DDD #120 – Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – Better Than Take-Out!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This dish is SO easy & outrageously delicious!  It is also genuinely spicy but you can control that level yourself.

Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant

Serves 2 or more

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplants – cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 onion – diced

Thai basil (or red basil or regular basil) – chopped – optional

Sesame oil

6 garlic cloves – chopped

4 TBS minced ginger (I used jarred)

3 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS sriracha

2 TBS sambal oelek (or chili garlic sauce)

2 tsp molasses

3 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 TBS rice vinegar

Crushed red pepper

Salt

Sesame seeds

1/2 cup water

OPTIONAL – 1-3 TBS black soy sauce for a richer color

Scallions – green parts sliced – as garnish or sesame seeds or additional sliced basil.

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DIRECTIONS

Heat 1-2 TBS sesame oil in a pan & add the eggplant.  Add a little salt & some crushed red pepper.  Add the diced onion.  Saute over medium heat until tender but not mushy.  Maybe 5-8 minutes.

 

 

Add 2-3 TBS sesame seeds & the garlic & the ginger.  When the garlic begins to brown add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, srirachasambal oelek (or chili garlic sauce), molasses, soy sauce, rice vinegar, & water.  Simmer over med-low heat for ten minutes.  Add the eggplant & onions & simmer another 5 minutes.  Stir in some chopped basil (if using).

Serve over rice garnished with additional chopped basil, the scallions & some additional sesame seeds.

 

 

DDD #118 – Vegan Cauliflower Gnocchi with Arugula Pesto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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.


Click the image above to watch the video.

Arugula Pesto

INGREDIENTS

Handful of fresh basil

1/4 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1/3 cup vegan Parmesan

1/2 cup pecans (or other nuts)

5 oz fresh arugula

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Blend in a food processor until smooth.  Add water or more oil if it is too thick.  Season with S&P.  Set aside.

Cauliflower Gnocchi

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

Flour

GARNISH: basil, parsley, or lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees & roast the cauliflower for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it is finely chopped.

Put some flour on a kneading space.  Knead just enough flour into the cauliflower until you have a nice, dough that is no longer tacky.  Use as little flour as possible or your gnocchi will be too dense.

Quarter the dough & roll each quarter out to a long snake that is about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut your gnocchi in about 3/4 inch pillows.  You can rill them on a fork or gnocchi board (below) – to aid in making sauces cling but that is unnecessary.

If the gnocchi are still tacky, dust with more flour.  Set aside until you are ready to eat.

When ready, heat the pesto.  Bring salted water to a rolling boil.  Put the gnocchi in the water & boil until they float to the top – a few minutes.  Drain & toss with the pesto.  Garnish with fresh basil or parsley or lemon wedges.

To freeze some, put them on a floured cooking sheet or on a cooking sheet with parchment paper & freeze flat.  Once frozen, you can transfer them into any other container – even a Ziploc bag.  Always put frozen gnocchi into water at a rolling boil without letting them defrost first – or they will become a gooey mess.

 

DDD Ep. #112 – Vegan Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollatini with Homemade Arrabiata Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This is a really easy, 5-minute pasta sauce.  It is fairly spicy so cut back on the crushed red pepper if you are sensitive to heat.  Canned tomatoes are not desirable – even BAD – (read why you should avoid canned tomatoes & seven other foods HERE) – but they are sometimes the only affordable (and super convenient) option. .

Fresh herbs will also improve this sauce measurably but – in a pinch –  they are absolutely not REQUIRED to make this sauce tasty.

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Five (5) Minute Arrabiata Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 27 oz carton tomato sauce
Garlic to taste
1 tsp each of crushed red pepper, oregano, pepper & sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh thyme (optional)
Fresh basil – chopped (optional)
Fresh parsley – chopped (optional)
Fresh oregano – chopped (optional)
1 TBS olive oil
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DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil. I sautéed maybe 10 tiny garlic cloves whole. If giant chunks of garlic offend you or yours, you might want to crush them a bit with the side of a knife or press them through a garlic press or chop them fine. Just do not burn the garlic and burning is easier – the smaller you chop the cloves. With whole cloves – I sautéed a minute before adding the spices. If you chopped the garlic – add it and the spices at once.After about a minute of both the garlic and all other spices sautéing – add the tomato sauce. Be careful as it will sputter and splatter you when it hits the hot oil.
A few minutes in – I used a slotted spoon to fish out the garlic cloves & put them through a garlic press but this is not totally necessary.Heat over med-low heat until ready to use. Add chopped fresh basil/parsley at the very end – if you are using fresh herbs.

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Eggplant is an odd thing.  Some of my favorite dishes are made of eggplant – most markedly my nearly guiltless Indian Baingan Bharta & one of the most popular recipes of this blog’s history, my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – both seen just below.

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But if it is cut into slices or cubes that are too large & then under-cooked – it can have an icky texture & an icky flavor.  Lots of people categorically reject it because the first time they tried it – it was yucky.  But it is so versatile & can take on so many flavors so well.  I love it & I feel certain I could convert more than a few haters – if I served them the right dish.

THIS dish might just be that dish – assuming they do not also hate spinach.   The eggplant is very subtle & melts in your mouth.  This could be customized a zillion ways.  There are no rules.  Just make a little mash of some flavors you like & roll’em up & bake them – and voila!  Yes – there are a few steps but none are difficult & the result is delightful.  A tad hard to photograph but really delicious.

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Oh!  I got this new little garlic press at Bed Bath & Beyond for (I think) under ten dollars & I am kind of in love with it.  There are to ways to go with this – sliced or minced (there is a second blade tucked into the base) & all you do is press the garlic through & it creates a little drawer of crushed garlic for you.  Se easy & easy to clean & no garlic fingers!

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach 

Should feed 4

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplant – tops removed & sliced 1/4 inch thick (thick makes assembly harder)

1 lb fresh spinach (or 8 oz frozen or other spinach – thawed)

3-4  cups (28 0z or so) – marinara (your favorite brand or homemade or the one I  post below) or my 5-minute spicy arrabiata 

Handful vegan Parmesan

1/2 cup vegan ricotta

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

4 oz vegan mozzarella

S&P

Olive oil

More vegan mozzarella to melt on top – to taste

Parchment paper (if possible but not imperative)

Foil

Garnish: more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil

 

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplant & try to cut them evenly 1/4 inch thick.  I used a mandolin.  Lay the slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt.  Flip & salt the other side (lightly – so they won’t be overpowered by salt).  Salting the eggplant helps release excess moisture & can temper any bitterness.  Let them sit for about ten minutes.

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Steam the fresh spinach by simply boiling a tiny bit of water to a very large stock pot & adding the spinach.  Cover the pan.  It should wilt in less than a minute (this works to thaw frozen spinach, too, though it might take longer).  Strain into a colander & run cold water on it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can & chop the spinach.

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Put the spinach, parsley, & your Parmesan & ricotta & mozzarella cheese in a large bowl & blend.  Add some S&P.

 

Pat the eggplant slices dry & sprinkle with ground pepper.  Place them on a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper (or foil treated with cooking spray – because you do not want these guys sticking).  Bake about ten minutes.

Layer some sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Spread about 2 TBS of the filling on each of the eggplant slices.  If you have extra – spread it around.  Carefully roll those guys up & place them in the pan, seam side down.

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Layer some more sauce on top & then sprinkle with mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven & uncover & let rest a good 5-10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil and copious red wine.  See?  You like eggplant!

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DDD #93 – Vegan Grated Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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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Click the image of me below to watch the sauce recipe WITHOUT the mushroom.  These images here reflect the use of a crazy lobster mushroom I bought when I originally made this recipe.  You need not use the mushroom – in fact – I rather suggest against it because it was very expensive and underwhelming but I include it here, anyway, for the curious & the risk takers.

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.

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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

INGREDIENTS

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

S&P

IF USING  – 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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DIRECTIONS

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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DDD #89 – Vegan Spicy Szechuan Lo Mein Noodles with Vegetables

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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 just 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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This is a really easy recipe but truly makes a fuckton.  So, unless you are feeding a large group or intend to eat this for days, consider cutting the recipe down.  The veggies you choose to use are up to you.  This can be made with no veggies at all or with regular pasta.  It is a very forgiving dish.

Click the image above to watch the video.

Vegan Vegetable Spicy Szechuan Lo Mein Noodles

Feeds 10 or more

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 lbs of SOFT (or cooked) lo mein or chow mein noodles or even cooked spaghetti

1/2 lb vegan meat of choice (I used leftover Tofurky ham) – diced (very optional)

for the veggies

2 tsp hot chili oil (or other oil)

2 tsp sesame oil

1 small onion – diced

6 long beans (or other green beans) chopped

1 bell pepper (I used 1/2 red & 1/2 yellow) – diced

1 zucchini – diced

2 dozen snow peas – trimmed & sliced

6 mushrooms – sliced

2 small heads of broccoli – cut into florets

5 or 6 carrots – chopped

1 cup purple (or other) cabbage – chopped

8 oz can sliced water chesnuts – drained

6 bird’s eye chilis – split (optional)

1/2 cup water

for the sauce

2 TBS minced ginger

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice

2 TBS Shaoxing cooking wine or rice vinegar

4 TBS light soy sauce

2 TBS dark soy sauce

1 tsp agave

1 large handful Thai basil (or other basil)

GARNISH – more shredded basil or cilantro, sesame seeds, sliced scallions, lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

In a very large wok, heat the two oils.  Add all the ingredients in the “for the veggies” list.  Heat over high heat for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Add the noodles, faux meat (if using) & everything in the “for the sauce” list.  Combine & heat through.

Serve with your garnishes of choice.

DDD #88 – Garlic Roasted “Simon & Garfunkel” Mushrooms with Mixed Herbs – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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 just 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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Click the image above to watch the video.

I love mushrooms.  This dish is very simple and could be tossed with pasta or dropped onto a pizza or crostini or over potatoes.  I used all button mushrooms but any variety or combination of various mushrooms would be lovely.  Mushrooms shrink a lot when they are cooked so you should probably make more than you think you need.

Garlic Roasted “Simon & Garfunkel” Mushrooms with Mixed Herbs – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs mushrooms – sliced

Olive oil

2+ garlic cloves – sliced

1-2 TBS each: thyme, sage, rosemary

Fresh chopped parsley as garnish

(If you are feeling fancy, drizzle some nice balsamic on them – or a bit of truffle oil)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, sage, rosemary & thyme.

Cook for about 45 minutes – stirring once.  Season with S&P & garnish with parsley.  If using balsamic or truffle oil – get on that & then eat this yummy guys!

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DDD #87 – Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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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This is another super easy & healthy one!  I used sweet potatoes but any orange squash would also work.  No dairy in this at all & it still tastes so decadent!  If you own a blender – you can make this in less than 30 minutes.   The sauce can be used as it is here – over pasta – but if you added a bit more stock or some non-dairy milk or vegan heavy cream – you would have a delightful soup!  Or – leave it thick & make ravioli.  Or slather some in a white lasagna.  Mmmmm!

 

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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

Serves 4 well

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta (if you use less pasta – see notes above about how to re-purpose the extra sauce)

2 TBS olive oil

1 package or bunch of fresh sage

1 large sweet potato (2 lbs or so – or 3 cups) – peeled & cubed

1 medium onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS (or less – if heat bothers you) crushed red pepper

2 cups vegetable stock

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain your pasta – but reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water.  Toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Set aside.

Over medium heat – warm the oil in a large saute pan & fry the sage.   Be careful not to burn it (it should not brown in the pan).  After 2 minutes or so – drain it on papers towels & set aside.

In the same pan, add the onions.  Once softened, add the sweet potato, garlic & crushed red pepper.  Stir for one minute & then add the stock.  Bring to a boil & boil until your sweet potato is soft.

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Being careful not to burn yourself, puree the sweet potato mixture.  Season liberally with S&P (to taste).   Put the noodles in the pan you cooked the sweet potatoes in.  Spoon only as much of the sweet potato puree onto it so you get a light cover.  You don’t want to drown the pasta.  I had a lot of puree left over from the 1/2 pound of pasta I cooked & I will make it into soup (see notes above the recipe).  If it gets too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water – a bit at a time.

Plate the pasta & crumble sage on it.  Garnish with fresh cracked pepper & maybe some vegan Parmesan.

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