A Vegan Valentine's Day Delight

With Valentine's so close, many are scrambling to make reservations to restaurants to make a special evening. But what is more special than a home-cooked meal? A home-cooked meal with your loved ones.

Here is a vegan main dish and desert sure to make your Valentine's Day a special treat.

 

Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers and Walnut Pesto


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
3/4 pound strozzapreti or orecchiette
1 small head of cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 2-by-1/4-inch strips
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-by-1/4-inch strips
Freshly ground pepper


Instructions
1. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, walnuts and garlic until finely chopped. Add 6 tablespoons of the oil and process until smooth. Season with salt.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cauliflower and season with salt. Cook over moderately high heat until browned in spots, 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until tender and brown in spots, 5 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl.

4. Add the pasta, pesto and the reserved pasta water to the vegetables; toss until the pasta is coated. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into warm bowls and serve.


Vegan Chocolate Lava Cakes


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 17 mins
Total time: 27 mins
Serves: 2


Ingredients
Scant 1/4 cup beet puree (or sub unsweetened apple sauce or fruit puree of choice)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1/2 tsp vinegar
 or lemon juice
2.5 Tbsp organic cane sugar (or sub granulated sugar)
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or Earth Balance
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 1/2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips, melted
For topping/middle: 2 squares quality vegan dark chocolate + coconut whipped cream

Instructions
1. First, prep the beets for roasting. Preheat oven to 375°F, remove the stem and most of the root from your beets, and scrub and wash them underwater until clean.
2. Wrap beets in foil, drizzle on a bit of canola oil, wrap tightly, and roast for one hour or until a knife inserted falls out without resistance. They should be tender. Set in the fridge (in a bowl to catch juice) to cool to room temperature.
3. Once cooled, either finely grate or puree beets in a blender (adding orange juice or water to encourage mixing). Measure 1/4 cup and set aside.
4. Butter two standard size muffin tins with dairy-free butter and coat with cocoa powder - shake out excess. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
5. Add the almond milk and vinegar to a small mixing bowl and mix. Let set for a few minutes to activate.
6. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla, and beet puree and beat until foamy. Then add cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until no large lumps remain.
7. Lastly, add the melted semisweet chocolate and mix once more.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the two muffin tins - it should come up about to the top, which is OK. Break up one square of the dark chocolate and push it down into the centers of the cakes. Cover with batter using a spoon. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away slightly and the top no longer appears wet. It's OK if it's a little fudgy but you definitely don't want underdone cake.
9. Let rest in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing. Gently loosen the edges with a butter knife and top with a cutting board or plate and carefully invert. Gently transfer to serving plates. Immediately top each cake with the remaining square of vegan dark chocolate (for extra gooey-ness - optional) and serve with coconut whipped cream. Dig in.
10. Other garnishes might include a dusting of cocoa powder, powdered sugar, fresh berries, fresh mint or edible flowers.

Serve and Enjoy!

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