Aubergine Ricotta Rolls

Guest post by Amily Blanch 

Valentine’s Day seems like it was just yesterday. The streets were flooded with energized romantics, toy hearts and chocolates of all shapes and sizes. At this time of the year, especially, we are all craving to surprise our loved ones with a delicious dinner. Who says you can’t do a belated version in March? 

In the vegan community it is quite difficult to find recipes that would truly make even a non-vegan fall in love, so I wanted to share a few tricks I have up my sleeve, as well as tell you how to prepare a healthy, heavenly starter.

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The dish itself is called Aubergine Ricotta Rolls and its overall making will take around 30 minutes and serve 4 people. This means, it’s perfect for a double date with your best friend and their significant other as well. 

INGREDIENTS…

What you will need for the vegan ricotta cheese: 

  • 7oz firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, that previously had been soaked in water overnight
  • 1/4 cup of soy (or any other non-dairy) milk
  • Juice of one third of a lemon (around 2/3 tablespoons) 
  • Some salt and ground black pepper

What you will need for the rolls: 

  • 2 aubergines (also known as eggplants)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS…

  1. Start by making the ricotta cheese. Firstly place the (drained) cashews into a food processor along with the tofu. It is important to soak the nuts in water overnight because that helps break down the phytic acid, water stops the acid from being absorbed into our bodies, and therefore reducing a feeling of heaviness after the meal. Soaking nuts also neutralizes their enzymes, allowing proper digestion to take place.
  2. Add half of the non-dairy milk that you have prepared, blend, and then the second half.
  3. After it turns into a smooth paste, add the rest of the ingredients: lemon juice, salt and pepper (for which the proportions may vary depending on how flavorful you want the “cheese” to be).
  4. Once that is done, you can start preparing the aubergines by cutting them lengthwise into very thin, wide pieces.
  5. While the pan is heating add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. For extra flavour and a more intricate taste, chop up one small clove of garlic and let it sit in the olive oil for some time, this will infuse it with slight pungency. It is up to you whether you want to keep the small pieces of garlic in the oil or remove them before adding the oil to the pan. Remember to not add TOO much oil, or else the aubergines will not be cooked properly and that will affect the taste.
  6. After the oil is hot, place the aubergines on the pan and wait for the pieces to turn a beautiful shade of brown, and then flip.
  7. Afterwards, place the aubergines on a cutting board and start spreading a thin layer of ricotta on each of them. Roll them up, however if you find that they do not stay in a roll, you can use a toothpick to stabilize them. (Make sure to take them out before serving the dish though.
  8. Different ingredients can be sprinkled on top of the ricotta in the process like some chopped chives or a drizzle of lemon zest, if you want to put your own personal spin of this dish.

After the preparation and decoration of this beautiful starter, you can make the main dish. There are millions of recipes that involve servings like vegan ratatouille pasta or quinoa dishes that would blow your significant others’ minds. To finish off the lovely evening, share an appetizing raw cake made out of bananas, cocoa powder, walnuts, dates and agave syrup.

Anyone, no matter vegan or not, will be ecstatic after tasting this aubergine dish, so make sure you try it as well! The best thing about a complete, vegan Valentine’s dinner is that it contains all the vitamins and proteins that we need to be our best selves and feel good in our bodies, as well as, leaves us feeling energized, satisfied and not bloated at all.

Nuts provide protein and the vegetables are overflowing with vitamins like A, D and C, so instead of feeling guilty after having a chocolate cake for dessert, you will be focused on your date and celebrating love.

About Amily Blanch: A longtime vegan, red wine advocate, and health ambassador. Member of a team of freelance writers from New York publishing recipes for the Secrets of Vegan Baking blog and product reviews for the Consumerion site.

Interested in submitting a guest recipe post for our blog? Hit us up at vegangirlfriend@gmail.com, and we can chat.

Portobello Mushroom Steaks (GF, V)

Post by Megan Stulberg

I probably shouldn’t remember this part of the evening, but on my boyfriend and I’s first date ever, we went to a vegan restaurant where I ordered a portobello mushroom steak. Considering how much I wouldn’t shut up about how amazing it was, I am truly very very very lucky that he’s stuck around this long. But I recently went back to that restaurant, ordered the same dish, and they brought me a cauliflower steak instead. What?! It still tasted great, but I must admit I was pretty disappointed. So I set off to make a version at home instead, because I make my own dreams come true. I made this for Christmas dinner and it ended up tasting exactly like I hoped it would.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

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INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 cup flourless vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Splash of red wine (make sure it’s vegan! check barnivore.com)
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat vegan butter in a large pan on medium until it begins melting.
2. Add garlic and onion. Pour half the broth, half the soy sauce and red wine into pan, mixing together.
3. Add mushroom caps to pan. Pour remaining broth and soy sauce directly on top of mushroom caps. Add the basil, thyme, salt and pepper at this point as well.
4. Let cook for 2 minutes, then flip. Continue to do this until both sides have browned, mushrooms are completely coated and there’s no more sauce in the pan. If the sauce evaporates before the mushrooms are fully browned, add a bit more broth and garlic, then keep cooking.
5. Remove from heat. Serve immediately with side dishes — I opted for shepherd’s pie with gravy and Hilary’s gluten-free holiday stuffing.
Serve hot. Makes 2 servings.

Jalapeño Cornbread

Post by Aine Davis

There’s a flavour in Mexican cuisine that I’ve always loved, but have never been able to fully figure out. I feel like I’ve been searching for that flavour my whole life, and I was beginning to believe I never would find it. That is…until I decided to experiment with a new cornbread recipe. I had a leftover jalapeño in my fridge and at the very last minute, I decided to put it in the cornbread, and guess what? I done did it! I had found the flavour I had been searching for! Turns out it was jalapeño the whole time, who knew it was that simple?! I love it so much that I’ve made it every day for the last week (I’m not even exaggerating). I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic corn flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set oven to 400°f.
  2. Whisk together almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together ground flax seed and warm water to create flax egg. Set aside to let thicken.
  4. Combine remaining dry ingredients separately. Whisk together until they are completely incorporated without any lumps in the mix.
  5. Once the flax egg has thickened, whisk it in to the almond milk mixture as well as the vegetable oil and agave syrup. Whisk until oil is completely combined.
  6. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not over mix.
  7. Fold in the jalapeños until evenly distributed.
  8. Pour cornbread mixture into a bread tin. Bake in oven for 30 minutes until golden on top.
  9. Set to cool, and enjoy!

Makes roughly six slices.

SERVING TIP:

I like to fry the cornbread in a little bit of oil to crisp up the edges and serve with my Pulled BBQ Tofu and Dijon Coleslaw! Combo of champions.

Pulled BBQ Tofu and Dijon Coleslaw

Post by Aine Davis

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I’ve always loved BBQ sauce but kind of low-key thought that unless you’re putting it on meat, it’s off-limits. But dang, it’s so good and is usually vegan-friendly! Just check the ingredients first if you opt for a store-bought version.

This is my favourite thing to make in the summer. Eat it outside, pair it with a cider and you’re good to go.

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FOR THE BBQ TOFU…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 standard pkg extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup organic ketchup
  • 3 tbsp wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tbsp crunchy dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 dashes liquid smoke
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Press tofu to remove any excess water.
  3. Cut tofu into thin, rectangular slices.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients together to make BBQ sauce.
  5. Marinade tofu in half of BBQ sauce for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Once tofu is done marinading, place slices on greased pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. When tofu is done, remove from oven and rough chop into much thinner slices.
  8. Mix in remaining BBQ sauce, let cool.

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FOR THE DIJON COLESLAW:

INGREDIENTS…

  • 1 head cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups purple cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup crunchy dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS…

  1. Whisk vegan mayonnaise, crunchy dijon, Sriracha, lemon juice, salt and pepper in bowl until sauce-like consistency is reached.
  2. Mix chopped cilantro up together with chopped cabbage.
  3. Pour the sauce over the cilantro and cabbage. Mix together well. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

TO SERVE: 

Serve equal parts BBQ tofu and coleslaw up on your favourite gluten free (and vegan) bun.

Makes 2 servings.

Mushroom Gravy Poutine (Vegan, GF)

Post by Megan Stulberg

I’m Canadian. Like, grandparents-are-from-Nova-Scotia Canadian. That being said, I don’t mess with boring poutine! This poutine recipe is a delicious, healthy alternative to the OG dairy version.

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Ingredients…

For the gravy:

  • 2 cups gluten-free vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground sage
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter-style spread
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Cold-pressed EVOO, as needed

Other:

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 bag shredded vegan mozzerella “cheese” of your choice (I used Daiya)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, throughout

DIRECTIONS…

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Scrub and wash potatoes to remove any dirt, then peel. Cut length-wise into long, thin strips. Toss in 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper smothered in olive oil to prevent burning and sticking. Lay fries out in an even layer on baking pan.
  4. Bake in oven for around 35 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes or so.
  5. While the fries are baking, prep the gravy:
  6. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes until browned. Add sage, garlic, mushrooms, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are browned, stirring regularly.
  8. Add vegetable stock and vegan butter-style spread, lower heat to simmer. Once most liquid has evaporated, add vegetable stock and brown rice flour. Stir occasionally and cook for an additional few minutes. For thicker gravy, feel free to add additional flour by the tbsp.
  9. Reduce heat to low simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep gravy warm.
  10. Remove fries from oven and wait to slightly cool. Plate the fries, take a handful of vegan “cheese” and sprinkle it on top, then pour the hot gravy over everything.

Serve hot! Makes approximately 2 servings.

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Vanilla Chia Pudding Parfaits (gf/v/raw)

Post by Megan Stulberg, Photos by Jenn McNaughton

These parfaits were perfect! I’m good friends with Jenn McNaughton, fashion blogger extraordinaire. Seriously though, check out her work at ethcsofstyl.com. Jenn recently interviewed me for the Ryersonian, and we discussed how the Human Rights Commission of Ontario has legally recognized veganism as an ideology with protection against discrimination. I headed over to Jenn’s apartment last Saturday, equipped with groceries and a hearty appetite, to whip up these treats for Jenn to photograph to accompany the article.

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Ingredients…

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries,chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh whole blueberries
  • 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
  • 9 tbsp (0.56 cups) white chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakesIMG_6221IMG_6232Directions…
    1. Whisk together almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in large bowl or plastic storage container.
    2. Add chia seeds by the tbsp, stirring vigorously with spoon to prevent unwanted clumping.
    3. Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave in fridge overnight.
    4. Next morning, stir chia pudding then place back in fridge for 1-2 additional hours to help it further thicken.
    5. When ready to serve, scoop chia pudding into mason jars by the tbsp. Layer with fresh fruit and coconut flakes, or simply add after as toppings.

    Serve chilled. Makes 2 meal servings or 4 snack servings. Enjoy!

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Raspberry Matcha “Cheesecake” Bars (raw, gf, v)

Post by Alexandra Courts 

Matcha’s recent hype is well deserved! It detoxifies the body, boosts metabolism, calms the mind, lower blood sugar, prevent against diseases, lower cholesterol, and is rich in dietary fibre and antioxidants.

I whipped up a batch of raw treats with matcha cream, raspberry “cheesecake” filling and a chocolate cookie base. Keep reading for the recipe!
   Ingredients…

  • 3 cups raw cashews (soaked)
  • 2 cups dates, pitted and soaked overnight
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 original K’s NRG bar
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup matcha tea powder
  • Optional: additional frozen raspberries for garnish

Directions…

  1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with long strips of parchment paper.
  2. For the base: blend the almonds, cacao powder, shredded coconut, and dates until the pieces are finely ground and everything is thoroughly combined.
  3. Press and flatten this mixture into the bottom of the pan. Set aside in freezer.
  4. For the raspberry “cheesecake” filling: blend half of the soaked cashews with half the can of coconut milk, half of the maple syrup, and the raspberries until smooth.
  5. Pour, then spread the cheesecake layer out evenly on top of the chocolate base. Place back in freezer to allow layer to set.
  6. For the matcha layer: blend the remainder of the cashews with the matcha powder, as well as the remaining coconut milk and maple syrup, until smooth.
  7. Pour and flatten mixture overtop of the set raspberry layer.
  8. Allow this to set in the freezer for 1-2 hours or even overnight before slicing. Thaw in fridge at least 1 hour before slicing.
  9. Cut NRG bar into small bite-size chunks. You can either use a rolling pin to flatten the bar then roll into balls (as seen in photo), or use as is. Top each cheesecake slice with a few NRG chunks and frozen raspberries.
  10. Enjoy!

Serve chilled. Makes approximately 10-12 slices.