Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

Oct 7, 2016

autumn panzanella

It is a common custom among cultures to invent recipes that use up stale bread and it makes complete sense. There is no waste of old bread that has lost its freshness and a new recipe is developed.

Panzanella is the Italian version of using up old bread in a salad and it usually uses spring or summer vegetables.  I wanted to reinvent the salad using autumn produce because, well, tis the season.

I made use of cauliflower, carrots, chickpeas, whole grain bead (I'm working on a whole grain refrigerator dough, so I had a loaf hanging around), parsley and scallions.

You could, of course, use whatever vegetables you have lurking in the back of your fridge and no one would be the wiser. That's part of the beauty of panzanella salads.

Roast the cauliflower, chickpeas and bread in the oven and then throw it all into a large bowl. Toss with Italian dressing and you are in the money.

The question then becomes, which Italian dressing is the best for this salad? Mine, of course! Kittee Berns of Cake Maker to the Stars (with the cutest blog *ever* and the best Ethiopian cookbook *ever*) is sharing my recipe from Aquafaba [AmazonB&NBook Depository]. Go get it! I promise, it is worth it!

That's all there is to this one. Lunch or dinner is served. 

Autumn Panzanella
Serves 4

6 tablespoons Italian Dressing (this one from Aquafaba is amazing!), divided
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 cups cubed bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
Sea salt and black pepper

4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 medium carrots, julienned
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped fine

1. Add 1 tablespoon dressing to a small bowl and toss with the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Transfer the beans to a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring often. 
2. Move the beans to a quarter of the baking sheet and add the bread cubes to half of the sheet. Add the cauliflower to the remaining section and season with salt and black pepper. Continue to bake the beans and bread for another 25 minutes, until the beans are lightly crunchy, the cauliflower is golden and tender and the bread is dried out.
3. Transfer the bread to a small bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside for 5 minutes. 
4. Add the lettuce, carrots, scallions, parsley, chickpeas, bread, cauliflower and the rest of the dressing to a large bowl. Toss well, season with salt and black pepper and serve. 

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


Jun 18, 2015

zuppa toscanan

Zuppa Toscana is an Italian soup made of sausage, potatoes, kale and cream. I made a simple bechamel sauce to replace the cream, which is nothing more than cooking some flour in a little oil and adding the liquid. The flour-based roux thickens the soup and makes it creamy, therefore replacing the need for the cream.

I used ground Tofurkey sausage in this, along with seasoned lentils, but you can use either with equally great results.

I garnished my soup with some leftover Bacon Tofu from Everyday Vegan Eats (page 134) because I made a quadruple batch earlier in the week and I had a little bit leftover. The crisp vegan bacon was quite delicious in this soup and I recommend it highly.

If you have EVE and haven't tried the bacon, I urge you to do so...but go full out and pan-fry it because it gets crispy and crunchy and oh! so tasty.

Zuppa Toscana
Serves 4

3 tablespoons  olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups ground vegan sausage (such as Tofurkey Italian sausage) OR 2 cups cooked lentils (see note)
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened plain vegan milk
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf (if not using seasoned lentils)
1 pound red potatoes, chopped
8 ounces kale, tough stems removed and chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
1 cup chopped prepared vegan bacon (such as Bacon Tofu from Everyday Vegan Eats)
½ cup minced fresh basil
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium high. Add the onion, garlic and sausage, if using. Cook until golden,about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and the flour. Cook the flour for 2 minutes and add the milk. Whisk well to prevent lumps. Add the broth, bay leaf, if using, the potatoes and kale. Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve the soup garnished with  bacon and basil.

Note: Cook the lentils with 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds and 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

Feb 15, 2014

back to basics - stuffed shells

Stuffed shells are scrumptious. A creamy filling inside tender pasta swimming in a sea of tomato sauce and baked with plenty of vegan cheese. My family loves stuffed shells but the process can seem overwhelming. I believe that is mainly because stuffing of the shells can be overwhelming - it can be messy and time consuming.

Here is the easiest way to make them, by following the directions below. Use your favorite tomato sauce recipe (or brand), your favorite tofu or nut ricotta recipe and mix a blend of vegan cheese for optimal melting ability. 

Mangia! Mangia!

The Process:

Step 1. Spread your tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan. Arrange the COOKED shells on the tomato sauce.

Step 2. Place the filling inside a zip top bag, twist the bag and snip one corner, about 1-inch across. The opening should be large enough to squeeze out enough filling to fill the shells.

Step 3. Fill the shells using your homemade piping bag.  

Step 4. Sprinkle with the vegan cheese blend, cover the pan with foil to melt the cheese. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes, uncover and bake for 5 more minutes. 

The Result: Easy Baked Stuffed Shells

Dec 19, 2012

seitan piccata

It is Catt's Birthday Week, so she gets to choose the meals all week long. Naturally, she chose tried and true dishes that she loves, and minimized the vegetables as much as possible. Have I mentioned I have vegetarians who hate vegetables? Vegan, really, but it sounds better with "vegetable" in the description.

Among her favorites, such as Lasagne Bolognese for her actual birthday meal, she has chosen Nachos, Hungarian Layered Potatoes, Reuben (and here is the corned seitan recipe) and Tami's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza from American Vegan Kitchen

 Seitan Piccata is near the top of her list.

It so happens that this is also one of our family's favorite meals, although I haven't blogged about it yet because I kept writing down the recipe incorrectly or not at all.

Piccata is an Italian dish of thinly sliced seitan, dredged and sauteed, then served with a lemon-butter sauce. Traditionally it is dredged in flour and in addition to the pan drippings and broth, the sauce contains capers and white wine. I've altered this from flour to bread crumbs and completely omitted the capers and the white wine. I wanted to make this as simple as possible for the cook (me) and tried to keep the flavors as clean as possible for the kids.

For us this continues to be a favorite, even though my husband dislikes any main meal containing citrus. Odd that he can put away his fair share of this seitan then, but he sure manages to. This is another one of those dishes that I double the original recipe for or risk a table full of grumbling folks.

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $3
Earth Balance, broth, lemon: $2
bread crumbs, spices: $1
potatoes: $4

Total for 4 servings:

Nov 19, 2012

creamy italian polenta pie

This Creamy Italian Polenta Pie is easy to make and really delicious. I made mine very creamy - to the point that it had a little difficulty setting up when cold; if you make this with the intention of having firm polenta, you can use less liquid, about 2/3 c less milk. The added liquid from the diced tomatoes gives the polenta the decidedly un-traditional hue of pink and adds the extra liquid which makes it so creamy. 

In addition to the polenta (cornmeal) and tomatoes, this 'pie' has kidney beans, baby spinach, baby kale, cauliflower, onions and a healthy dose of garlic layered on top.

You can make this, let it sit up and add add cheese and bake it until warmed through and the cheese melts. This is a wholly unnecessary, but delicious, alternative. Otherwise, just serve this as soon as it is assembled. 

Cost Breakdown

polenta, oil, seasonings: $1
milk, tomatoes, beans: $5
cauliflower, onions, baby greens, garlic: $3

Total to make 6 servings:


Apr 16, 2012

spaghetti and vegan meatballs

Catt chose Spaghetti and Meatballs to cook this week. Typically I can print the recipe from this blog (the founding intent of it) and let the kids loose on the kitchen, but this time I realized the only encounter I have had with meatballs has been making the Swedish Meatball recipe. Since this menu choice was not Swedish and I wanted something different and perhaps easier, I decided to make the meatballs myself and let the kid continue to hole-up in her room while I prepared the meatballs. This caused a slight delay in dinner, oh, about 2 days' worth; I'm sort of what you call a procrastinator. 

Since I have been recently messing around with seitan and gluten, I decided to continue experimenting and created a meatball with maybe a little less complication, a little more flavor and a better texture. Maybe.

Animal derived meatballs have a flurry of names. Vegan meatballs should not be left out of the nomenclature game. Before, I had made Swedish Meatballs using TVP for the filling, this time I made Italian Meatballs using Tofurkey Italian sausage for the filling. Next time it might be Soy-free Hungarian Meatballs or Gluten-Free Mexican Meatballs. Again, I used vital wheat gluten to bind, but instead of cooking the balls at a high temperature, I baked these in a low temperature oven. These tasted great right out of the oven, but after simmering in the Tomato Sauce for 10 minutes, they were light and fluffy... and 
did not fall apart... at ... all.

Dinner: Possible
Should I call Food TV?

Cost Breakdown

meatballs: $5
pasta: $3
sauce: $4
Total to make 6 servings:

Jan 23, 2012

pesto lasagna

Since the family requests lasagna so often, I try to get creative with this layered pasta dish. I've made the traditional American Lasagna, Kate's favorite, the traditional Italian Lasagna Bolognese, Catt's favorite, and a Grilled Vegetable Lasagna, my favorite. It is now Mikel's turn. He adores Pesto and requested a Pesto Lasagna. Well, maybe not in so many words, but I interpreted that way.

I decided to make this lasagna with traditional pesto sauce (no spinach or tofu added, as I like to do), but instead using olive oil, basil, garlic and pine nuts. Very straightforward. He would have been happy with just the noodles, pesto and cheese, but I wanted to add something more. I made the tofu-spinach ricotta that I normally make for the American Lasagna and layered that in there as well. To add a touch of sweetness, I also layered in grilled onions and roasted pepper. This way the dish wouldn't be "pesto pasta with cheese," but an actual Lasagna dish. 

He was enchanted with how it turned out. I was worried the pesto would be too much and overwhelm the dish, but the other components of the recipe balanced the pesto nicely.

Cost Breakdown

Daiya: $4.50
noodles: $4
basil: $8
red pepper, onion, garlic, spinach: $4
lemon, pine nuts, olive oil: $2
tomato sauce: $2
Total to make 10 servings:

Jan 8, 2012

seitan parmigiana

First off, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Post Punk Kitchen for naming this blog, yes, the one you are reading!!, Weekly Vegan Menu, on their 100 List. We are so darned amazed, flattered and any other word that aptly describes being slammed to the floor in awe. I love the list and its other contents and look forward to perusing it myself in the coming weeks. Beautiful job, PPK! And not just because we are on it. The list is great and if you haven't seen it, yet, you certainly should.

Chicken Parmigiana is a classic Italian dish of breaded and fried chicken, baked with layers of tomato sauce and cheese. Interesting to note is that Eggplant Parmigiana was the predecessor of the meat version, not the other way around. 
Way to go aubergine! 

Since I have already created the eggplant recipe, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about the meat version. I had a bunch of non-veg teenagers over for dinner and thought this might be a nice vegan dish to make for them. This was also the perfect way to introduce to you all my brand-spanking-new Simple Chicken Seitan Recipe

The Simple Chicken Seitan Recipe uses only 7 ingredients, can be made in any machine or by hand (if you have to) and has no seitan flavor if cooked properly.

What's the catch? 

(1) You have to cook it at a very low temperature. The lower the better, but 225 F works very well. This means that you cook it longer. If you do not care about seitan-y flavor, then by all means, continue cooking it at the regular temperature of 350 F for an hour or using your slow cooker.   
The slow cooker method has turned out to be a success, and I am so excited because of it! It is actually turning out to be the better of the two methods (oven or slow cooker). The trick is to leave the lid ajar, by about a quarter inch, and only cook the cutlets for 3 hours and 45 minutes. Huge thanks to Nonna for getting me to try it even after I abandoned the idea.

(2) You have to sift your gluten flour. No getting around this. In order to pull off the recipe to an exact tee, maintain proper texture and flavor, you have to measure the correct amount of gluten. The best way to do that is to either sift the flour before you measure it or stir it up before you measure it. This is the same procedure that you use for baking with regular flour; the flour granules settle down and make measuring inaccurate by as much as FOUR Tablespoons per cup of flour! That makes a big difference in the final product.

***A little note about the cost of vital wheat gluten flour.*** 

I've seen some comments on different sites about the expense of gluten flour. If you purchase a small box of it from your local health food store, sure, you are going to pay an arm and a leg for the stuff. Been there, done that. But, if you buy it from the bulk section of, say Whole Foods, you are way better off. I buy 25 pounds at a time from WF for around $80. That is around $3.25 per pound. A pound of gluten flour yields more than 3 cups. 1 cup of gluten makes 8 cutlets. 
Therefore, 1 pound of gluten, at $3.50, makes around 30 cutlets of Simple Chicken Seitan.

No Whole Foods or other super-awesome store like that near you? No problem. Hitting Amazon, you would still be paying a lot, around $5/pound for Bob's Red Mill or $6/pound for Arrowhead Mill. But that is still not even close to the $9/pound that you pay at a local health food store. 
(There are other companies that sell on Amazon, but I don't have buying experience with them.)

On the brighter side, Barry Farm , a place I have shopped from, sells vital wheat gluten for $3.50/pound. Discounts for larger (5 pounds or 25 pounds) orders. Great place to get it. I purchased 30 pounds and the total, including shipping, was $85. That is less than $3/pound, including shipping. 

The other ingredients for the Simple Chicken Seitan are chickpea flour (very important), salt, VA Chicken-Style Broth Mix, garlic and tahini. If you don't have tahini, add 1/2 Tablespoon of a neutral flavored oil.    


A note about eggs and binding. What makes the Parmigiana family of classics especially off the menu for vegans (even if you ask for it without cheese) is the egg batter. The consensus still remains that you need eggs for binding crumbs onto things, when all you need is wet flour. It doesn't matter if you use soy milk, nut milk, water, broth or eggs to make your flour wet - it all does the same thing - turn flour into glue (papier mache anyone?) The one difference is that vegan milk, water and broth won't cost you a million karma points. 

There it is. Get cooking.

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $3
panko, breadcrumbs, flour: $1
spices, garlic: $.50
pasta: $3
tomato sauce: $3
Total to make 5 servings:

Sep 11, 2011

chiocciole with vodka sauce

Butter and Cream. Two highly difficult, if not impossible, flavors to veganize well.

Vodka Sauce is a basic tomato sauce, with vodka added, and at the end, cream stirred in. There are many 'creamer' substitutes on the market, Silk, So Delicious Coconut, and Mimic are a few that come to mind. Any of these would be appropriate to use as a creamer substitute (make sure they are unsweetened). For this recipe I used readily available vegan sour cream (I am not sure about this claim globally) and non-dairy milk instead of dairy cream. I normally use homemade almond or cashew cream, but I have noticed that these 'break' when heated, so if using nut creamers made at home (without the laboratory-induced stabilizers), do not heat the sauce after adding the 'cream.'

Since this is a Vodka Sauce, use a vegan vodka (Absolut, Skyy, Stoli are vegan friendly according to, but you won't need much, so unless you are also throwing a vegan dinner party, buy small or have an after dinner cocktail.

The pasta I tossed this with is called Chiocciole. Simple sauce on unique macaroni.

I tend not to cook a whole pound of pasta for our family of five as we tend to have too much leftover, but I did this time. Creamy sauces are a favorite at our house and the lack of other vegetables to round out the dish made me sure that the family was going to pile on the starch. As predicted, there was very little leftover, and what remained was secretly eaten by a lucky breakfast-er. If it was solely up to me, this would have been Pasta Primavera with Vodka Sauce - with the addition of lots of sauteed vegetables. I gave in this time and let the majority's voice rule. Just every once in a while. 

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $3
tomatoes: $2
vodka: $.50
vegan sour cream and milk: $1.50
onion, garlic, herbs: $1.50
Total to make 5 servings:


Jul 15, 2011

FNF - deconstructed eggplant-sausage pasta in tomato-basil cream sauce

Food Network Friday

Tami Noyes, author of American Vegan Kitchen, is again hosting her Food Network Friday. We have recently acquired this fabulous logo for FNF, designed by Kip, and would love you all to join us in recreating Food TV recipes - but veganized! This time around Kip joins Tami as well as the fantastic Liz from across the ocean. Tami hopes that with our newfangled logo more of you will participate in an FNF!

My version is a Deconstructed Eggplant-Sausage Pasta in Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce. Emeril created an eggplant-sausage-ricotta filling stuffed into shells and covered with Tomato Cream Sauce and cheese. I've been busy with recipe testing, hectic with life, getting ready to move, preparing to take the kids on vacation to visit their friends in Maryland, hosting a Harry Potter sleepover, and preparing for a Teen Night; in other words, stuffing pasta was not high on my list. As late as I am with this dish, I didn't want to miss it, so I decided to take the easy way out and deconstruct it.

I started with multitasking: I put three pots on the stove (1) pot of water for the pasta (2) pot for the sauce and (3) pan for the filling. I sauteed the eggplant, onions, and plain seitan in the pan with lots of Italian spices - fennel, basil, oregano - and in the other pan made my tomato-cream sauce. I used regular almond milk (2 c) and a can of diced tomatoes with lots of garlic for the sauce. I reduced the sauce while the eggplant was cooking. When the eggplant was done I set it aside and poured the pasta sauce in that same pan, adding some Daiya. I then tossed the cooked pasta into the simmering sauce. Having more surface area to cook helped reduce the sauce more and tossing the pasta with the sauce helped to thicken it in a jiffy. I served the pasta with the filling on top.

Very delicious. And much easier. I used pappardelle pasta because I needed something thicker and hardier to substitute for the shells. 

Thanks, Kip, for a great recipe to try!

Mar 3, 2011

italian big bowl

What do you get when you mix Post Punk Kitchen with American Vegan Kitchen?

One fabulous week of Tami's recipes!

PPK has been hosting Cookbook Kitchen 2 - cooking from cookbooks each week for a total 12 weeks. I have been holding out to join during AVK's turn and here it is.

First up is Italian Big Bowl.

This is the prime place to use the pasta sauce to infuse flavor into the noodles. Just add the noodles to the sauce along with a cup or two of the pasta cooking water and cook the whole thing together for a few minutes. This pasta contains sausage (I used Gimme Lean), fennel seeds, tomato paste, red peppers, olives, capers and I threw in some spinach leaves.

De-licious! Like most of Tami's recipes, this is another one that is fast and simple.

Cost Breakdown

sausage: $3
tomato, garlic, olives, capers, veg. broth:  $2
pasta: $3
spinach, spices: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Feb 15, 2011

baked eggplant over scampi pasta

Italian Night

Over the MoFo I made a Chick'n Scampi pasta dish from Olive Garden. This dish impressed Mikel so much he requested it again. I wanted to change it up somewhat, so I married Eggplant Parm and the Scampi dish and came up with this course: Baked Eggplant over Scampi Pasta.

As the name implies, Scampi includes lemon and garlic.

I baked the eggplant which turned out just as crunchy as frying it, but without the obvious oily texture. You can add some Daiya to it at the end to get the Parmesan effect.

The pasta sauce is soy free, using cashews as the base of the creamy sauce. Mikel's only complaint was the size of the peppers. Therefore, I have adjusted the recipe since the picture to reflect his concern; dice the peppers and not slice them.

I served these over rice pasta so if you are using gluten free pasta, make sure not to over cook it; it'll turn to mush.

Cost Breakdown:

eggplant, bread crumbs, spices: $4
cashew, nutritional yeast: $2.50
pasta, lemon: $3.50
garlic, pepper, onion: $3
Total to make 4 servings:

Jan 3, 2011

crepes with shiitaki and cabbage

Crepes make great desserts, but they also make wonderful savory dishes.

Finding a vegan crepe recipe seems to have garnered quite a bit of headache as I've read many recipes where the authors try valiantly to create a vegan crepe.
 Honestly I don't understand all the fuss.

As a Hungarian, crepes were a dessert staple at our home, made with the eggs that most crepes call for. However, having been around a few crepes in my lifetime, the crepes I made for this meal were just as thin, as light, as tender as any made with eggs - and much simpler. You really only need flour and water. I used whole wheat pastry flour for these.

When making your crepe just keep your pan medium-hot but not burning hot and tilt the pan as you pour in the batter to get the thinnest possible crepe. I used a well-seasoned cast iron pan and had no difficulty. I brushed on a very thin layer of oil to keep them from sticking and when the edges were dry and curled up, flipped it.

I stuffed these with sauteed shiitaki and Brussels sprouts and baked them with a bechamel sauce.

I then finished them by topping them with sauteed red cabbage.

The CSA box got quite a workout and the crepes were delectable.

Cost Breakdown

flour: $1
vegan milk: $1
Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion: $3
cabbage: $2
shiitaki: $4
Total to make 10 crepes:

Dec 22, 2010

cat's birthday

Three requests from Cat for her birthday meal:

Oreo Shake
Vanilla cake with six inches of frosting

The shake because she wanted to have Chicago Diner food, but not drive there. She wanted to spend the entire day in front of the computer talking and playing (online) with her friends. I could so sympathize; I'm a homebody myself.

This plant-milkshake is made with 3 oreos, 1/4 c of plant milk and 1/2 pint of vegan vanilla ice cream, per serving. This was quite a phenomenon and the kids were clamoring for more. Naturally I made them wait for the sugar rush from the cake. 

For her Birthday meal Cat asked for Lasagna. It seems whenever she gets to pick a meal - and we actually have to grant her wish - she requests Lasagna. This and Benedict (David's love) are the two dishes I've blogged about over and over again.

As I've blogged before, go ahead and add your dry pasta to the pan - no need to cook it even if it is not a no-boil noodle. I keep testing this again and again and it is a fact. Just add 6 T of water to the bottom of the pan with some of the tomato sauce, make sure to cover it very tightly and cook on 350 for at least an hour. That should do it and I hope I am not leading anyone astray.

Finally, her cake. A simple vanilla cake (from the Tiramisu recipe) and tons of maple frosting. 1 stick of vegan butter, 4 c of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons of plant milk and 1 t of coffee extract (if you can't find that use 1 T powdered instant espresso and add it to the warmed plant milk to dissolve). She loved it! I made a double batch of the frosting for her and spread it all on the cake. Even the rest of us passed our portion of the frosting to her and she was in frosting heaven.

Happy Birthday, Catriona!

Dec 21, 2010

minestrone soup

Another request by Cat.

This is her most adored soup and it is so easy to make. This is the Olive Garden version of Minestrone Soup. Although I've made this soup a dozen of times, this was my best attempt. I am not a huge fan of oil and I've even been using coconut oil whenever I do use any, but I used the full 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in this and it was fantastic. 

I tend to minimize the use of processed fats in our diet (except last month, when I felt like I needed to make up for all of our healthy choices over the years), so this soup is great without the added oil, but it is really much better with it. 

Cost Breakdown

vegetables: $3
broth: $1
pasta: $.50
beans: $5
tomatoes: $2
spices, garlic, onion: $.50
Total to make 16 cups: