Avocado Pasta Salad

Avocado Pasta Salad 1

I came across a post the other day for this Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing from Simply Scratch and knew I had to make this as soon as possible!  Not only would this be delicious on a salad with some ice-cold, crisp romaine lettuce, but I thought it would taste great in a pasta salad, too.  So I started thinking about the half box of Ditalini pasta I had left from making the Peas and Pasta recipe and just started putting the pasta salad together in my head.  I wrote down my list of ingredients and headed out to the grocery store to pick up the few items I didn’t have on hand.

This Avocado dressing comes together very quickly (I used my NutriBullet to blend it) and can be adjusted for your personal taste and consistency.  I simply boiled the rest of the pasta and drained it, then tossed it in a large bowl with my other ingredients, topped it with the dressing and stirred until everything was nicely coated.  I topped it off with a few turns of the pepper mill and it was ready to serve.  (I ate it right away and it was delicious, but of course you can place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if you prefer it to be nicely chilled).

You can alter this salad to include any ingredients you like, it’s very versatile.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I hope you’ll give a try at your next Summer gathering.  And then stop back by and let me know how you liked it.

Avocado Pasta Salad 2

Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves: 8 – 10
Prep Time: 20 -30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours (optional)

For The Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
water

Directions
1.  In a mini food processor add the peeled clove of garlic, avocado, lime or lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

2.  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with a little bit of water until it reaches a desired consistency.

For The Pasta Salad
Ingredients
1/2 box small pasta such as Ditalini, Elbow, or Bowtie (can use Gluten free pasta) cooked to package directions
1 – 2 avocados, diced
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob or 1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 container grape tomatoes, sliced
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 batch of Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing (see above)

Directions
1.  Place everything in a large bowl and stir to combine. Top with a few turns of the black pepper mill.

2.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve and enjoy.

Can be served alone or on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.

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Peas and Pasta

One of the things I enjoy about eating a Vegan diet is taking ordinary non-Vegan recipes and adapting them so they are Vegan.  I receive emails and subscribe to newsletters from some online recipe sites that are not Vegan-specific sites because I can still find truly delicious looking meals that just need a few tweaks.  And I’m always up for the challenge.  So when I saw this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, I knew it was one I had to make!

I love peas!  And I also love pasta.  So this one was right up my alley.  It’s easy to make, comes together quickly, can be served either hot or cold, and tastes divine.  You probably have most of the ingredients on-hand already, and the few that you don’t aren’t going to break the bank or have you running all over town to find them.  Simple, easy, perfect.

The sauce is made with peas, combined with shallot, milk and a few spices, and it transforms into this luscious, creamy sauce bursting with pea flavor that clings to each little noodle.  Each bite is a mouthful of pea heaven!  So I hope you will give this one a try, and that you love it as much as I do.

Pasta and Peas 2

Peas and Pasta

Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 2/3 to 1 cup macaroni
Yields: 4 cups
Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup dried ditalini pasta (can use gluten free pasta)
2 cups shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 shallot, peeled and quarted
1/4 cup finely shredded Vegan parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil (I used Magic Vegan Bacon Grease – found here)
1/4 cup Vegan milk/cream (I used regular, unsweetened, unflavored soy creamer)

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 cup peas the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture; return to pan.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the remaining peas*, the basil, shallot, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add milk/cream to skillet; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, blended pea mixture, and the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet. Toss gently until heated through. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Notes
* If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes before processing.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

I have been wanting to try a pasta dish with a red pepper sauce for a while and I recently came up with the idea for this one.  It’s a little different than the usual tomato or cheese based sauces you see, and lends itself nicely to a baked pasta dish.  The sweetness of the red peppers pairs so nicely with the tangy notes of the ricotta, creating a wonderful mix of flavors in each bite.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients and too many steps to make this dish, but the two sauces come together quickly in your blender or food processor, and it’s just a simple rinse in between blending them.  Boil the pasta, saute some onion, thaw and squeeze-dry some spinach and it can all quickly be tossed together and poured into a casserole dish.  Top with some mozzarella cheese and you’re good to go!  The sauces can even be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a couple days.  So this can be a fairly quick mid-week meal that is satisfying and filling, and will most likely yield leftovers.

This recipe is vegan and hearty, and delicious as is, but can also be adjusted to fit within your family’s own tastes and dietary needs.  Even if you don’t follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, I think you should give this recipe a go as it is written here.  You may just be pleasantly surprised at how much you love it.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake 3

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 6 – 8

Ingredients:
1 box spiral pasta, cooked to package directions
1 – 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 yellow onion, chopped and sauteed
Almond ricotta cheese (recipe below)
Roasted red pepper sauce (recipe below)
2 cups shredded non-dairy mozzarella cheese
Parsley flakes for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, spinach, onion, ricotta cheese, and red pepper sauce.

Place this mixture into your casserole dish (deep round or oval casserole dish, or 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish).

Cover the top with the shredded cheese and sprinkle with the parsley.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and allow to cook an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty and browning beautifully.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread and enjoy!

For the Almond Ricotta Cheese:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Simply place everything in a blender and blitz until super creamy and smooth.  Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if needed.

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
(credit for this sauce goes to a member of the facebook group What Fat Vegans Eat)

Ingredients:
1.5 cup raw cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least 4 hours and drained
1 roasted red pepper jarred in oil (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 red onion
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) – see note below
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Place all in a high-speed blender or food processor, and process until silky smooth.

*Note:  Nutritional yeast is NOT regular active yeast.  It is deactivated yeast that adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to vegan dishes.  It can usually be found at health food/organic food stores or online.  It is not essential in this dish and can be omitted.

Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches

I had been wanting to try a recipe for jackfruit barbecue for a while now, so when I visited my local Asian market and saw they had the canned jackfruit, I decided now was the time to give it a go.  There are many, many recipes for jackfruit barbecue out there, but I decided to go with this one from More Vegan Blog and it did not disappoint.  It does have a few steps but they aren’t difficult at all.  It just takes a little time to gather your ingredients, measure, and prep.  I promise you it is worth it.

This recipe calls for 3 cans of jackfruit in brine or water, but I only used two and it made enough for three people to eat their fill and still have enough for three more sandwiches the next day.  It will keep in the fridge for several days, so if you would like to have more leftovers or are feeding a larger group of people, you may want to go ahead and use the three cans.  I didn’t adjust any of the other ingredients and it still came out absolutely delicious.  I think if I were to make three cans I may even increase the amount of barbecue sauce as I prefer my barbecue to be a bit wet and this was perfect with just the two cans.  It may mean that it would be a bit drier if I had used three cans, so just use your own judgment to adjust it for your own taste.

aroy-d-young-green-jackfruit-in-brine

These 20 oz. cans of jackfruit were only $2.59 at my local Asian market and the rest of the ingredients are common pantry staples, so this recipe does not cost a lot to make and goes a long way.  Be sure to get the young or green jackfruit in brine or water and not the ripe jackfruit in syrup.  If you cannot find jackfruit locally, you can order it online through a number of sources but be sure to check out your local Asian markets first as they are likely to carry it.  And if they don’t have it, they can probably tell you where you can find it .

The jackfruit has this amazing combination of texture where the core is more solid and the edges are striated like gills so they shred or pull apart perfectly while you still get the meaty chunks from the core.  You may have to sort of squeeze through the pieces of jackfruit a bit to pop out the seeds, but it’s not necessary as they are edible.  It may change the texture of the pulled jackfruit a bit if you leave them in, but it will still taste amazing.  That is up to personal preference but I went ahead and removed as many as I could.  I mean, just look at this meaty pile of awesomeness!  Enjoy!

Jackfruit BBQ 2

Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit (canned)
Prep Time:  10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time:  55 mins
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
3-20 oz. cans jackfruit in water or brine
1 tsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1½ tsp. liquid smoke
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup vegan and/or gluten-free BBQ sauce (your favorite store bought or homemade kind)
Buns for pulled pork sandwiches (for gluten-free use either GF hamburger buns or bread)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain and rinse the jackfruit, squeeze and separate the “gills” of the jackfruit.  As you do this, remove the seeds.
  3. Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and saute a minute or so longer.
  4. Add the jackfruit, sugar, spices, and liquid smoke. Stir until the jackfruit is evenly covered.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
  6. Use a spatula or two forks to mash and divide the jackfruit until it looks similar in appearance to pulled pork.
  7. Spread the jackfruit out on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cover with bbq sauce.
  9. Return the jackfruit to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the jackfruit is lightly browned.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Taco Pasta Salad

taco-pasta-salad

I came up with this recipe because I love pasta salads in the summer, and I love Southwestern flavors.  So I decided to put the two together and it was an instant hit with my family.  This recipe is very easy to customize to your own tastes and diet restrictions.  You can use gluten-free pasta; Vegan mayo, sour cream, and cheese; you can use fresh ingredients instead of the frozen corn and black bean mix; and you can adjust the heat level to suit your own taste by using either hot or mild salsa, or by adding jalapenos or other spicy chile peppers.  I went with what I had on hand and you can, too.  I suggest adding the sauce mix to the pasta a little at a time and stirring it together so that you get it just as creamy as you like.  You can always add more if you like.   This is sure to be a fast favorite in your family!  It was in mine.

Taco Pasta Salad
Serves 8

Ingredients

1 box pasta (spiral, bowtie, etc.)*
1 pkg. frozen black bean, corn, onion, pepper mix; thawed
1 can whole black olives, halved or sliced black olives
1 pkg grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup mayonnaise**
1/2 cup sour cream**
1/3 cup salsa*
1/2 envelope taco seasoning, or to taste*
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. Boil pasta in salted water to al dente (you don’t want mushy pasta salad). Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. In a large bowl, add pasta, black bean and corn mix, black olives, and tomatoes; toss.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, salsa, taco seasoning, and cilantro. Pour over pasta and stir to combine.

4. May be served immediately or after chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Can be topped with shredded cheese**, sliced jalapenos, avocado, shredded lettuce, crushed tortilla chips, etc.

*This salad can be gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta, taco seasoning and salsa. 

**This salad can easily be made Vegan by using Vegan mayonnaise, sour cream and shredded cheese.

Berry Flan

Ingredients:

Crust:
– 2 cups hazelnuts ground finely
– 2 tablespoons honey*
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend hazelnuts, honey and lemon juice and press into flan tin (or pie plate) and refrigerate.

Filling:
– 8 oz strawberries
– 8 oz raspberries
– A sprinkle of cinnamon or fresh ground allspice to taste.
– Sprig of mint

Reserve a few berries for decoration, then puree the remainder of the berries in the blender or food processor.

Add spice to taste

Spoon into flan (or pie plate), decorate with reserved berries and mint sprig, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*For a Vegan version, replace honey with agave or maple syrup.

Red Pepper Pasta Sauce – Gluten Free

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb gluten-free pasta Gluten-Free Pasta Sauce
  •  2 – 13oz jars of roasted red peppers; packed in water and vinegar (check label to make sure its white vinegar)
  • 1 clove of garlic; minced
  • 1 small onion; rough chopped
  • ¼ tsp dry basil
  • ¼ tsp dry oregano
  • ¼ tsp dry parsley
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Empty both jars (with liquid) into your food processor and run until smooth.

2. Place a mesh strainer on a bowl and pour in the puréed red peppers and let drain into the bowl to remove  seeds; use a spatula if it is not draining fast enough and mash it through the strainer.

3. While peppers are straining: In a sauce pan or pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil until translucent over medium-low heat; about 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic and all dry ingredients and sauté until fragrant; about a minute.

5. Add the strained red pepper puree to the pot, and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

6. While the sauce is simmering: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and cook the pasta as per the package’s directions.

At this point, you can toss some sauce on the past and serve it. HOWEVER, for restaurant quality results, follow these additional steps.

1. CONTINUED FROM STEP 6 ABOVE; cook the pasta until JUST BEFORE al denté (as we are going to cook it a little longer after it is drained).

2. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta (don’t rinse).

3. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add about two ladles of the roasted red pepper sauce and bring it up to a simmer (this should be enough to coat the pasta).

4. Put the pasta in the pot and pour in half of the reserved pasta water. Stir everything around to combine. The pasta water will start to come together with the sauce and the pasta and the pasta will look coated and thick, not watery. Only use the rest of the pasta water if you want to thin out the sauce.

5. Serve with an additional scoop of roasted red pepper sauce on top and some grated cheese (optional).

From Paul Biscione of Food Living and Everything Else