Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegan Pesto

If you're anything like me, you can't get enough Italian food. So when I harvested basil from my garden yesterday, the first thought to pop in my head was "Pesto!" With a strainer full of fresh basil, I headed into the house to wash off my booty of greens and get to cookin'.

Now, since I love making bread so much I decided that this occasion - my first attempt at pesto - needed it's own bread to go with it. So I made a small twist on the basil bread recipe below; I used fresh chives from my garden, then added dried rosemary and thyme. No basil this time around, since I needed the bulk of it for pesto. When prepping the dough for baking, I spread it out in a slab along a slightly oiled baking sheet; roughly 1" tall, 3" wide, and the length of the sheet. This made for a long, easily sliceable loaf, perfect for dabbing pesto and topping with small slices of tomato.

While the dough was rising, I headed to Whole Foods to grab pine nuts and the all-important nutritional yeast. This stuff is magic for replacing cheese, so it's a must have for this pesto recipe. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

Not too many ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand already. My one recommendation: use a food processor. I do not have one, and using a blender to make this took quite some effort and patience.

1) Combine all ingredients in food processor.
2) Blend
3) If you're serving guests, perhaps save a few pine nutes to crumble on top as a garnish

Put this delicious stuff on bread, sandwiches, crackers, or anything you want to be instantly delectable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garlic & basil bread

I wish I had known how entertaining it is to make bread from scratch years ago; I'd have been doing it all this time! Like a potter at his wheel, I love to mix, shape, and form the dough into a delicious piece of edible artistry. Now, I'm not saying my bread is pretty... but it is pretty damn tasty! So here's a simple recipe for some extremely aromatic garlic & basil bread that is sure to compliment anything from garlic hummus to sweet red pepper relish.

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 tsp crushed dried rosemary

1) In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in the warm water
2) Stir in yeast, let sit for 10 minutes until foamy
3) In a separate bowl, combine flours (set 1/2 cup aside for rolling)
4) After 10 minutes, add 1 1/2 tbsp oil to water/sugar/yeast
5) Slowly add flour combination, stirring as you add roughly 1 cup at a time
6) Once mixture has turned into dough, spread the 1/2 cup flour on a flat, hard surface
7) Lay the dough out on this surface, sprinkle on the basil, garlic and chives as you begin to knead the dough. Knead until bread is smooth
8) Use remaining 1/2 tbsp oil to coat a large bowl
9) Put dough in oiled bowl, sprinkle on rosemary and turn to coat dough in oil/rosemary
10) Cover bowl, let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size
11) Remove dough from bowl, knead and cut in half
12) Shape halves into loaves, place in oiled 9x5 bread pans and let rise to the top of the pan (30 min)
13) Cut 3 diagonal slits roughly 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf
14) Bake loaves for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F

After the bread is done baking, allow to cool a few minutes before slicing. Put on your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spinach lasagna

Well, my computer died about 3 months ago and I haven't been able to post anything since. Luckily I received a brand new ThinkPad for work, and decided it was time to start posting again! Here is a delicious lasagna I made back in the Spring along with some herb and whole grain bread. The bread recipe will be posted shortly. The two items are chock full of veggies and herbs, and they compliment each other for a hearty, filling meal.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, diced
3/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried marjoram
32 oz diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Tofu Ricotta:
14 oz firm tofu
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano

1 package spinach lasagna noodles
tofu ricotta (from above)
sauce (from above)
1 lb spinach
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
6 large carrots, thinly sliced
8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
8 cloves garlic, diced
2 large yellow onions, diced


1) In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat
2) Saute the onions and garlic for 5 minutes
3) Add the seasonings and saute for 1 minute
4) Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes
5) Reduce heat to low and cover

6) Combine all tofu ingredients in blender, blend until smooth

7) Add 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat
8) Combine garlic and onions in pan, saute for 5 minutes
9) Add mushrooms, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in pan, saute until mushrooms golden brown
10) Add carrots and zucchini, continue to saute for 10 minutes
11) Off to the side, steam the spinach for 3 minutes using a steamer basket in a large pot
12)  Transfer the spinach to a bowl, squeeze out excess liquid
13) Oil a baking pan with extra 1 tbsp olive oil
14) Spread 1/2 cup of sauce across bottom of pan
15) Lay down one layer of noodles
16) Spread a thin layer of cheese over noodles
17) Spread a thin layer of sauteed veggies over cheese
18) Spread a thin layer of spinach over veggies
19) Repeat steps 15 through 18 again using the rest of the veggies and cheese
20) Add a final, top layer of noodles
21) Spread the remaining sauce over the top layer of noodles
22) Cover with foil, bake for 1 hour
23) Remove foil, bake 10 minutes, then set out to cool