“An Easy, Elegant, Lemony Pasta Dish”

The above title is in quotes because that’s what the author of the recipe, Bryanna Clark Grogan, calls it.  I figured that’s what I should call it, too, but if left to my own devices, I’d probably name it something like Lemony Spaghetti with Asparagus, Peas and Veggie Ham.  More descriptive, but not as catchy.  Whatever you want to call it, this pasta is CRAZY good.  Seriously.  One of the best pasta dishes on the planet.  Bryanna posted the recipe on her blog and her photo looked enticing.  Given that I already trust her culinary genius (I adore her book, World Vegan Feast – we make and happily eat her Bahn Mi (aka “Saigon Subs”) recipe every New Year’s Eve for some delicious reason), I was eager to give this a try.  I am very, very glad I did.  Wow.

The link to the entire recipe on her blog is below.  If you’re too excited to wait, scroll down and go for it.  It’s not difficult at all.  If you have a moment, let me walk you through it…  First, you’ll be making “Bryanna’s Quick Creamy Sauce for Pasta,” which involves dumping a bunch of stuff in a blender and then heating it until it thickens a bit.  Super easy.  For this particular recipe, lemon juice is added.  Yum.

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Next, blanch some chopped asparagus until crisp-tender.  Since you’re also going to be adding some frozen peas that need to be thawed, I recommend draining the asparagus in a colander with the peas in it.  That way, the hot asparagus water thaws them quickly for you.  Run cold water over the asparagus (and peas, if you went that route) to arrest cooking and set aside.

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You’ll want to get your pasta water going at this point and proceed to cook your pasta according to directions.  (I used brown rice spaghetti.)  Meanwhile, saute thinly sliced veggie ham (I used the Yves brand) for a few minutes, and then add the peas and asparagus and heat up.

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Next add the Creamy Pasta Sauce, along with the parmesan substitute of your choice, and mix well.  It looks a bit soupy at this point, but fear not.  It will continue to thicken gently as it cooks.  Let it bubble over medium heat.

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Once your pasta has cooked, drain and then add to the magical mixture.  Toss until everything is well mixed.

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Get ready for a mouthful of happiness!  Added bonus:  this makes A LOT.  You can either feed a fairly large group, if you have one on hand, or you will be enjoying the leftovers as I’m planning on doing for lunch today.  Seriously yummy.

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Here’s the link:

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/easy-elegant-lemony-pasta-dish.html

Enjoy!  xo

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Dreamy Asparagus Risotto

The asparagus crop is looking lovely up here, so I took out one of my favorite recipes and made Asparagus Risotto.  The recipe is adapted from Vegan World Fushion Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi of Blossoming Lotus Cafe fame.  The book is full of wonderful recipes, and this is one that I turn to again and again.  In addition to being delicious this way, it’s also a great base for other risotto recipes.  Instead of asparagus, just add whatever you prefer or have on hand:  peas, mushrooms and thyme, squash… you name it, it will probably work.

To begin, you’ll need some heated liquid on hand and ready to go (either vegetable broth or water).  While the water warms up, simmer shallots in olive oil.  After a few minutes, add arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes.  You want to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn and so that it will be completely coated with the shallot oil.  The next step is to add a hit of acid to the mix, in this case lemon juice but you could use a vinegar instead.  After the lemon juice is absorbed, begin adding your warmed water or broth, stirring until it is fully absorbed.  It will look about like this at this point:

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Meanwhile, cook some asparagus in whatever way you choose.  I went with oven roasting, but steamed or blanched is also perfectly nice.  Once it’s cooked and cooled, cut the asparagus into bite-sized bits.

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Back in the saute pan, you keep on slowly adding liquid and stirring and stirring until the rice has reached the desired consistency (a nice creamy al dente).  Depending on your rice, this will take anywhere from 3 to 5 cups of liquid and 20 to 45 minutes, generally somewhere in between both of those ranges.  Once your last bit of liquid has been absorbed, add the following items to make it dreamy:  coconut milk, tahini, mirin, saffron strands soaked in a bit of water, crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  (Note:  the original recipe also calls for adding nutritional yeast, basil, parsley, black pepper and soy sauce, but I’ve dropped those over the years.)

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Stir until all of those ingredients are creamy and well-blended and then add your asparagus bits until heated through.

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Enjoy!  xo

Chocolate Banana Bread – Vegan and Gluten Free!

I made this.  You should, too.  YUM!!!!!

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This super easy and divinely delicious recipe is courtesy of Sarah Yates and her terrific blog, A House in the Hills.  Here’s everything you need to know to make this yourself:

http://ahouseinthehills.com/2014/06/09/vegan-gluten-free-banana-bread-omg/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AHouseInTheHills+%28a+house+in+the+hills%29

Enjoy!  xo

Home-made Pad Thai!

Queenie adores Pad Thai, and I’ve experimented with many recipes over the years.  I tried this one out last night and it was quite pleasing.  It’s from ExtraVeganZa by Laura Matthias, a book with lots of tasty recipes in it.  While the dish is not at all traditional, the sauce has a nice range of flavors.  I’d make a few tweaks next time, but it was definitely a good base to play with.

The dish comes together quickly in a wok, so you’ll want to have everything ready to go when you make it.  There’s the aforementioned yummy sauce, which contains rice vinegar, tamari, rice syrup, peanut butter and olive oil.

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Have your cooked noodles standing by.  I used brown rice fettucini by Tinkyada.

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Chop all of your other ingredients and you’re ready to go.  The first batch of things to be tossed in the wok includes tofu, garlic, ginger, scallions, red pepper flakes, salt and sliced yam (I mentioned that it’s not traditional, right?).  Cook for a couple of minutes until the yam softens, which happens more quickly than you might think.

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Next, add sliced red bell pepper, chopped bok choy and water chestnuts.

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Give these a quick stir for a minute or two, and then add the sauce and cooked noodles.  Once everything is heated and mixed, remove from the heat and add lime juice.

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Voila – a tasty plate of food.  Next time, I’d use less yam (while it’s interesting and healthy, it dominated the dish a bit) and way more bok choy.  Yum!

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Enjoy!  xo