Tag Archives: vegetarian

Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

I love a good pasta salad, especially during summertime. A savory, chilled pasta salad is one of my go-to dishes for contributing to summer parties. A couple of years back I was invited to a summer gathering at which I knew several people with dietary restrictions would be in attendance – a few vegans, a couple of gluten-frees, and a paleo-er. I wanted to make a dish that all of these guests could eat, and that is when I came up with this Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad.

This Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad has everything going for it: it’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s paleo-friendly, it’s veggie-full, it’s savory flavorful, and it’s cooling for the summer season. Make this recipe to share at summer bbqs and potlucks or for yourself to enjoy as a meal-prep lunch for several days. Bon appetito!


Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

Serves: 4-12 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup roasted or fresh red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup vegan pesto (I use Trader Joe’s Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional:
    • Add 1 cup chickpeas for protein (makes recipe not paleo)
    • Add vegan feta or mozzarella cheese (may make recipe not paleo)

Directions:

Spiralize the zucchini and spread the noodles out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the noodles with the salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes. The salt will draw excess water out of the zucchini. Squeeze the noodles over a strainer in the sink until most of the water is released. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss well. Add remaining ingredients and toss well again. Serve and enjoy!


Visuals :


Spiralizers:

I have a Cuisinart CTG-00-SPI Spizalizer which can be purchased for under $40 here:

There are many other models out there at various price points for your selection. Search and find the best one for you!


Let me know my Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad goes for you! Cmment below and/or tag me on Instagram @johnnylapasta

Slow Cooker Vegan Lentil & Spinach Stew

It’s been awhile since I created and shared a new recipe with you all. I have been in a bit of a culinary rut as of late, mostly cooking tried and true classics for the past couple of months. Today, however, I felt the urge to create something new on impulse and thus this Slow Cooker Vegan Lentil & Spinach Stew was born. I love a good plant-based soup, and particularly one that you can make entirely in the slow cooker, minimizing the active cooking time to almost nothing. This recipe ended up hitting all of the marks with its five minutes of prep and incredibly warming, earthy flavors and feel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Slow Cooker Lentil & Spinach Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Absurdly Easy
  • Print

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions:

Combine all ingredients onion thru bay leaf in a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low 6 hours or high 3 hours. When ready to serve, stir in the vinegar and spinach until wilted. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Rice has been a thing for a good minute now, and I have been here for it for all of that minute. To me, plain white and brown rice is really just a vessel to soak up sauce or provide body and bite for another dish it is served alongside. In my opinion, neither colors of rice add anything special to any dish of their own accord, instead, they just add carbs. I have found that cauliflower rice provides that same texturized feel as white or brown rice and acts equally well as a supporting act to other dishes it is served with while also keeping the amount of carbs you are eating low (Disclaimer: carbs are great! You need carbs! They are essential to healthy functioning! But I prefer to get my carbs from other, more exciting sources than plain rice).

Furthermore, in my experiences working with cauliflower-rice, I have found that it has the potential to contribute its own something special to a meal or even stand alone. By its very nature, it seems to soak up flavors more readily, allowing it to act as a real stand-out side or even starring base.

This Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice is one of my favorite ways to turn to this crucirferous vegetable into a gourmet tasting dish. The texture is just that of a crunchy yet chewy rice dish, but with a unique zesty and bright flavor profile. This recipe works as a great accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food: tacos, enchiladas, tequila-lime chicken, etc. It also makes a great base for a taco/burrito bowl style meal. It can even be served chilled as an additional base alongside lettuce in a salad.

This dish is incredibly simple to make, only requiring a few in expensive ingredients. By its very nature, it is also an incredibly healthy dish, full of the nutrition and benefits of cauliflower which include providing large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, cancer fighting properties, immune and digestive system support and much more. This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. It has become a staple recipe in my home, and now I am excited to share it with you!

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cauliflower rice *See Note*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sautee until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cauliflower rice, sprinkle with garlic powder, remaining salt, and pepper. Mix together and continue cooking, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes, until the cauliflower goes from bright white to slightly golden. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice, zest, and cilantro. Mix well and serve.

*Note* You can make your own cauliflower rice by taking cauliflower florets from a large head of cauliflower, cutting away as much stem as possible and in 3 batches, break up the florets into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles couscous. OR you can just buy premade Cauliflower Rice; Trader Joe’s has the best.

 

 

 

Healthy Food Swaps

Another year, another bunch of resolutions to be healthier! At this time of year, I know that many of you are researching ways in which you can make more healthful, fitness forward decisions. I’ve published several posts to help you with this: “Moderation – Balance – Lifestyle”, “Quick Health Tips”, and “8 Things Fit People Do”. Today, I publish another! This post is all about healthy food swaps; foods you can substitute in for other foods that are on the leaner side. So here we go!

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Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

One of the best parts of travel is indulging in the foods of the lands in which you are visiting. You enjoy the distinctive flavors and cooking styles, and maybe even receive a little culinary inspiration to take home with you! When I was in Scotland this past October, my mum and I stopped in at a little place that had been recommended to us by several locals: Clarinda’s Tea Room. Clarinda’s Tea Room is a truly quaint establishment with soft tea-time-like décor, serving up affordable, comforting, tasty breakfasts and lunches along with a bounty of cakes, scones, biscuits, and of course, tea.

We enjoyed lunch at Clarinda’s, opting for the half sandwich and soup special. That day, the soup du jour was a Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup, and it was delightful. Being Scotland in the autumn, the weather is quite gray, cool, and rainy, and so many seasonal dishes feature hearty root vegetables that are warming and comforting; this soup was exactly that.

Clarinda’s Tea Room – Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup

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Whilst eating the soup, I received the inspiration and came up with the concept for my own root vegetable soup. Just over a week after returning to America from the United Kingdom, I put that culinary inspiration to the test and this was the very tasty result!

My version! Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

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This Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup is both sweet and savory, soulfully warming and superbly comforting. It reminds me of that Parsnip Soup I had at Clarinda’s, and is in many ways a colorful cousin to that soup. Sweetly roasted carrots and parsnips, savory sautéed onions, pungent garlic, and woodsy thyme and rosemary give this soup great depth of flavors that contrast and complement one another. The addition of cannellini beans makes this soup even heartier with a boost of protein, but also helps the soup to become creamy when pureed without the addition of any dairy products. This soup is completely vegan, requires very few ingredients, and can be put together in a pinch!

I’m really proud of how this recipe has turned out, and am even more taken with it as it was conceived in Scotland; now, anytime I make it, I will always remember my incredible journey there. And all of us can eat this soup for its great and cozy flavors that are perfect to be enjoyed all fall and winter long!

Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 large or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the parsnips and carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the honey, half of the salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves. Toss until all the carrots and parsnips are coated well. Roast for 30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven.

Over medium-high heat, heat the remaining olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and season with a pinch of salt and pepper, cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the roasted parsnips and carrots, toss all together. Add the beans, vegetable stock, rosemary, and bay leaf. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Stir. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Uncover and remove the bay leaf. Puree by use of immersion hand blender or by transferring the soup to a food processor in small batches. Puree until completely smooth. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Café Gratitude Review

If you follow me on this blog or on social media, then you will be aware that while I am not myself a vegetarian, I truly and deeply love trying vegetarian and specifically vegan dishes in both my own home cooking and when dining out; I am always on the lookout for fun veggie centric recipes and cool new veg-friendly restaurants. As far as restaurants go, I have found staples in the fast casual chains Veggie Grill and Native Foods and the hidden gem/slightly hole-in-the-wallish Mitasie 3. Recently, however, I had the pleasure to dine in the thoughtful sit down plant-based restaurant, Café Gratitude.

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Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

If you are part of the healthy foodie world, then you may have noticed the recent craze around “Nice Creams”. Let me tell you, the craze is with good reason. If aren’t sure what a “Nice Cream” is, it is a nice cream dessert made from a base of frozen banana and flavored with other whole food ingredients like strawberries, vanilla bean, cocoa, and coconut oil. The frozen bananas once churned in a food processor and then refrozen mimic the texture of ice cream while also providing natural sweetness, and the other ingredients mixed with in it provide the true flavorings and sense of indulgence. The result is an ice cream dessert that is as nutritious as it is delicious!

I’d seen a few Buzzfeed Tasty and Food Network videos on these “Nice Creams” and had to give them a shot. After my first try, I was hooked! I couldn’t believe how well these “Nice Creams” totally satisfy the desire for a bowl of sweet and creamy ice cream, while packing on the nutrition and reducing the intake of added sugar and fat. My mind was blown.

 

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How can that just be banana? Vegan magic!

Now, Disclaimer: You do really, really have to like bananas to enjoy “Nice Cream”. Bananas are the base and so unsurprisingly, these desserts have very distinct banana notes. If you are a fan of these sweet yellow tropical fruits, however, then you are set!

After trying the recipes I’d seen in videos, I decided I would come up with my own. Keeping in mind that “Nice Cream” does taste strongly of banana, I thought the perfect flavorings would be chocolate and peanut butter! And thus, my Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream was born!

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Incredibly, all you need is three ingredients: frozen bananas, cocoa powder, and creamy peanut butter! It’s that simple! Well, it is and it isn’t. As easy as the videos make “Nice Creams” look, the frozen bananas do resist being churned in the food processor. It can be a bit of tedious process and you have to exercise some patience. It’s not traditionally hard though. Once you get going, it is so easy and you get a naturally sweet, fiber, vitamin, and protein rich dessert that anyone could love.

Vegan Nice Cream is perfect for summer time when you are looking for a cool dessert while also keeping it light! Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 large bananas, cut into small slices and frozen for several hours
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • Optional: dark chocolate and banana slices for serving

Directions:

Working in thirds, add the frozen banana slices to a food processor. Turn until starting to resemble crumbled butter. You may have to scrape the sides of the processor and smash down pieces of the banana several times as you go. Be patient, this could take up to ten minutes.

Once all the banana slices have been incorporated and they resemble more of a dough, mix in the peanut butter and cocoa powder. Churn until all mixed.

Remove into a freezer safe glass bowl.

Place in the freezer additional 2 hours or until ready to serve. Spoon into bowls, garnish with dark chocolate and banana slices if desired, and enjoy!

 

Why Meatless Monday?

Ciao friends! If you read this blog and/or follow me on social media, then you will know that I am a big supporter of the Meatless Monday movement that is taking the globe. This past month, the folks behind all the vegetarian magic at Meatless Monday reached out to me and have made Johnny La Pasta (that’s me!) an official representative of Meatless Monday!

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So, today, I want to talk to you a little bit more about Meatless Monday, why I practice it, and why you should try it out!

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Many reasons!

So what is Meatless Monday? It is a simple movement aiming to inspire the world to cut their meat consumption completely one day a week for our bodies and for the planet. The statistics around the benefits of what going meatless one day a week does and can do are frankly astounding.

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Vegan Cauliflower Steak Marsala

As you may be aware, I have recently become entranced by the fantastic vegetable that is cauliflower and all the vegan sorcery you can perform with it. Remember when I made Cauliflower Steak and highlighted the basic technique for turning a head of Cauliflower into a steak? Well, Oops I did it again, and this time got fancy!

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with the Cauliflower.

This is my original Cauliflower Steak Marsala, which I am very proud to have developed. Inspired by Italian restaurant staple Chicken Marsala and steakhouse classic Steak Marsala, I have created a vegan friendly version of these beloved dishes.

I cut a head of cauliflower into steak looking slices, season them well as you would a piece of meat, and bake them to a crisp tenderness that possesses a meaty texture which I then effectively use to replace chicken or beef. Then I concoct a near traditional Marsala wine and mushroom sauce. Since there is no meat, I have built the sauce to be even richer in flavor than the traditional with a few heartier components. My vegan Marsala sauce includes sweet caramelized onions for another added layer of flavor and texture. Rather than using cremini or button mushrooms, I use strips of hearty, meaty Portobello mushrooms to make the meal more substantial. I add thyme and garlic for an earthy note to contrast the sweetness of the wine.

i love magic

Vegan Magic!

Lastly, I have come up with another piece of vegan magic! Most marsala wine sauces call for butter to thicken the sauce, which is great because…butter. Butter, however, is not vegan and quickly adds another couple hundred calories of fat to the dish. Instead, I puree cannellini beans which are buttery in texture and taste, and add a bit to the sauce. The pureed beans dissolve into the sauce which not only thickens the sauce, but gives it a nice silky smooth texture just like a traditional Marsala sauce.

The result is a rich, hearty, and gourmet meal that is 100% vegan! Serve with your favorite vegetable sides and you will blow your vegetarian and meat-loving friends alike away! I am super proud of how this development turned out and I hope you enjoy it too!

Vegan Cauliflower Steak Marsala

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy-intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into ¼ inch thick strips
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pureed cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425̊F.

Slice the head of cauliflower into 1 ½ inch steaks. Place on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle both sides with half the olive oil and season with the garlic powder, Herbs de Provence, and about a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, flip over and bake additional 15 minutes, until the upward facing side of the cauliflower is browned and crisped.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a pan. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned and caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Note* Add a tablespoon or so of water to the pan if onions start to stick or burn. Add the mushroom strips and season with another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms shrink and become tender and browned. Add the thyme and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add the Marsala wine and stock to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Season with more salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow sauce to reduce for 5 minutes. Add the cannellini beans and stir into the sauce until dissolved and the sauce becomes thick and silky.

Plate the cauliflower steaks and spoon over the sauce to cover the steaks. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve!

Note: The sauce is also good for more than Cauliflower. Grill, bake, or sauté chicken, steak, or salmon and add the same sauce over the top for a carnivorous with marsala dish with an even healthier sauce!

Note: I have only made this recipe for 2, but you could easily double or triple the recipe as needed.

I Made Cauliflower Steaks – Steaks Made of Cauliflower

As you probably know by now, though I may love a good Italian meat sauce and a gourmet burger, I am a huge lover of vegetarian and vegan food, a proponent of a more plant rich diet, and an active supporter of Meatless Monday. This fondness for the veg has led me to try lots of different recipes and restaurants in search of tasty and satisfying plant-based meals! I heard whisperings (meaning I saw Instagram posts) on how some of our vegan friends have utilized cauliflower to replace even the most carnivorous of meals. So, I did what they do and I made Cauliflower Steaks.

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What? Yes! Steaks literally made from the head of cauliflower. And I must tell you, it was delicious and satisfying! Cauliflower is taking the place of a lot of meat-centric dishes these days: we’ve got cauliflower buffalo wings, cauliflower orange chicken, cauliflower calamari, and now cauliflower steak!

Now, let me answer the question that is trying to burst forth from your mind’s eye right now as you attempt to comprehend how cauliflower steak could be: no, it does not taste just like a real steak, I don’t really think there is any other food source that can without heavy processing. However, when cauliflower is cut into the shape of ribeye and cooked properly, it can emulate the texture and heartiness of a steak dinner while also heavily taking on any flavors that you add to it. In this way, it can actually be more versatile than steak.

Furthermore, it is so easy! Cauliflower Steaks are something that nearly anyone can make for minimal culinary effort. Another bonus, this is a great inexpensive alternative for a home cooked meal; a head of organic cauliflower can cost you $3 or less and give 3-4 steaks from it. For that it, will fill you up surprisingly full and be satisfying to the tastes buds too if you do it right.

So, I made cauliflower steak, and here is what I did and what happened!

I took a gorgeous head of organic cauliflower….

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And I cut it in half! It looks like I’m cutting into a brain////

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Straight down the middle, all the way through the stem.

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Then, I cut the halves into inch thick steaks.

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I laid the steaks out on a baking sheet and drizzled with a bit olive oil, seasoned both sides with ample salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Then I put it in the oven to bake!

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I made a “Fridge-Clean-Out Sauce”, taking veggies and tomato sauce from the fridge to use them up at the end of the week. This was basically a vegan mushroom and chickpea Bolognese sauce.

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I roasted the cauliflower steaks for 20 minutes, flipped them over, then let them roast another 15 minutes until they were browned and caramelized.

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I smothered them in the made up sauce and serve them with other roast vegetables!

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I know, you’re probably thinking….

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I’ll tell you! It’s VEGAN MAGIC!

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Cauliflower Steaks - Basic Technique

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads of cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch steaks
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Place the cauliflower steaks on a baking sheet. Drizzle with half the olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and half of the garlic powder and herbs. Flip and repeat. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes until the face up side starts to brown. Flip and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes until the face upside is nicely caramelized. Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!