Creamy Sweet Potato Polenta & Roasted Veggies

I just love it when we have our Midnight Tokyo Diner nights and my partner chooses something that stomps me…at first. Yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit that his request for sweet potato polenta threw me for a moment but after a few minutes of research, my confidence rose and I was like, “I got this.”

If you’ve never had sweet potato polenta before, I hope this recipe inspires you to add more than vegan butter and nutritional yeast to your next batch of polenta.

Before we begin, I’ll tell you right off the bat that this is a pretty cumbersome ingredient list, but that doesn’t mean that it is a complicated or difficult recipe. It just has several different components that are put together separately before they find their way to the same plate.

Cabbage Spring Rolls & Peanut Butter Soba Noodles (VEGAN)

Recently I was in the mood for cabbage rolls, but not really, more like spring rolls made with cabbage instead of rice paper. I don’t know why, not really, other than I was reminiscing about some really delicious Vietnamese spring rolls I had once in Wheaton, IL.

Then I was walking down the aisle of a very crowded Lidl and spotted a gorgeous head of Savoy cabbage. I had to have it, knowing it would be great for the wraps, not to mention a vegan soup or two. Maybe even a vegan ramen dish.

The possibilities were endless.

As was the prep time for these vegan cabbage spring rolls. ūüôĄ

The good thing about this kind of vegan recipe is that it’s mostly raw so you’re getting plenty of natural fiber, but also that you can use any of the raw vegetables in your crisper that you just don’t know what to do with. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted in my vegan spring rolls, starting with smoked tofu and ending with this beautiful platter you see below.

The ingredient list for the Savoy wraps is pretty straightforward:

Carrots
Scallions
Bell peppers
Cucumber
Sprouts (these are radish sprouts)
Smoked tofu
Savoy cabbage

The most important step is to give the cabbage leaves a quick boil or steam, about 2 minutes. Do it early enough that the cabbage cool and are easy to manage while wrapping. I to roll the first one with the cabbage spine still on it and…it was a mess so I recommend trimming it down but not necessarily cutting it off completely, because that will just make wrapping it harder.

While you wait for the water to boil for the cabbage, preheat the oven or airfryer to 200C and add the seasoned smoked tofu until nice and crispy.

Set aside.

Use the biggest leaves on the Savoy cabbage and wrap them the wide way, across the spine rather than up or down. Trust me, it’ll make the process easier and less annoying.

Take a little of each ingredient and line it up across the leaf, then roll.

If you want to add anything to these vegan spring rolls to fill out the meal, I added soba noodles that I tossed in a mixture of peanut butter, hot water, lime juice, Sriracha and soy sauce. It was easy and delicious..

I also made a quick yogurt sauce for my partner, just in case the smoked tofu had a bit too much tandoor spice on it, which I’m happy to report it did not.

This was a quick (mostly) and easy vegan meal, at least if you make it through the prep work without losing your mind. I rewarded myself for all he prep work with an ice cold beer made without fish belly, thank you very much.

Do you like rolls? How do you prefer to enjoy them?

Easy Vegan Soups ~ Red Lentil & Ramen Veggie Soup

One of my favorite things to make when it’s cold outside is soup. Or stew, or a delicious combination of the two that I liked to call, stewp.

Give me a bunch of veggies and a handful of grains served with a delicious broth and I am good to go.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. But one day after a particularly grueling workout, I couldn’t decide if I wanted ramen soup (which I LOVE) or lentil soup. They couldn’t possibly go together, could they?

Could they?

Turns out, just about anything is possible with the right motivation, and what better motivation than hunger?

Don’t be afraid to load your soup up with a small amount of a large variety of vegetables, especially this season when you need all the vitamins and minerals possible to keep you healthy.

Vegan Fusion: Falafel Ball Noodle Soup

When it comes to cuisine, I’d love to say that I have no rules. But I do. A lot, in fact. Except when I want something that goes against the rules, in which case I’m the first to proclaim that the evolution of cuisine always starts with someone doing something they aren’t “supposed” to do.

And you know what, I’m totally fine with that because sometimes you just want what you want, and in this day and age when so many of us are spending more time than ever in the house, less time eating out at restaurants and all that jazz, rules must be broken once in a while.

Or longer…whatever you prefer.

Speaking of, let me introduce you to a Pho Style falafel ball rice noodle soup, my own vegan contribution to the vegan fusion movement. (Is it a movement or am I making that up?)

Let’s start with the falafel balls because they went in the oven and they needed time to cook and crisp up.

Falafel Ball Ingredients:

Chickpeas (rinsed & drained & dried)
Scallion
Ginger
Garlic
Smoky & Spicy paprika

Place all the ingredients into a food processor until you get a crumbly mixture. If you’re not sure whether it’s crumbly enough, scoop some into your hands and press it together. If it sticks, it’s good. I recommend you pop it into the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s not totally necessary.

Form into uniform balls, whatever size you prefer, and lay out on a baking sheet at 180c/375f for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown & crispy.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right?

For the soup, I started with another batch of waste free broth as the broth base.

You will also need: onion, bell pepper, garlic, mung bean sprouts, tomato paste, soybean paste coconut milk, soy sauce and Pad Thai rice noodles.

Start with a big pot and give the vegetables a light saute for a few minutes and then add soybean and tomato paste, stirring until everything looks kind of messy. Then it’s time to add the broth! Stir well until everything breaks apart and starts to resemble a soup. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the flavors are what you want.

Cook the noodles according to the package and drop them in your bowl first. Top with broth & veggie mixture and then falafel balls and you are–technically–ready to put it in your belly.

But you can also add garnishes such as jalapeno peppers, basil leaves, lime juice, Sriracha & soy sauce.

And there you have it, my own little twist on vegan fusion food and Asian fusion although I guess it should be vegan Asian-Middle Eastern fusion? That’s a mouthful but not as much as this delicious soup, which I will totally add to the rotation, using all kinds of vegan ball varieties.

Easy Vegan Char-fu (Vegan Char Siu)

I know, I know, you’re shocked to see yet another noodle dish from me.

Cue: your shocked face!

Seriously though, with everything going on in the world sometimes you just want a dish that brings you comfort and for me that is usually Asian noodles. They are versatile so you can get super fancy with it or do it up as simple as you like. This particular dish is a play on char siu, but obviously we’re not going to be using adorable pigs in our vegan meal, so we relied on good ol’ TVP to get the job done.

This vegan dish is all about the seasoning (and the noodles) but mostly the seasoning.

I don’t know about where you guys are–feel free to tell me where you are while reading this in the comments–but even if we were eating out these days, the suburbs of Bucharest aren’t exactly a haven for vegan cuisine, which means I can get all the Asian food I want right here in the comfort of my kitchen.

Now, you can too!

What you’ll need:

Onion
Bok Choy
Garlic
Chow Mein noodles
TVP
Peanut oil
Napa cabbage
Soy Sauce
Scallions
Hot sauce

Cook the TVP as indicated, same with the noodles.

Drain the TVP and season it, then pop it into the air fryer, oven or just fry it in a skillet, the choice is yours.

Add peanut oil to a pan or skillet and cook onion, bok choy, ginger and garlic until done, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like it. Add soy sauce and hot sauce, then toss with crispy soya.

Serve on a bed of your favorite noodles and garnish with fresh, thin sliced scallions.

This quick and easy vegan meal should take you 30 minutes or less in the kitchen, but if you’re feeling like¬†going there, feel free to share your fancier version of vegan Char-fu!

Beyond Meatball Noodle Soup (Vegan)

Can we all just agree that it is incredibly difficult to rename dishes you’ve been using for a lifetime? It is probably one of the most difficult parts of writing this blog, and I constantly find myself using¬†too many¬†descriptors or not enough. Or you end up with the redundancy of saying “vegan” everything. But when it came to this particular meal, the name almost wrote itself.

Beyond Meat is only one of two vegan meat alternatives that are available to me here in Romania, the other is a local brand, Verdino and they only make mici, deli slices and salami. That made it pretty easy to use the word ‘meatball’ and have it accurately apply. But that’s enough about the name of this dish, right? Let’s get down this incredibly delicious vegan noodle recipe.

This is an easy vegan recipe that you can make in less than 30 minutes and you can use whatever you have in your fridge and pantry.

Start with the Beyond Burgers and just add: minced garlic and ginger, smoky paprika, Ancho chili flakes and soy sauce. Use vegan Worcestershire if you have it, but I am currently waiting on a shipment of items that include vegan Worcestershire…still. My brand comes from the UK but if any of you have recommendations, drop them in the comments section!

Mix everything together in a bowl and form into small-ish, bite sized cruelty free meatballs.

I was feeling lazy so i popped them in the oven on 225¬įC for about 15 to 18 minutes and as you can see, they became nice and crispy without losing any of that signature juiciness that defines them.

The soup part of the equation was simple: my new favorite thing, waste-free vegan broth! You might need to add a little of this and a little of that to get the right flavor profile, but it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

As you can see, I made Udon noodles for my husband and Ramen noodles for myself because we have different tastes and it was no big deal to make two types. Cook the noodles according to the package, just using broth instead of plain old water.

Garnish with fresh scallions, lime juice and Sriracha and voila, a quick and easy vegan lunch guaranteed to satisfy your appetite.

Healthy tip:¬†If you love Ramen noodles the way I do, then you probably REALLY love how calorie friendly they are, right? Well you’ll have to weigh the Ramen after¬†you cook them to get the most accurate calorie count. Those little 60 gram packages total up to about 150 grams once cooked. Don’t take my word for it though, invest in a food scale.¬†This¬†is the one I have. It’s basic but it gets the job done. Oh, and it’s battery operated.

And if you’re feeling a little grown up, add a cocktail. I totally just used this opportunity to break out the new rum, though. It wasn’t completely necessary but appreciated and satisfying.

This was just ice cold rum with lime zest and brown sugar on the rim. It was delicious and refreshing, especially if you like a little heat with your favorite Ramen noodle soup.

What is your go to noodle soup recipe?

 

Pickled Carrot Udon Noodles

One of life’s greatest gifts, as far as this home chef is concerned, is noodles. Asian noodles or pasta, you name it and I love it. Crave it. Make it often.

Noodles, in general, are an easy go to for a lazy or busy vegan. Just add veggies and you’re good to go!

For this particular meal, I took a quick but flavorful route.

pickled carrot udon noodles

My plan started out simple enough: get a good oil-free caramelization on the leeks, ginger and garlic, toss with udon noodles and sauce. Top with pickled carrots & scallions. The End. Somehow the soya strips got added and here we are, so this is what you do.

What you’ll need:

Udon noodles (I prefer Sukina brand fresh noodles but use what you can find), TVP or tofu or your favorite protein, carrots, ginger, garlic, scallions, lemons, leeks, curry and seasonings.

When it comes to choosing ingredients for your noodle dish, stick to what you like and what you know…and do NOT be afraid of your vegetables! I had intended to keep this simple, no soya pieces but somehow they ended up in the dish anyway.

Shave the carrots & thinly slice the scallions and toss into a small bowl. Add salt, black pepper, lemon juice (at least 1, maybe 1.5 lemons’ worth), agave syrup or other sweetener, cider or rice vinegar. Toss until coated and set aside, giving it a good mix every now and again for an even quick pickling.

spicy pickled udon vegan noodles

Next, take the leeks, ginger and garlic and saute until done, about 10 minutes, adding herbs and spices like curry, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garam masala, during the cooking process. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions and toss with leek mixture.

Top with pickled carrots and extra scallions and you’ve got a quick vegan lunch and a pretty awesome carb fix on your hands!

Catching Up in My Vegan Kitchen…from Romania!

It’s been awhile and I know it. I’m sorry. I hope everyone is safe, indoors and finding fun ways to keep busy.

The truth is that I have been cooking, quite a bit lately, I’ve just been very lazy about writing up posts and selecting photos. Some days I just forgot to take photos altogether, but I don’t want that to turn into a habit, so let’s play a little bit of catch up, shall we?

I rarely posts desserts, not because I don’t make them because I do…a lot. But I am not a good food photographer, not yet anyway. But this little creation was chocolate biscuits (#accidentallyvegan), ripe bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder and dark brown sugar with orange zest on top. Layered. It’s pretty to look at and it was a crowd-pleaser for vegans and non-vegans alike.

I know it’s spring time and not really the season for soups but one night my husband chose French onion soup as his Midnight Tokyo Diner option which meant I had to make it because sneaky man that he is, made sure there were heaps of yellow and white onions in the pantry.

I think it came out pretty well, probably the best I’ve made so far even thought it was greasier than I would’ve liked. Soon I’ll do a post with the full recipe because I think you might like it.

Gyro night!!! This was a fun night and yeah, you bet your sweet little booty that it was also time-consuming. Making seitan is never a quick endeavor but this was SO worth it. So. Worth. It.

As I always tell my non-vegan friends, proteins are always about the seasonings. Try to eat any protein without salt & pepper. Or any type of sausage without garlic or cumin or caraway. This seitan gyro loaf was no different. I used fennel, garlic, smoky paprika, cumin, fenugreek, ancho chili pepper and a bunch of other spices to get the loaf just right. To round the vegan gyros out, I used mushrooms and onions sauteed with the seitan after it’s simmering session.

Balsamic salad on the side with a vegan lemon and cucumber yogurt sauce, and this vegan gyro night was super fun!

And no list of what I’ve been cooking is complete without some type of Asian creation and this time we have Pho. I used TVP which, in my opinion, is a feat of genius. Seriously, I call it Star Trek meat, a name that never fails to make my husband laugh. It takes on the flavor of whatever you want it to so easily, in this case the yummy spices of a vegan Pho broth. Soy and balsamic soaked crimini mushrooms and generic ramen noodles round out this dish.

The real question is…what have you been up to? Cooking? Relaxing? Trying not to freak out?

Easy Vegan Chow Fun

One of the things I love most about sharing a life with someone who’s life experiences are so different than my own, is sharing those experiences. But even better than that, is making those experiences¬†ours.

Wondering what I’m talking about? Tokyo Diner night…again!

It was my pick of the night and I chose Chow Fun. Remember back in the day when you’d go to a certain type of Chinese restaurant and they’d advertise Cantonese Chow Fun noodles? Well that was probably the start of my love/obsession with Asian cuisine and it was one that, after 15 years, I hadn’t shared with The Hubs.

How crazy, right?

Anyway, I love Chow Fun because it’s simple and it’s fast, and you can use whatever you have on hand to make it a meal.

Your basic Chow Fun recipe has sprouts, beef, scallions and noodles. So if you have a vegan protein to replace the beef, you’re good to go. But if you’re feeling adventurous (or hungry) you can add snowpeas, leeks, carrots, broccoli or whatever else you want. We kept it simple, mostly because The Hubs went¬†way¬†overboard with the dehydrated soya so we didn’t need much else.

The key to a good Chow Fun dish is cooking it quick and high, preferably in a Wok. Even if you don’t have a wok, none of these ingredients need to cook for a long time. They’re vegetables!

We lucked out when it came to the noodles. It’s hard to find real Chow Fun noodles here but we had these long lasagna-like noodles that were the perfect replacement and I didn’t even have to tell my husband that’s what I was hoping he’d use. How awesome, right?

Finally, there’s the sauce. Sesame oil is an ingredient but you can take it as easy or as heavy as you want. Combine it with soy sauce (we used light and dark), a pinch of sugar (optional), Xiaoxing wine and a pinch of spice if desired.

Add the soya first until it’s cooked how you want, then add onions/scallions and cook another few minutes. Once all the veggies are¬†close¬†to desired done-ness, add wine around the rim of the pan and then the soy and wine mixture. Add bean sprouts.

Stir/toss until cook through and serve over those yummy Chow Fun noodles.

This is another quick and easy vegan meal that anyone can cook. And best of all, if you do all the prep work you can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Add vegetables and spices as desired and feel free to share your version below!

Easy Vegan Meals In A Pinch ~ Mix & Match Asian

If you were to listen to some of the conversations I have with my friends you notice two things. The first is that I often sound like a broken record because, well what’s true is…true. The second is that they have a hard time understanding how I overcome my love of variety while eating a vegan diet. (Now the broken record thing makes sense, doesn’t it?)

But other than frustration those conversations were the inspiration for today’s post. Well¬†that and the actual meal itself.

Variety, on any diet, starts with your spice rack/cabinet/drawer or whatever, at least in my opinion. If you have a fully developed space for herbs and spices you can turn mashed potatoes (for example) into curry mashed potatoes. Or Asian inspired fries. It is also how a healthy vegan can eat everything and never, ever get bored.

Even when it’s the day before grocery day and you realize your cute little Tokyo diner idea means you sometimes run out of food earlier, and you simply have to make do with what’s on hand.

There were two directives for this particular meal: Asian & Mushrooms.

That made things easy. Sort of. There was about 300 grams of mixed brown & white mushrooms in the fridge along with half a head of cauliflower, bell peppers and scallions, which I love to put in my salads. Not the most exciting ingredients but this is where your spice rack won’t let you down.

Start with Asian basics: garlic, ginger and lemongrass. I find lemongrass pretty hard to find around here and the only grocery store in my town that has it is inside a mall which is a big heaping helping of¬†no thanks for me unless we need to stock up on vegan junk food like cheese and luncheon style slices. So let’s stick with garlic and ginger. Add any or all of the following: soy sauce (or Worcestershire if you want to change it up a bit), tomato paste, lime juice, Sriracha, chili peppers, sesame seeds, miso paste. Take your ingredients and put them in a small mixing bowl. Add a starch & water mix to it and when the veggies are ready, toss it on top.

Boil, then simmer until thick and serve it over rice. Delicious Asian style vegan food in 30 minutes. Totally doable.

Your spice rack will never let you down and if you have a cabinet full of grains, you can experiment with different types of rice or you can test out different Asian noodles with recipes like this.

Tweak the ingredients and you can turn this into an Indian or Thai style curry. Add lemon and herbs instead and turn this into a Mediterranean style veggie & rice dish.¬† The point is to experiment, get creative and hit up the Google Machine for inspiration. It’s out there and once you start, you won’t be able to go back.

If you want to add extra spice…don’t be afraid to dice up a jalapeno or any other spicy pepper and toss it in with the other veggies. Or if you’re cooking for those who can’t handle the heat, it’s a perfect garnish when mixed with mint and parsley.