• I love my “usual” homemade balsamic salad dressing, but tonight I was in the mood for something different. I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, The Real Food Daily Cookbook, when I came across a recipe for a vegan ranch dressing. Intrigued, I decided to try it, even though I had to make a few substitutions because I didn’t have every ingredient.

    I will admit, I was ready to hate this dressing. But one of my new years’ resolutions includes experimenting with silken tofu. I haven’t been a big fan of it, at least not until this dressing. But, lo and behold, it was delicious and a perfect complement to the earthiness of the main dish that accompanied our salad (see further on in post).

    Ranch Dressing
    Adapted from The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry

    3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
    4 ounces silken tofu
    1/4 cup minced onion
    1/4 cup unsweetened plain ricemilk (original recipe called for soymilk)
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (original recipe called for vegan Wor. sauce, but I haven’t been able to find any, so I subbed in Lea & Perrins)
    1/2 teaspoon celery seed
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons chives (I omitted this, as I didn’t have any)

    Blend the vegan mayonnaise, tofu, minced onion, ricemilk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the chives, if including in dressing. Cover and chill at least two hours or up to two days. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

    What does one eat with this salad? Why, Kasha Varnishkas, of course. What are Kasha Varnishkas, you ask? Comfort food, plain and simple.

    Comfort Foods. Ain’t nothing like ’em. Fortunately, this is one of those childhood memory foods that I can still eat, though I adapted it and used gluten free noodles. The original recipe calls for bowtie noodles, but I haven’t been able to find any bowtie shaped gluten free noodles, so any old noodle will do.

    Kasha Varnishkas
    Adapted from Jewish Cooking In America by Joan Nathan
    6 – 8 servings

    2 large onions, sliced thinly
    10 ounce package sliced button mushrooms
    2 – 3 tablespoons Earth Balance spread
    1 large egg (can omit)
    1 cup medium or coarse kasha
    2 cups water or bouillon (I used water)
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    3/4 pound rigatoni type gluten free noodles
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    Saute the onions in two tablespoons Earth Balance spread in a heavy frying pan, covered, until golden. Remove to a plate.

    Add some more Earth Balance spread to the pan and saute the mushrooms, covered, until golden. Remove to a plate.

    If using an egg, beat it in a small mixing bowl and stir in the kasha. Mix, making surea ll the grains are coated. Put the kasha in the same frying pan as you used to fry the onions and mushrooms, over high heat. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for two to four minutes or until the egg has dried on the kasha and the kernels brown and mostly separate.

    Add the water or bouillon, salt, and pepper to the frying pan and bring to a boil. Add the onions and mushrooms, cover tightly, and cook over low heat, steaming the kasha for about ten minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and quickly check to see if the kernels are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for three to five minutes more.

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain.

    When the kasha is ready, combine with the noodles. Adjust the seasonings, sprinkle with the parsley. If desired, add a bit more Earth Balance spread.

    And last, but not least, have you ever come across a recipe that ended up surprising the heck out of you? I will suggest that you visit Just Bento, the blog of the person who wrote about this fabulous recipe of which I am waxing! I took some pictures after I made this recipe, but Just Bento features a much better picture than I took. But, man oh man, I’m telling you – the Miso, Tahini and Nut paste was just too good to believe.

    Ok. Hope all is well with everyone in gluten free land.
    • ByTheBay

      I love kasha varnishkes! Those look so good. Have you seen my ancient post on gluten-free kasha varnishkes? I did a lot of searching and ascertained that there are no gluten-free bowtie noodles on the market but that the closest one can get in texture is either tagliatelle, gluten-free egg noodles (available at passover mostly, which is when i stock up for all year), or slicing strips out of GF lasagna. then again, if you can’t have that delicious farfalle shape, why not go for tube pasta? i might try it that way next time, too.

    • Karina

      I miss kasha varnishkes. Yours looks delicious. Like Isaiah, I looked far and wide for bow ties- to no avail.

      BTW- did you ever receive my e-mail response to your question regarding health, bones etc? Hope it wasn’t lost in cyberspace.

    • Anonymous

      Please tell everyone you know to go vote on the Martha Stewart website on Martha’s blog for the big idea bakeoff. One of the ideas is to launch a new magazine with Martha for people with food allergies and intolerances. Please vote as many times as you can each day for the next week so this dream becomes a reality!
      Go to http://www.marthastewart.com and then look for Martha’s blog on the upper right hand side.
      Check it out…we need more press and more resources for Celiacs!

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