Recipe: Hawaiian pasta salad!   »

Living in California is the best, because you can theoretically BBQ during all of the seasons, and BBQs are my favorite! Just put on a sweatshirt, it gets chilly at night. Once it starts warming up, nothing beats inviting all your pals over to drink some brewskies and grill some food. What’s not to love?

Actually, if I can be honest with you, I’m not having quite as much fun as I should, grilling my food these days. Tell me what you grill—I’m bored of veggies and faux meat.* My favorite part of BBQs has turned into making (and chowing down on) the side dishes! (There has to be more. Tell me there is more than this.)

Here’s my version of a Hawaiian pasta salad. People love this salad. It’s refreshing and creamy. I use penne in it, but I have a feeling most people prefer macaroni. I like to think penne adds an elegance to traditional macaroni dishes! Plus, wikipedia says the shape and design makes for more sauce absorption. See, I’m not completely out of my mind!

1 lb. macaroni noodles (or elegant penne!)**
2 cups cashew cream (I’m assuming you can sub unsweetened soy creamer, cup for cup. It’s very rich and creamy!)
2 cups vegan mayo
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 cup mild vinegar (I use white rice)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated or chopped. I usually chop.
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, diced small
salt and pepper to taste

If you are making your cashew cream and mayo from scratch, do that ahead of time, to cut down prep. I never do, but it really is a great idea in theory!

Boil your pasta. Now, I love over-boiled, puffy pasta and everyone turns their nose up at it, but I’ve finally found a recipe that recommends you overcook the pasta, because it’s better able to absorb the dressing. Take that, haters!

Boil until super fat and puffy. Also, throw in some salt, because it flavors the pasta. My friend told me you want to salt it enough that the water tastes like the ocean. I usually toss in a small palmful.

Over-boiled pasta, a.k.a. DOING ME.

While your pasta is boiling, make your dressing. Whisk together 1 1/2 cup cashew cream, 1 cup mayo, 1 TBS agave nectar, 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper in a bowl.

Whiskin’ up some dressing.

Once the pasta is boiled, turn off the heat and drain it. Then put it back in the pot. Add the vinegar and toss until completely absorbed. Now let it cool for about 10 minutes, then add the dressing. Transfer to a bowl and try to let cool completely. Since I am impatient, I wait about a half hour.

Ever so creamy, vegan style!

Add the rest of your cream, mayo, the veggies and mix together. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is best, this is the kind of salad that gets more terrific as the flavors meld! I like to garnish it with some sliced green onions, but I bet a hodgepodge of green onions, thinly sliced celery, and red onion, plus slivered or grated carrot, would look really pretty!

Everyone’s favorite pasta salad, no joke!

*OK, kind of an exaggeration. I am having fun grilling homemade seitan. But even that is getting a little old. I need new ideas, and so I’m turning to you for help!
**You can make this salad gluten-free so easily! Just sub gluten-free pasta!


Recipe: Creamed Spinach!   »

I think that decadent, holiday fare is my forte. Living in San Francisco is great—with the weather being so mild, I can make it and eat it year round. Potluck to go to? Well, I know even in July the nights will be as cold as Chicago in the fall, so heavy vegan food it is!

For Easter at my family’s house, I made creamed spinach! My grandma loved it and I was pretty stoked with it as well. The rest of my fam—well, the whole eating vegan food thing is still a struggle, but they always make sure I have Vegenaise in the house! Gotta appreciate the support where I get it. Oh, and you can always lighten this recipe up by adding less cashew cream!


For the cream:
1 1/2 cup cashew cream (I’m sure you can use the same amount unsweetened soy creamer instead)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

For the creamed spinach:
Aforementioned cream
2 TBS oil
1 chopped onion, any variety (I myself used red)
1 pound of fresh spinach
4 cloves of chopped or minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
A dash of cayenne pepper (it won’t add heat, only a depth of flavor)
A dash of nutmeg


Make your cream first! All you have to do is blend the cream ingredients together and you’re done. I made mine the night before putting this recipe together, because holidays can be a very stressful time in the kitchen, and I like as much prep work done beforehand as possible. Now, heat up a pan with the oil—you will know it’s ready when you flick water on it and it sizzles. Add your onion, and turn heat to medium. Cook until translucent or caramelized. Add garlic, making sure not to burn or brown it. Only cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Pour in the wine, as a means to deglaze your pan. Vegetable stock would work fine too, or you can leave out this step altogether. Now, it’s time for the spinach. I tore mine up, by hand, but you can chop it or leave it whole—totally up to you! Spinach doesn’t take very long to cook, also only a few minutes. So, put spinach in your pan, along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Once it’s cooked to your liking, add the cashew cream and cook until heated through and through!


How to, yo: Cashew Cream!   »

In my recipes, I use cashew cream a lot! It’s soy and gluten-free, which I think is important when cooking and eating on a vegan diet. Gluten and soy are in EVERYTHING! I need a break. Plus, some of my friends have allergies—nobody gets left out when I’m cooking.

Here is my basic cashew cream recipe. We’ll come back to this one a lot in the future, when I post my recipes for green bean casserole, vodka cream sauce, ranch dressing, and Hawaiian macaroni salad! Those are intense, but if you got the cashew cream down, you’re golden!

First of all, let’s talk about the cashews:

  1. You want to use dry, unsalted, raw cashews. I usually buy mine from Trader Joe’s, but they are available at Safeway, Whole Foods, and most health food grocers.
  2. The cashews need to be soaked! 1/3 heaping cup dry cashews, when soaked, equals 1/2 cup of soaked cashews.
  3. How you get to the ‘soaked’ part is up to you! If you have the time, or are making a raw recipe, soak them in water for at least six hours at room temperature. Any longer and you will want to refrigerate them. Make sure the water covers them, plus extra for what the cashews absorb. However, if you don’t have the time, boil them on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Always dump the water they were soaked or boiled in and then rinse the cashews off!

Now, to make the cream!

1/2 cup soaked cashews
3/4 cup water

Blend!* This will equal about 1 cup cashew cream! If you add a little salt and vanilla extract, it makes a delicious coffee creamer.

*I use a Vita-Mix, which is one of the greatest kitchen tools ever invented. Of course, a blender or food processor will work too, but you may need to strain any chunks.

Homemade BBQ seitan wings and a dollop of cashew-based ranch dressing!


Oh my gosh, THE KITCHN! This is a fancypants raw/vegan/gluten-free recipe for fresh figs in cashew cream, and ohhhh it’s got coconut oil in it too, have you cooked with coconut oil? So silky! I detest raw figs, but they are in season and lots of people love them and they’re full of nutrients, and what kind of sucker hates cashew cream? I would eat (vegan) dog food covered in cashew cream, no lie.*
*Sorry, Laura’s super-busy elsewhere this week and for you I have channeled her honesty/disgusting Real Talk.

Oh my gosh, THE KITCHN! This is a fancypants raw/vegan/gluten-free recipe for fresh figs in cashew cream, and ohhhh it’s got coconut oil in it too, have you cooked with coconut oil? So silky! I detest raw figs, but they are in season and lots of people love them and they’re full of nutrients, and what kind of sucker hates cashew cream? I would eat (vegan) dog food covered in cashew cream, no lie.*

*Sorry, Laura’s super-busy elsewhere this week and for you I have channeled her honesty/disgusting Real Talk.


Chef Tal Ronnen’s Thanksgiving menu: Creamy mashed potatoes with chives!  »

Your Vegansaurus loves a mashed potato. We have before made dishes based on the amount of mashed potatoes in the recipe. Freshly mashed, several days old and spread on bread for a sandwich, baked to golden-brown-crusted perfection: O mashed potatoes, our affection for you has always been, and always will be.

This recipe by chef Tal Ronnen doesn’t mess around: instead of non-dairy milk, it calls for cashew cream. That would make for a rich mashed potato, and cut with the fresh chives, it sounds really amazing. Thank you again, Gardein, for sending us this menu!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives
6 servings
20 min prep
20 min cook

Pre-prep tip: Soak raw cashews overnight!
(If you’re short on time, substitute soy milk.)

6 large potatoes, diced
1 cup cashew cream (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cashew cream
Soak 2 cups of raw cashews overnight.
Add the soaked cashews to a blender and fill with water sufficient to cover the cashews by 1 inch. Blend on high for 2 minutes. Tip: if not using a professional high-speed blender, you might need to strain the cream through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. May substitute soy milk for cashew cream, if needed.

Mashed potatoes
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, and mix until smooth. Serve hot.

Easy-peasy lemon sqeezey. This one I would—WILL make ahead of time, you know, as a taste-test. Or supper. You know.

[photo of Tuscan roasted garlic white bean mashed potatoes at Vegiterranean by Flickr user steev-o]


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