My daughter-in-law Lizz, who lives in Austin, Texas, the home of all that is holy - BBQ, is vegan. Yep, she's a short car ride from Rudy's BBQ that has the best moist brisket I've ever had and close to Salt Lick that has the best sausage I've ever had. I’ve actually never really contemplated what a vegan meal could consist of, because I am a meat eater. But I thought with my new healthy habits that I've kept up with the New Year (go me!), it wouldn't hurt for me to have a meatless meal at least one day a week.
I was trying to come up with a recipe that is not only easy, but tasty and something she could put together for herself. My worry with most diets that exclude a giant food group such as meat, I worry that she's getting enough protein in her diet. That's where lentils come into play with this dish. Not only are lentils cheap and readily available, they are also high in both protein and fiber. Win win!
I also realized that the reason I never ate kale is because I was chopping it up like romaine lettuce – middle stem, leaves – the whole thing. But turns out the middle stem of the kale is what makes it taste bitter – once removed, its delicious!
Now if you don't want to take the step below of making your own lentil flour, just use good old regular all purpose flour, but I actually liked the texture of the lentil pasta. And now that I am loving kale, why not make a kale pesto to mix with the pasta?
For the lentil pasta:
1 cup lentil flour (just pulse lentils in your food processor)
1 cup semolina flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces of water
Combine the flours, olive oil, salt and water in your food processor and pulse just until combined. Put the dough on your counter, and knead - adding a bit more water/flour to get it the right consistency - you don't want it too wet, but you don't want it too dry either.
Divide the dough into 8 sections. Heat water in a stock pot. Roll out one section of the dough per serving (the remaining dough sections can be refrigerated up to a week) and using a pizza cutter, cut the pizza into the thickness pasta you want. It's a rustic dough, don't look for perfectly shaped noodles!
Boil for 8-10 minutes, it does take a bit longer to cook than regular fresh pasta, but just look for fork tender. Drain and set aside.
So now that I am a lover of all things kale, I made this quick kale pesto. This also makes 8 servings, and can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to a week as well.
For the kale pesto:
4 cups uncooked kale leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and add just enough water so that the pesto is pureed. Store in a mason jar in your fridge.
To make this dish below, I heated up a skillet with a bit of coconut oil, then added the drained noodles, and 4 tablespoons of the kale pesto, and added chopped roasted red peppers for a pop of flavor and color.
The perfect bite!
I have to admit, when I recipe develop at home sometimes what I write down in advance of making the actual dish sometimes doesn't work out too well for me, but I am so happy to say that this was delicious!
The best part is that the pasta dough can also be frozen - just take it out of the freezer the morning you want to use it and defrost it in the fridge while you are at work.
I've also used the kale pesto as a pizza topping, and you could also add a bit of balsamic vinegar to it to make a salad dressing, add a tablespoon or two to mashed potatoes or even mix it in with an egg white omelet - so many possibilities!
If you are interested in vegan cooking, The Chopping Block is offering Vegan Voyage: Italian Trattoria on March 28 at Lincoln Square.
Have you ever made a vegan dish at home? What are your go to vegan recipes? I’d love to share them with my daughter-in-law, so please leave them in the comments section.