DDD #33 – Vegan Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto for Pasta

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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 a video on my Youtube channel for this recipe.  Click the image below to watch & please subscribe.

This is a 5 minute recipe so – if you can boil pasta & own a blender – you can make this dish.  I had an avocado that was about a day past its prime & loads of spinach – so this was born.  I used a few serrano peppers for heat but that it totally optional.

*NOTE – I also used fresh basil that I had frozen a few weeks ago.  Worked great – so – if you are ever wanting to preserve fresh herbs so they do not go to waste – they can be frozen & then used in pestos & sauces.

Vegan Pasta with Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta – cooked as directed

1 large avocado

2 packed cups of fresh spinach

2 garlic cloves

1/4 packed cup fresh basil *See note above

2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (optional) – seeded

1/2 to 1 cup vegan Parmesan (or nutritional yeast or a combo) – quantity to your taste

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Blend everything except the pasta in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P & adjust anything else to suit your fancy.

Toss with warm pasta.

See?  EASY!

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DDD Ep. #3 – Vegan Chicken Piccata

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am sharing this recipe from May 2014 because I have a new episode of my new Youtube show – Delightful Delicious Delovely & Video Vegan to go with it.  Check out the on-camera recipe here (and lease subscribe to my channel):

I always adored chicken piccata.  I love capers, I love lemon and, defiantly, I love parsley!  But, about 25 years ago, I gave up meat from mammals & poultry.  “Meat from mammals” sounds like something they found at Jeffrey Dahmer’s because – well – that IS what they found there.  But I mean I gave up red meat which, sorry folks, includes pork, and I gave up chicken & the like.  I only gave up seafood this year (because of lots of things but Fukushima was the last straw).

I miss the oddest things from the meat & chicken world.  Costco hotdogs.  Big Macs (which I would no longer eat because of pink slime etc – even if I ate meat).  Really, really rare steak.  Any real selection of any ethnic food beyond Indian.  Tacos (fish tacos).  Street cart kinda food.  And chicken piccata.

So – with all this fake meat suddenly deluging the market – I have begun to get quite busy experimenting with it.  In the past, fake meat was seitan or tempeh – which I find have flavors too specific to mask easily and tofu which has always underwhelmed me- and now soy is all GMO & shit & so I try to avoid that, too.  Then there are veggie burgers & veggie dogs – which are reasonable replacements for the real thing but they can’t be turned into chicken piccata.  And the fake breakfast sausage patties they make are great!  A decent fake bacon is still an apparition on the horizon – except for the chemical-burn inducing Bacos – which I have been known to eat, by the jar, with a bottle of red.

Sometimes, I am really gross & pathetic.

Anyway, it seems that overnight – there is a selection of fake meats in even the most mainstream supermarkets and I have been having great success with them!  Look at how delicious a vegan chicken (firecracker chicken) can be!

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Prefer beef?  Behold!

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HERE are some other vegan chicken selections from my recipe book.  And HERE are some vegan beef ones.

 

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OK – so – chicken piccata!  OK – the first time I attempted it this week – I used these cutlet things because they seemed to replicate real chicken piccata visually better.

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So – I whipped them up into a piccata & made myself that garlic baby broccoli, and some lemon-basil baby squash & some jalapeno mashed cauliflower – plated it up & commenced photographing it.  Here are the results:

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While this was all very delicious (though these cutlet-style pieces retain some of the stronger and not altogether awesome flavors of earlier faux meat products) – I did not like the darkness of the “chicken” piccata in these photos.  So – I endeavored to make it again using some chicken strip-style faux meat I had.

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I picked around in this bag & pulled out all the larger strips I could find.  I used about half this bag in the recipe here.  (UPDATE – I would suggest using Beyond Meat – if you can find it near you.)

And look at how convincingly it looks like chicken once it is cooked!  Isn’t that amazing?  I am very excited about this & VERY glad I attempted this recipe a second time.  This brand of fake chicken tastes way better than any of the Gardein products I have tried but Simple Truth products are really Kroger products & this Simple Truth folks were recently exposed as being lying motherfuckers.  Or MISLEADING motherfuckers, at the very least.   Read about the lawsuit HERE.  And PS – I once bought a few cans of Kroger pitted black olives & they tasted SO MUCH like chemicals – I actually returned the unopen cans for a refund.  That marks my ONLY return of a grocery item in my life!  I avoid Kroger now whenever I can (no pun intended!).  🙂  So – I still highly recommend the Trader Joe’s faux beef & chicken products & the Beyond Meat stuff that the coupon above is for.

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Chicken piccata is a dish that allows a bit of wiggle room.  I REALLY like capers & I love lemon – so I go heavy on these.  I will admit, I actually used real butter here but a vegan option is perfectly fine.  There is a shallot in my pictures but I forgot to use it.  Oops!

Say – have you heard?  I wrote a comedy NOVEL!!!!!  Go to http://www.BathingBook.com & find out more – and maybe BUY it!  The reviews on Amazon are pretty awesome!

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Vegan Chicken Piccata

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

About 1/2 lb of vegan chicken (like Beyond Meat)

Flour

2 lemons – one sliced into thin rounds.  One quartered for garnish.

1/2 cup Parsley – chopped

2-3 TBS Vegan (or real – if you ain’t vegan) butter

Olive Oil

3 garlic cloves – minced

1 cup dry white wine (or cooking wine) OR 1 TBS Dijon mixed into a cup of water

Capers (I used 1/2 of a 4 oz jar – but I LOVE capers!)

Vegetable bouillon (I used 1/2 of one of the large ones seen below – enough for 1 cup stock – and I am not certain they are vegan)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Toss the faux chicken in enough flour to lightly coat the pieces.  Add some S&P & toss.

In a large saute pan, heat about 1 TBS olive oil & 1 TBS of whatever kind of butter you are using over med-high heat.  Add the fake chicken.  I pressed the chicken flat in the pan.

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My chicken cooked up nicely but I did have to add another TBS or so of olive oil to keep the pan from becoming too dry.  When the chicken (and this would even apply to real chicken) is heated through & browned, take it from the pan & set aside.

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At this point, I added about another TBS of butter & a dollop of olive oil & the bouillon.   Be very careful NOT to burn your butter.  Once the bouillon dissolved, I added the garlic.  After 30 seconds – THIRTY SECONDS because garlic burns fast – I added the wine.  I increased the heat to high & added HALF the lemon rounds and the capers.  I saved the other half of the rounds to put under the piccata when I served it.

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This came to a boil pretty fast & I let it do its thing there for a minute or two until it thickened just a bit.  If yours doesn’t thicken quickly, a few PINCHES of flour whisked in should help.  Add the chicken & a few pinches of chopped parsley & heat it all through.

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Once it seems hot – serve that shit up!   Plate it over a few fresh lemon rounds & garnish it with LOTS of parsley & maybe more capers & a lemon wedge.  This goes really will over pasta noodles or mashed potatoes.  I used mashed cauliflower & I was VERY pleased with myself!   I nice white wine & a veggie side & you are good to go!  Go & buy my BOOK, that is!  🙂

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Vegan BBQ Ribs (Seitan) with Spicy Korean or Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am reposting this recipe from June 2014 because I have a new Video Vegan Youtube recipe to go with it.  Check it out here:

Holy.  Fucking.  Shit.

These are so crazy easy & so freaking delicious – I might eat them every day for the rest of my life!  As a kid, BBQ ribs with that red, Chinese BBQ sauce were my favorite food on Earth.  Having given meat up 25 years ago or so – I have often longed for those fuckers but nobody seemed to have any way to replicate them.  Until now!

These will not fool a meat-eater into thinking these are beef or pork but who cares about that?  Not fucking ME.  I was very pleased with myself yesterday – having eaten the entire plate of these spicy wonders and – and sat there wondering why I put off trying to make my own seitan (wheat gluten-based fake meat) for this long.

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This is the brand I bought & I got it at the local health food store.  I am certain Whole Foods & places like Erewhon must also carry it – perhaps even in the bulk items aisle.  If you live in a remote area – buy it online.  But BUY IT!

The rack of 8 ribs I made yesterday took 1 cup of this flour to make – which is only about 500 calories – plus the calories from the BBQ sauce.  Not bad for what feels like an enormous amount of meat because, remember, those ribs you see here are boneless – so that big slab is all eatin’ material.  Plus – it is really enough for two – I just completely lost my shit & shoved these down my gullet like hotdog-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi.  It must have looked obscene (had anyone been here to watch me) and I will admit to a near-sexual level of excitement as I devoured these.  It was madness!  I had become unhinged!  And I write about it now without shame or regret.  Though I still suffer from a haunting, multi-pronged depression-anxiety that clings to me like a sticky burr on a pilly Irish sweater.  So – these ribs, magical as they are, do not cure THIS feeling (photographer unknown):

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Never fear – wine takes at least some of the edge off – if you also feel like that image above.  The combo of wine & these ribs will keep those demons at bay for at least a brief respite.

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OK – back to the ribs.  I made two kinds of BBQ sauce yesterday – Korean & traditional.  Both were very spicy but I ended up opting to use the Korean variety on my first faux rib effort.  The Korean one was made in my crock-pot as I hiked.  The other was made stove-top.   I used 2 TBS Gochujang (seen below) in the Korean BBQ sauce but only because I had it.  It is in NO WAY critical to the final outcome.

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Spicy Korean BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup low sodium tamari (soy sauce)

1/4 cup water

1 TBS rice vinegar

2 TBS chili paste (sambal oelek or other type)

2 TBS Gochujang (optional)

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp ground pepper

1 TBS fresh ginger (minced)

5 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS cornstarch

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DIRECTIONS

I put everything EXCEPT the cornstarch into a little crock-pot & left it for two hours.  Once it was bubbly – I added 2 TBS cornstarch & whisked it in.  That made the sauce very thick & gooey.  Perfect!  You can do this stove-top by just bringing everything (except cornstarch) to a boil & then whisk in the cornstarch.  It would likely take only a few minutes to come together.

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Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS

2 cups ketchup

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

5 TBS brown sugar

2 TBS white sugar

1 TBS ground pepper

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS Dijon

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 TBS horseradish

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS vegan (or other) Worcestershire sauce

2+ chipotle peppers in adobo (minced) (use more or less to suit your heat tolerance – I used 5)

juice of 1 orange

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DIRECTIONS

Bring all ingredients to a boil & simmer until thick.  10-15 minutes.  Maybe more but not likely.

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Vegan BBQ Ribs

INGREDIENTS

1 cup vital wheat gluten

2 tsp chipotle powder (smoked or not)

1 TBS lemon pepper

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 cup water

2 TBS tahini

2 TBS low sodium tamari (soy sauce)

1-2 drops (DROPS – as this shit is overpowering and gets nasty-tasting fast) – liquid smoke (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Also – get the barbeque ready.  It is the grilling of these guys that is the magic.  A regular BBQ with charcoals is best.

Mix the wet ingredients (water, tahini, tamari & liquid smoke) in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl – mix the dry ingredients (wheat gluten & spices) and add the wet ingredients.  Mix it up until that gooey hamburger-looking stuff comes together – which happens almost instantly.

Grease a loaf pan & press the seitan into the pan.  Smooth it flat.  Bake it at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven & transfer the seitan to a plate & slather it with the BBQ sauce of your choice.

When your charcoals are ready – flop the seitan, BBQ sauce side down, onto the grill.  Slather lots more BBQ sauce on the other side.

Now just cook this until it looks the way you would want ribs to look.  I took mine off too early & found the “ribs” still not chewy enough to seem like meat so – I cut the slab into ribs and cooked them all a bit more.

And then I commenced the food orgy.  I suggest you do the same!

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The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating

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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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I am reposting this one from December 2015 because I have a new Video Vegan to go with it.  Here it is:

My quest for a truly successful mozzarella has only just begun & I think I found the easiest & best already – see above!  I posted the one below a few days ago & that post is HERE.  The gist of that post is this: It was, indeed, very easy & the visual – as you can see is very convincing.  The texture – when cold – isn’t bad, either.  My only issue was that there was a tang to it – that was a result of using yogurt as the base.  The tang wasn’t overpowering or unpleasant, in and of itself, but the overall impression it gives one is that they are eating mozzarella that has soured a bit.

It worked fairly well on pizza & the sour flavor became unnoticeable and it softened quite a bit.  The texture is really a bit closer to ricotta, though, so this version below might be better suited to things like lasagna.

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So – while I considered that buffalo mozzarella a success – it wasn’t perfect – so, I tried THIS one by Living My Pinterest Life – seen below.  This version came together more quickly & the only thing you might not have ready access to is the agar flakes.  I happened to have agar agar powder – not really sure what the difference is but the agar agar powder worked perfectly.  I got it at TJ Maxx in their “random kitchen shit” section – but your supermarket might carry it in the spice aisle.  Or buy some online.  Whatever you do – TRY THIS CHEESE!  It tastes GREAT naked.  Living My Pinterest Life said they thought it tasted like tofu but mine did not.  At all.

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Additionally, I was completely unable to find any kind of vegan heavy cream – so I used 3/4 cup almond milk & 1/4 cup vegan sour cream & I could not be happier with how this cheese turned out.  Non-vegans will never question this cheese.  It looks like mozzarella, has the correct texture & absolutely nothing in the flavor (which is mild) to give it away.  Simple ingredients.  Simple instructions.  Wondrous result!  I promise – you will not regret trying this cheese!  And look how is does on pizza!  I took the flat edge of a knife & pressed it a bit after I took it from the oven & that helped the grated cheese to give up its shape a bit more so that – visually – it looked as melted as it actually was.  It even looks like it is greasy – like real cheese – but it isn’t.  It has to have less calories than real cheese & so much protein from the tofu & calcium from the almond milk – it is tantamount to a health food.  People seldom think of cheese as particularly healthy – but this shit is!  I just cannot say enough about how happy I am with this!

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The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating

INGREDIENTS

1 package Extra Soft Silken Tofu
1 cup Vegan Heavy Cream (I used 3/4 cup almond milk & 1/4 cup vegan sour cream)
1/2 TBS Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
6 tsp Agar Flakes or Powder
1/2 cup water

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DIRECTIONS

Blend until smooth the tofu, heavy cream, salt, garlic power, and vinegar. Transfer to a small sauce pan and stir in the agar flakes and water. Bring to a boil on medium, stirring frequently. Boil until the agar flakes are almost completely dissolved (about 20 minutes), adding water if necessary so it doesn’t boil down too much.  Pour into a large loaf pan and place in fridge until completely cooled.

When cooled – it just dropped right out of the inverted pan & was ready to devour.  Try it naked.  AWESOME!

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