Meatless Monday: Zucchini Pasta

zuccZucchini Noodles (V)(GF)
2 zucchinis, peeled
1 tablespoon coconut oil/olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Homemade Marinara Sauce or your favorite jarred brand

the method:

  1. To make the noodles, you have multiple options. You can use a vegetable spiralizer, a food processor, a julienne peeler – or if you’re REALLY patient and don’t have any of these tools, you can slice really long strips with a sharp knife. Personally, I do not recommend a knife. I have a julienne peeler and it is, by far, my favorite kitchen tool. It cuts the zucchini into perfect noodle strips. You can use it for stir fries, salads, slaws… everything! I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma and it was only $10 (it is in the picture). I even like it more than my Kitchen-Aid Mixer – I never thought I would love anything as much as my mixer.
  2. When making the noodles, make sure you don’t use any strips that have seeds in them… you will want to throw away “the core” of the zucchini. The reasoning for this is due to the high water content in the middle. Too much water = mushy, squishy noodles. Yuck!
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir zucchini in the hot oil for 1 minute. Add water and cook until zucchini is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. I served my noodles with homemade marinara, but these noodles would be great with any sauce. I am going to try a lemon-garlic sauce next! 🙂

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.

Homemade Slow Cooker Spicy Marinara and Artisan Bread

One of my favorite things to come home to is a delicious supper that has been in the slow cooker all day. I decided to make Slow Cooker Spicy Marinara so I didn’t really go all out on this one, but I must say, it was one of the best marinara sauces I’ve had in a while (sorry Auntie)!  I did my own little take on this recipe from Life Currents blog, but added some crushed red pepper and a nice glug of red wine because, well…  um do you know me? I’m a firm believer in red wine really bringing out the vibrancy in a tomato sauce – and I think slow cooking the sauce for over 8 hours really allowed the flavors to develop beautifully. I’ve made a lot of pasta sauces for Nick, but I think this one was his favorite. I made a whole ton of this stuff because you can freeze it and it keeps FOREVER.

I also thought about grabbing an Italian loaf to make some homemade garlic bread – but it isn’t really totally homemade unless you make the bread too, right? It dawned on me that I had just added a 5-minute Artisan bread recipe to my Pepperplate account so I decided to try it out. I failed to get a picture of the bread itself, but in the picture below, you can see the final product – Herb and Cheese Garlic Bread (obviously not vegan, but can easily be made vegan with shredded Daiya cheese). I made a VERY small loaf so I only let it rise about an hour before tossing it in the oven and still came out delicious and golden-brown in color. I made a ton of more dough, so expect to see a picture of one these beauties in the near future.

I put together this little Italian dish for the two of us:

 

Slow Cooker Spicy Marinara

Ingredients:

Makes 13 (½ cup) servings

  • 8 cups crushed tomatoes or 2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • freshly ground pepper

The Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Stir well to combine. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours. Stir the sauce and remove the bay leaves. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and some freshly ground pepper as desired.

5 Minute Artisan Bread

Makes (4) 1lb. loaves

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or 1 1/2 tablespoons other coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong)

The Method:

Preparing Dough for Storage:

  1. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.
  2. Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.
  3. Mix in the flour and salt – kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you’re hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead, it isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
  4. Allow to rise. Cover with lid (not airtight or it could explode the lid off). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature Longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.
  5. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.

Ready to bake? Follow the instructions below:

  1. Prepare your loaf tin, tray, or whatever you’re baking it in/on. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (c 1 lb), using a serrated knife.
  2. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.
  3. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.
  4. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.
  5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
  6. Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.
  7. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
  9. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.