Thursday, November 18, 2010

18. Two American Vegan Kitchen Comfort Meals

I've had American Vegan Kitchen since it was released, but it is (was) one of the underused books in my collection. There are two reasons for this, and I'm the first to admit that they aren't very good ones.

First, the book seemed to rely heavily on the use of seitan. I say seemed because I came to that conclusion and never sought to confirm it. I don't have anything against seitan, but the curry dish at Baltimore's The Yabba Pot was so meaty in texture that I got it in my head that I didn't like seitan at all. Though it's not my favorite, I've found that I sometimes enjoy it. More importantly though, there are plenty of seitan-free recipes in AVK!

Second, most of the recipes have very long ingredient lists. This is, hands down, one of the worst reasons to avoid making a recipe. Really, it doesn't add all that much more time on to the prep. Plus, more ingredients can, as in the case of these recipes, lend to a depth of flavor that can't be beat. On a busy night, a five-ingredient dinner is a welcomed blessing, but you also deserve the complex and gratifying meals that can come from long ingredient lists. Besides, as is common, most of the ingredients are herbs and spices, so that's easy.

Now, in my defense, I did make the Cinnacrunch Muffins early on. These are the muffins you serve to coworkers when they give you a hard time about what you eat. They bake up big with a crisp muffin top and soft, sweet interior. These muffins are beautiful, but sadly my photography is not. The pictures I took turned out poorly, but be on the lookout - I intend to make Jen's Persimmon Variation this week.

I also made the Tempeh Stroganoff-Stuffed Potatoes. These were incredible - I almost ruined them by eating too much of the tempeh stuffing with a spoon.

So don't repeat my mistakes. Get this book and make the recipes.

In the past week I've made both the Tuna Free Noodle Casserole and the Cajun Pot Pie. Both had long ingredient lists, and both were worth it!

The Tuna Free Noodle Casserole took some time to put together, but I was watching NCIS at the time, so I probably could have been faster if I wasn't searching in vain for more information on the relationship between Tony and Zhiva. (Is anyone else going crazy over this? It's had me hopping since season 3, and then last season with Paris - oy.)

I had previously made the All-American Spice Blend, so I just had to gather the other ingredients. I'm pretty sure you could make the components one day, then combine and bake them the next.

However you decide to do it, you won't be sorry. This casserole exceeded my expectations and reheated beautifully the next day. It's extremely satisfying and although I've never had a tuna casserole, I don't think anyone would be dissatisfied by this dish.

The other dish I made was the Cajun Pot Pie. And when I say I made it, I mean I made the dough, and put it in the refrigerator, and I defrosted the peas. The actual assembly and cooking was not my doing.

But it was a wonderful sight and smell to come home to from class. It was massive and loomed up out of the pie plate, but there was nothing frightening about it. It was delicious! A perfect warming dish on a cold night. I wanted to eat an entire pie myself while watching True Blood. (I just got into this b/c I found out that the wicked-talented Michael Raymond James plays Rene. He's wonderful in Terriers). And I daresay it's even better reheated the next day.

Unfortunately, it was hard to extract from the pie plate without turning it into a pile, but I'm sure you'll forgive me of that - especially since I have the Tuna Free Noodle Casserole recipe for you here, courtesy of the generous Tamasin Noyes. So put on some NCIS or your crime procedural of choice, whip up this dish, and then order the book, because it's worth having!

Tuna Free Noodle Casserole


2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. All-American Spice Blend or other spice blend
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 - 15 oz. can chick peas, drained & rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup raw cashews
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and chopped
8 oz. vegan ribbon-style noodles
2 tbsp. vegan margarine
1/2 cup chopped leek, white part only
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
5 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cooked peas
Black pepper

Crumb Topping
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a 2 1/2 quart casserole and set aside.

2. In a shallow baking pan, combine the oil, 1 tbsp. of the soy sauce, the vinegar, spice blend, paprika, white pepper, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and the chick peas. Toss to coat, then roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. In a blender, combine the broth and cashews and blend until smooth, at least 3 minutes. Add the mustard and artichoke hearts, and blend until smooth. Set aside.

4. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek, bell pepper, mushrooms, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the sherry and the remaining 2 tbsp. soy sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the tarragon, thyme, and parsley. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir to coat. Add the reserved cashew mixture, reserved chick pea mixture, peas, and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well and heat through.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine the noodles, and the reserved chick pea/vegetable mixture. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings and transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.

7. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix well. Spring the crumb mixture over the casserole and cover tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes, then remove the foil and broil on low until the crumbs are browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

(Recipe from American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes (c) 2010. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press.)


  1. Oh those muffins. I still haven't made them.

  2. I just pulled a persimmon batch out of the oven!