Recipe: Pad Thai Risotto

Tonight was round two of “experiments in making dinner with what’s already in the kitchen.” Another delicious success. What put the idea for this out of the box recipe into my head, I can’t quite recall. But I knew what was in my kitchen and the brain started churning.

I had originally purchased the Thai Soup Stock for a soup recipe that I never ended up making. Most of the ingredients like the rice, tofu, peanut butter, and coconut milk are things I usually have on hand. Some of the more obscure stuff like fish sauce, chili garlic paste, and rice vinegar are things I have because I make this pad thai recipe pretty frequently, but I think the risotto would be fine without them. I put a * next to those ingredients which I think could be omitted.

  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance “butter”
  • 2 green onions, chopped (I only had 2 left from previous recipes, but more would have been better)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 14 oz can lite coconut milk
  • 1 quart of Thai Culinary Stock
  • 1 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce* (NON-VEGAN)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar*
  • 1 tbsp sugar*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup thai basil, chopped (I happen to have a potted thai basil plant in my kitchen. Regular basil would be fine. Cilantro might be interesting too.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the tofu with the olive oil, spread out on a baking sheet, and bake while the risotto cooks.
  2. Heat butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add green onions and saute until soft.
  3. Add garlic and rice, stir to coat.
  4. Add all the liquids 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and adding more liquid as the rice absorbs it. (I alternated between the coconut milk and the broth, adding the other ingredients as I went along. Probably couldn’t hurt to mix everything together at once then add gradually to the rice.)
  5. Some risotto recipes say the whole process takes about 20 minutes, but it usually takes me about an hour.
  6. Remove the tofu from the oven.
  7. Once the last of the liquid as been added and the risotto is creamy, add the thai basil, tofu, and peanuts, and serve.

Note: If I’d had mung bean sprouts, I’d have added them. They’re great in most thai recipes. Unfortunately they don’t keep very well.

Nutritional Info (based on 6 servings)

Nutrition FactsServing Size 390 gAmount Per ServingCalories 572Calories from Fat 206% Daily Value*Total Fat 22.8g35%Saturated Fat 7.3g36%Trans Fat 0.0gCholesterol 5mg2%Sodium 1727mg72%Total Carbohydrates 74.1g25%Dietary Fiber 3.3g13%Sugars 3.4gProtein 19.4gVitamin A 110%•Vitamin C 9%Calcium 17%•Iron 22%Nutrition Grade B* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Recipe: Gnocchi & Butternut Squash with Arugula Pesto.

It seems that my bank account has been paying the price for my fondness of cooking. I don’t mind that a big chunk of my paycheck goes to groceries. Cooking makes me happy and I believe that one should invest in what they put into their bodies. But my bank account is in rough shape. Especially when I’m trying to save for a Caribbean vacation (Negril - Spring ‘12!) am going to be in two weddings next year, will probably need a new car in a year or so, and now my father thinks I should start saving for a house so I’m paying my own mortgage rather than my landlord’s. The moral of the story is: I need to start cutting back on grocery expenses. 

Most of the time I find recipes I want to try, then I grocery shop for them. It works out great because I use everything I buy, but very rarely do I use every bit of it. Trying so many recipes and cooking methods has given me some pretty good experience with food, enough that I should be able to stop relying so heavily on recipes. 

This weekend, instead of looking for recipes and writing a grocery list, I looked around at what I already had in my kitchen, and created a recipe. And it turned out great. 

I had some leftover butternut squash from my Harvest Pasta recipe, and I had leftover arugula from my Pumpkin Breakfast Sandwich recipe. Those leftover items that were about to go bad became the foundation for this recipe. Everything else (the gnocchi, beans, etc.) were things I pretty much always keep on hand.

The Arugula Pesto.

  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of blanched almond slices
  • 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

All I did for the pesto was throw the ingredients in a food processor, adding the olive oil slowly as it blended. I didn’t use all of it for the recipe so I saved it and will probably use it later on pasta or something. 

Arugula Pesto

Gnocchi, butternut squash, and beans with arugula pesto.

  • 1 lb shelf-stable gnocchi (I use Wegmans’ whole wheat gnocchi.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • pinch of pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 3-4 tbsp of arugula pesto
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and saute until plump and starting to brown. Remove gnocchi from pan and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the squash and pumpkin pie spice. Saute until squash is soft.
  3. Add beans and gnocchi to the squash. Stir until heated through.
  4. Add a few spoonfuls of the arugula pesto to coat. 
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Arugula Pesto

    Recipe to Try: Quinoa and Brussel Sprout Stuffed Acorn Squash with Balsamic Maple Glaze

    Source (Clean Eating Chelsea)

    Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Balsamic Maple Glaze

    Serves: 2
    Difficulty: Easy
    Prep/Cook Time: 45 minutes

    For the squash:

    • 1 acorn squash, halved and deseeded
    • 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
    • 1/2 white onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup prepared chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 cup brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
    • salt and pepper to taste

    For the glaze:

    • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
    • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, cut your acorn squash in halves, and scoop out the seeds and “pulp”. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Rub 1 tbsp. olive oil onto the squash’s flesh and place flesh side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

    While your squash is cooking, get to work on your quinoa. Place 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water in a small sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil. Lower the heat, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally (~15 minutes).

    While your quinoa is cooking, trim and halve all of your brussels sprouts. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add your white onion, brussels sprouts, and garlic and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in your chickpeas in the last 2-3 minutes to heat.

    We’re almost there! Combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Bragg’s, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and salt/pepper to taste in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

    When your brussels sprouts are done, add that mixture to the quinoa and gently fold in the vegetables. Pour the glaze on top of the quinoa and stir to coat. The acorn squash should be done cooking at this point – stuff the quinoa mixture into each half and serve.

    Nutritional info:

    Nutrition FactsServing Size 467 gAmount Per ServingCalories 511Calories from Fat 157% Daily Value*Total Fat 17.4g27%Saturated Fat 2.2g11%Trans Fat 0.0gCholesterol 0mg0%Sodium 620mg26%Total Carbohydrates 79.2g26%Dietary Fiber 11.4g45%Sugars 14.9gProtein 13.5gVitamin A 24%•Vitamin C 109%Calcium 16%•Iron 30%Nutrition Grade A* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

    Recipe to try: Vegan Pumpkin Pudding

    You can blend up this pudding in under five minutes and be enjoying it in about twenty minutes (about 20 minutes for the chill time).

    Add-on’s. A cool swirl of my coconut whip seen here (beater whipping method) and here(dispenser method) is a perfect touch.

    And if you want your pudding a bit more firmed and rich - add in the coconut oil as shown below in the recipe.

    5-Ingredient Pumpkin Pudding
    vegan, makes about 3 cups

    1 lb silken tofu (I used one pack of Nasoya silken tofu)
    1/2 tsp salt (I used a pink salt)
    2/3 cup maple syrup
    1 cup canned pumpkin, unsweetened
    3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

    optional add-in: 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted slowly

    To Make:

    1. Add all ingredients to a blender. 
    2. Blend on low -> high until smooth and creamy. The mixture will be watery at this point, but placing it back in the fridge or freezer will firm it up a bit.
    3. If you are adding the coconut oil, melt it in the microwave (don’t let it get too hot though - just softened - you can also do this on your stove top). Then very slowly pour into the pudding mixture while blending on low. You don’t want the coconut oil to chill too quickly and turn into little beads - a slow smooth blend is ideal.
    4. For quick chill: pour pudding into tiny serving cups and place in the freezer for 15 minutes - then move to fridge until ready to serve.

    Recipe: Pumpkin Breakfast Sandwich

    Recipe Source

    Jack-o-Pumpkin Breakfast Sandwich

    Part One: Pumpkin Maple Butter

    • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
    • 2 tsp olive oil pinch of sea salt (truffle salt is even better)
    • Optional: dash of pumpkin pie spice for spiced complex flavors
    • to make: heat in microwave for 30 seconds, stir well.

    Part Two: Sandwich Ingredients

    • 1 patty vegan sausage - GimmeLean brand used here -> brush patty with olive oil and fine black pepper
    • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms -> brush with olive oil, salt and pepper 1 thick slice vegan Monterey Jack cheese, I used Follow Your Heart brand
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh arugula
    • 1 English muffin, whole wheat
    • 2-3 Tbsp pumpkin butter (from above - serve more on the side if you’d like)
    • optional: 1 tsp hot sauce or dash of cayenne (for heat) To Make: note: I use a panini press to do all my grilling - you could also use a saute pan - grill press helps too.
    1. Toast/grill muffin.
    2. Grill/press vegan sausage patty. Grill mushrooms.
    3. Add the cheese to the cooked patty - then top with the mushrooms and press down my panini press. This prevents the cheese from sticking to the press, but allows it to melt between the shrooms and patty.
    4. Assemble: Slather each side of muffin wit your warmed pumpkin butter. Add patty, mushrooms and arugula. Close top. Slice and serve warm.

    Recipe to try: Vegan Noodle Kugel

    Recipe Source

    Sweet Noodle Kugel

    • 1 pound linguini noodles
    • 1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or other nondairy margarine)
    • 1 (6 ounce) container of vanilla or plain nondairy yogurt
    • 1 (8 ounce) tub of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (or other nondairy cream cheese)
    • 1 (12 ounce) tub of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (or other nondairy sour cream)
    • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice 
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    To make the Kugel:  

    1. Prepare the noodles according to package instructions, in a large pot.  
    2. Prepare a 9x12 baking dish by spraying with nonstick spray, or rubbing with some margarine.  Preheat your oven to 400 F.
    3. When noodles are done, pour them into a strainer over the sink.  
    4. Using the same pot, add all other ingredients (except fruit) and stir over low heat until melted and well combined.  
    5. Add the strained noodles back into the pot and stir to coat.  
    6. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.
    7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned.
    8. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

    Yield: 12 servings

    Recipe: Crab Rangoon (dairy-free version)

    The original version of this looked so easy and delicious that I just had to try. I swapped all of the dairy/mayo ingredients for their vegan counterparts and the recipe turned out GREAT. My best friend tasted them and had a hard time believing they were actually dairy free. I did still use real crab meat though, which could easily be swapped out for vegan ingredients like nori tempeh and kelp. I also noticed that the store-bought wonton wrappers I used had eggs in the ingredients, so vegans should be careful when purchasing wonton wrappers.

    Crab Rangoon

    Via Jamie at My Baking Addiction

    Made 12 Cups


    • 1 can of 6 oz. white crab meat (drained and chopped)
    • 4 oz of room temperature cream cheese (TOFUTTI NON DAIRY CREAM CHEESE)
    • 2 TBsp of light mayo (VEGANAISE)
    • 1/2 tsp. of Siriacha 
    • 2 tsp. of chives 
    • Ground pepper to taste
    • Wonton wrappers


    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Combine first six ingredients in a bowl, reserving some chives to sprinkle on later.

    Spray muffin tin with a little canola oil. Tuck wrappers into muffin tins, make a well in the center and spoon in some of the crab/cream cheese mixture.
    *NOTE* I have a silicon muffin tin, so I didn’t bother with the extra oil. 

    Place in oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until the edges of the cups are nicely golden. 

    Recipe to try: Acorn squash “alfredo”

    Full Meal Ready. I added a block of tempeh and one vegan sausage tube to my pasta because I wanted some added protein. You can omit these extras, or add them as the recipe calls.

    Acorn Alfredo Pasta

    Acorn Alfredo Sauce
    4 Cups roasted Acorn Squash (about 1 medium squash)
    1 cup parsley (or fresh basil)
    3/4 cup plain plant milk (almond/hemp/soy)
    1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
    2-3 Tbsp EVOO
    2-3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
    2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp roasted garlic
    2 Tbsp dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)
    1 Tbsp maple syrup
    1 tsp red pepper flakes or dash of cayenne
    salt and pepper

    1 bag pasta (any variety you choose)
    *I used Kamut Penne
    2-3 cups mushrooms
    optional add-in’s:
    1 package tempeh, cut into cubes
    1 Field Roast Chipotle Vegan Sausage tube
    Sprinkle of Daiya Cheese on top


    1. Turn on oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Fill a casserole dish with an inch of water. Slice Acorn Squash in half (horizontal slice as shown) and lay flat in dish. Place in oven to roast at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes.

    3. When your squash is roasted the skin should peel away quite easily. Remove all skin and place squash flesh in a food processor. Add all other ingredients.

    4. Blend on high for at least 2 minutes. You want all the parsley to chop into fine bits. Set sauce aside.

    5. Boil a pot of salted water. Cook your pasta. 2-3 minutes before the pasta is ready to drain, add mushrooms and optional protein add-in’s. Drain as usual. Toss dry pasta in a splash of EVOO (opt’l).

    QuickStep Note: I cook my mushrooms/tempeh and sausage simply by throwing them into my pasta pot 2-3 minutes before draining my pasta. This allows me to boil my protein/veggies quickly without adding in another step. I drain pasta/veggies/protein together.

    6. Toss warm pasta in your Acorn Alfredo Sauce. Mix well so each pasta bit is coated.

    7. You can either store in fridge and re-heat later - or eat right away - or transfer pasta into an oven safe dish and let heat at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. This will marinate the pasta a bit and soften the sauce. You can even add a sprinkle of Daiya cheese on top if you’d like.

    Enjoy! This one is yummy for leftovers..!


    Vegan Gnocchi Mac n “Cheese”

    Aside from one slip (the burnt salted caramel gelato from Dolci is impossible to resist) my dairy-free September has gone pretty well. In fact, I think I could probably keep this going after the month’s end. I’ve found some pretty great recipes for cheese substitutes and I haven’t really missed it all that much. 

    One thing that had my mouth watering was a recipe for gnocchi mac n cheese I’d spotted a while back. I adore gnocchi. So I decided to try it out using a the vegan alfredo sauce recipe I’d used before.  

    It turned out great! 

    Rachel’s Vegan Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

    • 1 lb of shelf-stable gnocchi (I used whole wheat gnocchi from Wegman’s)
    • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 Tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped

    "Cheese" Sauce

    • 1 Cup Soymilk
    • 1/3 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
    • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
    • 2 Tbs Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
    • 2 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine
    • 1 Tbs Tahini
    • 1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 1/2 tsp Paprika 
    • 1 Pinch Nutmeg
    • 1 Clove of Garlic
    • Pinch of salt to taste
    • Pepper to taste

    1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. 

    2. While gnocchi is cooking, combine cheese sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

    3. When gnocchi is plumped and browned, add sauce to the pan and stir until sauce thickens a little (about a minute.) Toss the tomatoes in with the gnocchi and sauce, and remove from burner. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

    Recipe: Vegan Lavender Scones

    I came across a blog about gluten-free lavender vanilla scones and they sounded tremendous. But the ingredient list was long and hard to pronounce. Since I’m not gluten-free I decided that my scones didn’t need to be either, so I did a search and found a much simpler recipe here. (also here)

    My lavender plant doesn’t have enough buds on it, so it took me a while to find some lavender somewhere else. The CoOp and Farmers’ Market didn’t have any, but I finally tracked some down at Penzey’s spices. The scones turned out pretty good, though I had to mix the dough in two batches because my food processor is so small. Guess what’s #1 on my Christmas wish list?

    • 2 cups flour – I used 1 cup unbleached white and 1 cup whole wheat
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 cup vegan butter
    • 4 tbsp organic sugar
    • 3 tbsp dried lavender flowers
    • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk

    Preheat oven to 425.

    In a bowl sift flour, salt and baking powder. Add to your food processor. Now add the sugar, butter and lavender flours. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. 
    While mixing, slowly add milk until the dough is sticky and wet.

    If you have a scone skillet you can bake them that way. If not, you can take large tablespoon’s full of dough and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Or if you have time, you can place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Take the sides and wrap it tightly all while making the dough flat and even. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours, or until hard. Take out and slice into desired wedges.

    Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, or until they are brown around the edges.

    Serve with jam or honey.

    Makes 6-8 depending on the size.