Category Archives: Vegan

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Sometimes I really struggle to stay meatless on Mondays if I’m craving a nice creamy pasta dish for dinner. It doesn’t happen often, but when the hunger for rich food strikes, the avocado is my secret, meatless weapon against dairy-meat-munchies!

The avocado in this creamy pasta recipe works as a binder, creating a rich, smooth dressing with flecks of bitter greens and zesty citrus notes. You’ll notice that there’s no Parmesan cheese in this dish. Most varieties of that cheese are made with animal rennet– not good for Meatless Monday! I use almonds, nutritional yeast, and plenty of salt in my recipe to replace the “oomph” that Parmesan might add.

Creamy Avocado Pasta (serves 2)

1/2 pound vegan pasta
1 medium avocado
1 1/2 cups spinach, arugula, or romaine lettuce
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, plus extra for seasoning
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup almond
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, and drain.

Meanwhile, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the greens, basil, citrus juice, garlic, salt, pepper, almond, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

Pour the pesto over the pasta in a serving dish. Toss to coat the pasta with sauce, adding a little pasta water as necessary to loosen the sauce. Taste the finished pasta and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

This pasta is best served on the same day it is prepared, since the avocado will oxidize and turn the sauce an unsightly brown color after a while.

 

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Roasted Carrot Soup with Dill

Image by I'm George. Licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

This morning, I woke up groggy, grumpy, and stricken with a mean craving for some vegetables.

I had a cookie hangover, courtesy of the 16 different holiday sweets I sampled  at a cookie exchange last night.

I wish I could say this was my first cookie hangover of this season, but I am all too familiar with the icky feeling of overindulgence, especially during the holidays. This carrot soup is one of my go-to recipes for post- sugar binge recovery.

Roasted carrots and onions have natural sweetness that brings me down gently from the sugar high, and stomach-soothing dill offers digestive relief.  Using skim milk or unsweetened soy milk in place of heavy cream helps to keep the calories down, too, so I can balance out my cookie consumption.

The best part about making this soup the day after a cookie swap is that the carrots and onions roasting in the oven make the house smell like veggies, not cookies. Someday I’ll learn to have just six two cookies at holiday swaps. Until then, I’ll keep some comforting carrot soup in the fridge to help atone for my pastry sins.

Caramelized Carrot Soup with Dill (yields 6, one-cup servings)

3 cups peeled, chopped carrots, about a pound
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup skim milk or unsweetened soy milk*
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large stock pot, cook the carrots, onions and garlic in the olive oil for 25 minutes over medium high heat. Stir occasionally, so that the vegetables caramelize  evenly.

Once vegetables have softened and browned, add vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and then use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.  Stir in the milk of your choice, along with the dill. Season the finished soup with salt and pepper.

*Check the label carefully when you buy soy milk for this recipe. Many “regular” flavored soy milks add sugar or evaporated cane juice, and using one of those here will result in a soup that’s too sweet. If you must use soy milk with a sweetener in it, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help brighten the soup’s flavor a bit.

Vegetarian Chili

You may have noticed a flyer for this year’s Vegetarian Chili Cook-off in your Greenling bin this week. The Vegetarian Chili Cook-off started in 1989 when four vegetarian societies from across the state of Texas joined to form the Lone Star Vegetarian Network. In the years since, the cook-off has been held in multiple locations all across the state, including West Columbia, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, South Padre Island, and Fort Wort.

This year nearly 1000 people are expected to visit Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock for the 23rd annual cook-off.  The fun begins at 11:30 AM on Sunday, November 13th, and all are welcome.

To drum up excitement for Sunday, the Chili Cook-off organizers offered to share a winning recipe for us to publish! This vegetarian chili recipe comes from Stevie Duda, editor of Austin Vegetarian Living, the newsletter of the Vegetarian Network of Austin. With assistance from other VNA members, Stevie’s chili won First Place at the 2007 Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, out of about 20 entries.

Stevie Duda’s Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili

2 medium zucchini, seeded and diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable broth
4 15-ounce cans stewed tomatoes, diced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/4 cup julienned carrot
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded (but don’t remove ribs) and diced
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
3 tbsp no-salt-added chili powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a large pot, saute zucchini, onion, bell peppers, and garlic in the oil or broth, until tender. Stir in all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Vegan Greenling: Heirloom Tomato Salad

A  refreshing summer recipe over on Vegan Greenling: Heirloom Tomato Salad

Peach-Mint Fizz

peachfizz

We got our first batch of summer peaches this week, and I wanted to eat them without cooking the crap out of them. A nice, summery drink fit the bill. This recipe is more of a guide than anything, so feel free to play with the ingredient ratio till you get the drink tasting just right. The basic elements are fresh peach puree, mint syrup, and sparkling water, but f you are so inclined, add rum to make it a peach mojito.

Peach-Mint Fizz

4 peaches
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Sparkling water

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cut an X in the bottom of each peach and dunk them in the water for 45 seconds. Remove and plop into a bowl of ice water for a minute, just long enough so that you can pick them up. Slip the skins off the peaches, and core and slice them. Place in a blender and puree for a couple of minutes, until completely smooth.

Combine sugar, water, and mint in a small saucepan. Heat until sugar dissolves, and set aside to cool. When syrup has cooled, strain it into a glass jar.

Add ice about halfway up a large glass. Fill glass 3/4 of the way with sparkling water, then add several tablespoons of peach puree and about a tablespoon of mint syrup. Stir to combine and adjust ingredients if you want.

– Stephanie

Local Box Picnic: Montopolis Sports Complex

The second weekend in our picnic adventure took my husband and me to far east Austin. We stumbled upon the Montopolis Youth Sports Complex when we were looking for Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park on Saturday night.

After a jaunt east on Airport Boulevard from I-35 and a winding drive through the Montopolis neighborhood, Rami and I found ourselves at 400 Grove Boulevard, the address registered with Google Maps for Guerrero Park.There is a parking lot and some trailheads that lead into Guerrero Park at that address, but the more obvious landmark there is this lovely sports area. Montopolis Youth Sports Complex has a few baseball fields with concession stands and bleachers, a batting cage and a small playground. We counted six picnic tables at the park, situated near trash cans at the edges of each playing field.

There are lots of tall trees at the park, and most of the recreation areas around the baseball fields are in full or partial shade. It’s obvious from the manicured lawns and clean trails that the Montopolis Sports Complex is well cared for, and it’s probably very busy during baseball, softball and tee-ball seasons. However, we were the only souls there at dinner time on Saturday night.

The menu for this week’s picnic featured tons of local veggies in various salad preparations. We were gluten free except for some pita bread and vegan, since I forgot my bacon-laden potato salad at home:

These salads were a really easy picnic menu since I was able to make most of them ahead of time during the week. I don’t know what I was thinking packing pickled beets on a picnic. They taste awesome, but the magenta beet juice threatened to stain our orange picnic blanket with every bite!

The wax beans and green beans from Acadian and Tecolote Farms were the standout ingredients in this week’s picnic. I used these fresh treasures in place of canned green beans in my favorite four bean salad recipe.

Four Bean Salad (serves 6)
One bunch fresh green beans
One bunch fresh wax (yellow) beans
15 oz. can garbanzo beans
15 oz. can kidney beans
Two green bell peppers, seeded and ribbed
Red or purple onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation: trim ends off of green and yellow beans, then snap beans into bite-sized pieces.Bring a scant inch of salted water to a boil in a large saute pan. Add fresh beans, cover and cook for about five minutes, until beans are tender. Drain the beans and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, open and drain canned beans. Chop the bell peppers and onion into small pieces.  In a small bowl, whisk together oils, vinegars, sugar, salt and pepper. Put all the beans, onion and pepper into a large salad bowl and pour dressing over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Spiced Coconut Kale

coconutkale_t

This sounds awesome, right? It’s just as good as it sounds, too. You get sweet flavors of coconut and curry seasoning some greens that are cooked just right – not tough but not soggy.

I riffed off of this recipe, changing it to use kale instead of spinach and modify for other ingredients I had on hand.

UPDATE: I made another batch of this tonight and used lime juice instead of lemon. Heaven! I think I like it better this way. Also, I dare you to make this dish and not sing this song as you cook.

Spiced Coconut Kale (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 small spring onion (or shallot)
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch of kale, chopped
squeeze of lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Place the onion and garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, and chop/mash everything into a paste.

Heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds, cover with a lid, and let them toast a bit. Remove the lid, stir in the red pepper flakes and let cook for a minute. Stir in the garlic-shallot paste and all of the kale. Stir until the kale starts wilting and brightens up in color. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until kale is tender but not mushy. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with coconut.