yogurt. It’s a bit on the sweet side, so I used lots of tart spices in the yogurt to even out the taste.

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STEP 1: Have a really cute animal nearby to help you out and brighten your spirit.

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Peeking-around-the-corner boy!

This is my baby Fleegle. He’s a one year-old cockatiel, and he’s my sunshine. He injured his little foot recently, so that’s why his foot is sticking up like that :(. Don’t worry though; with the help of my vet, Fleegle is on the road to recovery!

 

 

STEP 2: Cut chickpeas in half.

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You see why you need an animal to brighten your spirits? It’s because cutting these little chickpeas is tedious and annoying. A whole chickpea is a bit thick, so cutting them in half really helps to spread that taste throughout. This step alone takes about 10 minutes, but I promise you it’s worth it!

 
STEP 3: Cut up the rest of your vegetables.

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STEP 4: Using the spices and vegan mayo, create your Veganaise mixture. Sample the mixture throughout and cater to your own personal taste!

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STEP 5: Mix everything together.

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STEP 6: Place some fresh spinach at the bottom of one of your bread slices. Then, scoop some chickpea salad and place it on top of the spinach layer. Finally, top of your sandwich with your other bread slice.

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MMMMMM! Perfect for summer and outdoor adventures!

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

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