Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pad Thai

I'm a big fan of Pad Thai and it was a long time before I attempted to make this very popular Thai noodle dish at home.  Eventually I did end up trying a handful of vegan renditions, but the "Pad Thai" (page 236) from this book is the most authentic presentation I've made so far.  I didn't use the rice noodles as called for in the recipe, the ones that you just soak in hot water, as these are not my most favorite.  Instead, I used Japanese somen style noodles (and only half the amount called for); I think any Asian noodle would work here, including lo mein, udon, or ramen.  The sauce is really what makes this dish happen, a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, tamarind, tomato paste, and crushed red pepper.  I did not use any oil to sauté the diced tofu, or the onion, instead just relying on my non-stick skillet to handle the job without.  The cooked noodles are tossed with the sauce, onion, and tofu, piled onto a serving platter, and topped with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and bean sprouts.  Don't forget the lime!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Penne With Creamy Asparagus Sauce

If you look carefully at my photo, you will see right away that I didn't use penne in the "Penne with Creamy Asparagus Sauce" (page 207).  I tend to be very flexible when it comes to what pasta to use in any given recipe, and usually try to use up whatever I have on hand.  In this case, I had rainbow rotini left over so that is what I used.  In this dish, a rich and creamy sauce made of blended white beans, asparagus, onion, garlic, and seasonings is mixed with cooked pasta for a green and delicious treat.  I only used about 8 ounces of pasta instead of the one pound called for, because, as you might know by now, I prefer a saucier presentation than most recipes call for.  I also omitted the oil when sautéing the onion to keep this dish oil free.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Portobello Po'Boys

Summer just keeps hanging on, and another great meal for a hot evening is the "Portobello Po'Boys" (page 107).  These sandwiches are so simple to put together; just a matter of sautéing the portobello mushroom caps until soft (I used a splash of soy sauce instead of the oil called for), seasoning with fiery Cajun seasoning, and piling everything (lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, mushrooms) onto a crusty sandwich roll.  Yum!!  I used fat free homemade tofu mayo and seeded ciabatta bread for the rolls.  I will definitely be making this dish on a regular basis.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chopped Salad

This is the season for salads, and the "Chopped Salad" (page 56) makes the perfect light summer dinner, especially if you add any or all of the optional ingredients.  Not that there isn't enough going on without any additions, my goodness, this salad is brimming over with fresh vegetables!  The recipe starts with a combination of romaine and iceberg lettuce, but I opted to go with all romaine. To this you add chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrot, olives, radishes, parsley, and avocado - just to get started!  If you go for the optional ingredients, you continue with bell peppers, artichoke hearts, baked tofu, and anything else that sounds good to you.  The salad is tossed together, and dressed with an Italian style vinaigrette, where I substituted light vegetable broth for the olive oil, with a smidge of guar gum to give it some body.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Orange-Glazed Tofu & Asparagus

"Orange-Glazed Tofu and Asparagus" (page 285) is a stir-fry style dish that is perfect served over a bed of rice or Asian noodles.  Strips of tofu are marinated in mirin, then sautéed in a wok or big skillet with fresh garlic, ginger, and asparagus.  A delightful sauce made from fresh orange juice, soy sauce, and hot chili paste is added to the sauté, and cooked just briefly to blend all the ingredients.  The recipe calls for two tablespoons of oil for sautéing the tofu, but I used my non-stick skillet and didn't need to add any at all.  The sauce portion of the recipe calls for a teaspoon of sesame oil, which I'm sure adds a richer flavor, but sticking to my oil-free approach, I left it out as well.  I didn't feel like anything was missing!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Country-Fried Tofu with Golden Gravy

The recipe for "Country-Fried Tofu with Golden Gravy" (page 285) includes, as one would expect, frying (cornstarch coated) pieces of tofu in oil until crisp and golden brown.  I put off making this delicious sounding recipe for quite some time, thinking there would be no way around using oil in the preparation.  But eventually I decided to give it a go in my non-stick skillet, without the oil, and even if it didn't crisp up, I was pretty confident it would still taste good, especially with the Golden Gravy spooned over it.  The experiment was a success!  Although I realize that frying the tofu would have yielded a crispy texture, the cutlets did manage to brown in my non-stick skillet and were quite delicious.  The Golden Gravy is more like a sauce than a gravy, a blended mixture of sautéed onion (leave out the oil here, too), garbanzo beans, flour, and seasonings.  I had to thin the sauce down quite a bit, as initially it was very thick.  There was plenty left over, too, which I served over boiled new potatoes on the side.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad in Avocados

"Chickpea 'Tuna' Salad in Avocados" (page 82) is another wonderful meal for a hot summer day.  No ovens, stoves, microwaves, crock pots, grills, or toaster ovens required.  The 'tuna' part of this dish consists of a mixture of chopped garbanzo beans combined with minced fresh veggies and a sprinkle of spices, and moistened with vegan mayo (choose an oil free variety to keep this McDougall friendly).  Mound this into a fresh avocado half, lay it atop a bed of fresh chopped lettuce, and you've got yourself light summer fare.  Watermelon makes a nice thirst quenching dessert!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eight Treasure Barley Salad

"Eight Treasure Barley Salad" (page 85) makes a great one-dish meal for a hot summer day.  With the heat wave of 2011 that just won't seem to quit, turning on the stove or oven, especially in a 5th wheel trailer, is a horrid thought.  As it was, I pre-cooked the barley in my pressure cooker first thing in the morning before the mercury got completely out of hand, so putting the rest of the salad together later required no cooking whatsoever.  The eight treasures in this delicious salad include navy beans, celery, carrot, green onion, kalamata olives, dried cranberries, pecans, and parsley.  The dressing as written consists of a seasoned oil and vinegar mix; I replaced the oil with a light broth, increasing the volume as the barley tends to soak up the liquid as it sits.  Per my usual, I decreased the amount of barley called for by about 1/3 to bring the ratio of starch to other ingredients more to my liking.