Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

A Vegan Alfredo Attempt

What do you think of when you think of alfredo sauce? If I had to come up with 3 descriptors, they’d probably be:

  • Creamy
  • Rich
  • Buttery

Traversing through my collection of vegan cookbooks, I’ve managed to pull together some pretty good creamy vegan sauces. But pulling off rich and buttery in a vegan dish? It’s a bit more difficult – especially if you’re trying to do it without the help of vegan margarine or Daiya miracle-cheese.

So when I came across this recipe for Potato Alfredo Pasta, I knew I had to try it. The secret ingredient: potato flakes. (Not the crap-loaded ones of my youth – I was super-excited to read the ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 brand of instant potatoes. It reads: dehydrated potatoes. End of story. Yes!) Cannellini beans might also be considered a secret ingredient. (Did you know that they’re really just white kidney beans? I did not).

I stuck to the recipe faithfully, opting to use soy milk for the entire liquid portion (instead of half milk/half creamer). This recipe made a TON of sauce – enough for the 4 servings of pasta I made, plus about 1 cup left over.

I had trouble getting the sauce down to the consistency pictured in the original recipe. I added a good half cup extra of soy milk, but it was still very thick (and I ran out of room in my food processor to add any more).

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

The real question: did it fool my taste buds into thinking I was eating a dairy-based alfredo?

Hmm. Well, not really. Maybe I’m too close to the last time I ate alfredo (probably within a year), so I remember the flavor too well.

That’s not to say it was bad. It was tasty – definitely flavorful, approaching “rich.” Definitely creamy. Not my favorite sauce on the planet, but certainly a “keeper” in the recipe box.

As I was eating this dish, I was thinking about food expectations. Does this dish have to taste like the pasta alfredo of my youth to give me the same sense of comfort?

I decided that it does not. The key to my food memories with this dish is the ooey, gooey factor. This Potato Alfredo was ooey gooey, and had the familiar comforting factor of pasta, and tasted “Italian.” It made it to the right ballpark, and as such, hit the spot.

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Broccoli played the supporting role to this dish, and I went a little nuts with the whole vegan cheese theme. I made up a batch of Isa’s Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction. Nooch-based vegan cheeze sauces are kind of like a rite of passage. You’re just not cool until you have a favorite nooch-cheeze. (Nooch = nutritional yeast). I like this one! Again – I think it’s just the comfort of drenching veggies in an ooey, gooey sauce that brings the love.

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Yeah, it looks like Cheez-Whiz – but that’s not entirely a bad thing. I recall many an afternoon chowing down on tortilla chips and Cheez-Whiz as a kid. Gawd, I don’t even want to imagine the ingredient list on that stuff. Still, good memories.

So, I’d give this dinner 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Maybe a little closer to 4 stars, but not quite there. I’ll eat the leftovers, and I’ll likely make it again someday.

However, I am still in search of the perfect vegan alfredo sauce. I suspect it is just going to have to include Daiya and Earth Balance. We’ll see.

 

Real Food FTW!

Food, real food!

black bean burgerDinner consisted of black bean veggie burgers – a concoction from Emily over at The Front Burner, topped with a roasted red pepper pesto and spicy dill pickles, roasted broccoli, and roasted garlic potatoes.

The other day, when I was making the roasted potatoes with the last of my bag of ‘taters, I threw a red pepper in the oven with it. I found the perfect use for that pepper today – I made roasted red pepper pesto, loosely based on a recipe from Brendan Frazier’s Thrive book. It included 1 roasted red pepper, some basil, a couple tbsp of nutritional yeast, some sesame seeds, a tbsp of hemp oil, and a pinch of salt. I think that was it! Very tasty.

The spicy dill pickles were a farmers’ market find.

black bean burgerThe burgers were very easy to make – throw some raw oats, black beans, pumpkin seeds, and spices into the food processor, then form into patties and bake! I plan to experiment with some different spices. This burger was very savory and really didn’t need any toppings – it was that good!

broccoliThis was the first time I ever roasted broccoli. I tossed it with some olive oil and salt and pepper and stuck it in the oven with the burgers. It turned out to be the best broccoli I’ve ever had! Steamed broccoli seems flavorless to me, and raw broccoli just isn’t my favorite thing in the world. But roasting it gave it a really subtle, delicious flavor. So good!

The roasted garlic potatoes were the splurge of the plate 🙂

Kale and Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

If you would have asked me to eat a “root vegetable” last year, I’d have gagged and said no way, even though I had no idea what root vegetables were. Roots? Just sounds bad. It turns out, though, that I really like the root veggies that I’ve tried since going organic! (For the record, the root veggies in question for this recipe are onions, carrots, garlic, and sweet potatoes). Yum!

The “firsts” for me in this vegan-friendly recipe include:

  • First time I’ve cooked with or eaten kale
  • First time I’ve made beans from dried and not from a can
  • First time I’ve made soup from scratch
  • First time I’ve worn my new Asics GT 2150 running shoes

OK, so the shoes are probably irrelevant to the recipe, but they sure are comfy! And hopefully, they’ll not cause blisters the way my old gym shoes did.

The recipe below comes from Emily’s blog – The Front Burner. Check out her recap – she takes much better food photos than I do, and explains every step in detail. This soup covers a slew of nutritional bases – it’s a good source of Vitamin B6, Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese. It’s low fat, with no saturated fat and no cholesterol.

On with the cooking!

First, I should explain that I did not use canned beans for this recipe. As part of this week’s homework in the GNOWFGLINS e-course on traditional food preparation, we were to make beans from scratch. I bought some dried navy beans at Whole Foods yesterday, so to prepare for this recipe, I soaked 2/3 cup of dry beans in water with a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar. I soaked the beans overnight, then this morning, rinsed them and put them in the crock pot to cook on high for an hour then on low for 6 more hours. I added a thumb-sized chunk of kombu (a sea vegetable) to the crock pot during cooking to tenderize the beans and break down some of the sugars in them that tend to make them… gassy. Kombu also imparts some mineral goodness. By the time I was ready to cook dinner, the beans were ready to go.

The next step was to chop up carrots and a sweet potato and stick ’em in the oven to roast. They didn’t look very exciting so I didn’t take a picture.

Up next: the stranger in my fridge, Kale. (No, not Kato). Here’s what it looked like, fresh from the bunch:

kaleThe recipe instructed me to pull the leaves from the stems. I wondered all the while if I was doing it right….

Peeling kale leaves from stemsI sure had a lot of kale…. the leaves reminded me of a cross between broccoli and seaweed. (Maybe I just had seaweed on the brain from my recent trip to Whole Foods).

Next I chopped up an onion and minced some garlic and sauteed them for a few minutes before throwing in the roasted carrots and sweet potato.

Roasted veggies awaiting kaleThen, in went the vegetable broth, and then the kale. The kale was huge and fluffy in the pot! I feared I was messing the whole thing up, but I took Emily’s word for it that the kale would wilt. I covered the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, I was still pretty nervous – the kale was huge! I think I might have had a little too much kale to begin with, so I added 1 cup of water. That helped, because by the end of 10 minutes, I could stir the kale into the mix and it was starting to look like soup.

I added the seasonings and simmered for 5 more minutes (ready to jump out of my new shoes because it smelled SO GOOD!)

When the soup was done, I ladled it into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of homemade guacamole that I had in the fridge. (Emily recommends topping with chunks of avocado). I slathered some Earth Balance spread onto a slice of my homemade sourdough bread, and…

Dinner!

Kale soupAll I can say is… this soup was AWESOME!! So tasty! My first impression of kale: thumbs up! Kale is a form of cabbage, a relative of cauliflower and broccoli. It’s a highly nutritious, dark leafy green, and has good anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to have potent anti-cancer properties as well. In this soup, it tasted mild – almost sweet. It’s a hearty green – good for chewing!

For all of its nutrition, a big ol’ bowl of this soup clocks in around 235 calories. I can’t wait for the leftovers! 100% delish.

[recipe-show recipe=kale-soup]

EpicOrganic.net

Quesadillas with Stealth Ninja Squash

Another smashing success in the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment!

I made 2 more recipes out of the cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food: Chicken Quesadillas (with Stealth Ninja Butternut Squash), and Guacamole (with Stealth Ninja… well, I guess the avocados are pretty Out There with their Green Flags Flying… hmmm).

In addition to butternut squash, the quesadillas also had stealth ninja white beans! What a crazy amount of ninja going on in there!

I did not have my camera nearby, so alas, I have no photos, but the prep was super easy (and therefore not worthy of Adventure status here at Epic Organic). All I can say is – these quesadillas were wonderful and the guacamole was heavenly! I used all organic ingredients and can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Insanely delicious, and again – not a single sign of odd vegetable tastes anywhere (aside from the flamboyant avocados). If you’re a fan of chicken quesadillas, these are gooey-delicious and filling (and a great source of vitamin A!)

Here are the recipes as I prepared them, along with approximate nutrition info at the bottom of each one:

[recipe-show recipe=quesadillas-squash]

[recipe-show recipe=stealth-ninja-guacamole]

EpicOrganic.net