Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lasagna Marinara With Spinach

Okay. I must admit, this was probably, for me, my piece de resistance of lasagnas (and maybe most anything else) that I've made.

One word of caution: Be prepared to drop some dough for this dish. It was probably twice as much as anything else I've made from the book so far, but it makes tons (almost quite literally) of lasagna that could last two people 3 or 4 days (especially if you're dinner hogs like we are). And the leftovers were just as delicious each day.

This was so rich, so creamy, so delicious and was accompanied by wonderful aromas. This was the first vegetarian lasagna I've made that even had that traditional lasagna smell to it. I'm not sure how to describe it but it was definitely there.

And let just say that the pine nut cream is definitely NOT optional! That stuff is so damn good and was definitely the crown on this dish. There's so much flavor in every bite of that stuff and just a little went a long way in every bite.

This was a lot of work, for sure. But the amazing smell of the marinara sauce early on kept me excited throughout the entire preparation process.

A couple of notes here: Make sure you bring your tofu (for the 'ricotta') to room temperature first. I thought my hands were going to fall off they were so cold. Also, despite 2 lbs. of greens seeming like a lot, they really cook down and were just the right amount in the end. So don't skimp on those either.

Besides how decadent it tasted, it was packed full of nutrition. There was a ton of protein from the tofu and noodles and of course lots of vitamins and minerals from the greens and tomato sauce. I used about half spinach and half rainbow chard.

I could go on and on about this, but someone is at the door. But if you're a lasagna lover, you MUST make this. But do it on a weekend if you want to get to bed at a decent hour.

Cost: About $27 (yowza!)
Difficult: Hard.
Modifications: I used the truly no bake noodles and split the greens between spinach and rainbow chard.
Cleanup: Moderate to difficult.

This recipe is on page 196 of Veganomicon.

Curried Udon Noodle Stir Fry

This was a nice, basic stir fry that was good and acceptably tasty, but not overly delicious and with an obvious lack of depth of flavor.

With that said, though, I actually would make it again but would probably doctor it up a bit more with maybe a little bit of curry powder. And frankly, the way I douse on cayenne pepper on most of my meals anyway, I don't necessarily need the dish to have a ton of flavor. Actually, the less flavor in the dish the more I can actually taste the cayenne.

The seitan was "interesting." I've used their boil method but this dish was the first time I tried their oven method. I expected the seitan to be a little drier and meatier, but it was actually quite rubbery. That was, until I sauteed the crap out of it and gave it a nice brown crust. That helped decrease the rubberiness and increase the chewiness (in fact, the next night I took the leftover seitan, cubed it, sauteed the hell out of it in some garlic and oil and put in on pizza. It was just like "beef" jerky. Delicious!)

Cost: About $9-$10.

Difficulty: Moderate. This required 3 primary cooking dishes.

Modifications: Powdered instead of fresh ginger. Regular soy sauce instead of shoyu, which I couldn't find.

Cleanup: Not too bad, but not quick and easy.

This recipe is on page 200 of Veganomicon.


Finally, a one-word, simply-titled dish, which was also simply delicious, simple to create and simple to clean up. See Wikipedia's cholent page for more information on this Jewish stew.

To me this dish was like a new twist on chili; it had most of the flavors of chili but with unexpected ingredients like potatoes and peas (we used them in place of lima beans, which I forgot to buy) and rice (which can be served under or over the cholent).

The end result was a thick, hearty and rich concoction that made boatloads lasting as long as the flavors were deep.

I pretty much stuck to the script on this one, but could not find the TVP chunks, so I used the TVP crumbles. I'm not even sure what TVP chunks are, but the crumbles worked just fine.

The only issue we had was that the lentils were still a bit firm, so next time around I'd probably cook them on their own first for a bit.

This was truly an easy one pot meal that would make a great weeknight dinner on any chilly night.

Cost: About $10.
Difficulty: Simple simple simple.
Modifications: Crumbled TVP instead of chunks and peas instead of lima beans.
Cleanup: Simple simple simple.

This recipe is on page 183 of Veganomicon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Braised Seitan With Brussels, Kale and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This dish was so packed with nutrition and flavor it didn't bother us that the seitan was a bit squishy squishy (I may go back to our original baked seitan recipe as theirs usually turns out too waterlogged).

Anyway, back to how good it was. The flavors and textures were very complementary, from the meaty seitan, sun-dried tomatoes and rice to the kale, or as I like to refer to it in this dish, the bridge of the textures, to the crispy brussels sprouts. I think I want a t-shirt identifying how much I love brussels sprouts. People just have no clue what they're missing out on when they've only tried frozen, not fresh ones.

There was so much flavor throughout the dish, thanks to the red wine and broth along with all of the herbs. One bit of caution, though: If you take this to work the next day, be prepared to have people start asking what the hell that nasty smell is. I'm not sure if it was the wine or the brussels, but whoa. It still tasted great, though, but not as fresh as the first day.

I'll definitely be making this one again, especially considering how nutritious it was.

Difficulty: Moderate. Again, try not to make the seitan on the same day as the main dish. Or, do it all on a day you have off. Also, a fair amount of chopping.

Cleanup: Quite easy. This dish used just one stock pot as the main piece of cookware.

Alterations: None.

Price: About $14 (couple dollars cheaper if you don't have to spend $4 on kale!).

This recipe is on page 182 of Veganomicon.

Seitan Picatta With Olives and Green Beans

This was quite the "stick to your ribs" sorta dish, but with a fresh twist.

The base was a delicious veganized rich, garlic mashed potato recipe I got from Cook's Country. And the main ingredient of battered seitan is something one can rarely go wrong with, this not being an exception to that rule. The potatoes and seitan were the heavy half, while the freshness of the green beans, shallots and lemon juice were the lighter half of the dish. And the olives and capers added a needed salty kick.

The assembled plate looked like a freaky science experiment that was growing sparse, thick-follicled green hair. I think I put it together as they suggested, but since we were the only ones looking at it and it was two minutes I'll never get back, the second round was just a pile of green beans plopped on top.

All in all, this was a lovely, nutritious and tasty meal. Time will tell if I make it again, since it wasn't a total standout.

If you're going to make the seitan on the same day as the main dish, do this on a weekend or a day you have off. Otherwise, be prepared to eat a late dinner.

Difficulty: Moderate. A decent amount of chopping and preparation.
Cleanup: So so. Not easy but not the worst.
Alterations: I used dried parsley on top. Hey, parsley is expensive here, especially for just a garnish.
Price: About $10-11.

This recipe is on page 174 of Veganomicon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie

This dish should have been named "Thanksgiving in a Dish," or "One Pot Thanksgiving." It had all the flavors of a typical Thanksgiving meal in this house and most of the textures.

Potatoes, gravy, "meat", mushrooms, peas, corn. The only thing missing was dressing, but this pie was so good I didn't miss it.

Okay, so the picture isn't all that appealing, but nevermind that.

The potatoes were creamy, the sauce was thick, rich and herby and the tempeh was nice and tender.

You know, I should really write these "reviews" much closer to the actual eating experience. It's probably been a few weeks since I made this dish and I had it all worked out in my head what I'd say. I pretty much do for every meal but by the time my lazy ass gets up to write it, I've forgotten. The memories of the flavor details fade fast. Let this be a lesson to me.

In any case, I remember how good this was. It was relatively simple to make, too

I made no substitutions, with the exception of using canola oil instead of grapeseed oil. You can assume from here on out that I will use canola oil unless there's a really good reason to do otherwise.

Cost: Sorta high, in the range of $13-$15.
Difficulty: Moderate.
Cleanup: Pretty easy. Just a skillet and a pot as the main dishes used.

This recipe is on page 167 of Veganomicon.

Creamy Tomato Soup

I just love a good, thick tomato soup. And that's exactly what this was. Thick, creamy, deeply-flavored with a hint of tang. I will be making this one again soon.

To make it even better, my husband suggested I make some of the Caesar Salad croutons to go on top. Since I could live off of those things, you know I said "hail, yeah!"

I love how creative the authors were with their use of potatoes in the soup. It gives it richness and thickness without changing the desired flavor. And makes it more nutritious, too, of course.

I didn't substitute or modify anything for this soup. And neither should's easy and so delicious.

Cost: About $8 for a huge pot of soup that lasted for days.
Cleanup/Prep Complexity: Easy Fosheezy (try looking for the spelling of that sometime).

This recipe is on page 148 of Veganomicon. Go make it before soup season is over!

P.S. Sorry, but I forgot the picture. Actually, I didn't forget the picture, but forgot to charge the camera so that I could take the picture. You get the picture.