Purple Pasta!

Hi, I’m Danni and I really really like purple.

I saw a video on Facebook that was like, hey, get all these purple vegetables and make purple pasta!

So I got all these purple vegetables
[image: from left to right – purple cabbage, purple cauliflower, purple kale, several beets (roots and greens), jar of kalamata olive tapenade, purple carrots bunched together in a purple rubber band, red onion, eggplant]

and made purple pasta!

I chopped the eggplant, beet roots, 3 of the carrots and 1/2 of the onion, coated them in olive oil (about 2 Tbsp), added salt (a pinch), pepper (about a Tbsp) and Vulcan Fire Salt (1 tsp – use whatever you like to use to make things hot, or don’t if you’re not into that!) about 16 cloves of minced garlic, and roasted them at 400F for 30 minutes, stirring about halfway through the roast time.
[image: chopped veggies on a baking tray]

While they were roasting, I boiled the water and cooked the spaghetti (about 1lb uncooked).

Once the roasted veggies were done, I let them cool for a little while so they wouldn’t explode my blender. I chopped the other veggies while the roasting ones were cooling — the other 1/2 onion, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale — and started sauteing the onion, followed by the cauliflower and cabbage, in some olive oil.

I put the slightly-cooled veggies in the blender with about 1 cup of veg broth and 1/2 cup lemon juice (I started with 1/2 cup broth and 1/4 cup lemon juice, but it really needed more). You might find a food processor is better for this step — I have a REALLY good blender and it took a fair amount of effort to get everything blended (though ultimately it did work!)
[image: blender full of bright purple sauce]

Then I mixed everything together — sauteed veggies, kale, spaghetti, and sauce!
[image: bowl of spaghetti with purple sauce, with specks of green which are the kale leaves]

I thought about adding black beans too, and probably will do that next time.

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Cream of Arugula Soup

I had an abundance of arugula and I wanted do something new with it, so this creamy soup idea was born. I don’t usually put carrots in soup because I dislike the texture of cooked carrots, but I had some I needed to use up and once they’re pureed I’m happy to eat them (I like the taste, it’s just a texture thing!). It came out pretty yummy, though I was surprised the color didn’t end up greener! I served it with quinoa.

3/4 cup cashews, soaked for a couple hours, then rinsed/drained
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice + more to taste
2 Tbsp soy butter or olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 large carrots or equivalent in baby carrots
9-12 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb arugula
1 bunch parsley (chop it if that’s easier on your blender)
any other greens you might have lying around
4 cups veg broth
Kidney Beans, Smoked-Ham Style
black pepper and nutritional yeast as desired

Combine the soaked cashews, water, and lemon juice in the blender. Blend till creamy. Set aside. Don’t worry about it if there are still some cashew chunks — it’s going back in the blender once more before you’ll serve it!

Melt the butter / heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and carrots for a few minutes, then add the garlic and keep it going a few more minutes. Add arugula, parsley, any other greens you’ve got, and veg broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the greens are tender. Stir in the cashew cream. Remove from the heat and let cool for a bit so your blender doesn’t go KABLOOPF (unless you’re using an immersion blender, in which case, have at it). Blend in batches, then return to the pot. Stir in the kidney beans. Add lemon juice, pepper, and nutritional yeast to your heart’s content!

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Kidney Beans, Smoked-Ham Style

I’ve been experimenting with adding this to soups and all kinds of things that are improved by a “smoked ham” flavor and texture. It’s my new favorite food magic trick!

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can kidney beans, rinsed/drained
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
pinch of black pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, over medium heat. Saute the beans for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once they’re starting to get a little crispy, add paprika and pepper. Continue sauteing until they’re the texture you want. If I’m adding them to soup, I like to cook them so they’re a little crisper than I want them, since they will lose some texture once added to the soup.

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Review: Tofurky Deli Slices

When I find a food I really like, I tend to stick with it. Years ago, I discovered that I really like Tofurky brand Peppered Deli Slices, and that’s what I always put on my sandwiches. Last week when I went to the store to buy them, there were none on the shelf. Rather than despairing, I decided to take the opportunity to try some new flavors and review them for the blog.

Oven Roasted: This one is the “plain” flavor. It really is quite plain. It is very salty though, and there’s just not much other flavor besides the salt. It’s not bad, perfectly suitable for some low-intensity meaty sandwich slices.

Hickory Smoked: I almost couldn’t tell the difference between this flavor and the Oven Roasted. It’s maybe a little bit smokier, but not dramatically. The ingredients list is identical to the Oven Roasted.

Italian: The texture of the sun-dried tomatoes in the slices was so off-putting for me that I couldn’t really tell whether I otherwise enjoyed the flavor, unfortunately.

Bologna: These actually taste better than they smell, which was a relief once I put one in my mouth. I’d only ever eaten bologna a couple of times before I went vegan, and only vaguely remember what it tasted like, but this seems like a pretty close match to what I remember. I don’t love it and probably wouldn’t buy it again, but I wouldn’t turn down a sandwich with this on it if someone handed it to me.

Roast Beef: This one was probably the best of the bunch. It doesn’t really resemble what I remember of roast beef, but the flavor is still pretty tasty. I also probably wouldn’t buy this again, but I’d pick this over the bologna for sure.

Smoked Ham: This one was nearly inedible. I had to force myself to finish a single slice. I think it might actually taste like ham, which may have been why it was off-putting to me, but I can’t say for sure as I don’t actually remember having ever eaten ham in my life. If you like(d) ham and want to try this, let me know what you think!

In conclusion, the Peppered slices are still by far my favorite, and I hope they’re back in stock soon.

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Review: Louisville Vegan Jerky

A little over a year ago, I learned about a new vegan jerky company called Louisville Vegan Jerky. I went to their website to see where I could buy some. At the time, the product was only available in physical stores, not for online sale, and the locations were nowhere near me. However, there was an intriguing note: vegan food bloggers could email the company and receive a free sample pack in exchange for writing a review of their product.

“Oho!” said I. “I am a vegan food blogger! This applies to me!” I emailed them, received my package, devoured the jerky, and then…didn’t write that blog post. Whoops. I was in the middle of moving, my life got very chaotic, I just didn’t get a chance to do it. And by the time I finally did have time, I didn’t remember enough about the products to write a review. Uh-oh. So I’ve been stricken with guilt ever since.

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad for this product which made me think, hmm, I wonder if they’re selling it online now. Sure enough, I was able to purchase a sample pack through their website. The price was a little steep; I probably would not have bought this at that price if it weren’t for the free-pack/write-a-review agreement that I had failed at previously. That said, I enjoyed the product enough that I would consider purchasing it again at that price — infrequently, but certainly as an “occasional treat” item.

The flavors in the pack I originally received were a little different from the flavors in the new pack. The original pack contained 4 flavors: Sriracha Maple, Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper, Bourbon Smoked Chipotle, and Sesame Teriyaki. The new pack contained 5 flavors: Sriracha Maple, Smoked Black Pepper, Smoked Chipotle, Maple Bacon, and Smokey Carolina BBQ. The ingredients lists for the “Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper” and the “Bourbon Smoked Chipotle” are identical to the ingredients lists for the “Smoked Black Pepper” and “Smoked Chipotle” respectively — none of them contain bourbon.

Overall, I definitely recommend this jerky. I prefer the texture over any other gluten-based vegan jerky I’ve tried.

Here are my reviews for each flavor, which I tasted in random order.

Smoked Black Pepper: This one is very tasty. It’s not particularly spicy, and has no unusual stand-out flavors. It is delicious, a solid jerky flavor, but it doesn’t taste especially smoky or peppery. Just plain ol’ tasty vegan jerky.

Smoked Chipotle: This one has a good smell to it which I enjoyed even before putting it in my mouth. The smokiness comes through nicely. The heat is pretty mild and doesn’t really come through until after I’ve finished chewing; as a spicy food lover I would have preferred that kick to happen right away and for the chipotle flavor to really come through. But the taste is great. This is definitely one of my favorites.

Maple Bacon: This one surprised me by being a slightly different texture than the others. It’s a little tougher, bit of a denser mouth-feel. The flavor is very nice, the smokiness and sweetness balance each other well (a little heavier on the sweet than the smoky). It is also very tasty.

Smokey Carolina BBQ: I’m not that into this one. The Dijon mustard overpowers all the other flavors in an unpleasant way, and the only other flavor I can make out is just “too sweet”. This is the only one I really disliked.

Sriracha Maple: This one is my favorite. The heat hits the minute I put it in my mouth and lingers after I’ve finished chewing. The savory and sweet flavors balance perfectly. YUM.

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Polenta Soup

This has become one of my favorite comfort foods! It’s my adaptation of this recipe from Serious Eats http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/02/vegan-polenta-kale-soup-miso-recipe.html I add tofu to it, both for protein and because I like how the texture goes with the other ingredients. I also add lemon juice and nutritional yeast to give it more of the cheesy flavor and texture that makes polenta exciting to me. I like the smoked paprika for heat and its characteristic smokiness, which I find goes well with anything I want to make “cheesier”, but of course, if that’s not your thing, leave it out and it will taste just fine.

4-6 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, chopped into bite-sized pieces
pinch of salt
1 tsp black pepper
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika or other chili powder of your choice (optional)
1 block (12 oz) extra firm tofu
2 quarts veg broth
1 cup polenta (coarse corn meal)
4-6 cups chopped kale (or other greens of your choice)
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 – 1 full cup nutritional yeast
6-8 scallions, diced
toasted sesame oil

Start heating about half the olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, stirring in the rest of the oil on top of them with the salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic (and paprika or chili powder if using). Crumble the block of tofu into the pot so it’s well-mushed. Add the broth. Turn the heat up to high to start the broth boiling. While it is heating up, slowly add the polenta, stirring as you add it. When the soup begins to boil, turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the kale (or other greens) and cover it back up for a few minutes. While that continues to cook, combine the miso, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of the lemon juice. Add this to the pot and stir it in well. Once all these ingredients have cooked together a few more minutes, add the nutritional yeast and scallions. Drizzle in the toasted sesame oil.

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A Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a coconut curry noodle soup recipe. I can’t believe it! I make some variation of this all the time. Here is the one I made this evening. My “secret” for this kind of soup is not to overcook the veggies, adding them at the end so they retain their texture and flavor.

1-2 Tbsp veg oil
1 onion, diced
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger or 1 Tbsp ginger powder
1 heaping Tbsp red curry powder (I love the Nam Prik Krung Kaeng Ped from The Spice House)
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans
4 cups veg broth
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2-3 cups green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2-3 cups red cabbage, diced
a few handfuls of kale, chopped
up to 1 Tbsp sugar (if you’ve got unsweetened coconut milk and/or want to sweeten up your soup)
6 oz uncooked brown rice vermicelli noodles (you can use thicker noodles if you want, but if you do that, you might want to cook them before adding them to the soup)
lime juice, toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast to taste (I added a little mushroom soy sauce too)

Heat the veg oil in your soup pot. Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute. Add the curry powder and cilantro. Stir till fragrant. Add black beans. Let this all cook for a couple more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. As the soup is heating, add green beans, cabbage, and kale in that order. If you’re adding sugar, add it now. When it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the noodles. Note the package directions for how long to cook the noodles — most likely it will be about 3-4 minutes. When the noodles have reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Add your tasting ingredients as you wish.

[image: coconut curry noodle soup with green beans, red cabbage, and black beans]


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