Depending on where you live, it might be hard to come by gnocchi. It took us forever to find an egg-free vegan option and whenever they’re in stock, I make sure to add a package to the shopping cart. I mean, what could possibly be better than potatoes masquerading as some kind of pasta?
Me. I love potatoes and I could eat them every single day and not having them the same way. Whether its sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, fries or home fries, I am here for POTATOES. So when I found these vegan mici (Romanian word for “little ones” or “small ones”) I knew it was the perfect way to over-indulge in potatoes.
Just a little, anyway.
And since I’m (still) editing like my life depends on it, I’m going to make this a quick-ish post.
This was kind of a hodge-podge meal, as you can see with just a few mushrooms because there were only a few leftover as it was almost grocery day. Again.
I’ll tell you up front that I was so excited about how well, and by well I mean cheesy this dish came out, that I dug right in and finished it all before I remembered the small matter of taking photos. Oops.
Since the Hubs and I still do the Midnight Tokyo Diner dinner choices, our meal choices are at the mercy of that on any given night, which means some nights we have more not-so-healthy meals than others.
This is one of those nights.
He requested cheesy mac & cheese and I may have gone a little overboard, but here we are.
The truth is that I like to experiment with different vegan foods when they hit the market and well, my most recent haul included several different types of vegan cheese and since my husband LOVES mac & cheese, I knew this request would come, sooner or later.
So when he made his request, I had my marching orders.
For the past few days the weather outside has left much to be desired. It’s been gray and rainy, which means the hard work of editing takes even longer. My energy is low and even getting through my workouts takes more effort and focus than usual. It’s the end of May but it feels as if Spring has only just arrived.
So what’s a girl to do when it should be bright and sunny and warm outside, but instead it’s gray and dreary and chilly?
By some odd stroke of luck, I found a squash at the market and after getting caught in the rain while loading groceries, I knew what had to be done.
Squash & lentil stew.
This soup is thick and creamy and though it make taste and look like a complicated vegan bisque recipe, the truth is that this is an easy one-pot vegan soup that anyone can make at anytime.
This week is crazy busy for me so I’ll keep this post short without skimping on the details or photos of the finished product. This weekend my partner and I went out for a long walk that became super abbreviated about halfway through, thanks to an impromptu rain storm. It didn’t last long but we were proper chilled when we made it back to our place and all thoughts of cold salad were out the window in favor of soup.
I found FRESH wood ear mushrooms and I was so excited to recreate these pickled mushrooms I had at one of the few Asian style restaurants in Ploiesti. But wood ear mushrooms aren’t a meal, especially when you only have 200 grams of them. So then I thought of soup. And then ramen.
And that’s how I ended up with this vegan restaurant style Asian lunch for two.
For the soup: Ginger, garlic, lemongrass, scallions & nori with my waste free broth. Simmered for 20 minutes and then ready to go!
The first time I ate Indian food, I was at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. and I hated it. The food was bland and boring and left such a bad taste in my mouth that it took me about three years before I tried it again. That time, well let’s just say that in our house, Indian food is on the menu at least once a week.
The dish was lamb vindaloo (sorry lamb!) and it was everything I had been promised Indian food would be. Well-seasoned, flavorful as hell, and spicy. It blew me away and from that moment on, I was hooked. The addiction was formed.
And it was that memory that inspired me to re-create the Kartoffel Vindaloo in all it’s spicy glory.
You’re probably wondering why I named this recipe Kartoffel Vindaloo intsead of regular ol’ potato vindaloo? The simple answer is that after spending almost a decade living in Germany, I’ve decided that I prefer the word kartoffel to the word potato, that’s all. 🙂
Most days I know what I want to eat for lunch and that usually consists of some type of vegan salad. I’m not talking about your basic iceberg lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo, either. I’m talking a nice salad loaded up with vegetables, colors, vitamins and nutrients, but not with calories.
If you like quinoa, here is a salad for you. Do you prefer bulgur? Here is one for you. Get plenty of tips on how to make glorious vegan salads here.
But some days I’m not sure what I want and one of those days recently, an idea fell into my lap. We had just come from the grocery store where I found turnips with some lovely greens on top so I yanked the tops off of a few more bunches because that’s totally allowed here (and its free) and decided I would make some turnip greens at some point in the future. Then my mother-in-law showed up with a big bag of Monk’s Rhubarb, which I had honestly ever heard of before. But my father-in-law had already rinsed them so I nibbled on a leaf and realized I could add them to the turnip greens for more dark leafy greens.
From there, this vegan soul food lunch plate was born.
Why is it a lunch plate? That’s simple. If you find a soul food restaurant near you, chances are good there will be a lunch plate special that allows you to mix and match your favorite soul food menu items for one yummy lunch. In some areas, you might even find a entrepreneur offering them up around the neighborhood for a very good price.
I’ve made no secret over the years that one of the things from my old, pre-vegan life that I do not miss is cheese. I mean, cheese is good. It’s fine. It’s just no longer my jam since I’m not addicted to it. I’ve experimented with all types of vegan cheese brands and until the past few months, I’ve been underwhelmed. I’ve even done the alt-cheese thing myself, using white beans, a turmeric & nooch béchamel for pizza, a milk-based cheese-ish sauce, and even a carrot cheese. I have tried it all and made an informed decision that I can take or leave cheese.
And then, I did my semi-regular online order of vegan food from a source in Germany and…wow. This super cheesy vegan gnocchi bake was incredible. Ooey and gooey cheesy deliciousness, minus the need to keep eating and eating.
If you know how to make mac & cheese then you know how to make this dish, but there are a few caveats since I got a little fancy with it.
Do you guys watch a lot of YouTube or is it just me? I use it for many of my workout videos, my crime documentaries and most of all, recipes. I subscribe to vegan and non-vegan channels alike because sometimes non-vegan cooks have some really good ideas too.
One of my favorites is Chef John from Food Wishes. I love his corny dad jokes and even though there is always meat or dairy in his recipes, I love to veganize so many of them that it’s worth it. During one of my recent YouTube sessions, which its pretty difficult to call it a single session since it pretty much goes on and on for most of the day, especially since I pay for premium which means…no ads!
Sorry, Chef John and the Pancake Lasagna (recipe here and video here). So my partner and I watched this video together and we both pretty much had the same reaction. “Let’s make this. ASAP.”
So, that’s what we did.
The idea behind this vegan lasagna is pretty simple. Make the lasagna you love, only replace the pasta with thin, homemade pancakes. This idea appealed to me immediately because ever since moving to Europe, I have had a difficult time finding the long lasagna noodles that you boil so they’re nice and malleable no matter what size/shape baking dish you use.
When you think of pesto, you probably imagine the light green sauce we know as pesto alla Genovese, made with basil and pine nuts and usually some type of hard cheese. This is my go-to pesto recipe because the flavor of fresh basil is pretty incredible. When I talk vaguely about pesto, this is what I am referring to.
But, that isn’t the only way to make pesto. In fact, all you really need is the right leafy green and you can make pesto out of almost anything. I’ve used carrot greens, spinach, a mix of herbs, sundried tomatoes and now…ramsons!
Making pesto is pretty easy if you have a food processor but if you prefer the old school method that requires a mortar & pestle you’ll need a bit more muscle to get the job done. Either way will work, so pick your method and grab your ingredients.
Let’s start with basic ingredients for vegan pesto!
Ingredients Basil Scallions (optional) Lemon (juiced) Garlic Pine nuts (I like to lightly toast them) Nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan) Water (if needed and added gradually)
That’s a super basic ingredient list, right? Pesto, for all its delicious flavors, isn’t a sauce that’s over-complicated and that’s certainly part of it’s charm. It’s so flavorful that a little bit goes a long way.
Tip: If you use more than a bunch or 2 of basil, give it a pulse or two on its own before adding the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is especially important if you choose to go oil-free because you won’t get that smooth chop that comes with adding 1/4 cup or more of olive oil to the pesto.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and start with a gentle pulse until the ingredients start to blend. If you’re having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and crank up the speed of the food processor until you get the desired consistency.
Tip: Add half the lemon juice up front and the rest as you need more liquid to break up those leafy greens, and then switch to water or you’ll end up with a SUPER lemony pesto.
Tip: Add nutritional yeast a little at a time, tasting as you go. If you use vegan parmesan, please let me know your tips because I have some Violife Parmesan arriving in the mail…any day now today!
If you make a big batch of pesto, I recommend adding a teaspoon of oil after two days to make the batch last longer. If you make enough for one or two days, feel free to keep the pesto oil-free.
My mother-in-law recently returned from the local Farmer’s Market with a huge bag of ramsons, also known as wild garlic or ramps (pictured below) and once I got a whiff of that yummy garlicky scent, I knew this would be perfect for pesto. The first batch, which I didn’t photograph, was super garlicky because I added about 20 grams of roasted garlic to the pesto. It was delicious but very, very garlicky.
For the second batch, I decided to go with a vegan Ramson Pesto alla Trapanese style vegan pesto which means leafy greens, nuts and fresh tomatoes. I had some heirloom kumatoes that I hoped would work.
My Ingredients: Ramsons Lemon (juiced & zested) Walnuts Kumato Mustard Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parm Tabasco sauce (just a few drops) Water
Break up the ramsons with a few pulses in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients, starting with a slow pulse and then giving them a good go ’round until you have a nice pesto consistency.
If the leaves aren’t broken up enough, add water or lemon juice to keep it an oil-free pesto, but if you don’t mind some extra fat, add oil one teaspoon at a time.
Refrigerate and add to your favorite pasta dishes, sandwiches or whatever else you fancy. In fact, tell me in the comments section how you like to enjoy your pesto. My favorite thing to do besides enjoy it on a toasted baguette or crackers, is to add some veggiegurt to it for a creamy, flavorful salad dressing.
Next time you make pesto of any kind, I’d love to see it so hit me up on Facebook or Instagram with photos!