Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On My Hearth: Vegan Minestrone and the Best Garlic Bread EVER!



As I type, I am still under the influence of the most delicious garlic bread I have eaten. Ever. This recipe will replace any other I've tried in the past, hands down.  When I saw Laura Theodore (aka the Jazzy Vegetarian) make this on her popular tv show, I knew I had to try it. Tonight was the night.

Now, I should mention that the bread wasn't the main course, even a bread addict such as myself knows that wouldn't be a good idea. (right?) I served it alongside a scrumptious bowl of minestrone soup, but seriously, the bread stole the show.  My hunny, who isn't a carb fiend ate three big slices, sopping up every bit of vegetable broth and scraping the sides of his bowl with it. Seriously. It's that good. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself! If you don't like it as much as I do, let me know. I'll come over and take the leftovers off your hands.

Ok, here's the recipe, but please note: even Laura admits, it's not low-calorie. So, pace yourself. Have a slice..or two..and then put the rest away for the next meal.  I myself wrapped it up tightly and stored it in the back of the fridge where I can't hear it calling my name later tonight.


Jazzy Vegetarian’s Grandma’s Garlic Bread

MAKES 10 TO 12 SERVINGS

This recipe is based on my grandmother’s version, which was always a favorite of mine. I’ve updated it to use fresh garlic and whole-grain bread, as it’s more nutritious and hearty. This tantalizing loaf, with its crispy crust and herbed, soft, and steamy inside, is bursting with flavor. In other words . . . perfection!

1 large loaf whole-grain Italian bread
1⁄2 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (see note)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the bread on a cutting board. Use a serrated bread knife to slice 1⁄2- to 1-inch-thick slices diagonally across the entire loaf, but don’t cut all the way through the bottom crust; leave the bottom of the loaf intact.

Put the margarine, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork until thoroughly combined. Working carefully so as not to separate the slices, spread the margarine mixture on each side of each slice. Wrap tightly in foil, crimping the edges to form a tight seal (see note).
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is crispy and the interior is hot and steamy. Remove the foil and serve the bread in a bread basket or large bowl, wrapped in a large cloth napkin to keep it warm.

NOTES

 If you have fresh herbs such as basil or oregano on hand, feel free to substitute about 3 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs for the italian seasoning, or add them along with the dried herbs.

Once the bread is wrapped in foil, it may be stored in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before baking.


Oh, yeah, here's the entree.  Based on a Food.com recipe, I did a bit of tweaking and came up with this:






Vegan Minestrone Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
1 link vegan Italian sausage (such as Tofurky brand), optional  
3/4 cup chopped onions
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup diced carrots
1can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
28 fluid ounces canned plum tomatoes, dice and include liquid
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup uncooked ditalini or 1/4 cup elbow macaroni  
 
Heat oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.

 


Add chopped onion, carrots, celery, basil, oregano salt, pepper, and sliced sausage. Saute until veggies are slightly softened and sausage is browned.

Add the above plus remainder of ingredients, except for pasta, in slowcooker.  


Cook on high for a couple of hours, reduce heat to low. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender.

Boil pasta separately according to package directions, just to al dente. Add to slowcooker and stir. Adjust spices to suit your taste. Serve hot, top with vegan parmesan if desired.


This one was a definite winner! While sausage is not a normally a part of traditional minestrone, I find that it adds a bit of substance to the soup and makes for a more complete meal, especially if serving it to a meat & potatoes kind of guy like mine who thinks of soup as an appetizer, not the main course. As I said, tonight he gobbled up every bite and I have no doubt he'll be enjoying it again tomorrow around lunchtime.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Michele~

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