Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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I had a fridge chock full of produce & not enough days of cooking before me to get through it all without a lot of it going bad – so – I made this very thick & hearty tomato sauce.  It is a great way to use a ton of veggies & clean out that fridge.  Additionally – if you puree it or use an immersion blender – you can hide the veggies from kids & other finicky palates.

I grilled the eggplant first – to add a smokey flavor – but this is not necessary.  I used kale & collard greens – because I had them – but they are totally optional – or you could use spinach, instead.  You can eliminate a lot of the ingredients without a negative impact on this sauce so feel free to customize it.

I had a bunch of sage that I had frozen.  It worked really well in this sauce – so – if you have herbs that are going to spoil, put them in sandwich bags & freeze them for use in future sauces.

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Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Makes a boatload – so either serve a large group or freeze some

INGREDIENTS

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (I used Beyond Meat)

Olive oil

7 Japanese eggplants (or 3 large regular eggplants)

2 onions – diced

2 bell peppers – diced

2 large zucchini – chopped

4 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1 bunch kale – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped (or spinach)

1 bunch collard greens – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped fine (or spinach)

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

1/4 cup fresh sage – chopped

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 cup tomato paste (1 small can)

3 (26 oz) containers of chopped & strained tomatoes – in any combination (I used 2 strained & 1 chopped)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (very, very optional)

1 TBS salt

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper (according to your tolerance for heat)

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS thyme (I used fresh chopped)

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

GARNISH – Cooked pasta, fresh chopped parsley or basil

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DIRECTIONS

If you are grilling the eggplant – slice them & either spray them with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil & then grill them on both sides.  Set aside to cool – then chop.  Set aside.

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Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add onions & bell peppers & jalapenos.  Saute until softened.

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Add the zucchini & mushrooms & saute until tender.  Stir in the chopped eggplant.

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Add the greens you are using & fold in so they wilt.  Add the garlic & cook for a minute or two.

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Add all the other ingredients – EXCEPT the beef crumbles.   Bring to a boil & then reduce the heat & simmer for about 30 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add water.

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Now – if you are going to puree the sauce or use an immersion blender – now is the time.   Whatever you decide – pureed or not – add the beefy crumbles & heat through.

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Season with S&P.

Toss some of the sauce with cooked pasta.  You will have a lot of sauce left over – unless you are feeding a very large group.  Garnish with basil and/or parsley.

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10-Minute Vegan Creamy and Spicy Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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I have posted several vegan mac & cheese recipes but I think this one comes closest to a Kraft experience.  The color is nearly right & it really is creamy & delicious.  I also think – of the pure vegan mac & cheeses (meaning – not the eggplant Parmesan kinda ones – seen below) –

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– this one is most likely to trick a cheese-eater.  The sauce only takes as long to make as it takes to boil pasta – just like Kraft.  Plus – it has a little kick to overpowers any flavor from the nutritional yeast that sensitive palates might object to.  Add some Crystal hot sauce & you have a vegan, cheesy pasta orgy!

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10-Minute Vegan Creamy and Spicy Mac & Cheese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

8 oz dry pasta

1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond (or soy) milk

1/4 cup potato flour

1-3 tsp Dijon mustard (depending on your taste for the tang of mustard  – I went with 3)

1-3 tsp sriracha (I went with 1 tsp but added much Crystal hot sauce when I served it)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 TBS tomato paste

1 TBS white miso paste

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder

Salt to taste

Garnish – Crystal (or other) hot sauce

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients over high heat.  Once it begins to bubble – reduce heat to low & stir until it thickens.  If it gets too thick – add water.

Drain the pasta & toss with the cheese sauce.

Serve with extra hot sauce.

See?  EASY!

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Vegan Vegetable Pasta Salad with Spicy Asian Sesame Peanut Dressing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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Pasta salads.  Who doesn’t like them?  I guess – people who don’t like pasta but do such people exist?  Pasta is a universal thing – like bread.  Is there anyone that doesn’t like bread?  Anyway – lots of pasta salads are drenched in mayo-based sauces & there is no shortage of those that object to mayo.   Even those of us that love mayo are hesitant to eat a pasta salad with mayo that has been sitting out in the backyard BBQ too long.  So – why not eliminate two major objections & make a vegan pasta salad?  Nothing in it quick to spoil & nothing white & creamy to freak out the mayo-haters.

I used ingredients I happened to have so – this is a very flexible salad.  I wanted to use edamame but only had Lima beans – so fuck it.  I used Lima beans.   I had those gorgeous watermelon radishes but they were used primarily for their looks.  You could eliminate any ingredient – or add some – with no negative impact.   This is a light & clean alternative to accompany the entrees at BBQ’s which – let’s face it – tend to be meaty & heavy.

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Vegan Vegetable Pasta Salad with Spicy Asian Sesame Peanut Dressing

INGREDIENTS

1 lb of pasta

6 oz edamame (or Lima beans)

1 small head of broccoli – cut into small florets

4 carrots – grated

2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange are prettiest) – grated or diced

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas – drained & rinsed

1-4 jalapenos – seeded & either grated or minced

4 radishes – grated or chopped

3 scallions – sliced

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1/2 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup roasted peanuts

GARNISH – extra radish slices. cilantro, extra peanuts

for the dressing

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)

4 TBS hoisin sauce

4 TBS liquid amino acids (or low sodium soy sauce or tamari)

4 TBS rice vinegar

4 TBS agave nectar

4 TBS sriracha

1 tsp chili oil

2 TBS sesame oil

1-4 garlic cloves – minced

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Whisk together the dressing & set aside.

Cook the pasta & add the broccoli for the last minute or two that it cooks.  Drain & rinse pasta & broccoli under cold water.

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Toss the salad ingredients together.

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Add some dressing & toss.  Add as much as you like – which might be less than you made.  Overdressed salads get icky so add dressing incrementally until it is where you like it.

Garnish & serve.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Seared Mushrooms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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This recipe is simply my Vegan Creamy Alfredo recipe with seared garlic mushrooms added on top.  The mushrooms add lots of flavor & takes some of the weight off the Alfredo – as far as having an authentic Alfredo taste.

I will be honest here.  I have yet to make a cauliflower-based “cheese” that tastes convincingly of heavy cream & Parmesan.  I will also add that nutritional yeast is either a flavor you like – or not.   I find it pleasant & sort of nutty – but it does not taste like cheese.  So – this Alfredo is not going to convince a cheese-eater that it is real Alfredo – but if you are a seasoned vegan & accustomed to managing expectations – this is really quite good.  It is also good if – like me – you cannot imaging eating something as rich & FATTENING as a real plate of pasta Alfredo.  This dish is creamy & visually satisfying & it is tasty.  It feels decadent but the only thing decadent is the actual pasta.

That said – let me give you a peek into the reality of food photography.  Typically – I march all around my house with the plate of food & I place it in several locations – trying to find the best light & background.  Sometimes – that spot is on my dining room floor.  See?

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That is my son, Dexter.  He is 10 & has nerve damage & needs yoga mats everywhere so his rear legs can get traction.  He is a gorgeous boy & my best fried & always offers his support as I put food all over the place to photograph it.  He never tries to sneak a bite.  He is just a curious little momma’s boy.    I am pretty sure most bloggers are using cheated shots like this that are cropped to keep the bizarre stuff in frame out of the final image.  So – there you go.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Seared Mushrooms

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 TBS olive oil

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups almond milk

1-3 TBS nutritional yeast (start with less & only increase after tasting each time)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few shakes of hot sauce (I always use Crystal)

Parsley – chopped

S&P

for the seared garlic mushrooms

Olive oil

1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

1-6 cloves garlic – chopped

SP

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & cook the garlic for about 1 minute.  Add the 1 1/2 cups milk (or more) & cauliflower & boil the cauliflower in the milk until it is very tender – 10 minutes or so.  My cauliflower soaked up all the milk – so I had to add more in the blending process.  Be careful you don’t burn the cauliflower & add more milk as it cooks – if it needs it.

Meanwhile – cook the pasta.

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When the cauliflower is very soft – puree it in a blender nutritional yeast, additional milk (if necessary), cayenne & hot sauce (maybe not ALL the milk & nutritional yeast).  Season with S&P and adjust the milk & nutritional yeast to suit your tastes in both flavor & consistency.

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for the seared garlic mushrooms

Heat a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil over high heat.  Add the mushrooms & cook – stirring infrequently – so they get a chance to brown.  When the are done to your liking – add the garlic & cook one minute longer.  Remove from heat.

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Drain the pasta & return it to the pot.  Toss with SOME of the sauce.  You may or may not want to use all the sauce.  That is just a personal preference.  When it looks nice & creamy to YOU – plate it & garnish with seared mushrooms & parsley.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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OK – I will be honest here.  I have yet to make a cauliflower-based “cheese” that tastes convincingly of heavy cream & Parmesan.  I will also add that nutritional yeast is either a flavor you like – or not.   I find it pleasant & sort of nutty – but it does not taste like cheese.  So – this Alfredo is not going to convince a cheese-eater that it is real Alfredo – but if you are a seasoned vegan & accustomed to managing expectations – this is really quite good.  It is also good if – like me – you cannot imaging eating something as rich & FATTENING as a real plate of pasta Alfredo.  This dish is creamy & visually satisfying & it is tasty.  It feels decadent but the only thing decadent is the actual pasta.

That said – let me give you a peek into the reality of food photography.  Typically – I march all around my house with the plate of food & I place it in several locations – trying to find the best light & background.  Sometimes – that spot is on my dining room floor.  See?

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That is my son, Dexter.  He is 10 & has nerve damage & needs yoga mats everywhere so his rear legs can get traction.  He is a gorgeous boy & my best fried & always offers his support as I put food all over the place to photograph it.  He never tries to sneak a bite.  He is just a curious little momma’s boy.    I am pretty sure most bloggers are using cheated shots like this that are cropped to keep the bizarre stuff in frame out of the final image.  So – there you go.

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Vegan Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 TBS olive oil

1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups almond milk

1-3 TBS nutritional yeast (start with less & only increase after tasting each time)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few shakes of hot sauce (I always use Crystal)

Parsley – chopped

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & cook the garlic for about 1 minute.  Add the 1 1/2 cups milk (or more) & cauliflower & boil the cauliflower in the milk until it is very tender – 10 minutes or so.  My cauliflower soaked up all the milk – so I had to add more in the blending process.  Be careful you don’t burn the cauliflower & add more milk as it cooks – if it needs it.

Meanwhile – cook the pasta.

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When the cauliflower is very soft – puree it in a blender with all the other ingredients (maybe not ALL the milk & nutritional yeast) – except the parsley.  Season with S&P and adjust the milk & nutritional yeast to suit your tastes in both flavor & consistency.

Drain the pasta & return it to the pot.  Toss with SOME of the sauce.  You may or may not want to use all the sauce.  That is just a personal preference.  When it looks nice & creamy to YOU – plate it & garnish with parsley.

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6-Ingredient Wheat Berry Salad with Peas, Mint & Feta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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Wheat berries – crunchy & healthy & tasty!  If you don’t like or cannot find wheat berries – use any other grain like couscous, quinoa, rice – whatever.  It is all about the peas & mint.  I used real feta here but I also made a version with this vegan cheese below & it was just as delicious.

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6-Ingredient Wheat Berry Salad with Peas, Mint & Feta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 4 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS

1 cup uncooked wheat berries (or other grain)

2 cups fresh peas (or frozen)

1/4 lb feta (or vegan cheese) – crumbled

1/4 cup fresh mint – chopped

1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the wheat berries or other grain.  Add the FRESH peas about 4-5 minutes before the grains are done to soften the peas.  If using frozen – add them in the last minute or 2.

Run the wheat berries & peas under cool water to stop their cooking then toss with the other ingredients.  Season with S&P.

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Vegan Spicy Green Coconut Curry with Vegetables & Split Lentils for the Slow Cooker

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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Slow cooker recipes.  Is anything better than just dumping a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker, going away for hours and then coming home to dinner – warm & waiting?  I think not!

I used yellow split lentils or urad dal – but any variety of lentils will work just fine.  I added a ton of random vegetables – because I had them.  You can add or omit any veggies you like.

I had a big bag of English peas & some fresh spinach that were going to spoil before I could cook them – so – I froze them.

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It was about 2 cups of peas & make 4 cups of spinach but the spinach wilted in the freezer – down to about 4 cups.  If you use frozen veggies in yours – add them at the very end or they will just disintegrate.

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Vegan Spicy Green Coconut Curry with Vegetables & Split Lentils for the Slow Cooker

Makes a lot – likely enough to feed 6 well if served with rice

INGREDIENTS (very flexible)

2 cups lentils

2 potatoes – cubed

1 small onion – diced

1-4 cloves garlic – minced

1 small head cauliflower – cut into small florets

1-5 jalapenos – seeded & diced (use less or omit – if you do not like heat)

3-5 carrots – sliced

3 TBS ginger – minced

1 (5.5 oz) can coconut milk (use more for a richer curry)

3 TBS green curry paste

1 TBS garam masala

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp turmeric

6 cups vegetable stock

4 cups fresh spinach or 2 cups frozen

2 cups peas

S&P

GARNISH – hot sauce (like sriracha), cilantro & cooked rice (I used basmati)

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 DIRECTIONS

Put everything except peas, spinach & any frozen vegetables you might be using into the slow cooker.  If using anything frozen – all them to thaw.  Ignore my photos showing the spinach & peas being added with the other ingredients at the start.  They disintegrated & I had to add more of each at the end.  I also added the cauliflower after the curry had been cooking for hours – hence the different-looking imagery below.

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Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.  If it is too thick, add stock or water.  If it is too thin – cook a bit longer with the lid off – or mash some of the curry with a masher or immersion blender to create a thicker gravy.

15 minutes before serving – add peas, spinach & any frozen vegetables you selected.  Season with S&P.

Serve with rice & garnish with cilantro & hot sauce.

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