rants & recipes

Archive for the ‘italian’ Category

Vegan Meatball Subs

Posted by trktos on 10-May-2010

I’ve been wanting a meatball sub for a while … finally got around to making some Sunday. They were to die for. Except, you know, no one actually had to die for them.

First up, French bread … I used this recipe (with the addition of 1/8 tsp ascorbic acid) … the bread turned out really well. (Photo by Evin, with his crazy tilt-shift lens.)

For the meatballs, I used “my” meatball recipe … I doubled this recipe and still have bunches in the ‘fridge for another meal this week (I’m thinking sweet-and-sour meatballs?)

For sauce, I just used spaghetti sauce … next time, I may use marinara.

Finally, the cheese … so Saturday, we had to put my car through a “drive cycle” to regenerate enough data to pass its emissions test. Said drive cycle terminated with us near MOM’s, so we picked up some Daiya … I must say, my previous notion that Daiya is not much better than FYH has been revised. I could *so* eat this stuff right out of the bag. And YES, it does melt:

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Cashew Ricotta Lasagna

Posted by trktos on 28-November-2009

Ok, I’ve had my eye on this lasagna recipe for a while. I wanted to make it for Vegan MoFo, but like a lot of recipes, I never got around to it during October but I finally made it yesterday.

I should note that imprecise recipes annoy me just a little and I’d usually pass up on a recipe that calls for “2-3 jars of sauce” – did you use 2 or 3? what size?? – but check out that original picture – it looked way too tasty to pass up. So I compared the ingredients with a lasagna recipe I’ve made a few times, and came up with a game plan concerning what tomato products I was going to use.

One thing I was really suspicious about, though, in the original recipe, was the pan size. 11 x 7 pan for all that food? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m no great judge of volume, but, but – that’s smaller than a sheet of paper?! I suspected there was no way all that food would even fit in my standard 9 x 13 pan. And I was right. I purchased a 10 x 14 deep dish pan – sadly, plentiful this time of year for turkeys and roasts – and even though I didn’t use quite all the ingredients compared to the original, the new pan was full to the brim.

So, here’s what I used. Please see notes, below, for future improvements.

Ingredients, cashew ricotta:

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1 14oz tub extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • ~ 1/2 tsp soy sauce

Instructions, cashew ricotta:

  1. Soak cashews (I used raw, unsalted cashews but roasted, unsalted would probably be good, too) – for an hour or two in cold water and drain. (I added this step because my food processor has problems and I was hoping it would do better with softer nuts).
  2. Blend ingredients in food processor, until smooth.
  3. Set aside.

Ingredients, other cheesey filling:

  • 1/2 pound carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ~ 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 8-oz container vegan cream cheese
  • approx. 1/3 cup diced, reconstituted dried mushrooms and the approx. 1/2 cup water from reconstituting them (in place of vegetable broth, in original)
  • 1 14-oz container extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (argh, I forgot this. Will add next time!)

Instructions, other cheesey filling:

  1. Saute carrots and garlic in some olive oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add parsley, mushrooms and “mushroom-recon” water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, crumbling tofu.
  3. Cook until cream cheese melts.
  4. Set aside.

Other Ingredients:

  • 8 oz spinach
  • 12-14 lasagna noodles
  • 1 25-oz jar pasta sauce (I used Roasted Garlic)
  • 1 15-oz diced tomatoes (I used Fired Roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • optional – vegan shredded cheese to top

Other Instructions:

  1. Wilt spinach in microwave or on stove-top. Set aside.
  2. Combine all tomato ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Cook lasagna noodle until nearly done, remembering they will cook more in the oven. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (at some point during noodle-boiling stage).
  2. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 10 x 14 inch (4 qt) casserole dish, to keep first layer of noodles from sticking.
  3. Start layering with noodles.
  4. Make sure each layer gets one of the cheeses and tomato sauce. I only added spinach to two layers. Top with noodles and repeat.
  5. End with noodles and pasta sauce and/or vegan shredded cheese, if using. (I used about half of a block of FYH mozaralla but I could have used more. I even tossed the shredded cheese with a little oil, but it did NOT melt, at all. Big disappointment. Oven must’ve needed to be hotter. It melts on pizza but that’s baked at 450 degrees!)
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, 1 hour 20 minutes. (Another draw back of a recipe calling for impossible amount of food to fit in a small pan – cooking times are likely to be off!)

Notes for next time:

  • I could have used a little more veggies. I’ll try to use the 16 ounces of spinace the recipe called for.
  • I’ll make up my half-pound of carrots with onions, carrots and fresh mushrooms. (Not half-pound, mind you. But about 2 cups’ worth?)
  • This could have been a little less-soupy. Next time, I will squeeze “other cheesey” tofu in a cheese cloth.
  • I will use petite diced tomatoes next time, and drain them. I will probably use 2 jars of pasta sauce and 1 can of tomato sauce, plus the drained tomatoes, because I could have used a little more sauce – yes, while simultaneously needing to be less soupy. This is not a contradiction! =)
  • I will plan to cook at 350, covered, for about an hour. Maybe uncovered, 375, for another 30 minutes (checking frequently.)
  • I might also try 2 recipes of cashew ricotta and leave out the other cheesey tofu mixture. (Still using spinach and veggies, of course.)
  • If I want *melted* cheese on top next time, I’ll either go pick up some Daiya from Pangea or melt the FYH on the darn stovetop first, and pour on during last 15 minutes or so of baking.

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Italian Seitan Crumbles

Posted by trktos on 1-August-2009


  • 1 box wheat gluten (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 7 tbsp “marmite water” – see notes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • pinch marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • pinch chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ~ 1/4 cup water, added at the end because the mix was too dry.


  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add liquid and combine. This mix was too small an amount for my Bosch and also very dry, so after watching it ride around the Bosch for a bit, I finished mixing and kneading by hand.
  3. Pinch into small crumbles. Or cut. It was dry enough for me to cut into small cube-like pieces.
  4. Brown in oil and soy sauce for approximately 15-20 minutes. Cook until the chewy texture is gone. Taste a piece after about 5 minutes of cooking, when they begin to look nicely browned. You’ll see they aren’t done, yet.


  • Adjusted combination of these two recipes: this one for spices and this one for ratios of water/gluten, etc.
  • The “marmite water” mentioned above is cooking broth from re-hydrated soy curls in this recipe.  I’m sure a similar soy sauce, ketchup, marmite and water mixture would suffice.
  • The seitan mix was very dry and stretchy. If undercooked, you will have Italian Seitan chewing gum. Keep cooking until the chewy texture goes away.
  • Because it was dry, I was generous with soy sauce and oil, for browning.
  • Next time, I’ll add some flour or oats in an attempt to decrease the density. Maybe 1/4 cup?
  • Although tasty in pasta sauce, these really “belong” on a (vegan!) pizza.
  • I didn’t store leftover crumble in sauce, they seemed like they may get soggy.


  • 14-Aug-09 – I made a second batch of these. This time, I used 1/4 cup water and added the following additional ingredients: 1 tbsp A1, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour.
  • The mix seemed much less dry, starting out. I browned for a while in oil and soy sauce. Once browned sufficiently, I placed in the food dehydrator (on about 130 degrees) for maybe about 3 hours? They were really good.
  • Leftovers didn’t get soggy overnight, although seitan always seems to soften up, when warmed. Given that, I would have preferred not to have the leftover crumbles mixed in – if they were separate, they could have skipped re-heating in the microwave.
  • Next time, I’ll try to make further ahead, and dehydrate longer.

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Tempeh Meatballs

Posted by trktos on 12-July-2009

These are the best meatballs I’ve made, so far … they’re heavily based from a Vegan Dad recipe, but I found those, as they’re written, a little too dense so I made some changes. I also don’t bother to steam the tempeh before putting it in the food processor. We really like the flavor of tempeh, even raw, so it’s not a problem. If tempeh isn’t a favorite, you might want to steam it for about 10 minutes first, and adjust/leave out the water?


  • 1 8 oz. package tempeh
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp A1
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 100 grams bread, crumbs
  • 20 grams walnuts (about 2 tbsp?)
  • 1/4 cup instant oatmeal (woops, I forgot this … maybe next time)
  • few dashes black pepper
  • about 3 tbsp oil, for browning


  1. Finely dice onion and garlic in a food processor. Remove to mixing bowl.
  2. Make bread crumbs and chop walnuts (I also did this in the food processor.) Empty into bowl w/ onions.
  3. Grate tempeh with grater or food processor. Add to mix.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. I used a bread mixer … if you have a full-size food processor, it could probably mix it too … leave it somewhat crumbly, though, you don’t want a paste.
  5. Form about 36-40 small ‘meat’balls.
  6. Heat oil in frying pan and brown meatballs. Turn to brown on all sides (this is harder than it sounds).
  7. Serve with pasta sauce and pasta.


Next time, I may use more walnuts. And try to blend them up better.

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Seitan O’ Dryness

Posted by trktos on 17-December-2008

The title is sort of in jest … I think I made my log a little longer and thinner than normal, but didn’t decrease the baking time and so my first attempt at Italian sausage seitan was a little dry on the ends/edges (but quite tasty with pasta sauce and how else does one eat Italian sausage, anyway?). This dryness issue will be remedied next time.

See Notes for improvements.


  • 3 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • pesto:  ~ 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/3 – 1/2 cup walnuts, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp A1
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • about 2 tbsp Campbell’s Tomato Soup (leftover – it’s not exactly that great)
  • ~ 2 tsp dried basil
  • ~ 1 tsp Italian seasoning (basil, oregano)
  • ~ 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ~ 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • pinch or two of chili powder
  • ~ 1/4 – 1/2 tsp spicy mustard
  • ~ 1/8 – 1/4 tsp each ground sage and rosemary (not too much, or it’ll taste like stuffing! :)
  • 3 cloves garlic, microplaned


  1. I ground the nuts, the rest of the “pesto” ingredients, the 1/2 cup yeast, the red pepper flakes, the rest of the dry flavoring/herbs  in a blender (no, I don’t have a food processor) until well ground.
  2. Then, combine rest of dry ingredients, “pesto”.
  3. Combine wet ingredients, garlic.
  4. Add wet mix to dry.
  5. Knead until combined.
  6. Form a log, roll in foil, twist ends tightly.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 90 minutes.


  • based on the famous seitan o’ greatness recipe here, with a few modifications to the spices found here.
  • next time, I will add a little more oil/liquid and a dash of liquid smoke.
  • I may have used a little more basil, it’s hard to tell from my notes.
  • makes good meatballs, if you don’t mind cube-shaped meatballs.
  • definitely leave out pine nuts, if you don’t have them … sub any other nut or more walnuts.
  • LESS DRY: when made a second time, I increased the oil to 4 tbsp, increased the A1 to 4 tbsp, added an extra tbsp of water and used 3 tbsp ketchup in place of the 2 tbsp tomato soup. The result was very tender (the 2/3rds of middle was under-done at 80 minutes cooking time but made a great “ground seitan” for this recipe).

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