Penne Vodka

This was one of the first recipes I made from “Veganonicom” when I first became vegan. It’s really simple to put together, and I even found the recipe online. The sauce consists of a basic, garlicky marinara with red pepper flakes for kick and vodka. The sauce is simmered for about 20 minutes so that the alcohol dissipates and the flavor infuses the sauce. Slivered almonds are added to the sauce right before it’s blended. And if you have fresh basil (I didn’t in this case), add a chiffonade of it on top.

I will say, it’s important that you have a blender with a tight lid because you’ll be blending hot liquid. I haven’t made this recipe in a couple of years because I didn’t have a blender, and an immersion blender won’t cut it. I recommend placing a towel over the lid and holding it down tightly as you blend the sauce just to be safe.

On the side, I included baby spinach with a warm poppy seed dressing, as well as an assortment of olives.

Recipe: Spinach Mushroom Lasagna

I love lasagna. It’s up there on my list of comfort foods. I had actually planned on making this last week, but kept putting it off — lasagna’s not the quickest meal to throw together. It doesn’t exactly fit in with my detox plan for this week, but I still feel like it’s a healthy, hearty meal.

I don’t have exact measurements for this recipe because, well, I didn’t really measure out everything. I just added and tasted it as I went. So, if you do have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments. It does make enough for two full layers in a 9-in x 13-in casserole dish.

For this particular lasagna, I followed Veganomicon‘s recipe for Cashew Ricotta, which is absolutely amazing if you haven’t tried it. As far as the sauce, I sauteed half a yellow onion, three cloves of garlic and one finely diced carrot. To that, I added a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, along with dried basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. (I tend to like my lasagna on the dry side, so you may want to add an additional can of tomatoes if you prefer a saucier lasagna.)

To cut down on pots and pans, I used the same pot that I used for the lasagna noodles to cook down a large package of frozen, chopped spinach and 8 ounces of sliced button mushrooms. Finally, I layered it all in baking dish, topped it with extra sauce and a sprinkle of basil and nutritional yeast, and baked it for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

A spring mix salad, crusty bread and olives rounded out the meal.


Roasted Vegetables with Herbs de Provence

Despite being vegan, I still look to non-vegan sources for food inspiration. I was watching an episode of “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain in which he visited Provence, and was intrigued by the food. There was one scene where Anthony Bourdain has dinner with a Provencal family on their estate. The meal was very simple and rustic, which I love, and consisted of roasted vegetables, aioli, crusty bread and olives.  Sometimes, myself included, we get so caught up in trying to create elaborate meals, that we forget how delicious simple food tastes. Inspired by the meal, I decided to recreate it and it’s become one of my favorite meals. It’s so simple and so comforting.

I’m sure this meal tastes better in Provence, but it’s incredibly easy to recreate a similar version at home. The first time I tried it, I did create an aioli by crushing garlic using a mortar and pestle and sea salt, and adding Vegenaise. It’s certainly not authentic, but it’s a good substitute. For the meal in the above picture, I made a Dijon dipping sauce by combining Dijon mustard and Vegenaise. I also served my roasted vegetables with a simple salad consisting of baby arugula tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. Good, crusty bread and olives rounded out the meal.

As for the vegetables, I chose Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, but the first time I made it, I used fennel instead of the Brussels sprouts. To roast them, first preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If your potatoes are small enough, leave them whole and make sure your carrots and other vegetables are similar in size. Otherwise, slice your potatoes accordingly. Toss the vegetables in olive oil, and sprinkle generously with Herbs de Provence, and sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized.