by amvandenhurk | Pasta, Plant-Based Eating
Spaghetti Aglio e olio, or spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, is a simple, quick plant-based meal for a busy weekday. From start to finish 20 minutes with five ingredients. Don’t let the simplicity and speed fool you. It is a treat for not only the taste buds, but for the soul.
I learned about Spaghetti Aglio e olio from Stanley Tucci during his series, Searching for Italy, as it was his Dad’s go-to recipe for Friday nights. This dish is known as “culinary rustica” which is rural home-style cooking and is from region of Abruzzo that is about 50 miles east of Rome. It is a dish of the people.
The ingredients are simple and available as most of us have them in our pantry: spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, and salted water. That’s all. As the very salted water is boiling, peel and slice the garlic paper thin. And as the pasta is cooking, make the sauce which is olive olive, red pepper flakes, and parsley. If you generously salt the pasta water then you won’t need to add salt to the dish. Just make sure you don’t burn the garlic as it will be bitter. So keep a close on it it as garlic can turn burnt in a blink of an eye. Reserve some of the pasta water before you drain the spaghetti to thicken the sauce once you have added the pasta to the sauce. I usually just use tongs to grab the pasta and put it in the sauce swirling it around so it carries some water with it in the transfer. Grate some cheese — vegan or otherwise — and sprinkle parsley and you have a nice looking meal. Add a salad and you have a delicious dinner.
If you enjoyed this dish and are looking for another simple, quick Italian meal? Try Cacio e Pepe.
- 16 oz spaghetti
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup grated dairy or vegan parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- salt, to taste
- 1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add spaghetti cooking per package directions. Usually 10 minutes.
- 2. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves.
- 3. Heat the olive oil over medium hear in pan. Add the garlic and chili flakes cooking gently for a few minutes, or until the garlic is pale gold. Watching carefully not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter.
- 4. Stir in chopped parsley.
- 5. Before draining the spaghetti, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
- 6. Add spaghetti to pan, stir well to coat with the oil, add some starchy cooking water to thicken the sauce a little bit.
- 7. Cook on medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring a couple of times.
- 8. Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
by amvandenhurk | Bread, Dessert, Plant-Based Eating
I can’t tell the difference between this vegan banana bread and the traditional recipe made with dairy butter and eggs. And that makes me happy. Since 2003, I have been making Cooking Light’s Classic Banana Bread. It is seriously good. Basically it is if I have overripe bananas then make banana bread (or nice ice.) It is a family staple.
As dairy and I no longer get along, I wasn’t able to enjoy the banana bread as much as before. I decided I was going to makeover this family favorite to a vegan version. A brave thing to do as family favorite recipes are not to be messed with. I swapped the eggs for flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons water mixed together then let gel for 10 minutes). I used Miyoko’s Creamery European Style Cultured Vegan Butter Unsalted which is crafted for baking and coconut milk yogurt. Everything else is the same.
Outside the ingredient swaps, I’ve always used a flavored yogurt usually strawberry. Mainly because that’s what I had in the fridge. Sour cream works well in a pinch. And if I have blueberries, I throw them in as well. They add moisture and a fun color. And it is fresh fruit is that’s good, right? 😉 I always have more overripe bananas than I know what to do with so I load it up with bananas.
Can you tell the difference with this vegan banana bread? Bet you won’t.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup vegan butter, softened
- 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax and 6 tablespoons water mixed together let gel for 10 mins)
- 1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 5 oz container non-dairy yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- Cooking spray
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- 2. Prepare loaf pan with cooking stray.
- 3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups.
- 4. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk or fork.
- 5. Place sugar and vegan butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).
- 6. Add the flax eggs beating well.
- 7. Add banana, non-dairy yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended.
- 8. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
- 9. Spoon batter into a loaf pan.
- 10. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
- 11. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan.
- 12. Cool completely on wire rack.
by amvandenhurk | Pasta, Plant-Based Eating
One of my favorite soups is French Onion Soup. I just can not say no when I see it on any menu. And I enjoy making it at home. But I love pasta too. So why not make Vegan French Onion Pasta?
It is comfort food. Perfect for a cold winter’s evening when the wind is whipping around the house and rain pelts the windows. The house fills with the aroma of caramelized onions and fresh thyme. So very cozy.
This isn’t one of my fastest recipes. It takes about an hour from start to finish. And it is a one pot meal. The key to Vegan French Onion Pasta is the caramelized onions. No butter is used. Olive oil on medium for about 25-30 minutes with constant stirring. It is well worth the effort as there is nothing tastier than caramelized onions with mushrooms and thyme. One of my favorite flavor combinations. Dry white wine and a dash of sherry vinegar, elevates the flavor even more.
Speaking of sherry vinegar, I’m getting quite a collection of vinegars. I find that I’m using vinegar more and more in my cooking as I continue my exportation of plant-based eating. My go-to vinegar is apple cider vinegar with balsamic a close a second. It just makes things better. The sherry vinegar finishes off the dish right at the end.
Try Vegan French Onion Pasta for your next rainy cold evening.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2.5 cups vegetable broth
- 2.5 cups water
- 12 oz dried orecchiette or other short cut pasta
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1. Heat oil over a large skillet over medium heat.
- 2. When hot then add the onions and a very generous pinch of salt.
- 3. Cook, stirring frequently until deeply caramelized which takes about 25-30 minutes.
- 4. Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme sautéing until the mushrooms begin to soften.
- 5. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and add the flour. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
- 6. Pour in the vegetable stock and water.
- 7. Generously season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 8. Bring to a boil then add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
- 9. Turn off the heat and stir in the sherry vinegar.
by amvandenhurk | Dessert, Holiday, Plant-Based Eating
Can vegan snickerdoodle cookies be good? Yes they can! I’ll be honest I’ve found that a lot of vegan baked goods taste weird. And I love my desserts so that’s been a big challenge as I move towards a more plant-based diet without dairy and eggs.
Growing up in we lived near Amish Country in Lancaster, PA. The Amish are known for the baked goods and a favorite place for cookies was The Bake Shop in Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse where I would get snickerdoodle cookies. They are butter cookies rolled in sugar and cinnamon.
As it is the Christmas holiday season, it has put me in the mood for cookies. Why not make vegan snickerdoodle cookies? Like I said I was skeptical, but decided to try it. And I liked it. The key is the ingredients, but that’s the case with every recipe. Quality is important.
All About The Butter
For the vegan snickerdoodle as in the traditional cookie, the butter is essential. I use Miyoko’s Creamery European Style Cultured Vegan Butter Unsalted which was crafted for baking. I use it in my Potato Corn Chowder along with unsweetened oat milk. This recipe uses unsweetened apple sauce as the egg replacement, but you could use a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons water mixed together and left to sit for 10mins). The recipe can use whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour. I use the whole wheat pastry flour. You can use a spoon or a stand mixer. I used my food processor, but it didn’t cream the butter and sugar as well as I would have liked. So next time, I’m using my stand mixer.
It still is a treat food
Now I have to be a Debbie Downer, but as a reminder that just because it is vegan doesn’t mean it is low calorie or healthy. This recipe as a cup of sugar. Just like any other baked good recipe. Like with the traditional cookie, they should be enjoyed in moderation and as a treat.
Let me know what you think about this recipe. Can you tell that it is not made with animal-based eggs and butter?
While they aren’t all plant-based, check out these desserts. I’ll be adding more vegan baked goods soon.
Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies
- 350g sifted flour (white whole wheat or all-purpose flour) or 2 1/2 cups
- 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Big pinch of salt
- 225g vegan butter, at room temperature or 1 cup
- 225g organic pure cane sugar or regular sugar or 1 cup
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
- 3 tablespoons organic pure cane sugar or regular sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1. Preheat oven to 375F.
- 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with oil.
- 3. In a bowl, combine the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt.
- 4. In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter, about 2 minutes.
- 5. Add the vanilla and applesauce, mix to combine.
- 6. Add flour mixture until flour is incorporated. Dough should be firm and thick. If the dough is too soft, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until it stiffens a bit. This will help keep them from spreading out.
- 7. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for rolling. Roll dough into about 1 inch balls. To keep them uniform, use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.
- 8. Place cinnamon sugar rolled balls on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between balls.
- 9. Bake in center of the oven for 8 – 9 minutes. For a little crispier cookie, bake for 10 minutes. I found on the convention setting the best time as 9 minutes.
- 10. Let cool for a few minutes on the pan as they will be too soft just from the oven to move to a wire rack.
by amvandenhurk | Curry, Plant-Based Eating
I love curry, but you guessed that right? I make curry at least 3 times a week. We love it. Spinach and Butter Bean Curry is another quick and simple curry. I can make this curry in a hurry. It can be on the table in 15 minutes. I make my rice in the rice cooker in the morning, but if I haven’t make rice then naan works well with it as it is a soup-like curry. Dunk that naan in the goodness.
Curries are daunting to people but they are simple dishes to make once you have the basic ingredients. Stock your spice cabinet with the following which forms the basics for any curry you’ll make: mild curry powder, turmeric, ground cumin, cumin seeds, garam masala, and ground coriander. What’s great is that these ingredients are available in most grocery stores or online. Amazon is where I get my spices in bulk these days. While I love going to specialty shops, my schedule these days doesn’t allow me the time to go off on my shopping adventures. So give it a try.
My pantry is always stocked with baby potatoes, canned coconut milk, canned lentils, and different kinds of canned beans and tomatoes. Rice, lentils, and pasta, too. And in my fridge always has baby spinach as well as minced ginger, minced garlic, cauliflower, red peppers, carrots, and cilantro. All of these can make a curry, but a lot of other things.
Spinach and Butter Bean Curry is a handful of ingredients. Canned butter beans, canned diced tomatoes, baby spinach, minced ginger, green onions, canned coconut milk, curry powder, and ground cumin. This recipe only calls for the green part of the green onion. What I like to do is put the rest in a jar with water and the green part regrows.
The lads at The Happy Pear are my go-to for lots of great plant-based recipes which I modify to make it even easier for us in the US. Looking for more curries like the Spinach and Butter Bean Curry? Click here.
Spinach and Butter Bean Curry
- 1 can butterbeans, drained
- 1 cup green beans
- 200 grams oyster mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 6 scallions/green onions green part only
- Dash of crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1.5 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 can coconut milk
- 150 ml water
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1. Finely chop the green part of green onions. Finely chop the oyster mushrooms and chop the green beans in half.
- 2. Drain and rinse the butterbeans.
- 3. Put a large pan on a high heat, add olive oil.
- 4. Add the ginger, crushed red pepper, and the scallion greens cooking for 1-2 minutes stirring.
- 5. Add the mushrooms and the green beans and cook for 3 further minutes.
- 6. Add 2 tablespoons of tamari and cook for a further minute.
- 7. Add spices cooking for a minute.
- 8. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and bring to the boil.
- 9. Bring to a boil then serve over rice.
by amvandenhurk | Pasta, Plant-Based Eating
Looking for some plant-based comfort food for cold fall nights? Creamy Kale Butter Bean Gnocchi fits the bill. One of new favorite meals. With our schedules, a quick easy weekday meals are essential. This not only comfort food, but quick and easy.
There is something so comforting about a big bowl of something delicious as the days get shorter and colder. Creamy Kale Butter Bean Gnocchi is a one-pot meal with a handful of ingredients. Outside of the kale, it is made with pantry items. Just gnocchi, kale, broth, beans, minced garlic, milk, butter, and parmesan cheese. That’s it. And it can be make in less than 25 mins. A quick, easy home cooked meal that’s faster than delivery.
Now I’m not going to say it is healthy as it does have milk and butter… and just because it is vegan products doesn’t mean it is low fat or low calorie. But it is awfully good. Again comfort food. You can make it with dairy or plant-based products. I made it plant-based and my guys couldn’t tell the difference. It is all about the blending of the simple flavors. All I used was garlic, salt, and pepper, but yet it bursts with flavor.
If you want to have a special meal, then you can make your own gnocchi. Making your own gnocchi isn’t as hard as you think. And it is a fun family activity. The homemade gnocchi recipe makes a few servings and that freeze well; however, packaged gnocchi works well. And that’s what I’ve been using as I haven’t been motivated to make my own and I lack freezer space. I used spinach one; because that’s the only kind Aldi had when I ran it to get bread and didn’t really want to stop into another grocery store. It turned out quite nice. You could say that the meal was brought to you by the color green. Don’t be afraid to try different kinds of gnocchi as well as kale. I like lacinato kale, but use whatever you have available to you. Just chop it well so it cooks quickly.
Give Creamy Kale Butter Bean Gnocchi a try.
Creamy Kale Butter Bean Gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup plant milk like oat milk
- 2 tablespoons vegan unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 16 ounces gnocchi
- 3 cups chopped fresh kale
- 1 (15 oz) can butter beans, drained
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- 1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- 2. Add garlic; stir constantly for 1 minute until fragrant.
- 3. Add broth, milk, butter and salt and pepper to taste.
- 4. Add gnocchi; stir to combine stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes until gnocchi is soft.
- 5. Stir in kale, beans and Parmesan cheese.
- 6. Cook until kale is just wilted.
- 7. Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.