Matar Tofu

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The holidays are over and winter is here to stay for the next few months. January is not an exciting time for produce in Chicago. I tend to make things from pantry ingredients more: soup, curry, casseroles. I also roast a lot of vegetables this time of year. Indian food is great for a quick weeknight dinner on cold nights. It’s spicy, tasty, filling, and easy to make. Matar paneer is a classic North Indian, tomato based curry made with peas and paneer – homemade dairy cheese. I grew up loving this dish but found that tofu is the perfect vegan substitute for the homemade paneer cheese. The tofu adds a lot of protein to this healthy meal. I use organic frozen peas which are delicious and don’t even need to be thawed out prior to making this dish. This is a simple recipe that really requires only one pot. Jasmine rice or Naan bread are the perfect accompaniment for this dish. I’ve recently discovered Trader Joe’s frozen Naan bread which is delicious and very authentic tasting. If you like really firm tofu, I recommend using high protein tofu or baking cubed, extra firm tofu in the oven at 420F for about 20 minutes on a baking sheet. You can toss it in canola oil or coconut oil and about a 1/4 tsp of salt before baking. This dish tends to get more flavorful with time. I like to make it one day prior to serving so that the spices can get absorbed by the tofu and settle into the sauce. It also makes an excellent, high protein desk lunch! If you make Matar Tofu make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or pin the recipe on Pinterest!

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Matar Tofu

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 16 oz extra firm tofu, drained of excess moisture and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1, 16oz bag frozen peas
  • 1, 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green chili pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1.5 tbs canola oil
  • Jasmine rice or Naan bread to serve

Directions

Heat oil on medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add ginger and chili pepper and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add green peas, tofu, garam masala, and salt and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in coconut cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Top with fresh cilantro and serve while hot. Serve with Jasmine rice or Naan bread. May store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate

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This is an easy and festive recipe for the holidays! I love peppermint bark but didn’t want to go through the trouble of actually making it at home. Peppermint hot chocolate has all of the same delicious flavors but takes just a few minutes to make. I found organic, vegan candy canes at Whole Foods. The colors of the organic candy canes aren’t as intense but they are just as delicious as traditional candy canes. Peppermint and dark chocolate together are so irresistible! These rich warm flavors make this drink so comforting on a cold winter day. Adding both cocoa powder and dark chocolate makes this hot chocolate thicker, more flavorful, and creamier than just using cocoa powder. You can also find coconut whipped cream at most grocery stores to top off your hot cocoa. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups almond milk
  • 4 organic candy canes (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs agave syrup (or 2 tbs Stevia)
  • 1.75 oz dark chocolate
  • coconut whipped cream (optional topping)

Directions


Heat almond milk until just boiling. Add cocoa powder, agave, and dark chocolate and stir until dissolved. Add candy canes one at a time until melted, stirring often. Top with whipped cream and serve while hot.

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Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash, Sage, and Ricotta

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Butternut squash with sage is one of my favorite vegetable and herb combinations. I love butternut squash soup with sage and wanted to capture that flavor in a hearty pasta dish. Fresh sage has an unforgettable scent, unique flavor, and velvety texture. This is an easy, crowd pleasing recipe that will warm you up on a cold winter day. The vegan ricotta makes it extra creamy and rich and the pine nuts add flavor and crunch. Roasted butternut squash is soft and will stick to your pasta a little to add some additional texture. The lemon juice adds bright acidity that ties this dish together. This pasta is fragrant and colorful with the orange squash and green sage. It’s also hearty and very flavorful. It’s kid friendly as well. The key to making delicious pasta is not overcooking it. Typically around 8-10 minutes is perfect for al dente pasta. Removing it from the heat immediately after cooking helps to keep it from cooking any further. The pasta water contains starch from the pasta and will provide a smooth, silky texture to the pasta if you add a little of it after cooking. I usually save about 2-4 tbs of the pasta water to add in while I am adding the sauce or vegetables. You can salt your pasta water to make your pasta more salty from the inside out or wait until the end to season the entire dish.  This pasta would go beautifully with a kale salad or sauteed spinach. It also pairs well with white wine such as Viognier or Chardonnay. This is festive, easy, vegan recipe is great for the holidays! If you make it, make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin the recipe on Pinterest. Happy holidays!

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Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash, Sage, and Ricotta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 lbs cubed butternut squash (about 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup vegan ricotta cheese (such as Kite Hill brand)
  • 1 cup sage, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbs olive oil, divided
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 420F. Spray two baking sheets with olive oil spray. Toss butternut squash with 1 tbs olive and spread in a single layer on baking sheets. Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping squash with a spatula halfway through cooking time. Squash should be fork tender but not browned. Cook penne in a large pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes. Save about 2 tbs of the pasta water. Drain pasta immediately and set aside. Next, heat 1 tbs olive oil on medium heat in a medium-large Dutch oven or saucepan. Add garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add chopped sage and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add pine nuts and the roasted butternut squash and turn heat off. Add cooked pasta, 2 tbs pasta water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and vegan ricotta cheese and stir to combine well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. May store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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