Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

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This summer I’ve been trying to cut back on my calories with lighter meals that are still filling. I’ve been trying to incorporate more seasonal produce into my diet as well. Although zucchini is typically available in the grocery store year round, zucchini season is still going strong. Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable – it’s great grilled, baked, sautéed, and also raw. I like to peel zucchini if I am eating it raw because it gets rid of the bitter aftertaste. I bought a vegetable spiralizer a few years ago and it’s one of the best tools to make a quick, healthy meal (click here for the one I use). Spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini are amazing in salads. This salad is ready in minutes and requires no cooking. The peanut sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. I use the sauce as a dip for vegetable rolls, baked tofu, and also on cauliflower rice. It goes with pretty much everything. Homemade peanut sauce tastes so much better than store bought and is really easy to make. This one is tangy, spicy, nutty, and absolutely delicious!

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Homemade spicy peanut sauce

I recommend tossing the noodles with the sauce right before serving so that the noodles keep their shape. This recipe makes a great side dish but can be turned into a light main course by adding your favorite vegan protein such as tofu, tempeh, or edamame. The carrots and red bell peppers add crunch and color. I decided to add healthy micro greens to this recipe instead of a traditional Asian herb such as cilantro. Micro greens have a really high nutrient content vs. regular greens and taste really fresh. They also make any dish look stunning! I definitely recommend giving them a try! They can be used as a garnish for soups, Buddha bowls, avocado toast, or added to any sandwich or wrap for extra flavor and nutrients. Zucchini noodles are tasty and filling and can be used as a substitute for any type of pasta. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • special equipment to make noodles: a table top vegetable spiralizer
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup micro greens
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • For the spicy peanut sauce (makes about 1/2 cup):
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbs agave syrup
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs water

Directions


To make the peanut sauce, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Next, using a table top vegetable spiralizer, make the zucchini and carrot noodles. In a large bowl, toss zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, and red bell pepper pieces with 1/4 cup of peanut sauce (add more to taste). Top with crushed peanuts and micro greens and serve immediately. Best if eaten within immediately.

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OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

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Bang Bang cauliflower is one my favorite dishes. I would say it’s the Asian inspired version of Buffalo cauliflower. I first tried it at a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment and fell in love with the flavor of the sauce. The restaurant version is really tasty but deep fried. My version is a little healthier because it’s baked and uses panko breadcrumbs to add some crunch. Because this recipe is dairy free, there’s no egg involved. I used vegan butter instead of egg to make the breading stick. The butter allows some of the panko to stick but it’s still a light coating. Panko breadcrumbs are used in a lot of Asian dishes as breading. They are made differently vs. traditional breadcrumbs and are light, airy, and very crunchy. A little goes a long way! The sauce is really the star of this dish and somewhat addictive! It’s tangy, spicy, and creamy and pairs really well with the crispy, hot cauliflower. I love the added freshness and flavor of the green onions on top, but you can certainly serve this dish without them. The versatile sauce also goes well with other vegetables and can be used as a dip for almost anything including tofu, tempeh, or dumplings. It’s really easy to make and the fresh lime juice really kicks up the flavor. Sweet chili sauce is not hard to find in any grocery store and adds a little touch of sweetness to the sauce. Feel free to adjust the ingredient proportions of the sauce to your preference! You can add more Sriracha sauce to taste depending on how spicy you like your food. The soy sauce adds some salt to the sauce – feel free to add a little more of that to taste as well. Adding less vegan mayonnaise will thin out the sauce. This colorful and spicy dish is perfect as a vegan appetizer at your next dinner party. If you make Bang Bang Cauliflower make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and/or Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 10 cups of florets)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted (such as Earth Balance brand) or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1 to 2 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 to 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • canola oil spray
  • 1/4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
  • 3 tbs chopped green onions (optional topping)

Directions

Preheat oven to 420F. Spray two baking sheets with canola oil spray and set aside. Cut cauliflower into even and small sized florets. In a large bowl toss cauliflower with butter (or oil), making sure all florets are evenly coated so that the panko can stick to them. Place panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Roll florets in panko breadcrumbs and place on baking sheets, making sure cauliflower pieces are not touching. Spray cauliflower with canola oil spray. Bake cauliflower for 20 minutes, then flip cauliflower pieces carefully with tongs or a spatula, and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Cauliflower and panko coating will appear golden brown when done. After baking, sprinkle cauliflower with salt and add more to taste. While cauliflower is baking, prepare the sauce. Whisk together mayonnaise, Sriracha (add more or less depending on desired spice level), sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice until smooth. Place cauliflower in a large serving bowl/platter and top with sauce and chopped green onions. Serve while hot. Consume within 1 day of preparing (panko will lose its crunch). Extra sauce may be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

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Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

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This summer I’m trying to eat as little processed food as I can. I’ve been trying to stick with whole food meals made at home. I love to use cauliflower because it’s so versatile. I roasted my cauliflower steaks for this recipe but you could also pan fry them or grill them. Since I eat a lot of cauliflower, I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. To make cauliflower ‘steaks’, I cut my cauliflower into 3/4 inch slices. Using a large head of cauliflower makes it easier. It’s also important not to separate or cut the stalk, since the stalk is what holds the cauliflower steak together. Cauliflower steaks are a great meat substitute, much like portobello mushroom caps. Chimichurri sauce pairs really well with cauliflower steaks. It’s traditionally used as a condiment for beef steak and other meat in certain South American countries but goes well with most vegetables and also with rice. It’s got intense flavor because of the raw garlic but the acid from the vinegar, and the freshness of the herbs balance it out. It’s really quick and easy to prepare since it doesn’t require cooking. There’s lots of different versions of this sauce. I had to make it a few times to decide how I liked it best. I also wanted to reduce the amount oil to make it healthier. Using high quality, extra virgin olive oil and high quality red wine vinegar will make this sauce even tastier. You can put chimichurri sauce on almost everything you grill – it adds a fresh, spicy flavor to otherwise bland food. I like to prepare it on the weekend and keep it in the fridge to use as a quick condiment for whatever I grill. You can top vegan protein such as tofu and tempeh it for a delicious kick. If you have an herb garden, this sauce is the perfect way to use up your parsley and cilantro! Let me know if you make chimichurri sauce by taking a picture and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram or Facebook or Pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed (do not cut stalk), and cut into 3/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tbs to brush on cauliflower
  • 3/4 cup fresh flat leave parsley
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt for sauce (plus more to sprinkle on cauliflower)
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper (plus more to sprinkle on cauliflower)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. Cut cauliflower into 3/4 inch slices. Brush cauliflower with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Roast cauliflower for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Flip cauliflower halfway through roasting time. Prepare chimichurri sauce while cauliflower steaks are roasting. In a food processor or blender add 1/4 cup olive oil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, crushed red pepper, red wine vinegar, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Puree for about 1 minute. Sauce should be slightly chunky in consistency. Place 1-2 roasted cauliflower steaks on a plate and top with desired amount of chimichurri sauce. Serve while hot. Makes about 1/2 cup chimichurri sauce. May store extra sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories: 137.5 calories per 2 tbs chimichurri sauce
  • Approximate calories: 235 cal for half a large head of cauliflower (with 1 tbs olive oil)

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Spinach Pesto Macaroni


March is one of my favorite months. The weather is warmer, March Madness is happening, and… it’s my birthday month! This year my sister got me a food processor for my birthday. Her gift inspired me to immediately make pesto sauce. The blades of this machine are razor sharp and it took no longer than 30 seconds for my ingredients to puree. I can’t wait to use this food processor to make more sauces along with a million other things. I have a Vitamix at home – it’s great for smoothies, soups, and smoothie bowls but I’ve always had a hard time making smaller quantities of sauce in it. I also wanted the food processor to chop my veggies. I highly recommend one as an essential tool for vegan cooking. This pesto sauce is healthier than the traditional kind. It contains less oil, no cheese, and uses spinach instead of basil. It’s garlicky and decadent like traditional pesto. You won’t miss the cheese, I promise! You can use this sauce for tofu, tempeh, or any vegetable including spaghetti squash. You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Kale would be a great substitute for the spinach. Pine nuts would also work well if you don’t have walnuts. This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto sauce. If you’re watching your calories, 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce combined with 1 cup of the pasta is also really tasty, just not as intense. Make sure you tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram if you make this dish!


Spinach Pesto Macaroni

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 8 quarts water (to boil pasta)
  • 4 cups baby spinach (5 oz package)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbs chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil spray

Directions

In a small frying pan or sauté pan, sauté garlic on medium heat in olive oil spray for about 4 minutes until fragrant and starting to brown. Place spinach, olive oil, walnuts, nutritional yeast, sautéed garlic, and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. In a large pot, heat water on medium high heat until it reaches a rolling boil. Cook macaroni for about 7 minutes for al dente pasta. Drain pasta and place in a large serving dish. Stir in pesto sauce and grape tomatoes and serve while hot. May store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Makes 1 cup of pesto sauce which can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Nutritional Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/2 cup pesto sauce: 356 cal
  • Approximate calories per 1 cup elbow macaroni: 200 cal

Garlic Rosemary Gravy (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to skip out on gravy! This recipe is delicious and easy. It’s also healthier and lighter in calories compared to traditional gravy. It’s important to make sure your onions and garlic are chopped into tiny pieces so that they cook evenly. This recipe will taste better when the onions are slightly browned. If you like a smoother texture instead of a slightly chunky one, I recommend using an immersion blender to puree the gravy. The immersion blender allows you to puree it right in your saucepan. You can serve this with my Truffled Purple Mashed Potatoes recipe pictured below. Happy plant based Thanksgiving!

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Garlic Rosemary Gravy (Vegan, Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until onions start to brown. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add rosemary and flour and cook for another minute – stirring frequently to dissolve flour. Add vegetable broth, salt, and pepper and simmer for about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Gravy will thicken and reduce slightly. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Puree gravy for 1-2 minutes with an immersion blender or traditional blender for smoother texture (optional). May store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Makes 4, 1/2 cup servings.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per 1/2 cup: 50 cal

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KitchenAid KHB1231 2-Speed Hand Blender Empire Red Electric Mixer

Cashew Cream Sauce and Vegan Sour Cream 

Cashew cream sauce is great for vegan cooking because it’s so versatile. It’s creamy, smooth, and not as heavy as you would expect. Most people don’t believe that it’s made of only cashews when they first taste it. It can be used to make vegan sour cream* for tacos, a sweet sauce/dip for desserts and fruit, or a savory sauce/dip for tofu, vegetables, pasta, or vegetable noodles. Cashew cream can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Many of my upcoming recipes will include cashew cream sauce.

Cashew Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup filtered water for recipe
  • 1.5 cups filtered water to soak cashews

Directions

Soak cashews for 2 hours in enough filtered water to cover them completely. Drain water and place cashews in a high powered blender such as Vitamix. Add 1 cup filtered water and keep blending until smooth. Add more or less water for desired consistency. Achieving a smooth texture may take some time depending on your blender. You may need to scrape down the sides of your blender a few times. The final amount of sauce will vary depending on how much water is added to thin it. The total amount should equal about 1.5 cups.

*To make vegan sour cream, blend the following into 1.5 cups cashew cream: 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 2 tbs lemon juice, and salt to taste


Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories for 1/4 cup: 80 cal

 

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Blend until smooth