Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Pesto and White Bean Pasta – Meal Idea

I do not have a pesto recipe, I actually happened upon a jar of vegan pesto that was on clearance at my local mega-mart for $1.29 (originally $8.99), so I snatched it up.   I actually held on to it for a while, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it.  I can’t just eat a plate of pasta without some sort of protein.  Finally I found a recipe for white beans in pesto, so I figured we’d give it a shot.  It was a winner.  Unfortunately my pesto to pasta ratio was a little low because I didn’t listen to my husbands suggestion, so I would suggest 10 ounces of pasta to a 6 ounce jar of pesto.

Did I mention my awesometastic husband made this? ❤  And it was both husband and toddler approved.

Pesto with White Bean and sun dried tomatoes

Most pesto’s contain cheese, so be sure to read the ingredients!

While the pasta is cooking (or rather the water for the pasta is heating)…

In a warmed non-stick frying pan drizzle a small amount of the oil from a jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (optional, you can use olive oil of course).
When the oil is shimmering, add
1 medium onion, minced

Whilst the onion is cooking, slice about
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes and add to the pan 

Sautee until onions are translucent.  Add:
3-5 minced garlic cloves
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 

Stir spinach in the pan briefly, then cover until wilted – about a minute or two.

When the spinach is wilted, and pasta is drained, mix them all together along with ze jar of pesto.



Caramelized Onion and Mushroom [vegan] and Garlic Pizza

My husband has declared this as “probably the best pizza I’ve ever made,” which is pretty gosh darned high praise considering how much pizza I make.     After making the Mujadara, I wanted more caramelized onions.    I also had some leftover sauce, so I decided why not!?

The ingredients are pretty obvious.  I caramelized some onions, sauteed some mushrooms in garlic and topped a Daiya drenched crust with it.    Was muy yum.


White Vegan Pizza

Have I mentioned that I sincerely believe that Pizza is a food group?

Don’t let the broccoli scare you away.   Don’t believe me?   Just listen to my husband, he’ll tell you it was good!  Just gotta find him first… hmm, where’d he go?

No seriously, this was NOT another Ranch Dressing Failure.

white pizza

As I posted before, we were brain washed at a very young age by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And no, I’m not going to link to them.  If you don’t know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, you are dead to me.

Seriously though, who was the genius that brainwashed kids, that were already scarfing down sugary cereal while sitting in front of a TV, to be forever completely in romantic love with a dense layer of carbs topped with tons of bubbly shredded milkfat and chopped unidentifiable animal parts.

Le sigh… yep, I still miss it.  No way around it.

Anyway, after making the Tofu Ricotta O’ Doom recipe,  I came up with the idea for this pizza which is LOADED which vegetables and contains no faux cheese other than the Ricotta recipe.  I contemplated adding tempeh but realized it’s already loaded with tofu, so it seemed kind of redundant.

Since pizza is almost always simply made to taste, this is an approximation of the ingredients we used to give you an idea of how to get this super filling, scrum-dilly-umptious pizza in your own home.

Oh, before I start – we use Mama Mary’s  Ultra Thin Crust.  It crisps up, and isn’t 93234234526623 carbs per serving.  But, a downside is that we do need to pre-cook many of the ingredients prior to topping, because it cooks in about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven according to preferred crust instructions.  *If using a thicker crust but still like a bit of a crisp, try putting the pizza pan or upside down cookie sheet in the oven to preheat while preparing the rest, then simply slide the pizza onto it.

Heat a frying pan to medium and add
     2 Tsp Earth Balance
     1 medium onion, chopped (we always use red)
     pinch of salt , being careful to put on the oven and not in the pan itself

Cook until onion until slightly translucent and add
     5-7 mushrooms, sliced (we used baby bellas)

and Continue cooking until slightly browned

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine
     1/2 Riccotta O’ Doom recipe
     1/2 bag cooked frozen broccoli, chopped into desired size (or fresh of course)
     4-5 cloves garlic, minced
     2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
     Salt or Herbamare (preferred) to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
     Fresh Ground pepper to taste
     pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
     drizzle of olive oil

When mushroom and onion mixture is finished cooking, add to Ricotta and Broccoli Mixture and top pizza.   Cook following crust package instructions, but keep in mind that due to the large number of toppings it may take a bit longer to cook.  The Ricotta mixture will start to brown just a little, but won’t turn golden brown.

Just use your crust as a guide.

white pizza


Spinach Tofu Manicotti

My husband and I are so ridiculously thrilled by how this recipe turned out.   I don’t really know why I said optional on any of the ingredients, since the whole darned thing is one big optional recipe.  Just don’t skip the ricotta, shells or sauce.  I think you’d have a pretty difficult time still making stuffed manicotti.  If you somehow succeed without the use of shells, ricotta or sauce, please let us know.  That would be pretty darned nifty!

Spinach Tofu Manicotti

Jason, if you see this picture - I don't mean to suck at food photography, it just comes naturally!

If you’re new to my blog, be aware that my husband is an omnivore and my taste tester.  He still eats meat and dairy, so don’t try to pull the ‘oh, well you’re vegan you probably don’t even remember what cheese tastes like’ card.  I won’t say this tastes exactly like ricotta, really good ricotta has a very special level of awesomeness to it.  But, I will tell you that my husband (who isn’t Italian) couldn’t tell the difference and scarfed the hell out of it and I’d probably bet if the person wasn’t Italian, or a chef, they wouldn’t be able to either.

I happily report he also was eager to take it to work to nom on.  Can’t wait to make lasagna with this!

Also, the serving size on the box said 3 shells.  We were stuffed after 2, so keep that in mind.

Place a generous layer of tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish.

Mix together
     1 ricotta recipe
     1 package spinach (optional)
     1 cup non-dairy mozzarella (if using vegan gourmet, might want to process this-not shred) (reserve some for topping)
     Italian seasonings
     Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
Additional garlic powder  to taste (optional)
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional) 

Place half of mixture into a Ziploc or paper pastry bag.  Cut the corner of the Ziploc bag (or tip if using a pastry bag)… small enough to still fit inside the manicotti shells, but large enough to allow ingredients through.

Squeeze entire mixture, in 2 batches, into
      1 Box manicotti shells

Top with
     more than enough tomato sauce (not optional – didn’t you see what I said earlier??)
about 1/4 a cup of water to mix into the sauce (unless you precooked the shells)
and bake, covered, at 375 for 1 hour.
After baking, remove aluminum foil and top with
     reserved cheese (optional)

Continue baking, uncovered, until cheese gets as melty like as non dairy cheese can get.

This new recipe format was inspired by seeing this post on  It reminded me a lot of the format in the Joy of Cooking which somehow one day I simply forgot I loved.  I’m not sure how I forgot other than the fact that I haven’t opened one of my old cookbooks (yet) since the day I went vegetarian and vegan.  I will, one day.  But for now, I’m learning mostly new things.  Anyway, you can see the format of the Joy of Cooking on Google Books and you’ll see why I like it.  Sadly, I’m not creative enough to come up with it on my own and not only needed the inspiration, but also the reminding.

I’m lame like that.


Tofu Ricotta o’ Doom!

So this a hybrid of multiple recipes.  I call it the ricotta o’ doom because I imagined it capturing and stealing the powers of flavor.   Just behold the badassary that tofu has become:

But I digress.

More seriously, the recipe is a combination of Cashew Ricotta by Vegan Fazool (which, incidentally – I DO own Veganomicon, but sometimes I look for recipes in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and I do that from my phone, not a book) and the Tofu Ricotta Recipe from Happy Herbivore.

So, without further ado.

Cashew Tofu Ricotta

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 lb firm tofu – not pressed (I particularly liked this part)
2-3 cloves garlic OR 1 tsp dried garlic
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
2 tsp Oil
1-2 Tbsp dried Italian Seasoning Mix
1-2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all but tofu in a food processor and processes until cashews turn into a paste. *  Crumble unpressed tofu into processor and pulse until all ingredients are mixed.  But don’t do it too long or you’ll end up more with a creamy consistency (as seen above) than a lumpy one like ricotta is known for.  It looks lumpy-ish in the picture, but it’s not how it’s supposed to be – it was much too creamy.

*I had a difficult time with this because I have a very large food processor and very few cashews.   In retrospect, I might have doubled this recipe just to make it easier on myself.


Rotini and Cashew Cream Sauce

While I’m hesitant to call this macaroni and cheese, that’s essentially what it is – but in the vegan world.

Macaroni and Cheeze

I’ve been vegan for 4 months now, and two other times I tried mac n cheeze.  The first time contained mustard, which was so unappealing that even my dogs wouldn’t touch it.  The second time was a boxed version, and I couldn’t get past the grittiness of the flour which was what made it thicken.

So this, this was my third attempt.   I found this particular version thanks to Angela at who found the original recipe at Epicurean Vegan.

So before I continue, rest assured that this past the Omnivore husband test, but it was easier to accept as a cashew CREAM sauce rather than a “Macaroni and Cheese.”

Since I’m not quite sure how she feels about other people publishing her recipes, I’ll ask you to visit her site for THE RECIPE.  When I have adjusted the recipe to our tastes (we used Almond milk and the combination between the light miso, cashews and almond milk made it rather sweet).

But, for some information on it, it features – raw cashews, miso, lemon, a handful of other ingredients and of course lots and lots of noosh.  This recipe would also be fantastic over vegetables.  Clearly, you can use whatever pasta you enjoy, my husband noted that with more garlic it would have been similar to alfredo.

Also…  I have just purchased Quinoa for the first time.  I’ve never tasted it, cooked it, and barely ever seen it…  soo…

[UPDATE:  While the re-heated version of this wasn’t as PRETTY, we decided it tasted better reheated.  We also decided that it turned out pretty sweet, so next time we’re going to try to make this into more of an alfredo with more garlic, etc.  Also, this shits addicting!!]

Does anyone have a favorite quinoa recipe that they would like to share for me to review?


Italian Vegetable Soup

I really am a soupatarian.  It’s going to be in the 90’s today (as usual) and I’m having hot soup for breakfast, and probably again for lunch and for dinner too.  Surely I cannot be the only person on the planet that eats soup in the dead of summer, or eats the same thing 3 times in one day.

Italian Vegetable Soup

Yes, it’s a big picture.  Deal with it, I love the texture of this damn thrift store bowl. 🙂

Anyway, each week I make what I call a “pot meal.”  Basically the idea is it’s big ol’ pot of something really healthy and packed with veggies that I can take with me all week to work.  I work 3pm to 11:30 and my husband doesn’t usually get out of bed till noon (he works till 4 am) so we have very strange eating schedules, and since I only see my husband for 1-2 hours, the last thing I want to be doing during that time is mussing with lunches.

So instead, on Saturday or Sunday I try to make what usually ends up being a big pot of soup.  That way it’s ready to go.  I usually supplement it with other things.   For example, for dinner I’ll have this with a basic salad , tomorrow I might have a Tofurkey Sandwich with it.

Anywho, the thing I love about Vegetable Soup is that it’s so versatile.  What I put in it depends on whatever the heck I happen to have leftover from the week, or what vegetables I happen to have in my freezer.

While this isn’t really a recipe, there are some rules to getting this right.

First rule of soup club is we don’t talk about soup club… err… have a good base.  Something to know about this, is that any soup that has tomatoes in it will inevitably taste better the second day.  I usually make it the day before.

Prep round – Figure out your base.

The base for me is whatever canned tomatoes, and bullion and water (or broth).  This particular one has vegetable stewed Italian tomatoes with juice – chopped up (or squished with your hands – that’s fun too).   But you can use not-beef bullion or not-chicken bullion as well, and you could use diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, rotel tomatoes, etc.  You get the picture.

Round 1 tough vegetables

Onions *
Garlic *
NOT potatoes

*You can cook the Onions, Garlic and Celery prior to starting the base I don’t do it because I’m lazy.   I don’t suggest putting potatoes in this round, or else you’ll get mushy.   Also, here you can start adding in spices. I added Italian seasoning mix, and some Mrs. Dash (I dunno why, but it was there and somehow ended up in the soup), but you could use taco seasoning and make a more southwestern soup. I don’t suggest salting at this time.  Start cooking this on a light boil while you cut up the round two vegetables.

Round 2 vegetables wanna be tough vegetables

Green Beans
Bell Peppers (I do not like these in soup but whatever)

When the desired tenderness, taste for spices / salt and make some adjustments.  Add some heat!

Final Round

Cooked Beans – if canned, drained and rinsed
Zucchini – I cut the seeds out, ewww.
Greens  (Spinach, kale, etc)

You don’t need to cook the final round for long, just enough to warm stuff up and tenderize the Zucchini a little – maybe 5-10 minutes.  It will continue to cook even after removed from the heat, the soup stays hot for so long.  Now is also the time to salt it.

As for salt, I always use Herbamare.

If you’ve never tried this stuff, I highly highly recommend it.  It’s an herbal salt, so it’s technically a seasoning salt, but a very neutral one.  I use it on literally everything.  Um, except on sweet stuff.  I don’t think this would taste good on Tofutti ice cream at all.

Anyway, voila – you have enough soup to eat for a week, yay!

Italian Vegetable Soup


Pizza! The Vegan Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be proud.

Before I go any further – I would like to mention that yesterday’s experiment was a sad, sad failure. Ahem… moving on.

If you were born in the late 70’s or early 80’s, odds are you have a borderline romantic relationship with pizza and I blame these guys:

Was there ever a time when you thought of, heard of, or saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and didn’t think, “Mmm, pizza!”  I swear the entire movie was paid advertisement for Pizza Slut and Dominhoes.

Anywho, I made my 80’s roots proud tonight while trying a few new things.  But first, behold the finished beauty:

Vegan Pizza with Tofurkey Italian Sausage

If you’re wondering, it’s topped with Tofurkey Italian Sausage, green olives, and sauteed bell peppers and onions.

Since I don’t like Daiya, I decided to try another cheese – Vegan Gourmet  Many are familiar with it, but I’d never had it.  Let me just say this – this stuff kicks Daiya out of the water!  I love it.  It’s easier to shred than regular Mozzarella, tastes about the same – maybe a little milder.  It does melt, it doesn’t bubbly cheese melt, but it melts and it holds my toppings in place (the only real reason I need any cheese at all).

Vegan Gourmet  Mozzarella

Next, thanks to a great suggestion from Sara at we sprinkled Red Star Nutritional Yeast on our pizza as it was mentioned that it may make a good Parm substitute.  And, indeed it did.  In fact, my husband is now starting to look forward to cheeze (My last attempt included bulk nutritional yeast which ended up producing something that even the dogs would not touch), and he sprinkled it on all of his slices AND event bent his paper plate (yes, we ate off paper plates, don’t judge!) to dump the rest onto his last slice of the pizza – which incidentally did not last long.

Oh, and here’s the yeast if you’re interested in trying it.  This particular brand was touted by some users on a vegan forum as “the only nooch.”


If you’re vegan, or vegetarian and don’t have this stuff, you should run out and get it.  Look up the nutritional info on it!


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