Posts Tagged ‘basil’

VPS – Salsa, Spinach, Green Peppers, Red Onion, Basil

December 7, 2009

It’s that time again – Vegan Pizza Sunday. Our stash of Daiya is holding strong and are love of pizza seems undiminished.

VPS - Salsa, Spinach, Green Peppers, Red Onion, Basil

The fridge was a bit bare this week – busy at work – so it was pretty easy to make a pizza. We used everything we had! In place of tomato sauce we used a fresh mild salsa (Publix makes one very similar to Garden Fresh) topped with spinach, Daiya, green peppers, red onion and fresh basil (still good after two weeks!).

It was cold in the house so we had some difficulty getting the dough to rise. Until, that is, we put it on the fireplace mantle (with a fire rolling, of course). It rose in no time and we were ready to go. I’m still sticking with half high-gluten white and half whole wheat and it’s been working just fine. Maybe next week I’ll try adding some spelt or kamut into the mix.

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VPS – Red Onion, BBQ Soy Curls, Basil

November 30, 2009

VPS - Red Onion, BBQ Soy Curls, Basil

Another Sunday, another vegan pizza. We went a little more “safe” this time around and only used what we had on hand. I wanted to incorporate some Thanksgiving leftovers, but my wife didn’t seem enthused (I’ve used mashed potatoes for a pizza topping before, to great results).

I had a quarter of red onion in the fridge, an open pack of soy curls and some basil that never made it to my in-laws while we were visiting, so it became pretty clear what we were making.

For the soy curls, you’re supposed to soak them in hot water for ten minutes before using in your recipe. I soaked them in half hot water, half BBQ sauce, drained them and tossed them with more BBQ sauce. A quick julienne of the onion and some whole basil leaves and we were in business.

We have been looking for a good organic, no-HFCS BBQ sauce for what seems like ever. Well, we found one and even though it’s not organic, it is without HFCS and tastes like the BBQ sauce you remember – because it is.

Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce is now (or at least new to me) made without HFCS and made with real, honest to goodness sugar. A novel idea to Kraft Foods, I assure you. Now, if only they made an organic one…

Basil Pesto

May 12, 2009

Seriously, is there anything easier and as flavorful as pesto? It’s even easier (and faster) than marinara and roasted garlic.

Basil Pesto

Take fresh basil leaves, olive oil (or any oil – I use extra virgin for pesto), roasted garlic (or fresh), pine nuts (optional) and some kind of cheese substitute (also optional – I use Parma! or nutritional yeast) and put it all in a food processor (you can use an immersion blender as well, but mine was being washed). Puree until your desired consistency.

The term pesto has a very loose definition these days. Any combination of herbs and oil can be considered pesto, so use your imagination or whatever you have lying around.

Once the pesto is made, I usually put it small glass containers and put in the freezer. Oil doesn’t take long to thaw, so depending on how big of a container you use you can take it out of the freezer in as little as an hour before you need it (or less if you microwave it). When you’re done it can go right back in the freezer.

I use pesto for all sorts of stuff – risotto, potatoes, pasta or even if you’re looking to make a quick marinara sauce – because it’s just too easy to make.

Marinara is so easy, you’ll never buy it again

May 9, 2009

I love pasta with marinara sauce. It’s a staple for most vegetarians because it’s filling, easy and cheap. But, most people buy their marinara sauce already made. I did that for a while and then realized how easy it would be make my own, so I started saving my leftover jars and set about making my own sauce.

There are three basic ingredients to marinara sauce: tomatoes, basil, garlic. It doesn’t really matter how you add them (fresh, dried, canned, frozen, roasted, etc..), just that they’re all there.

Basil

Roma Tomatoes

Below is how I make mine.

I start with some kind of aromatic just to bulk up the recipe and give it a sweet flavor. This time it was Florida-grown bell peppers and red onions. They don’t need to be cut up any special way, just so long as they have enough surface area to get some color on the outside. I began by sauteeing all of the peppers and onions until they had released all of their water and it had evaporated out. Once it evaporates everything will begin to stick to the pan – this is a good thing, but you have to be careful.

Aromatics

Keep caramelizing as long as you have patience and time to make sure they don’t burn, at which point I like to add some tomato paste. The paste gives the whole sauce a bit more body while providing something else to caramelize. As soon as it begins it burn (or you run out of patience) I add a liberal amount of balsamic vinegar. This is not something that a lot of people do – opting for adding it at the end – but I like to add more than normal and allow it to reduce to concentrate the flavor.

Goodbye BPA

Sidenote: I used up the last of my canned tomato products. I used to make all of my marinara sauce with canned organic tomatoes, but will all of the evidence suggesting just how bad Bisphenol A is for you, I’ve recently switched to fresh only and I have no intention of switching back.

Sauteed with Paste

At this point, you can add everything else you want in one step. I added my basil, stirred to wilt, added my roma tomatoes and topped it with several heaping spoonfuls of roasted garlic. Stir everything to incorporate and let it simmer for a while. As it simmers, the tomatoes will release a lot of water, essentially poaching everything and enhancing the natural sugars in the tomatoes. At some point – and you’ll know when – you need to blend everything to your desired consistency. You can do this with a blender, food processor or my favorite: an immersion blender.

Add Basil

Everything Ready To Be Blended

I used to spend a long time chopping, dicing and chiffonading everything in my sauce. And then I got an immersion blender. Now I can make two gallons of sauce in about thirty minutes and it comes out every bit of good as before – sometimes better. If you want a little more texture you can reserve the sauteed onions and peppers or fresh tomatoes to add them after you blend.

Once everything is blended and seasoned (usually just salt, black pepper and maybe some dried Italian seasonings) let it simmer for fifteen minutes and turn off. You’re ready to go – see, I told you it was easy.

The seals on my jar are starting to give up on me as well as starting to rust on the inside, so I no longer try to seal them. Instead, I cool down the marinara sauce and put it in the sanitized (through the dishwasher) jars with a piece of plastic wrap and lid on top. I then put them in the freezer and pull them out the day before I plan on using it.

Risotto-Style Israeli Cous Cous, Zucchini, Tomatoes

April 19, 2009

Risotto-Style Israeli Cous Cous

I’ve long been an admirer of Israeli cous cous (sometimes referred to as Lebanese cous cous or pearl pasta), but it’s something of a novelty for my wife, so we tend to use it a lot (in place of rice or pasta).

I had an extra zucchini lying around, as well as a white onion so it was a pretty logical leap to make risotto and it’s almost too easy with Israeli cous cous.

I started by sauteeing my onion in some roasted garlic oil and added my diced zucchini just until it began to soften. The cous cous comes already toasted, so it doesn’t need much more sauteeing, but I did it anyway. I added water until it just barely covered everything in the pot – with a little Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base. Continuous stirring is the key to a good, creamy, sticky risotto, so that’s what I did until almost all of the water was gone.

A little basil pesto, Parma! and diced tomatoes to finish it off and it was all done. Delicious.