Category Archives: basil

Herb Tofu Scallion Spread is Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Delicious on Crackers or Bread

You’ve undoubtedly had the disheartening experience of going to a potluck and encountering a slew of dairy-based dips and spreads. This can be frustrating if you’re doing your best to follow a vegan, gluten-free diet. Don’t despair! Here is a delicious, creamy spread you can make from tofu that tastes just as good as the dairy-based variety! Even your non-vegan friends will love it. They may even beg you for the recipe. The spread is healthy, since it utilizes basil and Italian parsley, herbs that are rich in vitamin C. The tofu adds protein and calcium. Much healthier than your average spread, and so easy to make!

INGREDIENTS

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14-ounce package of firm tofu, drained
2 teaspoons white miso (make sure it doesn’t have soy sauce, which contains wheat)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup water

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

black olives
capers
sliced zucchini
salad mix
carrot sticks
gluten-free crackers or bread

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan on medium setting. When oil is hot, add chopped garlic and fry for about one minute. Pour in scallions and red pepper and continue frying for about 2-3 more minutes, until the scallions are bright green. Remove from the burner and set aside.

Crumble tofu into a blender or food processor. Add the basil, parsley, sea salt, lemon juice, miso, and water (try less than 1/4 cup of water at first, then add more if mixture is too thick). Pour in the scallion/red pepper/garlic mixture and continue blending until your mixture is creamy and frothy. Scoop mixture out of the blender or food processor and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

Serve with crackers, wedges of gluten-free bread, and condiments like black olives, capers, salad mix, carrot sticks, zucchini slices, etc. Really, the possibilities are endless. You can make an entire meal out of this tofu spread if you so desire. It’s much heartier than you might imagine.

Serves about 4 people, depending upon whether you transform this spread into a main dish or serve it as an appetizer. You can cover leftovers and store them in your refrigerator for up to three days. You don’t need to tell anyone that it’s made from tofu — unless you feel like it, of course. Your friends will be astonished! You’ll want to make this simple but elegant spread again and again.

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Vegan, Gluten-Free Italian Fettucine is So Easy to Make!

One of the things we missed the most after we decided to pursue a vegan, gluten-free diet was Italian food. The cuisine is hearty and delicious, but most restaurants serve it with huge dollops of cheese (not to mention pasta made from whole wheat flour and eggs). What’s an Italian food lover to do? Fortunately, October happens to be mushroom season where we live. Chanterelles were on sale at our local supermarket for an insanely low price, and we had a brainstorm. After some deliberation, we were able to whip up this simple, but elegant dish. It’s inexpensive, a cinch to prepare, and will fill you up on a chilly autumnal evening.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups chopped chanterelle mushrooms
1 cup chopped white mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (not iodized)
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley (If you have trouble finding Italian parsley at your supermarket or co-op, try this dish with chopped basil, instead! Yum!)
Pinch or two of hot pepper flakes
Pinch or two of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup water
3 cups cooked, gluten-free fettucine (we used a brown rice variety that turned out perfectly!)

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the mushrooms, sea salt, olive oil, garlic, parsley, water, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper into a large saucepan and cook at low heat for 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook, or the mushrooms will get mushy. They should retain a slight springiness.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan according to package directions. Add a splash of the cooking water to the mushroom mixture and drain the rest of the pasta. Pour the noodles into the pan with the mushroom mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly combined and all the water has evaporated. Turn off the burner, remove your delectable concoction from the stove and toss the mushrooms and the pasta together a couple of times to remove excess moisture. Scoop onto plates and serve! If you have any vegan mozzarella or parmesan cheese, you can sprinkle it on top. Otherwise, you’re going to be just fine without it.

This wonderful dish serves 3-4 people. It’s great by itself as a light dinner. For a more robust meal, add a salad and/or a loaf of gluten-free bread. Maybe some gluten-free beer or red wine? Go wild! Leftovers store well in a covered container in your refrigerator for up to three days and taste great reheated. We’re quite sure they won’t last that long.

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Dijon-Marinated Wax Bean and Cucumber Salad is a Summer Winner!

What happened? It’s already the end of the summer — the time when we often have a lot of vegetables left over from our numerous trips to farmer’s markets, co-ops, and supermarkets. Two vegetables that seem ubiquitous are cucumbers and wax beans. Recently, we faced a conundrum — our refrigerator’s crisper was filled to overflowing with cukes and beans. We’d rather perish than waste food, especially fresh veggies! Fortunately, with very little fuss, we were able to whip up this yummy salad. It requires few ingredients, and is cheap and easy to make. On those muggy summer nights when hot food is unappealing, this dish is a winner.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cups wax (also known as yellow) beans
1 cucumber, peeled
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2-3 chopped scallions
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (get the kind with the “Mother”)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the marinade by combining mustard, turbinado sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir vigorously and set aside. Meanwhile, slice the wax beans sideways along the seam, then chop into 3-4 shorter pieces. Lightly steam the beans for 2-3 minutes until they are al dente, but not hard or mushy.

Place the beans into a large bowl. Peel the cucumbers and slice into rounds. Be sure to compost or eat the skin! Chop each round into 3-4 smaller pieces and add to bowl with beans. Toss in the chopped onion, chopped scallions, and marinade. Stir all of the ingredients together and allow them to marinate for 1-2 hours. You can either marinate them on your counter or in the refrigerator, depending upon your preference.

Drain any excess fluid from the salad by placing it into a colander inside your sink. Toss the salad and transfer to a smaller bowl. You can add an endless variety of garnishes for a festive touch –cracked pepper is good, or mint sprigs, diced sage leaves, or fresh, chopped basil, or anything that appeals to you and your guests. Get creative!

This deceptively simple but delicious salad is great as a side dish with a protein-packed, vegan main such as fried tempeh. It’s also delicious with other, more robust sides like gluten-free bread, brown rice, or quinoa. Serves 2-3 people, but feel free to increase the size of the recipe if you have more guests. Gotta use up those beans and cucumbers! You’d better enjoy the waning days of summer, because autumn is just around the corner.

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Baba Ghanoush — Naturally Vegan, and a Cinch to Prepare!

You’ve most likely had hummus, but have you tried its sweeter, lighter cousin, baba ghanoush? Baba ghanoush is a lot like hummus, since it has a tahini base. However, instead of adding garbanzo beans, this recipe utilizes roasted eggplant. The result is equally delicious. Our light but zesty meal is easy to make, and perfect for warm summer nights. You can serve it with gluten-free pita bread or with gluten-free toast points sprinkled with thyme, olive oil or vegan butter, and a bit of granulated garlic. We feel confident that you’ll love this dish either way.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium-sized eggplant
2-3 cloves minced garlic
juice of one large lemon
4 tablespoons tahini
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro, parsley or basil (We used basil, yum!)
small amount of water

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

roasted gluten-free pita bread
regular gluten-free bread
chopped thyme
chopped garlic or garlic salt
olive oil or vegan margarine/butter such as Earth Balance
sliced vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, green or red peppers, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and place in a large, flat pan or cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and olive oil and broil in oven for 5-10 minutes. Watch carefully so the slices don’t burn! They should be pulpy and slightly browned. Peel skin from eggplant and either eat, compost, or discard.

Cut the eggplant pulp into small pieces and place in a blender or food processor. Add the tahini, a dash of sea salt, herbs, lemon juice, and combine thoroughly. If your mixture is too thick, add a bit of water until it becomes creamy and smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Serve with sliced vegetables of your choice, and gluten-free bread or toast points. To make toast points, slather bread with a liberal amount of olive oil or vegan butter/margarine. Sprinkle with chopped thyme and granulated garlic. Broil in oven until the toast is brown and slightly crispy around the edges. Cut the toast in half and serve!

This recipe serves 2-3 people. If you have more guests, feel free to increase ingredient portions accordingly. Great as either a main or a side dish. Get creative! You can add falafels, hummus, or other Middle Eastern cuisine to make a larger meal. Keeps well in your refrigerator for several days. Homemade baba ghanoush is so much more delicious than the store-bought variety! Once you’ve prepared this version, we feel confident you’ll agree.

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The Best Pesto You’ve Had in Your Life — It Just Happens to be Vegan

vegan pesto

When I gave up dairy, I was saddened to find that pesto was off-limits. Like many folks, I’d assumed it was a non-dairy food. While perusing labels, I discovered that parmesan was a key ingredient in every container of store-bought pesto. Was it even possible to make pesto without cheese? I needed to learn, and fast. I loved pesto way too much to remain ignorant.

Fortunately, pioneering vegans had already blazed a trail for me. A little internet research revealed a host of recipes. My favorite substitutes nutritional yeast for parmesan. It’s a perfect alternative – flaky, thick in texture (but not overly so), with a rich, slightly nutty flavor. If you’re jonesing for pesto, like I was, try this:

1/3 cups pine nuts

2/3 cups olive oil

5 cloves garlic

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1-2 large handfuls of basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the pine nuts in a bit of olive oil until they are slightly brown, but not burned. Pour the remaining olive oil into a blender or food processor, then added the pine nuts, minced garlic, yeast, salt and pepper and basil leaves. Flip the switch and blend until smooth. That’s all there is to it!  Serve over fresh, gluten-free noodles, and sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese for an additional treat. This concoction is so much better than store-bought varieties. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll wonder where this recipe has been all your life.

Some suggestions:

If you’re on a tight budget, substitute sunflower seeds for pine nuts. Pine nuts can cost up to $40.00 a pound, but sunflower seeds are about $2.00 a pound. That’s an enormous difference! Your pesto will taste just as delicious with sunflower seeds, and your friends and family won’t know the difference.

If you want to get fancy, and/or add more nutrients to your pesto, toss in some arugula, chard, red pepper, and/or kale.

If you have leftover pesto (and you almost certainly will, because this stuff is rich), purchase some gluten-free pita bread, fresh vegetables, and vegan mozzarella cheese. Spread the pesto liberally on the pita and cover it with grated cheese. Add the vegetables of your choice, and maybe some vegan pepperoni. For an extra-fancy touch, sprinkle a few diced basil leaves on the top, and a little fresh oregano. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the pita bread are crispy. You won’t believe how good this pita pizza tastes!

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