Sundried Tomato Cream Pasta

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Another delicious “I can’t believe it’s vegan” cream sauce.  I’m officially obsessed with cashews now that I’ve discovered just how rich and creamy they can make sauces, soups or anything.  With this the fresh basil really adds a lot of flavor that compliments the sundried tomato very nicely.  Another great addition to stir in at the end, kalamata olives or pine nuts.

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Serves 2

Ingredients

1/3 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight

1/4 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes from a jar (drained of oil)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

1/2 – 3/4 cup vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

Fresh basil (optional but really amazing in this)

Method

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium heat until onion is translucent; about 3-5 minutes.  Add to food processor or blender with cashews, sundried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.  Puree adding more broth as needed.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat and add enough reserved pasta water to just cover the bottom.  Add in sauce and pasta, stir and cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Add a tablespoon of pasta water at time to thin out if needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat, stir in basil, drizzle with a little oil from sundried tomatoes or just plain olive oil if desired and serve.

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Veggie Lasagna with Tofu Cashew Ricotta

Yep, this lightened up, healthy lasagna is vegan but you really won’t miss the cheese, I swear.  I know because I always loved cheesy baked pasta dishes so I if I was going to create a cheeseless lasagna, it had to be good.  I skip using any type of packaged vegan cheese on this because I’m really picky about how I use those and I wanted to preserve the other flavors going on here.  Of course you can always switch up the veggies based on what you like or have on hand.  One important tip, do pick a good quality pasta sauce if you don’t make your own.  I love Rao’s, Marinelli’s, and Paesana sauces.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

Basil Ricotta

¾ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hrs

½ block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Low-sodium broth for sautéing

2 portobello caps, gills removed, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 heaping cup chopped broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

2 cups pasta sauce

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all the basil ricotta ingredients to a food processor and process until it all comes together.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few  tablespoons of broth, just enough to barely coat bottom of the pan.  You don’t want too much liquid because you want the veggies to brown a bit.  Add portobello, bell pepper, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in broccoli and garlic and, adding a little more broth as needed. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Assemble lasagna: (note: you will have to trim noodles to fit and you may not use them all).  Coat bottom of a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, top with half the veggies.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on top.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, veggies and sauce.  Now top with the last layer of noodles, ricotta and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

 

Zesty Italian Vegan Meatballs

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No these don’t taste like regular meatballs, but these bad boys are pretty tasty.  I used some vegan Italian sausage that I had so it gives them a nice zesty flavor and then you don’t have to worry so much about adding a bunch of seasoning.  I had a Field Roast link that I cut up and threw in the food processor until it was crumbly.  Uptons Naturals also makes a great Italian sausage and there’s isn’t a link but instead more “ground” texture.  I highly recommend either of those.  Some other brands out there just don’t taste good.  If you don’t feel like cooking lentils, black beans will probably do.

 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)

1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/4-1/3 cup)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup crumbled Italian vegan sausage (chop or use food processor if needed)

3/4 cup cooked green or brown lentils

1 Tbsp soy sauce

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 Tbsp water)

Salt and pepper to taste, if needed

Method

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet and add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat about 3 minutes.

Add onions, garlic, sausage, lentils, and soy sauce to a food processor.  Pulse several times until mixture starts to come together, drizzle in the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Pulse and once combined and no large chunks but not pureed, add to a mixing bowl.  Add bread crumbs and flax egg.  Mix to combine.

Roll mixture into tablespoon size balls and lay onto a parchment line baking sheet or dish.  Chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Pan-fry

Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a cast iron or nonstick skillet.  Heat over medium high.  Lightly dust each meatball with flour and add to skillet.  Add to skillet (should be hot enough to sizzle) and cook about minutes or until golden brown (turning half way through).

Bake

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  With meatballs on a parchment line baking sheet, spray or brush with olive oil.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

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