Vegan MOFO2014 – Recipe: Tomato, Lentil and Herb Lasagne

This recipe s for the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking week 36 Italian Challenge on Reddit. For all my talk of “Italian food is not just tomato and cheese” in the challenge introduction for this week… I’ve made a pretty traditional (westernised) lasagne. In my defence I’ve had most of the ingredient in the cupboard for a while but have been too lazy to actually make anything.

Tomato and Lentil Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 a Yellow Onion, diced.
1 Clove of Garlic, minced.
1/2 a Medium Capsicum (Red Pepper), diced.
1/4 head of Cabbage, chopped small.
125 Grams(4.5 Ounces) of Spinach, I used frozen.
2 Cans of Diced Tomatoes.
1 Can of Lentils, drained and washed.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Heat some oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add the Capsicum, Cabbage and Spinach and cook until soft.

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Veggies!

Add the Lentils, then add the Tomatoes plus one can full of water.

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Before reducing

Cook until the excess water is gone, you want it wet but not watery.

Herbed White Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of Vegan Margarine or Oil.
1/4 Cup of Plain Flour.
1 Clove of Garlic, minced.
2 Cups of Water.
2 Cups of Non-Dairy Milk, I used Rice Milk.
1 Teaspoon of Vegetable Stock Powder, I used Massel.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Thyme.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Basil.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Oregano.
Mustard (Optional).
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

In a large pan heat the Margarine and the Garlic. Add the Flour and whisk.

Add the Milk and the Water one cup at a time, whisking as you go.

Add the Stock Powder and the Herbs. Add the Mustard if you’re using it.

Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

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The herbed white sauce (it’s under the steam)

Assembly

Ingredients:

1 Packet of Lasagne Sheets, I used Wholemeal.
Vegan Cheese (optional), I used Cheezly Parmasan style.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

In a large deep baking pan ladle 1/4 of the White Sauce and spread evenly over the bottom. Place 1 layer of Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/2 of the Tomato Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/3 of the White Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add 1/2 of the Tomato Sauce, then 1 layer of the Lasagne Sheet.

Add the remaining White Sauce and then top with Vegan Cheese if using.

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Ready to bake

Bake for 40 minutes.

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Done!

Cool for 10 – 20 minutes then serve.

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Delicious

Verdict: Yum yum yum! A little too salty, but that’s my own fault. Sweet too, presumably from the cabbage. The vegan cheese left a lot of oil on the top, otherwise fantastic!

Restaurant: Papa Mia’s Wood Oven Pizza

Papa Mia’s is a small local pizza place in Colonel Light Gardens. It sits just off Goodwood Rd amongst a number of other fast food outlets. The interior is… well… crappy. It’s your regular el cheapo take away. A drinks fridge, some uncomfortable chairs and a counter. What makes this place unique is that a few months ago they started making vegan pizzas. Yay! There’s four pizza options, plus garlic bread and, as of the day after I ordered from them, some dessert options. They alas have gluten free options.

I ordered the Gourmet All Veg Vegan pizza with added mushrooms and the vegan Garlic Bread.

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The Gourmet All Veg Vegan Pizza

The base was average; not the worst I’ve ever had but certainly not the best. It was also a little burnt on the edges but that’s what you get with wood fire pizzas. The pizza is topped with Vegusto cheese which has a good flavour and a nice creaminess.

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Close Up

The toppings were full of flavour and the tomato sauce had a good amount of herbs but just a little too much pepper. There were not many olives which is a good thing in my mind (mouth). However there were other toppings lacking as well. There were only a few small pieces of the artichoke and even less of the roasted pepper. There was quite a lot of fresh tomato which tasted nice but made the pizza very moist. All of these complaints are trivial as the pizza was fantastic!

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Vegan Garlic Bread

The garlic bread was very tasty. Lots of garlic and just a little too much salt. The bread was a tad dry and the crusts weren’t nice at all.

Food: The pizza was amazing; best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. Garlic bread was average. I can’t wait to try some of the desserts. 4/5

Service: Basic. 3/5

Setting: Cheap take away venue that hasn’t been updated in a long while. 2/5

Overall: Great vegan pizza so who cares about the rest. It’s a suburban take away; it’s not meant to be pretty. 3.5/5

Papa Mia's Wood Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

 

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Pasta

This recipe is based on the recipe of a friend of mine; the original can be found here. I was a little unsure about this as I’ve never had a creamy tomato dish before, but I had some discounted Tofutti to use so I tried it.

Ingredients:

500 Grams of Pasta (I used penne).
Salt for the Pasta water.

1 Small Onion, diced.
2 Teaspoons of Garlic, crushed.
100 Grams of Mushrooms, sliced.
1 Teaspoon each of Dried Thyme, Dried Basil and Dried Oregano (or whatever Italian herbs you want).
1/2 a 700 Gram Jar of Passata (pureed Tomatoes).
125 Grams of Cherry Tomatoes, halved.
Olive Oil.
100 Grams of Spinach.
1 Tub of Vegan Cream Cheese (I used Tofutti).
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Boil water in a medium pan, then add salt and the Pasta. Cook until tender, drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan heat the Olive Oil then add the Onion and Garlic. Cook until Onion is see through, stirring occasionally.

Add the Herbs, the Mushrooms and the Cherry Tomatoes, cook until softened.

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Onions, Herbs and Mushrooms

Add the Passata and stir through.

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Tomato!

Add the Cream Cheese and combine thoroughly.

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After the cheese is stirred in

Stir through the Spinach and add the Salt and Pepper.

Add the pasta and stir through.

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Ready to eat

Verdict: So creamy! I can’t believe my friend actually suggests using 2 tubs of Cream Cheese! Despite the creaminess the dish still has a strong tomato flavour. It’s nice but I wouldn’t make it again. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my thing.

Recipe: Cashew Cream Cheese

For the 52 Weeks of Vegan Cooking on Reddit this week we are using nuts as the theme. Nuts are so very versatile, especially in vegan dishes. When I saw the theme my mind when instantly to cashew cream cheese. Now I have previously review a few of the commercially available vegan cream cheeses (here and here) and it basically boils down to this: I like my cream cheese savory and the vegan options I have tried are far too sweet and therefore taste terrible with pickle.

I used this recipe and altered it a little.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Raw Cashews, soaked.
2 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast. Can also be called Savoury Yeast.
1/4 a Cup of Lemon Juice.
1/2 a Tablespoon of Canola Oil.
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt.
1 Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic.

Method:

Place Cashews in a food processor and process until smooth.

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Cashews ready to be processed

Add all other ingredients and process until incorporated. I has to add some water to get it smooth but that’s due to the fact that my food processor isn’t powerful enough.

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Processed

Taste and adjust flavours to suit your palate. I added a bit more salt.

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On a cracker

Enjoy.

Verdict: Very nice. I’m not too sure if the vinegar is needed as the lemon juice adds enough flavour on it’s own. I will leave it out next time. The smell of the final product is odd, it smells like the yeast which I find a tad off putting. Otherwise it’s great. Should go well in a pickle sandwich.

Recipe: Cauliflower Bread

So I’ve decided to add to my cooking by taking on some more challenges via reddit. This weeks challenge on the 52 Weeks of Baking subreddit is bread. I’ve made a few breads in my time with some success and I was originally just going to attempt focaccia, which is something I’ve wanted to try for a while, but the something turned up in my facebook feed. A recipe for Cauliflower Bread from Coach Shannon Lee’s page. The recipe was attached to a request from a fellow vegan to veganize the recipe so I decided to try it out.

Ingredients:

1 Head of Cauliflower.
1/2 a Cup of Vegan Cheeze. I used Scheese Gouda Style.
1/4 of a Cup of Silken Tofu, drained and pressed. I used 1/2 a Cup but I think it was too much.
1 Teaspoon of Dried Parsley or Oregano or Basil. I used Oregano.
2 Cloves of Garlc, minced.
1 Tablespoon of Nutritional (Saboury) Yeast (optional).
Onion Powder, Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 230C (450F).

Steam the Cauliflower florets and stems (not the core) until soft.

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The cauliflower – pre cooking

Combine the other ingredients in a bowl.

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The other ingredients

Press the cooked Cauliflower in a tea towel / cloth to remove as much water as possible.

Put Cauliflower in a food processor and process until it is a mashed potato consistency.

Combine Cauliflower with other ingredients, then place mixture evenly on a large greased tray.

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In the oven

Baked for 15 – 20 minutes until the top begins to brown. This too nearly 40 minutes for me as a) I think my mixture was too wet and b) I have no idea how the use the fancy convection oven in my new place.

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Out of the oven

Cut up and enjoy.

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On the plate

Verdict: Quite simple despite the fact that I don’t have a proper food processor and I have to steam the Cauliflower in the microwave. My mix was too wet so next time I will try and remove more water from the Cauliflower and add less tofu. I also over did it with the Pepper and the Onion Powder so my finished product has a very strong flavor. Other than that it’s a good recipe. I was concerned that the Cauliflower would make it too sweet but I was wrong. It tastes nice though I’m not sure this is actually a bread.

Recipe: Mac and Cheese

I’ve based my mac and cheese on the Chef Chloe recipe but I’ve made a few alterations of my own.

Ingredients:

1 500 Gram packet of Pasta, any smaller shape will do.
Salt for water.

1/4 Cup of Nuttlex (Vegan Margarine).
1/3 Cup of Plain Flour.
2 Cups/500ml of Vegetable Stock.
1 Cup of Soy Milk (or other non dairy milk).
1/2 Cup of Nutritional Yeast (called Savory Yeast in Australia).
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste.
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder.
1 Teaspoon of Paprika or Sweet Paprika.
Lemon juice, Salt and Sugar to taste. For the Sugar you can use Agave or Stevia, I used Raw Sugar this time.

You can also add 1 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder for color if you want to.

Method:

Boil water and add some Salt and the Pasta. Turn down to low heat and cover. Cook for time specified on pasta packet.

Melt Nuttelex in pan and add Flour and mix into a roux.

Add Vegetable Stock and Soy Milk 1 cup at a time. Use a whisk to incorporate all of roux into the liquid.

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Stock, milk and roux

Add the Tomato Paste, Garlic Powder, Paprika and Nutritional Yeast. Whisk in thoroughly and taste, then add sugar, salt, pepper and lemon juice to gain desired flavor. Be careful with the sugar and lemon juice as too much will taste odd.

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The sauce

Cook on a low heat whisking constantly to thicken a little. This shouldn’t take long.

Add cooked Pasta and stir through until pasta is covered in sauce. Eat.

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The finished product

Verdict: Yummy as always. Unfortunately I made a mistake with my ingredients and accidentally added 1 Teaspoon of chilli powder in place of the paprika. Not a good thing as it made it very spicy. I made up a batch of this every few months with the intention of keeping portions on the freezer for when I can’t be bothered cooking.  I usually eat all of it within 2 to 3 days of making it.

Recipe: Pizza!

I was craving some pizza but I had no money and then I realized something. I had all the ingredients to make my own!

The base was taken from this recipe.

Ingredients:

7g Sachet of Dry Yeast.
1 Teaspoon of Caster Sugar.
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt.
3/4 Cup of Warm Water.
2 Cups of Plain Flour.
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.

Method:

Put Salt, Sugar, Yeast and Water in a bowl and mix.

Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm area. i put it on the front of the top shelf of the oven on it’s lowest heat with the door open a little bit.

Wait 5 minutes or until mixture bubbles up.

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Bubbles!

Sift Flour into bowl and add the Olive Oil.

Add Yeast mixture and mix into dough.

Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (3 songs on the radio).

Put back into mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in warm area and leave for 30 minutes until the dough doubles in size.

Turn oven onto 200 degrees Celsius/450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Knead dough for 1 minute then roll out into desired shape and place on tray.

Put sauce, toppings and vegan cheese on top of the dough.

My toppings:

I made my own sauce. I used:

1 Small Can of Tomato Paste.
1 Medium Tomato, diced small with seeds.
1/4 Teaspoon of Chilli powder.
2 Teaspoons of Capers, chopped up.
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Basil.
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano.
1/4 Teaspoon of Stevia Granules.
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic.
1 Dash of Balsamic Vinegar.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Put it all in a bowl and mix it up. You’ll only need about 1/3 of the mixture, but you can freeze the rest for next time.

My other toppings were:

1 Handfull of Spinach, chopped.
1 Small Onion, sliced.
3 Mushrooms, sliced.
Sheese Mozzarella Style.

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My toppings

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Ready for the oven

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes.

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Ready to eat

Verdict: the dough had good texture but the flavour was a bit lacking. If I were to make this dough again I would put in less sugar and more salt. The sauce was beautiful. The onion was a tad under cooked so next time I might blanch or pan fry it a little first. My Sheese had been open and in the freezer for a little while and it had dried out. I tried to rejuvenated it by microwaving it with a glass of water and this certainly helped, but the spread of the Sheese on the pizza was clumpy and didn’t cover the other ingredients properly. That said the Sheese tasted perfect. Salty and cheezy, so yummy.

Product: Tofutti

Tofutti is an American based vegan company specializing in mock dairy products. They are special as you can find at least one of their products in almost every Coles and Woolworths supermarket in Australia.

Better Than Cream Cheese.

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The old packaging style

This is the product most readily available, look for it next to the dairy cream cheese in any supermarket.

Texture: Smooth and creamy, absolutely

flawless. On a side not the color is almost blindingly white, it’s quite disconcerting. 4/5

Flavor: This was the first cheese substitute I ever tasted. Being a big lover of cream cheeses I had high expectations, which were not met. On first taste was surprised to find that instead of being salty it was in fact slightly sweet. Very odd. However unlike the Sheese product it it not over powering and has none of the odd scent. Only slightly cheese it works well as a creamy element to sandwiches. 3/5

Overall: Not amazing, but certainly the best cream cheese substitute I’ve found so far. I’m told it works well as part of cake icing and cheesecakes, but I am yet to try it out. It’s also well priced and as previously stated readily available. 4/5

American style soy cheese slices.

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Very bright but no necessarily easy to find amoungst the dairy

The second most readily available Tofutti product. Can be found in some Woolworths hidden among the cheese slices or occasionally near the tofu.

Texture: Not great. when first taken out of the individual wrapping the slices greasy and floppy. Not particularly nice. When eaten the slices have the usual curdled texture that mos

t mock cheeses have. 2/5

Flavor: Again not particularly nice. they have a strong soy taste and while they are cheesy it’s not an entirely pleasant flavor. I had to remove the cheese from a cheese and tomato sandwich because the taste was so uncomfortable. Best eaten with strong flavors like pickle or tinned spaghetti. 2/5

Overall: Not good. The only reason I would buy this again would be if I had no other access to any other cheese substitutes. 2/5

Mini ravioli.

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Oddly packaged in a cardboard box

Pasta filled with Tofutti Better Than Ricotta.

Texture: Fine. The filling is creamy, the pasta is okay but not spectacular. The pasta is a little thick as well. 4/5

Flavor: Not so nice. The ricotta suffers from the same issues as the cream cheese. Too sweet. Even with a strong tomato sauce you can’t escape the sugary filling, it’s like eating dessert and dinner in the same mouthful. I’ve only tried the mini’s but I can’t imagine what the regular size taste like. 1/5

Overall: Not something I’d eat again, I’d suggest that the Better Than Ricotta product should only be used for desserts. 1/5

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The packaging

Sour Supreme.

Definitely my favorite Tofutti product so far. Unfortunately is hard to find. I Adelaide it’s only available at Everything Vegan and sometimes at Bliss Organic.

Texture: Slightly grainy but not overly unpleasant. 4/5

Flavor: Has a definite soy taste but it’s not too strong, could be a bit more sour but otherwise is a good substitute for its dairy equivalent. 4/5

Overall: Great. Goes well with burritos and nachos. 4/5

So Tofutti has some good and some not so good products and there’s a whole lot more out there for me to try. I really want to have a go at some of their ice creams but they’re so darned expensive!

Product: Sheese

Sheese is a range of vegan cheese substitute made by Scottish company Bute Island Foods. Their products are not easily available in Australia and can be a tad expensive but they can be worth it. In Adelaide you can find them at Everything Vegan and a couple of Foodland supermarkets (I’ve seen them at Henley Beach and Norwood.)

So far I’ve only tried two products one good, one not so good.

The good: Blue Style Sheese.

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The packaging

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this product having had some bad experiences with cheese substitutes previously. I chose blue style because I assumed it would have a stronger flavor. I certainly didn’t expect it to actually taste like blue cheese!

Sold as a melty cheese but as I never actually tried to melt it I can’t comment on this claim I’ll let you know. You don’t need much to make an impact and it lasts in the fridge. Can also be frozen, though this will effect the texture.

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The cheese

Texture: Smooth and hard, but crumbles when you cut it, which can be slightly annoying. 3/5

Flavor: Tastes like blue cheese. Not over powering. Has a soy aftertaste, but that’s only noticeable if you’re eating it by itself and it’s not too bad anyway. 4/5

Overall: Very good! A perfect cheese for sandwiches. 4/5

The not so good: Original Creamy Sheese.

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Cream cheese package

Finding a good vegan cream cheese can be hard. After my great experience with the blue style Sheese I was expecting great things from this product and was sorely disappointed. At first opening it was struck with a scent that reminded me strongly of cheap caramel lollies. Not a good start.

Texture: Smooth-ish, a tad gritty. 3/5

Flavor: Has some cheesy flavor, but is over powered by the sweetness. The caramel smell continues into a slight flavor. Not great for sandwiches or by itself May be good for desserts, but at the price, why bother. 1/5

Overall: Not good. I wouldn’t bother buying it again. I may in the future try one of the other flavors in Sheese’s creamy range, but I’m not hopeful for a better outcome. A real letdown after their success with hard cheese’s. 2/5