Spaghetti and Beanballs

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My husband and son love my meatball recipe. When I make them, I often just have some roasted mushrooms or buy frozen vegan meatballs. But last night I decided to make my own—same recipe as the ones I make the boys, just minus the meat. I wanted to use lentils, but couldn’t find any in my pantry. I did find pink beans so went with those. Pink beans look like small pink kidney beans, but taste closer to pinto beans. They are very popular in Caribbean cooking. I bought a bag awhile ago to make a Caribbean dish and forgot about them.

Also, I always make my own pasta sauce. I like knowing what’s in it for sure, and that it’s not loaded with sodium. This is just a basic recipe, feel free to doctor it up as you like. Or use a jar of your favorite sauce, too.

This recipe makes 5-6 servings.

Spaghetti and Beanballs

1 bag of pink beans
Olive oil15 - 4
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
28 ounce can of tomato puree
14.5 can of diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
12 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
A bag of your favorite pasta

Soak your pink beans in cold water overnight if possible, they will cook a lot faster.

Place your soaked beans in large pot filled with enough water to cover them with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook as long as directions on the package say (mine took about 45 minutes). Add more water as needed. Cook until they are soft but not mushy. Drain well and set aside.

While those are cooking, you can work on the sauce…

In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat.

Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, water, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Cook for a half an hour, then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Remove from heat and set aside for now.

While the sauce is cooking  you can start on the beanballs (assuming your beans are cooked now)….

In a large bowl, mash up the beans. Leave a few chunks for texture.

Add the oil, nutritional yeast,  bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, sage, and fennel. Then season with salt and pepper as desired.

Add a little water at a time to help it all come together.  You want it to still be soft, but be able to hold shape.

So you could make them into balls and pan-fry them in olive oil until they are golden on the outside. That was my original plan until I realized all my burners were being used (I was making lemonade at the same time as this).

I oiled up a ceramic pan and made them into little mounds. Then I baked them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, and broiled on low for 3 minutes.

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Then I scooped them out with an ice ice cream scoop to keep the ball shape.

Lastly, cook your pasta according the directions on the package (I did this while beanballs cooked).

Add your pasta to the sauce and toss together well.

Plate up the pasta, top with some beanballs, top with your favorite vegan cheese, and enjoy!

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The fennel and sage really give the balls that sausage meatball kind of taste. Pair with a nice salad and you have a satisfying complete meal.

This recipe makes a lot of beanballs. You can freeze them or cut the recipe in half, too.

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.

Lasagna Rolls Up

I kept seeing several versions of lasagna rolls ups on Pintrest so I thought I would give them a try. I like the portion control and that they not as messy as traditional lasagna. I decided to make a very simple version with just vegan cheese, kale, and spinach. I made my own pasta sauce, but jarred is just fine.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box of lasagna noodles (oven-ready is fine)
4 cups pasta sauce  (Try my Mushroom Sauce)
1.5 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and half a cup.  (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1 cup kale (I put it in fresh but sauté would be fine too)
1 cup fresh basil

If you noodles have cooking directions, follow them. If you have no-boil kinda, just bring a large pot of water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain and let cool slightly—but do not leave in the colander too long, they will stick together.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on a baking sheet or baking pan.

On a clean surface, separate the noodles and lie them down flat.

Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on mozzarella evenly over the upside of each noodle.

Next lay a few kale leaves down in an even thing layer over the noodle.

Next lay a few basil leaves down in an even thing layer on top of the kale.

Starting at one end of the noodle, tightly roll the noodle up. It should hold its rolled shape, if not squish it a bit until it stays.

Repeat the previous 4 steps with all the noodles.

Place the roll ups on the baking sheet. Space a bit apart from each other.

Cover the rolls ups with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining half cup of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Michael loved these—though I made his with dairy cheese. I think next time I will load them up more, maybe some crumbled tofu and roasted peppers.

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!

Tofu Parmesan

So, I know I called this dish tofu parmesan, but there is no parmesan in it. But, to be fair the mozzarella is the best part of chicken or eggplant parm so I think my title is still fairly accurate.  I love eggplant parm. I thought about it the other day, which is where I got my inspiration for this dish. I guess someone could argue this is more like Italian-style baked tofu but whatever. You can add some vegan parm into the batter, I just didn’t have any on hand. It’s delicious either way.

Tofu Parmesan 
1 block tofu
2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup+2tbs flour, (I used rice, but any kind is fine)
1/4 tbs Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup soy milk, unflavored
2 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 1 tbs water, mixed
1/4 vegan mozzarella (Try Dayia)
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1 tps garlic salt
Pinch of pepper

Drain the tofu.

Place several sheets of paper towels on a flat, clean surface. Put the tofu on the paper towels, then place some more paper towels on top. Now get something heavy (I use my science textbooks, my mom uses stone bookends) and place it on top. This will squeeze out all the liquid so it will get a denser texture when cooked. Leave this for at least an hour, but the longer the better.

Next, place the tofu in a freezable container and freeze over night.

The next morning, place it on the counter to thaw.

 

Once fairly thawed, sliced in half lengthwise so it’s like 1/4 inch thick steak. Since I am only cooking for me, I put one half back in the fridge for another day. Pour the 2tbs of soy sauce over both sides and let it marinade for at least a half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients, it should be slightly thick.

 

Dip the tofu steak in the cheese batter, coating well on both sides.

Place on the baking sheet and put it in the oven.

I forgot to set a timer so I don’t know exactly how long it took to cook. But something around 20 minutes I guess. Check yours after 15 just to be safe. It will be all golden and crispy when ready.

I had some basil-tomato sauce I made last week that needed to be eaten so I slathered my tofu with it. I loved the crispy and cheesy crust.

If you want to make this more chicken parm like, top it with the sauce and more cheese and bake for a few minutes longer. If you want to make this a full meal, pair it with some pasta and nice green salad.

Pizza Dough

In my Pad Thai Pizza post, I posted a link for pizza dough but I thought this time I would demonstrate how easy it is to make. This is my mom’s recipe. I am not sure where she got it from specifically, but most pizza dough recipes are the same anyways. 

Easy Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water (around 105 degrees F)
1 packet active yeast
1 tbs sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tps salt
1 tbs olive oil

Dissolve the packet of yeast into the warm water. The temperature of the water is very important—too hot will kill the yeast and too cold wont activate it. Add the sugar and set aside to proof. It should get all bubbly and frothy like in the photo. If nothing happens, then you will have to throw it out and try again. I had trouble getting this right when I first started working with yeast.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then drizzle olive oil on top.

Tacky

Once the yeast is proofed, pour it over the dry mixture and mix together until well combined. Do not over work the dough, it will get tough and chewy. It should be moist and tacky between your fingers.
 Cover the bowl with a damp towel (if you live in a humid place then it doesn’t need to be damp) and set aside to rise for at least 30 minutes (I forgot it for 2 hours once and it was still fine).

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F and spray your pizza pan with cooking spray.

I put mine in the microwave while it rises so it’s out of the way.

Once it’s puffed up significantly, punch it down and place on a well-floured surface.

Knead gently, just until it’s smooth. Again, try not to overwork the dough. No one likes a chewy pizza.  Just be patient and gentle with your dough,  and all will be well.

I split mine and freeze half.

Roll the dough into the shape of pizza pan. Transfer to your pan and shape to fit. If it tears, just mold it back together, no big deal.

Bake for 10 minutes, until slightly golden, turning over half way through. This is only a pre-bake so it should not be golden and crispy just yet.

Now you have a prefect pizza crust ready to be topped and baked!

Alicia Silverstone’s Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna

If you want a good introduction to veganism, read Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet. In it she explains her vegan story as well as outlines the health benefits of an all-plant based diet— plus it has killer recipes. This recipe for Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna I got from her website The Kind Life and have been dying to make it. I made my own bread for it this morning, which I posted in my last entry. I made a few changes to adapt to what I have on hand. I have posted my version, which isn’t too different from the original. Her recipe includes instructions to make your own tomato sauce, but I did not have enough tomatoes so I used jarred Prego. It’s always best to use local produce, so I used Japanese eggplant that I bought from the Hilo Farmers Market. I also did not have breadcrumbs so I made my own from toasted oatmeal.

The picture from website

Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna 
6 Japanese eggplants
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
3 cups tomato sauce
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1/8 tps ground black pepper
1/4 tps red pepper flakes
8 thick slices of a rustic-style bread (try my Italian Herb Oat Bread)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 large ripe tomato, cut into thick slices
Basil to garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 degree F.
 

Japanese eggplant is less bitter than normal eggplant

Slice eggplant length wise into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and salt on both sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning over half way through, until soft and slightly golden.  Leave the oven at the same temperature for baking the assembled lasagna.

Although great as is, jazz up pre-made sauces to your tastes

While the eggplant is cooking, heat olive oil over low heat, add garlic and cook till slightly golden. Add tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Heat until warm.

Extra slices make a good snack while you wait

Spray both sides of the bread slices with cooking spray and heat in a skillet over medium heat until toasted, flip and repeat for the other side. Do this in 2 to 3 batches, since all 8 slices can’t fit in at once….unless you have a very large skillet.

I almost forgot the tomato slices!

 In a large baking dish, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Line the dish with half the bread without overlapping the slices. Layer half the eggplant on top of the bread, then top with 1 cup tomato sauce. Repeat another bread and eggplant layer then top with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle on breadcrumbs and put tomato slices on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting in to it.

The eggplant has a creamy texture that totally makes the dish.

Alicia suggests garnishing it with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar, which sounds great, but I do not have either at the moment so I sprinkled it with red pepper flakes and paired with a nice green salad.