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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Menu Five: Spinach Kofta, Tomato Basil Cream Pasta, TLT Sandwiches, Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale and Noodles

Photo credit: Lolo at VeganYumYum.com

This week’s menu is about the simplicity of ingredients.

While I am always excited to try new combinations of flavors, and to find those specific little ingredients that elevate a dish to something I might have never conjured up in my own culinary dabblings, it’s nice to bring a list to the grocery store knowing exactly what you’re looking for, and feeling assured that you will find all of it.

(Last week, I couldn’t find dried lemongrass, or canned straw mushrooms at the grocery store. And, I almost walked out without nutritional yeast, which was central to the macaroni and cheese recipe, until the guy at Whole Foods told me I could find some near the vitamins – I know it’s nutritional yeast, but should I really know to look there?)

Hence, the simplicity of ingredients. This week’s menu is also great because I’ll be using some of the things that are already in my pantry from previous menus, like the chickpea flour, yeast flakes, chili sauce, rice noodles, and soy sauce. Here are this week’s dishes:

Spinach Kofta with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
TLT Sandwiches
Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Noodles

This week’s menu:

Dinner: Spinach Kofta with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Cook: Spinach Kofta, Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

Lunch: Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
Dinner: Spinach Kofta with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Cook: Marinate tempeh for TLT sandwich

Lunch: Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
Dinner: TLT Sandwich
Cook: TLT Sandwich

Lunch: Spinach Kofta with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Dinner: TLT Sandwiches
Cook: TLT Sandwich

Lunch: TLT Sandwich
Dinner: Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale and Noodles
Cook: Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Noodles

Lunch: Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Noodles

This week’s recipes:

Spinach Kofta with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
This recipe comes from the Fat-Free Vegan blog – which is also the source of the sweet potato falafels that I made a couple of weeks ago. Those were delicious, so when I saw this recipe for kofta, I had a feeling it would be a good one. (We’ll find out if I’m right this week.) I’ll plan on eating this with naan, or rolled inside of lavash bread with the cucumber yogurt sauce.

Click here for the Spinach Kofta recipe.

Note: Tofu generally comes in a 14 oz. container, and you’ll only use 2 oz. for this recipe. Store the remaining tofu in Tupperware – fill the container with water so that half of tofu is under water. You’ll use the rest for the Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale and Noodles on Thursday.

Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
I found this recipe on Vegan YumYum, and was excited that many of the recipes (including this one) are written for 1 – 2 servings – the perfect amount for people like me and, possibly, you! While it’s nice to have dishes that last for a long time, (read: less cooking), it’s also nice to have just the right amount for a couple of servings, so that you’re regularly eating fresh food.

I have a recipe on file that uses linguini, which I think I’m going to include next week. So, I’ll substitute linguini for the spaghetti in this recipe, and only buy the one box.

Also, if you don’t like eating lots of pasta because you find it heavy, buy a gluten-free version. I’m not gluten-free all the time, but I do buy gluten-free pasta often for this reason – gluten-free pasta does not weigh me down, and I find it’s better for digestion.

Click here for the Tomato Basil Cream Pasta recipe.

TLT Sandwich
So, I’m not a big fan of tempeh, which I discovered when I made the Tempeh Tikka Masala.

Then why are you including a tempeh sandwich in your menu, Julie?

Well, firstly, you might like tempeh.

And, secondly, this recipe looks great – a satisfying and complimentary combination of crispy lettuce, creamy avocado, and a spicy protein kick. Because I personally don’t love tempeh, though, I’m going to substitute with seitan. And, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Click here for the TLT Sandwich recipe.

Note: In the interest of using freshly grilled tempeh/seitan in each sandwich, I’m going to keep the tempeh/seitan in its marinade in the refrigerator until I’m ready to assemble the next sandwich. I’ll roast the tomatoes all at once and store those in a separate container for each sandwich.

Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale and Noodles
According to Vegan YumYum, there are three things that create the perfectly pan-fried tofu: "a cast-iron pan, a decently long cooking period, and a rest period afterwards."

I don’t have a cast-iron pan currently, but I will follow the rest of the advice provided in this post closely to see if I can come close to achieving the right consistency without one.

I am also excited to cook with kale again, because it’s supposed to be so good for you – and in the right dish, it also tastes surprisingly good. (As confirmed by my roommate, who was hesitant to eat the Chickpea and Kale soup when she saw all the green, and then happily had seconds.)

Click here for the Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Noodles recipe.

This week’s grocery list:
So, last week, I was pleased to rediscover Stiles, a year-round farmer’s market under a tent, near my apartment. I got all of the produce that I needed for the week, and some extras (strawberries, blueberries, a pineapple, and a couple avocados), for $17. Needless to say, this cut down on my grocery bill dramatically – all of their herbs are $1, (instead of $1.99 at Whole Foods); tomatoes are $1 a pound (compared with $1.99 or even $2.99 a pound for the vine-ripened ones); and you can get 8 limes for $1. I don’t know what I would do with 8 limes (except maybe have a Corona party?) – but, you see my point. If you can, definitely buy all of your produce at a well-priced farmer’s market.

As always, this list is for everything you would need to make all recipes in this week's menu. To avoid buying something unnecessarily, I suggest that you print out this list, cross off things that you already have in your pantry and refrigerator, and then head to the market and/or grocery store.

1 small head, romaine lettuce
1 head, kale
6 oz., fresh spinach
1 bunch, basil
1 bunch, mint
1 large tomato
1 pint, cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 bulb, garlic
1 small red onion
1 small yellow onion
1, 3 in. piece of ginger
2 medium red potatoes
1 lemon
1 lime

Oils, Spices, and Condiments
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Balsamic Vinegar
Rice Vinegar
Chilli sauce
Cumin seeds
Ground cumin
Garam masala
Brown Sugar
Black pepper

Canned and Bottled Goods
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 small can, tomato paste
1, 12 oz. bottle, maple syrup

Dry Goods
1, 8 oz. package cashews
1 box, linguine
1, 10 oz. package, rice noodles
Nutritional yeast
Chickpea flour
1 package of naan or lavash bread

8 oz. tempeh or seitan
1, 14 oz. package of extra firm tofu
Soy yogurt


  1. i have to say that i could not find lemon grass or straw mushrooms anywhere! it made me miss living up north because if you're in jersey/new york, they are pretty abundant in the asian food market stores. i am also not a fan of tempah. i haven't tried seitan yet, so i will give it a whirl. oh and one more thing, i tried the mac and cheese recipe on vegan dad instead of the one you linked to, and it was so-so. i will definitely have to try the one below. did you have any adjustments to last week's menu? you rock by the way. just had to say that!

  2. Stacey, you are too kind, but I am glad you are enjoying the blog :)

    The mac and cheese recipe from Fat Free Vegan turned out well, but I would be careful with the nutritonal yeast - I think I added too much the first time, and had to keep adding soy milk to balance out the power of the yeast flavor. It might be a good idea to add less, taste it, and then add more a little at a time until you get it right. The cheese sauce did thicken really well and had the perfect consistency.

    I found another mac and cheese recipe on Vegan YumYum this weekend, which I am going to post next week - as "take two" with the mac and cheese. Let's see what happens!