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?
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.
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.
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!
When I was a kid one of my favorite canned meals was spaghetti and meatballs. As a latch-key kid, there was nothign better than racing home from school to crack open a can of ravioli, spaghetti-o’s or spaghetti and meatballs. All of that tomato-y goodness that, in hindsight, wasn’t all that good, waiting to stain your lips and your microwave safe bowl!
Who could resist?
Not me, that’s for sure!
So, when I was walking the aisles of Lidl last week and noted that here in Romania they have started to up their vegan food choices game. I found Verdino brand meatballs and you know what I did, grabbed up the last package with a giddy smile. I knew then what I wanted.
What is that?
Well, let’s see. Combine my love of carbs, noodles and pasta with these vegan meatballs and what do you have? One of my childhood favorites, re-done for the fancy, grown-up vegan I am today.
This is one of those vegan dinner recipes that you can do the easy way or the tasty way. Just kidding, I’m sure your jarred pasta is super delicious, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste. But if anyone knows of any no sugar added options, I’m game to give it a try.
Some days you know exactly what you want for vegan dinner goodness and then there are those days when you’re just hungry but you have no idea what you want. We’ve all been there and where I live vegan takeout isn’t really an option so we have to do something.
Oh, the pressure!
So when one of us doesn’t actually know what we want for dinner but it’s our night to choose, we’ll just toss out a few ingredients, like say; pesto, mushrooms and potatoes. From there, the world is the cook’s #vegan oyster. You can do whatever you want as long as it contains the aforementioned ingredients.
This vegan dinner recipe is the result of one those nights.
Crispy Tofu, Smashed Potatoes & Mushrooms with Carrot Green Pesto
The other great this about this is that it is a super quick and easy vegan recipe, with most of the work being done by kitchen appliances. But before we get to that, let’s get to the ingredients.
Some days you just feel like getting weird with it and on those days, well, you get weird with it.
I recently bought some new hot sauce, Crazy Bastard brand hot sauce, and so you know I had to indulge my love of all things spicy and delicious. I couldn’t go completely crazy because my partner does not handle the super hot foods all that well and I love him, so I guess I have to take it easy on the fella.
We still had some really good looking oyster mushrooms in the fridge and I knew exactly what I wanted, something simple so the hot sauce could be the star of the meal, and something to take the heat off if necessary. (It was totally necessary, btw)
So, if you’re ready to get hot & spicy, grab your favorite vegan meat alternative, mushrooms, bulgur and bok choy leaves and let’s do this! Oh, and let’s not forget the hot sauce.
Let’s start with the mushrooms because I like to put mine in the oven and let them get crispy on the edges while keeping the moisture in the big part of the cap. Dust off the dirt and grime with a wet napkin or towel, and trim them before you weigh them (if that’s your jam, but it’s totally mine).
I don’t know about you guys, but I love to cook. I don’t have a problem with blasting some music or listening to a true crime podcast while I get busy in the kitchen. Whether it’s making my favorite dessert from scratch–brownies–or any other thing that’s asked of me, I’ll do it.
But that doesn’t mean I’m all that creative in the kitchen. I will mix and match with the best of’em. For example, I recently made Jerk Cabbage Ramen and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. But vegan cooking isn’t my main job, or even my second job. It’s more of a passion so when it comes to creativity, I have no problem looking to others for inspiration.
One of my favorite vegan food blogs is Rabbit & Wolves because they have tons of unique vegan recipes and they’re just complicated enough to be challenging without pissing me off. So a few weeks back I was scrolling through recipes in search of something delicious and made with mushrooms, and most importantly, something I hadn’t eaten in the past, oh I don’t know, six months.
And that’s when I spotted it. Sticky. Apricot. Mushrooms.
Yep, you heard me right. I was like, “what?” And then I immediately knew what I wanted my partner to make on our next Midnight Tokyo Diner night. But when that night rolled around, there were no apricots and no apricot jam anywhere in the house, because who the heck keeps apricot jam on hand?