It’s Saturday! And what a gorgeous day it is. After having a full month of nothing but rain, it’s nice to finally see the sun again. I’m currently writing this post while basking in the warm sun, attempting to work up the energy to do some much needed yard work. Hope you are all enjoying your summer so far! Last weekend we lucked out with a few decent days and decided to have some friends over for a Canada Day party. I’m not exactly the most outgoing person, so playing hostess isn’t exactly my forte, but ask me to whip up a spread and I’m all over it! I love any excuse to feed people and I although I’m not really into making fancy themed things, I’m all about making as much as I can from scratch.
For starters I made the Mushroom Walnut Pate from Veganomicon. I’ve never had vegan pate before and I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for ages. It did not disappoint, not only it was simple to make but it was creamy and slightly rich with the mushrooms playing the main flavor component. I think at first almost everyone was afraid to try it, because lets be honest, it kind of looks disgusting, but once you get past the looks it’s pretty damn tasty. It makes a lot, so we were stuck with some leftovers, but I’ve been happily eating the rest as a sandwich spread.
As good as the pate was, the star of the show was definitely the Almond Feta recipe from Vegetarian Times. This is the second time I’ve made it and it’s so good! Really rich, creamy and seriously flavorful. Does it taste exactly like feta? Not exactly, but it’s the closest vegan version I’ve had and it’s just so good that you really won’t care anyway. I made a few changes to the original version which I’ll post about the next time I make it, still need to get a few better pictures first. I made some sourdough to smear it on but my starter was a little too new and the bread didn’t turn out that good, still edible, just not so great.
Mmmm, fresh B.C. cherries for people to snack on.
We cooked up some veggie burgers for everyone, those I didn’t feel like attempting myself, but I did make the buns! I used the Kaiser Roll recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. These turned out really good, but really, when doesn’t something from that book turn out. They’re awesome for burgers, really sturdy so you don’t end up with a crumbly mess when you try to eat them, plus they’re both slightly chewy and tender. Shaping them wasn’t as difficult as I thought they’d be but it took me a little while to get the hang of it.
Now you can’t have a BBQ without dessert! Although by the time everyone was done eating they were all to stuffed to have any. Instead I made sure that everyone was sent home with some Tupperware full of pie, there was no way I was letting that baby go to waste. I had some leftover salted caramel from a birthday cake I made the day before, so I decided to try making a salted caramel apple pie. It still needs some tweaking, a little less lemon juice, a little more caramel, yadda yadda yadda, but the fact that Philip ate the remaining half of it within a few days leads me to believe that it was well received 🙂
For sides, we cooked way too much corn on the cob…which I love but we’ve now been eating it all bloody week. Anyone have any suggestions on what we can do with it? My friends brought a yummy fruit salad with lots of fresh blueberries, strawberries and pineapple, and I made one of my favorite sweet potato salads. It’s the recipe from the Planet Organic website, the only changes I make are decreasing the mayo, adding more pecans, adding a bit of green onion and replacing the lemon juice with apple cider vinegar. I know some people don’t like sweet potatoes, and those people I like to call weirdos, because they are just a gazillion times better then potatoes! If you get a chance, give this salad a try, it’s a nice change of pace from the standard mayo based potato salads.
Last but not least, I made this Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad, which turned out way better then I anticipated! Ever since we ate all the sundried tomato pesto that JC had sent me from the swap, I’ve been craving it like no ones business. I saw only one solution to that problem, so I made a boatload of pasta and smothered it in pesto, then threw in some cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and some homemade parmesan. Hot damn was this good! The incredibly delicious tangy pesto collects into all the little pasta grooves, and pairs perfectly with the salty olives and fresh tomatoes. For the parmesan, I used the recipe from Hearty Vegan Meals, it’s a great recipe, I even went out of my way to track down some maca powder just so I could make it. There’s plenty of recipes all over the web, so use whichever one you’d like. You can even leave it out, as the pasta is just as fantastic without it.
Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad
Makes 8 to 10 servings
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 12 ounce jar of sundried tomatoes in oil
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup oil (from the tomatoes & olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- pepper to taste
- 16 ounces of penne or corkscrew pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
- Basil leaves, julienned, for garnish
- Vegan parmesan, for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.
To make the pesto: In a food processor, blend the walnuts until they become a fine crumb. Drain the sundried tomatoes, keeping the oil for later use. Add the nutritional yeast, sundried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Measure out the oil from the sundried tomatoes into a 1/3 measuring cup, if there’s not enough oil, fill the remainder up with olive oil. Blend the ingredients in the food processor and drizzle in the oil. Scrape down the sides as needed, then blend in the red wine vinegar until well combined.
In a large bowl, add the pasta and 2/3 of the pesto, toss until well coated. Add tomatoes, olives and more pesto as desired, then gently mix again. Top with the julienned basil, parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman