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 22, 2012

osso buco

Part of the goal of this blog is to reinvent 'traditional' recipes, renew conventional ideas and let people see that the omnivore rut that they have been stuck in is easy to get out of.

This traditional Milanese recipe of braised veal shanks, Osso Buco, is literally translated to mean 'Bone with a Hole." Not really sure how accurate the name is in this vegan context, but for the sake of tradition we'll keep it as is. 

This is what I mean about altering conventional thinking; normally 'Bone with a Hole' has no right to be in cooking distance of a vegan kitchen, but since the recipe itself means both the dish and the cut of animal, I couldn't really call it "Seitan Buco" or "Osso Seitan," could I? Maybe "Seitan Osso Buco," but I try to keep as close to the original name as possible, for simplicity sake. It is difficult to know what someone will name a veganized version of a dish - it is much easier to search for the omni version of a name (and hence the one most recognized) than to try to guess what an author chooses to call something. As much as I would like to rename dishes to reflect a more vegan world, I try to stay as true to the original as possible.

I made "veal" seitan cutlets, thick-cut, and braised them with carrots, celery, onion, herbs and wine. This dish is usually served over a risotto, but Catt has been asking for mashed potatoes. She must be getting kick-backs from the potato board, and since I knew this dish would have some great sauce for the requested spuds, mashed it turned out to be. 

It has been a few years since I've made this, but it was just as great as the first time. It is garnished with gremolata, a condiment of parsley, garlic and lemon zest. The garnish gives it a nice punch that cuts through the richness of the sauce and seitan. I wouldn't skip it if I were you.

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $3
carrot, celery, onion, garlic: $2
spices, herbs, tomato paste, wine, broth: $3
potatoes: $3
gremolata: $2
Total to make 6 servings: