Lemon Garlic Artichokes with Tomato Quinoa

Lemon Garlic Artichokes - Italian - The Lotus and the Artichoke Vegan Cookbook

Last month, The American University in Rome invited me to give a presentation on crowdfunding, creativity, and social activism. I discussed my experiences with Kickstarter, and told the story of how I funded my vegan cookbook – The Lotus and the Artichoke. I explained in detail how to use social media and crowdfunding to make dreams possible, promote and find support for projects, and to spread great ideas and inspire others. And then I opened things up for discussion and Q&A, and met the great folks in the audience. Then we ate up the 2 giant batches of Roasted Walnut Brownies that I made for the event. Yum!

This was my second visit to The Eternal City, and fourth trip to Italy. What made this visit so unique was having a project (the presentation) and an awesome apartment (and kitchen!) provided by the university. Instead of being a tourist, it was really like living there: I shopped at local markets, cooked several times a day, hung out with locals, enjoyed espresso on the apartment’s sunny terrace, walked miles and miles, rode the trams all around, and did my best to improve my language skills. It’s how I love to travel most. It’s great when it works out that way.

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna with smoked tofu and mushrooms - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

One of the most embarrassing moments in my life involved a giant baked vegan lasagne and the evil oven of a Jersey Shore rental apartment.

I was seventeen, living in Ocean City, New Jersey with about 5 (sometimes 10+) friends in a one-bedroom apartment a block from the beach and the boardwalk. It was the summer before my first year of college. I’d invited a girl I’d just met and was eager to impress, and I’d prepared this mega lasagna — enough to serve the roomful of people hanging out, too.

As I was pulling out the oven tray to remove the finished, steaming-hot lasagna, the tray popped out of the slots, forming the perfect slope aiming my giant lasagna right at the floor. I watched in horror as it slid — in slow-motion and way too hot to grab — tumbled off the metal tray, flipped over and landed top down. On the carpet. In front of everyone.

Did we eat it anyway? Heck, yeah. It was like a lasagna upside-down cake. I had to trash of the top layer, but managed to save the rest. Once I got over my initial embarrassment, we all laughed. And if my memory is correct, the lasagna was pretty tasty and we all liked it.

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Cashew Mushroom Risotto

Cashew Mushroom Risotto : Italian - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

Risotto is an amazing dish. What a great risotto recipe demands in time and attention, it rewards with super satisfying flavor. If you’ve been looking for a vegan risotto recipe that will really impress you and any guests – vegan, vegetarian, fishatarian, flexitarian, fleshatarian — you found it!

The cashews and splash of soy milk lend a wonderful creamy, nutty flavor. The spice and herb mix promise a fantastic array of taste with every bite. I strongly recommend using fresh herbs for the best flavor.

Be aware that risotto needs to be stirred almost constantly while cooking. Also, the amount of liquid needed and the time to cook will vary depending on the cooking temperature and rice. Always add more liquid gradually, cook it down patiently, take your time.

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Spaghetti & Vegan Meatballs

Spaghetti and Vegan Notmeatballs - The Lotus and the Artichoke

If you’re into juicing, like me, several times a week you make an awesome fresh juice in the morning. And end up with juice pulp you just can’t stand to throw out. Everyone I know who’s gotten into juicing has always, almost from the start asked me: Hey, what can I do with the pulp? My favorite solution is to save it in a container in the fridge and that night (or maybe the next day) use it for… Spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs. (also known as: Notmeatballs). My other favorites include adding it to pancakes, muffins, or using it for veggieburgers.

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