Sauteed Cabbage Noodles

Sauteed Cabbage Noodles

Hi folks,

I know I’ve been AWOL. But I’m about to make it up to you with my biggest culinary discovery in years, hear me out on this:

A couple Passovers ago, I was trying to be a good Jew and keep strictly kosher. According to Ashkenazi culture, that means no chametz (leavened grain-based products) OR kitniyot (beans, lentils, corn, rice, many seeds etc.) As a vegan whose body can’t get down with gluten very well, that left me with virtually nothing to eat. I was hungry and broke, so one evening I cut up a cabbage, sauteed it with salt, olive oil and a little vinegar and threw marinara sauce on it. I figured it would be sad and gross.

But I realized something: cooked cabbage makes for some pretty great vegan/paleo/gluten-free/Kosher for Passover/no-spiralizer-required/super-easy noodles. No joke. I still went back to eating kitniyot after a day or two, but the cabbage noodles were a game-changer.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the zucchini noodle (“zoodle”) craze. Aside from being a pain to spiralize, one main issue is that you can’t really cook zoodles without having them fall apart into mush. With cabbage noodles, you can cook them as long as you want and serve them with piping-hot sauces and they’ll still hold together perfectly. Plus, the flavor of cabbage noodles beats the flavor of zucchini noodles every time.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut up a small/medium green cabbage into long, thin strips (roughly the width of linguine)
  2. Heat up a large pot on medium-high with a little olive oil
  3. Throw in the cabbage with a teaspoon or so of salt, stir thoroughly, and let it cook for about 10 minutes (stirring occasionally)
  4. Add a splash of vinegar (white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar and balsamic all work well)
  5. Serve with your sauce of choice (puttanesca, bolognese, pesto, cashew alfredo OR pad thai sauce.) My favorite is a lentil-walnut bolognese (shown in the picture), and I’ll put the recipe for that below

Cooking the cabbage thoroughly with olive oil and salt gets rid of its sharpness and bitterness and gives it a warm, smooth flavor. The vinegar gives the flavor a boost and breaks the cabbage down further to aid with digestion. The texture remains al dente after being cooked rather than getting mushy, which is really nice (especially in comparison to all the mushy gluten-free noodles out there.) They’re even just as good re-heated.

Try it and tell me what you think. Regular pasta is great, but cabbage noodles have become a delicious regular addition to my dinner table.

cabbage noodles 2

Lentil-Walnut Bolognese Sauce

  • 1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (make your own if you’re feeling ambitious)
  • 1 cup green or brown lentils (or you can use 3 cups leftover cooked lentils)
  • 1 bouillon cube or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon
  • 1.5 cup walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the Kroger generic brand is vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Note: If you don’t have one or a couple of the seasoning ingredients, it’s not the end of the world. Just season the filling with what you have until it’s nice and savory and you’re happy with it.

  1. In a small, covered pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil with the lentils and bouillon. Lower heat to medium and cook, covered, until lentils are soft but not mushy (about 20 minutes.) Remove lentils from pot and allow to cool
  2. Drain and thoroughly rinse the walnuts, then pulse in a food processor until broken into small crumbles. Add the cooled lentils and pulse until crumbly as well
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the lentils, walnuts and all seasoning ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking, then mix in the tomato sauce

 

Paleo Version: 

Use just walnuts and no lentils, and/or add soaked sunflower seeds/soaked pumpkin seeds. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

Nut-Free Version:

Substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts

Budget Version:

Use just lentils and no walnuts

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Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

I guarantee that you haven’t made oatmeal this way before. Since you’re cooking the raisins and the bananas thoroughly but barely cooking the oats, you’re bringing out and developing the natural sugars of the fruit without letting the texture of the oats get mushy and gruel-like. The result is non-pasty oatmeal that doesn’t even need any sweetener.

This oatmeal is warming, flavorful and will leave you full and powered up until lunchtime. It has come through for me ever since I was a busy and newly vegan undergrad who needed a filling breakfast but had zero dollars. Now that it’s chilly outside again, this is the comforting breakfast that I come back to more than any other. 

If you ever buy bananas and they get overripe before getting eaten, just peel them and throw them in the freezer so that you can take them out whenever you want to make this.

Yield: 3 medium or 2 large portions

  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 cups old fashioned (not quick) oats*
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional
  • Optional add-ins/garnishes: chia seeds, hemp hearts, dried coconut, berries, chocolate chips, whatever your heart desires

1. With a potato masher, a fork or your hands, mash the banana up in a small pot. Add the raisins, almond milk, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in peanut butter thoroughly. Then stir in old fashioned oats, optional vanilla extract and any desired add-ins. Cook for just about 30 more seconds, or for a few minutes longer if you like the oats softer.

 

*you can make this with steel-cut oats and it’s delicious, but it takes much longer to cook and requires extra almond milk and more stirring to keep from burning

Cooking Vegan with a Peanut/Tree Nut Allergy

Cooking Vegan with a Peanut/Tree Nut Allergy

I’ve had a number of people ask recently about plant-based cooking without peanuts and tree nuts. I typically rely heavily on soaked walnuts, cashews and almonds as whole, versatile means of adding meatiness and creaminess to dishes- not to mention as healthy sources of of fat and protein- and I use peanut butter and almond milk like there’s no tomorrow. So secretly, I used to get really stumped and panicky when I couldn’t use those tools. It turns out, though, that there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodating for these allergies. 

Of course, if you’re only allergic to one or a couple kinds of nuts, feegl free to rely on the ones you can eat (including unconventional kinds like brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc.)  But if you can’t have any at all, here’s a handy guide to the alternatives, with lots of links to great vegan and nut-free recipes.

Dressings/Sauces/Creamy Elements

Coconut milk (from a can)/coconut cream/coconut meat*– Great for sauces, puddings, soups, curries and desserts. It does carry a slight coconutty flavor, but not to an overpowering degree.

Avocado–  Great for dressings, puddings and to blend with cilantro, salt and lime and drizzle over tacos. Google “vegan avocado dressing” for delicious ideas. Just note that that avocado has a very short shelf life, so anything you use it in will need to be consumed within a few days.

Unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt– A versatile and creamy base for dressings, sauces, curries and desserts. You can make it yourself out of just two ingredients with this method.

Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts)– So healthy and so good for blending into pesto, dressings and sauces.

Nutritional Yeast– This stuff is an amazing source of vitamin B-12 and lends a wonderful cheesy flavor to sauces and dressings.

Olive Oil– While not the healthiest option on the list, oil can add creaminess to sauces and even ice cream (vegan chef superstar and cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz uses olive oil for her restaurants’ ice cream recipes.)

Tahini (sesame seed  paste)– Tahini is a little bitter but very creamy and otherwise fairly neutral-flavored. The bitterness can easily be cut with an acid like lemon juice and/or a little bit of sweetness, then combined with other flavors and ingredients. It’s great for thick, creamy sauces and dressings (and even baked goods!) Most affordably found at Trader Joe’s.

Sunbutter (like peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds)– This stuff is cheaper than almond butter and has a nice neutral flavor and creaminess that works very well in sauces (this one too) and baked goods.

Silken tofu– If your digestive system can get down with processed soy (no shame if that’s the case!), you can blend this into creamy sauces, dressings and baked goods (omit the almond extract on this last recipe obviously.) It works well as a binder and thickener. Just to make sure to use lots of seasonings and other ingredients to cover up its blandness.

Aquafaba (chickpea brine)– This is seriously just the liquid you strain from a can of chickpeas, and it’s shockingly great for puddings, mousses, meringues, dressings and sauces. It’s neutral-flavored and can add an element of thickness or an element of fluffiness when whipped.

Chao Cheese– This nut-free store-bought vegan cheese (most commonly found in slices) is convenient, and I always hear that it’s actually good.

Meaty Elements

Great for chili, tacos, stuffed veggies, burgers, pasta sauces, lasagna fillings, etc.

Soaked  raw sunflower seeds and/or soaked raw pumpkin seeds– these are pretty interchangeable except for the fact that you’ll need to soak the pumpkin seeds a little longer than the sunflower seeds. You can substitute either or both of these for just about any recipe that uses walnuts as a meaty element (typically in “ground beef” contexts.) Soak them for a few hours or overnight, rinse them, pulse them in a food processor, then season and use them however you like. Raw, paleo, protein-rich and hearty. Check out this sunflower seed cheese recipe!

Lentils– I typically use a combination of soaked walnuts and cooked green/brown lentils to grind up as a substitute for ground beef. However, it’s fine to either substitute the walnuts with sunflower or pumpkin seeds or just use lentils. Cook them up with some veggie broth, pulse them in the food processor once they’re cool, then season and use them however you like. Or make this fantastic, easy taco recipe.

Milks

Each of these has a different flavor and different ideal usage, so try out multiple if you can and see which work best for you

Coconut milk*– this comes in can form and carton form. The carton version is watered down and homogenized, making it better for things like pouring over cereal, adding into smoothies and drinking straight from the glass (or the carton, if you’re me at 3am.) Coconut milk in a can is thicker and creamier with all that good natural fat from the coconut cream (although there are ‘lite’ versions as well), so it’s best for curries, sauces and puddings.

Oat milk– Not easy to find in stores, but very easy and cheap to make at home. Here are some recipes.

Rice milk– Fairly thin and watery (though maybe the homemade versions aren’t?), but can be really nice for horchata, cereal and smoothies. Rice Dream is the popular commercial brand.

Soy milk– If your body doesn’t do well with processed soy this isn’t the option for you, but some people do just fine with it and love the flavor. It’s moderately thick and creamy despite not having a high fat content, so it’s especially good in coffee and espresso drinks. It’s also the most common non-dairy milk to find in stores.

Flax milk– Rich in omegas and also easy to make at home

Quinoa milk– Go figure, you can make a protein-rich non-dairy milk out of quinoa.

Hemp milk– This omega-3 powerhouse can actually be found in some stores, but you can make it at home too.

Sunflower milk– I didn’t even know this was a thing, but lo and behold, sunflower milk is packed with selenium, magnesium and vitamin E.

 

 

*Technically coconut is a tree nut, but it’s very rare that people with nut allergies are allergic to coconut as well

For more info, check out this article and/or comment with your questions!