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Just to be clear… this is not a pesto made from kale.  I never understand how people can replace basil with cilantro or some random green like kale and still call it pesto!  Basil is irreplaceable in my book.

So I was needing a good dose of greens, but I didn’t want to eat them plain.  And I had some extra basil leftover from my tomato basil soup… so I made pesto.

Vegan Pesto

  • 1 tightly packed cup of basil leaves (rinsed clean)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, depending on personal taste preference

So there are a couple ways you can do this…

The easy way: Blend it all up in a food processor.  Done.

The less easy way: I wanted to try making it like an Italian grandmother (click here for link), because that just sounded too appealing!  So I followed her directions for the basil and garlic, but when it came time to incorporate the parmesan, I just grated some walnuts in a rotary cheese grater and added that and the nutritional yeast and salt to the minced basil mixture.

Then I steamed a bunch of kale in 1/3 cup of water till the water was mostly gone:

Then I combined the two… and voila!

I highly suggest serving this with leftover mashed potatoes and/or cauliflower, then you can be all fancy and call it “Pesto Colcannon”:

I’m not someone who has cravings for potato salad… but this recipe looked interesting enough for me to try, and it is delicious!  Click here for the recipe from Cathy at StraightUpFood.com

I only used half the lemon juice, and that was plenty for me.  I also only needed the 1/2 cup soy milk, and my avocado wasn’t ripe, so I left it out.

Sprouts sells this soy milk that only has two ingredients: water and soy beans…. which I love b/c it takes away the argument behind the latest “got milk” campaign.  🙂

Vegan two cheese pizza: Parmesan Spread and Creamy White Cheese with broccolini, roasted corn, sun-dried tomatoes, and red onion. No Daiya, Teese, or added oils here!

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

I really wanted to make something extraordinary for Vegan Pizza Day… Generally when I make pizza, it’s on a pita, doesn’t have any cheese, and is really just a quick, easy meal for a weeknight.

So I thought I’d try out a few homemade cheeses for this one.  I have to say, it makes this pizza pretty rich and filling, and I almost think I should have made two smaller pizzas… one with the cheeses and the other with the veggies.  Less is more.

The veggie combination is inspired by California Pizza Kitchen’s Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant Pizza.  I think omitting the eggplant is the only change I made.  But seriously, these veggies don’t need cheese to be delicious… next time I will use them on their own!

Okay.  Now for the components:

The Crust

Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough.  Made with a mix of whole wheat and regular flour.  I wish it were 100% whole wheat, but hey… it’s delicious, quick, and cheap ($1.29).

The Sauce

3 ingredient pizza sauce…. does water count?

I don’t need a fancy sauce. I added about 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and water to a can of tomato paste… and really, that’s all it needed! For this pizza, the sauce is like the skinny models on the runway. They can’t be too pretty or voluptuous or they’ll distract people’s attention from the clothes. Same thing here. I just wanted the other components to shine.

Cheese # 1: Parmesan Spread

I’m not sure the name does it justice.  This stuff tastes like parmesan.  It was inspired by a bunch of recipes I found online and this one in particular that made a spread out of the sprinkle stuff.  I made mine oil-free by using cannellini beans.  These beans are awesome… they are light, creamy, and don’t have a strong flavor, so they were perfect for mixing with this parmesan.

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans (if from a can, then drained and rinsed)

First make some vegan parmesan.  My new favorite way of making it is using a cheese grater, another great tip from Cathy Fisher of StraightUpFood.com.  First, use the grater to grind the nuts.  Then, in the little barrel where the grated nuts are, mix in the nutritional yeast and salt.  This is one recipe where I would not leave out the salt… parmesan is a particularly salty food, so without it, I just don’t think it tastes right.

This grater is great because it has a little adjustable window. You can reduce the window to a crevice and it’s perfect for sprinkling parmesan at the table!

You can mix this up in a blender just as easily. Just make sure you get the nuts chopped up pretty fine. Blend parmesan and cannellini beans in a blender with 1/4 cup water. If the mixture is not moving, continue to add 1 Tbsp of water at a time, scraping down the sides of the blender, until you get a consistency a bit thicker than a hummus but not as thick as a paste.

Since this spread has a pretty strong flavor, I decided not to put a whole layer of it on top of the pizza sauce. I opted instead for these circles:

Cheese Sauce #2: Creamy White Sauce

This sauce is so creamy and based on my go-to mac and cheese sauce.

Chop the following veggies and steam in a steamer basket in a covered saucepan or pot (filled with about 1-2 inches of water) on med-high heat, until veggies are soft.

  • 1 cup yukon potatoes (if using russet, you will need to peel)
  • 1/3 cup red onion
  • 2 Tbsp shallots or more onion

While the veggies are steaming, blend in your blender:

  • – 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • – 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • – 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • – 1/8 tsp or a few drops of yellow mustard
  • – a few cloves garlic (depending on personal preference)
  • – 1 Tbsp lemon juice

When steamed veggies are soft, add to blender and process.  If mixture isn’t moving/gets stuck, then add 1 Tbsp of water at a time till mixture gets going.  The goal is to add as little water as possible so you aren’t pouring soup on your pizza!

The Veggie Toppings

Under the Creamy white Cheese:

  • broccolini / broccoli raab / baby broccoli, lightly steamed
On top:
  • Trader Joe’s roasted corn (or you can roast your own kernels on a non-stick frying pan)
  •  red onions, chopped
  • sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted a bit

I put most of the veggies underneath the cheese and they kind of got lost, so that’s why I recommend putting most of them on top.

I had a lot of extra blackberries leftover from the PPK facebook challenge, and I haven’t been eating enough salad this week… so here’s my answer to both of those!

Blackberry Walnut Dressing

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (you could probably use apple slices too since this will be going through a sieve)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (more if you want a more acidic dressing, I also suggest adding a vinegar if you want this to be more of a vinaigrette)
  • 1 Tbsp packed mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

First, blend together blackberries, apple juice, lemon juice, and enough water to almost cover blackberries (leave about and inch or two of blackberries above the water).

Now pour the blended mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Whisk/quickly scrape the bottom of the sieve with a spoon until most of the liquid is in the bowl and you are left with only thick pulp and seeds in the sieve.

Return mixture to blender and add mint and walnuts. Blend till smooth. At this point you can add more lemon or vinegar for more acidity, more apple juice for more sweetness, or more walnuts for a creamier dressing.

Now pour into a storage container of some kind. I really like these little dressing bottles from Fry’s grocery store.

I served on a bed of romaine, spinach, mixed baby greens, and moringa leaves (sometimes the farmer’s market has the randomest stuff!) and topped with dressing and cranberries.