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!

Jul 4, 2011

jerk seitan


After all these grill recipe testings for Tami Noyes for her upcoming cookbook, Grills Gone Vegan, I guess the grilling bug has bit me. I have always been a jerk fan - whether it was because of the heat of the dish or the call of the islands; jerking has been something I've been wanting to make as authentically as possible.

I've tried my hand at jerking potatoes and chickpeas, but this time I wanted to up the ante. I am working on creating much simpler seitan recipes and this dish uses a variation of Tender Seitan. This seitan turned out really well and I will post it as soon as I am sure about it. The recipe uses only 5 ingredients. Gotta like that!

I have been researching Jamaican jerking recipes and techniques and they have a few things in common: scotch bonnet peppers, allspice and grilling or low baking. Since seitan is already cooked, I figured the low-and-slow approach did not apply here. So I went for grilling, which, thanks to Tami, has become second nature. I think I even grill in my sleep. Nothing like having tasty dreams.

Allspice (or pimento) is necessary. In fact, get whole dried berries, not the ground, and grind it yourself. And add a few berries to the charcoal or wood chips as well. Jerking used to be done over pimento wood, so this might add some more authenticity.

I couldn't find scotch bonnet peppers, so I used habaneros (again, thanks to Tami, for making habaneros not as intimidating as they used to be). There is some argument that habaneros are not close enough to scotch bonnets and you NEED the scotch bonnets!! By golly. I'm not sure about that and I will need to find scotch bonnet peppers to confirm or refute these claims, but for now the only thing that IS certain is that you cannot use jalapenos or other peppers. First off, jalapenos (which seem to be the go-to hot pepper) are not as hot as habaneros or scotch bonnets, but more importantly it is a different kind of heat - jalapenos are sharp, intense and instant, habaneros are a lingering, slow heat in the back of the mouth. Very different. At least use habaneros. And wear gloves if you have sensitive skin.

Overall, this was an excellent rendition of jerk seitan and my next stop on the way to Jamaican Jerking will be with the scotch bonnets. In the meantime, use the Jerk Marinade here (recipe updated to reflect the habanero), marinade your seitan for about an hour and grill away. The more smoke you have (wood chips, allspice berries, and over charcoal), the more authentic. That is, since not too many American homes have an oil drum grill in their backyards. But if you do, make sure to use it.

Cost Breakdown:

seitan: $2
peppers and spices: $1
oil, lime, herbs: $1
Total to make 4 servings: