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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Vegan Basil Mozzarella Cheese for Grating & Melting

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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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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 simply a variation of the The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating that I posted almost exactly a year ago (seen just above).  This mozzarella has a very subtle flavor of basil & a faint green hue.  I topped it with some basil & olive oil caviar for these photos.  If you are unaware of flavored “caviars” – you are missing out!  They are very pretty!

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Anyway – this cheese is for grating & melting on – say – pizzas or grilled cheese sandwiches.  The flavor is a too mild to eat naked though it does taste good.  I used soft tofu & Daiya cream cheese in this.   In the future I will use Tofutti cream cheese (because I prefer it A LOT) and silken tofu – so that is what I will recommend in the recipe.  The images below are of the plain mozzarella – to illustrate its melting properties.

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Vegan Basil Mozzarella Cheese for Grating & Melting

INGREDIENTS

1 package silken tofu – drained

1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh basil

3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1/4 cup vegan cream cheese

1 garlic clove

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp salt

4 tsp agar powder

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DIRECTIONS

Blend until smooth the tofu, cream cheese, milk, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic, fresh basil and vinegar. Transfer to a small sauce pan and stir in the agar powder and water. Bring to a boil on medium, stirring frequently until the agar dissolves & the cheese thickens a bit.

I tried to get fancy with some whole basil leaves to top the cheese but they got mixed in with the cheese when I poured it in my pan to set.  The whole leaves looked pretty when I sliced into the cheese so – if you like that look – stir in a few leaves before pouring into the pan to set.

Spray a loaf pan or small casserole dish or – really – any glass container with cooking spray.   Pour cheese in and place in fridge until completely cooled.

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

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Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada 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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So – I am several days into eating only food I already have in the house.  I have WAY too many frozen leftovers & dry pastas & beans etc taking up space & yet I keep going to the store to buy more food. It is ridiculous & wasteful.  Today’s recipe was inspired by a huge butternut squash I had & some other veggies rapidly reaching the end of their shelf life.  I used jarred salsa because I had one open but made the enchilada sauce because I did not already have some in a jar or can.  You can choose to go all jarred or all homemade – your call.

I also roasted a whole butternut squash.  You might want to buy some already cubed & roast those – or just boil them.  This can be as labor-intensive or as simple as you care to make it.

The real star of this dish is this newer vegan cheese I found.  It tastes great & does a fair job at melting – so – I recommend trying it if you see it or can find it online.  It is from Parmela Creamery and you can definitely buy it – and loads of other vegan cheeses – from them.

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Oh – as an aside – TJ Maxx is a great source for kitchen items.  They always have loads of olive oil marked way down.  I stock up every time I go there.

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Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Serves 6 well

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red enchilada sauce (my recipe HERE) or your favorite brand or recipe

16 oz salsa – homemade or your favorite brand

olive oil

1 small butternut squash

1/2 medium red (or any other kind) onion – diced

1-3 jalapenos (optional) – seeded & diced

3 tomatoes – diced

2 carrots – diced

1 cup corn

1 12 oz can black beans – drained

1-4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

15-20 taco-sized corn tortillas

Up to 1 lb grated vegan cheeses of your choice ( I used both cheddar & mozzarella)

S&P to taste

GARNISH: cilantro, sliced scallions, avocado slices, additional salsa or hot sauce

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.

I roasted my butternut squash unpeeled & halved.  It was a sorta messy business doing it this way.  In the future, I will peel & cube it first.  Whatever you decide – roast it naked for 20-40 minutes, turning at least once, until it is soft.  If you cooked it like I did – let it cool in the sink & peel & cube it once it is cool enough to handle.  OR – you could peel, cube & boil it until the cubes are soft.  I had a large squash – so I put some extra mashed up into my dogs’ dinner.  They loved it!

Meanwhile, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan & add the chopped carrots & onions.  When they start to soften, add the tomatoes, jalapenos, corn & black beans.  Add the spices & cilantro.  Heat through.  Add the garlic & saute 1 minute.  Stir in the cubed squash.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Now – assemble the casserole.  Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray).  Put the salsa on the bottom.  The rest can be pretty random – as long as you end with 1/3 of the enchilada sauce & 1/3 of the cheese.

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Layer some corn tortillas & top with 1/3 of the veggie mixture, 1/3 of the cheese & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.

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Add another 1/3 of the veggie mixture.  Layer with  1/3 of the cheese, more tortillas, the final 1/3 of the veggie & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.

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Add another layer of tortillas & the rest of the enchilada sauce & cheese.

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I used the casserole glass lid to cover it.  You can do this or use foil.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, remove cover & bake another 10 minutes or so.  Let rest for ten minutes before serving.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions & maybe salsa, hot sauce or a few slices of fresh avocado.  Enjoy!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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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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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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Baked Vegetarian Penne Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

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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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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 rich & comforting & easy to make.  I made the sauce but you could use a jar of your favorite kind.  I used real cheese – you can use a vegan alternative – or even omit it.    If you go with no cheese – there is no reason to bake it & you can serve it right from the stove top.  The real key to this is grilling the eggplant – to get rid of that texture & add a smokiness that adds to the autumnal flavors of this dish.

Baked Vegetarian Penna Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

Serve 4 well

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta

Olive oil

1 eggplant – sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

28 oz chopped tomatoes

6-10 cherry tomatoes – quartered (optional)

1-6 garlic cloves (to taste) – chopped

8 oz smoked mozzarella – grated

1 cup regular (or more smoked) mozzarella – grated

1 tsp – 1 TBS crushed red pepper (to taste)

1 tsp oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil – chopped

S&P

Garnish: more grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago), chopped fresh basil or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven (if you are using cheese) to 350 degrees.

Cook & drain the pasta.

Either brush the eggplant with olive oil r spray with cooking spray & grill (or a grill or grill pan) – for a few minutes on each side until they are nicely grilled.  Cool & chop.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a stock pan.  When hot – add the garlic & cook one minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, basil & parsley.  Cook on low for a while until it thickens & the flavors meld.  Maybe 20 minutes or so.  Add the cooked pasta & toss.  If not using cheese – serve & garnish once it is heated through.

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If using cheese – add the 8 oz grated smoked mozzarella & toss.  Put it into a greased casserole & top with the remaining cup of grated cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbling.

Garnish with cheese or herbs & serve!

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (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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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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Photo from The Iron You.

The photo just above is from the wonderful blog – The Iron You.  It is their Eggplant Parm Rice Casserole and it is that recipe that inspired mine here.  There are a few subtle changes but the primary difference is that I used cauliflower rice rather than real rice.  That way – this dish is very light & nearly guiltless.  Is is very easy to make & comes together in less than 45-60 minutes – 30 of which are in the oven.  It is a surprisingly tasty recipe & chock full of fresh vegetables.  Use vegan cheeses, if you prefer.  There are enough flavors at play here that I think this dish would work very well vegan-style.

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

2 eggplants – cut into 1/4 inch slices

Olive oil

1 cup basil – chopped

2 large shallots (or one small onion) – diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes – quartered

2-3 cups grated mozzarella (or vegan alternative) – according to your preference (I used 3 cups)

1-2 cups grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative) – according to your preference (I used 2 cups real Parmesan – I would have used less of a vegan Parm)

S&P

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup vegetable stock

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a grill or grill pan, spray some olive oil on the eggplant (or toss them in a light coating of olive oil or dressing) & grill on each side until a bit charred & soft.  Set aside.

If you do not have a grill or grill pan – follow Iron You’s oven method directions:  Preheat oven to 400°F  and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease them with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until it dissolves completely.
Add eggplant slices and let them sit for at least 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness.  Fish the eggplant slices out of the water, pat them dry, and arrange them on a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the slices turn deep brown on top.
Remove the slices from the baking sheets and carefully transfer them on a plate to cool.

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Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cut the florets from the cauliflower & either grate them on a box grater or using the grater of your food processor (the FAR neater way to go).  Set aside.

Toss the tomatoes with basil, a pinch or S&P & the oregano & set aside.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a large frying pan (large enough to hold all the cauliflower rice) & saute the shallots or onion until soft.  Add crushed red pepper (if using) and the cauliflower rice & the stock.  Over high heat – saute until the cauliflower is soft & the bulk of the stock has evaporated.  Stir in the tomato & basil mix.

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Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray) and layer 1/3 of the rice on the bottom.  Top with half the eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese.  Add another 1/3 of the rice, remaining eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese.  Top with a final layer of rice & cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly or browned.

Let sit for 10 minutes & then serve with parsley or basil.

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Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

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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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Everybody has had stuffed cabbage but, typically, it is stuffed with a mix of meat & rice.  This recipe uses neither – though you could add some – if you wanted to.  This recipe is more rustic & lighter.   No carbs.  No animal products.  Just loads of veggies & sauce!   I had grilled eggplant in the fridge – leftover from a night of Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – seen below.

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If you have a grill pan or a grill where you can easily grill the eggplant – I recommend it because it adds a smokey char to the dish that is lovely – though not necessary.  If grilling the eggplant first sounds like a pain in the ass – blow it off & just cut your eggplant into small cubes

Grilled Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant – sliced into rounds

Olive oil or some kind of oil & vinegar salad dressing

DIRECTIONS

Dredge the eggplant through the olive oil or dressing & grill (either on a grill or in a grill pan) –  just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

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UPDATE – after eating this for lunch – at dinner – I wanted something more substantial.  So – I added a bag of Beyond Meat crumbles & some grated cheese to the top before I reheated these guys.  AMAZING!

Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

1 head cabbage (I used Napa but any kind will work

Olive oil

1 eggplant – either grilled as outlined above or not – and, either way, cubed

1/2 lb mushrooms – sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes – diced

1 onion – diced

2 stalks green garlic or 1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

2+ cups fresh spinach

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS dry oregano

Crushed red pepper (to taste)

S&P

2-3 cups pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)

Fresh basil as garnish

OPTION – vegan or fresh mozzarella baked on top of these might be nice.  I opted not to use any – in an effort to keep these very healthy – but I bet it would compliment this dish nicely.  Additionally – adding some faux beef crumbles on top or underneath the rolls makes this dish more substantial.

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a large pot of water – deep enough for the head of cabbage.  Remove the cabbage core & drop the head into boiling water – whole.  With tongs – pluck out each leaf as it becomes tender & plunge into a bowl of ice water.

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Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.   Add the onions, mushrooms, tomatoes & eggplant.  Saute until the vegetables get tender.  Add garlic & spinach & stir until the spinach wilts.  Add the oregano, parsley, S&P and crushed red pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.

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Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Place a cabbage leaf on a kitchen towel & scoop a few TBS of filling into it & roll it up.  I did not really bother with the ends but if you are good at making closed ends – knock yourself out.  Place in the casserole pan – seam-side down.  Continue until all the filling is used up.  Season the rolls with S&P.

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Top with sauce – as much as suits your taste.  You might want t reserve some to add – warmed – to the finished rolls.  Bake for about 40 minutes.   Serve with additional warm sauce – if you like – and some fresh basil.

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