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This was dinner tonight! Fettucini alfredo, asparagus, avocado salad and a rosemary dinner roll. This was my biggest experiment to date in vegan cooking. I was wary about trying to make a vegan version of a cream based sauce – my cheese and cream loving family was even more wary about trying it! But armed with a recipe from The Urban Vegan, I decided to give it a shot.

Results? Delish!! I would make it again and again.

I started out cooking a roux with 6 tablespoons of earth balance (I didn’t say it was healthy!) and 2 1/2 tbsp of nutritional yeast. I decided to add some chopped shallots for a little extra flavor. While I was whisking up the roux, I had my sous chef (aka sister) dissolve a tbsp of corn starch in 1 1/2 cups of soy milk.

After the rue had time to boil a bit, I whisked in the milk mixture, added a teaspoon of salt, and put it over low heat until it thickened (it took about 15 minutes – just as the book suggested it would). Then I tossed it with the fettucini and served it to my timid diners.

We were all so pleasantly surprised! It was rich tasting and had a heavy creamy after taste, but both my sister and I agreed it didn’t leave our stomachs feeling heavy like a traditional Alfredo usually would. Although it isn’t healthy by any means, it might be a small step up due to the lower fat content and lack of animal fats. Who knows… I’m no nutritionist. I’m sure about one thing though: it definitely earns top marks in the flavor department!

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Last monday I was maybe more tired than I have ever been in my life.  I kind of wanted to just go home and go to bed, but my body wanted something hearty and warm and delicious.  My body wanted minestrone soup.

I feel bad sharing my recipe for a few reasons.  First of all, I know that for many people, minestrone is a timeless tradition.  Passed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters to more daughters.  My recipe isn’t like that.  My recipe is kind of an everything but the kitchen sink type of recipe.  Secondly, soups in general have always seemed kind of magical to me.  What is it about them that heals and strengthens so perfectly?  What is the secret ingredient?  An extra pinch of salt?  A dash of white wine?  I’m no soup expert.  This has no secret ingredients.  This is basic as basic can be.

But it did turn out tasty.  It did fill my belly and my heart.  It was vegan  Here’s how I made it.

I chopped up 3 carrots

I chopped up two celery stalks

I chopped up one yellow onion

I chopped up a whole boatload of greenbeans

I chopped up a tomato

I chopped up about 6 cloves of garlic

I chopped up some basil (maybe about half a cup

I put 6 cups of veggie broth in a pan, and added the onion, garlic, celery and carrots, and a couple bay leaves.  I simmered that for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally, and tasting the carrots until they were  tender.  Also I sometimes just wanted to taste them.

Once the carrots were good to go, I added the tomato, basil and green beans.

I also added about 1 1/2 cups of dried pasta.

I also added one can of chickpeas

I also added one can of white beans

I also added one can of crushed tomatoes (w/juice in) and one can of tomato paste

I boiled that for about 15 more minutes, and it was ready to go.

I served it to my family.  They loved me for it.

The thing about my soups is, they are very improvisational.  Especially with a soup like minestrone.  I could see throwing some potatoes, peas, broccoli, kale, or even eggplant in there and I think it would be delicious.  Be creative!  

Deliciously yours,

C