Vegan Sausage & Bean Casserole w/Garlicky Mashed Potatoes

I know, I know. Beans and sausage are both proteins and totally unnecessary in one desk. I know. Really, I do. In fact, most nights of the week I’ll be the annoying vegan making that argument. But a deal is a deal and when we decided, ages ago, that as long as we had the ingredients and the know-how, we would make the dish the other person requested to the best of our ability.

And we’d just bought some Verdino brand vegan sausages, and there are ALWAYS beans in the pantry, so I had no excuse not to do it. Other than being difficult, of course, which I am always happy to do.

But, I didn’t. Bummer.

But, life goes on.

He asked for Sausage & Bean casserole with mashed potatoes and this is what I came up with.

Before we get to the yummy smells and full bellies, we need to gather our ingredients.

Ingredients:
Cannellini beans
Vegan sausage
Onion
Garlic
Potatoes
Bell pepper
Dried chili peppers
Red wine
Tomatoes (fresh or crushed)
Vegan butter
Plant milk (I used almond, unsweetened)
Thyme
Bay leaf

This lovely graphic is courtesy of Cronometer.com, the app I use to track my calories/nutrients.

You can cook the vegan sausages in the pan to start if you’d like, but I cranked the oven up and cooked them in there, turning every 3 to 5 minutes until good & crispy on all sides. It’s a good way to multi-task and a better way to make this a no oil added vegan dish.

Take a minute to get your potatoes boiling so everything finishes around the same time.

Next, heat up the skillet and add the onion, dried chilies and bell pepper, cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant.

Then, add the red wine and simmer until it starts to reduce.

Add beans and cover, simmer 10 to 20 minutes, or until a thick sauce starts to form.

When potatoes are tender, drain and reserve some of the starchy water in a measuring cup. Add the vegan butter to the same hot pot you used to boil the potatoes until it sizzles. Toss in the minced garlic until brown & fragrant, turn down heat and remove the pot to a sturdy, flat surface so you can give the potatoes a proper mashing.

Use plant milk and starchy water to get the consistency you’re going for and return to heat until its warmed through.

Take the vegan sausages from the oven and toss with the bean sauce, serve on top of the potatoes.

This meal is perfect when you want red wine in your dinner instead of with it, when the weather gets cold, which it seems be doing whenever it feels like for the past few weeks, or when you’re in the mood for a protein-heavy vegan meal. It’s pretty much perfect any way you look at it.

Enjoy and if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear/see it, so hit me up on Instagram.

Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes ~ Chickpea Masala

Life as we know it under normal circumstances is…a distant memory. You know that as well as I do, and as such, we have all been doing the best we can as often as we can. For the purposes of today’s blog, that means making sure you get a good chunk of whole foods in your vegan diet.

When was the last time you ordered/cooked a meal without soy or seitan? How about the last time you cooked a meal, period? Or one that consisted mostly of vegetables, grains, beans and/or legumes? It’s not a judgment, believe me. Some weeks I have to really go through the photos to find a meal without pasta or tofu or vegan burgers. It happens and I’ve forgiven myself.

Have you?

Good because today we have a quick and easy vegan chickpea masala for those nights when you just need something simple, whole and plant based to eat.

The chickpeas are the main source of protein in this, but the good thing about a plant based, vegan whole food diet is that you get tons of essential vitamins and nutrients from ALL of the ingredients.

To get this vegan dinner started, you start with the onion, ginger and hot chili peppers. If you’re using oil, add that into the pan, otherwise look the vegetables cook until fragrant, adding water or waste-free broth a little at a time.

Add the garlic along with any herbs and spices such as: cumin, turmeric, curry, smoky paprika, garam masala seasoning and chili powder. Stir until well coated and then add the chickpeas (rinsed & drained) and cherry/grape tomatoes or just canned crushed tomatoes which is what I used, because this was a day before shopping meal for us.

Add some broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick. You want to let this liquid reduce a little so the end result is thick and creamy.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add coconut milk (for cooking) at the last five or so minutes, making sure to taste as you go and adjust for flavor preferences.

Serve on a bed of rice and that’s a pretty darn quick and easy vegan recipes, perfect for lunch or dinner.

If you need a little extra spice, jalapenos or Sriracha will do the trick, but my hubs thought it had a nice little kick to it, emphasis on little.

The other thing I loved about this vegan chana masala? It’s super calorie friendly, even with the creamy coconut milk added to it.

This is for one serving but ingredients list is chickpea masala for 2.

Quick and easy and delicious, so next time you’re in need of a whole food vegan meal, consider hitting up your pantry for that can of beans you haven’t used in forever and toss’em in a pot.

Vegan Brunch Recipe ~ Hangover Edition

Happy New Year!

I’m not much for resolutions and all that, so my sincere hope for you is that 2021 is better than the previous year. Cook better. Eat better. LIve better. Be better.

And I just might be able to help you with the first two. Maybe.

Full disclosure: I was not hungover when I whipped up this recipe but as I put it all together, it occurred to me that this the perfect vegan breakfast fry up for when you consume a little too much booze the night before. But hey, even if you don’t overdo it, this is a great vegan meal to put together on a Sunday afternoon, or any other day you enjoy brunch.

Unlike most vegan breakfast recipes, you won’t find tofu scramble here but not becuase I don’t love them, I totally do. The real reason is just simple oversight, I thought I had firm tofu in the fridge and when I went to search for it, surprise! No tofu.

Vegan Comfort Food ~ Mac & White Bean Cheese

Hello. My name is Natasha and I have a serious carb problem. Specifically a pasta/noodle problem.

The problem is, I can’t get enough of it. And the bigger problem is that he can’t get enough of it either.

So we’ve been eating a lot of pasta. Maybe for comfort or familiarity or maybe because is just so damn good that why wouldn’t you find reason after reason to eat it?

Let’s stop with the ridiculous questions and just talk about this incredible vegan mac & cheese that’s made with no cheese.

At tall.

Vegan white bean cheese & shells

There’s only thing that’s truly different about this vegan mac & cheese recipe and that’s the white bean cheese so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Ingredients:
Short pasta (elbow mac, shells, whatever you like)
Garlic
Tofu/soy
Onion
Green bell pepper
Nutritional yeast
Tomato paste
Mustard
Navy beans
Lemon juice
Turmeric powder
Almond milk

Cook your pasta according to the instructions. I like to time it so that the pasta is ready just about the time to toss it with the sauce, but it’s an experience thing so…do your best.

As for the vegan cheese, rinse and drain the beans before you pop them into the food processor and give them a quick pulse, 2 or 3 times. Then add the rest of the ingredients: milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, mustard, tomato paste and garlic, and run until smooth. Set side until you’re ready.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal, you can skip the part where you saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper but it’s what makes it full meal with a depth of flavor that’s guaranteed to satisfy. When the veggies have been sauteed until golden, add the vegan bean cheese to warm through.

Note: If you want a gooey cheese, I recommend adding some tapioca starch.

Toss with cooked pasta and cooked tofu/soy and place into a casserole dish, cooking 15-30 minutes or until the vegan cheese sauce is thick and creamy and gooey.

And there you have it, folk, another easy delicious and totally vegan pasta recipe! Experiment with different types of beans and different flavor profiles to see just how many days man/woman can live on pasta alone!

What’s your favorite way to do vegan mac and cheese?

Vegan Pub Fare: Falafel Balls & Baked Fries

One of the things I’m always trying to do is find ways to take the greasy foods I love and make them a little bit healthier and more calorie friendly. Thanks to my trusty air fryer, that’s now a possibility. But there are some days when you want to just pop some stuff into the oven and call it a day.

Right?

When it comes to falafel, you usually end up with a lot of oil for frying so this was a challenge. Let’s see if you like what I’ve come up with!

This is a relatively easy dish to make and even more so if you don’t have to stand in front of the stove, turning the vegan falafel balls so each side gets nice and crispy. If you have your own vegan falafel mix recipe, feel free to use it, or just grab these ingredients from the pantry:

Garbanzo beans
Onion (grated)
Parsley (optional)
Nutritional yeast
Soy sauce
Garlic
Flour (whole wheat or chickpea)
Water (only if the mix is too thick)

I prefer to pulse the chickpeas alone in the food processor first so they break down and get crumbly but you can always do everything all at once if you’re a lazy vegan. Season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika, or whatever else you feel like using and form into balls.

You might need to let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes and if you have time, I suggest you do that…maybe while the oven preheats (or the oil heats up if you decide to deep fry).

Form the falafel mix into balls and lay on a lightly greased parchment paper, cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegan balls start to crisp up. If you find that it’s taking too long, turn on the top heat and crank up the heat for an extra 5 minutes.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the falafel and fries at the same time!

For the potatoes, just cut into the desired shape/width/length and season. We went for a spicy cajun-masala blend because of the creamy lemon & dill veggiegurt dipping sauce (which I forgot to photograph) so they came out a little on the spicy side.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy and you’ve got easy vegan pub food in 30 minutes or less!

I haven’t had falafels in a long time and this was a good, pita-free, way to enjoy them without sacrificing my love of potatoes!

If you decide to try these vegan falafel balls, please share the recipe with me!

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.