Vegan Rustic Pasta

A couple a years ago when I was still working as a server, one of my favorite customers had told me about a new vegan cookbook called The Kind Diet – written by Alicia Silverstone. At this time, I had been a vegetarian for a couple of years and was very interested in experimenting with vegan cuisine.  Needless to say, once my shift was over, I pedaled my way to the nearest bookstore to pick up a copy.

I knew I wasn’t ready to be fully vegan (I love cheese more than anything) but quite a few of the recipes looked lip-smacking delicious – and they were. Now, I will admit that the longest I’ve ever gone being a vegan is a little over a month – but I do like to take “vegan” weeks every now and then if I feel like I’ve over-indulged on the dairy.

So, even though I know that I could never be 100% vegan, I still refer to this book all the time for some yummy recipes. One of my favorite dishes from this book is the Rustic Pasta. It’s so tasty and hearty that even a meat-eater would approve and probably wouldn’t complain about the lack of animal product. I like serving this dish with a big fresh salad or with some veggie sausage on top.

You should also check out Alicia’s vegan website: The Kind Life.

Rustic Pasta

The ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound pasta (you can choose long or short shape)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 large onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used more)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced or thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1/4 cup shoyu
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 tablespoon marinara sauce

The method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook just until al dente. Drain the pasta well.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook for 7 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes longer. The onions should transparent and turning golden.
  3. Add the celery to the skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the shoyu, salt, garlic powder, then add the cabbage; saute for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.

Broccoli Gruyere Pasta Bake

 

I decided to forgo the gym yesterday – the weather was just so rainy that it just felt better snuggled up on the couch next to my pup Eleanor and watching the SVU Marathon that is on constant record.  I know what you’re thinking… I live in AZ – the desert – how much rain could you possibly get? Well, it wasn’t so much the rain that prevented me from journeying to LA Fitness, it was the intense dust storm and powerful winds that prevented me from even opening my front door. Basically, the weather held me hostage, which I was okay with.

So I busted out my emergency bottle of red wine and indulged in this pasta dish:

 

Broccoli Gruyere Pasta Bake

The ingredients:

  • 1 lb penne or any pasta
  • 1 red onion , roughly chopped
  • 1 lb head broccoli , stalks chopped and florets halved
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp French or German mustard
  • 1 cup pot half fat crème fraîche
  • 1/2 c grated mature Gruyère or cheddar
  • small handful parsley leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs (or put 1 slice crustless white bread through a food processor)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs or thyme
  • Parmesan, optional

The method:

  1. Boil the pasta, onion and broccoli stalks in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for about 7 mins, then add the florets and cook for another 3 mins. Reserve about 1 1/2 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and vegetables.
  2. Return the reserved water to the pan and dissolve the stock cube, whisk in the mustard and crème fraîche, then season to taste. Bring to the boil. Stir in the drained pasta, vegetables and half the cheese, mixing until melted. Stir in the parsley.
  3. Heat the broiler for 3 mins. Tip the pasta and vegetables into a shallow, ovenproof dish. Mix together the remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs, then scatter on top.
  4. Broil for 3-5 minutes, turning if it starts to brown. Keep watching so the top doesn’t start to burn or the cheese will toughen. Remove and leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.

What is Oil Pulling?

 

Some of you may know, that I’m a writer for an online dental review known as The Spear Review. I wrote an article not too long ago on the dental benefits of oil pulling and figured it definitely had a place on this blog. Not sure what oil pulling is? Read on:

An ancient Ayurvedic method, commonly known as oil pulling, may help prevent enamel erosion and gum disease among other things such as headaches, chronic illnesses, insomnia and even cancerous tumors. Oil pulling has even been said to cure those ailments and more. This is a fun dental curiosity and in no way represents a statement of scientific fact.

 

Can you imagine that one of the keys to preventing oral disease and dental erosion could be sitting in everyone’s pantry right now? The ancient concept of oil pulling is to swish a small amount of sunflower or sesame oil in your mouth on a daily basis to form a protective coating against harmful ingredients that we may ingest throughout the day.

 

The reasoning behind why oil pulling could be effective lies in the stimulation of the body’s eliminatory system. The constant swishing not only kills germs in the mouth, but it also aids in cleansing the fluids that flow through microscopic tubules in teeth. This allows the teeth to bypass toxins and allow necessary minerals into the tubules. According to an article published last year by the Baseline of Health Foundation, at any given time, there are over 500 different types of bacteria loitering in our mouths – oil pulling could decrease that number by not only neutralizing our saliva, but by aiding in the removal of particles stuck between the teeth.

 

Mongolian Tofu and Mushrooms

Excuse me for my absence… got a lot going on in FBV land :). I didn’t really do much cooking over the weekend – Nick was busy working and I got a glorious weekend all to myself. I literally got nothing done – NOTHING. But some weekends are made for doing nothing, right?? In the spirit of not lifting a finger at all this weekend, I decided to order in on Friday AND Saturday… I never do that!

Any who, I was feeling a bit inspired yesterday – not too inspired since this dish only took about 20 minutes to make haha. I was inspired by my favorite dish at Pei Wei (judge me if you want, but some of their dishes are irresistible) known as Mongolian Tofu. My version didn’t turn out exactly like you get in the restaurant, but was still yummy. With Nick’s we just pan-fried some chicken in place of the the tofu… and mushrooms – Nick hates mushrooms.

We served our proteins over a bed of Farmer’s Market Fried Rice – you know, just like that recipe I made a couple of weeks ago… except I added some broccoli and carrots to this one. :)

Happy Monday everyone!

Mongolian Tofu and Mushrooms:

The Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons chili sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large green onions, sliced on the diagonal into one-inch lengths
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms

 

The Method:

  1. Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat.
  2. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
  3. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  4. Remove it from the heat and dip the tofu pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides..
  5. Let the tofu sit for about 2 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.
  6. Heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil) over medium heat and add tofu and mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions.
  8. Cook for one more minute, then remove the tofu, mushrooms and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Serve over rice.

 

Teriyaki Tofu and Broccoli

Why is it that Mondays are always such an alarming experience? Nothing terrible happened yesterday… just sheer MADNESS all day. Needless to say, I immediately went into “lazy girl” mode the second I got home – well, actually after I poured myself a very big glass of red wine.

In the spirit of staying lazy and saving money (duh) I decided to raid my fridge and fire up some things that were on the verge of going bad in the next day or two. I settled on Teriyaki Tofu and Broccoli.

Yes. Nick ate tofu!

Okay, that wasn’t such a surprise to me… I’ve seen him eat it before, but I’ve never seen him enjoy it this much. I will admit, this isn’t your typical teriyaki bowl. I recently discovered that I make a fabulous egg pancake… so I doctored one of those up in my wok and added it to the tangy and saucy mixture.

This is a really great meal if you don’t want a lot of clean up and if you don’t feel like spending more than 30 minutes making dinner.

Teriyaki Tofu and Broccoli: 

The Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seed oil (I used Chili Sesame Oil. Sooooo good!)
  • 1 cup broccoli floret
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (yes, I cheated…)

The Method:

  1. Take tofu out of the package and drain it and cube it.
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 2 teaspoons oil, coating the bottom completely. Add beaten eggs and cook, tilting to cover the surface as thinly as possible to make an egg pancake. When the pancake is just set, 30 seconds to 1 minute, flip using a metal spatula and allow it to set for about 5 seconds. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  3. Using the same wok, heat the rest of the oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu and toss occasionally.
  4. After 4 minutes put broccoli into wok and toss.
  5. When tofu is light brown on all sides (about 10 minutes more) add teriyaki sauce and egg and lower heat to medium. Toss gently for 2 minutes. Serve over jasmine rice. :)