September 28, 2011

September 22, 2011

Zucchini pasta with roasted pepper pesto

We recently hosted a family dinner. It was still pretty hot when I was preparing the food (I'm a little behind in reporting, as usual), and I wanted to keep the dishes light and easy to prepare without heating up the kitchen. In addition to a bunch of other cold salads, I wanted to make a spiralized zucchini salad, because I was still a-glow with hyper-enthusiasm over my new spiralizer, and itching to spiralize every vegetable that fell under my gaze. I've calmed down since then, and am using the spiralizer with discretion now, but the zucchini salad I made that night was the most commented-on dish of the evening, so I'm sharing the recipe. Or a close facsimile of what I think is the recipe, because there are still lots of zucchinis to be had at the farmers market, and even if you don't have a spiralizer, you could julienne the zucchini, or shred it — or just use regular noodles.

I was throwing ingredients together at high speed while trying to write it all down, so my measurements might not be exact. The thing is, it probably doesn't matter exactly how much of each ingredient I used, but I believe this is pretty close. I was inspired by Rose's post on noodles and pesto, and started out to make that, but ended up making a roasted pepper pesto, instead.

Roasted pepper and pine nut pesto over spiralized zucchini noodles (or any noodles)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (toast them in a pan over medium heat, and don't let them burn.)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 roasted green poblano peppers*
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, tough stems removed
  • 3 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped
  • leafy greens for the salad base
  • olives for garnish
  1. In a food processor, combine pine nuts, garlic, salt, oil, green peppers and orange juice concentrate. Purée.

  2. Wash and trim the basil and roughly chop. Add to the processor and pulse to chop it well, but don't purée it. The basil should have texture and be visible.

  3. Chop the red pepper and add it to the processor. Pulse a couple of times to distribute it evenly but keep it chunky.

  4. Just before serving, toss the pesto with the noodles. Place on a platter or in a large shallow bowl that has been line with a dark leafy green (I used endive), and garnish with olives if you wish.

*note: I found freshly roasted poblano peppers at our farmers market but you could roast your own on the stove or in the oven. When they blacken, cool slightly and rub off the outer skin before using.

Here are the rest of the dinner salads. I'll be linking to the recipes or cookbooks they are from during Veganmofo, except for the chickpea salad which is right here on the blog.

Potato salad with dill and vegan chorizo.

Pasta salad


Chickpea salad

September 12, 2011

What do vegans do after ...

What do vegan bloggers do right after they have a great time attending a vegan bloggers conference, and discover that a bunch of fellow bloggers are practically neighbors? They form a vegan bloggers meetup group, of course. The first meetup was quickly organized to occur while there were still some out-of-town fellow bloggers in the Seattle area, after attending VVC in Portland. For example, Christy Morgan was in town to do a book talk on Thursday evening for her beautiful new cookbook, Tasty Bites.

The first meetup was planned to occur after Christy's talk, so she could attend. Wanting to support Christy on her tour, I invited Mr. EV, and friend-and-future-vegan Wendy, to accompany me to Third Place Books for the book talk and food samples.

The ride to the bookstore was a little more exciting than we had planned. Mr. EV kept glancing in the rear view mirror and mumbling something about an strangely aggressive woman behind us. She kept beeping her horn, and then started tailgaiting us. She kept this up for a couple of miles and I began to voice concerns that something must be wrong with our car. Has a tail light fallen off? Was a tire going flat? She was starting to make us all nervous, when suddenly she pulled alongside our car on the right. She rolled down her window. I rolled down my window. Then, with a face flushed and bloated with anger, she screamed, "DO ME A FAVOR AND LEARN HOW TO DRIVE IN RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC, YOU DUMB F**K!!! She raised her finger in salute. I rolled up my window.

We were a bit shocked by her rage. After a moment of silence, I suggested we all yell "you dumb f**k" a few times to break the spell she had cast, especially on Mr. EV, who felt really disturbed and violated. We spent the rest of the drive trying to calm him down. Sheesh. At least there wasn't anything wrong with the car ...

We made it to the bookstore, met Christy, listened to her book talk and ate yummy chewy trail mix bars that she had made.

The meetup before the band started playing.

After Christy's inspiring talk, we zipped over to Highline restaurant and bar, in Capital Hill. In case you don't know, Highline serves well-executed, possibly unhealthy but delicious, vegan comfort food. Unbeknownst to any of us, especially the lovely Brittany who organized the event, a band (a very loud band) was scheduled to play that night, and the meetup was eventually forced to change venues. We stayed long enough to pick up some food (I got fish and chips), and then headed out.


Cool coils

I've been wanting a spiralizer for a long time, and apparently so has Rose, because we both seem to have gotten one practically the same day! Of course she beat me to a post because I'm always running behind. The gadget we both bought is the Benriner Cook's Help. You can see mine with a carrot in it behind the piles of spiralized veggies. I went a little crazy spiralizing everything that I could. The zucchini were the easiest while the carrots and beets required some amount of pressure to go through the blades. Benriner also makes a more expensive horizontal spiralizer (about $75) that may be more efficient at cutting harder vegetables, but the cost difference swayed me towards the less expensive version.

My first salad had a dressing of tahini and umeboshi, and a sprinkle of cheesy kale chip crumbs, and was delicious.

This version is topped with tzatziki sauce, which was leftover after making baked oil-free falafel with tzatziki sauce from Christy Morgan's Blissful Bites, and sunflower seeds. Mmmmmmmmm.

September 09, 2011

September 06, 2011

Finale: Vida Vegan Con day 3, and the morning after

We began the last day with the same breakfast choices as day two. Some people were disappointed with the repetition, but not me. I loved the breakfast and would have been happy to eat it every day for weeks. Besides, there were still many items on the long tables I hadn't even tried yet. I had lots of the same things from the day before, but I did try one combo that no one else at my table seemed to appreciate, though I thought it was terrific. Instead of maple syrup on my xgfx pancakes, I poured on the gravy meant for the biscuits. Oh, it was good!

I attended two workshops — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: The Marketing Panel, and Product Reviews and Ethics. One useful point I took away (and still remember!) was when reviewing food products, we should photograph them both inside the packaging and on a plate, so readers can see what they look like.

Then it was off to a quick lunch — quick because we only had about 1/2 hour before leaving for a food demo at Whole Foods. This was my favorite conference lunch — a taco bar made in heaven.

Every conceivable taco topping from fabulous raw nut meat to Upton’s Naturals chorizo, to the best tasting soy curls I've ever had. There was vegan queso, and a vat of of guacamole as well as chopped raw veggies, olives, grated cheese, and of course, corn tortillas or large lettuce leaves for those who wanted their tacos raw. Etc. Etc. Etc.

There was Spanish rice and cooked peppers and onions.

And there was this. Was it broccoli hummus? I honestly can't remember. Anyone know? I ate my two tacos and hurried to Whole Foods for another cooking demo.

This time the inimitable Hannah Kaminski was presenting a class entitled: Mastering the Art of Vegan Meringue. Vegan meringue? Yes, and easy to make, too. Hannah produced a stiff and fluffy meringue using only four ingredients and an electric mixer.

Then, despite an uncooperative oven and inadequate WF kitchen equipment, she made meringue cookies, Napoleons and a lemon meringue pie filled with lemon curd she had previously prepared. Because of the oven, the cookies were slow to bake, but tasted delicious when they were finally finished, as did the pie and Napoleons, filled with the tart lemon curd.

The slow oven made us late getting back to the hotel for the next session, Specialty Diets, but I'm glad I went. All four panel members were interesting and informative. Kittee Burns, Fran Costigan, Gena Hampshaw and Susan Voisin explained how they arrived at their special vegan diets, and shared ideas for making special diets work. One hint I'd like to pass along to those eating xgfx diets came from Kittee. She highly recommended using superfine brown rice flour from Authentic Foods in a mix of three parts superfine, two parts potato starch and one part tapioca starch for baking sweets. She also said The Allergen-free Bakers Handbook by Cybele Pascal has been invaluable to her.

Sadly, this was the last conference session, and all that remained was the closing address by Isa and Terry.

Fran, Julia, Marika and ... Helen? Is that you?

But we're not done, yet. There were still vegan Portland restaurants to visit, and eating to do. For dinner, we headed to what turned out to be my favorite dining spot of the weekend — Blossoming Lotus.

Pan Tossed Angel Hair Pasta with smoked vegetable marinara, herb pecan pesto and sage balsamic roasted tofu, topped with fresh herbs and a basil oil drizzle.

Live Taco Salad L, GF, SF crisp romaine, chili lime dressing, red onion, avocado, bell pepper, tomato, pecan chorizo, and our famous spicy nacho chips, served with a side of house made cashew sour cream.

Crispy Thai BBQ Salad GF romaine, mixed greens, shredded cabbage, carrot, cucumber, raisins, crispy rice sticks, curried cashews and thai spiced barbecue soy curls, with creamy sweet ginger dressing, fresh herbs & toasted coconut.

I had the crispy Thai BBQ salad and all I can say is OMG. And I don't say that often or lightly.

Helen ordering her breakfast.

On Monday morning, Bethany, Helen, Mr. EV and I went to Sweetpea Baking Company at the vegan mini-mall, for breakfast. I think I was too full from a weekend of overindulgence, and all I could manage was a cup of vanilla rooibus tea — but it was good tea. And I bought a chocolate chip cookie for later, 'cause I was kind of used to eating dessert before and after every meal, and I was afraid I might need that cookie.

We visited Herbivore Clothing Company where Mr. EV and I purchased sets of bamboo traveling eating utensils, and Food Fight!

After that, we wandered around the corner to Red and Black Café where we purchased lunch for the train ride back to Seattle. (Except for Helen who had scored a live salad from Blossoming Lotus at Food Fight.)

Then we headed to the train station, Helen on her bike, and the rest of us in a cab, where we caught the 12:15 back to Seattle ...

... and my sweet girl, Buffy.

I'd like to thank for sponsoring my ticket.

September 02, 2011

Vida Vegan Con day 2

Why are these people smiling? They just made their way through the stunning breakfast buffet at Vida Vegan Con, that's why. I didn't even know I was hungry until I'd hit up the over-burdened tables of fab vegan food.

First came bowls of chia pudding, cut-up, fresh fruit (my favorite), and cartons of So Delicious coconut milk yogurt, including Greek-style yogurt.

Then roasted potatoes (my favorite — uh, wait, did I already pick a favorite?), bagels, tofu scramble, biscuits and perfect white bean gravy, gluten free pancakes with a vat of maple syrup. And of course there was peach crisp. Why wouldn't there be? I'm probably leaving things out, but how can I possibly remember so many choices?

After breakfast and a welcome address by the VVC organizers, I attended a vegan travel panel, then hopped on the free Portland trolley to Whole Foods.

At Whole Foods, Fran Costigan, the queen of vegan desserts, did a presentation called Dark Chocolate Bliss. She made chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, gold-dusted bittersweet and ginger truffles, and demonstrated how to work with chocolate transfer sheets. Of course it was all informative and luscious. Note that Fran doesn't normally work with such a large whisk, but when in someone else's kitchen, making do with a smile is sometimes required!
(Find my review of Fran's dessert book here:

This being VVC, after inhaling chocolate cake and truffles, it was time to scuttle back to the conference center for lunch. By now, I was getting used to eating dessert both before and after a meal (see day 1), so no problem. Once again, the meal was planned to be inclusive of everyone's needs; raw, cooked, glutenous, gluten-free — it was on the table. Fresh, raw veggies, massaged kale salad, purple cauliflower hummus, roasted veggies, and another round of peach cobbler.

And just behold the magnificent golden beet salad.

Here's my plate piled with pesto potato salad, BBQ tempeh, kale salad, roasted veggies, and golden beets. Fab.

For some (you know who you are), the lure of Portland's food carts proved greater than the conference food, and above you see a box of batter-fried oreo cookies from Home Grown Smoker. It came with chocolate dipping sauce. I didn't taste it but others were moaning with pleasure at every bite.

In the afternoon, I attended an inspiring talk by Colleen Patrick Goudreau called, Planting the Seeds of Compassion: Communication as Activism. She spoke about how important our word choices are when communicating about veganism. She cautioned us against using words like "fake," "faux," and "mock" when naming foods since what we are eating is real, not fake, food. For example, we eat nut meat or wheat meat, not fake meat. She urged us to speak to people about compassion, not factory farming, so as to not lose their interest. I'm over-simplifying here, but I suggest looking at Colleen's writing, and especially her new book, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge, for inspiration on sharing and spreading vegan compassion.

By now you're probably wishing the day would end, and frankly, so am I. It's almost as exhausting to write about it as it was to live it. (It was exhausting but exhilarating to live it.) Saturday evening, we attended the Vida Vegan Galarama and silent auction for Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. It was a fancy dress affair for those who chose to get their fancy on, or come as you are for those for whom fancy dress is jeans and tees. The little black dress was everywhere, but some, like Vegan Backpacker Jill (also from Vegan Cuts) looked gorgeous in a smashing red dress. I wish I had a photo to share.

Naturally, there was food. My plate contained gf pizza from Sizzle Pie, Gardein strips and a yummy fresh spring roll. For dessert? A mile-long Coconut Bliss sundae bar. And I just realized I failed to use my coupon for a beer, cocktail, mocktail or wine. Darn.

I'll leave you with a video of vegan body builder Robert Cheek hoofing it on the dance

I'd like to thank for sponsoring my ticket.