Broccoli Pasta with Kale, Spinach & Cashew Pesto (Vegan or Not)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back

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This is really easy. I made the pesto last month & froze portions of it in sandwich bags.  It retained its brilliant green color & yummy flavor perfectly.  Here is that recipe:

Kale, Spinach & Cashew Pesto

Makes about 2 cups – which is a lot


2 cups kale with the ribs removed

2 cups organic spinach

2-6 garlic cloves (depending on your taste for garlic)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

1/4 cup cashews (or almonds or pistachios or walnuts or pecans)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water




Blanch the kale in boiling water for 1 minute & then drain & put into cold water.  When it is cool enough, squeeze the water out & pulse it in a food processor a few times.

Toast the nuts in a dry pan – agitating them so they do not burn – for a few minutes or until they start to brown a bit & smell fragrant.  Do not burn them or the pesto will be bitter.  Pulse them into the Kale.

Add all the other ingredients & pulse until smooth.  You might need to add more or less water to get the desired consistency – which should be thick but smooth.  Season with S&P.

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Once the pesto is prepared – all you need to do is boil the pasta & the broccoli & toss it.  SO EASY!  So healthy!  So yummy!

Broccoli Pasta with Kale, Spinach & Cashew Pesto (Vegan or Not)

Feeds 2


1/2 lb pasta

Broccoli – cut into florets (Use as little or as much as you like.  I used a large head.)

Pesto – recipe above (Again – use as much as you like.)

Garnish – Parmesan (vegan or otherwise), ground pepper, salt

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Prepare the pesto.  Boil the pasta & add the broccoli for the last 2-3 minutes.  Drain & toss with the pesto.  Garnish as you like.  See?  crazy easy!

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Peach & Tomato Caprese Pizza with Mozarella, Basil & Balsamic Reduction

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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That photo above has nothing to do with this recipe.  But – I bought figs at the farmer’s market the other day & they photograph so gorgeously – I could not resist snapping this pic of them & that lush hunk of Saint Andre.  Dairy is something I am increasingly cutting out of my diet but – holy mother of God – that that cheese on some crusty bread & topped with a fig?  Criminy! I am desperate for vegan cheese to do what vegan meats (especially Beyond Meat) have done – namely – evolve into a really great vegan alternative to cruelty-based foods.

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So – my boss gave me a perfectly ripe peach the other day.  I let it sit, in all its aromatic glory, on my desk all day as I pondered what to do with it.  I then remembered that I had homemade pizza dough in the fridge & from that fact alone – this pizza was born.  At the end of the work day, I sauntered out, proudly declaring that a peach pizza was about to happen – and happen it did.

I wasn’t sure if I would like hot peach pizza so I decided to hedge my bet a bit & made this a twofer.  I did not have Gorgonzola or goat cheese – cheeses that might cut the sweet of the peach so I decided to drizzle it with a balsamic reduction.  I am happy to announce that the peach side was even more delicious than the traditional side.  I did not cook the peach at all first but you could grill yours first if you want to maybe give the pizza that extra layer of flavor. It is completely unnecessary, though.


Simply boil a nice balsamic until it reduces by about 30-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your pizza – just boil down some more.  Be careful not to burn it! I used about a tablespoon of the reduction on this pizza.

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Peach & Tomato Caprese Pizza with Mozarella, Basil & Balsamic Reduction

Serves as many as you like – depending on how much dough & ingredients you have


(the amount of each is up to your personal taste)

Pizza dough (I used this one)

Peaches – pitted & sliced 1/4 inch thick

Tomato sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Fresh mozzarella (or vegan alternative) – sliced

Fresh Basil

Cherry or grape tomatoes – quartered (optional)

Balsamic reduction (recipe above in bold)

Parchment paper (optional)

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Heat the oven to 500 degrees & be sure it reaches temperature before putting your pizza in there.

Make the balsamic reduction.  Set aside.

Cover a cooking sheet with parchment paper.  And old metal pan.  Pizza stones suck.  PARCHMENT PAPER is magic.  Or – grease a cooking sheet with cooking spray or olive oil.

Roll the dough out & put it on the pan.  Spread sauce on one half of the pizza & arrange the peach slices on the other.  Top with cheese.  Cook until it is the way you like it – typically 10-15 minutes.  Top with basil & cherry tomatoes & drizzle the peach side (or both sides) with the balsamic.


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Vegan Pasta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce & Lobster Mushroom


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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So – I went to the farmer’s market for the first time in forever.  Once there, I was reminded of why I no longer go.  IT COSTS A FORTUNE.  Everything seems reasonable until you walk out with fingers screaming from the pain of carrying 400 pounds of produce & $200 poorer.  But it is always fun & there are usually yummy things to sample.  This time there were almond croissants the size of footballs, boxes of mixed mushrooms for $20, some peana & eggphan (I can’t resist misspelled signs).

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There were also golden beets that were larger than a softball and the crazy-looking thing above.  That, my friends, is a lobster mushroom.  It was about the size of a small Russet potato & weighed about 4 ounces.  I asked the mushroom monger what it was & she told me it was a lobster mushroom.  I asked why they were called that & was told that they not only have a reddish color similar to a cooked lobster but also that they have a slight seafood taste.  I had to have one!  I let her pick one out and as she weighed it, I began pulling out ones to pay for it.  I pulled for a while because that fucker there cost me $17!!!  I almost choked at the price but decided it would be a worthy blog post so I paid & walked away – wondering what the fuck I was gonna do with it.

Intimidated by the idea of ruining a $17 mushroom barely larger than my fist, I Googled to see what others had done with them.  I found this gorgeous photo & checked out the recipe at THE COFFEE TABLE COOKBOOK.


I had the bulk of the ingredients already so I decided to make a vegan version of their FETTUCCINI WITH LOBSTER MUSHROOM AND SCRATCH-MADE HEIRLOOM TOMATO SAUCE.  I simplified the sauce recipe quite a bit but the most interesting thing I learned from their post was the concept of grating tomatoes.  Click that link & see how it is done & how not to grate your flesh into the sauce.  You basically grate the tomatoes on a box grater & it results in a beautiful tomato puree without any skin.  See below.

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I added a lot of crushed red pepper to my sauce which might have been a mistake because the spicy sauce sort of overwhelmed the very delicately flavored lobster mushroom.  The mushroom had only the slightest mushroom flavor & no seafood element at all.   Those photos above are the mushroom cut up.  Looks like chicken or pork – or bread.  It is very light & porous so it reduced to almost nothing in the saute pan.  Overall – I would say there is no reason to pay so much for what amounts to so little.  Regular mushrooms are just as good and far less costly.

I do recommend trying this sauce, however.  I eliminated the dairy from the original recipe & also could not bring myself to add a cup of the precious – a cup of white wine – to the sauce just to cook it off.  I felt the wine would be better used poured down my gullet & I don’t think the sauce suffered and I know I didn’t.

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Vegan Pasta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce & Lobster Mushroom

Serves 2


1/2 lb pasta

for the sauce

5 large heirloom tomatoes – grated (see here)

1 TBS olive oil

2 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 tsp to 1 TBS crushed red pepper – to taste

10 basil leaves (plus more for garnish)

several sprigs of fresh thyme


for the mushroom

4 oz lobster mushroom (or 1/2 lb regular mushrooms)

2 TBS olive oil or vegan butter

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1 tsp thyme leaves

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for the sauce

Heat the olive oil & add the garlic.  Saute one minutes & then add the other ingredients.  Simmer on med-high until it reduces by about half.  Season to taste.  Remove the thyme sprigs and throw them away.

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for the mushrooms

Heat the olive oil or vegan butter and saute the mushrooms until they are nearly done to your liking.  Add the garlic & thyme & cook another minute or two.  Be sure not to burn the garlic.  Season with S&P.

Cook the pasta as directed & toss with the sauce.  Serve & top with mushrooms & chopped fresh basil.

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Vegan Garlic Cream, Mushroom & Chicken Pasta Florentine

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

Recently, a friend pointed me in the direction of a vegan cheese shop that sells their cheeses online.  Miyoko’s Creamery.   Look at how tempting their photos of their cheeses are!  (Photos from Miyoko site.)








OMG!  I was so excited – I immediately ordered 4 types: the Double Cream Garlic Herb (which I used in this recipe), Classic Double Cream Chive, Aged English Smoked Farmhouse & Aged English Sharp Farmhouse.  Both of the farmhouse cheeses were just a tad sharp – almost to the point of being sour – and not nearly as effective as the softer options I made.  The garlic herb one is my favorite – of the ones I bought.  The farmhouse cheeses might fare better when put in or on something rather than just eating them naked – so I have not given up hope.  The soft ones are like Boursin & are pretty creamy & very spreadable.   Inch by inch, my journey toward veganism gets easier and cheese efforts like this will only keep improving.  The photo below is one I took of the Double Cream Garlic Herb.  Not too shabby looking, eh?

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So – this is yet another easy one.  If you cannot get (or do not want to use) this cheese – a vegan cream cheese (or even real Boursin cheese – if you are not vegan) would work.

You will notice some of these images include spinach & some do not.  I made it twice & photographed it both ways.

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I used Beyond Meat Chicken in this.  Coupons can be found on the site as well as a store locator.  This is, in my opinion, the best faux chicken on the market.  I like to cube it before cooking but that is not necessary.

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Vegan Garlic Cream, Mushroom & Chicken Pasta Florentine

Serves 2


1/2 lb pasta

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

9 oz vegan chicken

2 cups fresh spinach

3 oz Vegan Double Cream Garlic Herb Cheese (or other soft vegan cheese- like cream cheese)

1 cup almond milk

2+ cloves garlic – sliced or chopped

Olive oil



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Cook pasta as directed.  Add the spinach in the last 30 seconds – just to wilt it.  Drain & return to the pan.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the mushrooms & cook on high for a few minutes & then add the chicken.  Saute until they begin to brown.  Ad the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the almond milk & cheese & stir to combine.  Cook until the sauce thickens.  Add more milk if you need to – if it gets too thick.

Season with S&P.  Add the pasta & spinach & toss to coat (or add the mushrooms to the pasta pan to toss – whichever is easier).

Serve with freshly chopped parsley & crushed pepper.

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4-Ingredient Vegan Creamy Avocado Pasta with Broccoli


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

This is as easy as easy gets.  If you can boil water & mash an avocado – you are IN!  I made this the other day with olive oil & garlic & shallots but I prefer this easier & cleaner version.   And it is a great way to make dinner on a hot day (and it has been hideously humid here, lately) and not heat up the whole kitchen.

The quantities of each ingredient are really up to you.  You might like a fuckton of broccoli & a heavier avocado sauce – or not.  So – feel free to improvise.

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4-Ingredient Vegan Creamy Avocado Pasta with Broccoli

serves 2


1/2 lb pasta (I used that fresh stuff from the refrigerator section)

Broccoli (I used one large head)

1 large avocado

1/2 a lemon or lime


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Boil water.  I quartered my broccoli & basically boiled it for about 5 minutes & fished it out with a slotted spoon an set aside & then cooked the pasta in the same water as directed on the package.  If you like your broccoli more al dente or mushier – adjust the cooking time & test the broccoli every minute or so.

Mash the avocado with fresh lemon or lime juice – to taste.  Start light with the juice so it doesn’t overpower the avocado.  Season with S&P.  I tried this in my blender but there was not enough bulk for the blender to work so I just mashed it by hand.  I added a tiny bit of water to thin it into a thick sauce rather than a basic guacamole.

Cut the broccoli into florets.

Drain the pasta & toss with the broccoli & some avocado – maybe reserving some avocado to top the dish.

Season with S&P & serve!

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I am all about Beyond Meat!    Click HERE to get a coupon to try some yourself & to use their store locator.  This brand is the absolute best vegan meat on the market – in my opinion.  These beefy crumbles are so delicious that even unapologetic carnivore & hyper-finicky eater, the badass Miles Miller, ate this shepherd’s pie & declared it delicious.  He even went on to rave that he would eat this fake ground beef in pasta or in tacos etc etc.  This is a man that takes the TEENSIEST nibble of remotely questionable foods (like any vegetable or dish that is new to him or anything vegetarian) & often even indulges in a sour expression of distaste to make his displeasure clear.  But not in response to this stuff.  I am convinced that you need not even tell a meat eater that this stuff is fake.  They would be very unlikely to guess.

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That said – shepherd’s pie is pretty hard to photograph.  I even Googled an image search to see how others had pulled it off.  Pretty much everyone leaves it in the pan it was cooked in – because, when plated, it spills out & can just look like chunky mush.  In the interest of full disclosure, I stacked two servings on top of each other to create that deep, lasagna look.  You can do this, too, when serving it – otherwise a single serving looks sorta anemic.

This came together in an hour – start to finish – and is really, really easy.   I would use more sweet potato, in the future, to create a deeper pie but it is full of flavor & has a bit of a kick.  Used random vegetables I had in the house from my Farm Fresh to You delivery but you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 6


for the chipotle sweet potato mash

6+ medium sweet potatoes – peeled & cubed

2 chipotle peppers – minced

1 TBS adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

4 TBS vegan butter

1/3 cup or more almond or soy or rice milk


for the shepherd’s pie

18 oz vegan ground beef

6 small carrots – chopped

2 sunburst or pattypan squash (or zucchini) – chopped

1 bell pepper – chopped

1 serrano pepper – chopped (seeds removed for less heat)

1 small red onion – chopped

2 celery stalks – chopped

2 garlic cloves – chopped

1 chipotle pepper – minced (or more for more heat)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS canned or fresh jalapeno – chopped

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

Handful of cilantro – chopped (and extra for garnish)

Cayenne or chili powder

Extra vegan butter

(other vegetables you could use might be corn, peas, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli)

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until very soft.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and, basically, heat all the shepherd’s pie ingredients until the vegetables are soft.  Season with S&P.  Add more canned jalapeno or chipotle or adobo for more spice.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the milk, butter, chipotle peppers & some S&P.  Taste & season with more chipotle peppers or adobo sauce or S&P.

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I treated a casserole pan with cooking oil & put the meat & veggies in there & then spread the sweet potatoes on top.  Sprinkle some cayenne or chili powder on top & drop a few butter cubes on there, too.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it begins to brown a bit.

Serve with cilantro.

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Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker

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To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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Inspired by these gorgeous photos & the recipe HERE from Petit World Citizen – I created this adaptation of that recipe.

My understanding is that Dal Makhani translates to “buttery lentils” – but this dish used no butter.  You can opt to use vegan butter (or real butter – if you are not vegan) in place of the olive oil – and you will be making this in the more traditional way.  I also understand that it typicaally includes red beans but this version does not.  I used Beluga or black lentils that I bought HERE on Amazon.  The original recipe called for 5-6 cups of water to one cup of lentils and I doubled the recipe.  After a full day of cooking in the slow cooker, it was still a very thin soup – so – I added the rest of the black lentils – the full 2lbs.  As a result – I have a fuckton of Dal Makhani – enough to fill THIS 6 QT Crock-Pot to the brim.  But – it is healthy & light & freezes well & I’m OK eating the same thing for lunch every day for a week – so I will deal.  You might want to consider cutting the recipe at least in half.

Also – I radically increased the spices of the original recipe & it came out fiery hot.  I added sugar & some potato slices to modify that & it worked wonders.

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Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker

Make 3-6 quarts (your call) – enough to feed 8-20 – especially if served with rice.

You can cut this recipe in half – by simply reducing the lentils & water by half but keep the other ingredients complete as listed here.  I made it as listed below but with half the lentils but it was too watery.  I then doubled the lentil portion without adding anything else.  So – you have two options below.


for 3 quarts use:

1 lb (2 cups) black beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
6 cups water – plus more if necessary


for 6 quarts use:

2 lbs (4 cups) black beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
12 cups water – plus more if necessary

Either way – the rest of the ingredients remain the SAME:

26 oz tomato purée/sauce
4 teaspoons salt
1 TBS sweet paprika or chili powder (I used chili powder)
2 TBS ground garam masala
1 TBS ground turmeric
1 tsp (or more, to taste) cayenne pepper or 2 finely chopped green jalapeño pepper (I used BOTH)
dash of ground cinnamon
1-4 TBS olive oil, vegetable oil or butter (I used 1 TBS olive oil)
4 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds (toasted in a dry pan for a few minutes until brown & fragrant – and ground up with a mortar & pestle – the grinding part being optional)
2 TBS ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4-6 green onions, sliced thinly, plus more for garnish
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk for a vegan version (I used lite)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)

Up to 1 TBS sugar – optional addition for if your dal comes out too spicy

1 large potato – peeled & diced – optional addition for if your dal comes out too spicy

Avocado slices or lime wedges – for garnish

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Place rinsed lentils into a 6-quart Crock-Pot with water.  Add tomato sauce, salt, paprika or chili powder, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan a few minutes until just beginning to brown & they become fragrant.  Be careful not to burn them.  Grind them in a mortar & pestle (grinding not strictly necessary).  Then, in small saucepan, heat oil on medium high heat, add toasted cumin seeds and ginger.  Sauté for 3-5 minutes and then add garlic & green onions and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the sautéed mixture to the crockpot and give everything a good mixing up to incorporate things.

Set the timer for 6 hours on HIGH.   If you are home while it cooks – stir it once in a while for a creamier texture.

After the cooking time is done, the dal should be very soft. Add the coconut milk & stir it in.   Taste, adjust seasoning.  If it is too spicy – add the sugar & potato.  Continue cooking for 15 or so minutes or until the potato is soft.  If the dal is too thick, add some hot water until preferred consistency is achieved.  If it’s too thin, uncover and cook longer until it thickens.

When done, mix in chopped cilantro. Top with avocados, if using, and garnish with cilantro and green onions or lime wedges. Serve hot with rice, roti or naan.

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