Tag Archives: basil

Vegan Lasagna

I make a lot of vegan lasagnas because it’s what happens when I’ve got too many vegetables in the fridge that aren’t suitable for juicing, like mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant. It’s something I suspect a lot of vegans do and just don’t talk about… correct me if I’m wrong. (this is the eggplant version after baking, below)

We slice the zucchini or eggplant thin to use instead of noodles and go from there. Usually we line the baking dish with zucchini or eggplant, cover that with a layer of spinach and cover it in soaked lentils flavored with tomato and garlic and other spices plus whatever veggies we’ve got mixed in. (pre-baking, below)

I usually sneak in another layer of spinach if I’ve got it.Then we make tofu ricotta (tofu blended with a little arrowroot starch, onion and garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc), pour that over the lentil veggie layer and make another layer of ‘noodles’ cover with some more tomato sauce, sprinkle with nut parmesan, Daiya, and/or nutritional yeast and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350F/180C until it’s bubbly and the ‘noodles’ are tender. It’ll depend on the size as to how long it’ll need to cook. Usually when it’s bubbling up the sides, you’re set! (zucchini version below, after baking)

I’m not writing a recipe for this because I don’t want to box anyone in with specifics. I’d also love to hear your favorite vegan lasagna recipes or little tips and tricks you’d offer to others.

What’s great about vegan lasagna is that it affords the opportunity to eat the nutrients vegans sometimes have trouble getting without a lot of effort. B vitamins, iron and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are among the nutrients that vegans sometimes miss out on due to eating a compassionate diet. Spinach (for iron), nutritional yeast (B-vitamins) and nuts (omega fatty acids) are my favorite sources of these nutrients.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

These make great leftovers but don’t normally make it to that stage.

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Pesto Tofu

Christie and Brent got me a TofuXpress for my birthday and it has changed my life! There are some recipes included in the box and I was immediately intrigued by the Pesto Tofu. This is a great healthy and raw recipe!

Pesto Tofu

1 block firm tofu, pressed in the TofuXpress for at least one hour (I pressed mine overnight)
1/4 cup pesto

The original recipe called for 3 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, but the tofu was freshly made and I felt it was oily and salty enough as is, so I didn’t add it. It may have helped to make the pesto less clumpy, but I liked the clumps!

I picked some basil from the garden and made my pesto.

Then I cubed my tofu and mixed it with some of the pesto. I tried waiting an hour for the tofu to marinate in the fridge, but I couldn’t wait. So, after 15 minutes, I devoured it with some sliced heirloom tomatoes from the garden, which made it this great sort of vegan caprese dish.

I sprinkled some salt and freshly ground pepper on the tomatoes. A nice drizzle of balsamic vinegar would also be a nice touch!

Yum yum yum! Healthy, raw, delicious, nutritious. I enjoyed this dish a ton! –Melissa

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Lighter Green Thai Curry

Brent and I eat too much delicious food apparently and are trying to figure out more ways to enjoy our favorite foods without packing on the pounds. I decided to make some Thai green curry.

To start, Brent chopped this mountain of vegetables. We put just about everything that we had into this bad boy including

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 lb. of green beans

2 portabella caps, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

5 scallions, chopped

4 Thai peppers, sliced

a small knob of ginger

1 tin of bamboo shoots, drained

1 13.5 oz. can of light coconut milk

1.5 cups of almond, soy or coconut milk

1 handful of Thai basil (optional)

1 tbsp green curry paste

juice and zest from a lime (save half for wedges to garnish the dish)

1 drop of lemongrass extract or 1 stalk of lemongrass, pounded to release fragrance

olive oil

1 tsp coconut or turbinado sugar (more if you like it sweet)

salt to taste

Check curry pastes carefully. Many contain shrimp paste which is bad for anyone with an allergy and not suitable for vegans. I started by putting the Thai peppers, lemongrass or extract (remove the lemongrass before serving), onion and ginger into the pan with some olive oil.

I sauteed them until the onion started to brown. Then I added the coconut milk, lime zest, sugar and curry paste. I didn’t get as much zestyness as I wanted from the lime so I added some additional lemon zest (2 pinches) when I was adjusting the sweetness and seasonings.

Then we added the broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms and allowed them to steam lightly for 3-4 minutes while mixing them into the sauce. If you’re interested in adding some protein, a 2.5 cups of chickpeas or some pressed cubed tofu would make an excellent addition. I added the scallions, bamboo shoots and bell pepper about 5 minutes later. I squeezed the lime over it and mixed in the Thai basil. and stirred it until I could smell the basil.

We served it over quinoa with white wine. German style white wines compliment this kind of dish well, particularly riesling or gewurztraminer. It was definitely a spicy green curry but much lighter than I’m used to. I mostly tasted vegetables and peppery coconut which isn’t a bad thing. I’d love to hear how you lighten up your favorite dshes.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Mean Green Openface Sandwiches!

I’m calling this the mean green sandwich because it’s full of raw, good-for-you awesomesauce and they’re open face because I like to look my meal in the eye. Fortunately these don’t have any eyes because I have issues with that. The first thing I did was make a basil garlic spread using the following:

1 very large handful of basil leaves

5-6 peeled garlic cloves

1/4 cup of pumpkin pits

1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp Meyer lemon olive oil

2 tbsp veganaise

1/2 tsp flake red pepper

1/2 cup of water (you might not use all of it)

I blended all of that up, adding water as needed to form a spreadable texture. We spread it on sliced, toasted gluten-free bread and topped it with spinach and avocado.

I added a lot of extra flake red pepper because I’m just that kind of girl. This was a fast and delicious meal. The buttery avocado was a great contrast to the spicy basil and pesto. The nuttiness of the bread and hemp reminded me I was getting a heaping dose of omega fatty acids and protein to go with my antioxidants and iron.  It would have been great in a nori wrap with sprouts too for a real raw meal! Maybe we’ll do that next time and until then, nom on!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Raw Vegan Crackers 2.0

Brent and I manage to juice more often and that’s fine with me. I’m writing this because our cracker recipe has gotten more complicated and more delicious! Our juice varies but usually involves some combination of spinach, kale, parsley, mint, basil, apples, oranges, lemon, ginger root, carrots, celery, mango, beets and cucumber. When we don’t have time to make crackers, we just throw the pulp into a baggie and freeze it.

The ratios don’t matter much, but you’ll find the stronger flavors will come out (celery in particular) in the crackers and will complement the spices well. If you’re not using any sweet fruits or vegetables, you might consider adding a little molasses. Typically we juice everything that we can make into crackers (which is just about everything except for cucumber) and then empty the pulp into our blender. If you’ve made enough juice for one person you’ll add the following (and this doubles nicely)
1/3 cup of flax meal
2-4 teaspoons of soy sauce or suitable substitute
2-3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp flake red pepper
water as needed
We blend this up until the consistency is uniform and somewhere between a batter and a dough. Taste it and adjust the seasonings. It took me a while to get used to the idea of eating this raw or dehydrated so I understand if you’re wary. We use a spatula to spread it into the non-stick trays that go with our dehydrator and let it go overnight.

Sometimes I sprinkle sesame seeds on top but this isn’t necessary. You’ll have to put some pressure on each seed to make sure they don’t fall off once the crackers are dry. It’ll take some time adjusting the thickness of the dough when you spread it out in your dehydrator but you’ll end up with light crispy crackers that are great for you and awesome with hummus, bean dip or spinach artichoke dip. We store them in a giant plastic bag to keep the Miami humidity from softening them.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Easy Eggplant Sandwich

I’m weirded out by eggplant that I see in grocery stores. They never look as pretty or feel as nice as the ones that grow in my Dad’s garden. I took this photo about three weeks ago; we have a mess of eggplants now.

Eggplant is superb. You can use it in a variety of ways and in a variety of styles (Asian, Mediterranean, Italian, etc.). We “roasted” some eggplant by broiling them whole until they were soft and then peeled the skins. You can refrigerate the roasted eggplant for use later, which is what we did in this case.

You’ll need the following for the Easy Eggplant Sandwich:

roasted eggplant
sliced tomato
vegan pesto
toasted bread

Another garden goody is fresh basil. Here’s a pic of my Dad picking some basil for me for this recipe. I needed it for the pesto!

To make the pesto, put the following into a food processor and combine:

1 1/2 cups fresh basil
4-5 garlic cloves
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c almonds or pine nuts
1/4-1/3 c nutritional yeast
salt, to taste
crushed red pepper (optional but highly recommended by me)

Look at this beautiful pesto! The non-vegans in the house thoroughly enjoyed it so I am extra proud of it.

Get all your ingredients together on the table.

To construct the sandwich, take your toast, spread pesto on it (it’s okay to be liberal with the amount you use–go crazy!), mash some eggplant on that (no need to reheat if it’s chilled), and top with tomato.

Well, I could write some more about this, but I would like to be alone with my sandwich now… –Melissa

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Mango Daquiri with Thai Basil

Brent and I were feeling adventurous this weekend and a generous tree gave me a couple of free mangoes on my way home from work on Friday so I decided to make some daquiris. We combined the following in the blender:

flesh from 2 large mango, skin and seed discarded

juice from 1 lime

several sprigs of basil, leaves only

1/2 to 1 cup of rum (optional)

coconut water as needed

We blended it all up, adding coconut water until we liked the texture and then were ready for an afternoon of watching summer storms and laughing together.

We used Thai basil. It’s got a cinnamon sweet flavor and added a lot to this drink. Regular basil or no basil would be fine too but I love my greens! Mango is definitely a nutritional powerhouse and is great for your digestion as well as being a great source for vitamins and minerals.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off.

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SunDried Tomato Mac & Cheese

This is a similar dish to the nacho mac and cheese that Brent and I concocted not long ago. This is sundried tomato mac. You’ll need the following:
1 14.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained or 1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked
1 lemon
1 pinch chili powder
1/4 cup sundried tomato, minced
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1/4 cup chopped basil (optional)
8 ounces of vegan cheese (we used Ste. Martaen colby)

I started by sauteing the chickpeas with olive oil, lemon juice and chili powder. When the chickpeas started to steam and soften I added the onion, and dry herbs and stirred until the onions became translucent.

Add the cheese and tomato, then stir until it’s melty. When the pasta is ready, stir in the sauce and basil. It’s an incredibly simple meal and delicious.

The tomato gives this dish a richer color than it would have otherwise and it’s flavor is made to match. We love easy, quick decadent dishes like this one after an intense exercise session.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off.

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Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Brent and I were craving comfort food (somehow this happens more often than not). We decided to whip up some tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. For the soup we gathered the following:

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

olive oil

1/4 cup of lightly chopped basil

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 28 ounce tin of crushed tomato

1/2 cup of almond milk (soy, coconut or rice milk are fine too)

salt and pepper to taste

In a larger pot, I sauteed the onion, garlic and olive oil until the onion began to carmelize. I added the herbs and stirred until it became fragrant. I added the tomato and stirred in the milk. Then I adjusted the salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, Brent sliced the bread and baked it 3 minutes in a 350C/175F oven until it started to get toasty. Then he added a few leaves of spinach and placed a few slices of Follow Your Heart cheese on top. We baked that until the cheese started to melt, another 5-8 minutes.

We’ve been getting good vegan and gluten-free bread from a local lady who is a master baker. To conserve the delicious bread we decided to have open faced sandwiches. We dipped them into the soup and it was pretty awesome. The tart tomato met the creamy cheese, nutty bread and the herbal elements in the spinach and herbs to make a great meal.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Nacho Mac&Cheese: Not your Ordinary Mac and Cheese.

This was an evening when the man-meat and I just wanted to chill out so we made something super fast. Brent prepared the pasta (as I’ve noted in previous posts, I can’t be trusted with parts of a meal that require patience) and I added a tablespoon of olive oil and about 2 cups of chickpeas (1 cup of dry beans, soaked or 1 can, drained) and fried them lightly with some chili powder.

To this I added a tin of diced tomatoes. I used a tin of “Rotel” mild with diced green chilis.

After this was looking and smelling amazing we shredded some basil (cilantro would have been better but we didn’t have any) into it and then added the cheese. You can also add some nutritional yeast for a flavor boost and nutrients.

This cheese is called “Ste. Martaen” and we used their pepperjack variety. I don’t like this cheese for eating: I find the texture disturbing. It’s great for cooking since the flavors are fabulous and it melts well. It’s made with an agar base (that’s a seaweed based gelatin, very sustainable and low calorie) As you can see, we’ve got a cheesy mass of chickpeas and tomato that’s still very low in calories, cholesterol free and high in nutrients like protein, vitamin C, and fiber and we haven’t even added the quinoa pasta yet!

This is the finished product. We devoured it and vowed to make it again. The creamy sauce was spicy and cheesy and the bite of the peppers was balanced by the smooth chickpeas and mellow tomato.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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