Purple Cauliflower Alfredo

Purple Cauliflower Alfredo

Purple Cauliflower Alfredo

I’m not going to lie, half the fun of this sauce is making a purple pasta dish! Now, I did punch up the color slightly for the photo and added some beetroot powder as mentioned below, but in person it still came out to a lovely shade of purple, almost more towards lavender. I think it will depend on how vibrant the cauliflower is.

Just warning you upfront: This recipe will yield extra sauce that you can store and re-use for more freshly-cooked pasta the next few days. You could also eat the sauce as a soup or use it over warm potatoes. If you want to use all of the sauce at once, cut the recipe in half or make double the amount of pasta. I do the recipe this way because then I can use the entire cauliflower head at once, plus it’s hard to mix up less than this amount in my blender.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head purple cauliflower (about 1 lb. chopped)*
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth**
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 heaping tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. beetroot powder***
  • 1 8 oz. box of pasta (I use Banza chickpea pasta)

Method:

  1. Heat vegetable broth in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cashews. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat, or until the cauliflower is tender. Add more vegetable broth if needed.
  2. Once cauliflower is tender, move the contents to a blender and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water for later to use for thinning the pasta sauce.
  4. Puree the cauliflower and cashew mix in the blender. Add garlic, lemon, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. The sauce will likely be a shade of lavender, depending on the cauliflower you use. To punch up the color, I like to add the beetroot powder, or you could even add a small piece of an actual cooked beetroot.
  5. To finish, simply toss your pasta with the pureed sauce. I used about half of the sauce for my one 8 oz. box of pasta and put the rest of the sauce in the fridge to use in the next couple of days (which made preparing dinner so fast!).
  6. I like to top my pasta with freshly-ground black pepper and some greens. In the photo I added some arugula.
  7. Enjoy!

*You can substitute regular white cauliflower or any other yellow or green variety.

**You could also use unsweetened plant-based milk, which might lead to a more purple pasta, but veggie broth provides better flavor.

*** Beetroot powder is optional for added color, or if you have purple corn powder or purple sweet potato powder, those would be even better for enhancing the color.

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Savory Stuffed Japanese Sweet Potatoes

Savory Stuffed Japanese Sweet Potatoes

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If you are looking for a super satisfying, nutritious and comforting meal, then might I suggest a Japanese sweet potato stuffed with all the beans? Sure, you can use a regular sweet potato, but there is something about a Japanese sweet potato with these exact fillings that is just so incredible.

If you have never had a Japanese sweet potato, then I highly recommend you try them. They are, by far, my very favorite food (yes, even more than figs!). I love them because when you bake them whole, the texture of the inside is just so smooth and creamy and has a mild, yet slightly sweet taste to it. Yet when you cut them up and bake them, they come out nice and firm, which is just perfect for making sweet potato fries. They honestly can’t be beat in my book. And no, these are not the same as white sweet potatoes or purple sweet potatoes — Japanese sweet potatoes are their own special variety.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Japanese sweet potatoes
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 can or 6 oz. container of vegan baked beans (I used Pacific brand)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • handful of arugula
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsps hemp seeds, optional

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash sweet potatoes, keeping the skin on. Pat dry and pierce with a fork around the sides. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 45 minutes, or more if needed, until insides are soft.
  3. While potatoes are baking, drain chickpeas and place in a bowl. Coat the chickpeas with the sriracha, maple syrup and garlic powder. Add to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Lower oven temperature to 375°F and place chickpeas in the oven. Roast chickpeas for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout. Feel free to add more sriracha and/or maple syrup if you would like.
  6. Heat vegan baked beans either on the stove or in the microwave and set aside.
  7. Once the chickpeas are done roasting, remove them from the oven. Slice open the sweet potatoes and fill one with the roasted chickpeas (feel free to add more sriracha as I did in the photo) and the other with baked beans. Top with freshly-ground black pepper, salt and hemp seeds if desired.
  8. Enjoy!
Lentil & Mushroom “Meat”balls

Lentil & Mushroom “Meat”balls

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Who says a vegan can’t have homemade spaghetti and meatballs? These no-meat balls are definitely being added to my list of staple dishes because they were so delicious, but also because my husband said he hoped they would be making an appearance often.  That’s the kind of feedback I love to hear.

They were also super easy to make, which is definitely my style. I can’t wait to experiment more with different seasoning options. I’m also picturing a delicious “meat”ball sub in my near future.

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Just looking at the closeup shot, I personally can’t tell them apart from a typical meatball. Sure, it’s been many years since I’ve eaten a real meatball, but I still remember what they  look like. Of course, the taste of my “meat”balls isn’t the same, but I think they are actually better. They are vegan, gluten-free, oil-free and completely delicious.

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I served my “meat”balls very simply over Banza chickpea pasta with marinara sauce and some oregano and pepper to top it off. If you give these a try, let me know how they go. I am definitely hooked! Just remember to make them somewhat small, about the size of a golf ball, per the notes below. I made a couple of them larger and the texture wasn’t as good on the large ones.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz / 1 standard package of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
  • 1 cup cooked brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup of gluten-free bread crumbs (can substitute rolled oats)
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil if you prefer), OR a 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable broth for sauteing if you prefer an oil-free option
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Tamari
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (feel free to add more or use dried)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat your oil or vegetable broth in a pan over medium heat, and add the onions. Saute for two minutes then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until onions are translucent and start to caramelize a bit. Take care not to burn the garlic, and if you are using vegetable broth instead of oil, feel free to add more as needed.
  2. Add mushrooms and Tamari to the pan with the onions and cook everything together for about 5-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are softened.
  3. Turn off heat and transfer the contents of the pan to a large bowl to cool down for a few minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200 °C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  5. In a food processor, add in the lentils, spices, flax egg, bread crumbs (or oats) and mushroom/onion mix once it has cooled a bit. Blend all ingredients together until you reach your desired consistency. I liked mine to be mostly smooth but still with some texture.
  6. Spoon out the mixture and roll them into little balls, placing them on the parchment. I would recommend creating about 15 little balls that are about the size of a golf ball. If you make fewer balls, they will likely be a bit too large and will lose some of their shape and be too soft in the middle. These definitely work out nicely when they are a tad smaller.
  7. Place the balls in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, turning once throughout.
  8. Remove from oven and toss them on your pasta, or make yourself a delicious “meat”ball sub! I made a simple dish using Banza spaghetti and marinara sauce.
  9. Enjoy!