Chickpea Noodles with Garlic Tomato Sauce

I’ve followed Vegan Richa for a while now and finally decided to try a few of her dishes this week. The Hubs is from Scotland and apparently curry is the national dish in the U.K. Y’all tell me if I’m wrong. We always make curries but never really make anything else that’s Indian inspired. So, last night I tried her recipe: vegan chickpea noodles with garlic tomato sauce.

A while ago I bought a bag of chickpea flour. I was looking for gluten-free alternatives to regular wheat flour and was curious about cooking with chickpea flour. The smallest bag I could find was a 2kg bag (that’s almost 4.5lbs). After having it for several months, I’ve finally put a huge dent in it! I have the flour and I wanted to make something using it. So why not try chickpea noodles?

Working with chickpea flour in the past, I’ve learned that it can be a sticky S.O.B. when mixed with water. It will almost turn into a glue if you’re not careful. So, if you’re ever working with chickpea flour I suggest that you soak all of the dishes that you used before washing. If you don’t soak them, the chickpea dough/mixture will harden and turn to something I liken to cement on your dishes and utensils.

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At first I put some parchment paper on a baking sheet thinking that would be enough. However, she suggests using two pieces of parchment paper instead of what I started out doing.

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I ended up doing what she did. I thought it would be best to follow the recipe since I’ve never done this before, and I got worried that one piece of parchment wouldn’t be enough.

You start out by mixing the chickpea flour with water and mix everything together.

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Don’t worry if it looks too watery because it’ll thicken up as soon at it feels heat. Later on you’re going to cook the mixture in a pan until it thickens up.

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I did the exact opposite. I did worry and ended up adding a bit more chickpea flour. That’s probably why my mixture turned out SO thick.

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That was ok though. Next you’ll spread the mixture out on the parchment paper to cool and then get to work on your garlic tomato sauce.

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Mine was a little difficult to spread out evenly because it was so thick, but that was my fault. If you follow the recipe, your mixture might spread out better than my concoction.

She says to use 3 1/2 cups of tomatoes. I have no idea how many cups I used. I used the tomatoes from our garden that were sitting on the island, and the rest of some grape tomatoes I had in the fridge.

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I chopped up the garden tomatoes and threw them in the food processor. Now here comes the easy part. You put your tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and pepper in the food processor and let it go. I just used basil because oregano and thyme don’t agree with me. If you want to make it simple, you can just use Italian seasoning.

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And voilá you have homemade pasta sauce! Pretty cool huh? Because this is a garlic tomato sauce, you will be adding five cloves. Keep in mind that you’re not cooking the garlic first, which in my opinion cooking first cuts the rawness and the tendency of being spicy that garlic has. (Read the NY Times article. It’s pretty good!) If you love the way raw garlic tastes, then go ahead and proceed. If you don’t like too much garlic (I don’t but decided to follow the recipe this time), you can mince your cloves and cook them in a small pan until they just start to turn brown or you can cut down the amount of cloves you use.

When you’re finished, you pour the sauce into a small pot and heat it up on the stove. At this point you can add the tomato paste to thicken it up. She suggests using 1Tbsp but I ended up using the whole can. It depends on your preference really. Do you like a thicker tomato sauce or a thinner tomato sauce? My preference is not to have it thicker. Then you add salt and a sweetener if you wish.

When that’s done, you can take a pizza cutter or knife to slice your chickpea noodles.

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The consistency of my noodles were a bit gelatinous. Again, that’s because my mixture was too thick. Yours might end up looking prettier and thinner than mine if you follow the recipe like you’re supposed to. Sigh. I sliced mine and then cut them in half and had a good amount for the three of us.

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The dish was good but the sauce needs some work. It could be the type of tomatoes I was using, but next time I’ll leave the sauce on the stove a little bit longer so more of the water will evaporate. If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, you can also use a can of crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes. Also, I definitely won’t be using five cloves. Raw garlic tends to have a spicy taste to it and I was burping garlic all night last night. It’s not attractive when you want to kiss your significant other. You can mince the cloves, cook them down a bit, and then add them if you want. I might try that the next time I make this dish. I think if there wasn’t so much of the garlic, or if the garlic was cooked, the acidity of the sauce would’ve been cut down a lot. As it was last night, it was really acidic…even after adding LOTS of salt. The little one had a few bites of this dish and said “no” and wouldn’t eat it. I expected him to do that so that was ok.

All-in-all, I would definitely give this recipe another shot. I’ll make the chickpea mixture thinner and work on the sauce a bit more. I’m not giving up on this!

Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce and Spinach

Soooooooo, I got confused the last time I posted. The last time I posted I said we’d be out-of-town this week. I must’ve been really looking forward to getting away because it’s next week that we’re going. Sigh. Oh well. That just gives me more time to think of what foods to take with us.

I’ve already decided that we’ll be taking my oats, cinnamon, the little ones vegan yogurt, vegan cheese, apples and bananas (as a snack), the little ones dairy-free animal crackers and snacks, the salt and pepper shaker, dishwasher tabs, and some olive oil. Why dishwasher tabs? The place we’re staying at is basically an apartment, and I think they provide you with one tab. I don’t want to go out and buy more tabs when we’ve got a boat load here at the house.

So, on to last night’s supper. We had Penne with Red Pepper Sauce and Spinach from Chef Michael Smith. I remembered that the Hubs loves this dish, so I added it to my menu when I was flipping through my cookbook.

The hero of the recipe is the red bell pepper. However, I’m not a huge fan of them. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. Something about the taste just doesn’t scream at me. That’s not to say I won’t eat them though. I’ll cook and eat them all the time. Red bell peppers are green bell peppers that are ripened. It’s harder for your body to digest green ones because they’re not fully ripe. If you’ve ever noticed that green peppers are cheaper than red or yellow ones, that’s why. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and saw a green pepper with a patch that’s starting to turn red or a red pepper with a few green patches? It’s because the green pepper is starting to ripen and the red pepper hasn’t fully ripened just yet. Red peppers have a sweet taste and are loaded with nutrients. They’re packed with vitamin C, B6, and A among other nutrients.

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According to my Flavor Thesaurus, she says:

Green peppers are immature red peppers. Green and red differ substantially in flavor but for the purposes of concision share one chapter here. Yellow and orange have more in common with the flavor or red than with green. As you might imagine from an unripe fruit, green peppers are more bitter and have a fresher, grassier flavor than the heat-ripened red, which is sweeter and fruitier. They can sometimes, but not always, be substituted for one another, although you wouldn’t stuff a bitter olive with green pepper, and red peppers don’t have quite the freshening quality that makes green so good in a stir-fry.

So, for the recipe he says to start out with four red bell peppers. I only used two. You chop your peppers, onions, and garlic and toss them into a bowl. He says to use a whole head of garlic, but I can’t take that much so I think I only used five cloves. Then you poor in 1/4 cup of olive oil along with 2tbsp of fennel seeds.

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Fennel seeds have a slight licorice/anise flavor and I’ve run across it a lot in Italian dishes. Fennel is discussed under the Anise chapter in the Flavor Thesaurus:

Anise seeds and fennel seeds share a primary flavor compound, anethol. They can be adequately substituted for one another, but what difference obtains between them is most noticeable when you nibble them straight from the jar–where anise seeds are sweet enough to please a licorice eater, fennel seeds are less sweet and greener, somehow more rustic.

You toss the fennel seeds in and make sure everything is coated. Then you put them in a pan, baking sheet, whatever you please, and roast them at 350 for 1 hour.

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Doesn’t all of that look pretty? I posted on my Instagram account yesterday that too bad there isn’t a Smellagram because the smell coming from the oven was SO delicious!

When it’s done, he suggests using an immersion blender or food processor to get all of this to turn into a sauce. Personally, I couldn’t see how an immersion blender would work even though the vegetables were soft from roasting. So I just threw everything together in the food processor and did it that way.

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This is the point where I got worried that there wouldn’t be enough sauce because I only used two peppers. Thankfully we had just enough. Next time I’ll follow the recipe and use four because it does say it serves 4-6 people.

When you have your desired consistency, taste for salt and pepper. Then get to work on your pasta. While my pasta was cooking, I rinsed some spinach and then put my sauce in a little pot to reheat.

The recipe says “Toss the hot pasta with the reheated red pepper sauce and the baby spinach and serve immediately.” I didn’t do that. When my pasta was done, I dished it out, put some sauce on top, and then added the spinach and stirred everything together. It took a while for the spinach to wilt in the plate. So, if you’re trying this recipe, maybe toss the spinach in with the sauce when you’re reheating it. The spinach should wilt better and faster that way.

The recipe was easy to make and it was good. The little one ate all of his and the Hubs went back for seconds. There was nothing left for lunch today. *sad face* That’s not a problem though. I’m glad everyone liked supper last night. I wouldn’t suggest this as a dish to make if you’re in a hurry or have lots going on that night. The process is simple but the vegetables do take an hour to roast. Other than that, and maybe adding the spinach in with the sauce to reheat, this dish is really good. You should try it!

Southwestern Sweet Potato Soup

Let’s see what’s happened since I last posted. Our ninth wedding anniversary was last Wednesday. Yep. We’ve been married for nine years (the Hubs likes to say he’d get less for murder) and this month marks eight years that I’ve been living in Canada.

For our anniversary, I made the Hubs and the little one a ground beef and Italian sausage lasagna and the Hubs made me a vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake. My meat-loving husband doesn’t get to eat meat too much so I figured I’d make him something sinful and full of meat. As far as the cake goes, THAT was all chocolately sinful goodness. I think over the weekend I had three slices of it just for lunch.

The rest of the week I can’t really remember what happened. I do remember recycling recipes for those last days though. So I didn’t have anything too interesting to post about. This week the Hubs is out in Nova Scotia so it’s just me and the little one. I’ve tried to pick easy recipes and some are recycled so I might not post as often this week. Next week we’re going to Canmore for vacation. The both of us could really do with a vacation. I’ll post while we’re there and tell y’all about places I/we eat, even though we’ve booked a long-stay hotel room that’s basically like an apartment. We’ll be staying at Copperstone Resort. We stayed there last year when my Mom came up to visit and we liked it. It’s not in town but that’s ok.

So, about last night’s recipe. I made Southwestern Sweet Potato Soup from Chef Michael Smith’s cookbook The Best of Chef At Home: Essential Recipes For Today’s Kitchen. He’s an American chef living in the Maritimes in Canada (Prince Edward Island I think). I have to give a shout out to a fellow American when I can!

I didn’t think that I would be able to go into details about the recipe but I guess it’s been a while since the book was published so it’s now online. Now I can really go in to detail about it. Yay!

The recipe starts out by suggesting you preheat your oven. If you’re like me, I had no idea why and I scanned the recipe like five times to figure out why. It wasn’t until about five minutes ago that I found out why: to heat up the tortillas. I didn’t use any tortillas. I used tortilla chips to crush and put on top of the soup.

If you want to veganize the recipe, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. He also says to grate two large sweet potatoes. I had little ones so I used four of those. I started to grate them but if I grated all of them, I would’ve been there all night. Sweet potatoes aren’t the easiest of vegetables to grate. So half way through the second sweet potato, I ended up cutting them up into small cubes so they’d cook faster.

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You’ll sauté your onions and garlic cloves. He says to start with the onions and then throw in the garlic because garlic burns faster. We all know garlic burns faster, but for me it never clicked until last night. I’ll make sure to do this every time I cook from here on out.

When your onions and garlic are done cooking, throw in the sweet potatoes, broth, pepper (if you’re using it), cinnamon, cumin, and salt. Now, I don’t know about you but I never thought of using cinnamon for a southwestern dish. It just doesn’t seem to go, right? You usually think of spices like cumin or paprika or chili powder. However, the cinnamon works. Don’t ask me how. It just works. Trust me.

I think I let my pot simmer for about 30 minutes to make sure the sweet potatoes were done. Then you get your immersion blender and go to town.

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I had to add quite a bit of salt even though the recipe says a “sprinkle or two of salt.” Do yours to taste. I love my salt. I also didn’t use sour cream or any of the garnish. I was pushing it for time and I forgot to add vegan sour cream to my weekly shopping list. Oops! Instead, I just crushed a handful of tortilla chips on top as a garnish.

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That’s the little one’s bowl. I added a few more tortilla chips on the side to scoop up any soup. The little one ate almost all of his and the Hubs liked it. I was iffy on it because of the cinnamon, but they both liked it. I let the little one do a taste test and he kept saying “MORE!” so I knew it had to be good. And it was!

The soup was quick and easy to make and it was perfect for yesterday. It just felt like a soup day. The sun was warm but the air has a hint of fall in it. I love fall, but that’s for another post.

If you want soup that’s no fuss (you can kick back on the couch while it simmers), then this is your dish. If you have the time to grate the sweet potatoes, then by all means do it. If you don’t have time (like I did) or don’t have the patience (like I do), then chop them up into cubes.

Enjoy!!

Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Cashew Cream Pasta

Last night’s supper was quick, refreshing, easy, light, and perfect for a hot summer’s night. It involved some fresh tomatoes from the garden, cashews, and pasta. What’s not to love with that combination? Ok, maybe a glass of wine would be nice to add.

I found this recipe on One Green Planet, but it’s originally from The Friendly Fig. One of the great things about this recipe is that the cashew nuts don’t have to soak for four hours. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget to soak my cashews for four hours when I have a recipe that involves the long period of soaking. Then I have to cook another recipe I had planned for later in the week and then soak the cashews for the next day. This recipe says you only need to let them soak for 10-15 minutes! What’s the next best thing you ask? I made this dish in 20 minutes!! Yep. You read right. I was done in 20 minutes.

I started out by soaking the cashew nuts, and then I washed my lovely tomatoes. I used two from the garden, two from the store, and a handful of grape tomatoes.

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I diced up the four big tomatoes but left the grape tomatoes intact for a bit of contrast, and because I felt like it. Actually, I was too lazy to dice those little bitty tomatoes.

You sauté the tomatoes and minced garlic together, taking care not to burn the garlic. Then toss the cashews into a food processor with lemon juice, a garlic clove, and some salt and pepper. The recipe didn’t call for any water and I thought that was a bit odd because most recipes that call for processing cashews usually call for water to help it along.

I didn’t add any at first and found that my mixture didn’t want to blend too well. So in the end, I did add some water.

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Once it’s at your desired consistency, toss it in with the tomatoes and garlic. Mix it all up and let it simmer so all of the flavors can mingle with each other, and so you can get your pasta going. Also, you might want to add in some basil (if you have any on hand).

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This dish was fantastic in its simplicity. It was super easy to make, and super fast. If you want to make it even faster, you can use canned diced tomatoes, but I’d probably drain it first. The Hubs went back for seconds and the little one ate every single bite. It’s even excellent for lunch the next day!

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If you don’t have a whole lot of time to make dinner during the week, or if you just don’t feel like making what you have picked out, this recipe is perfect. You can use canned diced tomatoes, any kind of pasta of your liking, and you can even throw in some other spices and herbs!

I’m Back and with A Roasted Tomato Herb Quiche!

Well, did y’all miss me? I certainly miss you! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? It’s been about two months and A LOT has happened in that timeframe! I wasn’t even sure if I could remember the password to my blog! I don’t think I even cracked open the laptop. Well, that’s a lie. I did an update with Chrome and got fed up because it took two days to do. Then, I was doing some research for my Mom who is getting married in Charleston, S.C. next April!! Like I said A LOT has happened!

First, the in-laws from Scotland came for a visit, then the Hubs’ Uncle and Aunt from Toronto joined us for Father’s Day, then we had a week to ourselves after they all left, and then my Mom came with her finance.

I decided to cook a lot of vegan food for my mother-in-law. She has certain foods that don’t agree with her and I have foods that don’t agree with me, so it was a challenge but I did it. I dare say most of the stuff I made she liked! I was happy to cook for her and show her the different dishes you can make while eating a plant-based diet. I think my mother-in-law maintained her weight the three weeks while they were here.

My Mom, on the other hand, liked a few of the vegan dishes I made. Other than that, she cooked Korean food and didn’t think I was getting enough protein because I’m not eating meat. So, I had fish while she was here to keep her happy. If any of y’all out there have a VERY strong-willed Mother, you do what she says…even if you’re 35 years old.

After all of the visits, I’ve been trying to get my stomach back to normal. For the longest time I was snacking on tortilla chips and  other junk every night. Then I was getting to the point where I wasn’t feeling too great and had to do a detox. I’m finally back to normal and have lost the two pounds I gained while everyone was here. OH! I also found out that dried apricots DO NOT make my stomach happy. Holy that was an episode to endure and one I don’t care to experience again! I had dried apricots before and they didn’t agree with me then, but I wanted to make sure and I am now definitely sure.

So, it’s back to normal now. We’re all back to our old routines except I haven’t been running in two months. Our fridge has finally been cleaned of the last remnants of the visitors. Although, I do have a tiny bit of my Mom’s kimchi left. I need to ask her how she made it so I can make some myself.

Last night, we had a roasted tomato and herb quiche even though it was like 100 degrees out. I exaggerate. It was about 28C out, which is 82F. You folks back home in the South might chuckle, but that’s hot for Alberta standards. Besides, there’s no humidity for the heat to cut through so the sun feels hotter.

So, I made the quiche in a hot kitchen last night anyways. The recipe from One Green Planet (which is actually from Sprouts & Chocolate) was done in three steps. First you have to roast the tomatoes, second you bake the crust, and then you bake the quiche.

You slice some tomatoes and bake them at 400 for about 20 minutes. I used one tomato from my little tomato garden that the little one picked.

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While those were roasting, you can go ahead and work on the crust. You put some oats, flax seed egg, walnuts (or pine nuts), and olive oil in a food processor and whiz it up. I actually had to add some water to make the mixture form a kind of dough. The recipe does say you might have to add some.

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You pour the mixture into a pan of your choice and press it on the bottom and then up the sides. This part took me a while to do and I don’t think my crust was even on the bottom. But you know what? That’s ok. In my opinion, the uneven crust makes it genuinely homemade. You know? In the photo below, you can see it wasn’t even going up the sides either.

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When you’re done, you poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork and then pop it in the oven for 14-16 minutes at 375. I think I let mine sit in there for the full 16 minutes.

While the crust is baking and your tomatoes are cooling, you get to work on the filling. Remember the last post I did about cleaning leeks? I gave some tips on how to clean a leek. I’m glad I found that information out because if I didn’t know, I would have totally missed all of the dirt from last night’s leek.

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Once you’ve chopped up your clean leek, go ahead and mince the five garlic cloves and put it in a small dish. I suggest mincing the cloves ahead of time because once you start cooking your leek, you won’t have time to mince one clove after another and clean the garlic press after each clove. I learned that the hard way and had to take the pan off the eye so I wouldn’t burn anything. I also only used four cloves. I just couldn’t handle that much garlic.

Then you get your tofu. The recipe starts out by saying you should drain, slice, and press out the water from your tofu first. I didn’t do that but that doesn’t mean you have to do what I did. It just all depends on what you’re comfortable with. I sliced my tofu into four blocks and then pressed each block with a kitchen towel to get the water out. I wasn’t concerned with maintaining the shape because you’re just going to throw it in the food processor anyway.

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After I pressed the water out, I crumbled the tofu into the food processor with lemon juice. The recipe calls for nutritional yeast but I didn’t use it because unfortunately I can’t have it (cue sad face).

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To me, it’s just aesthetically pleasing to see tofu like this: right after going through a round with the food processor and it’s all completely smooth.

I scooped it all out and put it in a bowl, and then mixed in the basil, chives, salt, and pepper.

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When everything is mixed together, scoop it into your crust and top it with the roasted tomatoes. Pop it in the oven at 375 for 35-40 minutes. I let mine bake for 35 minutes because I was cutting it close with time.

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You’re supposed to top it with some basil, but I forgot and used all of the basil for the filling. That’s ok though. This quiche is really good. We all sat out on the deck and had supper last night. The little one loved his with ketchup, because he loves ketchup with everything. Then we all had some chocolate coconut ice cream from So Delicious! This was the perfect dinner to end a wonderful, hot, and sunny weekend. Y’all have to try it!