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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegan Italian Food...It's Not An Oxymoron!

Growing up in an Italian-American family with a father from Sicily, I've had more than my fair share of Italian cuisine. In fact, I've had so much pizza and pasta in my lifetime that I have avoided making Italian food and going to Italian restaurants in the past few years. I still rely heavily on Meditterranean ingredients in my cooking though, such as olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, etc. This past week I experimented with homemade vegan pizza. As someone who used to take all of the cheese off of her pizza, cheese-less pizza sounded delicious to me! I used store-bought whole wheat pizza dough, which I kneaded with some flour and spread onto a greased baking pan. Then I applied a light layer of pesto and followed with a slathering of tomato sauce. For the topping, I used Trader Joe's frozen "Marinated Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini" (which I microwaved to defrost beforehand). I added a few chopped sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives. I placed the pizza into the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. You could definitely use a pizza stone, but I love the chewiness of the crust that results from using a regular old baking pan. Danny and I devoured the entire pizza in one sitting. The best part about this recipe is that it only costs about $5 total and is better than any purchased pizza I've ever had. Last night I attempted to make "Lentil-Rice Balls" from Vegan Lunch Box. They are basically faux meat balls made with lentils, brown rice, whole wheat flour, and Italian seasonings. Served with pasta and marinara sauce, the texture was very close to real meat balls or sausage. On their own, they were a little bland, and the cumin seemed to be the only spice I detected. Today, I drizzled the leftover lentil-rice balls with tahini and voila--they tasted great! From Vegan Lunch Box, I also tested the "Cheesy Roasted Chickpeas"last night. As the cookbook warned, they were definitely addicting-- they had the texture of roasted chestnuts and a "cheesy" flavor from nutritional yeast. So vegan Italian food is definitely possible and delicious! Remember--most regions of Italy feature whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables, and seasonings in their dishes. In all of my visits to Italy, I was never once served "chicken parmesan" or butter on white bread in a restaurant. Come to think of it, I've never seen those things in my own house.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that..... producing one pound of beef uses as much water as a single person uses to shower in a year ( That's a 7 minute shower).