Spinach Tomato Tortellini

My 8 year old said this was one of the top three pastas I have ever made! And I agree! The sauce was a little runny, but I did add a little more cream than the recipe calls for (I had about 1/4 cup left over and I knew I wouldn’t use it for anything else so I threw it in). I did not measure my spinach, either, but just threw in the whole bag. This came together very quickly, and made everyone in my family happy. Win-win.

rating: 9.7

Spinach Tomato Tortellini
(http://damndelicious.net/)

prep time: 5 min.
cook time: 10 min.
serves 4

Ingredients:

12 ounces tortellini pasta
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional (I omitted)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream and flour; set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes, spinach, basil, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes, if using; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in heavy cream mixture and Parmesan, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in tortellini and gently toss to combine.
Serve immediately.

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Tofu Crab Cakes with Simple Slaw and Crab Cake Sauce

Oh. OH. These were excellent! These is not a simple little recipe, but dang, is it good! I made the slaw and the sauce earlier in the day so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. These cakes are a little fragile, so treat them with care. I didn’t have one break on me, but it wanted to! I had the tartar sauce out just in case we didn’t like the crab cake sauce, but we didn’t need it! Yet another “crab” cake recipe to keep in my back pocket!

rating: 9

Tofu Crab Cakes with Simple Slaw and Crab Cake Sauce
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

Ingredients:

Slaw:

1/4 green cabbage, shredded
1 fat carrot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon vegan mayo
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 bunch scallions, green parts only, cut on the bias
salt and pepper

Tofu Crab Cakes:

1 14-16 oz. block firm tofu
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons high-heat oil as safflower or grapeseed oil
6 medium celery stalks, minced
1/2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons Toasted Nori (instructions below)
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, plus 2 cups for crusting
1/3 cup vegan mayo
Quick Crab cake Sauce (recipe below)

***Nori: Take a sheet of nori seaweed, hold sheet of nori about 4 inches above an open flame and keep it moving until the corners turn up and it dries. Don’t panic if it catches on fire; just blow it out and keep tasting. Rumble up the nori sheets into a powder.

Quick Crab Cake Sauce:

1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/3 cup vegan mayo
juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 teaspoons Old bay Seasoning

Chop tofu and pulse in a food processor until minced but not pureed. Set aside.

Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the 2 teaspoons of oil and wait until it shimmers. Add the celery and scallions and cook until the celery has softened. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. Mix the tofu and celery mixture in a medium bowl and fold in the garlic powder, nori, Old Bay seasoning, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, and vegan mayo.

Place the remaining 2 cups of bread crumbs in a pie pan or shallow bowl and set aside. Shape a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into a small disk and gently press both sides into the breadcrumbs. Using the palm of your hand, gently press the bread crumbs into the cake. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of high-heat oil, and wait until the oil shimmers. Place the tofu crab cakes in the pan and cook until brown, hot, and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil.

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Avocado Reuben

Do you love avocado like I do? Then you will love this sandwich! Well, you should also like sauerkraut. And thousand island dressing. Anyway, this sandwich is good! And it doesn’t take any time at all to make. I used good wheat bread instead of rye (can’t stand the caraway seeds!). My 8 year old thought it was okay. I made vegan thousand island to use (vegan mayo, ketchup, pickles, pickle juice, salt and pepper).

rating: 9

Avocado Reuben
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

serves 2

Ingredients:

4 slices good quality rye bread
Thousand Island dressing or store-bought vegan dressing, as needed
1 firm avocado, halved, pitted, removed from the skin, and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sauerkraut or store-bought, drained
1 firm tomato, thinly sliced and patted dry with paper towels

Directions:

Lightly toast the bread and spread all 4 slices with the dressing. Distribute the avocado slices evenly on 2 slices of the bread. Season the avocado with salt and pepper. Spread an even amount of the sauerkraut over the avocado and top with 2 to 3 slices of tomato. Top the sandwiches with the remaining bread slices and cut each sandwich, corner to corner, with a sharp knife. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

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French Onion Soup

This soup didn’t wow me. I like my French onion soup to be covered in a blanket of cheese, and to get a spoonful of gooey cheese in every bite. That was not the case with this soup. The actual broth part was okay, really nothing special. It could have used a little something to jazz it up (although I am not sure what). The bread and vegan cheese on top just didn’t add anything to the soup. I needed more! lol

rating: 7

French Onion Soup
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

serves 6

Ingredients:

3 large white Onions
1 tablespoon high-heat oil such as safflower or grape-seed oil
1 cup dry sherry
8 cups broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base or Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for Cheese Croutons:

1 French baguette
1 cup grated vegan mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Make the Soup:
Remove the tops and bottoms of the onions and cut them in half lengthwise, then slice them into thin strips lengthwise. Heat a large soup pot or small stockpot over high heat, add the oil, and wait until it shimmers. Add the onions and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a flat-edged wooden spoon, until the onions are a deep dark brown, about 40 minutes. If the onions being to stick, this is a good thing! Turn off the heat, cover the stuck onions with the loose onions, and wait about 2 minutes. This will steam the stuck onions and release them from the bottom of the pot. Stir all the onions together. When the onions are dark brown, the pot will have turned brown as well. Add the dry sherry and deglaze the pan by scraping the sides and bottom clean with a wooden spoon. Simmer the sherry until it has almost evaporated. Add the broth and simmer at least 15 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Croutons (while the soup simmers):
Slice the French bread at an angle into 1/4-inch slices; try to cut the slices so they are just long enough to barely fit inside the soup bowls you plan to use. Place about 12 of the bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet and bake the croutons at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, or until they are crusty. Turn on the broiler or the oven to its highest temperature. Sprinkle the croutons with a small amount of the vegan mozzarella. Just prior to serving the soup, bake or broil the croutons for 2-3minutes, or until the cheese melts. Ladle an 8-10 ounce portion of soup into each of six soup bowls. Place 1 crouton in each soup bowl. Serve the extra croutons at the table for dipping.

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Tortilla Soup

This soup was interesting. Husband really liked it. I thought it was pretty good. This isn’t a soup you can whip up in 10 minutes. You really want to get some brown on the onions and tomatoes, and that takes a little time. I really liked the tortilla strips and avocado garnish…they add a lot to the soup, so don’t skip that step!

rating: 8.5

Tortilla Soup
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 medium white onions, chopped
4 large plum tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base or Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ bunch cilantro (stems and leaves), chopped
½ bunch scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 corn tortillas, charred over an open flame and cut into strips

Garnish:
Seven corn tortillas cut into thin, 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch strips (see Note)
1 cup safflower or grapeseed oil for frying
Kosher salt
2 firm avocados, halved, pitted, removed from their skins, and thinly sliced
1 cup grated vegan cheddar or Jack cheese
½ bunch cilantro, minced

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss the onions and tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet until really hot. Place the onions onto the hot pan, and resist the urge to flip them a million times. Push some of the onions over and place the halved tomatoes on the hot pan as well.
Meanwhile, in a large soup pot or small stockpot, bring the broth to a low simmer and add the remaining ingredients. When the onions and tomatoes are charred, add them to the broth.
Ladle a cup or two of broth into the hot grill pan to deglaze the pan to pick up any charred bits of flavor left behind. Return this liquid to the pot, and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the garnish.

Make the fried tortilla strips: Heat the oil in a small pan until a test tortilla strip fries quickly. Working in batches, fry the strips until they are golden brown. Transfer them to paper towels to absorb excess oil and season lightly with salt.
When the garnish is complete, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Return the soup to the pot and reheat.
To serve, ladle an 8-ounce serving into each of six soup bowls and place a pinch of the vegan cheddar or Jack in the center of each. Arrange some tortilla strips over the cheese, and place a few thin slices of avocado over the strips. Sprinkle each soup with minced fresh cilantro and serve immediately.

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Red Beans and Rice

I didn’t think I would really like this dish, since I don’t care much for sausage (real or fake), but this dish really surprised me. This is (supposedly) Ellen and Portia’s favorite dish their chef makes, and I can see why. It was excellent! I ate on this for several days, and each day it got better and better. I did buy the Field Roast sausages, and they were just really, really good.

rating: 9.3

Red Beans and Rice
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 cups white basmati rice or 2 cups use brown rice
3 cups water
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
2 sausage, high vegan quality (like Field Roast apple sage)
2 sausage, high vegan quality (like Field Roast Italian)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or safflower oil)
1 large white onion, medium dice
6 stalks celery, 6-inch in length, small dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1⁄2 cup scallion, thinly sliced

Directions:

For basmati rice:

Rinse the rice thoroughly. In a pot with a good fitting lid, bring the rice and 3 cups of water to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a low-gentle simmer. Cover the rice and cook until the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and keep the rice covered until needed.

For red beans:

In a blender, puree ¾ of the rinsed beans with the vegetable broth until smooth. Add the remaining beans to the pureed mixture but do not blend. Cut the sausages in quarters lengthwise then cut them crosswise into ⅛-inch pieces and reserve. Heat a 4- or 5-quart stew pot over high heat. Add the oil and wait until it shimmers. Add the onions and celery and stir with a wooden spoon until translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook two minutes more. Add the chopped sausage, chili powder, thyme, bean puree and red peppers and bring it to a simmer. Allow the beans to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Season the beans with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve over basmati rice and garnish with green onions.

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Chick’n Potpie

Okay, so for my piecrust, I bought 2 that were already in the pie tin, thinking I could thaw them out then flatten them and cut them. Nope. That doesn’t work! So I ended up using one as the bottom crust and using the other as the top crust. It wasn’t beautiful, but boy, was it good! I guess next time I need to look for the flat pie crusts. The Gardein was really good in this. My 8 year old doesn’t like fake chicken for some reason (no matter the brand), but he loved the veggies in this dish and kept asking for me.

rating: 9

Chick’n Potpie
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons high-heat oil, such as safflower or grapeseed oil
1 large white onion, diced medium
Five 6-inch celery stalks, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
3 cups broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base or Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
One 10-12 ounce bag frozen organic peas and chopped carrots
One 10-ounce package frozen Gardein Chick’n Scallopini, defrosted and cut into cubes
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package vegan pie crust (2 crusts per pack)
Melted vegan butter, as needed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat a large soup pot or small stockpot over high heat, add the oil and wait until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion and celery and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the flour and stir it in when a wooden spoon until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the broth a little at a time and stir, scraping down the sides and bottom of the pot to release and bits of flour. Simmer until the filling thickened.

Stir in the peas and carrots and the cubed Chick’n Scallopini. Season the filling to taste with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside to cool slightly.

Set out six entrée-size ceramic ramekins or pot pie dishes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough and cut it about 1/2 inch larger than the ramekins you are using. Rub the top of the dough with a little melted vegan butter.

Spoon the filling into the ramekins to within 1/4 inch from the top. Cover the ramekins with the pie dough, butter side up, and crimp the edges with your fingers.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is is golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve.

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photo 2 (10)

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