Dinner: How to Get Rid of Tons of Basil

My basil plant is exploding outside thanks to the hot weather and tons of sun.  I have to pinch off buds every other day to keep it from trying to have babies with itself.  It was getting massively bushy, so I trimmed it back a bit to give the younger, newer leaves a chance to sunbathe.  What do you do with a bundle of basil? Make pesto!

Dinner: Pesto Ziti

I made a pesto-ricotta sauce by sticking the basil leaves with half a container of soft tofu, some lemon juice, a clove of garlic, salt, and a tablespoon nutritional yeast into the food processor. I set it to blend, and started dribbling enough olive oil in to make a somewhat smooth paste.

Dinner: Pesto Ziti

To make the pasta dish more nutritious, I chopped up some greens (either collard or swiss chard, I forget which) and sauteed it with half a diced onion and some soy ground meat.  Then I dumped the cooked and drained pasta in, mixed it around, plopped on some of the pesto-ricotta sauce, mixed it, and called it a meal.

Unfortunately, I went a little pour-happy with the salt this time and the dish was super salty.  Other than the extra salt, the pasta tasted fine.

Baked Ziti

baked zitiWe’ve been watching a lot of Sopranos lately. I’ve never seen it, so it’s completely new to me. Sometimes the people are hard to understand with their heavy New Jersey accents and weird slang even though they’re speaking English. There are two things that watching the Sopranos makes me crave: whiskey and baked ziti.

I hadn’t really thought about ziti much before watching the Sopranos. I think I had it once before I knew what it was at the BF’s parents’ house a while ago. The characters in the show are always talking about baked ziti this and baked ziti that. I finally decided to try my hand at making some, since I doubt there’s anywhere around that makes vegan ziti.

baked ziti

I hope any genuine Italian Americans don’t take offense to my vegan ziti. I couldn’t find actual ziti shapes at the market, so I used rigatoni instead. For the topping/sauce, I used:

  • jarred marinara sauce
  • half a package of soy ground meat
  • a handful of cremini, sliced
  • a medium onion, diced
  • a lot of red pepper flakes

I cooked the diced onion till translucent, threw in the red pepper flakes and cremini, let those brown, and then threw in the crumbled soy meat. I let that all brown in the cast iron pan while I got started on the tofu cheese. The tofu cheese was just crumbled firm tofu, about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves, and salt to taste.

After the pasta is cooked al dente, I drained it, threw in the topping, stirred it, threw in some marinara sauce, stirred some more, and put it in a baking dish. I then topped it with the tofu cheese and spread more marinara sauce on top to coat, and stuck it in the onion at 350F for about 20 minutes.

The BF said it even tasted like a ziti. But what does he know, he doesn’t even eat cheese =(

Deconstructed Ravioli

Dinner: Home-made ravioliI was inspired by Mark Bittman’s Open Ravioli post a few weeks ago and today, I present to you: Deconstructed Ravioli!

Or maybe that’s just a fancy way of saying, “I don’t have an ravioli tools and I had to roll the dough out by hand, so I’m going to take some shortcuts and just make one big ravioli per serving.”

I used a mixture of 1 cup King Arthur’s Bread Flour and 1 cup of pastry flour. Then, I made it into a little crater thing on my cutting board, dropped two beaten eggs in the middle and swirled them around, incorporating more and more flour from the sides until I got a dry-ish dough. I added a couple teaspoons of water while doing this just to keep the dough even. After the dough was formed, I put it in a container with a lid to sit for 45 minutes.

During those 45 minutes, I browned some cremini mushroom in olive oil and made a vegan cream sauce. After the mushrooms were sufficiently burnt, I threw them in the cream sauce with some chopped basil and turned off the heat.

Rolling the ravioli dough flat enough actually wasn’t too bad. I guess I could have made more traditional ravioli without any fancy tools, but I didn’t want to spend forever filling and pressing ravioli. That’s why I just made one big one per person, put a poached egg between the two sheets of ravioli, put it on some chicory, put my creamy mushroom sauce on top, and called it a meal..

The chicory was actually a bunch left over from the salad the BF made last night with avocado and a delicious vinaigrette. Ever since that one episode of Top Chef this season, I can’t hear ‘vinaigrette’ without wanting to yell, “A vinaigrette is NOT an emulsion!” in a snobby European accent.

Dinner Salad