Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feast of Love - Penne a La Vodka and Chocolate Hearts

 Chocolate Hearts

On a day devoted to celebrating love, I treated my family to a healthy vegan feast.  This meal is simple enough to make on a weeknight and perfect if you want a special dinner on short notice.  It is beautiful to present and amazingly tasty.  In about 30 minutes you will be ready to be serve up an elegant meal that will serve 4-6 (leftovers are amazing too).

Chocolate Hearts

This recipe was adapted from one for Raw Chocolate Hearts at the Reboot with Joe website.  I added peppermint oil for this batch for a cool refreshing taste after a rich meal.  I think my next batch will be orange extract with hazelnuts.

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar

1/3 cup coconut oil (softened, but not melted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 drops of peppermint or orange extract
2 tbsp finely chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc) or cherries (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients except the nuts or dried fruit together until smooth.  Add in the nuts or fruit if using and mix thoroughly.  Spread onto parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet as thick as you'd like.  Place in the freezer until firm - approximately 30 minutes.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters or cut into cubes.  Makes 6-10 treats depending on the size of your cutter and how thick you want the fudge.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat. 

These also  make a great gift tucked into a small box or a cellophane bag.

Now that dessert is made, it's time to make the main course.

Vegan Penne a La Vodka

While your chocolate mixture is firming up in the freezer, you can put together this pasta dish.  I was inspired by a recipe at Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Wellness website to make this elegant dish that uses your favorite jarred sauce as a base.  You can also save about 3 cups of your next batch of homemade sauce in the freezer for this recipe. I used a homemade canned sauce from last year's garden harvest.  The addition of fresh tomatoes brighten up the jarred sauce and the cashew cream adds a luscious richness while keeping it healthy.  

Vegan Penne a La Vodka

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce or 3 cups of a homemade sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3/4 cups slice cremini mushrooms
1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2-2/4 cup water
1/8 cup vodka or approximately 2 capfuls
red pepper flakes and salt to taste (optional)
1/4 nutritional yeast (optional - for a non-dairy cheesy taste)

3/4 lb of penne pasta

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the mushrooms and garlic until fragrant.  Stir in the pasta sauce, tomatoes, capers and peas and simmer while you cook the pasta and make the cashew cream.  To make the cashew cream, in a high speed blender or food processor, process the cashews with enough water to make a smooth, thick cream.  To the sauce, add the cashew cream, vodka, pinch of red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast if using.  Stir and heat through.  Cook the pasta to al dente and drain.  Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and serve with a small salad of mixed greens dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

Thanks for reading - enjoy your feast of love!

Recipes shared with Keep it Real Thursdays.

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