Pasta Fagioli

My Grandma made this hearty pasta dish often when I was growing up.  Grandma Laciura was Dutch-American but she was raised in a poor Italian neighborhood in New Jersey and she married my Grandfather who was pure Sicilian.  Italian food was all that she knew how to make.  She was a great Italian cook! When I was a teenager I asked her to teach me how to make a few of her basics.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple, Black Bean and Sweet Peppers

This dish is inspired by a recipe from The Complete Vegan Kitchen.  Of course, I’m posting my slightly different take on the recipe.  Mainly, I was out of coriander and had to work with ingredient amounts I had on hand rather than the exact ammounts called for in the original recipe.  Also, the original recipe merely suggests the addition of black beans whereas I feel the addition of black beans is key to making this not only a delicious side dish but a complete protein that could stand alone as a one dish meal.

I just love the way elements of sweet, savory and spicy play out in this dish.  The pineapple is not overpowering but just sweet enough.  I cannot wait to try this with the coriander and cayenne added in.  I think this would be a great side dish with grilled or roasted pork.

Roasted sweet potatoes, pineapple, peppers and onions with black beans

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Vegan Mac & Cheese

I am not vegan.  I’m not even vegetarian.  That is why you can trust me when I tell you that this is a truly delicious version of vegan mac & cheese.  I love cheese and I especially love homemade macaroni and cheese.  This does not taste just like the real deal but it is a great vegan substitute.  I tend to make this by memory, tweaking it a bit each time I make it.  I had to make this for dinner two weeks in a row to get the measurements and seasoning just right.  It is my opinion that nutritional yeast is the key to making great vegan cheese.   You can use this cheese sauce anytime you are looking for a vegan, melt-y, cheesy substitute.  Think nachos, over steamed broccoli or on a baked potato (unless you are on the whiteout diet).   I also like to serve this with some kind of veggie like garlic sauted spinach.  The dark green of the spinach really looks great piled right on top of the mac & cheese.

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