Spaghetti Bolognese with Pan-Fried Zucchini

This is another classic Italian dish that has been veganized. I was also going to take credit for veggitizing the sauce, until I found out that traditional bolognese sauce already has veggies in it. However, I might be able to take credit for “re-veggitizing” the sauce, because I added my own mix of veggies other than the traditional variety. By veggitizing something, my goal is to add veggies to every meal, even meals that don’t usually have veggies associated with them. This dish may not fall into that category, but give me a meal and I’ll find a way to add veggies to it. Tofu scram? Add veggies. Lasagna? Veggie lasagna. Strawberry shortcake? Strawberry shortcake with broccoli! Okay, this system may not be perfected just yet.

spaghetti bolognese closeup

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles (1 bag)
  • 1 box of spaghetti, use about 1/2 the box of noodles (I used Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • 1 large zucchini squash (I mixed half yellow and half green)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • about 1/2 tsp of additional salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Slice a little more than 1/2 of the zucchini into thin slices. Set aside. Cut the remaining squash into small cubed pieces. This will be used in the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Bring approximately 2-3 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized pot.
  3. Add spaghetti to pot and let boil for several minutes, according to the instructions of the type of pasta you’re using (less time for al dente, more time for softer noodles). Remove noodles from heat, drain and set aside.
  4. In a medium to large-sized skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.
  5. Once hot, add chopped onion and saute for approximately 1-2 minutes. Add chopped garlic, stir to mix with onion, and continue to saute for another minute or so.
  6. Add entire bag of beefy crumbles and stir into onion and garlic mixture. Heat crumbles for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Lower heat to a simmer and add sauce to skillet.
  8. Let sauce simmer over low heat for approximately 5-7 minutes, until sauce and beefy crumbles are fully heated through.
  9. Add cubed zucchini, fresh basil and salt to sauce and stir. Let simmer for another minute, then remove from heat.
  10. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  11. Once hot, place zucchini slice in oil in one even layer, and pan-fry the slices until they are golden brown on each side (as pictured); approximately 2-4 minutes per side.
  12. Remove the zucchini slices from the oil and place them on a paper towel or cloth to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  13. Transfer a serving of pasta to a serving dish and place a serving of the bolognese sauce on top of the pasta.
  14. Add side of zucchini on dish and serve.

 

Date Posted on Instagram: 9/28/18

Pesto Tofu and Sprouts Salad

I like meals that tell a story. Either they have a story behind them, or they tell a visual story when eating them. This dish is very visual. On my Instagram account, I mention in the caption that it reminds me of being underwater. It’s almost reminiscent of a clam shell that opened up to reveal all the pesto-y, tofu-y, sprout-y goodness inside. But ya know what? I may very well be the only person that sees this story, and that’s okay. But hopefully it tells a story– any sort of story, to you too. And maybe I should be less philosophical and dreamy about it. If my dishes say nothing to you other than “eat me”, that’s fine too. So long as they don’t say anything negative, I’m a happy girl. Actually, I take that back. Even if they do say something negative, that’s alright, because I’ve decided not to care what other people think abou– okay that’s a lie. I put a lot of thought and work into my food, so please don’t say anything negative about it, okay?

img_4880.jpg

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 block of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 full head of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, slice in half with stems intact
  • 1/4 cup sprouts (broccoli, alfalfa, any kind!)
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s vegan kale, cashew and basil pesto
  • 7 full leaves of mint, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  2. Once hot, add cubed tofu and pan-fry for approximately 5 minutes until very lightly golden brown.
  3. Add baby bellas and continue to saute for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer tofu and mushrooms to a glass or metal bowl or container. Add pesto and mint and mix together until tofu and mushrooms are fully coated.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together rice vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper to create the dressing.
  6. Add dressing to coated tofu mixture and stir well.
  7. Open entire head of lettuce from the center and place on a serving dish. To make it easier to tear apart, gently slice the stem of the lettuce, but try to keep the entire head of lettuce intact.
  8. Spread tofu and mushroom mixture in the center of lettuce.
  9. Sprinkle the top with sprouts and serve.

 

Date Posted on Instagram: 9/25/2018

 

 

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto (Raw)

I didn’t think it would happen but I actually created several recipes during my week of eating raw vegan. I was pleasantly surprised at my creativity level during that time. This is one of the recipes I created — a raw, chunky pesto. For this dish, I used it as a sauce but it can certainly be  mixed into zoodles or cooked noodles as a pesto. It has a tangy, flavorful taste with a powerful impact on the taste buds because of the strong flavor coming from the sun-dried tomatoes. I love sun-dried tomatoes — I’ll eat them as a snack if I have them on hand. Because I love pasta so much, this recipe was great because it allowed me to feel as though I was eating spaghetti with a chunky marinara sauce. Anything that makes me feel like I’m eating spaghetti when I’m not actually eating spaghetti is a win as far as I’m concerned.

raw sun dried tomato bsil pesto closeup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 medium-sized vine tomato, sliced into four pieces
  • 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thickly
  • 1/4 cup Italian green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

What to Do:

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor, except for the water.
  2. Pulse ingredients for about 5-10 seconds and slowly add water about 2-3 tablespoons at a time.
  3. Continue to pulse the pesto, until ingredients blend together. Continue adding water as necessary.
  4. You want the sauce to be slightly chunky so do not over-process. Also, be careful not to add to much water, as this will thin the sauce out too much.
  5. Serve pesto over zoodles or noodles or mix into them for a true pesto. This pesto tastes great as a raw recipe but can be heated up as well.
  6. Add nooch for some extra flavor!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 7/14/18

Charred Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are another food I’ve actually been a fan of since way before going vegan. They were a staple in any salad I ever made; in fact, they were my preferred salad tomato– way more so than actual salad tomatoes, which ironically are now my favorite salad tomatoes. But I never really sought out variety in the tiny little orbs of juicy tomato goodness, and it wasn’t until after I was vegan that I became aware of all the beautiful variations cherry tomatoes had to offer. I used to be embarrassed to talk about how limited my food knowledge was pre-vegan, until I realized two things: 1) I wasn’t alone. There are plenty of people who don’t have a vast knowledge of these things, plenty of people who grew up eating like crap and living in a bubble when it came to fresh food awareness and knowledge. 2) I didn’t want to feel like a poser, pretending to know about all the varieties of fruits and veggies that exist out there, as if I was some great food God gifted with all the knowledge of plant-foods, never needing to learn and grow like everyone else. So why not be honest about everything I learn about along the way, hopefully inspiring others to grow their fresh, whole-foods knowledge as well? Wow, who knew cherry tomatoes could be so powerful?

charred cherry tomatoes closeup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of rainbow cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley to garnish
  • 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fire source such as a stove burner, torch, or other safe source that can provide a flame*

 

What to Do:

  1.  Turn stove-top burner on medium to high heat.
  2. Poke a very small hole at one end of the tomato with a fork. This hole is for ventilation.
  3. Remove fork and puncture the tomato again with another tiny hole, this time leaving the fork inside to hold the tomato.
  4. Place tomato directly over flame, holding it in position for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Rotate tomato around flame to char the other sides of the tomato. The skin will pop and peel due to the heat. It may also make some noise, but this is normal — make sure you have the vent hole in each tomato!
  6. Repeat this process with each tomato. This may feel a bit time consuming but it shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes, depending on how many tomatoes you are charring. If you have a metal skewer stick, you can place multiple tomatoes on it at once to make the process quicker. Make sure you are using metal and not a wooden skewer, as the wood will burn.
  7. Transfer charred tomatoes to a serving dish. Add olive oil and gently mix into tomatoes.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

 

 

 

* I used a stove-top burner for this recipe. I believe most chefs use a torch to char food, so it may be easier to use that method. If you have a torch on hand, by all means use it! If you have another fire source that can achieve the same affect, use that!. I think a stove-top is the most economical way to make this recipe. It also feels like making tomato s’mores, so that’s always fun.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 9/3/2018

Warm Pasta Primavera with Charred Tomatoes and Almond Ricotta

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s kinda hard to ever go wrong with pasta. With so many ways to prepare it, not to mention how delicious it is, I can never turn it down. Eating involves not only tasting the food, but the visuals make a big deal too, as does smell — it truly is a full sensory experience. And this dish delivers in that area, with the fresh, vibrant, sweet smell of the tomatoes, the hearty, flavorful taste of the pasta, cherry tomatoes and mild cheese, and the beautiful colors that abound throughout the dish. This one is kinda like an “inception” meal — it’s a recipe, inside of a recipe, inside of a recipe. I used the charred cherry tomatoes recipe that I created, along with a recipe I made last month for almond ricotta cheese. But unlike the movie, this dish was far from confusing, and unfortunately didn’t involve Leonardo DiCaprio.

warm primavera pasta with almond burrata cheese ball

What You’ll Need:

  • About 2-3 cups of spaghetti pasta (prepared)
  • 1/4 cup almond ricotta cheese
  • About 1 cup of charred cherry tomatoes (tossed in olive oil but without the salt)
  • 1 can of Trader Joe’s fire-roasted tomatoes, lightly drained
  • 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • **OPTIONAL**: 2 cups baby spinach, chopped

 

What to Do:

  1.  Prepare pasta according to directions and set aside.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over low-heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Add can of fire-roasted tomatoes with remaining juice from can.
  4. Let simmer until it lightly starts to boil. Add salt and garlic powder and stir into sauce. If using spinach, add spinach as well and stir sauce. Let simmer for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Remove sauce from heat and stir in fresh chopped parsley.
  6. Add remaining olive oil to pasta and toss.
  7. Add sauce to pasta and toss again.
  8. Transfer pasta to serving dish and place charred cherry tomatoes on top.
  9. Shape almond ricotta into a ball and place in the middle of pasta. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

* I made the almond ricotta during a month-long tribute I did during August I coined “Vegan Chef Appreciation Month”. The recipe is not mine, I made it courtesy of a recipe by letscooksvegan , from their August 19, 2018 post. A tip I found after making the ricotta is that it tastes so much better after sitting for a few days. When I made this dish, which was almost a week after making the ricotta, the flavor and texture was great!

 

Date posted on Instagram: 8/23/2018

Cracked Black Pepper and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (Raw)

I LOVE alfredo sauce. Unfortunately, the classic and traditional style of this sauce is filled with dairy. However, one of the most beautiful things about my vegan journey has been discovering all the foods I can still eat without dairy or meat in them. This is another recipe I created during my raw vegan week challenge. If I’m being 100% honest, I was kind of surprised at how good it turned out! If you’ve had a chance to read my blog post on my week of eating raw, it was so good that it literally gave me the energy boost I needed to continue with the challenge during mid-week when I was getting a little tired of eating uncooked food and missed all my hot goodies. It truly reminded me of the alfredo sauces I used to eat– rich, creamy, and flavorful. So try it out and don’t say I didn’t warn you — it may very well be addictive!

raw cracked black pepper and mushroom alfredo

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of your favorite plant-milk (I used almond milk)*
  • 3-4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3/4 cup unsalted cashews (can be raw but not required)
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms (cremini)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped thickly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

 

What to Do:

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse sauce in intervals until well blended.
  3. You want the sauce to be smooth and creamy; add more milk if necessary.
  4. Serve over noodles or veggies. Taste great as a raw recipe but can be heated up as well.

 

* I think almond or soy may be the best for this recipe because they are both a little thicker. Oat milk for example, is slightly thinner and the goal is to have a rich sauce. But experiment and see what works best for you and your taste buds!

** this recipe can also be made nut-free by omitting the cashews and replacing them with an additional 1 tbsp. of tahini (so, about 5 tbsp. total) and an additional 1/2 tbsp. of nutritional yeast. Combine all ingredients and blend, as in the original instructions.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 7/17/18

**Updated: June 14, 2019**

Homemade Chunky Tomato Meat Sauce

Awhile back, I posted a poll in my Instagram story asking what I should make with some vine tomatoes and onion. The results where 60% in favor of making a sauce (the sauce beat out making a full-on meal). So here’s the sauce I came up with. A chunky, tomato and meat sauce. I actually love chunky sauces, but have never made one from scratch. I’m sure I’ll try my hand at making a few more in the future, because not only do I love pasta sauces, but sauces in general. They add tons of flavor to dishes and they’re even more fun when you can dip stuff in them, like this tangy aioli I created.

IMG_5315chunky tomato and meat sauce

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups Beyond Meat beefy crumbles
  • 2 medium vine tomatoes, diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (optional, I didn’t use tomato paste and my sauce was thinner)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (fresh can also be used)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

What to Do:

  1.  Heat a medium-sized saucepan over low to medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once hot, add onions and minced garlic to pan.
  3. Saute for approximately 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add tomato to pan and saute for another minute.
  5. Add water, salt, oregano, tomato paste (optional) and parsley (only if using dried parsley. If using fresh, do not add parsley yet).
  6. Stir all ingredients and reduce heat to simmer. Cover saucepan with lid and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until water has reduced by about half.
  7. Add Beyond Meat crumbles, fresh basil, and if using fresh parsley, add that to sauce as well and stir.
  8. Let simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat.
  9. Let sauce sit for approximately 5 minutes to settle.
  10. Serve sauce over pasta. I used an organic spinach spaghetti pasta. Don’t forget the nooch!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 7/9/18