vodka sauce with heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms

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I’m pretty sure I broke just about every rule in Italian cooking tonight. I made vegan vodka sauce and I used heirloom tomatoes, almond milk, and nutritional yeast to do it. Not only that, I put eggplants and mushrooms in the sauce. I can just hear all the Italian grandmas rolling over in their graves! But since I’m not Italian (I’m American-Cypriot), I’m not going to worry about it, and I’ll just enjoy my pasta!

My kitchen counter was overflowing today with tomatoes from my garden. I have a few san marzanos, a ton of heirlooms, and even more little yellow pear tomatoes. I knew that I needed to do something about this situation pretty quickly before the tomatoes went bad. I’ve already given away so many that people run away from me when they see me coming… I initially decided to make a tomato sauce that I could freeze for later, but as I started looking up recipes, I started thinking about vodka sauce. I’m not a huge fan of tomato and marinara sauces, but I do love a good vodka sauce! If I order pasta with sauce at a restaurant, it is almost always vodka sauce. I love the creamy, tomato-y (is that a word?) taste and for whatever reason, it doesn’t give me heartburn the way any other tomato sauce does.

A lot of the vegan vodka sauce recipes I googled called for using a jar of spaghetti sauce (seriously?) or needed cashew cream, soy creamer, mashed beans, etc. , things I wasn’t interested in getting involved in tonight. I finally found a recipe that called for almond milk and nutritional yeast as a substitute for heavy cream. Did I mention that I already had the onions, eggplant, mushroom, and tomatoes cooking in the pan before I decided to switch to vodka sauce? Yeah, after spending all that time trying to find vegan vodka sauce, I decided to give up and make plain old tomato sauce. Then halfway through, I grabbed my bottle of vodka, dumped it into the sauce and then I didn’t have a choice! Shockingly, it turned out quite well. It was creamy and tomato-y and I loved it with the eggplant and mushrooms. I will definitely be making this again!

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vodka sauce with heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms

adapted from Tomato Vodka Sauce on about.com

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant (or two small ones), diced
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8-10 fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 basil leaves, torn by hand
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and have an ice bath standing nearby. Score an X into the bottom of each tomato. Gently lower the tomatoes into the boiling water. Boil for 30-60 seconds until skin begins to peel away. Remove and place in ice bath. When tomatoes have cooled, peel off the skin — you can use a paring knife for the hard to remove bits. Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, and garlic and continue to sauté until lightly browned. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the fresh tomatoes and torn basil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken. Add vodka and simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken. Stir in maple syrup and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add almond milk and nutritional yeast and stir well to combine. Simmer for another 5 minutes until sauce thickens to your desired consistency, adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve hot over pasta of choice and enjoy!

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shiitake and scallion japchae

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Japchae is a Korean noodle dish that you can make as simple or as complicated as you want. I chose to go simple last night and used shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and bean sprouts as my accompaniment to the bean threads. Bean threads are also known as Chinese vermicelli, glass noodles, cellophane noodles, crystal noodles and more. They are sold in a dry form and then boiled to reconstitute them to use in stir fries, soups, or spring rolls. When cooked, they become almost clear, glass-like. They don’t have any taste on their own, but they absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. Continue reading

mushroom, potato, barley soup

It’s July and I made soup for dinner. We’ve been having some unseasonably mild weather lately, so I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and make some soup. I have been doing a lot of food blog surfing, looking for good vegan recipes to inspire me and I found a great one here. I made some variations since I wanted to use what I had on hand, and you already know I don’t usually bother with measuring unless absolutely necessary.  Continue reading

japanese-inspired brown rice with mushrooms and tofu

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I’ll spare you the long story of how I ended up with the inspiration for tonight’s dinner. I’ll just say that it started with Starbuck’s new orange spiced iced coffee and ended with me stumbling across a great Japanese food blog and this recipe for mushroom rice. I plan to visit this blog often for future meal ideas!

I love mushrooms. In fact, they may be my favorite vegetable, if you can call them that. I tend to gravitate towards items on a menu that have mushrooms in them. When I found the recipe for mushroom rice and knew I still had some fresh shiitake in my fridge, there was no question what I would be making tonight. I varied from the original recipe because my eating plan requires using brown rice instead of white. I also didn’t have any sake on hand, so I added extra mirin. (With all the alcohol that I have in my house, I was quite surprised not to find any sake. This will be remedied soon!)  Continue reading

vegan stir fry, asian-style

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Today’s lunch was one of those happy, unplanned meals. I was fully prepared to make a salad with beans or wheat berries or something along those lines this afternoon. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up a few staples for my VB6 pantry (see my previous post). I wanted to grab a few mushrooms in the produce section and discovered that they had fresh shiitake today. I have been looking for dried ones for a while because I’m out, and I have a few Japanese dishes I want to make that call for shiitake. I was quite happy to find the fresh ones since Asian produce is pretty sparse in this area. I also picked up some bean sprouts and tofu.  Continue reading

farm fresh summer pasta ii

Farm fresh grab bag, take two! The purpose of tonight’s dinner was to make use of the big yellow pear tomato harvest from my garden. I thought they would be really good over my leftover pasta, so it evolved from there.

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Ingredients from:

  • my garden – yellow pear tomatoes, Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes, basil, and parsley
  • my CSA – green onion, white onion, corn
  • farmer’s market – garlic
  • my pantry/fridge – kalamata olives, mushrooms, anari (cheese from Cyprus), leftover pasta

Saute the garlic and white onion in olive oil, add the corn. After a few minutes, add the tomatoes, mushrooms, green onion and olives.  Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste, and the juice of one lemon. Saute a few more minutes until the tomatoes begin to burst from their skins. I used leftover pasta so I threw it in the pan with everything else to warm it up. If you’re using freshly cooked pasta, turn the heat off after you add the pasta. Top with grated cheese, fresh parsley and basil.