Cold Soba Noodle Salad

I have no idea if I got this recipe from somewhere. Maybe I made it up! I don’t recall, but it’s similar to many other Asian noodle salads. But I’ve made it for years. It’s light but satisfying. Especially on a hot summer day (though it’s September and I really over this hot weather now). Very simple to make and tastes better the longer it sits, so make a big batch for leftovers.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, a grain that looks like a seed. It’s also gluten free so soba is great alternative to for those with a gluten allergy. Buckwheat is high in fiber and manganese, and is overall a very nutritious food. Soba noodles can be served cold like in this recipe, or hot like in a soup. I’ve tried them both ways, but I prefer cold.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 bag (12.8 oz) of Soba noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
Other options:
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup steam shelled edamame
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbs toasted nori

Cook the soba noodles according the directions on the package. When done, drain well and rinse with cold water immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mixed together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes to make the dressing. Set aside.

Chop your veggies and add to a large bowl.

Add the soba noodles to the veggie bowl.

Add the dressing and mix together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Top with some toasted nori and enjoy!

My favorite way to make this is adding all the optional ingredients, but that will have to wait until Jack’s older. I left my basic because I was sharing with my little son. We have started to introduce solids through baby-led weaning. I didn’t think he was quite ready for tofu or edamame yet.

Baby approved!

Haluski: Polish Noodles And Cabbage

Today would have been my Grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away in February (see my Polish Barley Soup post) and I miss her everyday.  I am sad that my baby will never get to know what beautiful and loving person his Great Grandma was, but I am happy her bloodline gets to live on through him. I promise to make him (healthier versions of) Pierogi and kapusta while telling him the stories about her life on the farm in upstate New York and how our family came over from Poland. That is the best way I can honor her memory. I will make sure he is proud little Polish boy, just like she taught me be a proud little Polish girl.

I decided to make a healthier version of a traditional Polish dish, Haluski. It is a simple pan-fried noodle and cabbage dish common in most Slavic countries. I do remember my grandma making this for me once, but she never mentioned it was Polish. The dish varies a bit between the Slavic countries, but most call for a lot of butter and a giant glob of sour cream. Not vegan or healthy. So I cut out the sour cream, and used far less vegan butter. Also, I used a cabbage/kale mix and added some carrots for extra nutrition.  To be very traditional, you should make your own noodles, called Kulski. I have tried a few times to make them, but have yet to master a vegan version yet, so look out for that recipe at a later date. If you aren’t making your own noodles, normally you use egg noodles, which are not vegan. So I used normal pasta (well actually broken up lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Haluski
3 cups dry noodles or pasta (used a smaller, ribbon pasta)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cabbage/kale mix (I used Costco’s Sweet Kale Mix)
1/2 large carrots, shredded or peeled into ribbons with a peeler
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the noodles according the directions.  Drain and set aside

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Add the cabbage/kale mix and the carrots ribbons. Cook until slightly softened.

Reduce the heat to low.

Add the cooked noodles and caraway seeds.

Stir everything together well. Cook until it is all heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can enjoy this a light main dish, or pair it with some Tofurky Kielbasa to make it complete Polish meal.

I couldn’t help but smile as I ate this, makes me happy to honor my grandma.

One Pot Pasta

I kept seeing all the pins on Pintrest for One Pot Pasta. Pretty much throw everything into one pot, let it cook for awhile, and you have prefect pasta in a light tomato sauce. Sounded too good not to try! There are a ton of variations of the recipe, but it appears that the “original recipe” (the one that made it popular) is from Martha Stewart. I kept it simple and pretty true to the originally. But I wanted it creamier, so I added some arrow root powder (or starch) to thicken it up without adding a lot of calories.

Arrow root powder is a natural thickener that comes from South America. It’s is similar to corn starch and can substitute for it. I like it better because it is finer and blends better (plus you know, the whole Monsanto King of the Corn thing…) You may notice in the photos that I used spaghetti and fettuccine. I had a half box of each and wanted to use them up. I am big believer is using what you have on hand in order to save money.  I also used organic cherry tomatoes from the veggie box delivery (they are so good, I could eat them by themselves!).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

One Pot Pasta
1/2 small white onion, sliced fine
1 small carton of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and greens removed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sprigs of basil, leafs removed and roughly chopped
12 oz  (just shy of one box) of pasta
1 tps red chili flakes
5 cups of water
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbs Arrow Root Powder or Corn Starch

In a large, shallow pot, add all the ingredients except the olive oil, arrow root powder, salt, and pepper.

Cook for 5 minutes, just until the tomatoes bring to break. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Cook for another 5 minutes or so (it will vary based on the directions for the pasta), until  the pasta is cooked.
Remove from the heat. About about 1/4 cup of liquid will remain.

Add the arrow root powder and toss together well. The sauce will get slightly thicker and creamier.

Taste for seasoning, mine need a little more salt.

Now serve it up with some extra basil and enjoy!

A light sauce that is just a tad creamy without all the fat! Filling without being over the top. I am so going to make this again.

Creamy Spinach Pasta

I posted a recipe awhile ago for Cheesy Rice where you cook the rice/pasta in milk to make it creamier. That got me to thinking…if the noodles come out creamier, then you do not need all the (vegan) butter and cheese right? You still get a bowl of creamy goodness but cut out a lot of calories. Thus, I came up with this recipe. I added in spinach for some extra nutrition.  And before you start saying “But the butter gives it more flavor,” just relax. Yes, it is true this dish is not a rich as it could be, but it does not lack any flavor. And I ask you this: Is it that big of a deal to have a slightly less rich bowl of pasta? Will your life come to end because you did not indulge? Do you have to cut out butter and cheese for the rest of your life? No. Nothing will happen if you eat healthy food (that still tastes great) and you can always have the richer stuff on occasion too. I believe this is that magically thing called moderation 🙂

This recipes makes 4 servings.

Creamy Spinach Pasta
4 cups plain soy milk
2 cups water
2 and 1/3 cup of Gemelli pasta
1 tbs cornstrach (optional)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring the soy milk and water to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook according to the directions.

When the pasta has about 5 minutes left, add the spinach and garlic. Mix together well.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, if there is still liquid in the pot you can add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce and cook for a bit longer. The first time I made it I needed it. The second time I did not. It just depends.

If you want a more “salty/meaty” flavor, you can add the soy sauce.

Season with salt and pepper.

I sprinkled on a little dried parsley as well.

Easy and delicious. This way can you enjoy a bowl of pasta with less guilt!

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi

Once again, sorry I have not posted in awhile.  Let me update you…

The GreenPeace job did not end up working out. They are a great organization, but that job just was not for me. I still support them though. I am working part time at a Southwestern restaurant for now, and should hopefully be starting another full-time job soon, but more on that later.

Michael and I volunteered to help clean up his Grandparents’ old house and are living there as well. It’s a very cute old house built back in the 40s and is pretty much stuck in the 60s. Cleaning is turning out to be quite a challenge so far. We have been there for almost a month and still are only about 1/3 done. To give you an idea, here are a few phrases I have uttered during the clean-up so far:

“Of course the drawer is full of 100 steak knives.”
“Do not tell me there is more ceramics in that box.”
“This Tylenol expired before I was born.”
“Oh my God, these are the pills you would give your wife to shut her up if she was PMSing or talking back. They stopped making these like 40 years ago.”
“I have seen more dead spiders in the past hour than I have seen alive ones in my whole life.”
“Sorry I have bad reception in here, there’s lead paint.”

But, one perk to an old house, it has a old stove and range that stills works great. I feel like a little 50s housewife every time I cook on it.  I came up with his recipe last night randomly, I was originally just going to make it an all vegetable soup, but then thought Michael would complain so I added the gnocchi. They soak up the broth and come very flavorful and soft.

Sorry I did not take pics while cooking, I was doing three other things at once and forgot. But it’s easy enough anyways.

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi
Olive oil
2  large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
4 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 cup of beer (I used 10 Barrel Brewing Apocalypse IPA from Kaleidoscope)
1 can of light coconut milk
4 cups of water
2 tbs of curry powder
1 tbs of cumin
Package of Gnocchi
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the carrots onions, and celery. Sauté until slightly golden.

Add the mushrooms and squash, cook until slightly golden as well.

Deglaze the pan with the beer.

Add the coconut milk and water. Add the curry powder and cumin.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 2 hours, stir occasionally.

Add the gnocchi and cook until soft.

Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Try Lost Coast Apricot Wheat beer!

We don’t have internet at the house, but as soon as we do, I will start posting regularly again. Hope this tide you over for now!

Udon Noodle Attempt

Awhile ago a posted a blog for sushi with a video link to a YouTube channel called Cooking With Dog. It’s weird that she cooks with a cute little dog, but she makes some interesting Japanese dishes. Most aren’t vegan and some are kinda complicated. But I was surprised to see that udon noodles were vegan and fairly simple.

I didn’t use the special kind of flour the video calls for and I only had a tiny big of starch so my noodles were not as soft as they should have been. Plus, I am not familiar with Japanese cooking techniques so they are no where near as pretty the dog lady’s noodles. That being said, they did taste like udon noodles and had the right outer texture. I was very happy with my first attempt.

Since I followed the video pretty closely, it would be silly re-type everything. So watch the video and look at the lovely photo sequence of my attempt.

As a good food blogger, I will actually post an original recipe too. This is a simple stir-fry I make often, just made it up one day with the random things I had in the fridge. It was a lovely accompaniment for the udon noodles.

Spinach and Tofu Stir-Fry
1/4 cup frozen or 1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
1/4 of a block of firm tofu
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tps sesame seeds
1 tps red chili sauce

Heat some water or veggie broth in a skillet over medium heat.

Add spinach, onions, garlic, and tofu. Cook until the spinach is done (defrosted for frozen or wilted for fresh), and the tofu is heated through and lost most of its moisture.

Add the soy sauce and sesame seeds, cook for a minute or two more.

Remove from the heat and garnish with the chili sauce. Serve it over the udon noodles or whatever else you like.

Pad Thai Fettuccine

I am not quiet sure how or why I came up with this dish, but it was sure tasty! It is like a mix between pad thai and pasta primivera.  Really easy to make too.

Pad Thai Fettuccine 
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tps garlic powder
1 tps onion powder
1 tbs chili powder
1/8 cup jarred jalapenos (less or more to depending on personal heat level)
1/2 box fettuccine (or enough for four servings, most boxes are actually 8)
Assorted veggies, fresh or frozen (I used a bag of stir fry mix but try any veggies you would put in Pad Thai)

Put a large covered pot of water on the stove to boil.


Toss the stewed tomatoes, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and jalapenos into the blender and blend until smooth. Taste it and adjust seasoning to your tastes. I added a little more chili powder because I like it spicy.

Once your water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the directions. Drain and return to the pot.

Heat up (or cook if you are using fresh) the veggies in a skillet with a bit of cooking spray or oil.

Add the cooked veggies to the pasta pot. Pour in the sauce and mix well.

I topped mine with a few more jalapenos and chili powder. A very lovely and easy dinner!

Hawaiian Mac Salad

When you order a Hawaiian plate lunch, you can be certain of two things: large portions and macaroni salad. They usually aren’t vegan so I have to order all rice instead.  But to keep up with my Hawaiian post trend, I thought I should make my own version. There isn’t anything that makes this dish unique to Hawaii besides the fact it’s very popular here. It’s pretty much the same recipe you mom makes for picnics. I kept everything traditional, the only difference is I used Veganaise instead of mayonnaise.



Mac Salad
2 cups large elbow macaroni, dry
1/4 cup carrots, grated
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup Veganaise
1 tbs sweet relish
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

 

Broke college kid doesn’t have a grater, so I chopped my carrots

Grate the carrots and chop the celery.

 

 

The glass bowl makes it look like it’s sitting on the counter.

In a large bowl, add the macaroni, carrots and celery. Add the Veganaise and relish then mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Veganaise is the best thing ever. Way better than dairy mayo.

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This gives the macaroni time to absorb all the flavors.

I ate mine on it’s own, but it’s a fabulous side dish for any entree…man, now I wish I made some BBQ tofu to go with this.

Mac and Cheese

Bet you didn’t think vegans eat mac and cheese? Well, we do. I don’t think I could be a vegan if I couldn’t have it. Of course it’s not real cheese. There are two ways to make it, with nutritional yeast or with alternative cheeses.

It smells kind of like Parmesan.

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast made from cultured sugarcane or molasses. It’s similar to brewer’s yeast, the left over stuff from making beer, but way less “yeasty” tasting. I had never heard of the stuff until I became a vegan. It has a slight earthy/cheesy/yeasty flavor that can boost up any dish that normally has cheese or meat in it. It’s available at health food stores, usually in bulk but I have seen it in packages too. It is fairly inexpensive, so don’t be a afraid to buy some. It’s good on popcorn or pasta for a “cheesy” topping.

It looks like cheese…

I stated before in my Pad Thai Pizza post that I am not a big fan of most alternative cheeses. Although some claim they “really melt,” they don’t. I choose the word pliable to describe them. They are more pliable when heated but not melty and bubbly.  However, I  heard all these rants and raves about Daiya. So I thought I would give it a try. It tasted pretty good out of the bag. The texture is not quite right, but way better then some other brands I’ve tried. It didn’t totally melt, but it got pretty bubbly and gooey. For something I am not a big fan of, I do like this soy cheese. I used both nutritional yeast and the soy cheese in this recipe. 

Mac and Cheese
3 cups elbow macaroni
2 tbs vegan butter

Cheese Sauce:
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup non-sweetened soy milk
1 tps mustard 
1 cup soy cheese (I suggest Daiya)
1/2 tps turmeric
1/2 tps cumin
1 tps garlic powder
1 tps soy sauce
1/4 tps pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, if you want to bake it.

Cook macaroni according to directions. Return to pot or a large bowl after it’s drained for mixing. If you are baking it, leave the pasta a little undercooked, it will finish cooking in the oven.

It’s not quite a roux but it keeps the sauce together.

In a small sauce pan, heat butter over medium until melted, then add the nutritional yeast. It will make a lumpy mixture, just stir until everything is well mixed.

I was skeptical when I saw the cheese clump, but it smoothed out

Add milk and mustard, whisk well.  Add soy cheese while continuously whisking. It may clump on the bottom, but should come together as it warms. 

Add turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, soy sauce, and pepper. Heat until it starts to simmer. Taste, it may need a bit of salt.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix thoroughly.

If you like stove-top style,  you can eat it just like this. But if you prefer baked, pour into a baking dish and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until it gets golden-brown and bubbly.

Since I’m only cooking for one, I baked mine in individual ramekins. 

I topped mine with some extra cheese and red pepper flakes before I baked it. Breadcrumbs are a good choice too, gives it a nice crunch.

It’s creamy and gooey just like dairy mac and cheese. See, being a vegan does not mean just boring vegetables.

Here are some other recipes to try too:
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8295.0
http://www.thekindlife.com/user_recipe/view/10014/115/1 
http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/vegan-mac-and-no-cheese/Detail.aspx