Christmas Morning Oatmeal

I hate cold breakfast in the winter (here’s looking at you cereal!).  When I’ve burned myself out on things like grits & muffins, I turn to oatmeal, but I wanted something really different.  Oatmeal with cinnamon and apples or blueberries gets dull.  The warm cloves and sweet figs in this recipe pair well together and the pecans are a nice textural change.  The whole house smells amazing while this is cooking!

This oatmeal can be enjoyed anytime, of course, but the ground cloves in it make me think of Christmas.  I got the figs from the bulk bin section at Whole Foods, but if you can’t find them, I think chopped dates would make a good replacement, or even raisins!

3 ½ cups vanilla coconut milk  (not the canned stuff, but the milk in the cartons, sold in the refrigerated section near the regular milk)
2 cups rolled oats
Pinch of salt
10 dried black mission figs, quartered
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2  teaspoon ground cloves
Agave nectar, to taste

Bring the oatmeal, salt, and coconut milk to a boil and then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and serve. 
(Serves 4)

Vegan Cheese Sauce #1

As promised, here is one of my favorite recipes that uses nutritional yeast.  This sauce can be used on tacos, nachos, burritos, mashed potatoes, or anything you would usually add cheese sauce to.

The recipe is from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap.

2/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups non-dairy milk (Robin suggests soy; I use almond)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard

Add the nutritional yeast, cornstarch, salt, and garlic powder to a medium saucepan and whisk in the milk over medium heat.  Continue whisking for about 3 minutes or so, until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard.  Serve while it’s still warm or store in the fridge for later use (up to 3 days).

I have also tried freezing and re-heating this sauce before and it worked fine!

Pasta with Greens ‘n Things

This recipe is a loosely modified version of a recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s cookbook Color Me Vegan.  Honestly, I thought the recipe could use more flavor, so I added the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast and tangy, slightly salty sun-dried tomatoes.  The original recipe called for fresh basil, but all I had was dried (my plants have surrendered to the cold weather).  Use what you have a the base of this recipe is blank slate – sliced kalamata olives, artichokes, and/or rosemary would be nice as well!

Also, feel free to use whatever greens you have on hand or like.  I love kale, so of course I used that.  Colleen’s recipe suggests mustard or dandelion greens, and since I had never had dandelion greens, I decided to give them a try.  Her recipe calls for 2 lbs of greens, but I just bought one bundle of each type of green at Whole Foods and didn’t weigh them and it worked out fine.  Spinach would work well too, but keep in mind that it will cook down significantly more than denser greens like kale.

1 lb penne pasta
1 Tablespoon salt
2 big bunches of greens, washed de-stemmed, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh, julienned)
1/2 cup or so of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan)
black pepper, to taste

Boil the greens in a large pot of water with the salt until tender (5-8 minutes or so).  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon (KEEP the cooking water) and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to keep them from cooking any further (this is called blanching!). 

Now place your pasta into the same water that the greens cooked in and return to a boil.  Cook according to the package directions for al dente pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, put the pine nuts into a small pan and dry roast them over medium heat, shaking the pan every minute or so.  Once they start to look shiny, keep a watch on them.  You want them to be a light golden color, but don’t burn them or they will be bitter.  When they are done, remove them from the heat.

While you have the pine nuts and the pasta cooking, put a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and olive oil to the pan.  Stir the garlic around until it starts to turn golden, but be careful not to burn it.  Drain the greens, squeeze out the excess water with your hands, separate them, and add them to the garlic and oil.  Warm through for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Once your pasta is done, drain it and add it to the oil and garlic and toss it together with the pine nuts, basil, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, and pepper to taste.