Friday, May 28, 2010

today is about....

...fresh strawberries from our garden...

...& love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

vegan gluten-free asian inspired noodles

i am not in the family of thought that keeps food secrets secret. after i was diagnosed with food allergies my feelings about food changed. it became something that frustrated me and a nuisance. i couldn't eat from the cafeteria at my work. going out to dinner with my friends and family was painful. when you can't order anything on the menu and you have to describe to the waiter your life really can take the fun out of it. the transition to cooking all of your meals at home can be stressful if you don't know what to make or how to make it. i hope to help make that transition much easier for other people who find themselves in similar situations.

today i share with you a pasta recipe that is a twist on heidi swanson's recipe for otsu. it's a GF-vegan recipe. it's easy to make and super yummy!

vegan & gluten-free asian inspired noodles

the dressing:
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1/2 thumbs worth of fresh ginger or 2 cloves garlic (both will create very distinct flavors depending on your preference)
1-2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cayenne powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper powder
1/4 c. brown rice vinegar
1/3 c. GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp. oil (olive oil, nut oils, avocado oil, etc. i would not recommend canola or vegetable)
2 Tbsp. sesame oil

the mixins:
GF rice noodles
12 oz. firm tofu
bunch cilantro (coarsely chopped)
4-5 green onions (sliced)
cucumber (peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced)

if you chose ginger, peel the ginger, slice it and chop it into small pieces. this will prevent large chunks residing in your dressing. if you chose garlic, smash and peel prior to adding it to the food processor.

in food processor or blender combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger or garlic, honey, cayenne, white pepper and salt. process until smooth. add the vinegar and soy sauce until combined. while the machine is running slowly add the oils. i leave this sit in the processor while i make the pasta and tofu. i will pulse it again before pouring it over the finished product.

cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. all of them are different. when i can find them i like to use fresh rice noodles from the refrigerated section at my local asian grocery. it is very easy to overcook rice noodles. when using dried noodles i place the noodle in a large pan of hot tap water. place the pan over medium-high heat. watch the noodles as the water heats up and don't let it boil. test the noodles every 30-60 seconds as they come close to being ready. when they are cooked to your liking strain off the liquid. you can rinse them with cold water if you want to stop the cooking process. eden makes 100% buckwheat noodles that are gluten free. i haven't tried them yet but will post on them when i do.

for the tofu you can buy firm tofu and slice it about 1/8-1/4" thick. lay it out on a dish towel (or paper towel) on a cookie sheet and place another dish towel over the top. lightly press the tofu to remove excess moisture. in a dry non-stick pan over med-high heat lightly fry both sides of the tofu strips until browned. i like to use the pre-fried tofu cubes from the refrigerated section of the local asian grocery. i cut them in half and bake them at 350 for 10-15 minutes (as seen above.) if they become hard when you cook them they will soften when you add the dressing. for a non-vegan option you can panfry some chicken, beef, fish or shrimp. shred or chop the chicken, beef or fish. i still prefer the tofu but meat options are a good way to mix it up.

return your noodles to the pan you used to cook your pasta and add the tofu, onions, cilantro, cucumber and the dressing. toss gently until well coated. you can save some of the onions and cilantro for garnish for plating.

this dish makes great leftovers. the dressing is even better the next day. if you are the kind of person who plans ahead you can make the dressing the day before and store in the refrigerator over night.