As the weather warms up, turning on the oven (even if I do love bread so much, I sometimes endure it) is not often practical. This is the time of year for skillets, pasta and garden salads, boards (more on boards in another issue), Buddha Bowls, grills, raw foods, sous vide (also coming up!) instant pots and slow cookers. Over the next few months, I’ll give you some ideas for healthy meals you can make that don’t involve your oven and keeps the heat to a minimum. If you own a Vitamix, bring it along. A stick/hand blender for sure. A nice large wooden cutting board can be used for serving as well as cutting. Eating is a visual as well as a sensory experience. Make your meals colorful, some crunch and some smooth textures. Let the eyes lead you to savor your culinary masterpiece.
Meals for two, or meals for sharing can be easy, healthy and exciting! Meals that can be made with what you have on hand are a godsend. Keep around some dried mushrooms. Costco sells gigantic plastic jugs of them occasionally and they are great for travel. Boxed milk, whether dairy, soy, almond or oat, needs no refrigeration until opened. Edward & Sons makes delicious bouillon cubes (Amazon) that come in small boxes and are available in “not-beef” beef, “not chicken” chicken and vegetable. All gluten-free and plant-based. So good!
This next recipe can be for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. Don’t let the long recipe scare you. It is easy, fast and delicious. It looks long because I give directions for both the meat version and the vegan version. It uses one skillet and one saucepan for boiling the pasta. A stick blender, blender or food processor is helpful if you are making the cashew cream. If not, you’ll only need a knife and a cutting board.
Mushroom Stroganoff (Vegan and Meat versions)
- 12 oz dried pasta, large egg noodles are a good option
Mushrooms: Either 1 small package of mushrooms (such as Bella), or 1 cup assorted dried mushrooms
- 8 oz extra-firm tofu and/or 1/2 lb. red meat, anything from stew meat to a steak
- 1/2 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley, optional, for garnish
- 1/2 cup of white wine for the sauce. More wine for the cook
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 beef or “no-beef” bouillon cube
For vegan version, cashew cream (see below). You could also use vegan half & half or similar.
For non-vegan version, 1 cup half and half
Optional: sour cream
- If using tofu, open package and drain well on paper towels with weight on top for pressure. When mostly dry, cut into bite-size chunks.
- If using meat, cut into bite-size pieces.
- Boil water in a pot for pasta. Cover and turn to low. Wait until later to put pasta in.
- Use one cup of very hot or boiling water and dissolve bouillon cube. If using dried mushrooms, you can pour this mixture over the mushrooms. Soak for at least 10 minutes, then drain water and SAVE for cashew cream and/or sauce. If using fresh mushrooms, slice into thick slices.
- Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté tofu until crispy or meat until cooked. Remove from pan and set aside. Good time now to boil the pasta.
- Chop half of an onion and add to same pan. Mince or chop garlic and add. Add a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat until softened.
- Put the mushrooms, whether dried or fresh, into the pan with the onion and garlic. Add bouillon water, ½ cup white wine, 1 T tomato paste, 1 tsp of thyme, and meat/tofu. Stir to heat up for a couple minutes.
- Add half & half or cashew cream and heat on low. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, if using. Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Soak ¾ cup cashews in water to cover for a couple of hours. Drain.
- Drain the bouillon broth from the dried mushrooms and pour over cashews. If using fresh mushrooms, use the bouillon cube water.
- Mix in a blender or stick blender or food processor to puree.