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Showing posts with label zucchini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zucchini. Show all posts

Thursday, April 24, 2014


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One-pot Cheesy Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta) with Asparagus, Zucchini & Soy Curls, recipe below

I must apologize for not posting much lately.  I seem to be suffering from bouts of IFS.  I was just thinking of it as "Internet fatigue", but, apparently, it has a name already-- Information Fatigue Syndrome.  So, I've been curtailing some of my Internet activities and reading actual books.

But I have not been totally inactive.  Actually, my husband and I have been (and still are) on a mission-- to use less energy in our home.  And, in two weeks, we have lowered our energy consumption by 40%!  (This is according to our BC Hydro website, our provincial electrical company, where we can see our monthly, weekly and daily electrical consumption.)

So far we have lowered our energy consumption by: 
**Turning the water heater down to 120 degrees F
**Using only cold-water wash and rinse in our front-loader washing machine
**Hanging laundry to dry (outside, or inside on racks + one line) and only using the dryer on medium heat for short time to fluff up towels or get out the wrinkles
**Turning off the power bars for electronics at night and unplugging the laptops
**Putting the laptops in sleep mode between uses during the day
**Being very careful about not turning on so many lights in the house
**Taking short showers and not necessarily every day (bring back the old-fashioned "sponge bath" on some days)
Note: we don't heat with gas or electricity-- only wood-- and our house is very tight, so we are lucky that heat is not wasted.
But we also discovered that many savings can be made in the kitchen. For instance: 
**Not OVER-preheating the oven before use
**Using the "Eco-Wash" cycle on the dishwasher and turning off the heat-dry option
**Not running hot water without really thinking about it-- You can rinse dishes for the dishwasher in cold water, and wash out the sink and wash your hands with cold water and soap.  When I do use hot tap water now, I'm very concious of it and don't waste it down the drain.  I use the electric kettle to boil water for cooking.
** Cooking several things in the stove oven at once, if we must use it; otherwise using the little counter-top oven.
**Using the microwave for making sauces, puddings, etc., and sweating vegetables for soup and other dishes; for steaming veggies in their own juices, with no added water; making risotto, and many other tasks.
**We found out that our electric stove burners use alot of energy. So, I'm now utilizing my small appliances more frequently (pressure cooker--mine is electric-- and slow-cooker; electric frying pan; electric kettle; microwave [which can save up to 80% of the energy used to heat in a stove]; and our small counter-top oven.)
When I do use the stove burners I turn the heat down as low as I possibly can while still completing my task properly, and I turn the burner off slightly before the dish is finished, utilizing the residual heat.
**What more can we do in the kitchen? We plan to replace our ancient chest freezer as soon as we can afford to, and I'm looking into getting an induction burner plate for stir-frying, etc.

I've also been experimenting with some different cooking methods, especially to avoid boiling pots of water.  For instance, when we felt like having mashed carrots and potatoes (a favorite of DH) I cut the potatoes in chunks and the carrots in smaller pieces and pressure-cooked them together, using only 1/2 cup water, in 8 minutes.  Perfect!

These days, our preferred method of cooking pasta is this:  Bring a pot of water to a boil-- but not as much water as you might be used to. I use about 2 qts. for up to a pound of pasta, and I bring the water to a boil in an electric kettle, then pour it into the pot before turning on the heat. When it comes back to a boil, add your pasta, bring back to a boil, stirring a bit, turn the heat off, cover and let stand for 8-10 minutes or so. (Spaghettini will take 8 minutes, other pasta, such as rotini or other shapes will take 10.) Drain and serve as usual.  Trust me-- this works beautifully!  The pasta is tender but al dente and there is no stickiness.

Gemelli pasta cooked by the no-boil method in the paragraph above.

This method can be used for cooking other foods and it is also known as "passive boiling".
 It is mentioned in two books that I recommend (actually the ONLY books on reducing energy-use in the kitchen that I could find): "Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen" by Kate Heyhoe (she calls it "reducing your cookprint"-- clever), and "The Green Kitchen" by Richard Ehrlich, a British journalist. See if your library has them, if you prefer not to buy them-- they are full of good ideas.
Another energy-saving pasta-cooking method (can you tell that we like pasta?) is the self-saucing one-pot method.  I first heard about this about a year ago and I was intrigued by Martha Stewart's recipe for a recipe from the province of Puglia inItaly, in which all of the ingredients, including the dry pasta, are cooked in a pot together with water for about 9-10 minutes (I used vegetarian broth in mine, of course) until the pasta is al dente and a creamy sauce results.I used tagliatelle nests instead of linguine. The dish was quite tasty-- we sprinkled it with Go Veggie! soy parmesan (which used to be Galaxy Vegan).

My version of Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta, before cooking.
Now there are many recipes online utilizing this method.  Below is the recipe for one that I threw together the other night-- and very yummy it was.

Anyway, I should get to bed-- work tomorrow!  But I'd be interested to hear your energy-saving kitchen ideas and explorations.

Printable Copy

  Serves 4  
A quick, self-saucing one-dish meal, and only one pot to clean!

1 tablespoon    olive oil   
4 cloves    garlic, chopped   
3 cups    "chicken-y" vegan broth (I like Better Than Bouillonvegan “No-Chicken” base)
1/2 lb. (8 oz)    farfalle (bowtie pasta)
2 cups    reconstituted Butler Soy Curls (see this post for info) or other sliced vegan chicken sub
1 tsp    dried basil (or some chopped fresh, if you have it)
8 stalks    asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2” pieces 
2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick "coins"
12    red grape tomatoes, halved   
3    green onions, thinly-sliced   
1/2 cup    vegan mozza cheese shreds (I used Daiya)
1/4 cup    vegan parmesan sub (I used Go Veggie! soy parmesan)  
   freshly-ground black pepper  

In a large heavy pot or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and sauté briefly—do not brown the garlic.  Add the broth, pasta, Soy Curls and basil. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Add the asparagus and zucchini, cover again and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green onions and the vegan cheeses.  Toss gently, grind pepper over the dish and serve immediately.
 Nutrition Facts 

Nutrition (per serving): 405.1 calories; 21% calories from fat; 9.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 1696.0mg sodium; 427.0mg potassium; 60.8g carbohydrates; 5.6g fiber; 4.5g sugar; 55.2g net carbs; 19.3g protein. 


Monday, October 17, 2011


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I have a confession to make-- I love cornbread.  My husband doesn't really understand this.  He likes it all right, but not with passion, if you know what I mean.  It must be an American thing.  I was born in the States and he was born in Quebec. Even though I've lived in Canada since I was 18, I've never lost my passion for cornbread, and as a vegan, I've devised several cornbread recipes that I'm happy with.  But, faced with a pile of zucchini and scads of ovo-lacto-laden zucchini cornbread recipes, I decided to devise my own vegan version-- with nuggets of corn added at the last minute.  I almost added some Daiya vegan cheese shreds, but decided that would be overkill-- although, if you do try it, let me know!

I was out of whole wheat pastry flour, so I used my High-Fiber Gluten-Free Flour Mix instead, and you'd never know the difference!

Printable Recipe

Makes 1/ 10" cast-iron skillet-full
Moist and delicious, with the extra nutrition of vegetables. PS: If you don't have a skillet, use a 10" round or 9" square pan-- the skillet just makes the crust crispier.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup white whole wheat pastry flour OR my High Fiber Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1/3 cup soy flour or chickpea flour
1/4 cup unbleached organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice with soymilk, nut milk or hemp milk to make 1 1/4 cups
1 cup packed grated zucchini with skin
2 tablespoons oil or melted Earth Balance
1 cup thawed frozen (or cooked fresh) corn kernels, or canned corn kernels, well-drained

Oil a 10" cast iron skillet and place it in the oven while you heat it up to 375 degrees F. Whisk the dry Mix ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk or blend the wet Mix ingredients together and add to the Dry Mix. Mix briefly and pour into the hot skillet. Bake 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 198.4 calories; 21% calories from fat; 4.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 284.2mg sodium; 345.9mg potassium; 35.7g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 8.2g sugar; 31.7g net carbs; 5.6g protein; 3.6 points.

Made with Bryanna's High-Fiber Gluten-Free Flour Mix:
Nutrition (per serving): 217.3 calories; 21% calories from fat; 5.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 285.5mg sodium; 337.8mg potassium; 39.4g carbohydrates; 3.6g fiber; 8.2g sugar; 35.7g net carbs; 5.0g protein; 4.1 points.


Sunday, October 16, 2011


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  My copy, with some sticky-notes marking the recipes I want to try next!

When my husband said "Oh, wow!" after the first bite of Betsy DiJulio's Panko-Topped Cheesy Zucchini from her book The Blooming Platter Cookbook, I knew this book was a winner!  DH is not a great zucchini fan, but I had a small pile of zucchini that needed using and this recipe was intriguing, partly because of its simplicity, and partly because of the interesting homemade cheese that was one of the primary components.  It was simple to make (and quick!) and , obviously, delicious.  The cheese (and I won't reveal the ingredients, but there's one especially genius addition) was a simple combination of ingredients familiar to most vegans, but its simplicity belied its complexity in the flavor department. We'll enjoy the leftovers on crisp rye crackers. (An aside:  DH instructed me to tell Betsy that he hardly ever likes other people's cooking as well as mine, but he loved that dish!)

  Panko-Topped Cheesy Zucchini 

  I served it with some leftover marinara sauce-- the two of us ate the whole casserole for dinner!

While this may be the first recipe I've actually cooked out of Betsy's book, I've been having some great times lately perusing it and picking out recipes to try.  Betsy's writing makes one feel that a good friend is writing to one, sharing special recipes and sometimes the stories behind her inspiration.  Reading statements such as: "...I have been consumed by what I like to call intense 'investigative' home-cooking and entertaining-- fueled by the advent of the food networks-- ultimately leading to part-time free-lance food writing and a bit of teaching. I remain an 'independent study' student of all things culinary." and "For as long as I can remember, food has been the blaze that marked the path of my life.", as well as her preference for soy milk, make me feel sure that Betsy is a "kindred spirit" (as Anne Shirley of "Green Gables" fame was wont to say).  And a bloody good writer, too!

My overall impression after studying the book is that it is the work of a curious, inventive, creative, and discerning cook, whose sometimes rather unusual combinations of fruits, vegetables and herbs, and savory and sweet ingredients in the same recipe, are not only spot-on, but inspire quite a few "why didn't I think of that?" moments.  Even without the lovely photos, one would find the recipes colorful and balanced, evidence of Betsy's artistic nature (she is a practicing artist and an art teacher).

Consider Creamy Summer Torta with Figs, with its savory, herbal vegan cheese filling and Balsamic reduction;

  or the startling Beet Muhammara  (the Turkish spread usually made with red peppers, here replaced by beets, walnuts, garlic, spices and pomegranate molasses); Blackberry and Corn Salad;

  Butternut Squash Bisque with Cranberry GremolataCurried Red-Lentil "Cheesecake" with Tamarind Sauce, to name but a few on my list of "got to make this" recipes. All I can say is, "Bravo, Betsy!"

(Oh, and by the way, there are a fair number of "basic" recipes in the book which you will probably want to use often in your own recipes, too-- White Bean Sausages, at least four homemade vegan cheeses, and Blue Cheese Sauce.)  

You're going to find many recipes in The Blooming Platter Cookbook that will surely send you into the kitchen on a colorful culinary adventure-- perhaps not the same recipes that call to me, but, believe me, there's something  for everyone in this lovely, delectable, and eminently usable vegan cookbook.


Monday, November 29, 2010


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Recipe from my old 1970's cooking notebook

In this post, I talked about my old cooking notebooks, particularly the one from 1973.  Well, it inspired a hankering for a very simple zucchini recipe that my mother used to make frequently.  It's so simple that it isn't really a recipe!  I didn't make it for years because it requires cheddar cheese and when I first became a vegan there was nothing decent in the vegan cheese department!  Even now, vegan "cheddar" is usually pretty bland.  I think the best one is Sheese.  I didn't have any in the house to make this recipe and was stuck with Tofutti Slices, but it still brought back memories!  Next time I'll use Sheese Strong Cheddar.  (Sheese Smoked Cheddar and Cheshire are actually my preferences, but they don't sell them in our local HF store.)

ANYWAY, TO MAKE THIS, simply take some small zucchini (4-6 inches long), wash, trim, and cut them in half lengthwise, steam them until almost tender, and then lay them out cut-side-up on a cookie sheet.  Slather on some tasty tomato sauce and top with vegan cheese (see remarks above).  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. That's it!  We gobbled this down as kids!  (Yes, it was the 50's and 60's, but  we were California kids with a half-Italian father-- grew up on zucchini and greens!)

I think I'll update this, not only with vegan cheddar, but with roasting the zucchini with a bit of olive oil instead of steaming it-- since you have to turn on the oven anyway.

OH, AND I WANTED TO GIVE YOU A TIP FOR CUTTING DOWN THE TIME WHEN MAKING BROWN RICE.  I've done this for yearsBefore you leave the house in morning, or as you go about your morning business, place your brown rice (any kind), measured water, and salt, or whatever you add to it, in your cooking pot.  Cover and let it sit and soak while you do your thing all day.  When you get home, cook as usual, but it will only take 20 minutes instead of 45!

We got a new stove the other day and I decided to take some pictures of my tiny kitchen.  It works for me, though-- everything I use often is at hand.  (Though we have a big freezer outside and a pantry/closet for alot of our food.  I keep some of the serving dishes and bowls, etc., that I don't use often in the dining area.)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


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Happy 21st Birthday to my oldest grandchild and first grandson, Levon!

My husband's bread cooling on the kitchen counter this afternoon.

I know it's a little late for zucchini in our neck of the woods, but I had one in the refrigerator that a good friend had picked from her garden some weeks back.  I had forgotten all about it!  It wasn't a huge one, and a little more mature than I like, but it was exactly the right weight for this soup, and the skin was tender enough to use it in the recipe. Adapted from my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook", I posted a slightly changed version of the recipe in the book on this blog in August of 2007.  But I changed the cooking method this time and roasted the zucchini (used less oil, too).  I added the garlic to the broth rather than cooking it with the zucchini this time, as well, resulting in a more assertively-flavored soup.  It really tastes like a very different soup than the original one!  The original is delicious, too, but more subtle-- I like them both, but this was perfect for a cold winter day!

Printable Recipe

Servings: 3-6

2 1/2 lbs zucchini (unpeeled), cubed (any size, but with skin that you can scrape off with your fingernail 
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil 
4 cloves garlic,
2 3/4
cups “chicken-style” vegan broth 
3 Tbs nondairy milk
3 Tbs silken tofu OR raw cashews (soak cashews in hot water for 10 minutes and drain well) 
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste 
vegan parmesan substitute (commercial or my recipe)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Mix the zucchini cubes and olive oil on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven, stirring now and then just until tender and only beginning to brown—you don’t want any charring or too much browning.

the roasted zucchini and the sliced garlic to the broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Puree it right in the pot with a stick/immersion blender, leaving it slightly coarse. (OR puree 2/3 of the mixture in a blender-- take cap off the lid to allow hot steam to escape and cover it loosely with a folded tea towel-- and then add back to the pot.)

Blend the nondairy milk and the silken tofu or cashews in a blender or with a stick/immersion blender until smooth.  Add the resulting "cream", and taste for salt and pepper. Heat briefly. Serve with vegan parmesan  sprinkled on each serving.


Monday, September 13, 2010


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Who says that good vegan meals take hours to make? I was about to freeze some homemade pesto (we're having a good basil year!) and I decided to use some for a quick pasta lunch. I planned to cook some egg-free tagliatelle "nests" (check the label!), but I wanted to add a vegetable to the dish.

Tagliatelle nest:

I had a zucchini from one of our neighbors, so I decided to make zucchini strands with it, using my handy-dandy Messermeister julienne peeler-- a great low-tech gadget that doesn't take up much room in your utensil drawer! You use it just as you would  peeler and it makes long, or short, thin strands.

Here are the results from one medium zucchini-- very nice!

I added the zucchini strands to the pasta in the pot about 1 minute before the pasta was done and then drained them all together:

An old-fashioned Italian fat-saving tip: If you don't want to use olive oil (or not as much, anyway), mix the pesto with some of the water the pasta was cooked in to thin it out and toss with the pasta.

Homemade Vegan Pesto-- see recipe below

(BTW , if you can't make your own, try  Sunflower Kitchen dairy-free Basil Pesto.)

Serve this colorful dish with my New, Improved Okara Parmesan Substitute.  Of course, you could use Parma! (walnut-based vegan parmesan sub) or Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan Flavor Grated Topping, instead.  Another good topping (and a traditional one) would be dry breadcrumbs toasted with some olive oil, and/or finely-chopped toasted nuts.

Printable Recipe

Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Adapted from my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”.

4 cups packed-down fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (see Variation #2 below for low-fat version)
1/4 cup lightly-toasted chopped walnuts, filberts (hazelnuts), almonds, or Brazil nuts
(If you are allergic to nuts, you can omit them, or use shelled, lightly-toasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds instead)
2 tablespoons light-colored miso (can be chickpea miso for soy-free)
2 to 4 cloves garlic (NOTE: the garlic should not overwhelm the basil in authentic pesto.)
OPTIONAL: 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to preserve the color

Place everything in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Place the paste in two or three small containers (the less air the pesto is exposed to, the better). Cover the pesto with a thin film of olive oil or a piece of plastic wrap (touching the pesto), to prevent discoloration, and cover tightly. Refrigerate. Use this up within two or three days (you can halve or even quarter the recipe). After that, you should freeze it in small containers or make frozen cubes of it, but don't leave it in the freezer for more than a month or so, or it loses flavor.

#1) FOR HEMP SEED BUTTER PESTO: Use only hemp seed oil, or 1/2 hemp seed oil and 1/2 olive oil. Omit the nuts or seeds and use 1/3 cup hemp seed butter instead. Everything else is the same.
#2.) FOR A LOWER-FAT VERSION that is still quite delicious, omit all or some of the oil and substitute instead an equal quantity medium-firm or silken tofu, OR mashed cooked or canned white kidney beans  (or cannellini beans) (or use 1/2 and 1/2).
#3.) WINTER PESTO: This is an authentic method of stretching expensive storebought fresh basil during the winter months. Use 2 cups of fresh basil and 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, instead of 4 cups basil. It is traditional in Liguria to add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh marjoram to this winter version.