Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: A Late (but good) Dinner

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Late (but good) Dinner

Some good friends of ours are getting married pretty soon (in May!), and so last night the groom to be was going to drop off our invitations and chat for a just a bit. Well that bit turned into many hours of fine conversation on topics ranging from climate change to peak oil to weight training. So we didn’t end up eating dinner until after 9 last night. I was smart (without knowing it really) as since I knew he was coming over, I went ahead and prepped all my ingredients, so I’d essentially just have to throw the meal together when we were ready to eat. I am so happy I did as it would have been really late when we ate otherwise. We held out though thanks to the loveliness that is Chocolate Hemp Milk. I was ecstatic at watching Brett go to town on Hemp Milk!

So I made an Italian Veggie Casserole. The recipe didn’t call for enough veggies in my opinion, and I wanted to use different noodles and spices, so as usual I went my own way with this. You can find the original recipe I adapted this from over at VegWeb.

J’s Italian Veggie Casserole

1 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
1/4 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/4 butternut squash, cubed
3-4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 rounded teaspoon basil
2 rounded teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 package kamut spiral pasta
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
Panko bread crumbs (I used about 1/2 cup you could use more)
Vegan Rella
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add butternut squash and carrot and boil until soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and zucchini to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are done.

Saute herbs, zucchini, onion, and garlic in coconut oil in a skillet. Cook until zucchini is slightly browned and onions are translucent.

Preheat oven to broil.

Drain pasta in a colander, and place in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Mix in canned tomatoes. Add salt and pepper if desired. Layer veggies on top of pasta.

Top veggie/pasta mixture with vegan cheese and Panko.

Broil 10 to 15 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned and "cheese" is melted.

This makes a lot of food. I will cut this recipe in half next time. But it was very good, Brett and I both liked it. This was the first time we had used Vegan Rella, and the stuff is pretty good. Brett even really enjoyed it, and he doesn't like faux 'cheese', he suggested next time we go to the store in town that carries it (not our regular store sadly) that we should get multiple blocks. :-) Vegan cheese over cow cheese? I'll go with that one!

Brett also picked up one of my favorite chocolate bars today for Cookiemouse's Chocolate Temptation Challenge. (I don't think it's fair trade Cookiemouse :-(, Brett didn't know it was supposed to be, he just got one of the vegan ones I like.) The chocolate bar is safely tucked into my bookbag I carry to work everyday. We'll see if I can resist it! I believe I must hold out until Easter!

I must end this entry with a big thanks to all the incredibly creative vegan food bloggers out there (of course, I have my favorites, and you guys know who you are, but I'm thankful for all of you). I have saved so many wonderful sounding recipes from you all that I have pretty much planned out my meals for the next month just to make sure that I try them all! I keep finding more, and then have to shuffle things around to include those, but I never got this excited, or had the level of creativity in my cooking before I was veg*n. So thanks all you out there for keeping Brett and I happily fed!

'Til next time!


Anonymous said...

Your casserole looks delicious Jennifer! I can completely agree with prepping food ahead of time. I love doing the same so that I can mingle and then just bring everything together in an instant. Great move!

Ooh Vegan Rella, I'm glad there's another fan out there. Many people don't seem to like it. I wouldn't eat it as is, but it's so great melted on top of anything. I don't miss melted cheese at all when I eat Vegan Rella. =)

I second what you say about bloggers, they're so inspirational, I have lists and lists of things I want to try. I don't know how I did without before.

pleasantly plump vegan said...

my favorite part about cooking (other than eating) is the prep work. i just thoroughly enjoy chopping, dicing, grating, etc. Its very theraputic for me.

Lizzy said...

What a gorgeous casserole! So many recipes call for so little vegetables and I always end up making 85% veggies and maybe 15% rice/pasta/whatever. I definitely have to make lasagna soon though. I've been craving it for such a long time(started when you posted pics of yours actually, ha ha)!

And I'm joining the chocolate temptation challenge, too! We'll see how well I'll be able to resist if I carry it around all the time. =p

So true about the bloggers! Cooking has become such a hobby to me(I enjoyed it before, but never really cared too much about it). And vegan cooking is a never ending learning process and it's wonderful to have such a big vegan blogging community out there providing knowledge, inspiration and ideas!
I have tons of lists of various dishes to try, but most of them were some where I was missing ingredients and I'm living off a low-budget at the moment as it's the end of the month. So I came up with a new list last night which I think I might just post on my blog ;)

Lizzy said...

And I should make use of my moms tupperware collection and start preparing veggies, too!

Cookiemouse said...

Vegan chocolate is cool too. Like the photo of the chocolate in the bag. Good luck with the challenge. On the subject of cheese, this is really the one reason why I'm not vegan. I don't drink milk and hardly ever use butter but a nice piece of cheese...aah! Still I always make sure it's from the organic market and I only buy goat's or sheep's cheese from small farmers that I know.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Good luck keeping away from that chocolate until Easter! It wouldn't last a day in my backpack hehe.

I like vegan rella too, and your casserole looks healthy and delicious. I love getting together with old friends and just talking the night away.

My recipe folder is literally bursting at the seams with all the recipes I want to try from my blogger friends... and now I'm adding the casserole to it! I definitely need to cook more.

Jennifer said...

Romina - Thank you very much! I did like prepping the food ahead of time, then when it came to actual preparation, there wasn't the mad dash around the kitchen to get things ready to go.

I agree about Vegan Rella - probably not good on it's own, but I have to say it's the best damn vegan mozzarella I've tried so far.

Yes, I too find all the bloggers to be very inspiring, keep up the excellent work, cause that means you too. :-)

Pleasantly - There is something very relaxing and nice about prep work.

Lizzy - I agree about the veggies, I doubled up on the number of veggies this recipe called for and I could have probably still added more! Oooooh, I can't wait to see how your lasagna turns out (and am honored that my pics got you to thinking of it), I always love seeing how people make lasagna, as you can do so many different things with it, I may just have to steal your idea!

Good luck on the Chocolate Temptation Challenge, I'm just on Day 1 and it's been tough. We'll have to start a virtual support group to keep it going. :-)

I know what you mean about all the recipes you want to try. I generally stay away from recipes that call for too many unfamiliar ingredients in case I don't like it, otherwise I've wasted money and I'm stuck with ingredients I don't know what to do with.

Note: Mexican food is a wonderful thing to make on a budget. If you want my 'super secret special recipe' (I think I actually posted about it before) for Basic Bean Wraps, I'd be happy to send it to you. These are delish and very healthy, and can be easily morphed into a quesadilla. Mmmmmm.

Cookiemoue - Thanks.

I know a lot of people struggle with the cheese thing when going vegan. I actually have a slight allergy to dairy so I gave it up before I even went vegetarian. When I went vegan I just had to kick the eggs and honey (which wasn't too difficult) and all those other weird animal products that end up in things.

I think it's wonderful that you use such discretion when purchasing your food! It's a mutually beneficial relationship, you are getting better food, and the farmer is making a better living, treating the land better, etc. Kudos to you!

Chocolate Covered - I bet avoiding chocolate WOULD be tough for a Chocolate Covered Vegan, eh? :-)

Visiting with friends is always nice, and I was very happy that he didn't insist we discuss disk golf in depth as we often do. :-)

I have the same problem with recipes as I do with books, there are too many good sounding ones out there, and I have already compiled a list of recipes (and books to read) that I likely couldn't possibly read or cook in my lifetime, but I keep adding to it anyway.

Jennifer said...

And I meant to type Cookiemouse not 'Cookiemoue' :-) Stupid typos, why do they drive me so crazy?

Monika K said...

Good luck with the chocolate challenge (if you're like me, you're going to need it)! (-:

Cookiemouse said...

I'm just as bad with typos!