Tag Archives: Italian

Sagra – An Italian Dream come true for vegans and the gluten free in East Austin

Italian food seems to be universally loved. I did an informal poll in my office asking “do you like Italian food” and everyone said yes, and then looked at me with questioning eyes as if I was about to give them a piece of lasagna or something. Sorry y’all! Somehow getting vegan Italian food in Austin isn’t always that easy. If you go to a fancy place they often use eggs in the fresh pasta. Rarely do they have vegan specials or delicious vegan cheese. You’re lucky to get Daiya at a pizza place here. If you go to a shitty place – I’m looking at you Olive Garden- you can’t even order a salad. I guess it comes shipped in pre-made from god knows where.

There is one place, however, in Austin that does it right, not only does Sagra have a multiple course vegan menu but they also offer homemade cashew cheese and special meaty substitutes. When I went the other day I was also impressed that they were able to assure me, without asking, that the table bread was vegan and they could easily leave items on the side so my dining companions could have their precious cheese. And yes GFers, they can make any dish gluten free. We started with the polenta fries with fried brussels and chickpeas in a salsa roja. I was a bit worried with all the fried items that this dish would be a bit greasy or heavy but it wasn’t at all, the large portion was enormous for the three of us too. 

We also tried the Barbietolla which was roasted beets, fruit mostardo, truffle salt. This dish was very sweet but a really nice complement to the polenta dish and we all enjoyed it as well. 

My favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly my pizza. When I originally looked at the menu I thought I might try the Macaroni al Forno, (baked macaroni and cheese, cashew cheese, spinach, bread crumbs, truffle oil, spinach macaroni), but once I saw the pizza I knew I had to try it. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love olives and Star Trek and the only thing that could have made this pizza better would have been if I was sharing it with Captain Picard. Or actually, if they hadn’t run out of cashew cheese. No matter! I didn’t miss the cheese in the least and they added pine nuts to compensate. The pizza is called the Maialina and comes with pesto sauce, walnuts, black olives. Interestingly, they chopped up the walnuts and olives together which gave the pizza a salty delicious meaty texture. From now on it’s going to be my go to home topping. I loved it! And the large was so big that I got to eat it for the next few days although obviously it was much better in the restaurant.

So Sagra is a big win for me, their cocktails were fantastic too and they have a nice happy hour special so when it cools down I think it might become my after work meet up spot. Let me know what you thought or think if you try it out! I’m curious about the rest of the menu.


Riso Rosso and Roman Beans

Last night I made the best beans from a can…ever. Maybe not ever but certainly in the last few weeks. The funny part is  (and by funny I mean disappointing but not that sad) that I was more excited to make the Riso Rosso, from Olive Trees and Honey, than the beans which were quickly thrown together. The Italian “red rice” was basically made by boiling beets and then making rice and adding some of the beet cooing water in to turn the rice red and adding the beets at the very end. What would have been better, I think, would have been to caramelize the beets and onions and then make the rice in that pot because it was pretty but boring. Next time!

The beans on the other hand were fabulous. I decided to use Roman beans to keep up the Italian theme. Since the rice recipe wasn’t using any garlic it seemed like a good idea to use a whole lot in the beans and then I added some spices and cooked them in a little brothy sauce They were fantastic, the garlic wasn’t totally overwhelming even though there was a lot of it because I cooked it for a while and the spices were perfect. I have to remember to make them again because they were so simple.

Roman Beans

1 can roman beans (or white beans) drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of tarragon

saute the onion until it changes color in olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over very low heat for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Enjoy with the garlic sauce on top.


VeganMoFo- V for Vegan Victory

My not-in-laws came to visit us over the weekend for the first time in several years. We went to San Antonio and saw the Alamo

and had dinner on the Riverwalk

and saw interesting Texas memorabilia

and I ate a lot of portabello sandwiches and drank a lot of beer for several days

I really wanted to cook them dinner and for weeks I have been discussing with D what we should make for them. When I got home from work on Friday I sat and talked with them about what we could do that night and I said well we could go out or I could cook some super food at home. They looked really nervous and said “well I don’t know if we would like that” I was truly shocked! Everyone loves my cooking, I even give workshops on it! The Dad is a meat-and-potatoes-no-spices guy but I still felt pretty confident that I could make something that they would love. I decided on the Eggplant Rollatini from the Veganomicon because it says in the intro, “This is a meal that impresses non-vegans every time and is for when you want to be on top of your vegan game” and I thought, perfect! Plus who doesn’t love Italian food, that is fried, and I could put spagetti on the side that could easily become a meal.

Well Sunday  night  I cooked and I cooked and everyone got very excited as the smells were wafting into the room. I knew I had won over the mom because she kept coming in every few minutes saying “what are you doing now” but I was still nervous about that dad.

The meal came out beatifully

the plate was gorgeous

and the Rollatinis were super cute

Everyone was blown away. The mom said that she was going to chain me to the kitchen and force me to cook every meal and that it was better than any restaurant. The dad stayed quiet most of the meal, but I was happy to see that he was eating and he said softly, this is really good. Then, at the end of the meal he said, “You know, this is something I would never have ordered at a restaurant and I would have missed out because it is really good” then the mom said, “and I think this is the first meal I have ever had that was all vegetables” and the dad said, not just vegetarian, no animal products at all. Its amazing”

So it was a victory for vegans and animals everywhere! They even made the connection that no animals were harmed in the entire dinner and they seemed to be excited about it!