Spinach and Basil Pinwheels

Vegan devotee appetizer spinach and basil pesto pinwheels

As you may have noticed, I haven’t had as much time to play around in the kitchen like I used to. It’s the last semester of graduate school and things are as busy as ever. But I wanted to make a point to experiment with something new, so I planned ahead of time to set some time aside to make some kind of salty crunchy appetizer. 

Mm.. Just the IDEA of that sounded good to me. I went to whole foods and picked up a package of puff pastry and had the flavor of Basil in mind. Basil is definitely one of my favorite spices, and think it goes well in just about everything. So it was a safe bet for me.

But I practically got carried away.

I added 5 tsp, then 5 more… then 5 more. Clearly basil was a serious craving. I told myself “This is crazy, no more after this” but then decided to add one more, just for the heck of it. I was staring at 16 tsp of the same dried herb. Yes, that’s 1/3 of an entire cup. And I used it all.

Surprisingly it was just right! It sure does pack a POW of flavor that smacks you in the face, but it’s actually balanced out by the neutrality of the puff pastry. Somehow the strength of the flavor tricks your mind into thinking there’s garlic or onion in there, which was a fun party trick.

The only thing I might change is to make half the amount of filling. My taste-testers strongly disagreed, so I honored their opinion first and put the original recipe here, but for my personal taste I would spread the filling among two packages of puff pastry.


  • 2 cups fresh spinach, packed
  • 2 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 2 tbsp chopped pecans
  • 1/4-1/3 cup dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup veganaise
  • 1 tbsp flour (for dusting)
  • 1 roll puff pastry, thawed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. Toast almonds and pecans on low heat in a non-oiled pan until toasted.
  3. Combine spinach, basil, nuts and veganaise in a food processor. But dont chop all the way because you want to keep some texture
  4. on a floured counter, unroll the puff pastry into a rectangle. spread the filling evenly all over the pastry and the roll up into a log.
  5. use dental floss to cut 1-inch slices. place slices on a baking sheet.
  6. use your hand to lightly flatten each one. bake for 30 minutes, or until tops begin to brown.

Vegan salty appetizer devoteeVegan devotee salty appetizer

Creamy Kale and Asparagus Casserole

Vegan devotee creamy kale and asparagus casserole

I’ve tried lots of vegan “cheesey” recipes. They’re always pretty good with the texture, but in my experience the flavor is always way off. I feel like I’m either eating liquified nutritional yeast or eating a combo of garlic, mustard and cashews. Ick. I realized that when garlic is a major ingredient, asetofida doesn’t substitute very well. Either way, I’m left feeling disappointed and hungry.

Since I’ve been all googley eyed over a Kale Casserole I saw on pinterest, I felt inspired. I was determined to make my OWN vegan creamy casserole. I bought kale at the market and left the rest up to fate. I found some asparagus and leftover bell peppers in the fridge, and gathered up the typical nutritional yeast, cashews and dijon mustard. I threw in way more spices than I’m normally used to but in the end it sure was worth it. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling very confident, but I was at least determined to try. I was afraid to taste the first bite!

The end result has such a decadently creamy flavor that’s so complex you can’t pinpoint what’s in it. It tastes like a comfort food creation all of it’s own.

I can’t believe I lost the other photographs I had of this! I’m so mad at myself! I’m sorry you only have one photo to oogle at for now, but trust me– it’s yummy. I tried making it with different variations, like substituting sweet potato for asparagus… don’t do it. The asparagus really does make the dish.

I give this a five out of five, and I’m hard to please with “cheezy” vegan dishes. The family couldn’t even believe there wasn’t a drop of dairy in it!


  • 3 cups uncooked spiral pasta
  • 1 large head kale, chopped, spines removed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp earth balance margarine
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • black pepper, to taste
  • bread crumbs, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
  2. Boil pasta in salted water. 2-3 mins before pasta is completely cooked, add the kale to the boiling water. When kale is bright green and tender, drain and set aside.
  3. Grease a cookie sheet with the olive oil. Then place asparagus on the sheet and top generously with sea salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. (While asparagus is roasting you can make the sauce)
  4. To make the sauce, put all these ingredients in a food processor until creamy: almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, earth balance, tahini, lemon juice, dijon mustard, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
  5. Combine with the pasta, kale, bell peppers and asparagus. Top with bread crumbs and bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Rosemary Almond Nut Cheese


Vegan devotee nut cheese



I used to be satisfied with my typical Daiya Cheese because I’ve always been intimidated to take the risk of trying a nut cheese recipe. They always looked so complicated and testy, so I was sure I would mess it up. Then I came across this almond cheese spread on Food.com and it didn’t seem as intimidating as the others, so I thought I’d give it a shot, and change a few things.

When it came out of the oven it looked a bit similar to bread at first, but when I moved it I saw that it was only firm on the outside and the inside had a texture similar to goat cheese, which so happens to be an old favorite of mine before going vegan. I took a deep breath, spread it on a cracker and put it in my mouth all at once. Boy was I shocked. This alone may have just made me a nut cheese convert.

The taste surprisingly has no hint of almond, and it certainly isn’t like feta or goat cheese like I expected. It tastes like a very mild, gourmet type of cheese spread. Unlike other cheeses, it fooled me into thinking it was a real dairy cheese. But then again it’s been a long time since I’ve tasted it so I wouldn’t trust my judgment on that. I had a few others try it and they were shocked. Even they were fooled. They put it in their mouths and their eyes widened, “my god, this actually kinda tastes like cheese.”

I think this is going to be a staple appetizer in the future. Now I’m thinking of all the possibilities. I’m going to be spreading this on my toast and bagels in the mornings for a while. With almonds being the entire base of this recipe, providing healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium, where can you go wrong?!

Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Rosemary Almond Nut Cheese


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • nutritional yeast, to garnish


  1. Put almonds in a pot of water that’s three inches above the almonds, to give them room to soak. Simmer for 3-4 hours (or just soak in a bowl overnight for 24hrs).
  2. Puree almonds in a food processor. Add lemon juice, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and 1/2 cup of water and blend thoroughly until very creamy.
  3. Take 3 layers of cheesecloth and put in a strainer. Spoon the almond mixture into the cheesecloth and bring the sides together to twist it into a ball. Secure with a twist tie. Chill for 12 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the almond cheese from the cheesecloth and place it on the parchment paper upside down, so the smooth side is facing up.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly golden and feels firm.
  6. Let almond cheese cool, then chill.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil with rosemary and thyme heat on medium low for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors, but not too much so it simmers.
  8. Drizzle over the almond cheese. Then garnish with nutritional yeast.



Vegan devotee almond rosemary nut cheese



Vegan devotee rosemary almond nut cheese


Vegan devotee rosemary almond nut cheese