Monday, September 29, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I have been working on a few ongoing cooking experiments/projects, but, for the most part, we have been eating pretty simple meals with our own or local produce that is in such abundance.  For a few days, when my husband had some sort of flu, he wasn't eating at all, so I wasn't doing much cooking at all.  In between, I was tackling my pantry, which was badly in need of a good clean-out and re-organization.  It felt so good to get that done!

The above "tile" of photos represents four of the quick and simple meals that I made during this week-- meals that we enjoyed so much that we deemed them worth repeating! Roasted veggies (corn, tomatoes, green beans, etc.) were definitely a theme.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of any vegetable, it seems. We had a good crop of tomatoes this year, so I have been slow-roasting small batches of them. (They can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for longer periods.)  They are so sweet and juicy that they almost make an instant sauce. I have often broiler-roasted (broiled the veggies in the oven under the oven's broiler coils, which is my favorite method) corn kernels, but, for the first time, I broiler-roasted fresh green beans, which was so quick and very delicious-- so I used them in two of these dishes, as you can see.

I'm going to give you only 2 actual recipes (for the soup and the salad)-- the pasta dishes are just descriptions, because I was improvising and there are not long lists of ingredients.  I hope you'll have fun playing around with these ideas.

Spaghetti with Roasted Green Beans, Garlic and Chanterelle Mushrooms, & Slow-Roasted Tomatoes 

What I did:

I had some slow-roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator already (see this post for directions). I cooked 8 oz. of ordinary spaghetti, but you could use any long pasta. Cook in salted water, drain, and set aside. 

To broiler-roast the other veggies, I spread a couple of handfuls of small, fresh green beans (a sub could be thin stalks of asparagus, snapped in half), a couple of large cloves of garlic, sliced, and 2 large chanterelle mushrooms (or use any type of mushroom you have around), sliced, on a small rimmed baking sheet and tossed them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a little salt.  I broiled them in my oven's broiler (on High) about 6 inches below the heat source, watching carefully, until the green beans softened and started to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat mix together the cooked, drained spaghetti, the broiler-roasted veggies and about 1 1/2 to 2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes and juice, broken up a bit (remove any tough skins).  Add some fresh chopped basil, if you like.  Stir the mixture around in the pan to heat well and add some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) just to moisten.  Add salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  

Creamy Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Herbs

What I did:

There were a few recipes online for dishes like this, but I simplified!   I cooked 8 oz. of dried gemelli pasta, but you could use any short pasta. Cook in salted water and drain. 

I had a fresh batch of slow-roasted tomatoes, so I measured out about 1 1/2 cups of that, with juice, and broken up a bit (remove any tough skins). I mixed the hot, cooked gemelli (back in the cooking pot) with the hot roasted tomatoes, a little chopped garlic sautéed briefly in a little olive oil, some chopped fresh thyme and basil, salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, and some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) to make a creamy sauce. Stir over medium-high heat until hot.  If the pasta absorbs all the creamer, add a little more. Serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  

I've been wanting to try whole grain sorghum for some time and finally found a bag of Bob's Red Mill brand at my natural foods store.  Here is some interesting information about this nutritious  ancient grain from Africa-- the fifth most important cereal crop in the world (who knew?)!  I was intrigued by its possibilities partly because it can be used as a nutritious stand-in for pearl couscous.

Since it was a hot day, and I had more green beans and slow-roasted tomatoes , I decided to make a salad-- with a bit of a Southwest flair. Now, the sorghum does take a little planning ahead because, unless you want to cook the sorghum for upwards of an hour, soak it in lots of water overnight! (Don't follow the directions on the BRM package!) This also saves energy because you don't have to cook it for so long.

Printable Recipe

Serves 6

1 cup uncooked whole grain sorghum (soaked overnight in water to cover)
2 cups fresh water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces thin fresh green beans
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 1/2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced and drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into small chunks and tossed with a bit of lemon juice
About 8 large green olives stuffed with jalapeño peppers, sliced
1/4 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain the soaked sorghum and discard the soaking water. In a heavy medium saucepan with a lid, combine the soaked sorghum, the first 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the 2 cups fresh water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the grains are tender. Drain well in a strainer or colander. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Spread out the green beans and corn kernels on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little salt.  Place them about 6 inches below the heat source of your oven’s broiler, with the broiler set on High and watch carefully until the green beans soften and start to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

Make the Dressing by blending or whisking the ingredients together. Mix the cooled sorghum with the broiler-roasted green beans and corn, the slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced olives and avocado chunks.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  Serve at room temperature.


Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This is my vegan and much faster version of a recipe from Sunset magazine, April 2014.  Might be my new favorite vegan "chik'n noodle soup"!

8 cups vegan “chicken-style” broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base)
2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls, or vegan “chikn strips”, or thin slices of your favorite vegan “chicken-style” cutlet
(Read about Butler Soy Curls here, including instructions for reconstituting)
4 large green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks 
4 ounces dried long flat egg-free pasta, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine, broken in half
1/3 to 1/2 cup plain vegan creamer (not a sweet kind)
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut diagonally in half
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon OR 2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves, crumbled
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, mix the broth, vegan chicken sub of your choice, green onions and carrots. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, covered.  Add the pasta and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes more.  Stir in the vegan creamer, snap peas, parsley and tarragon.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for a few minutes, just until the snap peas are dark green, but still have some crunch.

Serve immediately.


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