vegan salad recipes

Supreme Vegan Salads

We all know the jokes about vegans eating nothing but grass or lettuce or any other leafy green, right?

To a certain extent that’s true for this vegan, but that’s because once you open your mind, salads are damn good. They aren’t just delicious though, they are also packed with vitamins and nutrients that keep you healthy and beautiful! Besides all that, you plenty of natural fiber to keep everything in working order.

Let’s not forget, for those of us looking for a calorie friendly way to satisfy our appetite, salads are super calorie friendly!

So yeah, we vegans definitely know how to do salad right.

vegan salad recipes

Of course you can always make salad with pretty much anything you want, but I prefer to add a bit of beans & grains for a little heft to go along with all the fresh, raw goodness of traditional salad veggies.

My go to salad ingredients are: lettuce, tomato, scallions, cucumber, radishes, olives & sprouts

If I’m feeling creative or if I have some extra time I’ll add shredded carrots, apples, cranberries, fennel, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes or kohlrabi. The point to making delicious vegan salads for lunch or for dinner, is to get creative. Don’t be afraid to test out a vegetable you think you don’t like or don’t know how to cook. You have your phone, never be afraid to whip it out in the middle of the grocery store and type in “how to cook/eat” a particular food item. Phones are tools too, people!

vegan taco burrito bowl

Another thing I love about salad? Adding lettuce to an otherwise super caloric meal is an awesome cheat. Feel like tacos or a burrito? Add the all fixings on a bed of lettuce and you can eat it guilt-free, in addition to cruelty free! And with the addition of grains, you can easily turn a taco salad into a taco bowl…and you can even add your favorite vegan cheese too!

One of my favorites is a Chipotle style burrito bowl and you can make it so many times without repeats!

Feeling too lazy to make a big ol’ dinner? Mix your lettuce with some shredded cabbage to fill you up and toss in fifty grams of cooked tofu or TVP and you’ve got a vegan chicken salad that will satisfy your appetite.

I have a cabinet filled with vinegar and there’s always veggiegurt (vegan yogurt) in my fridge for salad because some days I feel like a vinaigrette and others I want something creamy. The options are endless, so the next time someone cracks a joke about vegans eating nothing but lettuce, sit back with a smug smile knowing they if they knew what you now know about salads, they’d be halfway to changing their lives!

creamy vegan pesto salad dressing

And if you find yourself running out of ideas, consider some of your favorite dishes butt salad-ized! (Is that a word? If not, it totally should be!)

Think about it, pasta salad…nix the pasta and add lettuce instead. Take your favorite antipasti ingredients and toss it with a cup or two of Romaine, Spinach or Arugula, whatever tickles your taste buds.

Check out this soy & steak fries salad!

Eating healthy and eating vegan NEVER ever means you have to have a boring meal. All you need is a bit of desire and tons of creativity.

Pofta buna!

Chickpeas & Shredded Mushrooms with Turmeric Rice ~ Done in 30 Minutes or Less

What do you do when you still have one more dinner to make and its the day before grocery day? Hit up the pantry for staple ingredients and use whatever fresh leftovers you have. Duh.

The grocery store we frequent has kept a big fat smile on my face with all their mushroom offerings. Usually the options are crimini, button and oyster mushrooms. But lately they’ve had enoki, chanterelle, king oyster and even Caesar mushrooms, which means we have been gobbling up mushrooms like they were going out of style. Or, in my husbands words we have more mushrooms than any two humans can eat in a week.

I think we’re both right.

Anyway, back to the delicious vegan food.

The ingredients here are pretty basic and perfect for those nights when you need to eat dinner but you don’t really feel like cooking.

Chickpeas
Oyster mushrooms
Basmati
Turmeric
Ginger
Onion
Garlic

That’s it. Oh, and oil to toss the mushrooms in before you season them and pop’em into the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

For the rice, add salt to the water and bring it to a boil. I like to add the turmeric when I add the rice so it colors every grain a beautiful golden color when it’s done.

Mix it all together for an easy bowl meal or serve it separately for the picky eater who doesn’t like his/her food to touch, also known as vegan kids!

There you have it, folks, a thirty minute vegan meal perfect for when you want to order delivery but can’t because…reasons.

Lazy Vegan Chickpea Bowl

I’m going to let you in on a little vegan secret: not every meal requires you to be in the kitchen for hours on end. I know that may come as a shock to you, but sometimes you’re just feeling lazy and you want something quick, easy and nutritious.

When it comes to a lazy vegan meal, I try to keep it as simple as possible.

Does the meal have:

◊ Protein

◊ Carbs

◊ Fiber

If it does, you’re good to go…at least I am.

Let’s start with the easiest part of this meal first, the rice. I used a simple Jasmine rice because it was all that we had left in the pantry and because I love the fragrant goodness of Jasmine rice. It only takes about ten minutes to cook, but you want to give the rice time to cool so it gets good and fluffy when you take your fork to it later.

The fiber part of this lazy vegan meal includes crimini mushrooms, red bell pepper and onion. Simple, right? Sauté them up with or without oil until they reach the done-ness level you prefer. I like my mushrooms with a little bit of crisp on them so I cook them first before adding onions and peppers to the mix. The herbs and spices can be whatever you like, but if you’re going for simplicity I recommend, basil, oregano, garlic and thyme.

Sounds bland, right?

It’s not, especially because we still haven’t dealt with the chickpeas.

The chickpeas are the protein and the spice element to this meal for me. Grab a small ramekin and add any kind of spice mixture you like. I opted for cayenne pepper, spicy paprika, tikka masala spice, harissa, curry, turmeric, cumin and garlic granules. Rinse & dry the chickpeas and then toss with the spice blend. Bake on 200/400 for 20 to 25 minutes until they’re crispy and then…voila, your lazy vegan meal in 30 minutes or less.

Full disclosure: I have a tendency to make spicy dishes too spicy, which my husband is not a big fan of, so I preemptively made a cooling sauce featuring veggiegurt, scallions, fresh dill and lime juice. It did the trick…he didn’t complain once about the heat level, which was at about a 6 or 7 (he said 8 but we all know he’s totally exaggerating).

This is a great vegan meal no matter what you’re looking for: quick, easy, calorie friendly and DELICIOUS.

Sometimes You Just Want A Vegan Welsh Rarebit Pasta Bake

Hey guys! Hope you don’t mind a Tuesday post, but I spent all weekend in my writing cave and suddenly Monday rolled up and there I was, with no post ready to go. So after spending the morning grocery shopping, here we are, ready to talk two of my favorite things: vegan food and pasta.

Pasta gets a bad rap from plenty of people but you will NEVER hear me say a bad word to the almighty carb. It is a necessary fuel for all of us, plus pasta is truly one of the best things in the world, at least according to this vegan. If you don’t ‘do’ pasta then this isn’t a dish you’ll enjoy, but it was a delicious, fun and indulgent meal that kind of reminded us both of childhood, except you know, vegan.

When it comes to a good pasta bake, I think you only need a few things: pasta, something cheesy and a good dose of aromatics.

Of course, that’s all up to you but here is one of my versions of a cheesy #vegan pasta bake!

Choose your favorite pasta first. I opted for a whole wheat rotini because I think whole wheat pasta adds a flavor and texture that you just don’t get with refined (white) pasta.

Next you have to decide what you want to put in the “sauce”. I like to make the sauce as one big entity but you can make a simple tomato sauce and add whatever variety of vegetables you choose. I opted for onion, bell pepper, garlic and kidney beans because, why not?

Saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper in as little oil as you need to make it how you like it, or you can add a water-soy sauce blend to cook them up. I try to keep my oil/fat to a minimum but sometimes you just want that nice char or carmelization that comes with using oil. Once the veggies are where you want them to be, it’s time to talk tomatoes.

Fresh or canned, that is the question, isn’t it?

For me, yes, that is absolutely the question. Some days I feel all creative and chef-y and I will chop up fresh tomatoes and reduce the hell out of it until I have a thick and chunky tomato sauce worthy of a pasta bake. Other days, I don’t have the energy and I’ll use canned stewed tomatoes that I first, squish with my fingers and reduce it until its palatable. BUT let’s be honest, when you choose canned tomatoes you have to add A LOT of seasoning to get rid of that super sweet taste that is kind of off-putting when it comes to red pasta sauce. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but try them both and see which you find tastier and more time effective.

If you choose beans as your protein, I recommend adding them after the sauce has reduced because you still have to pop this in the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes and you don’t want mushy beans. At least I don’t want mushy beans.

Now the most time-consuming part of this vegan pasta bake is the “cheese” sauce. Since I have a well documented love hate relationship with vegan cheese, I opted for a béchamel style sauce, using unsweetened almond milk, flour, olive oil and nutritional yeast, not to mention salt, pepper, smoky paprika, turmeric, basil and oregano.

Add the oil and flour, stir until blended and kind of meal-y, then slowly add the almond milk. If you want to be creative, and who doesn’t, add some spicy mustard, hot sauce and soy sauce for a Welsh Rarebit style cheesy pasta bake, then add the milk. Slowly still, adding nutritional yeast as needed. I usually start with about 15 grams of nutritional yeast and work my way up from there after tasting it. Always, always taste it as you go. I used about 250-300 ml of almond milk total, adding it slowly, but depending on the size of your vegan pasta bake, you might need more or less than that.

Once everything is done, stir the pasta and veggie red sauce together and place in an oven safe baking dish. THEN it’s time to pour the cheesy vegan cheese-less sauce over the top.

Bake at 200°C/400°F for 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to get a bit of a crisp on top, use the broiler or if you have an electric oven, add the top heat and crank it up for an additional 5 minutes.

Cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then…get your grub on!

Poftă Bună!!!!

From Vegan Dirty Rice to Dirty Fried Rice

So the title is pretty self-explanatory and I forgot to take photos when the Hubs made his delicious vegan dirty rice with kidney beans and veggies and plenty of spices, but I did take photos of my re-mix with the leftovers.

Take your dirty rice out of the fridge and grab a brick of firm tofu while you’re in there. Crumble the tofu and season it like you mean it. Scramble it up in a lightly oiled pan and then toss in the leftover dirty rice.

Toss until everything is coated and yummy. I added a tablespoon of Sriracha and the juice of one lime before tossing.

I also tossed in about a quarter up of green peas because I love the little peas and carrots you get in Chinese takeout!

Don’t forget the soy sauce and any other garnishes you deem necessary.

Pesto Beans & Beyond Sausage

Recently I found myself binge watching this strange British reality show called ‘Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away’ and it’s pretty fantastic in an awful train wreck kind of a way. Anyway, long story short one of the people who owed money was eating beans & sausage, which I immediately thought to myself was kind of protein redundant. Then I remembered we still had a couple Beyond sausages in the freezer and I decided why not vegan-ize it?

But of course I couldn’t just stop with a fancy vegan tomato sauce for the beans. Nope, I wanted something with a bit more flavor since we’re rounding the corner into winter and there aren’t many chances to enjoy fresh basil and I figured, why not pesto beans with the sausage?

Why not, indeed?

This is another recipe you can file under easy weeknight vegan meals because it took about half an hour and that includes all the time it took to get the pesto the right consistency.

As far as ingredients go, I used canned canellini beans (known as navy beans in some parts of the world), pesto, grilled shallots and two Beyond Sausage links. The pesto contains: basil, lemon zest, capers, scallions, parsley, roasted red pepper (about a quarter), hot sauce, lemon juice, and vegan parm (ParVeggio).

Grill the shallots and when they’re almost how you want them, toss the links into the skillet and cook using the instructions on the package. They are fairly greasy so if you use oil to cook the shallots, take it easy because there will be grease. Drain and rinse the beans, then warm through and toss with pesto.

I even put a little smear of pesto under the vegan sausage to bring it all together and I topped it with a sprinkling of smoky paprika because it smells as good as it tastes and it adds such depth to just about everything.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes I did wash it down with something ice cold, but it was Harmin which I’ve showed you a million times so I decided not to today. Well…that and the fact that I’m still getting acquainted with my new phone, hence the limited photos for today’s recipe.

Mushroom & Pea Penne w/Chickpea Alfredo

So we’re going to round out bean week–mostly–with this final meal that actually inspired the theme this week. I’ve been looking for ways to use more beans (and less tofu) in more creative ways. You can only eat so many different bean stew type dishes before you’re ready to pull your hair out and wish for vegan fast food. Or even vegan junk food.

I love hummus. No, we love hummus so I figured if we take chickpeas and thin them out into a sauce, why not give it a go…right?

I looked forward to making this dish all week and when the day rolled around and it was time to decide, I chose to roast a full head of garlic to go into the alfredo sauce, because if you’re going to do this you might as well go all the way, no?

It might seem complicated but this dish was very easy to make. The garlic needs to roast for about 30-40 minutes so I just tossed in the portabello caps as well so I wouldn’t have to do it on top of the stove.

Next, I sauteed Japanese mushrooms with two medium shallots, a handful of yellow bell pepper and about half a cup of frozen green peas. When everything is close to done, toss in the already roasted portabello mushrooms, chopped once they’ve cooled.

Now it’s time for the alfredo sauce. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans depending on where you’re located in the world) and toss them in a food processor along with the peeled roasted garlic. Pulse and then blend until no chunks remain. You might find the texture a bit grainy but this can be easily fixed with water or plant based milk. I kept the grainy texture but not until the chickpeas reached the perfect consistency.

Remove the vegetables from the pot and dump the sauce in, over low heat. Slowly add milk. I used roasted unsweetened almond milk to minimize the flavor interference. Add milk or water as needed to thin out the sauce and then start to season. I used salt, pepper, smoky paprika and nutritional yeast and that seemed to do the trick. Keep tasting as you go and add whatever seasoning you wish.

Just in case you were wondering, the bowl with the drops of Sriracha on it belong to me. 😀

When the sauce is how you want it, add the mushrooms and vegetables to the sauce and stir, adding some vegan Parmesan cheese if desired. If not, drop the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss until coated. Then serve with any garnishments that will enhance the flavor or appearance of your dish.

This dish was easy and super delicious. I hadn’t had anything like this, it was kind of a stoner thought, but it turned out wonderful. Let me know if you decide to try it for yourself!

When You’re In The Mood For A Vegan English Breakfast

So last week the Hubs and I decided to do another “thing”. A few weeks ago we had a soup themed week where we each cooked a variety of soups throughout the week. Another time it was sandwiches. This past week it was beans.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “Beans, gross.” If that’s what you’re thinking then you are wrong. It was a magical week of delicious food, including the Cajun beans & rice from earlier in the week.

But I will admit that maybe this is a way to cheat the bean thing, but since the English have no qualms about having beans for breakfast it worked in my favor. Cos had been asking for a few weeks now for me to make a vegan breakfast fry up so I set out to exploring different ways to get the sausage component done without wasting an obscene amount of time. I watched a few dozen videos on making vegan sausage when I came up on the Vegan But Lazy channel on YouTube. It was fast and easy, and I am happy to report created a very good sausage-like texture without the gross greasy taste.

The first thing you’ll notice is that this plate looks a little underwhelming compared to most English breakfast plates making the rounds on the internet, and that’s on purpose. I wanted the fry up without the eleven hundred calories that typically come along with it. So I kept it simple with:

Seitan sausage

Tofu & turmeric scramble

Roasted herbed tomatoes

Toast & butter

Beans

We’ll start with the sausage since it does require the most prep time. Get the original recipe hereYou’ll need some vital wheat gluten (seitan), chickpea flour or nutritional yeast, herbs & seasoning, olive oil. That’s it. Mix up the ingredients and form sausage shapes and roll into aluminum foil. Simmer for 45 minutes. I followed the Cajun & Italian recipes to the letter, cut them in half and we each had half of one. They were mad delicious!

They aren’t the prettiest, but neither are the ones made with animal flesh, right? But this was what they looked like fresh from nearly an hour of steaming. I brushed them with oil and put them on a sheet pan with the tomatoes so they could crisp up in the oven.

The rest of the meal is easy peasy. Crush a brick of firm tofu and season as you wish. Get my smoky tofu crumble recipe here or check out his recipe here.

The sausages and the tomatoes will cook at the same time and you can toss the buttered bread into the oven during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, or use a toaster if you have one.

You can’t really have a proper English breakfast–vegan or otherwise–without a proper beer, can you?

I can’t but as you can see, I completely forgot to get a good photo of them, so enjoy what you can see. We shared an oat stout and a Scottish stout, maybe not very English but very delicious.

Spicy Vegan Cajun Beans & Rice

Rice and beans. Some people hear this dish and turn their noses up at its simplicity while other, like me, think of all the ways I can make this basic meal more interesting. Will I whip up a quick Indian spice? Maybe an herb-y Mediterranean style rice and beans dish for the more relaxed vegan taste buds? Or maybe I’ll keep it simple and take it back to one of my favorite U.S. cities. New Orleans.

Beans are a great source of protein if you care about that sort of thing, but they are also an excellent way to fill out a meal on a budget. And that goes double if you get dry beans. A quick rinse and a soak (quick soak or overnight, the choice is yours), and pop a few cups into a slow cooker, then forget about it until you’re ready to use the beans. One batch of kidney beans and you can have three or four days worth of meals.

So, on to the Cajun rice and beans.

This is a pretty easy meal with a minimal ingredient list. You’ll need beans, choose whatever strikes your fancy but choose a mean that is sturdy and firm so it’ll soak up all the juices and enhance the dish. Pinto beans would be my backup for the dish, or cranberry beans. Take care of the beans however you need to and then grab your cutting board to chop up the veggies.

What you’ll need for this dish is: onion, bell peppers, garlic, celery, plum/grape tomatoes, kidney beans and about 25 grams of crumbled tofu.

The tofu is optional but I wanted to fill it out a little more which is why I only 25 grams.

Add some oil (or not) to a pot and saute the onions, bell pepper, tofu crumbles and celery until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomatoes until the tomatoes start to soften and the garlic begins to brown.

Now you’ll want to grab the sauce you whipped up. I use this sauce mix for Cajun or Louisiana-style dishes because the vegan Worcestershire always seems to miss the mark. In a bowl, whisk up: tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder, smoky paprika, vegan Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of dark soy sauce, harissa paste, water & cornstarch. Mix until a sauce forms and add it in with the beans and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the sauce is nice and thick.

You can put this in slow cooker if you want, but you can whip it up on top of the stove in about 30 minutes. Toss in a bay leaf to give it the flavor that it’s been cooking all day. Add Jasmine rice on the side and you’re ready to get your grub on!

If you want more spice, add Sriracha or jalapeno peppers to the top, but I went pretty crazy with the harissa so it wasn’t necessary.

And hey, don’t be shy about tossing those celery leaves right in with the rest of the vegetables. They have the same nutritional makeup and they provide a nice depth of flavor.

Spicy White Bean Shakshuka

Once in awhile a recipe will make the rounds on the web and I’ll think to myself, “I can veganize it.” Sometimes it’s just me being confident because I’ve spent a lot of time over the years tweaking recipes and some of it is an insane level of hubris. But if you want to keep your palate satisfied and always guessing, it helps to experiment. Try new spices and blends to see what you come up with, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Shakshuka is typically a dish made with eggs but since we’re vegan or plant based around these parts, I had to figure out who would become the star of this show. I could have gone the easy route and went for vegan scrambled eggs but that felt like cheating and it also didn’t match what was brewing in my head. Mushrooms could have worked but I wanted my first vegan shakshuka to be a day meal (like lunch) and I didn’t want to spend a thousand minutes cooking a few hundred grams of crimini mushrooms.

Then it hit me. Beans. There are plenty of types of beans and the trick is choosing the right ones. I wanted to use butter beans but because our theme this week is beans (more on that later) and the hubs had already taken them, I went with cannellini beans, also known as navy beans.

The key to a good shakshuka, at least according to the internet and Alton Brown is the thick tomato and chili sauce. Most of the time I would give some fresh tomatoes a boil to remove the skin and use those, but again this was a lunch dish and I wanted to get some work in, so I grabbed a jar of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and mixed them with fresh plum tomatoes. That way you get the sweetness of the jarred stuff to offset the peppers and the tartness of the fresh ones for more depth of flavor.

For peppers, my advice is to know your taste buds. If you can handle spice, go with a hotter chili or use bell peppers like I did and add in a diced jalapeno or serrano chili pepper. Since my hubs isn’t a fan of spice, I compromise by keeping the seeds out of one side and minimizing them on the other. You can always add more spice later.

So we have tomatoes and chilis. Next we need onions and garlic.

You want to get the onions, garlic and peppers sauteed in a small amount of oil (or none of you choose) before adding the tomatoes. I added the fresh tomatoes first, giving them time to cook. Toss in some fresh rosemary and oregano.

Then add crushed tomatoes, and booze if you choose, then let the sauce simmer until it is nice and thick, 15 to 30 minutes.

Here’s the un-dressed up version of Shakshuka

Toss in the white beans and simmer a little longer, and if you’re craving some extra vitamin K, toss in a handful of spinach.

And because I saw it in a photo and thought it looked tasty, I added a few dollops of pesto cream, made with Violife “cream cheese” which by the way is very delicious with a clean flavor. Take some leftover pesto and add a tablespoon or two of cream, dropping it on top of your vegan shakshuka.

Toast the bread, using olive oil, salt & pepper, and chili flakes. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until crispy and then satisfy your appetite.

After a long day of shopping and people-ing, this meal and an ice cold beer was just what I needed to recover.

Time & Figure Friendly Vegan Quinoa Salad

When it comes to eating healthy and eating vegan, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of salad and tomatoes. Though for the record I should state that there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with lettuce or tomatoes. Or cucumber. Or radishes. Scallions. Or sprouts. I love it all and they are a regular part of my diet because…weight loss.

But that doesn’t mean that a girl doesn’t want a little bit of variety for her taste buds. Most days I eat some version of a salad for lunch because they are healthy, packed with vitamins and a great way to satisfy your appetite without going overboard on calories. I’m down plenty of kilos at this point which means my way is working and I’m sticking to it.

So…quinoa salad.

The best thing about this salad is that you can use whatever you have handy. I made up this recipe using what was in the fridge and we loved every single bite of it.

I started with my usual salad ingredients: Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions. Then I decided to use some of this extra extra large carrot I had on hand and grated some of it, about 100 grams. Throw in half a diced red bell pepper, 100 grams of cannellini beans and you’re almost finished with this easy, healthy vegan salad.

Toss in the cooked quinoa. For this recipe I used organic red lentils because they were pretty and I think added the perfect splash of color to this dish.

Fluff the quinoa and you’re ready to mix the vegetables and grains.

For the creamy dressing on this vegan salad I used veggiegurt, about 80 grams and mixed it with a tablespoon of mustard, a pinch of gochugang (Korean chili past), salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix it and toss with the veggies & quinoa and you’re good to go!

There is a bit of prep work with rinsing and chopping up all the vegetables but I managed to get it all done in less than 30 minutes. And you’ll love even more than this dish was less than 300 calories per bowl!

Calories aren’t everything. Taste does matter and if you give new foods a chance, often you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Easy Meatless Chickpea Balls

I love balls. I’m not ashamed to admit it, no matter how dirty and how naughty it sounds, I do. Chickpeas, lentils, veggie, zucchini, black beans, kidney beans, mushroom balls. You name it and I’ve probably ball-ified it for a recipe.

For the past week or so I was thinking about over-sized “meat” balls. Like the big kind that are so big you have to put them in a muffin tin so they maintain their integrity throughout the cooking process. When the day came, I was excited about these giant chickpea and vegetable balls but I decided if I made them too big, they might come out undercooked or worse, gross.

Making the chickpea balls will take some time, but not too much. Besides, this is only your nourishment we’re talking about, right?

I digress…

For the balls, I drained the beans and dried them as well as I could before popping them into the food processor. I pulsed them a few times until most of the chickpeas were broken up but there were still a few chunks in there. For texture. In a separate bowl I mixed together: shallots, ginger, garlic, red bell pepper, spinach, cumin, baking soda, breadcrumbs and one vegan egg. Pretty easy so far, right?

You can do what you want here, but I blended everything BUT the breadcrumbs, egg and beans first. Then the beans and a quick stir before adding a healthy sprinkling of breadcrumbs and another toss. Keep going until you have a mixture that is malleable enough to shape into balls. Now they’re ready for the oven!

I stuck with the idea of using the muffin tin because it worked and this way I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling apart while they were out of my sight in the oven. I rubbed a little coconut oil on each muffin liner to keep from sticking since the only fat in this recipe is the Arche brand vegegg.

Pop the balls into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until they’re nice and crispy on the outside and soft & flavorful on the inside.

Now you can get on with your side dishes. I went simple, fries to satisfy my never ending carb craving and sauteed onion, garlic, apple and green cabbage because fresh vegetables are always welcome at our dinner table!

This was a simple meal that took very little prep time. In fact I had enough time to whip up a quick vegan yogurt based remoulade. It was yogurt, Sriracha, mustard, black pepper and diced dill pickle. It is totally optional but the balls needed something and the vegan remoulade was the perfect addition.

Don’t worry if you make too much, toss it on top of a burger or your favorite sandwich or wrap!

Crispy baked potatoes…few things in life are better.

The flavors were incredible and this was the perfect amount of food, which made it a meal I could enjoy without any guilt or fretting over calories. Or fat.

Black Beans: Vegan Two Ways

If you’re anything like me, you always have a bag or two (okay, maybe three) of dry beans in  your pantry. Dry beans are, in my opinion, a vegan staple and people of all diets should always have them on hand.

My husband on the other hand, gets a little antsy about things being the pantry for “too long” so I decided to use them since corn on the cob is everywhere this time of year and I really felt like a black bean salad. But a problem I often have is incorrectly eye measuring stuff, yet I still find myself doing it. Regularly. So…black beans two ways.

Black bean salad is pretty easy to make, even easier when you don’t have to fret about which protein to put in it and whether or not to add cheese. At least I think so.

All you need is…fresh vegetables. I grilled two ears of corn on the stove top griddle and let them cool before cutting the kernels off. Then I chopped a red bell pepper, two scallions, some Romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered, then tossed them into a large mixing bowl. (Is eighth’ed a word?)

Now set aside the bowl because its time to make the lime mustard dressing!

This was pretty simple. All you need is: mustard (I used spicy and sweet), the juice and some zest of a lime, dill, salt, pepper, cumin and smoky paprika. Whisk it and pour it on top and lunch is served.

Don’t forget to add the avocado if you have an avocado lover in your house!

Make sure you toss it until everything is coated and be sure to taste it. Don’t be afraid to let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding more seasoning sometimes all a dish needs is time.

Add a Corona or Negro Modelo to the side and you’ve got a long lunch ahead of you!

 

The problem I had was that I only used 2 cups of cooked beans to make this salad and I had almost 4 cups remaining.

…then my mother in law found vegan gnocchi at the market and got it for us.

What to do with black beans and gnocchi?

Plenty, but what did I choose? Black bean curry with gnocchi.

I don’t know where it came from but that’s how we ended up here so let’s just go with it.

I’ll just get this out of the way now because some consider it controversial. I pan fried my gnocchi in olive oil and garlic. The end.

It’s crunchy and delicious and potato-y and I love it. Boil it if you want.

The curry was a simple one with onions, ginger, garlic, bell peppers and black beans with loads of spices.

I didn’t use coconut milk, instead I made a tomato, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger mix, added water and cornstarch to it and let it thicken that way, but coconut milk is also an option.

Top the gnocchi with the curry, be as generous or as stingy as you want with the liquid.

For the garnish, I thin sliced scallions and mint to cool the spice in the dish.

And that’s how you end up using a lot of beans and creating a new dish!

By the way, we ended up having one full serving of curry left over and we split it over a bed of jasmine rice so technically, vegan black beans…three ways?

Spiced Chickpea & Tofu Steak Bowl

If you haven’t learned by now that I am addicted to flavors of the Asian continent, then you haven’t been paying attention. There are so many different flavor profiles, cuisines, spices and dishes to try that I worry I won’t get through them all before I die. That’s how much I love them.

So when I’m looking for something that is:

Easy

Healthy

Quick (ish)

I turn to my favorite way to enjoy a vegan meal, a Buddha bowl.

Today we have what I like to call a vegan shawarma bowl.

You get a little bit of everything with a bowl. Spiced tofu steaks, spiced chickpeas, couscous and sauteed onion and bok choy greens.

This meal requires one thing: a very well stocked spice cabinet.

You’ll need everything from cumin to smoky paprika, turmeric (for the couscous water), ras el hanout, baharrat, cardamom….you get the drift, right?

The key to perfectly spiced chickpeas? Drying the beans after you rinse them. I used canned garbanzo beans here so I rinsed them twice and lined a colander with a paper towel and tossing them until dry. Then put all of your spices–salt & pepper included–in to a bowl and add the chickpeas. Toss until well coated and put on a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes or until it reaches desired crispiness.

This was a last minute addition to the meal because I wanted to add something green and I wanted to use the last of the bok choy before it went bad. A teaspoon of olive oil along with a halved & sliced onion until translucent and brown, then add the greens for another minute or two.

The yogurt sauce was vegan yogurt, fresh dill & parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It was a nice cooling agent if needed, or just a hint of citrus if you don’t.

The prep time on his meal is about 20 minutes but the tofu and chickpeas go in the oven, couscous is done in 5 minutes and the greens took about 10 minutes total. It seems complicated and it tastes like it takes hours to cook…but it doesn’t.

Next time you’re in the grocery store, grab a few spices you’ve never heard of and test’em out.

Vegan Recipes That Didn’t Make The Cut

One of the things I’ve learned while blogging about my cooking adventures as a vegan, is that not all recipes are created equal.

Duh, right? That’s what I thought too.

But it turns out that for a home cook who specializes in taste, not sight, it’s not that simple.

So I thought today it’d be fun to go through some of the recipes that didn’t make the cut, mostly because they didn’t photograph well but sometimes we were too hungry to take photos before diving in and eating. Sometimes they didn’t turn out–photo wise–how I thought they would or wanted them to. So I scrapped them.

Until today.

This was my attempt at a vegan quiche, not to recreate the eggy flavor of quiche, but just the essence of quiche if you will. I used cornmeal and flour, a couple vegan eggs, almond milk and chopped veggies. It was very tasty but it needed to cook a bit longer and I think I need about 30 grams more of cornmeal.

I was a little liberal with the vegan cheese on top but as you can see it wasn’t very good about melting, but don’t worry I’ll spare you my gripes about the state of vegan cheese. This time.

Then I made a delicious and simple spaghetti dish. Fresh Roma tomatoes blended with sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, piri piri and whole wheat spaghetti. It was yummy. Turns out, not so photogenic.

Spaghetti always provides an excellent excuse to indulge in a little vegan parm.

Maybe there’s something about pasta dishes, because my husband made a sort of mac & cheese pie, using these “macheroni” that are long like spaghetti but they’re hollow so when they expand after cooking they are gigantic. He tried to tame them and with the help of cumin, turmeric, smoky paprika, tofu in salty water (called saramura in Romanian) it was pretty tasty.

But not too pretty to look at.

Then there’s my go to dish when I’m lazy and hungry: fresh veggies & Asian noodles.

Tastes good, but when you add the noodles the photos are weird so enjoy this photo of the oyster mushrooms, asparagus, bell pepper and onions before they were tossed onto a bed of noodles.

Simple vegan meals are always great because they take almost no time but taste like they took a long time!

…and sometimes the chili is a tad too water-y.

With avocado for him and without for me. 😀

And then there are the photos that just don’t do a meal justice, like this vegan gnocchi with green sauce.

Though I hope you enjoyed my missteps, I hope this teaches you a valuable lesson in that you don’t have to worry if a dish isn’t pretty. Unless you have kids, then I’m told that sometimes matters.

Make taste and nutrition, not photo-worthiness, a priority.

Spicy Bean & Lentil Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe is a sandwich that will now and forever remind me of my childhood. As a kid of the 80’s & 90’s this sandwich was right up there with the golden arches in terms of my favorite foods to eat. But of course, as time went on and Cosmo told me how to get lean & sexy, or I simply became too cool for such things, but soon those thick, tomato-y sandwiches became nothing but a memory.

Until I left the United States. It’s funny how things you take for granted end up being what keeps you grounded and reminds you of home. Even before I adopted a plant based lifestyle, I would make plenty of Sloppy Joe variations for my German and European friends who got a kick out of it. Except for the ones who didn’t quite understand it.

Lately I’ve been really in a burger kind of mood which means we’ve had plenty of butter-free burger buns lying around the kitchen, and when it was time to go shopping again, I knew this would be an excellent use for them.

To make vegan sloppy joe sandwiches you have to start with the “meat”. You can go simple and use tofu crumbles that do a good job of recreating that texture of ground animal meat, or you can go another way. For a long time I would go to my old faithful, kidney beans, but this time I decided to use cranberry (borlotti) beans and brown lentils. Weird, right? I know but I was in a weird mood and something told me it not turn out completely terrible.

The ingredient list for this IS intimidating but I promise it’s not complicated, so here we go:

Brown lentils

Bell Pepper (any color, I used red & green)

Onion

Garlic

Tomato paste

Vegan Worcestershire

Gochugaru

Cranberry beans

Firm tofu (half brick, finger crumbled)

Garlic

Buns

Saute the vegetables & crumbled tofu while the lentils cook, adding the garlic last so it doesn’t burn.

Then add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, adding liquid to the pan when it begins to sizzle. This will give your sandwich the depth of flavor as if you used that canned stuff from back in the day.

Add lentils and beans and more water or stock as needed, simmering until a thick paste forms.

And that’s pretty much it!

Now you need to dress your bun and figure out…side dishes.

Between the buns and the beans and lentils, I decided to have veggie chips and found a giant carrot and zucchini. I cut them on a bias, dunking them in an almond milk/mustard mixture before coating them with Panko crumbs. Twenty minutes in the oven, flipping halfway and you’ve got a healthy version of a childhood favorite.

If you’ve got the time or patience, feel free to whip up a BBQ sauce, mayo or ketchup for the chips.

This was fairly easy and quick-ish to make, but the best part was that there were leftovers and the next day we just piled it into a bowl and ate it like a thick soup.

And just in case you were wondering what I drank with it…

Vegan Burgers ~ Two Ways

I love burgers. I always have and I probably always will.

What I don’t always love is the time and effort it sometimes takes to make a really good burger and double that for a really good grill-able burger. So the last time we had a burger night we made…a few. Okay, it was a lot. About 7 burgers that definitely had a shelf life. But the hubs and I both agreed that it would be ridiculous to eat burgers 3 days in a row. Or 3 meals in a row.

So we got creative.

The burger is made with black beans, garbanzo beans, oats, garlic, cumin, paprika (spicy & smoky), rice, nutritional yeast and…a bunch of other seasonings & herbs. When it comes to flavoring burgers, go with what you know and what you like. And of course, we had lettuce, tomatoes and grilled onions because, burgers.

And we can’t forget the fries! Don’t you love the thick steak cut fries but halved so their totally bite-able?

The key to this burger is to mash most of the beans, leaving some whole so you get that feel good texture on your tongue. You can use a food processor because its easier, but if you don’t have one a potato masher comes in handy here! Since there’s virtually no fat in this burger, make them as thick as you want because they won’t hardly shrink at all.

Enjoy burger night and all the things that go with it like ice cold beer, spicy barbecue sauce or get fancy with pesto or tapenade.

And when tomorrow rolls around, re-purpose those burgers into

…steaks!

If you’re up to the task you can leave the mixture in a bowl and season it differently so you get a completely different flavor or you can add a gravy or sauce. As you can see, we left them as is and paired it with mashed potatoes and peas.

Create your favorite meal from before you adopted a plant based lifestyle. This also makes a really good meatless meatloaf or meatballs for a nice sub sandwich. The point is that you shouldn’t shy away from making a big batch of burger batter because in one shot you can take care of several meals.

These patties were flattened a little bit and then pan fried until the edges started to crisp up and then I tossed them into a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. The inside was soft and moist and the outer edges crispy, very reminiscent of the Salisbury steak TV dinners I used to eat as a kid.

Except back then I couldn’t wash it down with an ice cold, moderately tasty, beer.

What’s your favorite vegan burger?

kidney bean burger w veg fries

Kidney Bean Burger & Veggie “Fries”

Burgers make the world go round, at least this humble vegan thinks so. One of the things that just hasn’t changed as I made the transition to a plant based life is my love of burgers. Sure, it took some time before I found one vegan burger I could live with but now, more than 2 years later I’ve accumulated quite the stash of vegan burger recipes.

The idea for this burger came from The Minimalist Baker and their grill-able burger. The black beans worked like a charm and after having a wonderful kidney bean burger in Wurzburg, Germany, I knew it would be next on the list.

Making this burger is incredibly easy…after a bit of prep, so let’s start with the brown rice. You need to cook it first and let it cool so make it as early as you can and let it sit. And please, oh please, avoid the temptation to substitute white rice for this recipe. You’ll want that heft that comes from brown rice because it will make a difference.

vegan brown rice

While you’re waiting on the rice, drain and rinse the kidney beans before you pat them dry and toss them into a bowl. Mash them up with a potato masher until most of them have split, but not all. Set the bowl aside and prep the rest of the ingredients.

Saute an onion and split it up, using half for the burger mix and the other half as burger toppings.

Mix the rice, beans, sauteed onions, salt, black pepper, smoky paprika, garlic granules, cumin and a handful of walnuts. Run it all through the food processor until blended and dump into the burger mix. Form four thick-ish patties and you’re ready to go!

I did use some oil in this recipe, to brush over the panini press which is how I cooked these bad boys!

kidney bean burger w veg fries

Now, because I like to experiment in the kitchen and because burger buns have a tendency to take a perfectly reasonable calorie count and turning it into nothing but good intentions but hey, a burger isn’t a burger without a bun. Right?

That’s right, so I took 1 carrot and 1 large zucchini and cut them into fries, using garlic, walnuts, nutrition yeast and paprika to make a little bit of breading before popping them into the oven for about 20 minutes.

Vegan veggie fries

I just seasoned the vegetables with salt & pepper, then rolled them through the breading. Simple as that!

creamy guac mayo

For the hubs I made a quick avocado cream to top his burger with and it was super simple, an avocado, fresh minced garlic, lime and a spoon of vegan yogurt. It made about 5 servings.

The thing that took this burger over the edge for me, was the grilled onions. Sweet and slightly crunchy, they were perfect with this grilled vegan burger. Throw on the toppings you love and enjoy!

If you’re looking for ways to make the burger healthier or more calorie friendly, switch out the bun for lettuce, cut out the onions sauteed in onion or butter or minimize your ingredients for the basics. But this is burger night and you’ll need room for, what else?

An ice cold beer.

Vegan burgers & beer

Happy vegan eating!