Olive di Casino Royale (Fried Olives – Vegan)

I know I haven’t posted in a while…I’m sorry all my faithful followers! It’s been crazy lately. I was away on a family ski trip, I was sick, and I’m moving next weekend…so needless to say I have my hands full! My kitchen has been totally packed up ready for the move, so I don’t even have a fork or knife, but thankfully I have a costco size box of cereal, almond milk and red solo cups to keep myself going at home!

Anyways, we were at Manning Park over the February long weekend with our family from Kelowna. It was an awesome trip – lots of snow, hot tubbing, good drinks, lots of laughs, and the snowboarding was BEYOND AMAZING. We had high hopes for some fun cooking that weekend, but unfortunately I came down with a pretty wicked cold the last day of the trip so I didn’t get to cook as much as I had wanted. Gord and I spent weeks prior talking about cooking together and work shopping the name for the olives (“the spy who fried me, from olives with love, olives – fried olives” to name a few), so we were making them no matter what. I have a very faded memory of being nudged on the floor “Hey you, get up, time for you to make the olives” .

The “Kitchen”

My dad set up the outdoor “kitchen” a.ka. the tailgate (pictured here)…because who wants to fry inside of their cabin and get it all smelly. I put my coat on, poured myself a glass of wine (maybe a martini would have been more appropriate), and headed outside to deep fry.

Gord used to make these olives all the time at our cabin when I was a kid. We used to just cover them in hot sauce and they were fantastic. We love olives a lot, so no surprise that we started deep frying them. These brought back a lot of really wonderful memories!

Back in the day, we weren’t concerned about making them vegan, so coating the olives was easy with the help of an egg wash. We had to get a bit creative and experiment to make these olives vegan friendly. CHIA EGG was what I came up with.

Chia Egg

Honestly, I’m not sure if chia egg was the right answer. It did work, but as the chia egg sat it just got thicker and gloopier, making it harder and harder to properly coat the olives. Not to mention it made a sticky mess in the flour and some of the coating fell off. If anyone has any better ideas for vegan egg coating (or more experience using egg alternatives) let me know – I’m open to suggestions!

Nonetheless, they were delicious and got gobbled up instantly. I wish I could of made more, but I was sick and had no energy to be standing outside in the cold any longer. I don’t really have a set-in-stone recipe for these…but I’ll put a bit of a walk-through below. We served them on skewers in martini glasses, as our ode to James Bond…(the spy who fried me) with warm vodka marinara sauce for dipping.

This was by no means a “bust”, but there is room for improvement. If you’re an olive lover though, like we are, then these are definitely worth a try!

Olive di Casino Royale

  • Queen stuffed olives
  • Chia Egg (general ratio is 1 tbsp chia seed to 3 tbsp water and let sit until gel like) (or another egg substitute of your liking)
  • Panko Bread crumbs
  • Flour
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Parmesan (if not vegan) or vegan parmesan (Optional)
  • Grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil) for frying
  • Hot sauce or marinara sauce for dipping

Again, as I don’t have exact measurements because I get dumb when I’m sick – use as much as you think you’ll need and experiment!

Drain olives.

In a large pot or pan, heat up a couple inches of grapeseed or vegetable oil. You’ll want to make sure you’re making these somewhere well ventilated.

Combine bread crumbs, salt/pepper, and vegan Parmesan (if using) in a bowl. Set up two other bowls – one with flour and one with chia egg.

Toss olives, a few a time, in flour. Transfer to chia egg and toss until coated. Lastly, transfer the olives to the breadcrumb mixture and coat.

To check if the oil is ready, take the end of a wooden spoon and dip in oil. When bubbles form around the wooden spoon, the oil is ready for frying. I don’t have a fancy thermometer, it’s not necessary.

Drop the olives, one a time, in the oil. Toss with a slotted spoon and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the breading is crispy and golden brown.

When they’re done cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Serve with hot sauce or warm marinara sauce for dipping!

Chorizo Chili (Vegan)

This is actually the chili that my mom taught me to make. She grabbed the original recipe from Trader Joe’s, which is one of my favourite stores. I think the original way to make it was just beans, tomatoes and the chorizo, but we add a few extra ingredients. So I’m not sure if I should give the credit to TJ’s or my mom? Thanks to both of you!

My family has a place in Washington, so I always make a stop at Trader Joe’s when I head down (we need one in Vancouver!), or if my parents are going I ask them to bring me back some of this soy chorizo. I like to keep a few on hand – it freezes really well and defrosts quickly. It’s perfect for nachos, tacos, chili fries, pasta sauce..basically whatever you would use chorizo for (or any ground meat) you can replace with this. It’s amazing – the texture is fantastic, it’s spicy, flavourful, and unlike regular chorizo or ground meat, it’s not greasy or fatty. I’ve been able to get quite a few friends on board the soy chorizo train. It’s definitely worth stocking up on it if you make it to TJ’s! If you don’t have access to one, I’m sure another soy chorizo would work just as well.

The best thing to make with it though (in my opinion) is this chili. Whenever I think about chili I think about a big ol’ pot of hearty meat and beans…complete with a layer of grease and fat floating on the top…and a big ol’ stomach ache to follow. No bueno. This chili on the other hand has all the heartiness of a regular chili…but without that layer of fat and grease from the meat..so it’s tastier and way healthier! To be honest, the first time my dad had this chili, he had no idea it was meatless. This is hands down our favourite chili even though we are not a vegan family.

Not to mention this chili is way easier to make because you don’t have to brown meat or play around with spices. The chorizo already has all the spices in it…including salt…so there’s no need to add any salt or chili powder which is another reason it’s quicker to make! Play around with it though if you like it a bit spicier.

Perfect to pack up and freeze for meal prep!

This chili freezes really beautifully. My mom often makes it when we go away – she makes it a few days ahead and freezes it so it’s ready to go (perfect for camping or ski trips *wink wink* Gord). I like to make a big pot of it and pack it up in individual servings for quick dinners and lunches. It makes quite a bit, so I even packed a couple containers up to share! And because it’s so quick to make it’s a great dish to make during the week!

I top mine with crushed taco chips, avocados, cilantro, and lime. Sour cream or cheese are also great toppings if you’re not worried about keeping it vegan.

You don’t need to be vegan to love this chili. It’s really the perfect comfort food for a cold winter… hearty, warm, spicy, comforting, and easy! What more could you ask for….except for maybe a cold beer on the side!

Chorizo Chili (Vegan)

  • 1 pkg Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
  • 1 – 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 520 ml. cans of kidney or black beans (drain if desired, but not necessary, I don’t like dry chili)
  • 1 cup of corn
  • Olive oil
  • Dash of hot sauce, if desired
  • Toppings, optional – Cilantro, lime, avocado, taco chips (or your favourite topping)

In a large dutch oven, saute onion, garlic and bell pepper in a touch of olive oil until they begin to get soft.

Add chorizo by slicing open the casing (like a regular chorizo) and squeezing into the pot. Saute until chorizo becomes hot and slightly brown.

Add tomatoes, beans and corn (and hot sauce if you want it spicier!). Stir and cover with lid. Once boiling, turn to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick – or until you’re ready to eat!

Top with your favourite chili garnishes, or serve over rice or quinoa. Pack up the leftovers in freezer bags or containers and freeze for a quick and easy meal!

Tahini Harvest Bowl

Nope, I didn’t hurt myself. I was Dwight Schrute-ing it last night. If you don’t know what that means you should go look up who Dwight Schrute is, I bascially looked like this last night:

Image result for dwight schrute covered in beet juice at mall

Meaning that like Dwight, I wouldn’t be allowed in any fancy stores for safety concerns. “I’m a beet farmer, you idiot!” I’m actually not a beet farmer though. But I do like beets, and I decided to try roasting them last night which was a W-I-N in my books, and I also discovered a few things. 1. I should have used gloves, and 2. Dwight must have some damn good soap because beet juice gets over and stains EVERYTHING, and 3. He was right, beets are life. If you do use beets, I suggest gloves and to rinse everything off right away so it doesn’t set in.

This dish isn’t really about the beets, I just got super excited because I never cook with them, so it was new and uncharted territory for me. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but veggie bowls are REALLY popular, they’re everywhere. I jumped on that train last night with some in-season winter veggies and quinoa and it was darn good. So good in fact, that I called my mom just to tell her what I had made and how much I was enjoying it.

Umm…and this easy tahini sauce? If you haven’t had tahini, it’s sesame paste, and it’s often used in hummus. It’s a bit bitter for me, so I felt it needed sweetener. This sauce was soooooo fantastic (or at least I thought it was), I legitimately could eat it on ANYTHING and be perfectly content. I packed up a container of leftovers for BBE who likes Tahini, and I think I may have put too much on, but hey the quinoa will soak it all up, right? As you all know by now, I love lemon, so I added a lot – but start with a little and then keep adding as we may have very different lemon tolerances. This sauce would also be perfect as a salad dressing, hot or cold, as a dip, over any fun hippy-dippy veggie/grain bowls…or maybe even just on some bread…or just with a spoon.

Alright, so this is a super easy concept. Sweetened roasted broccoli, beets, sweet potatoes and carrots, fluffy quinoa, and to marry it all together it’s topped with tahini sauce, pistachios (another BBE favourite) and fresh dill. How quick and easy is that? More importantly, it’s packed with nutrients and you can use any seasonal veggies, or whatever you have in your fridge. This really makes the perfect weeknight meal when you’re craving something healthy and simple yet satisfying. Plus, it’s super comforting, which is ideal for the chilly winter weather! Oh and hey, it makes beautiful leftovers…ding ding! Meal prep friendly!

In more good news, my hands and cutting board are beet juice free today, and I have veggie loaded, sweet and savoury, superfood leftovers awaiting me! Not too shabby considering this meal took LESS THAN AN HOUR which means you can quickly get back to binge watching Netflix! WIN WIN.

Tahini Harvest Bowl (Vegan)

Vegetables:

  • 2 medium whole carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 beet (peeled and cubed…gloves recommended!)
  • 2 Tbsp sweetener (honey, maple syrup or other alternative)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • Pinch of salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 small/medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed

Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed and drained; I buy the pre-rinsed)
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt

Tahini Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Zest and Juice of one medium lemon (to taste, start out with a bit add more if needed)
  • 2 -3 tbsp sweetener (honey, maple syrup or other alternative) (to taste)
  • pinch of pepper & salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or until you get a consistency you like)
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh dill or parsley (to taste)

For serving (optional):

  • Pistachios, walnuts or almonds
  • Dill or parsley

Preheat oven to 400 fht. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment (easy clean-up!)

Place carrots, beets and sweet potatoes on baking sheet (these take longer than the broccoli so we start them first) and drizzle with 3/4 of the honey or sweetener and oil (save some for the broccoli) and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Toss to combine..careful not to mix the veggies together as the beet will stain the other veggies.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until veggies start getting soft (depending on your oven and how big you cut the veggies). Once they start to get soft, add broccoli to the sheet pan, drizzle with the rest of the honey or sweetener and oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the water and add the quinoa. Put on low and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine tahini, sweetener, dill (or parsley), salt, pepper. Add lemon juice, a bit at a time, adjusting the amount to your taste. Drizzle in olive oil to loosen the sauce and make it thick but pourable. If you want it thicker, add less oil, and more for a thinner sauce. Taste and adjust as needed, adding in more honey, lemon, dill or oil if desired.

To serve, divide quinoa into bowls. Top with roasted vegetables and a pretty generous pour of the tahini sauce because it’s delicious. Garnish with nuts (I used pistachios, the crunch is great) and fresh dill or parsley.

Saluti!

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

My snowy week away with friends and family is over, and we have only a few weeks until our next snowy ski/boarding trip with my aunt and uncle, which means that Gord will once again be busting out fantastic vegan recipes. I’ve never been so full in my life as I was staying at their house. When we weren’t shredding up on the mountain, we were swimming in a sea of olive oil, hummus and wine (no complaints here). I realized I had forgot to post these though, and I did promise Gord that I would.

I was skeptical of these at first. I normally make stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and cheddar, then wrapped in bacon and baked…butttt…that ain’t vegan. The nice thing about these though, unlike the incredibly non-vegan ones, is that these are really good cold! Actually, I found they were better once they had been sitting in the fridge for a bit and had time to chill, you know how I like to let flavours mingle. And they’re only 4 ingredients (plus a glass of wine or corona) so they’re really easy to make. They’re refreshing, crisp, and you can make them as spicy or as mild as you like.

Now if you don’t like olives, this definitely is not the snack for you, so you should probably just move along, because the stuffing is literally just chopped olives. We’re an olive family though, everything from appetizer platters, pasta, deep fried olives or martinis – olives normally make an appearance in our dinners.

The only thing I may have changed (sorry uncle Gord, you can correct me if I’m wrong about any of this) is that I would’ve maybe baked the jalapenos a bit longer to get them a bit softer. With that in mind, I do get why it’s good to keep the jalapenos a bit crunchy, it’s a nice texture contrast to the soft, chopped olives. I also think that I put way to much oil on the jalapenos, so I actually ended up patting them down with paper towel before putting them in the oven, so it may be something to be cognizant of. Anyways, we ate these with mexican food, and they were a really good compliment, which is no surprise since it’s lime and jalapenos! Oh oh oh, but I was thinking…how good would these be with garlic stuffed olives? You can experiment with the olives here, how fun!

I made these really mild, I took all the seeds and the ribs out of the jalapenos, but if you like it spicy – leave some in! Remember to wear gloves when you’re working with these, especially cleaning out the jalapenos…if you don’t…you’re gonna have a bad time. You can wash your hands all you like right afterwards, but it’s still gonna sting if you touch your eye or basically just any part of your body. Have you ever done that? I have, and if you have too then I’m sure you’ll never do it again. If you really dislike someone though, then feel free to do this bare handed and then touch them. Otherwise, just wear some gloves. Even disposable dish washing gloves will do. Safety first people! Gord, if I’m missing anything else in my blabber, do tell! Oh, also these can be left in the fridge for a few days afterwards, and the leftovers are just as delicious – bonnnuuuusss!! The longest part of making these is waiting for your beer to chill all the way through!

How cute are these though?

Olive Stuffed Jalapenos (Vegan)

  • 12 jalepenos, halved and de-seeded
  • 2 cups green stuffed olives
  • 24 slices lime (about 3-4 limes, depending on size)
  • A couple tbsp. grapeseed oil or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 fht. (Thank you for the correction, uncle Gord!)

With disposable gloves on, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on.

Use a serrated grapefruit spoon or a spoon and a knife to cut out the ribs and the seeds from the jalapeno. If you like it a bit spicy, leave a few of the seeds in, but not too many. Make sure you really clean them out!

Brush each jalapeno half with grapeseed or olive oil. Put in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until the jalapenos soften up..think of them like al dente jalapenos (or a bit softer, to your preference)!

Meanwhile, put the olives in the food processor (or one of the fun handheld choppers) and process until the olives are finely chopped.

Once the jalapenos are baked and cooled, stuff each half with the chopped olives.

To garnish, peel the limes (important so you can and slice into small wedges to fit onto the jalapenos. I think it’s easiest to peel the limes with a knife, very carefully.

Place one slice of lime on each jalapeno, and serve cold! Does it get any easier? I think not.

Saluti!

Vegan Naan

Yesterday was SO cold and SO windy up on the mountain I was frozen and tired by the time we got back to the house. When we walked in the smell of indian food instantly warmed us up. I walked in the kitchen and my mom and uncle were fussing over a pot of lentil daal and starting the butter chicken (for the carnivores). Gord passed me a beer and cleared off a space on the counter for me to make this naan, it’s a neccesity with indian food.

I’d actually never thought of this before, but naan isn’t vegan. It’s often made with buttermilk or yogurt. Gord said that sometimes you can find vegan naan, but it’s a bit tricky, so most of the time he eats his indian food with a different kind of flat bread, so I was happy that I could show him how easy vegan naan is to make! I just think that eating indian food with pita bread or a tortilla isn’t the same. It doesn’t soak up the yummy sauces the same way naan does, and it just doesn’t seem fair.

Everyone at the table loved this naan, it was chewy, soft, fluffy, hot and fresh. These can be wrapped up and kept for a couple days OR frozen up to 3 months! Which is great if you have a sudden craving for naan, you can take one out of the freezer and toast it to have fresh, homeade naan at your fingertips.

This recipe itself is very easy, it’s only a few ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen. As easy as this recipe is, it is bread, so it does take some time. Making the actual dough takes 0 time, but it does take 2 hours to rest and then a bit of time to cook them, but honestly…SO worth it! There’s nothing like fresh naan. If you know ahead of time that you need naan, then this is the way to go. You can make the dough earlier in the afternoon, let it rest, and then cook them right before dinner so that they’re hot and fresh when you go to eat, which is what we did. I made the dough at around 4:00 and we ate around 6:30. You could smell the naan throughout the house and it smelled AMAZING.

I used a vegan based coconut milk yogurt, that I just bought at save on foods. Don’t be tricked though – lactose free doesn’t mean vegan. I find the coconut milk based yogurt is best, I love coconut milk, and the yogurt itself doesn’t take super coconutty, but the texture of the yogurt is perfect. If you’re not a vegan, this recipe is still perfect because you can use just regular plain yogurt and it will turn out the same, so this recipe is perfect for eevveerrryoonnnee! Feel free to have some fun with this naan – add in a couple cloves of chopped garlic, some curry powder or some coriander or cilantro! I’m only sad that I wasn’t here to get the lentil daal recipe from my uncle, he made it while I was up snowboarding!

We served our indian food with a bottle of Gewürztraminer and a bottle of dry Riesling from Quails Gate, a local winery here in Kelowna that we popped into on our way up here. The perfect pairing for indian food!

Vegan Naan

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp. active yeast
  • 2 tsp white or organic sugar
  • 4 cups ap or unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp. plain vegan yougurt (So Delicious is what I use) or regular plain yogurt for non-vegans
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil or grapseep oil
  • Garlic, curry, cumin or coriander (optional)

Makes 12 naan

In a medium size bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir abd set aside until mixture becomes foamy, around 10 minutes or so.

While the yeast is activating, in a large bowl combine flour, salt ande baking powder.

Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add yogurt and oil. Stir to combine.

Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Don’t panic the dough will be a bit sticky!

Turn onto a floured surface and add just enough flour to gently knead for 5 turns and form into a loose ball. Place back in mixing bowl and rub with a bit more oil and turn to coat. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, turn the dough out on to a floured surfae, and knead for 30 seconds, adding more four if needed. Divide the dough into 12 balls.

Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.heat. Once the balls are rested, take a piece of dough and lay it on a floured surface. Then roll out into an oval or circle with a rolling pin. Carefully flip over and pat the dough with a bit of water so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non stick skilet to medium heat. I sometimes add a pat of oil or vegan butter to the pan, but that’s optional.

Place one your naans in the pan. Cook for 1 minute or until the edges of the dough look dry and it’s beginning to bubble. Flip the dough and cook until the underside is dark brown.

Repeat until all naan is cooked. If you want, brush with melted vegan butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cilantro and sea salt (optional).

Serve warm and cover leftovers and store at room temperature for about 2 days or in the freezer up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through. Enjoy with your indian food and a glass of wine!

Saluti!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

Gord originally made these on our ski trip to Manning park last year. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how he made them. So instead of asking him, like a normal person, I brought up Vegan sausages to Kelowna and asked if we could make them, and yayyy we did! We ate these for lunch with our quick vegan pea soup (link attached) and it was perfect. I may have had 1 or 2. Or 3. Fine, I ate 4. They’re vegan so they’re healthy, right? Kidding kidding, this is the comfort food of vegan food, and it’s wonderful. I’ll have to work them off snowboarding tomorrow. We put the leftovers in the fridge and I fully intend on eating more before the day is through. These puffs will please both vegans and the carnivores in your life. They will last in the fridge covered, for around 4 days. They’re delicious cold or hot!

We cheated and used store bought puff pastry, because who the heck makes their own? These are ridiculously easy, everything is put together in the food processor, bzzzzz bzzz bzzzz blended and done! Stuffed into rolled puff pastry and baked until brown and cripsy and flaky! Perfection.

These would be a great appetizer, you can make small, little mini ones for a nice canape! Or you could make them bigger and make them meal sized and served with salad for dinner would be deliissshhhh. If these things were to hit the streets, they would be forgetting about crack. Actually we could clean up Hastings street with these, but I think we’ll keep them for ourselves. Selfish selfish.

As with our soup, wine is necessary, although not in the recipe, still very important. And I think I mentioned this in my vegan pasta sauce recipe, but what’s everyone’s deal with vegan meat? This stuff is delicious and aready has spices so it cuts out the middle man. I prefer these over sausage rolls because as many of you know, meat makes me sick (TMI?) and these are 100% beak and hoof free (unlike a lot of sausage/hot dogs). Also they are not greasy, so the puff pastry stays nice and crisp and flaky. As a sidenote, my uncle Gord is helping me write this post, it’s called teamwork. As a bonus, we didn’t light anything on fire!

Stay tuned for some more vegan recipes this week – I think we have risotto coming tonight – drool – and some stuffed jalapenos – also drool. Anyways, I’m gonna continue sipping my early afternoon wine (I’m on vacation afterall) and maybe eat another one of these babies. I hope you all enjoy these as much as we do!

Vegan Triangle Puffs

  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 package vegan italian sausages (4 sausages)
  • I cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 5 tbsp. sundried tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil (to blend)
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Put onion, sausage, olives and sundried tomatoes in food processor. Double check your olives for pits before you put them in, otherwise it will ruin your food processor and put sharp shards in your mixture! Pulse until everything is blended and finely chopped and mixed well together.

Slowly drizzle oil into food processor until mixture turns into a thick paste like, maleable mixture.

Once mixture is done, take your puff pastry sheet (or roll out yourself so it’s nice and thin, and cut puff pastry into 8 squares (these make nice side dish sizes). If you’re making them for a main dish, only cut them into four, or you can cut the pastry even smaller if you want mini ones.

Put about 1 tbsp. of filling in middle of puff pastry. Take some water and wet the edges of puff pastry slightly. Fold the top corner of the pastry over and crimp with a fork.

Place triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (hey did you know that the parchment that comes in the sheets of puff pastry can be used to bake on? Save having to use your own).

Bake at 375 fht. for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Just keep an eye on them!

Serve hot, warm or cold with mustard.

Saluti!

Vegan Red Pasta Sauce

Happy Friday! It’s been a long week, hasn’t it? If you’re one of my parents lucky dinner guests this weekend then you get to look forward to a massive lasagne dinner tomorrow night. Among the classics will be one that I made with this vegan red pasta sauce, which in my opinion, is delightful. 

I’m not a big meat eater in my day to day, and to be honest, I really dislike ground beef. Besides the fact that beef makes me so sick that I feel like I’m about to die (TMI?), it’s always greasy and oily and fatty, even the lean stuff is kinda gross. But I do love how thick and hearty it makes pasta sauce. As a note, I would never dis my mamas pasta sauce, it’s fantastic, and something that I grew up eating, so nostalgia and all that. She’d make big batches of it to bring up to the cabin – and no matter who showed up last minute for dinner, there somehow always seemed to be more than enough for everyone – I have no idea how she did it!

I just find that pasta sauce that only has veggies in it, while still super yummy, sometimes lacks the hearty texture of a traditional red meat sauce. So to fix that I started making my sauce with Vegan Ground Round. I like the Yves Italian Veggie Ground Round. It has a nice texture, similar to that of finely ground beef, it’s not fatty or greasy, and it has spices in it so you get a little extra somethin’ somethin’. Oh, and I like to think that it’s healthier (not sure if it’s true, but it will make you feel better if you want an extra serving) than the meat version as it’s plant based, so no hormones or steroids, and no extra grease or oil! People sometimes seem slightly afraid (?) or maybe intimated (?) to try plant based meat, and I will admit – some of it is not my favourite – but this ground roast and the Yves sausages are pretty delicious! And like a traditional sauce, it includes a couple splashes of red wine to add some depth. Since you have the wine open, don’t forget to give yourself a splash!

I made this while I was staying at my parents last night, and I asked my dad to try it to make sure it was good, and he loved it! He didn’t even know it was vegan at first! He thought it was fantastic and tasted just as hearty as the traditional sauce, and he can be a picky eater (sorry dad!) so I consider this one a victory. 

Pasta sauce is great, because you can season it how you like, add in whatever vegetables you like, and serve it however you like. The vegetables in the recipe are what I like in my pasta sauce, but my mom puts celery and olives in hers, and sometimes roasted red peppers, so to each their own. As long as you put in the onion and garlic, which is necessary – because what would pasta sauce be without it – the rest of the veggies are up to you! If you like it spicier, or like more basil, or rosemary or you just want it seasoned plainly, it’s up to you. 

This batch of sauce is getting served as a lasagne – layered in between lasagne noodles with slices of roasted sweet potato for extra texture. This sauce freezes really well (woo!), so I’ll defrost some and serve it over pasta at home (I’ve been really into quinoa pasta lately), or over roasted sweet potato and it’s sooooo great! Food this easy, and so easy to freeze is SUCH a GEM!

Legit comfort in a pot 

Vegan Red Pasta Sauce 

  • 1 medium/large onion, chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced 
  • 1 large or medium zucchini, diced 
  • 1 pd. button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 bell peppers, chopped 
  • One package, Yves Italian Ground Round (340 grams)
  • 28 grams basil, chopped (more or less, to your taste)
  • Couple splashes of red wine
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 28 oz. x 2 
  • 1 can of tomatoe sauce, 28 oz. 
  • 2 tbsp. dried or fresh oregano (more or less, to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp. dried or fresh rosemary (more or less, to your taste)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (more or less, to your taste)
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

In a large pot, sautee onion, garlics and carrots in olive oil, until slightly soft and brown. 

Add in zuchchini, mushrooms, peppers and ground round. Cook for around 3-5 minutes until vegetables are cooked down slightly, and soft. Add half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Add in a couple splashes of red wine (and pour some for yourself), use the wine to scrape up all the good bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for around 2 minutes until wine has started to reduce. 

Add in crushed tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, rosemary, crushed red pepper and oregano. Cook until sauce is bubbly and begins to thicken. 

Mix in rest of the basil, and spinach leaves. Cook until spinach leaves have wilted. 

Simmer the sauce on low and let it cook for at least a half hour, to give all those flavours a chance to mingle. Serve in a lasagne, over pasta, veggies or freeze for later!

Saluti! 

Thai Peanut Curry (Vegan)

My favourite Thai place doesn’t deliver anymore, and even when they did, there was a $35 minimum, which is a lot when it’s only you and your wine, but I really only ate the curry anyways and it turns out it’s super easy to make! Also when I make it at home, I don’t have to pay extra for rice (what a rip off, eh!)

This is a really good way to clean out any veggies that you have in your fridge because you can put any vegetables you want in it. As long as you have coconut milk then the rest is up to you. This is another “go by your taste” kinda situation.Even easier, you can buy a frozen mix of thai veggies and throw them in at the end while it’s simmering.

I often make red thai curry, but if you cut back on the curry and add peanut butter it gets all creamy and nutty. Peanut butter is just straight up amazing. It’s full of fibre and protein and vitamin E in it, so it’s healthy…but I really just like it because it’s sweet and creamy, but perks are nice. This peanut butter  from earth balance is what I buy, it’s delicious and made with coconut oil and agave (extra health boost if you’re into that) and it goes really well with the coconut milk and it keeps it healthy!

I made this one vegan, but if you’re not vegan or vegetarian then you can add cubes of chicken or beef and brown it in the pot before you add the other ingredients. Shrimp added at the end would be really good too. Put on a pot of rice while it’s simmering away, that should give you enough time to chill some white wine, put your favourite PJ’s on and get Netflix going!

Serves 2! (with a little extra 😉 )


Thai Peanut Curry (Vegan)

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli (or frozen)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup baby potatoes, quartered
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • handful of snap peas
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 3 -4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp red thai curry paste (more or less depending on your spice preference, taste it then add more if needed. Start off with a bit.)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro (for garnish)
  • Chopped peanuts (for garnish)
  • Lime (for garnish)
  • Cooked rice for serving (I like sticky rice or brown rice)

Brown onions and garlic in olive oil (if you’re putting in meat, brown your meat as well)

Add broccoli, carrots, peppers and potatoes (or any mix of fresh vegetables that you’re using, I also love zucchini and eggplant in it), cook until almost tender.

Add peanut butter and red thai curry paste. Mix with veggies.

Add coconut milk, sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add snap peas and bamboo shoots.

Turn on low, and let simmer while your rice is cooking.

Once rice is cooked, serve over cooked rice. Garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve with fresh wedges of lime (seems optional, but it’s super necessary, the lime really adds to it!)

Saluti!

Pistachio Mint Pesto (vegan optional)

I really failed at growing basil this summer. Hard fail. I couldn’t compete with my moms exploding basil plants. My mint on the other hand went crazy, which was great, because mint is delicious in everything, but I found out this week that it’s especially delicious in pesto! It’s a nice shake up from traditional basil-pine nut pesto. It’s light, lemony and the pistachios make it a bit creamy!

I recently got a beautiful food processor (thank you mom and dad!!) so I’ve made pesto 3 times this week now, I’ve just been eating pesto on everything. This morning I knicked my finger and I swear it bled pesto.
Pesto 1

I even made a vegan batch of it to bring to a vegan family member, but I used vegan parmesan instead of the real stuff, and it was still delicious. Gord will be so excited! I know people think vegan cheese is weird, but this stuff is almost indistinguishable from regular parm:
https://vegansupply.ca/collections/cheeses/products/earth-island-shreddded-parmesan-cheese-113g 
I happen to work not far from here, so I was able to pick some up!

Also, another bonus – pesto freezes really well! My mom keeps her homemade pesto in the freezer, and now I have batches of this in mine. I froze mine in ice cube trays and then in baggies so I have the perfect little servings of this pesto. Mom, are you reading this? If you are, I’m making you some of this too, don’t worry!

Everyone should have a good pesto recipe, because pesto can be put on anything, and I mean ANYTHING.  This week alone I’ve had it with a bunch of stuff:

Pasta with roasted veggies (classic!)
I marinated and baked tofu in it (vegans and vegetarians rejoice!)
I thinned it out and used it as salad dressing
I ate it with a spoon, as did my roommate
and last night I just spread the leftovers on bread while I whipped up another batch…
I’m also planning to put it on crispy potatoes this weekend, so really it’s a miracle sauce

So pretty versatile, right? Pesto is the besto!

Pesto 2I put a lot of lemon in mine, because I LOVE lemon, but pesto is really all to taste, so put in more or less mint or parsley, more or less lemon, hell put in a whole head of garlic if you like! And if you’re cutting down on oil you can use water or broth – there’s really no wrong way to do this as long as you get a consistency and taste that works for you! Say goodbye to preservatives and chemicals in regular pesto, and say wazzzuppp to fresh, bright delicousness!

 

 

Pistachio Mint Pesto

  • 1 cup ground pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups mint
  • 1 1/2 cups parsley
  • Zest & Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 – 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic (or more, depending on your breath preference)
  • Pepper to taste ( I find you don’t need salt if the nuts are salted, and parm is salty!)
  • Olive oil (or avocado oil, or broth/water) to blend to consistency

Grind pistachios in food processor.

Add mint, parsley, lemon, garlic, and cheese (again, you can play with the ratios to your own taste and preference, I like the way the parsley balances out the mint so I keep it equal)and blend together. Add pepper.

While blending, drizzle in oil (or oil alternative) through the spout of your food processor until everything is finely blended and you have your desired consistency. I like it heavier and thicker for pasta and spreading, and thinner for dressings or to drizzle!

Saluti!