On a cooking show, you get very little time to come up with a dish from a Mystery Box.
In my kitchen, I had more time to plan. A) I wanted to keep my ingredients local. B) I wanted to skip a traditional pasta dish.
The first thing that came to mind: Pasta with pan-fried Mushrooms and Creamy local Tofu "Ricotta". There is a tofu factory in my neighborhood that makes an amazing product. I knew that would be good.
But I could take it further...
I wanted to nix the tofu ricotta idea for one of my favorite pasta toppers: Almond Cheese. Although we all know that almonds are grown in California. I did some research to see if there were any nuts commonly grown in the Mid-Atlantic. Ha.
I found some reports of pecans being grown in Pennsylvania. Something about hazelnuts in New Jersey. Another article about almonds grown in Pennsylvania that are less sweet because of the climate conditions.
So, if a Locavore is watching, make the pecan cheese. And if anyone knows about any local nuts here or in Jersey, do chime in.
Dish #1 : Vegan Pasta Dinner Pie...coming right up.
Vegan Philly Pasta Pie
1/4 pkg Severino Malfadine Pasta, cooked according to package
1/3 jar Stepped in What Tomato Sauce
1 cup local mushrooms, pan-fried until tender
1 cup pecans, almonds, or other nuts
1/4 - 1/2 cup filtered water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place nuts in food processor or high speed blender with 1/4 cup water and pulse until you have a hummus-like consistency. Scrape down sides. Add garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. You may need a bit more water. Set aside.
Oil a 6-inch springform pan so your pasta doesn't stick. Begin by layering strands of pasta onto bottom of pan until you have a solid inch of pasta. Add your mushrooms and a few dollops of sauce and then layer again with pasta strands. Follow with more sauce and mushrooms. Top with nut cheese and spread to edges of pan.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
Makes 1 6-inch pie.
It's a little messy to cut into, like any respectable casserole.
Let the pie cool for a few minutes before releasing the springform and cutting into it. I recommend a pizza cutter if you have one.
This tastes like lasagna...but with a nutty, smoky flavor from the nuts and a deep, earthy mushroom flavor. And the tomato sauce really shines through...
Dish #2 : Apple Pepper Glazed Tofu & Broccoli
Bonus Round...earlier in the week, I broke open the Apple Pepper Jelly from Tait Farms with the idea to use it as a glaze on tofu (you could also use local seitan). I mixed my jelly (it's pretty sweet so be careful) with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and spices and then pan-seared it. I did a similar marinade for the broccoli.
It was a simple, winning dish.
Thank you to Philly Homegrown for sending me so many delicious things that are all grown or produced nearby. Philadelphia really is a great food city and part of that is because we do have wonderful access to inspiring ingredients.