Saturday, February 26, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 6: Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is a wonderfully gooey, cheesy dish. Vegan cheese doesn't melt like real cheese, but that doesn't matter in this dish. Cooked long enough, it turns liquid-y so it blends well with the noodles and sauce. This is a great alternative to ziti made with real cheese.

2 1/2 cups uncooked Ziti Noodles
3 cups Vegan Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2 Cups Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven at 350. Cook ziti noodles until al dente. Mix cooked noodles with sauce and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Place in an 8x8 baking dish. Use remaining cup of cheese to cover top of noodles. Bake for 40 minutes then enjoy.

This recipe only has 3 ingredients. How awesome is that! It's so simple to make. The only hard part is being patient while it's cooking.

Friday, February 25, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 5: Parmesan Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta is not to be confused with rice. It's not rice. It looks like it, but it's not. It's a pasta. Orzo means 'barley' in Italian. It's a wonderful nontraditional pasta that you can use like rice. It is not so good when you try to treat it like a pasta noodle. So no red sauces and don't drown it in alfredo. Orzo is best with light cream sauces. I made this recipe a while ago when I was preparing a Greek dinner. It's a great side dish and went well with a veggie burger.

1 cup uncooked Orzo Pasta
1/4 cup Vegan Cream Cheese
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Chives
1 tbs Vegan Parmesan
1/4 cup Chopped Green Onions

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Once pasta is done cooking and has been drained, pour into bowl and mix ingredients.

The last time I made this we had it with some fried tofu. It was amazing! One cup or orzo makes a lot of pasta. Its a great side dish and would feed 4 people.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 4: Farfalle with Basil Feta Cream

Bowtie noodles are my absolute favorite. They make me feel like a kid. I get so upset when a restaurant doesn't have them. Then I act like a kid and throw things at the server. I most enjoy farfalle noodles with a heavy sauce. Anything less just runs off. I made this cream sauce one night simply because I had leftover feta and basil from my earlier pasta recipes. As luck would have it, this turned about delicious.

2 cups uncooked farfalle
3 oz feta
1/4 cup basil
2 tbs oil
2 tbs milk or creamer
1/4 cup water

Cook pasta according to directions. In a food processor, place feta and basil. Blend until mixture has crumbled into tiny pieces. Add oil and milk or creamer and blend again till mixture forms a thick paste. Next add the water and blend. Your sauce should still be a bit thick but not so much that it wouldn't run off of a spoon. If it's still too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Once your sauce is at your desired consistency, you can mix it with your cooked and drained noodles.

That's it! This pasta is heavy because the sauce is a cream, so if you eat a lot, prepare to feel very full. It's so awesome and tasty that you will probably eat it all. We had this with
garlic bread and the left over cream sauce tasted soooo good on the bread. I suggest you try that as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 3: Spaghetti O's

Even adults have to admit they love spaghetti o's. Tiny little O shaped pasta in a really delicious tomato sauce? Oh yeah! It was the only time I'd ever eat tomato sauce! But, sadly, spaghetti o's are not vegan. They have cheese in the sauce. So, for my 7 Days of Super Simple Pasta, I decided to attempt to make something comparable to this childhood treat. I have to say, that from what I remember, this tastes pretty close to the real thing. And it's got way less ingredients! Super easy and super yummy!

1 cup uncooked Pasta Wheels
1 can Condensed Tomato Soup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbs Paprika
1 tbs Vegan Parmesan

Cook pasta wheels according to directions (Don't prepare them al dente. The texture is not nice with this sauce). Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat condensed tomato soup and water. Mix in paprika and parmesan (it is ok to leave the parmesan out if you don't have any. It won't change the flavor too much).

When the pasta is done and the sauce is hot, mix the two together and serve.

That's it! So simple it's outta control! I always preferred my spaghetti o's cold, so I didn't heat the sauce when I made this recipe the second time. It was just as good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 2: Italian Pasta Salad

I could eat pasta salad everyday. I could eat it with anything. It's such a great pasta because it doesn't have a heavy sauce and there are veggies in it so you don't feel so bad after eating it. Though, I am picky about what kind of pasta salad I'm eating. I absolutely detest traditional picnic pasta salad, the one made with mayo. Gross. But Italian pasta salad coated in an oil based dressing is divine. If you've only had pasta salad in mayo, please try this. It is a much tastier version of pasta salad.

8 oz uncooked Penne Pasta
1/2 cup Cucumber
1/2 cup Bell Pepper
1/2 cup Sliced Black Olives
1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes (you can use regular but sun-dried have a sweeter taste)
3 oz Vegan Feta (cut into cubes or crumbled)
1 cup oil based dressing (I use the fat free baslamic from Trader Joe's)

Cook pasta al dente. While it's cooking, cut up your cucumber and bell pepper. You need 1/2 cup each, after they are chopped.

Once pasta is done, allow to cool and dry a bit. Then you can add the rest of your ingredients and mix it up. Cool in the fridge for at least an hour, longer is better but if you're like me, you can't wait to eat it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

7 Days of Super Simple Pasta
Day 1: Lemon Pepper Rotini

Pasta is a super cheap ingredient, so Adam and I tend to have a lot of it in the house. Well, that and the fact that pasta is crazy good. We love pasta in our house and so as to not get bored with it, I'm often experimenting with different kinds of sauces and ingredients. That's how I came up with the idea of doing 7 Super Simple Pastas. It's a week of 7 different pastas made with 7 different types of noodles. This is great for those trying to budget because each pasta has only a few ingredients, a lot of which will already be in your house, or are things you can use in other simple dishes. I hope you enjoy these easy to make pastas. I know I enjoying making them and Adam enjoyed eating them.

Lemon Pepper Rotini Ingredients
2 1/2 cups uncooked Rotini
About 1/4 cup Lemon Pepper
1 tbs Vegan Parmesan
1 tbs oil
1/2 cup cooked asparagus

Cook rotini according to direction. Cook asparagus whichever way you like best. (I sautéed mine with a little lemon juice) Drain cooked pasta and return to pot. Add remaining ingredient and mix well.

I served mine with some homemade garlic bread. This is a really light pasta that you don't feel bad about after eating.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lavash Press [Vegan]

This recipe is one of my favorite dishes. It's from a restaurant in Studio City called Jumpin Java. It's the only thing I've ever tried from that place because it is so darn amazing. It's filled with lot's of cheese (the original recipe uses string cheese), basil and sun-dried tomatoes, and it comes with an amazing tahini dip. Unfortunately, after Adam & I moved to Long Beach, we weren't able to enjoy the fine restaurants the Valley had to offer and I believe I haven't had this dish in over a year. Something else, not so unfortunate, now that I'm vegan I couldn't eat this even if I did make the trek up the 405. So, on a whim, I decided to try this using vegan cheese. It was missing the "stringy-ness" from the real cheese but it still tasted wonderful. I recreated the tahini dip for the first time when I made this vegan version of the lavash press (it's a secret recipe and even my friend Joe, who used to work for the chef who created it, didn't know what was in it). It turned out almost exactly like the restaurants version. This meal goes well with a nice sweet, fruity white wine.

Tahini Basil Sauce
8 oz Tahini
1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinager
2 tbs Water
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Sauce should become a light shade of green with small pieces of basil not entirely processed. This sauce is relatively thin. If it's at all thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, and blend until it is a thinner consistency. Place in fridge until ready to eat.

Lavash Press Ingredients
2 pieces Lavash Bread
6 large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes
8 oz Vegan Mozzarella, shredded
2 tbs oil (olive or grapeseed work best for flavor)

Lavash is a thin flatbread. It is soft and flexible like a tortilla. Though it will break like a tortilla if bent to harshly. Lay your two pieces of lavash bread on a flat surface. Place 4 oz of the cheese on each lavash, close to the bottom right corner and middle, placing it at an angle so it leads up to the top right corner and down to the the middle of the bottom.

Next, place half the basil and sun-dried tomatoes over the cheese on each lavash. Then you can begin to fold the lavash. Start by folding the bottom right corner into the middle, covering most of the filling. Next, fold the bottom left corner so you have almost have a triangle. Fold the top right corner in and lastly fold the top left corner over the whole lavash. (Picture of steps below)

Brush the oil over both sides of the lavash and place in a frying pan. Heat on low, low medium. You want to cook it slowly so the cheese has time to semi melt. Vegan cheese is difficult to melt so the slower it cooks the better. Although you don't want it to melt completely because it will become runny. So once both sides of the lavash are becoming a crisp golden color, you can remove from heat. I microwaved my lavash for 30 seconds after I took it from the pan, just to give the cheese a little extra heat without burning the bread. Cut lavash in half and serve with tahini basil sauce.

The lavash is meant to be dipped into the tahini basil sauce. I do not reccomend pouring it into or onto the lavash as it will be very messy. This is a nice meal as it's unique and not something many people have had. It's wonderful for when you want to try something different. It's simple to make and has few ingredients, all of which are foods everyone loves. This is still one of my favorite foods.