Vegan Blooming Buffalo Pasta
only 50 calories for an 8 plus oz serving!

BUFFALO PASTA–only 50 calories for an 8+ oz. serving!

Would you believe me if I told you that this 8+ ounce boel of delicioys Buffalo Pasta contains a total of 50 calories, including the pasta, the sauce, and the celery?!  And it is so filling that I couldn’t even eat it all.

The secret is in the Shirataki pasta, which is only 20 calories for 8 oz, and the delicious Buffalo Sauce made from my low calorie Blooming Platter Mayo at only 8 calories per tablespoon.

Note: while the Liquid Smoke and molasses might seem like odd ingredients, the Buffalo soy nuggets we all love from Whole Foods contains smoke flavoring and molasses powder. Even though traditional buffalo sauce contains neither, they are delicious additions.

BLOOMING BUFFALO PASTA
Yield: 1 large serving (or 2 entrees with a side salad); easily multiplies

8 oz Shirataki pasta, drained, rinsed, and heated for 1 minute in the microwave for a cold pasta dish or two minutes for a warm pasta dish

1/2 cup finally chopped celery

2 tablespoons Best Blooming Platter Lo-Cal Mayo

1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1/8 teaspoon molasses

Sea salt to taste

Whisk together the Blooming Platter Mayo, sriracha sauce, vinegar, Liquid Smoke, molasses and sea salt.   Place pasta in a bowl, sprinkle with celery, drizzle with sauce, and garnish as desired.

 

 

 

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Vegan Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles
Only 250 Calories Per Large Serving
5 Ingredient One-Dish Meal

Yield: 2 servings

Calories: app. 250/serving (if you are starved, enjoy the whole recipe for only 500 calories!)

The truth is, I am not passionate about food in the same way as I used to be.  BUT WAIT.  Before you think, “Well I’m certainly not going to waste my time perusing the website of someone who isn’t passionate about food,” please allow me to explain.  (If you want to skip the backstory/lecture and go straight to the recipe, just scroll down a short ways.)

For most all of my life, beginning in childhood, I obsessed about food.  My restless imagination was almost never not ruminating on new recipes or new riffs on old recipes: new ways to do things in the kitchen; better ways.  My mind was like that of a slightly mad scientist, my kitchen a laboratory where I joyfully spent hours on end.  Drive time, shower time–even yoga–it was all permeated by thoughts of food.

But then my husband  died.  And all of that changed.  A lot changed.  Food was just one of the many things on the chopping block, so to speak.  I am no longer in a full-on situational anorexic phase.  But, food quickly became and remained more of a sacrament.  Exquisite tastes to be partaken in small quantities that graces life’s other moments of meaning and transition is how I think of food.  This pasta dish, enjoyed alfresca, anointed the last day of school before exam week and acknowledged my gratitude for the beautiful place where I live happily, if a bit sobered and, certainly, changed in some profound ways.

Regarding practical considerations, my husband didn’t eat the way I do and neither does my new partner of just over a year and a half.  So I really cook for one and most recipes make far more than that, either spoiling or causing me to eat out of guilt for fear of the food spoiling.  And the disquieting truth about diet is that we Americans, especially, don’t need the quantity of food–even good, clean, wholesome food–that we desire.  And that includes vegan food.  Plus, there are ways other than standing in my kitchen that I want to spend more time now, as simple and beautiful as my recently remodeled culinary space is.

Let’s be honest: nothing about a vegan diet is necessarily low-calorie or, for that matter, even healthy.  It is absent any cholesterol for sure. And it’s a whole lot better for the animals and, possibly, the planet, though the manufacturing and packaging of processed foods presents a problem.  But, unless we choose carefully, we can end up eating a shameful American diet full of fat and sugar, albeit absent of any animal products.  It appears that many vegans simply want to eat the vegan equivalent of their pre-vegan diet of fast food and high-calorie indulgences, you know, dishes like mac-and-cheese nachos with a side of tater tots.

For the animals, I am grateful that these folks have made the switch.  For ourselves, we can do better.  And to move us a little further along that path, I offer this simple, satisfying recipe for a nutritious one-dish meal that is as quick as it is low in both fat and calories.

Vegan Thai Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles

1/4 cup water

8 cups baby kale (substitute spinach or a combination if you desire)

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce (sold in Asian markets as “vegetarian” fish sauce or make your own)

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky works equally well)

1 8-ounce package tofu Shiratake spaghetti noodles, rinsed and drained (I use House Foods brand with only 20 calories for the entire 8 ounces, but the konnyaku type made from a yam-like tuber has 0 calories)

Garnish: 1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashews halves and pieces or peanuts

Optional garnish (which I love but isn’t pictured): Sprigs of Thai basil, mint, and/or cilantro

In a large skillet over medium, heat water to a simmer.  Stir in kale, 2 cups at a time, until each batch begins to wilt.  You can add it all at once, but I like the different textures derived from each handful cooking slightly less time than the one before.  Stir in vegan fish sauce, followed by peanut butter.  When sauce has come together and most of the liquid has evaporated, add noodles, and heat through, stirring to separate the strands.  Serve in bowls with chopsticks topped with cashews and peanuts and the herb of your choice.  Thai basil–so different from Italian basil–is a favorite of mine.

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Easy, Fast, Intoxicating Vegan Dan Dan Noodles
with 0 Calorie Noodles(!)

Yield: 2 servings (easily multiplies)

Vegan friends, prepare to have your pasta-loving lives changed.

Recently, I fell in love with vegan Dan Dan Noodles, both at V Street in Philadelphia and at Forbidden Bistro, our favorite Chinese restaurant here in Virginia Beach.

The problem for me and the reason I had probably never ordered Dan-Dan before is not finding vegan noodles, but all of the calories in any kind of noodle. The dish at V Street was the perfect “gateway” though, as it was a dimuntive tapas portion.  So when I noticed them on  the Forbidden Bistro menu,  I talked myself into ordering them, but I made more than one meal out of their dinner entree.

As for solving the problem of noodles and all of their calories, enter the amazing No-oodles, a thin, slightly curly, tofu-free shirataki. They have O CALORIES. That’s right. None. Nada. Zip.  Feel free to use any brand of shirataki in this recipe, including the type made with tofu, which has a few calories.  But I prefer the No-oodles, as their size and shape seems more Dan Dan-like than fetuccine-like.

Locally, I found No-oodles last weekend at a small, niche natural market called Organic Depot. After you read the list of what No-oodles don’t include–dairy, gluten, carbs, calories, etc.–you will wonder what they do include. And that is simple: water, yam flour, and lime.  Somehow, they are delicious and don’t break down when simmered.  But they lack nutrition of any kind, so you obviously have to be sure to enjoy them with accompaniments that are full of vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Dan Dan is traditionally served with julienne cucumbers, scallions, and lime.  But I subbed other ingredients that I had on had for the cuke: tricolor pear tomatoes and a delicious naturally fermented curry-flavored sauerkraut from Whole Foods that included cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower.  A vegan Kimchi would be really nice too.

I researched recipes and ultimately decided to tweak one I found online from Food and Wine.  It, and the others, called for frying the peanuts for the sauce, which sounds delicious  ut messy.  So I simply chose already roasted peanuts, the same amount of oil, and skipped the frying step because oil isn’t a problem for me when the noodles have no calories.  Though I put peanuts in the sauce, as called for by tradition, I garnished tge dish with a few cashews because I love them so.

Honestly, I could eat this dish every day.  And it’s so easy, quick, and healthful that there’s no reason not to.  Hmm…

Note: if you want to make Dan Dan Noodles with Tofu, cut 14 ounces of firm or extra firm tofu into cubes and marinate in sauce for an hour or so before removing with a slotted spoon, sauteing in an oiled skillet–or baking/broiling–and spooning over the completed dish.

low

Dan Dan No-oodles

1/4 cup peanut oil (vegetable oil will work in a pinch)
1/2 cup roasted and lightly salted peanuts (or cashews)
1 small jalapeño, stem, ribs, and seeds removed (wash hands after) or 1 teaspoon Asian fire oil (hot, spicy oil)
1 large garlic clove, halved
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves or 1 teaspoon dried (optional)
1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (I like coconut sugar in this dish)
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Sea salt to taste if needed (I don’t feel the dish needs extra salt, but it depends on your peanuts)
2-8 ounce packages No-oodles or Shirataki (if the latter is made with tofu, some calories will be involved), drained
Garnish (choose any or all): Julienne cucumber, Asian-compatible sauerkraut (I use a curry variety with cabbage, carrot, and cauliflower from Whole Foods) or Kimchi, sliced scallions, lime wedges, sesame seeds, lightly roasted and salted cashews, sprigs of mint or cilantro

Simply place all ingredients except pasta and garnishes in a food processor–I used my small processor for one recipe–and process until smooth.  Scrape into skillet and warm over low or medium heat.  Add No-oodles, stir gently, and simmer until noodles are heated through.  Serve in bowls topped with the garnishes of your choice; go for contrasts in color and texture.  Enjoy with chopsticks.

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Best Vegan Quick-and-Easy Pad Thai Lite
with Spiralized Veggie Noodles

Yield: 2 servings (easily multiplies)

I love Pad Thai–heck, I adore all Thai food–but I rarely let myself make or order it because it packs a wallop in the calorie department.

But last weekend, I was in Whole Foods, and saw a beautiful rainbow of spiralized vegetables. I chose the butternut squash and the turnip and brought them home. I roasted them together in a 450-degree oven with a tiny bit of oil, but then I wasn’t sure what to do with them.

But when my friend shared her homemade Asian fusion birthday dinner with me via Facebook last night, I woke up with thoughts of Pad Thai on my mind. After some beautiful days in the 60s, it is suddenly in the 90s here and I didn’t want to be in the kitchen long. So I whipped up a quick version that I would eat again and again. See if you agree.

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups bean sprouts

2 large green onions sliced, both white and green part

2 cups roasted or steamed spiralized vegetables (I used a combination of butternut squash and turnip)

1/2 large lime

2 tablespoons chopoed roasted and lightly salted peanuts

In a small bowl, whisk together first three ingredients. Pour oil into large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add bean sprouts and stir fry for a minute or two followed by green onions. Add spiralized vegetables and stir fry for another minute or two. Divided between two plates and sqeeze the juice of one quarter of the large lime over each. Top each with one quarter cup remaining bean sprouts and one tablespoon of chopped peanuts. Serve immediately with chopsticks.

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Day 13: Vegan Curried Couscous AND Vegan Pear, Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Sandwiches

(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

[Betsy’s Note: the “F” on Kim’s photo is the grade she gave herself for her adlibbed cheese layer of the sandwiches, NOT for the recipe.]

Today I was super ambitious and decided to take on two recipes.

The first one, Curried Couscous, was the easiest one I have made to date. My biggest challenge was the fact that I had no idea what couscous was. My family has never eaten it. So of course I’m standing in the rice aisle at the grocery store searching up and down. I suppose I looked lost because two of the store managers who were in a deep discussion behind me stopped and walked over to see if I needed help. I said I was looking for couscous explaining that I had never used it before and one pointed it out to me and then proceeded to show me all the different kinds. The other manager told him to stop confusing me and just handed me a box of the plain. They were both so kind that I took two and was on my way.

Putting this recipe together was totally uneventful, thus a real confidence builder for me. I’m totally getting the hang of this vegan cooking… until I took on the Pear Walnut and “Blue Cheese” Sandwiches.

Ok I had already decided that my “blue cheese” wasn’t going to have quotation marks around it. I was buzzing on a total confidence high from the couscous. Pears, bread, mustard, and brown sugar? I got this! The assortment of flavors sounded a little strange, but one thing I have learned from cooking The Blooming Platter is to just go with it and it all comes together in the end.

So I now have the sandwiches under the broiler and go to the fridge for my cheater blue cheese dressing and once again…I can’t find any. It’s gone. So now what? The sandwiches are now out of the oven and sitting on top of the stove not looking so appetizing to me (I was really looking forward to the blue cheese). I searched the fridge again hoping it would magically appear. It did not. So I started reading the recipe for the “blue cheese” and I have none of those ingredients. Time to get creative I guess.

I chose pepper jack cheese and cream cheese – I know, don’t judge me – and I layered it on the sandwiches and put them back under the broiler. Then I remembered I forgot to put the walnuts on it so I quickly took it back out and buried them under the cheese. It came out a little burnt around the edges so I cut the crust off and I honestly did eat it for lunch. I have to say it wasn’t bad!

I did not make this for my family because they really don’t like pears for one, and two, they would definitely object to using fruits with mustard and cheese; and my husband hates walnuts as well. I can definitely say I will be making both of these again. The couscous tasted really good! We served it right out of the pot so fast that I did not get a photo of it but it was beautiful. However I regret to say that I did get a photo of the “sandwich” even though I am sure it looks nothing like a pear, walnut and blue cheese sandwich. I promise to do it by the (cook)book next time!

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 9: Sage-Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Butternut Squash Fettucine(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Tonight we were discussing what to make for dinner, and my intention was to go to great lengths to lead my family to choose the butternut squash I had bought but let them think it was totally their decision. This is a skill that most mothers possess and I’m employing it tonight because I really want to make the Sage Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash.

Now what follows is a total breakthrough in this journey. I mention butternut squash and my husband says “Oh I saw a recipe for squash the other night that we can do. Where did I see that?” After a bit of thought he says “It was in that book you had out the other night when we had the zucchini.” No way! I swore I had hidden the book so well that night. So I ask innocently “what book?” “That vegetable book,” he says. Oh no!

I get the book out and, without showing him the cover, I turn to the Panko topped zucchini page. He takes the book and immediately checks out the cover and says “This is a VEGAN cookbook?!!!” See what I mean by “vegan phobic”?! So I grabbed the book and said “Oh my gosh, it’s just a book full of really good ways to cook vegetables. Remember the roasted cauliflower? Remember the awesome zucchini? You loved them!” I could see him really struggling with this, so I said “Let’s just find that recipe you saw for squash.” Crisis averted!

After that, we were flipping through the book together checking out different recipes. The one he had seen was for summer squash so we looked at two others for butternut squash and because neither of us wanted to go to the store for a can of black olives, we settled on the recipe I wanted in the first place!

He was more than happy to go watch TV while I cooked although he checked in every now and then. At one point he was looking over the recipe and saw Nutritional Yeast. (Now I had bought that on my last shopping trip so I could use it in this recipe.) “What the heck is Nutritional Yeast?” (ok, I paraphrased there). I admit I still don’t know so I mentioned that I think it’s a substitute for cheese. So he goes and gets cheese out of the fridge and sets it on the counter. Ok I get it. We will use cheese tonight but I will slip it into the next recipe that calls for it.

Now I am not a big risk taker when it comes to spices so I was super hesitant about the sage. I grow it in my herb garden but have never used it. Or so I thought. The minute I put it over the squash I knew where I had tasted it. Thanksgiving! I always buy the prepackaged herb stuffing mix that my mom always bought. That’s it! I love sage but didn’t even know it.

It got a little frantic towards the end pulling this recipe together. I had two frying pans and a pot going at the same time. (We joked later about how much easier cleanup was when we just stuck a veggie in the microwave.)  Finally I got it all put together beautifully in a really pretty bowl and was about to take a picture and my husband points out that I had forgotten to add the cheese. So I scrape it off of the fettuccine and back into the frying pan to add the cheese. Then back onto the noodles. I decided last minute to add some Panko crumbs for garnish and it’s done!

Even though we treated this as a side dish, it truly was the star of the plate. Everyone agreed that it tasted amazing. I feel like tonight was a total breakthrough for me in this challenge. My family is losing some of their phobias about vegan cooking and I am actually enjoying preparing vegetables in a more creative way. Ok so I’m not enjoying the cleanup afterwards but at least my challenge is working and I’m happy.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Browned Sage Butter, Wilted Greens and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

PlatedYield: approximately 32 gnocchi or 4 small-ish servings

 

Quite simply, this is possibly the best version of this type of”dream meal” I have ever tasted, much less prepared.  And, once the squash is roasted, it is surprisingly quick and easy.  I sage in the dough and the sauce, rubbed in the former, fresh in the latter.  But, I didn’t have fresh sage (a frost got mine), so I used a pinch of the rubbed in the sauce and derived plenty of green color from the wilted greens.

*Do ahead: roast butternut squash

 

Vegan Browned Butter

*1 cup roasted butternut squash (I roasted cubes for about 30 minutes at 450 degrees with a little olive oil and sea salt)

1 cup all purpose flour (I used white whole wheat) + another 2 to 3 tablespoons for rolling

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Lightly wilted spinach or your favorite green

Garnishes: Dollop of your favorite creamy nut cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds or other nuts

 

Vegan Browned Butter

2 tablespoons vegan butter

Optional (but recommended): 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage (or 2 to 3 fresh sage leaves, rolled, and sliced, i.e. chiffonade)

1/8th teaspoon garlic salt

Optional: a few drops of olive oil

In a cast iron skillet over medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and, stirring frequently, cook until it begins to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in nutritional yeast, if desired, sage, and garlic powder, and stir for about 30 seconds while nooch and garlic powder toasts and sage leaves wilt.  Reduce heat to low and stir in a drop or two of olive oil if a slightly thinner sauce is desired.  Keep warm over low heat.

Vegan Butternut Squash Ravioli

In a medium-large bowl, mash roasted butternut squash with a potato masher or a fork.  Using fingers, gently combine mashed squash with flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until you achieve a moist but stiff dough, that is very easy to handle.  (Depending on the moisture content of your squash, it may require more or less flour.) Avoid over-mixing.  Divide dough into thirds and, on a lightly floured work surface, roll each third into a rope about 1-inch in diameter.  With a sharp knife, cut ropes into 3/4-inch pieces.  Press tops gently with the tines of a fork.

Cover two of the ropes with a dish towel and simmer the gnocchi cut from the third rope for 2 to 3 minutes or until they rise to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain quickly over pot, and then transfer to skillet with browned butter.  Add the gnocchi cut from one of the other ropes to the simmering water and while they cook, saute the cooked gnocchi a couple of minutes with the browned butter, stirring frequently, until golden brown in spots. Remove to a covered dish to keep warm.  Repeat cooking process with remaining gnocci until all have been simmered and sauteed.  Serve over wilted greens and top with a dab of  nut cheese and a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Roll
Roll Gnocchi Dough Into 1-Inch Diameter Ropes
Cut Into 3/4-Inch Pieces and Press with Fork Tines
Simmer Just Until They Rise to the Top, 2 to 3 Minutes
Drain with a Slotted Spoon
Browning in Sauce
Saute in Browned Butter Until Lightly Caramelized
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Vegan Pasta with Smoky Corn Cream Sauce, Lemon, Pine Nuts, and Dulce

Pasta with Corn Cream SauceYield: 4 servings

Ever since my husband suddenly passed away on July 30, friends have thought of the loveliest ways to nurture me, mind, body and soul.

Janie Jacobson Craig, known for her healthy cooking classes once taught out of the Kitchen Barn and now out of her stylish contemporary beach home, wanted me to join her to make this cleaned-up carbonara using corn cream.

I was intrigued, but I asked her if she would come to our house because leaving home some days made me feel untethered in an unplesant way.  So, she loaded up her basket with the ingredients and over she came.

The idea for the “cream” is a sensation; thank you Tim Maslow!  As for the rest of the recipe, which called for bacon and crab, we substituted vegan bacon and pinenuts for their pale color and sweetness.  To suggest a briny hint of the sea, we chose a sprinkling of dulce flakes.

I will definitely be makign this easy, elegant dish again and I hope you will.

1 pound pasta (we used a quinoa variety from Whole Foods)

7 ears corn, uncooked

2 tablespoons vegan butter

1/4 pound vegan bacon, chopped and cooked or crisped according to package directions; set aside

2 shallots, minced

2 large cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive oil

1/2 pound pine nuts

approximately 2 teaspoons dulce flakes

In a large stock pot over medium high, heat generously salted water to boiling.  Add pasta, return to a gently boil, lower heat, partially cover, and cook until al dente (time will vary depending on the type of pasta).  Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.

Meanwhile, make sauce.  Slice kernels from cobs and place in a food processor.  Run the blade of the knife along the cob over the food processor bowl to remove any remaining milk.  Process corn until smooth and then pass through a seive, pressing on solids. Reserve cream and save pulp for another use.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, melt butter.  Add shallot and saute, stirring, for a couple of minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another 30 seconds.  Add cooked pasta, corn “cream,” 1 1/4 cups water, and lemon juice.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until creamy and thickened.  Add more of the pasta water if necessary to reach the desired consistency.  Fold in vegan bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve lightly drizzled with olive oil and garnished with pine nuts, lemon zest and dulce flakes.

 

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Vegan Toasted Orzo Risotto (with Asparagus Stock or the stock of your choice)

Toasted Orzo RisottoYield: 4 side dish servings (easily doubles)

Joe and I are headed to NYC today for a dear friend’s wedding.  While, we are mostly excited about the wedding, we haven’t been to New York in far too long, so we are also amped about our POD hotel in East Midtown and the food!

Yesterday afternoon, another good friend who gets to Manhattan every year sent me her list of restaurant recommendations and I found myself starving.  Though, in truth, by 5 p.m. I am always starving.  I rise at 5:30 and teach high school all day, which I love, but which works up quite an appetite.

A handful of roasted peanuts and cashews–even with nutritional yeaste–didn’t do the trick.  So, I was casting about for something to snack on before I meet Joe at 7:30 for date night when I remembered that I had created this orzo risotto dish, but never finished it.  Yum!  Since I won’t be posting until after our weekend in the city, I thought I would go ahead and share now.

The recipe came about after making my Vegan Smokey Grilled Asparagus and White Bean Spread to take to a party.  I hated to waste–even to compost–all of the asparagus trimmings, so I made a stock.  But then I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I thought about a soup, but was craving something sort of creamy, starchy and chewy.  An opened box of orzo in the pantry provided all the inspiration I needed for this delectable Toasted Orzo Risotto that whispers spring with its oh-so-subtle hint of asparagus and bright fresh lemon zest.

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup dried orzo

1/8th teaspoon sea salt + more to taste, if desired (to finish the dish)

2 1/2 cups asparagus stock (asparagus trimmings and a pinch of sea salt simmered in 2 cups water for 20 minutes and steeped until cool) OR any vegetable stock, preferably low sodium

1/2 cup dry white wine (I use a pinot grigio)

1/2 cup plain coconut or soy creamer (use unsweetened if you can find it)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Zest of 1/2 large lemon

Garnish: lemon zest, sprigs of fresh herbs, or the primary vegetabel from stock, if homemade.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium high, heat olive oil, add orzo, stir to coat and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until lighly browned, avoid over-browning, especially toward the end.  Add one-third of  stock and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Repeat with remaining stock, one-third at a time, followed by white wine and creamer, for a total of 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time.  To finish the dish, stir in nutritional yeast, black pepper, and lemon zest.  Check for salt and add more if desired.  Serve garnished as desired.  (I used grilled asparagus spears.)

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