I hate moving more than I hate meat. It's the most pain-in-the-ass process I've ever endured. The worst part about it is that my kitchen is in boxes, and I'm reduced to ordering take-out or making simple stir frys. The funny thing is is that my kitchen required more boxes than any other room in my apartment. At least it'll be all over on Monday, and I can return to my typical schedule of fiendish cooking.
I really have nothing to whine about. Our new home is fantastic. Did I mention I have my own washer and dryer that DOESN'T require quarters? Instant orgasm when I found that one out. I also finally have a yard where I can garden and my pup can run free, so I know how great life will be once I'm finally settled in. And I have a real grill! I am so effing excited to just move and get this process over with.
Life's been great, otherwise. I'm planning a trip to one of my favorite vegan cities: Portland. I plan to stuff myself silly while drinking pint after pint of PDX's great beer. And the best part is, we're driving there. Road trips are at the top of my "Favorite Things" list, and I couldn't be more stoked.
As a teenager, I took more than my fair share of road trips. My favorite one was an extended "Life On The Road" experience that ultimately ended up in rehab. Quite the adventure, indeed. Regardless, I'm looking very forward to 16 hours in a car with my sweetheart, the music blasting and being surrounded by countryside.
On to the food. Baked Ziti was one of my all-time favorite childhood comfort foods. I had to snazz it up a bit for the sake of my ego, but this dish is great when you're craving something hearty and delicious. Give it a whirl..you won't be sorry!
Have a great week!
with Miniature Vegan Meatballs
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2/3 cup Marcona Almonds, roasted
- Canola Oil, enough for coating Almonds
- 8 oz jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil, drained well
- 1/4 cup Fresh Sage Leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup Dr Cows Aged Cashew Cheese (any flavor), finely grated or Vegan Parmesan
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil, plus more for "de-sticking" pasta
- 1 batch of Vegan Ricotta
- 2 1/2 cups Vegan Mozzarella, finely grated
- 3 cups Marinara Sauce
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 batch of Vegan Meatballs (recipe follows), made 1-2 cm wide instead of full size, or substitute Nate's Savory Mushroom Vegan Meatballs
- 1 lb Ziti Pasta Noodles
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the Ziti in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just al Dente. Drain well, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the Marcona almonds out evenly on the foil. Drizzle a bit of canola oil over the almonds, then roll them around to coat fully. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until beginning to brown, then set the pan aside so the almonds can cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, move on to making the "ricotta".
Using a food processor or blender, first blend the garlic and almonds until finely chopped. Add the "ricotta", sun dried tomatoes, sage, Dr. Cow (or "Parmesan"), and a touch of salt and pepper to the food processor. Turn on the machine, and while it's running, pour the olive oil in and allow the ingredients to blend until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the blender or food processor down once or twice during the blending process.
Turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss together the Ziti, half of the miniature meatballs, 2 cups of the marinara sauce, half of the vegan mozzarella, and "ricotta", then pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Cover the pasta mixture with the remaining marinara sauce, remaining miniature meatballs and remaining "mozzarella". Bake in the preheated oven for 20 until fully warmed through, then turn on the broiler to the "high" setting and broil until the "cheese" is brown and bubbly.
Allow to cool for a moment before serving.
"Meatball" Seitan Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups Arrowhead Mills® Vital Wheat Gluten
- 1 1/2 cups Water mixed with 1 1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Base
- 2 TBSP MimicCreme
- 1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Wheat Germ
- 3 "Flax Eggs" (6 TBSP finely ground Golden Flax Seed mixed w/ 6 TBSP Water)
- 1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
- 1/3 cup MimicCreme
- 1 TBSP Vegan Margarine
"Meatball" Seitan Broth:
- 7 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Broth
- 6 dried Shitake Mushrooms re-hydrated in 1 cup Water
- 1/8 cup Tamari
- 1 Portobello Mushroom Cap, chopped
- 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 Bay Leaves
Okay. First, make sure you re-hydrate your dried shitakes in the 1 cup of water 1/2 hour prior to making the "Beef" dough. Don't discard the water once they're hydrated.
Using a stand mixer (if you have one...by hand, if not), mix together vital wheat gluten, water/bouillon and the first 2 TBSP of MimicCreme well. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring all of the "Meatball" Broth ingredients to a boil. Take the "Meatball" dough and break off little pieces, dropping them into the boiling broth until all the dough has been used. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook for 1 hour. Stir every ten
minutes or so.
Remove from heat, and place a strainer in the sink, and pour the contents of the pot into a strainer. Remove the bay leaves, then let the seitan and mushrooms cool to room temperature. Once cool enough to touch, use a food processor to grind up the seitan and mushrooms until it's a very fine texture.
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, melt the first tablespoon of vegan margarine and sauté the minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, oregano and parsley to the ground seitan, and mix in well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once cool enough to touch, move the ground seitan mixture to a large bowl, then add in the flax egg, MimicCreme, breadcrumbs, vegan parmesan and wheat germ. Use your hands to mix well.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet.
Form the mixture into 1/2 inch balls, then bake in the oven until brown and warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.