FAUX TUNA PASTA SALAD

Faux Tuna Pasta Salad

The main ingredients

Easy to prepare cold dishes are my favorite during the hot summer days!  Although this one does involve a pot of boiling water for the pasta, you don’t need to slave all day in the kitchen to whip this satisfying recipe up.  The multicolored veggies and pasta make this dish a lovely add to any picnic and it is also very versatile– eat it as is,  on a bed of greens, or put it in a sandwich.  It is also a great source of zinc, folate, and protein, thanks to the chickpeas we use to make “tuna”.

This is a slightly modified version of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe from her amazing cookbook, The Vegan Table They have very kindly given me permission to re-post this recipe.  I highly recommend this book– the recipes are interesting and the book is filled with colorful photos as well as tips for a great dinner party and delicious menu ideas.  I also love the way she discusses veganism for the people who have chosen this lifestyle and those who are a part of their lives.  You can learn more about Colleen and check out her other books and work over at Compassionate Cook.

Here is the recipe, try it out and let me know how you like it!

Faux Vegan Tuna Pasta Salad

Faux Tuna Pasta Salad

Reprinted with permission from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

You will need a food processor for this recipe.  (I love my Ninja blender set!)

Feel free to substitute out any of the ingredients or add more of what you like!

– 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 3 cups of fresh beans soaked and cooked from scratch
– 1/2 – 1 cup of cooked multi colored shell pasta
– 1/2 cup eggless mayonnaise (I love Follow Your Heart’s Veganaise, it’s yummy and even better than the real thing because you don’t have to feel weird about eating raw eggs now!)
– 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
– 1/2 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
– 1 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
– 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
– 2 TBSP fresh or dried parsley, finely chopped
– 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
– 1 TBSP relish
– 1 – 2 TBSP of Herbs de Provence
– Salt and pepper to taste

Prep the chickpeas.  Grind chickpeas in a food processor or blender down to small flaky pieces.  (It only took me a few pulses to get it to this texture.)

Mix it up.  In a large bowl mix the chickpeas with the veggies, condiments, and seasonings.  Add the pasta.  Mix well so that the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Taste test, add more seasoning if desired.  Enjoy!

Eggplant Two Ways

I only recently started cooking with eggplant– I just wasn’t sure what to make and how to make it before!  It’s such an interesting vegetable though, the only purple one I can think of right now, with a funny spongy texture before it is cooked.  The first recipe I ever tried was ratatouille, and since then I have been hooked!

Eggplant is not only pretty, but very good for you:

  • 1 cup provides 9 grams of carbs which is our body’s number source of fuel
  • 1 cup provides 2 grams of fiber
  • it is low in calories, 35/cup, and contains no fat while the high fiber content can help you feel full
  • the skin of the eggplant contains nasunin, which is an antioxident and free-radical scavenger
  • it is also a good source of B1, B6, and potassium

Eggplant is in season this month and here are two ways to add this beneficial vegetable to your BBQ or picnic basket:  grilled in a ratatouille inspired open face sandwich and sauteed in a caponata, spooned onto slices of a ciabatta loaf.

Grilled Ratatouille Open Face Sandwich

I love ratatouille and wanted to take elements of it to make a fun and easy finger food that can be made on a grill.  I stayed indoors and used Emeril’s grill & panini maker for this recipe which worked out great.

The bread:
– 1 loaf of good artisan bread or baguette, I used Trader Joe’s flax seed ciabatta, sliced lengthwise

The veggies for the grill:
– 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces
– 1 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I sliced them in half after cutting lengthwise as well)
– 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I didn’t use in my recipe)

To brush onto the veggies:
– 3 to 4 TBS of olive oil
– rosemary, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– thyme, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– coriander seeds or ground
– salt and pepper, to taste

Other veggies you  will need:
– 2 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil, for cooking
– a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Start by combining all the ingredients to be used to brush onto the grilled veggies: olive oil, rosemary, thyme, coriander, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat up the grill.  Once it’s ready, lightly brush the eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini with the olive oil mixture.  Grill each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  When done, remove from grill and place on a plate.

While you are working the grill, heat up a small saucepan with some olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions.  Cook until edges are browned and onions are translucent.

Once most of the vegetables are grilled, toast the lengthwise pieces of bread for a few minutes until bread is warm and tops are starting to get crispy.

Assemble the sandwich:  spoon the cooked garlic and onion onto the bread and spread evenly.  Start with a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of squash, and then the zucchini.  Top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle on the cut basil and some salt and pepper. Cut into slices and serve.

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad with a sweet and sour taste.  This dish can be made a day or two before needed and stored in the refrigerator until ready to be eaten.

I found this recipe on Epicurious but I think the original recipe is from Bon Apetit.

– 1 small eggplant, cut int 1/2″ cubes
– 1/2 to 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 3 to 4 medium tomatoes, diced
– red wine vinegar
– 2 TBS capers, drained
– a handful of fresh basil, chopped
– pine nuts, toasted
– olive oil, for cooking
– slices of bread or crackers

Heat up oil in a medium frying pan.  Add eggplant, onion, and garlic.  Saute for about 15 minutes, until eggplant is soft and brown.  If the mixture looks too dry, add a few TBS of water while cooking.

Add the tomatoes.  Drizzle some red wine vinegar on top and add the capers.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat until eggplant and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste test, and add more vinegar, salt, and pepper if desired.

Stir in fresh basil and transfer into a serving bowl or container.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.  This dish can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Spoon onto slices of bread or crackers.

I

Travel provides such great inspiration for all kinds of things from art to writing to food!  I had so much fun visiting Seattle and trying new vegetarian/vegan-friendly eateries (thanks to my research-savvy friends.)  I was worried about this project because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cook as much or at all while on the road but instead I decided to re-create all the awesome meals I had while away from home. (And cook a lot more once I got back!)

Bao and I met her friend Robert for lunch by Pike Place Market.  We went to this deli/sandwich place where I got a warm grilled tofu sandwich.  It was delicious and had pieces of grilled tofu, a sauce that was a little sweet and a little tangy, lots of greens, red onions, and tomatoes.  It was simple but made for the perfect lunch.  What made it even better was sitting on a bench facing the water with the ferry going by on a beautiful sunny day!

Here’s the inspiration sandwich:

And below is my recreation of the sandwich!  Thanks Robert for a yummy lunch!

Grilled Tofu Sandwich

- 4 Artisan rolls or loaf, cut into 8 thick slices
– 1 pkg of extra firm tofu, cut into thick rectangles (about 1/2″ thick)
– 1 small red onion, cut into thin slices
– 1-2 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into slices
– arugula

for the sauce, place the following in a small bowl:
–  1 part BBQ sauce (I started with about 1/8 cup)
– 2 part vegan mayo, such as Vegenaise
- 1 tsp molasses
– 1 TBS mustard

For the tofu, I used a counter top grill (like George Foreman’s) or you can use a grill pan.  Pat tofu slices dry.  Grease grill and place tofu slices diagonally on the grill for nice slanted grill marks.  (There was some trial and error on my end: the first time I didn’t grease the grill so a lot of it got stuck and stayed on the grill!  Also I cut some of the tofu pieces too thin and when I closed the grill it didn’t touch the top of the tofu.)  Grill until you have nice golden brown marks on the tofu (I personally don’t like it too dark, you can leave it on the grill longer if you prefer.)

While the tofu is on the grill, place rolls/slices of bread in the oven at 350F until warm and toasted.

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together.  Taste test, add more of any of the ingredients if needed.

Spread a layer of sauce on both sides of the roll/bread.  Layer on tomatoes, onions, tofu, then another layer of sauce, and top with arugula.  Enjoy!

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