Vegan Takeout Recipes ~ Mongolian Tofu & Rice

When you’re in the mood for a nice hot vegan meal that won’t have you in the kitchen all day, here’s my advice: grab a grain, a protein, a vegetable and make a quick sauce. In thirty minutes (give or take) you’ll have a delicious vegan meal that will make you feel good about yourself.

Bonus points, it’ll satisfy your hunger.

If you’re familiar with the popular Chinese takeout dish, Mongolian beef, you’ll be very happy you popped over to The Spicy Spatula today, because we have veganized this popular takeout dish and made it our very own.

The great thing about popular vegan takeout dishes, is that you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want, depending on your time constraints. As you can see from the photo above, the ingredient list isn’t all that complicated but it’s the sauce that gives this Mongolian Tofu most of the flavor.

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.

Vegan Pepper Steak Stir-Fry

So this time, we’re starting with a story.

Way back in 1998 , I was an eager high school graduate headed to downstate Illinois for my very first Freshman orientation with my best friend. We visited the entire campus and I was sure–absolutely certain, in fact–that I, of the dubious navigation talents, would be able to get from one class to the next with ease after this two-day trip.

For those of you wondering, it took me two weeks to navigate the campus freely.

But, I digress. On the first day of orientation, lunch was served in what was considered the “freshman dorm cafeteria” where my bestie and I didn’t end up getting a room, but we had a dish I had never had before. Pepper Steak. It wasn’t very good because the steak was tough, but the sauce was spicy and tangy and delicious. My taste buds were intrigued, needless to say and since then, I have recreated it about a dozen times.

This time, I went for something a little different, pepper steak stir-fry with mushrooms and mince instead of tofu or seitan. Let’s see how it went…

It wasn’t until years later, when the internet became A THING, that I looked up a real recipe and tried to recreate it but over the years I have used pretty much every source of protein and every blend of Asian flavors to get it just right.

Vegan Corn & Potato Chowder

You know how sometimes you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see a vegan dish that calls to you? Well that’s what happened to me with this meal. There is no long story about why I love it or why I was craving it, just a simple case of I saw it. I wanted it. I made it.

Back in my non-vegan days, I couldn’t not stand chowder because I have never been a fan of milk or heavy cream, but after seeing a photo, I decided to give a shot. So, after a long walk on a very cold day in Romania, I whipped out my ingredients and tried my hand at vegan corn & potato chowder.

The ingredient list for this vegan chowder is pretty simple:

Vegan Mushroom Mapo Tofu

If you’ve never heard of Mapo Tofu, then you are in for a real treat. I came across video by Wil Yeung on YouTube and you know what happened next? That’s right, it ended up on my plate a few days later!

For those of you not in the know, Mapo Tofu is a Chinese dish from the Sichuan province . It is delicious and spicy and pretty easy to make. And best of all? Easy to make completely vegan.

The key to this vegan version of mapo tofu is perfectly cooked crimini mushrooms. I like to start the mushrooms in the oven and finish’em off on top of the stove so you get that nice crispy earthy flavor on the outside and a nice bit of moisture on the inside.

No-Meatball Creamy Curry Risotto

Perhaps my favorite part of getting to choose what my husband cooks on his nights, is coming up with new combinations to see what he’ll do with the dish. On this night, I wanted three things: curry, vegan meatballs and risotto.

It sounded strange even to my own ears, so I hit up the Google machine just in case I was sending him on a fool’s errand. Turns out, I was…kind of.

There were curry meatball dishes for all diets and lifestyles, but I guess most people are purists when it comes to risotto, where I am not. So this is what happens when you ask for curry, vegan meatballs and risotto for dinner.

Meatless Creamy Curry Risotto.

The key to any good curry is a well-stocked spice rack, or finding the right premade vegan curry sauce or seasoning packet. Those aren’t all that easy to come by here in Romania, which works out fine because my spice rack is more like a spice shelving unit and it borders on ridiculous.

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. 🙄

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.

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.

Linguine & Vegan Balls with Red Sauce

Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s pretty much a classic among pasta meals and it’s been a long damn time since I’ve eaten any variation of them. Part of it is because meatballs can be a really cumbersome task, more so when they’re vegan, at least that was the case when I first went vegan in Germany. The options were limited and getting them to hold their structure in the sauce was, well, a big ol’ mess.

But this is 2021 and times have changed for vegans the world over. Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic meal because you love pasta and vegan meatballs, or you’re looking for easy vegan meals for Veganuary, this is an excellent one to try.

There’s no need to go crazy with the vegan tomato sauce, if you don’t want to, but I always think we should all go a little bit crazy when whipping up a pasta sauce. Here’s a tip: don’t skimp on your herbs. Red sauce loves herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or marjoram. Buy the little cheap-o packets in the herbs & spices section at the grocery store to test them out and see what you like.

You’ll thank me for this tip, but you don’t have to. Just knowing that you obeyed and loved it, is enough for me!

Other than herbs and spices you’ll need:

Vegan soy balls (or falafel, seitan, tempeh, or veggie balls)
Onion
Garlic
Linguine (or spaghetti or other long pasta)
Bell pepper
Tomatoes
Vegan Worcestershire
Cornstarch
Red chili flakes

If you cook with oil, you’ll want to sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic in hot oil, otherwise use water or broth, added periodically to keep them from sticking to the pan, on medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers first, adding the garlic when the other vegetables are just about done.

Dice the tomatoes by hand or mix them in a food processor until you have a fresh tomato sauce without all the added sugar. Add the tomatoes and chili flakes to the sauté pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add a cornstarch-Worcestershire-water mixture to thicken, and don’t forget to season your veggies or your sauce!!!

Cook the pasta according to instructions and when it’s done, scoop it straight from the pot to the skillet to toss with the sauce.

For the vegan meatballs, just season them and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through and slightly crispy around the edges. Add to sauce until fully coated. If you want them extra crispy, put them in the air fryer for a few minutes and see what happens.

With a little bit of prep work, this is an easy vegan meal that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

The best thing of all about this easy linguine and vegan soy-balls dinner is that you can mix it up, however you want. Add almond milk and vodka for a nice vodka sauce. Or add spicy peppers for a type of arrabiata sauce. Add olives and capers for an upscale vegan Bolognese. The point is this is one of those easy vegan meals that you can switch up by adding different herbs, spices and pasta types to the dish.

What is your go to pasta dish when you have a carb craving and which kind of red wine do you drink with it?