Thursday, March 24, 2011

spaghetti squash with ramp pesto

Oh shit! Did you say ramps? Where are the ramps? How can I get them? It's not even ramp season yet!???!?!?!!?!

Shhhhhhh... quiet down lil foodie friend. We are excited for ramps too, but there is a way to enjoy them all year round. Just hold your horses and I will get right to it.

1 big ole' Spaghetti Squash, halved long ways, and seeded
1 cup of Ramp Pesto
3 cups of frozen Edamame (or peas), thawed
1 cup of raw Walnut pieces
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Nutritional Yeast or Cheese (optional)

It is truly sad that ramps cannot be with us year round. Their little life spans are so short, and they bless us with their garlicky goodness for such a short time each spring. That doesn't mean that you can't have them all year though, and now that it is close to ramp season yet again, I thought it was time to open up a (freezer) door for you to show you how have rampy goodness all up in this piece all year long. It's really pretty easy.

Buy lots of ramps. Make pesto. Can or freeze. The ramp pesto we used in this recipe was made last May, and tastes exactly the same as it did when we made it, even after 10 months in the freezer. Other batches eaten earlier were also delish. This year I will definitely be buying way more, making a ton of pesto, and trying to can some as well.

On to the squash! Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Hack your squash in half long ways and remove the pulp and seeds. Spray lightly with cooking spray and place flesh side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Bake for 40 minutes.

Once your squash is cool enough to handle scrape out the "noodles" with a fork or a spoon, whichever you prefer. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the edamame, garlic, walnuts, and chili flakes to the pan. Toss in the spaghetti squash and saute' for 3-4 minutes, stirring so that everything is mixed evenly. Add the ramp pesto and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper, serve with warm crusty bread, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 18, 2011

saag tofu

We love Indian Food. Living in the Lower Haight we were surrounded by a ton of amazing Indian restaurants. However, in NYC we haven't really found one close to our house that we love just yet, so when we got the craving for some saag paneer, we just decided to make it. But we made it vegan, because well, we did. It turned out ridiculously delicious, and made plenty for leftovers. It was also pretty easy, so I imagine this might become a staple around our house. Let's get down to business.

2 pounds Frozen Spinach
1 medium Onion, diced
2 cups Unsweetened Soy Milk
1 pound Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tomato, chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced Ginger
2 Tbsp. Garam Masala
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Tumeric
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Jalapenos, small dice
2 Tbsp. Safflower Oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking Spray

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place your tofu in a single layer on it. Sprinkle the tofu with one of the tablespoons of garam masala and some salt. Spray it again with the cooking spray and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

While the tofu is cooking, place a large pot over medium heat. Add your oil, onions, garlic, ginger, tomato, and jalapenos and saute' for 4-5 minutes. Add the spinach and cover. Stir every few minutes until the spinach is defrosted. (If you defrosted your spinach ahead of time, or if you are using fresh spinach, just continue on.) Once the spinach is ready add the soymilk, and all of the spices, and season with salt.

Right about now your tofu should be ready to go. Here is where you have to make an important decision: Do I want to blend the spinach so that I have a uniform consistency, or do I want texture and chunks? We chose texture, if you want it smooth, go ahead and get your immersion blender. We can wait.

Done? OK. Add the tofu into the pot and simmer for just a few minutes so that everything is at a consistent temperature. Season again with salt and pepper, and serve with rice, naan, or both.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

vegan spinach lasagna

Let me start off by saying two things:

Numero Uno: I like lasagna with a few layers. Not just two really thick layers that collapse and fall apart all over the spatula, and then your plate. It should hold up and be pretty, kind of like a layered cake. Something that takes this much time to prepare shouldn't look like a Rorschach sketch once it is served. All it takes is using a more shallow dish; buying some extra noodz and making the filling a little thinner between the layers.

Dos: Someone needs to make the perfect vegan ricotta. I am so sick of trying to do it, and I think everyone else is as well. Oh shit. This is by far my best incarnation by far. At least as far as pasta goes. Damn, I want to just eat this on crostini. It happens to be thick and slightly difficult to work with (especially with lasagna), but trust me; it will not make your lasagna soggy. Actually, its kinda way better than actual ricotta.

Ok, let's get down to business. Please note we are using a large Pyrex baking dish, not the 9x9 square one, so if you are, well; ummmm, do the same thing we did. I had leftover noodles anyway. I just ate them while cooking.

2 10 oz. packages of whole grain Lasagna Noodles
1 pound frozen Spinach
1 medium Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Safflower Oil
1/2 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
1 jar of Pasta Sauce (we used a jar of amazing sauce canned last Summer by my main man Sean Ulrich). Or you can make your own. We have a lot of recipes for that down the blog...

1 pound Extra Firm Tofu
1 pound Soft Tofu
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
Salt and Pepper to taste

Start your pasta water to boil. It is best to use 2 pots if you can. Lasagna noodles are so big and cumbersome. If you don't have two big pots, then do it in shifts.

Heat a saute' pan on medium heat. Add the safflower oil, and onion. Saute' until translucent. (You know the drill). Add the garlic, chili flakes and lemon juice. Toss the spinach in there and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low.

In your food processor put all off the cheeze ingredients. Pulse a couple of times to the beat of whatever music you are listening to, and then just pop it on low and let it ride until smooth. Think "hummus" for the texture you are looking for. If you need more liquid you can add pasta water, just do it 1/4 cup at a time.

Stir your spinach every few minutes so that it gets evenly cooked, and keep an eye on your pasta.

Once the spinach is cooked and the pasta is done it is time to assemble. Preheat your oven to 350 and get ready to rock! I always start with a little sauce on the bottom so the noodles don't stick to the pan. Then I layer noodles, and then... I am sure you have done this before, so go for it. If you haven't, look at the close up picture below for details. When you have finished building your masterpiece, cover the pan with foil, making sure that the foil is not resting on the top of the lasagna. Make a little tent with the foil. Now bake it in the oven for 40-45 minutes. As tempting as it will be to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven, wait about 7-10 minutes for it to set before serving, it will make it far less messy and lead to less clean up later.