Monday, February 23, 2009

A Happy Vegan Lasagne

I've tried umpteen vegan lasagne recipes since going vegan and I've never been happy.  They either have turned out flat (not enough filling), too spinachy, too fake meaty, or too fake cheesy.  And the noodles never seemed right, as I had switched to no-boil noodles.  I'm never happy with the lasagne results.  I had pretty much given up on lasagne and then I decided I would try one more.  I searched google images for vegan lasagnes that looked good.  I narrowed it down to 2 recipes:

Tempeh Lasange with Cashew Cream Sauce

HSUS Vegan Lasagne

I then combined the aspects of each that I liked and came up with my own version.  And holy moly!!  This time the lasange rocked!  I am actually looking forward to the leftovers tonight (isn't that the best part of lasagne - meals for days).

Vegan Lasagna
(Not my best photography)

Here is my version of vegan lasagne which we declared a keeper. I won't lie to you. It's a lot of work - good for a lazy saturday when you have nothing better to do. The parts can all be made separately and then thrown together after the noodles are boiled.

Vegan Lasagne

lasagna noodles (~15 noodles)
Vegan parmesan (I like Parmezano Sprinkles from the Uncheese cookbook)
1/2 block Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella

1 1/2 24-oz jars Barilla Tomato Basil Sauce
8 oz five grain tempeh
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp+ white wine
1/2 tsp dried basil

Tofu Ricotta
1 pkg extra firm tofu (~14-16 oz)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Cheese Sauce
1 cup of water
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (I just get a red bell pepper and broil it and peel it)
1/4 cup raw blanched almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp corn starch (or arrowroot)
1/2 tsp Garlic powder


Cut the tempeh in half and steam for 20 minutes. Let it cool for a bit and then finely grate it. I use the food processor to get a really fine grate on the tempeh.

Press the tofu for the tofu ricotta.

If you are roasting your own red bell pepper for the sauce, blacken a red bell pepper in the broiler. When blackened on all sides, place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. Then uncover and peel the pepper. Dice the pepper and set aside for the cheese sauce later.

In a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the onions. Cook the onions until the brown slightly. Add the garlic. Cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the grated tempeh and another tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the tempeh until golden brown. This takes about 7-10 minutes. Mix the soy sauce and liquid smoke. Add the soy sauce mixture the tempeh (carefully as the tempeh will want to jump out of the pan, have a lid handy). Add the white wine. Cook for a minute. Add 1 1/2 jars of Barilla Tomato Basil sauce and 1/2 tsp dried basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside. You can put this in the fridge for later.

Crumble the tofu with a fork and mix in the ricotta seasonings (basil, nutritional yeast, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper). Set aside. You can put this in the fridge for later.

If you are making your own parmezano sprinkles, this is a good time to make those and set aside (see recipe link above).

Now you are ready to actually make the lasagne. :)

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).

Put a big pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the noodles as instructed.** Drain well.

Meanwhile, blend together the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray or wipe with olive oil.

Spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Cover with about 5 noodles, slightly overlapping each other. Cover the noodles with 1/2 of the ricotta. Pour a thin layer of cheese sauce over all. Lay 3 more noodles, then ricotta, then 1/3 marinara sauce, then cheese sauce (leave a little for the top). Lay down the last 3 noodles, and pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top. Pour any remaining cheese sauce over the marinara. Sprinkle the vegan mozzarella over the sauce.

Bake for 40 minutes covered, then for 30 minutes uncovered. If the vegan mozzarella is not looking melted when there is about 10 minutes left, swap the oven to the broiler so that the vegan cheese will melt by the time it is finished.

Let lasagne sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan.

** Don't use no-boil noodles for this. The texture is really not the same and this recipe will not have enough sauce/liquid to cook the noodles.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The ugliest tastiest casserole ever

This recipe is from 101 cookbooks (recipe). It is lima beans and chard with a chipolte tomato sauce, topped with vegan mozarella, toasted breadcrumbs and a cilantro pesto. The cilantro pesto was drizzled over the top at the end and looks pretty ugly up there on top of the casserole, but it was the best part of the dinner. The tomato sauce was a bit spicy but then I'd get a bit of a sweet garlicky cilanto pesto and it was the perfect balance. The vegan cheese gave it the creaminess that it needed.


Here is a picture of the casserole before I added the breadcrumbs:


And after the breadcrumbs and cilantro pesto:


I am going to repost the recipe here because I had to make some modifications to the directions to veganize it.

Giant Chipotle White Beans Recipe

1 pound of large, dried white beans (corona, giant limas, gigantes, or any giant white beans you can find), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight - or up to 24 hours.

Chipotle-tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

Cilantro Pesto:
1 medium clove of garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro (you may need more)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt

1 bunch chard, washed, de-stemmed, and very finely chopped
1/2 block Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella, grated

1 1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil

To prepare the beans. Drain and rinse the beans after their overnight soak. Then place them in a large saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender. This can take anywhere from an hour to two hours (potentially more) depending on your beans, but do your best to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat, salt the beans (still in bean broth) with about a tablespoon of salt - enough that the bean liquid is tasty but on the salty side. Let the beans sit like this for ten minutes or so before draining and setting the beans aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

In the meantime, make your tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, oregano and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce - carefully take a taste ...If the sauce needs more salt add it now, more chipotle flavor? Go for it. Set aside.

Toss breadcrumbs and oil and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 5-10 minutes until bread crumbs are toasty. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a 9x13 baking pan toss the beans with the tomato sauce and the chard (just use your hands for this). Sprinkle with the cheese, cover with foil, and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly 25-30 minutes (make the cilantro pesto while baking - see below). Pull back the foil to see if the cheese is melted. Remove from oven when the cheese is melted and add the breadcrumbs. Cook uncovered for about 5-10 minutes. Careful not to burn the breadcrumbs. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cilantro pesto. Combine the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse or run food processor while you drizzle in the olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

Just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

Serves about 6.

Dino's Beans

It seems like every meal we eat comes in a bowl. Hopefully you aren't tired of pics of food in bowls yet. This dish is from Dino's "recipe". He used black eyed peas in his version, and I decided to use Adzuki beans instead. I threw in a roasted sweet potato and carrot near the end of the cooking. Served with brown rice and roasted cauliflower.

I didn't know how much garam masala to use so I used about a teaspoon. I thought it was too much. I also would cut back on the ginger next time. In addition, I'm not a huge fan of whole spices (except mustard seed), so I would probably use ground spices the next time we make this. All in all it was a good dish and it made the house smelled awesome. We will definitely be making this again - probably with chickpeas.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blueberry Muffins!


I love blueberry muffins. Apparently, my cat Willow does too. I just caught her up on the counter licking these muffins. Sigh. I think she only got one of them.

Willow Black and White

Anyway, it's been a while since I had a blueberry muffin that tasted like the one I imagine in my head. I think these did it. The recipe is originally a Martha Stewart recipe. I veganized it and changed the flour.

Blueberry Muffins

Makes 1 dozen
3 Tbsp ground flax seed
6 Tbsp water
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (1 tsp for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (or regular soy milk, or almond milk)
1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin papers and spray with non-stick spray (or Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside***).

Mix flax seed and water in a bowl and set aside.

Mix 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a bowl, sprinkle blueberries with flour and toss to lightly coat; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat margarine and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Give the flax/water mixture and good stir and add the flax/water mixture, one half at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add soy milk, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of muffin batter (you won't use all the sugar).

Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. If you greased and floured the tins instead of using muffin papers, turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. If you used muffin papers, move muffins to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*** Note that I greased and floured the pan and my muffins stuck to the pan. I recommend the muffin papers.

Triple Ginger Cookies

These are the best cookies I have made in a while. I was worried about the amount of lemon zest called for. I was afraid it was going to overpower the ginger cookies, but it was the perfect balance- just a light lemon undertone. They are nice tiny little spicy gingersnaps. Yum.


The recipe is from 101 Cookbooks. I used Ener-G egg replacer in them and Earth Balance Margarine.

It's been sooo long - Here is some food!

Man, it has been a long time since I have blogged anything. I've been taking pictures of food and then not finding the time to even get them off the camera. I finally uploaded the pics this morning and thought that I should post a montage to make up for lost time.

Tempeh Meatless balls with Garlicky Spaghetti
Vegan Tempeh Meatlessballs over garlicky spaghetti

I love love love these meatless balls from Dan at Happyface Vegan. Here is the recipe. I have made them once before and didn't particularly like the green rice that the original recipe called for so I tried putting them on some spaghetti tossed with olive oil and roasted garlic. That was a little better. I still need to work on what I should serve them over. I think I need to make a garlicky cream sauce next time. Stay tuned for that in the future.

Buddha Bowl with Soy Ginger Sauce
Buddha Bowl with Soy Ginger Sauce

This is another take on Buddha bowls. I used">Thrifty Living's sauce with the full 2 Tbsp of soy sauce and still added more. I really like salt. :) I think I also added some crushed red pepper to the sauce to spice it up a little. We also used pan fried tempeh this time instead of tofu. I think I like the tofu in it better.

Peanutty Noodles with Kale and Butternut Squash

This is a recent recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan. You can't quite tell from the picture, but there is a spaghetti (I used capallini) tossed with a yummy yummy peanut sauce and topped with roasted butternut and kale. The recipe called for broiling the butternut and kale, but that felt risky to me. So, I roasted the butternut at 400 for about 40-45 minutes. In the last 15 minutes, I added the kale on top of the butternut and roasted that too.

Corn Dog Bites
Vegan Corn dog bites

Corn dog bites (recipe) and the Chick Cheeze below were part of Superbowl Junk Food day. We didn't actually care about the superbowl, but liked the excuse to make junk food. I used Tofu Pups for the dogs and I cut the cayenne back to about 1/4 tsp. We also made Vegan Dad's seitan hot wings, but those didn't turn out for us.

Chick Cheeze
Chick 'Cheeze'

The recipe for Chick Cheeze is in the Uncheese Cookbook. We liked this ok, but prefer the Crock Cheeze from the same book.

Autumn Harvest Stew
Autumn Harvest Stew

Lastly, we made Autumn Harvest Stew from Nava Atlas's new cookbook 'Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons'. This is kind of a 3 sisters stew - pinto beans, corn, and squash. This was pretty good, but next time I would add 1 cup less of corn, and 1 can more of pinto beans.