Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mushrooms Stuffed with Polenta and Pesto

This odd photo depicts my contribution to our upcoming choir potluck: large-sized crimini mushrooms stuffed with creamy polenta and topped with sundried tomato and walnut pesto. They are in the fridge now and I plan to grill them shortly before heading out there.

Making these babies was a multistep process, but it was very worthwhile. The first thing to do is obtain 20 mid-sized crimini mushrooms, separate the mushroom caps from the stems, and marinate the former in some diluted soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos. Then, move on to Step Two, which is:

The Making of the Pesto

This pesto recipe comes from Psalm Lewis's wonderful vegan protein workshop. It tastes surprisingly flavorful and pesto-ey, despite having very different ingredients than the original. You'll need:

1 little jar of sundried tomatoes
1 medium-sized tomato
1/2 cup walnuts
the mushroom stems from Part I
1 date
handful of basil leaves
spooonful of chopped garlic (3-4 cloves)
a drizzle of olive oil (I use the oil that the tomatoes come packed in)
salt, and zest from one lemon

Mix all ingredients in a food processor, save for the salt and zest, by pulsing until they become a chunky paste. Add salt and zest and combine. Set aside, and move to Step Three, which is:

The making of the Polenta 

For this, you'll need:

1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups water
1 spoonful vegan butter
1 spoonful of the pesto you made in Step Two
a bit of salt

Follow the instructions for kalenta, except with no kale, and add our special pesto in lieu of the regular one. Then move on to Step Four, which is:

The Stuffing and Refrigerating of the Mushrooms

Place mushrooms on baking sheet that can fit in your fridge. Spoon polenta into each mushroom to completely fill the hole, then spoon a bit of the pesto on top (you'll be left with some polenta and pesto, and that's not a bad thing at all.) After a period of refrigeration, the polenta will harden and the mushrooms will travel better wherever you're taking them. Which brings us to Step Five, which is:

The Grilling of the Mushrooms

Place them under the grill for 5-10 mins, or as desired, or just bake in a 350-degree oven until the mushrooms feel cooked but still solid.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Pasta Bake

Today's the day we get our fresh vegetables from Albert and Eve, and before the shipment arrives I try to make something fabulous to use the leftovers. This time I had a package of chard and four zucchinis, so here's what happened:

5 cups dry short pasta (ziti, elbows, etc.--I used brown rice elbows and lentil spirals)
1 tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, chopped
4 zucchini
1 package of chard
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes or Pomi
1 heaping tbsp dry oregano
6 basil leaves
2 big handfuls cashews
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 more garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp vegan mozarella (I use Miyoko's)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil water in a big pot and cook the pasta until al dente. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, in a big wok, heat up olive oil and sautee garlic. Cube zucchini and add, sauteeing for three or four more minutes. Meanwhile, cut chard into little pieces. Add chard, tomato, oregano, and basil, and cook until soft.
In a blender, place cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic cloves, and vegan mozarella. Blend until creamy.
Drain pasta and mix with vegetables. Add white sauce and mix well to coat. Pour into two baking pans (for quiche or pie) and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is a bit crispy.