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


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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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. #24 – Vegan Saag with Tofu Paneer


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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.


This is a really easy dish but this recipe makes a boatload so you might want to consider cutting it in half – or doublinf the tofu paneer recipe because that shit is yummy!

Click the image below for the video & please subscribe to my channel.

Vegan Saag with Tofu Paneer


for the tofu paneer

1 block extra firm tofu

4 TBS nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan

3 TBS olive oil

2 tsp salt

for the saag

2 lbs fresh spinach

3 TBS olive oil

2 TBS cumin seeds

1 small onion – chopped

6 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS ginger

2 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1-2 TBS turmeric (start with one & add more if you think it needs it)

1-2 TBS garam masala (start with one & add more if you think it needs it)

1-2 TBS ground coriander (start with one & add more if you think it needs it)

1 TBS ground fenugreek (optional)

5 tomatoes – diced

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1 cup of either vegan heavy cream or sour cream or cream cheese or a combination


Whisk the nutritional yeast, oil & salt in a bowl.

Slice the tofu in half & place between paper towels.  Rest something heavy on it to press out some moisture.

Cube the tofu & toss it in the mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Puree 1 lb of spinach with some water in a blender or food processor.  Just use enough water to facilitate the pureeing.  This is optional.  You could opt to just chop half the spinach – or all of it.

Heat 3 TBS olive oil in as pan & add 1-2 TBS cumin seeds (use less for a less heavily spiced dish).   When they start popping & get fragrant, add the onion & saute until soft.

Add the garlic & ginger & jalapenos.  Saute a few minutes & then add the spices.  Add some water to create a thin paste.  Heat through & add the tomatoes.  Add the sugar & salt & combine.  Once the tomatoes are warmed & soft – start adding the fresh spinach until it all cooks down.  Ad the pureed or chopped spinach & stir to combine.  Stir in the vegan dairy you chose to use.  Heat through.  Taste & adjust seasonings.

Serve with the baked tofu paneer on top and some rice or naan.

Video Vegan – Super Easy 5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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Reposting this recipe because I have a flashy new vegan video from my Youtube channel for it.  Check it out!!

My Farm Fresh to You delivery came today & there were mustard greens in there.  I’ve never cooked with them so I Googled them for some inspiration.  And did I find it!!!  The mustard greens in a recipe – sure.  But the revelation is the FRASCATELLI!    I had never heard of frascatelli before & I was intrigued.  It was the photo below (from Bon Appetit) that caught my eye. Looks like gnocchi.  I read more & discovered it was a 2 ingredient pasta that required no tools or resting time.  I had to try it.  Immediately!


Incredibly, frascatelli is as easy to make as the instructions suggested & I am certain I will be making this stuff over & over again.

The process is to spread out 2 cups of semolina flour & splatter it with water.  Then scoop it up, put it in a colander & shake it around.  Tiny dumplings form & the rest of the semolina falls back to the work surface.  Repeat.  When all my flour was used up – I manually pressed some of the teensy bits into larger dumplings but that is not necessary.  And guess what?  You can cook it immediately & it is done in 30-60 SECONDS.  Yes – seconds.  You MUST try this.  It would be a great thing to make with kids.  I think they would love the process.  Here are the directions from Bon Appetit:

  • Spread semolina flour in an even layer in an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Fill a small bowl with 1 cup water and set next to dish. Working in 4-5 batches, gather your fingertips and thumb of 1 hand together and, working quickly, dip into bowl of water, lift hand from bowl, and splatter water over semolina. Repeat several times until surface of semolina is dotted with ragged wet patches about the size of a nickel. Let stand until water is absorbed, forming individual dumplings, about 5 seconds. Using a fish spatula or slotted spoon, turn dumplings over to coat with semolina, then transfer to a sieve. Shake gently over same baking dish to remove excess semolina; transfer dumplings to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining semolina and water until all of the water or all of the semolina has been used (there may be some water or semolina left over).
  • Working in 3-4 batches, cook dumplings in a large pot of slowly boiling salted water (if the water is boiling too rapidly, it may break up the dumplings), gently swirling water once or twice to prevent sticking, until al dente, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer frascatelli to another large rimmed baking sheet.

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Frascatelli is like a softer cavatelli or a chewier & more dense gnocchi.    Worked great with the cheese & mustard greens but a red sauce or cream sauce or anything would work with this stuff.  Just amazing!  I have no idea how frascatelli was not on my radar until today.

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5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2 very well


2 cups semolina flour

1 bunch mustard greens (or collard greens or spinach or arugula or chard) – ribs removed & chopped

2-3 TBS butter (or vegan butter or olive oil)

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup Parmesan – vegan or otherwise (or any other cheese/vegan cheese you like blended into pasta)

OPTIONAL  – Crushed red pepper, S&P

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Make the frascatelli & set aside.

Prep the other ingredients.

Bring a pot of salted water to a slow boil & immerse the frascatelli.  Stir so it doesn’t stick.  Scoop out a cup or two of the boiling pasta water & reserve it.  In 30-60 seconds – drain the frascatelli & set it aside.

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Heat the butter (or vegan butter or olive oil) in a large saute pan.  Add the frascatelli.  Warm it through – stirring but trying not to crush or mush the dumplings.  I added some crushed red pepper here – about 1 TBS.

Add the garlic & greens.  Stir in a little of the reserved pasta water to wilt the greens.

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Add the cheese & some more pasta water (only use as much water as you need to melt & blend the cheese).  I added a bit of salt & a bunch of pepper.

Serve with extra cheese.

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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


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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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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Vegan Cold Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad with Asparagus & 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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Chicken Piccata is one of the things I missed most when I gave up eating meat in the 80’s.  Then – companies began making very convincing meatless chicken & that hole in my heart was cured.  Behold my warm, vegan Chicken Piccata – below.  REALLY convincing – trust me!


So – I had a few Memorial Day BBQ’s to attend & I was all about vegan pasta salads.  They were a great idea because they assured that I would have something to eat at these parties & because vegan pasta salads – like the ones I made – were safe to leave out for hours without risk of spoiling.   The other two I made were my Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad & Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto & Feta Cheese (Vegan or Vegetarian) – seen below, respectively.



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I brought this Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad to a party at Naomi & Jason Priestley’s home.  That is Naomi on the far left.  I am the dimwit in the back who – it seems – was the only one there that didn’t know where to look when being photographed.

Anyway – Naomi took one bite & looked at me in shock.  “McCarthy!  Did you put real chicken in this?”

Needless to say – I hadn’t. But Beyond Meat chicken is so convincing – warm or cold – that it can fool even unapologetic, degenerate meat-eaters.  This pasta salad disappeared quickly – and – besides Naomi – nobody ever questioned whether or not the chicken was real.  I think they all assumed it was.

It is light & clean & healthy & vegan.  If you are a Chicken Piccata lover – this salad is for you!

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Vegan Cold Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Spinach


1 lb pasta

9+ oz vegan chicken – cubed

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup fresh spinach

1/8 cup olive oil (more or less)

2 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less)

3-6 TBS capers (Quantity determined by your taste for capers.  I love them!) – chopped or not – or just chop some – your call

1/2 cup parsley – chopped


GARNISH – extra parsley & lemon wedges

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Trim the asparagus by holding each spear by each end & bend until it breaks.  This breaks the asparagus just above the woody & impossible to chew part.  Set aside.

Boil the pasta.  My asparagus was the very thick kind.  If you have the thick asparagus – add it to the boiling pasta 3 minutes before the pasta is done.  Do it for 2 minutes for average asparagus & 1 minute for the very thin asparagus.

Drain & run under cold water.

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Slice the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Chop the spinach.

Toss everything together.  Adjust the lemon & olive oil to your taste & season with S&P.  Garnish with extra parsley & lemon wedges.

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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.


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


1 eggplant – sliced into rounds

Olive oil or some kind of oil & vinegar salad dressing


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


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)


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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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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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat 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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Fennel is a divisive vegetable.  The sharp licorice flavor is either something you love or hate, it seems.  But, as with garlic, the flavor of fennel mellows into something else entirely – when you roast it.  It becomes soft & sorta sweet & it compliments this salad nicely.

I used arugula but any mixed greens or baby spinach would work, too.  I added pistachios but any nuts would work – especially if you toasted them a bit first.

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I used this lovely blood orange olive oil but regular olive oil would work.  I used the dark balsamic – but white balsamic would be lovely, too.

And for the goat cheese – I used this stuff (below).   It has the texture of a soft goat cheese & was really delicious.  If you eat cheese – real goat cheese or feta would also work.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serves 2


4-6 beets (red or golden – no matter)

1 large fennel bulb

2 fists full of arugula or other greens

1/4 cup pistachios

1 avocado – cubed

Vegan soft cheese (or real goat or feta cheese) – quantity up to you

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar


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Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  No need to even wash them – as that will happen later.  If they are large (mine were about the size of ping pong balls) – cut them into smaller chunks.

Cut the fronds off the fennel (saving some of the dilly leaves for garnish) & cut the bulb in half.  Place on a cooking sheet & drizzle with olive oil.

Place the beets in foil on the cooking sheet with the fennel & roast 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  The beets might take longer than the fennel.

When the beets cool – wash them under running water & rub the skins off.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the fennel.

Place some greens on each plate.  Top with beets, fennel, avocado, pistachios & crumbled cheese. Drizzle with olive oil & balsamic.  Garnish with fennel leaves and S&P.

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