Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge: Vegetarian and vegan meals

Hello friends! Happy's beautiful here in Iowa, so I hope it's also nice in your neck of the woods.

I'm trying to have a pretty productive day. I'm having a party tomorrow (a Harry Potter viewing party...we're getting together to watch the first installment of the seventh book so that we're all prepared when the second installment comes out next month), so that means a little cleaning on top of everything else I have planned. Here's the short list:

Wash kitchen and bathroom floors

Pick up living room and sweet-talk fiance into vacuuming it

Run into work


Make jam with the fiance (strawberry!)


Work on classes for fall

Long bike ride

As you can see, I've gotten some stuff done, and now I'm eating lunch while blogging to save time. While I digest, I can do the cleaning, and then the floors can dry while I'm biking. The best part is that this evening, we're going to grill out, and the grillmaster has approved my request for him to grill some red peppers for me. Yummmmmm.

Speaking of yummy and vegetarian things, I have some brand new recipes to share with you. These are vegetarian and adaptations are provided for the vegan crowd.

 First up, Spaghetti Legumese. This is my vegan rip-off of Spaghetti Bolognese...a meat-rich tomato-ey dish that I actually really think is delicious. Unfortunately, it upsets my stomach really, really badly. As in, I cannot eat the real thing. Fortunately, this vegan dish tastes fantastic and fails to irritate my stomach the way the original does.

Replacing the meat in this dish is a rich sauce of tomato, lentil, and portabello mushrooms. I think the trick is to add extra salt and spice to prevent it from being bland. Also, use slightly undercooked lentils. Otherwise mush ensues.

Spaghetti Legumese

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
1 pint portabello mushrooms
32 oz diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups cooked lentils
1/4 c tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp fennel
Salt to taste
1 tbsp italian seasoning (salt free, or mix of oregano, rosemary, and basil)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb spaghetti (I used whole grain, but you can use whatever)

Heat olive oil in pan and saute onion and garlic together. Add lentils and spices and cook until fragrant and slightly dry. Add mushrooms and allow them to reduce and release water. Add 1/2 cup water, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Taste. Add sugar if necessary. Allow to cook together while the water boils and spaghetti cooks. Pull out spaghetti when still slightly undercooked. Transfer directly to pan of sauce, and stir to prevent clumping. Finish with 2 ladlefuls (1 cup?) of pasta water to thicken. 

If you like (and are not vegan) you can add some grated or shaved parmesan on top. 

When you're done with dinner, you'll want to have some dessert. This one is a winner. It's so good that it was gone in 24 hours and was requested again this week. It's also vegetarian and can easily be converted to vegan with some small modifications.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake. This recipe is foolproof. I just winged it, had never made an upside down cake in my life, and just wanted something sweet. I didn't care if it didn't turn out. But, then it did turn out. And boy, it was amazing. So juicy and moist that it didn't even need ice cream.

Also, funny story. I'm midwestern all the way. Born and bred. The fiance is a little bit more worldly and comes from the east coast. I had never made a pineapple upside-down cake, but friends parents had made it. I had always seen it made with crushed pineapple, but evidently this is rather de-classe' and all the cool people make it with pineapple rings and, preferrably, those gross maraschino cherries (ick!). I didn't know. Which reminds me of the time I made my first meatloaf (can you tell I grew up in a health food household), and I had never even seen a meatloaf made. So what did I do? I mixed the meatloaf mixture and piled it up on a sheet pan in a mound. The fiance almost died laughing when he explained that most people use a bread pan. I didn't know. It tasted good...

Back to cake.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake
1 16 oz can of pineapple (chunks, crushed, or decide) canned in juice
1/4 c butter (see end of recipe for vegan modifications)
1.5 tbsp good rum
1/2 c sugar (real sugar is a must)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c almond flour (easily any flour you want it to be)
1/2 c whole wheat flour (see note on previous)
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c milk (vegan mods at end)
1 egg (vegan mods at end)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Drain pineapple and save juices. In 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan, melt butter (I just stuck it in the oven for a minute) and stir in 1/2 c sugar, 1.5 tbsp rum, and pineapple. It should take up 1/2 the pan. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, salt) and add wet ingredients (sugar, egg, butter, milk, vanilla) add 1/4 c of drained pineapple juices and stir just to combine. This should be a pretty soupy mixture. Pour on top of pineapple mixture in baking pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until cake pulls away from sides and is firm to the touch in the center. Remove the pan from the oven and wait 5 minutes. Invert on a cake platter or dinner plate. Serve warm or cold (good both ways!). 

Vegan modifications: 

Butter - Earth Balance is a commercially available vegan spread, but I think you could also use Coconut Butter, which would give it a delicious Pina Colada-esque taste. I'm trying this next time!

Milk - Water, Soy, or Almond Milk would be great. I think Almond milk would play well off the almond flour. 

Egg - Flax egg or chia. 1 tbsp ground flax or chia in 1/4 c water. Allow to stand until thickened. Use this as 1 egg. 

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. I have a quick picture montage of how this went over with my family...specifically Lyra.

"Eew. I hate all things tomato. And the lack of meat is upsetting to me!"
"...but I will scavenge your cheese."

 Da-duh, Da-duh (Jaws theme -look in the background for a blurry black and white image).
Da-duh, da-duh,da-duh,da-duh NOMPH!

She got in trouble for that one. She's a strange one. She likes cake and spinach. 

Have a great afternoon!


  1. I'm with you on the crushed pineapples. rings are very...stepford wives-ish. and as for the cherries, double ick. the artificial colors are derived from the cochineal beetle (used in several other foods I'm sure). but I'm sure you already knew that, smarty mcfly!

  2. You could totally use coconut milk + coconut butter for a really delicious pineapple upside down cake! YUM....I am totally going to make that soon!