Tag Archives: Vegan Italian Food

Pollock Potluck

Inspired by this photo of me at the Chicago Art Institute:

…my awesome neighbor across the hall suggested a POLLOCK POTLUCK.  We decided to skip the cigarettes and beer.   And went with veggies instead.  I know.  I know.  A vegan tribute to Action Jackson.  The man is rolling in his grave.  We spent more time talking about Peggy Guggenheim, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickinson, and Hatshepsut than Pollock.  But we ate some really good spaghetti squash that kind of looked like his famous paint splatters.  It was pretty much amazing.

Jenny made a delicious salad of cold steamed green beans, apples, oranges and walnuts over a bed of lettuce with citrusy vinaigrette.

I made Spaghetti Squash with Vegetable Ragout from a cookbook called The Gluten-Free Vegan Cookbook by Susan O’Brien.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place 1 spaghetti squash (about 2-3 pounds) directly on the oven rack and bake until soft, about 1 hour.  Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • While squash is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add 1 large onion, medium zucchini, and 3 cups chard, all finely chopped, and saute for 8 to 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, and 4 cloves garlic, chopped.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon capers, and cook for another minute or 2.  Add some fresh or dried basil and 1/8 cup red wine (or red wine vinegar) and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Then scoop out the noodly flesh and place it in a large bowl.  *Note: I will probably drain the squash halves upside-down on some paper towels before scooping next time.  Mine came out a bit soupy.*  Toss with the vegetable mixture.

  • 1 spaghetti squash: $3.98
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil: $0.05
  • 1 large onion: $0.33
  • medium zucchini: $0.70
  • 3 cups chard: $0.89
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper: $0.76
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms: $0.99
  • 4 cloves garlic: $0.20
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes: $0.89
  • 1 tablespoon capers: $0.50
  • dried basil: $0.05
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar: $0.10

=$9.44/6 servings = $1.57/serving!

I also made some vegan parmesan to sprinkle on top.  This was inspired by my friend Kristin’s recipe.  She had told me the ingredients but not the amounts, so I winged it.  I just put the following in my food processor:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashew pieces: $1.13
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast: $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder: $0.05
  • a pinch of dried crushed red pepper: $0.01
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper (add some salt too if your lemon pepper is the salt-free kind): $0.15

Then pulsed it until it resembled the texture of parmesan.  EASY!

=$1.94 for about 1 cup of faux parmesan

I would say that this meal qualified as a masterpiece.



Vegan Across Missouri

I’m not naming any names, but a New York Times correspondent who called the Midwest a “vegetarian wasteland” was dead wrong, as exemplified by my recent road trip across the beautiful state of Missouri.  Before leaving Kansas City I had a lovely brunch with my Dad at Succotash.  I ordered the Vegan Kitchen Sink, a hearty hodgepodge of home fries, grilled portabellos, fresh spinach, the titular succotash, lima bean hummus, and fresh tomato slices.  This was the perfect thing before hitting the road: fresh but filling.

I also ordered coffee WITH soy milk!  And a fresh juice.  I chose the Ninja Sunrise: beets, carrots, ginger, and grapefruit.  Yum.

Dad was happy with their omnivorous options, but local vegans flock here.  I can’t wait to go back and try the vegan pancakes.  This former bar has a quirky charm with lots of local art on the walls.

That meal kept me satisfied for some time, but I did decide to stop at the halfway point of my trip for a sandwich and coffee.  Thanks to Google I had found Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe in Columbia, MO.

This is an all-vegetarian cafe with tons of vegan and gluten-free options.

I went with the TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato).  It was nothing fancy but hit the spot.

Although the service could have been friendlier, this was a cute cafe with local art on the walls as well.  My favorite part was this weird cat guy photo montage.

I also got a yummy iced coffee with soy milk at Lakota coffee shop next door.  When I arrived in St. Louis I attended the bachelorette party of a good friend, and I was delighted to find that the hostess (who works in catering) had made special food for me!  There was a cheeseless pizza with lots of yummy veggies, including eggplant, zucchini, and roasted garlic.

She also made vegan brownies for dessert and vegan muffins for breakfast!  I loved what she said when I thanked her, “It wasn’t any extra trouble, especially since non-vegans can eat vegan food too!”  God bless her.

The next night we ate at a Vietnamese restaurant in St. Louis, called The Orient (the groom’s fave).  I ordered Tofu Spring Rolls:

…and also Lemongrass Tofu:

What I loved about this place was that the tofu was nice and crispy.

The same lady who hosted the bachelorette party also catered the wedding and made sure that I had a vegan meal of yummy pasta primavera!

There was a lot leftover too, which I took for the trip home.  It’s not hard at all to eat vegan in Missouri, especially when you have thoughtful friends like I do.

Spaghetti Bolognese

This week I was craving a nice, comforting bowl of pasta.  I turned to an old favorite recipe for vegan bolognese sauce:


The secret weapon here is textured vegetable protein (TVP).  It provides a remarkably meaty texture and soaks up whatever flavored liquids you use to re-constitute it.  The soy sauce here gives it a dark color and meaty depth of flavor.  Best of all, TVP is a CHEAP source of protein.  It doubles in size when re-constituted, and a cup of dry TVP, at just over a dollar, is certainly cheaper than a pound of ground beef (and I seriously doubt that your family would notice the difference).

This time around I added a stalk of celery along with the other veggies; I used one tablespoon of Italian seasoning in place of the herbs listed; and I subbed a can of Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce for the crushed tomatoes + tomato paste.  Mushrooms would be a good addition.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil: $0.05
  • 1 onion: $0.25
  • 1 carrot: $0.08
  • 1 stalk celery: $0.12
  • 2 garlic cloves: $0.10
  • Italian seasoning: $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes: $0.05
  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein: $1.08
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce: $0.18
  • 1 cup vegetable stock: free (homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast: $0.30
  • 1 (28 ounce) can marinara: $1.79
  • ½ cup fresh parsley: $0.59
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti: $1.39

=$6.13/6 generous servings


Can you imagine how much you would pay for this big plate of pasta in a restaurant?

Enjoy with a glass of red wine.  It pairs well with a cheap merlot, like 2-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s

Also, here’s an old photo from when I first made this a couple of years ago:

It’s a photographic dish, and it tastes even better than it looks!  Buon appetito!

Golden Mushroom, Pea, and Asparagus Risotto

My good friends Brandon and Chai were visiting from New York last weekend, and I had the honor of making dinner for them!  I put a lot of thought into what to make.  I wanted to avoid Asian cuisines, since they already get a lot of that in New York (and in their own kitchen).  I wanted to make something hearty and comforting but also something more special than pasta, so I eventually settled on my favorite risotto recipe:


I used a little bit of white wine vinegar mixed with some broth in place of the white wine and omitted the fresh dill.

Also, here’s an old picture of the same recipe from when I first made it, a couple of years ago.

  • 3 ½-4 cups vegetable stock: free (homemade)
  • 1 lb asparagus: $1.99 (on sale at Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup onion: $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil: $0.10
  • 1 ½ cups cremini mushrooms (I used 1/2 pound): $1.99
  • 2 tablespoons garlic: $0.10
  • 1 cup arborio rice: $0.66
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar: $0.10
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron thread: $0.33 (on clearance at Target a while back)
  • 1 cup frozen peas: $0.43 (edamame would be good too)
  • 13 cup nutritional yeast flakes: $0.80
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley: $0.59


…so I fed 4 people and had leftovers for less than the cost of one meal in a restaurant.

$7.34/6 servings


I served this with a side of Lemon-Pepper Baked Tofu:


…but, alas, I failed to snap a photo before we gobbled it all up!

  • 1 lb extra firm tofu: $1.79
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil: $0.03
  • 1 teaspoon Braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce): $0.02
  • 2 garlic cloves: $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons lemon pepper (with salt): $0.10

=$2.04/4 servings


…so the meal as a whole came to $1.73/serving.

Erin brought wine and lovely desserts from Eden Alley!  Thank you, Erin!  It was a lovely evening.  I can’t wait to see B & C again!

GALentine’s Day: Pizza and Raspberry-Chocolate Truffle Brownies!

Since my sweet boyfriend is so far away and my neighbor’s husband had to work on Valentine’s evening, she suggested a Galentine’s Day celebration!  We had SO much fun!  She made a lovely vegan pizza:

She used dough from Trader Joe’s, Newman’s Own sauce, Daiya vegan cheeze, and topped it with garlic, onions, mushrooms, and kale.  I loved the idea of kale on pizza.  It got nice and crispy.  We enjoyed that with some salad, wine, and good conversation.

Then we watched the film Bridesmaids.

I LOVE THIS MOVIE!  I hope Melissa McCarthy gets the Oscar for best supporting actress.  It’s refreshing to finally see actresses in genuinely funny roles.

For dessert I had made these Raspberry-Chocolate-Truffle Brownies from the Post-Punk Kitchen:


They taste decadent, but they’re actually low in fat and high in antioxidants (and easy to make)!  What more could a gal want?

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate: $1.60
  • 1/2 cup raspberry fruit spread: $0.87
  • 1/2 cup sugar: $0.08
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce: $0.33
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract: $0.40
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract: $0.10
  • 1 1/2 cups flour: $0.08
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder: $0.18
  • baking powder+soda+salt: about $0.01
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries: $0.83

=$4.48/12 brownies


Wow!  I knew it was cheaper to bake at home, but I had no idea HOW cheap!  It’s easy to get sticker shock at the grocery store when you’re buying a whole bag of flour, bottle of vanilla extract, etc, but that stuff goes a LONG way!

I served these up with some Coconut Bliss Ice Cream.  That stuff is seriously good, definitely the most rich, creamy vegan ice cream you can buy at the store.  And I garnished it with a few fresh raspberries.

We also enjoyed some Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate tea that her husband had bought for her:

It was really good.  I might have to buy some.

Then I talked to the BF on the phone.  He’s sending me some chocolates.  What a sweetie.  I’m so happy.  The best part is: I get to see him in San Francisco in just three short weeks!

Product Review: Amy’s Vegan Margherita Pizza

When Daiya brand vegan cheese hit US markets a couple of years ago, it rocked the vegan world.  It’s a cheese sub that melts reasonably well!  Ever since then, my local awesome pizza place, Waldo Pizza, has started carrying it, and it has appeared in several frozen products such as Tofurkey’s vegan frozen pizzas.  Amy’s recently released a new vegan frozen pizza featuring Daiya, and since it was on sale at my local co-op, I decided to give it a whirl.

This was the perfect thing when I came home from work exhausted on Friday night and wanted to watch a movie.  It only took about 9 minutes to cook after pre-heating the oven.  It only dirtied one dish: the pizza cutter.  I was all for this.

It tasted really good too!  The Daiya did not disappoint (at least for a mostly vegan who hasn’t had mozzarella in several years), the tomato sauce was nice and chunky, and there was LOTS of good basil (making it a good, solid Margherita in my opinion, not just a glorified cheese pizza). I’m hesitant to admit this, but I actually ate the whole thing in one sitting!

Since it was on sale for $6.99, this was a pretty good deal.  It was cheaper than a comparable pizza from Waldo (about $9 + tip) and a LOT faster.  It was also cheaper than a Tofurkey brand vegan frozen pizza (usually about $8.99 but available in Pepperoni or supreme).  It would probably be cheaper to make this at home, sure, but that would be a lot of work.  I’m not opposed to making pizza from scratch, but having some fast, easy foods like this around the house actually saves me money on occasion.  I would have gotten take-out on Friday if I hadn’t had this in the freezer.  However, if I buy this again I will wait for it to go on sale again because it normally runs $8.69.  For that price, I would just as soon order Waldo Pizza.

Tomato-Rosemary Scones

I used to live near a Whole Foods, and I got addicted to these savory Tomato-Rosemary Scones from their bakery.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found the recipe in the book Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (* I have successfully made these gluten free by using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour and adding 1 teaspoon xantham gum)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary , chopped (about 4 sprigs)
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • In another bowl, combine wet ingredients and rosemary.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Gently mix with a wooden spoon.
  • When the batter is loosely holding together, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until a soft dough forms. DO NOT overmix. Some patches of flour are good. Add a little extra flour if the dough seems sticky. Divide dough in two and form each section into a 6-inch disk. Slice each disk into six pieces (cut in half and then cut each half into thirds). OR if you are lazy like me and don’t need your scones to be pretty, you can just scoop the dough into 8-12 mounds on the cookie sheet (like drop biscuits).
  • Place scones on the baking sheet and bake 14-16 minutes or until the tops are firm. Remove and let cool a bit on plate or cooling rack. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

I think some chopped sun-dried tomatoes would be a nice addition to the dough.

I like to serve these with either Earth Balance brand non-hydrogenated margarine or Trader Joe’s brand vegan cream cheese.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour: $0.15
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder: $0.06
  • ¼ cup sugar: $0.04
  • salt and pepper: $0.01
  • 13 cup olive oil: $0.27 (Isa says you can use canola to make it even cheaper)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce: $1.79
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar: $0.03
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary: $0.99

=$3.34/12 scones


If I remember correctly, the Whole Foods bakery was charging $2.50 per scone.  That’s almost ten times more!!!