Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pasta Della California

There isn't a pasta dish I don't like (although I bet there are lots of unholy pasta dishes with cilantro in them). This one didn't change that, but it'll probably go on one of the lower rungs of the goodness scale.

It was fairly easy to make. The sauce was light and a tad refreshing, thanks to the lime zest and juice. And I even liked the avocados, despite being a little wary of them. But overall, there was no real depth of flavor or strong flavor. I love my pasta served with a sauce that has either strong flavors or richness.

So in the flavor sense, I still rate this as good, but on my health factor scale, I'll give it an excellent, thanks to the broccoli, arugula and avocados (with their good fats). Between the health factor and easy prep and cleanup, this one will probably be made again in this house.

The expense of this dish was a bit prohibitive, however, running around $14 (yikes...that's more than I realized at the time of buying the ingredients). So then again, maybe I won't make this again. I'm just so cheap cheap cheap.

The recipe is on page 192 of Veganomicon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spinach Linguine With Basil-Cilantro Pesto And Artichokes

I love pesto. I love spinach fettuccine. I love artichoke hearts. I liked this dish.

I figured a dish that combined so many things I loved would be something I loved, but I came away thinking of this as just a good dish.

I have my own pesto recipe, which I partially used to make the pesto for this dish. I followed their recipe, except I replaced parsley for basil and didn't use cilantro (don't make me say how much I hate cilantro again). But it was the lemon juice that I think, at least for me, took this from a great dish to a good dish. I actually sometimes use a little lemon juice in my pesto recipe, but this one has two tablespoons, which took it from a background flavor to the foreground. I like my pesto to taste garlicky, but I could barely taste the garlic here.

The red onions were a great addition, adding some nice sweetness and crunch. I may even try that in my own pesto sometime. And I will say that the next day leftovers were better. The tanginess had faded and the garlic flavor was allowed to come forth.

Oh, a couple of additions I made: the toasted almonds on top and some sauteed rainbow chard. You can't ever go wrong with toasted almonds. I also wanted an extra nutrition boost, so I added the chard, which I had never made before. That was the best surprise of the night, as it was a perfect balance between soggier spinach and tougher kale.

In the end, I won't be craving this, as the authors said, but I think it's a dish that should at least be tried once. You may have a different reaction to it than I did.

Price-wise, this was about $8. Not bad at all.

This recipe is on page 191 of Veganomicon.

Kasha Phyllo Pie

One word: boring. No, three words. Boring, boring and boringer. There is a but, however.

The but being, I actually didn't make this dish correctly. Put another way, I totally screwed up the phyllo dough. Because I had forgotten to thaw it out, I decided it would be just fine to defrost it in the microwave. Despite taking precautions to protect it from drying out, not only did it dry out parts of the dough, but it made other parts meld together into one large piece of dough.

Thus, no picture here.

Instead of throwing the filling away, I decided to make some of the biscuits from the Leek and Bean Cassoulet With Biscuits recipe and serve those under the filling, topped with the sauerkraut.

The biscuits were great. And I always love sauerkraut. But that filling was one of the most bland things I've made. It was so boring, I couldn't even eat a second serving, opting instead for a biscuit with jam. Bryan was able to shove a serving down the next two days for lunch, but I know there were not an ounce of enthusiasm about that.

And that kasha stuff...yeah, a little funky if you ask me. Not as in disgusting, more like just too earthy.

So, in all fairness, I can't say this dish wouldn't be totally wonderful if made with the phyllo dough. It's hard for anything, even this, to probably taste bad (or boring) with phyllo dough. Does that mean I'll try it again? Highly unlikely. But I will try to find a substitute filling to use with the phyllo dough sometime. I simply must make something with phyllo dough, not only to correct my wrong but also because it's so damn good.

This recipe is on page 165 of Veganomicon.

Double Pea Soup With Roasted Red Peppers

This soup falls into the category of one that we liked and will probably make again but we won't get too excited about it. It is pea soup, after all. And on top of that, it's just soup, and I'm sure I've mentioned before that I'm not a soup person.

With that said, it was good enough for me to eat it as leftovers twice after the main event, which for soup, says a lot. And it was really colorful and festive, too.

The flavor was less "pea-like" than usual, which to me is a good thing. It had a nice depth of flavor and was just the right thickness. I actually cheated a bit on that front by using an immersion blender the blend up about half the soup to make it creamier.

The herbs were probably one of the best things about the soup, besides the fact that it was really healthy. Not being good at identifying flavors from herbs, I can't put my finger on which one (or ones) really stood out. Nor am I good at describing the flavors, but it was one of those spicy spice flavors (the ones I think of as fall spices, such as cinnamon and allspice). It was probably the coriander. In any case, chalk one up for the herbs.

Price-wise, this was probably in the $8-$10 range, but it was extremely plentiful, so per serving it was probably one of the cheapest dishes of the book so far. On the plus side, it was also easy to make and clean up.

This recipe is on page 141 of Veganomicon.