Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food Network Feast, Vegan Style

This Saturday, my friend Kathy and I took our inspiration from Food Network, and made the following:

Fresh Radishes and Cucumbers with Sea Salt, served on Toast with Herb Spread
Veganized from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten:

2 bunches radishes, with the pretty green tops intact
2 cucumbers, sliced
Sea salt
Herbed Butter Earth Balance
1 French baguette, sliced diagonally, and lightly toasted
1 "Take and Bake" whole grain loaf, from Dave's Marketplace

For the Herb Spread:

1 stick Earth Balance, at room temperature
Chopped chives
Chopped fresh parsley leaves
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
pinch of sugar

Arrange the radishes and cucumbers on a bed of sea salt.
Spread the butter on slices of toasted bread and arrange on a platter.
Serve at room temperature.

Now, I have never eaten radishes before. Sure, I've had the occasional wafer-thin sliced radish amidst iceberg lettuce in salad bars, but never like this.  Fresh and crunchy, with just a hint of bite. And, the herbed spread was the perfect topping for the crusty bread.  And tasted even better on toast the next day!

Kathy and I try to get together and cook once a week.  And although she is a meat and potatoes kinda gal, she has embraced this weekly vegan cooking adventure with open arms.  Deciding what to make isn't usually hard, as we are both foodies at heart, and LOVE to cook.  Some weeks I have an idea, and some weeks she does.  This week we both did, and they both happened to be inspired from Food Network shows that we had watched recently.

Here is my contribution, adapted and veganized from Rachel Ray's Week in a Day:

Ceci Sauce over Pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Fresno red chile pepper, finely chopped (with seeds)!
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped **No rosemary on hand, so I used some Bavarian Seasoning from Penzey's, which contains rosemary
1 fresh bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups chicken vegetable stock
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne
Pecorino cheese, My Vegan Parmesan
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions, garlic, chile, rosemary, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and cook to soften, 7 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, add about 2/3 of the chickpeas to a food processor, then quick-pulse into fine bits.
Add the finely chopped chickpeas and remaining whole chickpeas to the pan and heat through. Stir in the stock and tomatoes.
Break up the whole tomatoes and simmer the sauce.  I simmered mine for about 30-40 mintues.
Add a handful of vegam parmesan, to taste
Bring water to boil for pasta, salt the water and cook to al dente.
Reserve a cup of starchy pasta water just before draining.
Drain the pasta and place back in the hot pot and toss with the sauce and as much starchy water as you need to combine, I didn't need very much at all.
Add chopped parsley and extra vegan parm.

And the final product:

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