Lemon Pepper Asparagus Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas

  Summer pasta dish with whole grilled lemon slices

Summer pasta dish with whole grilled lemon slices

When I think of eating pasta, I think of a snowy winter day, curled up in my oops-i-ate-too-many-cookies-pants shoveling (not so much spooning) bucketfuls of straight gluten into my pie-hole, warming up my insides and protecting my body against the cold with an extra layer of much needed survival chub.  

Pasta in the summer?  Betch, I'm on a diet.  There are bikinis involved in this season, hello!  And yes, I feel you, but lemon and asparagus (whether our frenemy pasta is involved or not) just screams summer-time flavor town to me.  So I decided to drum up this special citrus-y dish that is at the same time light and packed with flavor.  Can be served as a hearty entree or side dish to compliment your main event.  The dish is inspired by long drives through Long Island where local farms boast their fresh produce on roadside stands and farm adjacent markets.  The secret to well cooked asparagus is not to overcook it; blanching allows you to saturate this finicky veg without draining the life (crunch) from it.  

Also, shout out to my peeps at @homegoods.  This place has amazing deals on furniture, cookware, throw pillows and other home goods, but I go for the gourmet grocery items at RIDICULOUSLY DISCOUNTED PRICES.  Like the beautiful pasta shells you see here.  A giant bag was only $3.99.  I also got an 18 oz. bag of raw turmeric powder for $5.99 and a bag of banana flour for $3.99 (I mean wtf is banana flour?  I'm so pumped to try it, and when it's that cheap, one can afford to experiment.  Neat-o).  

  Pasta from Home Goods

Pasta from Home Goods

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of vegan friendly pasta (any will do!)
  • 1 head/bunch of fresh asparagus
  • 2 lemons (including about 1 TBSP of zest)
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas (de-podded, or English peas)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • .5 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt
  • Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Before you start, get everything ready.  De-pod your peas if necessary, zest one whole lemon, and thinly slice the same lemon (or a fresh one) and place on a baking sheet.  Pre-heat oven to 400º
  • Bring pot of water to a boil.  
  • Slice the asparagus tips and then proceed slicing diagonally creating 1” pieces
  • Blanch in boiling water for 2.5-3 minutes (less time = more crunch)
  • Drain and rinse under cool water to stop it from cooking further
  • Boil another pot of water, add a dash of pink salt and add the pasta.  Cook according to the package directions (again, less time = al dente pasta, which is my personal preference)
  • Meanwhile, put your lemon slices in the oven and cook for 15ish minutes (or until as blackened as you want)
  • Once pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, drain and rinse with cool water
  • Add the olive oil 
  • Squeeze the juice from 1 whole lemon
  • Now toss
  • Next add the asparagus
  • Add the peas
  • Add about 1 TBSP of lemon zest
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Lastly, remove the lemons from oven and gently lay on top of pasta for presentation

For a step by step tutorial, see video below!  

Musis by Podington Bear, Kid is Frangin', soundofpicture.com

 

 

Happy 4th of July Grilled Veggie Hot Dogs (Grilling Doesn't Mean Killing)

 Field Roast Frankfurter

Field Roast Frankfurter

This holiday is so fun!  I get to hang with all of my favorite people listening to music, laughing, grilling, soaking in the sunshine, and generally just tapping into gratitude.  And yet I find myself frustrated by the 4th of July every year when it comes around again.

1) Fireworks are pretty, and I'll admit I'll love the pastime, but they're terrible for the environment and scare the shit out of thousands upon thousands of animals making July 4th the busiest day of the year at shelters.  While we (us humans) are all mesmerized by the show, our furry companions across the country are in a total fucking panic from the sound of explosions and smells of burning embers.  It makes sense if you think about it, so make sure to keep your pets inside and secure your house so they can't get out.  You should also make sure they are tagged and microchipped.  

2) Also, Trump.

3) Then, if you're a veggie like me, you're faced with the reality that 155 million hot dogs are consumed by Americans on this one fateful day every year (according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, cuz apparently that's a thing).

So, this year I've cooked up a simple, yet sophisticated hot dog alternative that is sure to impress even the staunchest of meat eaters.  The most effective way to be a vegan at a BBQ is to bring LOTS AND LOTS OF EXTRAS.  Cook all of it up and offer it to people.  Forcing my beliefs on people hasn't worked, but sharing free food has.  It always works. 

The best news about July 4th, 2018 is that Beyond Meat is in such high demand they had to open a whole new plant to keep up, employing 250 new people.  Also, the only reason I wound up with Field Roast (which I love, but uses palm oil) is because my store RAN OUT OF BEYOND MEAT.  This. Is. Totally. Rad.  Keep making noise, guys!  The future is vegan.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Beyond Meat Sausages (they were out so I used my second favorite, Field Roast Frankfurters)
  • Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sauerkraut
  • BBQ baked beans (vegan friendly)
  • Hot Dog Buns* (A note about bread.  To be an effective vegan, in my opinion, it is best to make sure the bread doesn’t have any milk or butter…you can get really specific about mono-glycerides and such, but almost perfect is better than giving up on yourself.  Also, if you whine a bunch about how hard it is to find perfectly vegan bread at your normal grocery store, you’re basically letting everyone know that eating vegan is difficult.  And we know it ain’t, so chill).

DIRECTIONS:

  • Get you vegan friendly hot dog buns ready by opening them so they lay flat.  Put aside.
  • Warm your veggie BBQ baked beans in a sauce pot over medium heat until warmed through.  Turn stove off and cover until dogs are ready.
  • In a saucepan heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add a dash of garlic powder and sauté your thinly sliced onions for about ten minutes until they are translucent and caramelized.  Set aside.  
  • If you’re grilling add your hot dog to the grill and cook until charred to your liking, otherwise sauté for about two minutes on each side.  
  • Now it’s time to assemble:  Bun, hot dog, bbq beans, onions, sauerkraut, and mustard.  
  • EAT.

Here's a quick tutorial showing you how easy these bad boys really are!

 

Music by TRG Banks, Bob Price.

Healthy toaster oven PIZZA pockets!

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Time to make: 15 ish minutes

Time to bake: 5-10 minutes

Skill level: Baby

Recipe and photos by:  Alex, The Hungry Wolfe*

If you've ever read the "Meet Alex" page on this site, then you already know I've been a veggie since the age of 7.  But not a healthy one, not even close.  In fact, I literally didn't eat my first real vegetable (for the purpose of this story, carrots and french fries are not vegetables) until I was about 20.  Friends were gobsmacked by the concept that I, a self-proclaimed NON-meat eater, was also a self-proclaimed veggie HATER.  Say what?  So what do you even eat?

Cheese.

Lotsandlotsandlotsa

C-H-E-E-S-E.

So much so that I had no idea it wasn't normal to need a nap after every meal.  But of course not until after I laid in a corner in the fetal position whining to no one in particular, whyyyyyy?  

I loved cheese.  No, I lived for cheese and my biggest fear when I agreed to eat a plant based diet for 90 days (after attending an all vegan wedding and being offered to watch an eye-opening documentary Forks Over Knives) was as much about giving up cheese as it was taking on veggies.  

I mean, we had zero relationship, me and veggies.  I was so awkward around veggies and veggies were all confident and robust and I felt like a 13 year old boy on a first date.  Where do I put my hands?  Should we just talk about our hobbies this first meeting and try mouth to mouth on the second date?  I was nervous, because tolerating veggies was the only way to survive these 90 days and I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  But I promised myself.

Of course, veggies and I are madly in love now.  I also know veggies have so much more to offer than they're given credit for.  Little miss veggie has so much more to her than her rough skin and tough crunch.  First off, I learned some of the basics, like roasting.  I would just cut up a bunch of colorful finds from the farmers market, massage them in olive oil, salt and pepper 'em, then roast a whole cookie (mmm cookies) sheet worth and be set for the next couple of days.  For the longest time roasted veggies and some grains (like quinoa or rice) were my go to.  I was like "look mom, I'm eating veggies, I'm basically Iron Man."  But I was getting capital B BORED.  That's when I began reading cookbooks (mostly vegan, but some others too, for inspiration) voraciously.  I learned how to cook tofu.  I learned how to cook beans and lentils.  (All of these are staples in any vegans kitchen, mine included).  

HOLD THE PHONE, who even cares about beans and lentils, still totally bored, aren't we?

Then one day I was reading Isa Moskowitz's Isa Does It and there's a section called ABS.  And I was all ewww ABS in a cookbook?  And then I was like, oh wait that's IBS.  What's ABS?  Turns out it's the best advice I ever got, and my whole vegan world changed forever: 

Always

Be

Soaking.

Soaking what?  NUTS, betch.  Cashews in particular.  Most homemade vegan healthy cheeses are made from blending soaked cashews with spices and things like...

Nooch!

What the fuck is Nooch?  Right, it's vegan for Nutritional Yeast, which can be found in the aisle where Bob's Red Mill products live (if you are shopping at a regular old grocery store and not a whole foods or other health food market - if you can't find it just ask.  Or, you can order it here).

My world was expanding and I was no longer limited to rice and beans and veggies (ironically, still one of my favorite go-to meal options.  Probably, because I also have other options now).  The 90 day challenge of being vegan is still going...six years and 41 days later, and I have never once looked back.  People ask me if I miss cheese, me the cheese-a-holic who literally ate nothing else but cheese, and the answer is HELL. FUCKING. NO. WAY.  I feel better, I look better, and most importantly I'm not contributing to the suffering of animals (PS. this is putting it so lightly it's almost animal cruelty).  Every day that I cook myself an elaborate vegan meal I marvel at what I've made and where it came from.  It just keeps blowing my mind in the best possible way.  I'm glad to be on, what I believe, is the right side of history.  Come have some "cheesy" pizza pockets with me and see if you're ready to make the change today.  And if you're already there, HOW GOOD ARE THESE VEGAN CHEESE POUCHES?  Comment below, like, and share so we can show people how easy, inexpensive and delicious this lifestyle is.

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices vegan Bread (White, Wheat, Sourdough, or Multigrain should work well here)

4-6 slices vegan cheese (I used Chao by Field Roast.  Other options include: Daiya, Kitehill, Violife, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko's, Go Veggie ... need more options?  Email me!)

Vegan pepperoni slices (or you can substitute grilled onions and peppers or mushrooms or other veggies).  For a gluten and soy free option I use Yeah Dawg Vegan sausages and cut them into pepperoni slices - If you live in a remote area, looks like you can order them in bulk on line!

2 heaping spoonfuls of pizza/marinara sauce

1 Tablespoon all purpose gluten free flour blend 

Water

DIRECTIONS:

I used a large circular cookie cutter to cut the 4 pieces of bread into rounds, but you can also use a regular kitchen knife to cut the crusts off.  Your pockets will just be rectangular instead.  Cool!  

Next, add a dollop of the marinara sauce and spread around the bread leaving a half inch space around the edges.

Add 1-2 slices of cheese (you may need to break it apart if you're not using shreds, to account for that 1/2 inch edge we need).

Lastly, put the pepperoni slices on top of the cheese.  So far your pizza should look like the first picture.

Now, in a small bowl mix the flour with just enough water to form a thick paste.  

Using your finger, take the paste and line that 1/2 inch edge all the way around.  Take your other piece of matching bread and gently place on top.  Again, using your fingers, pinch the edges so they lock shut.  

Sprinkle some oregano on top if you have it.

Your pizza pocket is now ready for:

A toaster (medium setting to start, making sure to check it periodically; you want to make sure the cheese doesn't melt into your toaster, so keep your peepers on it).

Toaster oven (350º for about 10 minutes, flip sides in the middle)

or a non-stick pan (same as toaster oven).

*Recipe inspired by @jungletwisted

Whole Roasted Cauliflower (marinated in a Teriyaki/chili sauce)

©Alex Wolfe Photography

Easy peasy.  5 Ingredients.  45 minutes to make (most of which is inactive).  So really the question is...what's stopping you?  This dish can be served as the main event, or cut into wedges and served as a side or an appetizer.  Also, there is a TON of room for play here.  Playing in the kitchen is exactly how this bitch got invented in the first place.  So I encourage you to indulge your adventurous nature.  What's the worst that could happen?  Otherwise, follow the recipe below for a yumalicious addition to any meal:

INGREDIENTS:

One bottle of Island Teriyaki Sauce by Soy Vay (available at most supermarkets or you can order it on amazon.  

One jar of Chili Garlic Sauce by Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce (findable in the Asian food section of your local grocery store, or again on amazon.

One large (preferably organic) head of Cauliflower

Almonds (finely diced)

Olive or vegetable oil to grease the pan

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425.  Lightly grease a square (or rectangular) baking dish with oil and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the bottom of the cauliflower head so that it is even and will stand straight in the dish.  Don't remove the leaves!  Believe it or not, once you marinate and cook 'em, the leaves are one of the tastiest most nutrient dense parts...

In a small bowl mix together half a bottle of Island Teriyaki, and two heaping tablespoons of Chili Garlic Sauce (or really as much as you want...this is a good time to taste test to your desired level of spiciness). Then add two tablespoons of Olive Oil.  Mix well.

Place the cauliflower head in the baking dish and pour the marinade on top, making sure it's completely covered.  Use a brush or a baster to keep marinating whatever dripped to the bottom. 

©Alex Wolfe Photography

A tip:  If you're gonna spend any time on this recipe, let it be during this part.  Keep brushing the marinade at the bottom of the pan onto and in the crevices of the cauliflower to ensure it is completely saturated.

It's time for the oven!  Bake until the top is browned (but not super burnt, a little crispy in places is okay) and a knife easily cuts through, about 45 minutes.  Baste periodically with sauce from the pan.  

©Alex Wolfe Photography

If you have a hand chopper or a food processor that will make this part go much faster, thus making your life easier, and ensuring you don't lose a finger.  Or you can do it the old fashion way, just be careful you wild one!  After you finish chopping, transfer nuts to an un-greased pan and "toast" over low heat for several minutes.  You can either add the nuts to the top of the whole cauliflower if serving as a main dish, or if you decide to cut into wedges you can add the nuts on top of the cut pieces as well!  The almonds are imperative for the finishing taste and texture profile of this dish, so don't skip it unless you have no nuts in the house and there's a snow storm outside : )

©Alex Wolfe Photography