Tag Archives: italian cooking recipes

Vegan Pesto Brings Everyone Together

Aren’t the best recipes spur of the moment? And better still when they’re fast, easy and crowd-pleasing…

It’s a challenge cooking meals for vegan and omnivores, those with dietary restrictions, and tastebuds that are less than adventurous–especially when it comes to trying “healthy” plant-based foods. And you can forgeddabout raw foods.

With dinnertime fast approaching, I took inventory of what we had in the house:

  • Fragrance of fresh basil, a gift from a friend’s garden, was calling to be used every time the refrigerator was opened
  • A large head of cauliflower crowded the drawer
  • A container of baby spinach leaves would be a shame not to use it while fresh, too

I decided to make a basil spinach pesto with cauliflower–withholding the miso or nutritional yeast I usually include–to allow my mother and aunt to add grated cheese at the table. I would opt for parmesan sprinkles–a blend of sesame seeds and nutritional yeast–inspired by Jo Stepaniak’s “Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook”.

Rather than sauteing cauliflower separately, I added it with the pasta water (though boiling is not optimal for nutrition), and the consistency was just right after 7-8 minutes. At least, it saves time, and pots to clean.

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Grilled Vegan PizzaZ!

Although you wouldn’t know it from the dictionary, there are millions of things to cook on the barbeque besides meat, chicken, and fish.  And I don’t just mean fresh vegetables, although lovingly barbequed vegetables can be a gourmet meal unto themselves.

A gas grill may not have the same charm as charcoal or wood barbeques, but there’s still something magical about cooking and eating outdoors, especially at night under a starry sky. No complaints about easy clean up, afterward, too.

So, with a let up in the rainy season, and a fresh tank of gas in the grill, I decided it was time to grill my first pizza.

I just threw my pizza stones on the gas grill, and turned it to the highest heat for about a half-hour. While waiting, I rolled out the dough and cut up all the veggie toppings, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, bell peppers, as well as grated cheddar and mozzarella-style Teese.

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Ciambotta Pasta

I was about to make our favorite pasta puttanesca the other night when it occurred to me that capers and olives aren’t exactly what you call fresh vegetables. I found string beans and celery in the refrigerator, made a quick trip to the store for bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. And–in no time–my quicky puttanesca pasta had morphed into ciambotta (Italian vegetable stew) pasta.

Many people use potatoes as starch in their ciambotta recipe, but I prefer mine over pasta, and I found a perfect match waiting in the pantry: whole wheat organic chioccole (large curvy tube pasta with ridges). Next, an online search proved I’m certainly not the first one to use capers and olives in their ciambotta.  OK, I’m not original, but there’s safety in numbers!

As great as this dish was the first time, the following day I mixed the leftovers with Teese mozzarella (photo) and baked in a casserole pan for  a bubbly-crispy and totally comforting late winter lunch. Continue reading

Vegan Scallopini With Artichokes

Tokyo is a city famous for its convenience, but unfortunately not so for vegan eating.

Maintaining a healthy vegan diet in Japan and other countries where veganism has not caught on often means having to make everything from scratch, from breakfast cereals, breads, egg-replacers, non-dairy milks and mock meats, to vegan mayonaise, cheeses and ice creams.

On my latest trip to the States, I went out of my way to sample a number of vegan ready to eat and convenience foods. Since meeting Tal Ronnen last year, I was intrigued by the Gardein plant-based products he is developing–which according to some vegans–feel too much like eating meat. Continue reading

Fresh and Easy Eggplant Parmigiana

Before becoming vegan, parmigiana “you name it” was one of my favorite dishes. Who could resist anything coated in oil, two or three kinds of cheese, and tomato sauce?

So when I spied a pack of decent sized “American (globe) eggplant” the other day (vs. the smaller and more commonly available Japanese variety-this is Japan, go figure!), I knew it was time to try out the low-fat version of eggplant parmesan I had seen on FatFreeVegan.com.

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Vegan Puttanesca Sauce (# 375,001!)

A lot of omnivores, and even many vegetarians, think vegan cooking is hard, but in reality, it’s no more difficult than non-vegan cooking. Getting into the mindset where you are ready for a plants-based, vegan diet is the most challenging. If you’ve landed on this page, you are obviously headed in the right direction.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is one of those old standby recipes that I hadn’t touched since becoming vegan, that is–until my sister served a delectable anchovy-less rendition for New Year’s dinner. And, like so many other dishes I couldn’t fathom eating again (due to the elimination of a supposedly “core ingredient”), I am now rediscovering it. Continue reading

Homemade Vegan Sausage Revelation

Isa Chandra Moskowitz has made a liar out of me. Not long ago, I wrote that Moskowitz’ “Veganomicon” was the last cookbook you needed to buy, and now she comes out with “Vegan Brunch”. Blame it on her vegan Italian Feast Sausage recipe.

becoming vegan cooking recipes

You see, growing up in an Italian-American family, I was used to eating pasta with tomato-meat sauce for Sunday dinners and other special occasions. Meat usually included meatballs, spareribs, and sausages. Living on myown as an adult, special dinners had always consisted of meat of some sort, if not cheese, and more likely both! As a result, it seemed Sunday dinners would never be the same after becoming vegan. Now, 3 years later, I’ve discovered there are hundreds of other delectable and healthy meals worthy of Sunday and any other day. But when I’m feeling nostalgic, pasta with a “meaty” tomato sauce is the ultimate comfort food.

You may ask, why bother making your own vegan sausages, when there are already meatless sausages appearing on the shelves in major grocery stores? I think that’s great news, and without a doubt, vegan sausages are preferable to meat sausages, but reading the ingredients and the nutritional data, I’m not sure all meatless sausages are actually healthy, or good for your diet. If you like to know what’s in your food, like me, why not try making your own vegan sausages? Continue reading