Monday, January 24, 2011

Comfort Food

 Golly, looking at this photo again, I'm drooling. I am so sorry the leftovers are all gone! Branching out and getting into my "vegan freaky" foods I am drawn to lately, I picked up some brown rice pasta. I hadn't tried it previously because, pre-vegan, I used to love Eziekiel bread but did not care for the Eziekiel pasta. I assumed any non-wheat pasta would be a disappointment. How wrong I was! I don't know if it's because my tastes have changed so much or that I just happen to love brown rice pasta, but I like this so much that I am actually inspired to give the Eziekiel pasta another go to find out.

I love the texture of the rice fusilli. If you try it, don't skip the cold-water rinse. It makes this pasta springy and tender. Interestingly, the cold leftovers from the fridge were inedible to me as the springiness had turned into hard waxiness, but as soon as I warmed it up again I was relieved to find it resumed the desired tenderness.

Assembling cheezy rice fusilli before baking

After preparing this pasta I stirred in about 4 tablespoons of my cashew cheez sauce, a sprig of tarragon and a handful of grape tomatoes, sliced thinly. I then baked it all for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Mmmmm.

To me comfort food is necessarily warm, especially in winter, and needs a little something starchy or at least substantial. Here are a couple more comfort food meals I put together:

This is a potato gratin that started out being a way to use up my cashew sauce. Not that I will be eager to see it go, but I just don't want it to go to waste. Baked, the sauce turned out strange on top, but soft and cheezy between the layers. I actually liked the strange crispy-cheez topping, but would not likely serve it to omnivores. I am always careful not to give them fodder for any ridicule of vegans.

To make this gratin, I sliced a large russet potato very thinly along with a large shallot. I layered the dish thus: one-slice thickness of potato, shallot, a grind of pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of sauce. I repeated until all ingredients were used. The sauce was salty enough that I did not feel the need to add more salt. I baked the dish at 375 for half an hour.

The next dish I want to feature as a comfort food is nothing new, you have seen it on this blog in various guises many times before, but it does comfort me so here it is:

Greens-n-Beans:  A can of canellini beans, rinsed very well and added to a panful of collard leaves and shallot slices that were cooked in olive oil on medium-high heat. The key is to use the highest heat you can without burning and stir, stir stir. It only takes about 3-4 minutes. My favorite part is the little bits that form from the few beans that fall apart and get crispy in the oil. I scrape it all up with wooden spoons. Not a speck gets wasted as I (privately after dinner as I'm loading the dishwasher) sit down and scrape it all out with spoons, fingers, whatever necessary in a bit of a feeding frenzy. Ahhh!

It seems the body is in diversification mode lately, craving a wide variety of plant foods. It seems to me, as in any investment, diversification is good! Invest in your own good health -- keep feeding your body and soul what is luscious and pure -- you're worth it!

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