Tasty Mind Morsels

Nibbles and Bits for your Mind/Body/Soul Palate

September 30, 2011 October 17, 2011

Three Things That Bring Me Happiness:

1.) Planning and cooking a multi-course meal for friends

The night before I wrote this list, I enjoyed the pleasure of hosting a small dinner party at our home. Since becoming vegan in July, I have been practicing cooking vegan-friendly food and I wanted the opportunity to show off my developing skills to some “vegan-friendly” friends. 🙂

Dinner that night began with an appetizer/starter of vegan spinach dip in a sourdough bread bowl. There were a couple of things I loved about this recipe:
1.) It was EASY! It took around fifteen minutes to prepare, and
2.) The water chestnuts were the clincher. This crunchy ingredient is like tofu in that it takes on the taste of whatever you pair it with (at least, from my perspective). I usually enjoy putting artichokes in this spinach dip, but was happy I used these as artichokes are no longer in season. (Traditionally, they are in season through spring and summer.)

After copious amounts of spinach dip with fresh baguette, carrots and delicious white wine (courtesy of one of our guests), we gathered at the table for the starter course of a spiced acorn squash soup. I am quite fond of cooking soups, especially as the weather grows colder. I also enjoy cooking “in season” if I can.

I enjoy making my own vegetable stock from the vegetable cuttings I accrue over time (sealed and stored in plastic bags in my freezer until there is enough for a good, full pot of broth). Doing this not only uses every part of a vegetable to its fullest potential (saving the peels and tips of root vegetables and the trimmings from celery, fennel…and even cucumber), it creates a uniquely flavored broth each time I decide to whip up a yummy soup. As the seasons cycle through, so do the base flavors of my soups. 🙂

I followed the soup with a crisp salad of thinly sliced english cucumber (I find the seeds in regular cucumbers have a faintly sour taste), french radish,  heirloom baby tomatoes, fresh chives, lemon and olive oil. A mild, shaved salt from the farmers market topped it off with fresh cracked tri-colored pepper. No lettuce. Just lightly seasoned veggies and herbs.

For the main course, I served linguine with a vegan-friendly Piccata sauce. This sauce, I learned, is usually paired with a meat, and includes butter and (sometimes) chicken broth. What makes a Piccata sauce a Piccata sauce, in my mind, are the lemon and capers. A friend suggested I add olives and broccolini, as well. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  •  1 small jar of capers, with a small amount of the juice reserved
  • 4 Meyer lemons, juiced (I love how sweet these lemons are)
  •  8 oz of pitted kalamata olives, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 TBSP Earth Balance Natural Spread (made of various vegetable oils but has the consistency of – and cooks like – butter)
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • white wine for flavor if desired (I used a bit of the wine reserved to accompany the meal)
  • 1 bunch of broccolini or swiss chard, chopped (I used broccolini for lack of experience cooking chard) 😉
  • 1 package of a linguine of your choice, cooked al dente (I like to use quinoa pasta, for that extra protein boost, but any pasta will do)

Directions

  • In a large pan on medium heat so as to not burn the garlic, cook Earth Balance and garlic until transparent
  • (at this point, if you want a thicker sauce, you may want to consider adding a few TBSP’s of flour with a bit of olive oil until there is a paste of sorts in the pan)
  • Add vegetable broth a little at a time and then lemon juice – and a splash of white wine if you want to include this flavor in the sauce
  • Take a sip of white wine because…good lord this is smelling good…
  • Stir the sauce over medium heat for a minute or so to thicken some more, then add capers with juice
  • Add broccolini and cook until it turns a pretty, bright green color (about a minute)
  • Pour sauce over linguine and toss
  • Serve pasta with vegan-friendly parmesan and minced kalamata olives as topping choices
  • Serve

Our other guests cooked a vegan chocolate cake with a whipped, coconut cream frosting for dessert. DE-LICIOUS. As I was not the one who made this incarnation of yumminess, I do not have the recipe…  😦

Note to reader: For this five-course meal for six people, Markus and I only paid sixty dollars. SIXTY DOLLARS! For SIX PEOPLE!  Albeit we did not have to buy the ingredients for the cake or pay for wine, this was indeed a sweet deal. And everyone was completely full by the end of the night.

May I also note that all of our ingredients (except for the baguette and carrot sticks) were from Whole Foods (often lovingly called “Whole Paycheck”) or the farmers market – which further proves that you can buy an abundance of food for a very fair price if you shop smart – even at a pricey grocery store. 😉

2.) Baby nicknames

My sister just had her second child, my niece, Molly. We call her “nugget.” She is our little nugget. ❤

3.) T-shirts that speak to my inner-music nerd

…And I very much want this t-shirt, offered by Boosey & Hawkes in honor of Steve Reich’s 75th birthday (photo from Boosey & Hawkes’ website).

http://community.boosey.com/reich75/

This speaks to my inner-music-nerd self.

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5 Responses to “September 30, 2011”

  1. kim g. Says:

    Sounds like such a yummy dinner! So glad you liked the spinach dip.

  2. Jenn German Says:

    I have a shirt that says nugget because that is one of my favorite words!!

  3. […] I pulled some homemade veggie broth I had made months ago and jarred – a mixture of vegetable trimmings from various adventures in my […]


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