Mark and I have been tossing around the idea of opening a restaurant for the past couple of years, and now it's become much more serious. When Mark came to live with us, vegan cuisine was pretty new to him. Now, he's about 80-90% vegan, lost 30 pounds, and loves the idea of opening a veg-friendly restaurant. It's still a little scary in our small town to open a full-on vegan place, so we're shooting for good organic, locally produced/grown "conventional" food, with a vegan side of the kitchen to serve a good variety of veg-friendly options. There's currently nothing like this in our area.
As some of you may know, Mark has extensive experience in the restaurant biz, having had two of his own, and working as entertainment/restaurant director of the Hard Rock Cafes all over the US for a number of years. Now, having had his life savings burned down to the ground after his main property investment was lost in a forest fire, he's ready to start something fresh.
Thus, the question above... We're starting to test recipes that will eventually go on our vegan menu.
If you'd like to be one of our Testers, please let me know!
The above dish is a variation of vegan mac-n-cheese, and had a wonderful rich sauce, despite not having any processed vegan cheese in it (like Daiya), which I love, but am trying to make dishes without too many processed foods.
Here's the recipe for all of you to try. We'd appreciate any feedback you can give!
1 lb. macaroni or similar dry pasta
1 C. raw cashews
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. kosher salt, plus extra for cooking pasta
12-14 fresh basil leaves
1 large zucchini (about 2 cups), cubed
1 small onion (about 1 cup), cubed
2 medium potatoes (about 2 cups), cubed
1 C. unsweetened soy milk
3 C. water for cooking (1 cup reserved for sauce)
2 C. fresh bread crumbs (I used a stale French bread loaf)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1 T. olive oil
16 oz. grape tomatoes
1 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to sprinkle
Cook pasta as directed until al dente in salted water. In a medium sauce pan, add 3 C. of water, onions, potatoes, and zucchini and boil until potatoes are tender. In a high powered blender, add basil, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Then strain the boiled veggies (reserving 1 cup of the liquid), and add the veggies to the blender. Lastly, add the soy milk and veggie water to the blender as well, and blend on high until very smooth.
For the topping, you can use ready made bread crumbs, but I suggest you make your own by cubing some stale or day-old french bread and pulsing in a food processor. Then add the salt, pepper, and basil to the processor. Turn on and stream in the tablespoon of olive oil for a few seconds, until well coated and mixed.
For the roasted tomatoes, put all of the ingredients into a baking pan and toss around until tomatoes are well coated. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They should be slightly browned and burst open when done.
Pour the sauce into a 9" X 13" casserole dish, then add the drained pasta. Mix until well combined. Sprinkle bread crumb topping evenly over pasta, and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes on top, and serve warm.