Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sexy Vegan Mama: Chai Balsamic Pasta Salad and No-Rise Tomato Herb Bread

Let me apologize for the poor photo quality, folks. My digital camera was stolen (stolen!), and I've resorted to taking photos with my kids' crappy cell phone camera because I'm rockin' an old-school Blackberry World, which doesn't have a camera.

Feel free to send me gifts of new cameras, or pass the word on to the PR department of Kodak that I'd love to do a review.

When it's hot out, the last thing I want to do is compete with the air conditioner by spending an hour hovering over the stove. The heat really wipes me out, too, and I'm too drained to put much thought into dinner during the summer.

That's why my kids got this the other night:

Chai Balsamic Pasta Salad

1 lb. whole wheat pasta (your choice; I used shells)
1 - 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15.25 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 - 14.25 oz. can diced tomatoes, juice included
1 cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stalk celery, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced

1/4 - 1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

To taste:

black pepper
ground cloves
garlic powder

Variations or additions:

Grape or cherry tomatoes
Baby corn
Water chestnuts
Apples (I have great success with Granny Smiths in this recipe)

Prepare the pasta as directed and drain. Add remaining ingredients and chill before serving.

No-Rise Tomato Herb Bread

1 1/2 T. dry active yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. olive oil
1 - 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (juice included)

3 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. salt
2 t. evaporated cane juice crystals (look for this in the Latin or Hispanic foods section if you can't find it with the sugar)
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried sweet basil

1 - 2 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. olive oil
1 t. nutritional yeast (I use Red Star miniflake. Get it at natural foods stores or larger supermarkets.)
1 t. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour water into a large bowl and sprinkle dry active yeast on top. Allow yeast to dissolve.

While waiting for yeast, combine three cups whole wheat flour, salt, evaporated cane juice crystals, oregano and basil in a separate large bowl. Use your spoon to make a hollow in the dry mixture.

Return to dissolved yeast and stir well into water. Add oil and tomatoes. Mix thoroughly, then pour into hollow in dry mixture. Stir all ingredients into a sticky dough.

Add additional flour, half a cup at a time, until it forms a kneadable dough. Form into a ball and let rest for five minutes.

Place dough into an oiled 9x13 glass baking dish and press into bottom and sides of dish. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle nutritional yeast and garlic powder on top.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. The bread will rise in the oven!

This is a dense, chewy bread with a lot of flavor. You may like to add dried onion flakes or seeds to the recipe, as well. Also, you can make this into rolls. Just form them, put them on an oiled sheet (I like to put mine in muffin tins so they have a uniform shape), and bake for about 12 minutes. Please remember they rise while baking to about double their formed size, so if you're using a muffin tin, don't make the unbaked rolls bigger than half of your cup size (in your tin, not your bra).

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