Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smoked Almond Quiche Lorraine

I like to imagine Julia Child reading this recipe and protesting (in her trademark flutey tones), "Quiche Lorraine without eggs? Without cream? Without butter or cheese? Without bacon?" just before downing an entire bottle of a good Sauvignon Blanc and passing out on the floor. And in truth this recipe is really an homage to that classic savory pie, rather than a facsimile of The Thing Itself. In place of the original's traditional combination of cholesterol and cruelty, my version uses smoked almonds and black salt for that bacony and eggy something, adds mushrooms for textural interest, and packs the mighty nutritional punch of nuts, tofu, and a generous dose of nooch. The finished product was declared an unqualified success ("the best quiche yet," quoth my middle son), and was equally good served hot, room temperature, or cold; both pies disappeared in under 48 hours, so this is a definite make-again. The weather here has been extremely hot, so I served our quiche with a simple green salad, but I think that steamed asparagus and new potatoes tossed with tarragon and olive oil would add the perfect dash of French Chef savoir faire.

Smoked Almond Quiche Lorraine
~ 2 single pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
~ 1.5 cup smoked almonds
~ 14 oz. firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ 12 oz. firm silken tofu
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 tbsp. cornstarch
~ 1 tsp. each: onion powder, black salt 
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ Dash of nutmeg
~ 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ Juice of half a lemon

~ Combine the almonds and silken tofu in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the processor running, gradually feed in the remaining ingredients and process to a smooth paste.
~ Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside while you make...

The Vegetables
~ 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance
~ 1 large onion, diced

~ Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until browned and ever so slightly crispy. Remove to a plate and set aside.
~ Add the Earth Balance to the skillet and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until quite soft but not brown.

The Assembly
~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Add the cooked mushrooms and onions to the quiche filling and combine thoroughly.
~ Divide the filling evenly between two pie crusts, smoothing with a spatula; top with a grind or two of black pepper and a sprinkle of salt.
~ Set the pies on a large baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes.
~ Remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is set.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pesto Pasta Salad

Sorry to have been such a bad/absent/lazy blogger lately; between a couple of trips and Mother Nature setting the thermostat to "HELL," I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen. 

In weather like this the only sensible thing is to get up ridiculously early and make a big vat of something to be eaten later. This was invariably the approach taken by my eminently sensible mother when I was growing up; by the time her kids were up and about, there'd be potato and/or pasta and/or tuna salad stowed away in Tupperware, ready to be served up at dinnertime with some bread and a green salad. 

Alas that her domestic ambition (and organizational skills) were not passed along to yours truly, who instead found myself whipping up this salad in my sweltering hellscape of a kitchen at 6pm last night, watching the ice cubes in a freshly made gin & tonic return to their original state almost before I could take a sip. Dante-esque conditions notwithstanding, I abandoned neither hope nor my dinner plans, and this pasta salad proved an ideal midsummer meal. I will certainly make this recipe again, but next time I'll try to drag my ass downstairs before Satan gets all crazy with the thermostat. 

Stay cool, kids.

Pesto Pasta Salad
The Pesto
~ ¼ cup olive oil
~ ¾ cup pine nuts
~ ½ cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano
~ 2 cups chopped, fresh basil
~ 3/4 - 1 cup water (more or less as needed)
~ A few grinds of black pepper

~ Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use as much water as you need to get the thickness and texture of a creamy salad dressing.

The Pasta Salad
~ 1 lb. salad-friendly pasta (penne, fusilli, etc.)
~ 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (save the stalks for something else)
~ 2 carrots, julienned
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 6 ounces baked and.or smoked tofu, cubed

~ Heat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Add the cubed tofu and bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
~ In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. In the last three minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli and carrots to the pot. Drain into a large colander and rinse with cold water immediately.
~ Return the drained pasta and cooked vegetables to the pot and add the bell pepper, the baked tofu, and the pesto. Mix thoroughly and chill for at least an hour before serving.