Posted in Herbs, International vegan cuisine, oil free vegan recipes, Plant Based, Salads, Sandwiches, Vegan

Quick & Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas

I know that not everyone has the luxury of working from home, which means you can’t take your time in the kitchen to whip up healthy and delicious vegan meals at your leisure. Many of you have to commute and work in an office or warehouse or studio somewhere and you’d just really like to get something healthy and delicious, with the caveat that it’s also fast.

Right?

Believe me, I know and this is where a little bit of prep time in the kitchen can go a long way. A really long way.

Today’s quick and easy vegan lunch ideas make great vegan sandwiches, salad dressings and even pasta, so let’s not waste anymore time, yeah?

Easy vegan lunch ideas for me, usually start and end with sandwiches because they are delicious and you can literally put just about anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich.

Vegan pesto & tapenade sandwiches

The question in our home when it comes to sandwiches is usually, open faced or closed? Why? Simple, open-faced sandwiches give you more yummy sandwich filling while closed-face can satisfy any carb craving.

So, choose wisely from one day to the next.

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Posted in Cheese, Salads, Sandwiches, Vegan

Vegan Deli Sandwiches & Salad

One of the things that many of my non-vegan friends (which is most of my friends) think is that I spend a ton of time making meals because vegan meals are hard. I usually laugh and shake my head because nothing could be further from the truth. I spend time in the kitchen because I like to, also because losing weight requires that you take control of what you put into your body and that, sometimes, means experimenting or meal prepping, or cooking vegan food from scratch.

But there are times when I’m too busy working on my next Mustang Prairie novel, or (shameless plug) any of my other contemporary romance novels, to give my kitchen the love and attention it deserves. When that happens, I am like Joey from Friends (am I giving my age away?) and I just want a really good sandwich. A really incredible vegan deli sandwich filled with meat alternatives, lettuce, red wine vinegar and all kinds of other goodies.

This is an easy vegan sandwich that doesn’t require much work.

Vegan deli sandwich with the works.

The best thing about whipping up a good sandwich, is that it takes almost no time. There are also plenty of hacks that can decrease your time in the kitchen if you want a vegan sandwich for lunch because you work at home like I do, or you have a make a sandwich to take into the office. Just…do what needs to be done to eat as many whole foods as you can, while enjoying what you eat, and you’re good.

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Posted in Grains, Plant Based, Sandwiches, Vegan

Vegan Sandwich Recipes ~ Spinach & Artichoke Open-Faced Sandwiches

I used to be a sandwich snob. The kind of snob who thought that open-faced sandwiches were an abomination. A way to eat a sandwich without actually enjoying it. I don’t know, there’s just something about biting into two pieces of bread filled with goodness and hoping like hell that the insides don’t fall down your shirt.

Ah, good times.

I still contend that closed sandwiches are superior, but I am doing my best to become a better human, to expand my horizons, and to learn to love open-faced sandwiches. Progress, as they say, comes in teeny tiny baby steps.

Easy vegan spinach and artichoke sandwich recipe

Do you love spinach & artichoke dip? You know filled with vegan mayo or veggiegurt, with red bell peppers, tons of spinach and artichokes and garlic, topped with cheese? Well this is one of my favorite dishes to recreate into pasta dishes, dips, stuffed mushrooms, pizza and pretty much anything that can be spinach and artichoke-d.

If you do, this vegan sandwich recipe is right up your alley. It gives you all the goodness that you get from the dip, only now it’s a hearty and satisfying meal perfect for any weather, the pickiest eater or just for your beautiful self.

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Posted in Asian Food, International vegan cuisine, Plant Based, Sandwiches, Sauces & Creams, Vegan

Easy Vegan Döner Kebab/Shawarma with Pickled Cabbage

The first thing I ever ate when I moved to Germany was not sauerkraut, not any of the variety of brats the country has to offer, and not even the famous, delicious, pretzels. Nope, my flight from Chicago got in pretty late and we stopped at one of the many Döner Kebab shops that can be found on just about any/every street.

It was the first time I’d ever eaten it and my first thought was, “Oh it’s like a gyro.”

It is not just like a gyro, but it is similiar.

Anyway, I fell in love with this dish because I loved the combination of flavorful meat, cabbage slaw and all the different choices for spicy add-ons they give you. It. Was. My. Jam.

And then I went vegan and even though Berlin is the place to be for vegan foodies, I lived in Stuttgart. There were hardly any vegan restaurants, never mind vegan Döner shops, much to my dismay.

And then I learned how to make my own vegan gyro meat from seitan and the rest, as they say, is history.

So whenever I get a craving for vegan Döner or Shawarma, I make it myself.

There are three components to this dish: the vegan meat, the veggiegurt sauce and the pickled veggies.

The veggiegurt is simple: vegan yogurt, diced cucumber, dill, lemon juice & zest, and cumin. Put in a bowl and stir, refrigerate until you’re ready to start plating.

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Posted in Plant Based, Salads, Sandwiches, Sides, Vegan

Vegan Summer Salad ~ Apple, Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad with Dill Yogurt Dressing

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Romania it has been hot.

Really hot.

Super hot.

Hot as balls, hot.

Did I mention it’s been hot?

Anyway, when it’s too hot to focus on writing, or television or anything else, it is definitely too hot to think about turning on the oven or the stove. Since I love salads, it’s not hardship to go salad crazy when the weather is warm and there’s an abundance of produce options.

With all that’s happening in the world, it’s been a little difficult to get certain produce without ordering online and hopping from one grocery store to the next, so when I found some kohlrabi, I figured it was time to give it a shot. I went to the Google Machine to find out what kohlrabi tasted like and how to make it raw, and came up with his easy vegan summer salad.

You can eat this vegan salad as a side dish with your favorite vegan sandwich, or just make a big ass bowl and eat it on its own. It’s low calorie, nutrient rich and incredibly delicious.

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Posted in Asian Food, Breads, International vegan cuisine, Salads, Sandwiches, Vegan

Quick Vegan Lunch Recipes ~ Smoked Tofu Bahn mi & Salad

Sandwich. Salad. Soup. Those are pretty much your lunch options, especially if you work in an office or anywhere outside the home, right?

Wrong.

Sandwiches don’t necessarily mean fast food burgers or other greasy, deep-fried sandwich options. Sometimes, I prefer a grilled veggie sandwich with balsamic dressing, or a nice deli sandwich. If I’m feeling super creative/hungry, I’ll whip up a tomato and vegan ricotta sandwich.

Today, I’m going a little exotic with Bahn mi, which is basically a Vietnamese sub sandwich. My noodle obsession is pretty well documented but I have been known, on occasion, to indulge in a sandwich when I hit up any Asian restaurant. This vegan bahn mi sandwich is easy to make, healthy and delicious.

I paired the sandwich with a salad because it’s always nice to have something raw and crunchy each day, and also because the bread is plentiful in calories but not necessarily all that satisfying to get you through an afternoon of writing, editing and researching.

Use your favorite fresh veggies for the salad, because you’re the one who has to eat it.

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Posted in Breads, Grains, Herbs, Plant Based, Salads, Sandwiches, Vegan

Easy Vegan Lunch Recipes – Spicy Buffalo Tofu Sandwich & Salad

Sandwiches are one of my favorite foods in all the world. I’m like Joey when it comes to sandwiches, just give me some good bread, tons of veggies, some good sauce like pesto or hummus or dill-veggiegurt and I am a happy camper! And when you find bread that is delicious and low calorie, well it’s like sandwiches are calling my name.

So when my mother in law brought over a bag filled with little ciabatta rolls just 60 grams per roll, I was ECSTATIC! Like Joey-level excited and I knew exactly what I wanted. Spicy TVP, cooked in the air fryer and tossed in a blend of spices & hot sauce.

Spicy Vegan Buffalo Tofu Sandwich

This recipe is pretty easy as far as vegan lunch recipes go.

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Posted in Breads, Cheese, Herbs, Sandwiches, Vegan

Roasted Tomato & Vegan Ricotta Sandwich

I may or may not have shared with you my slight obsession with the TV show Dawson’s Creek. I don’t talk about it much here but if you’ve ever visited my Facebook or Author page, you’ll have seen it. Well I now have an extension to this obsession, which I realize may be too strong a word but if you knew how much I loved Pacey Witter then you’d understand how much Bon Appetit chef Brad Leone reminds me of a grownup Pacey Witter.

Why does any of that matter?

Because I had this conversation recently with a reader and then Brad did this delicious looking roasted tomato and ricotta sandwich which, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t recreate on its own.

So I thought it was a perfect time to share this recipe…and give another shout out to Dawson’s Creek.

So the key to this recipe is the tomatoes. I used vine tomatoes because they looked really good and because I found some really incredible organic rosemary and…well look at it. This is the easy but time-consuming part. Add a bit of oil to the skillet (yes, I know about my oilless stance but I needed to compromise here so I did) and drop the tomatoes and rosemary in as they are. You’ll have to cook them for quite a while, until they start to brown/char a little and maybe even explode.

See the difference? Just cook them until they reach a point you feel they’re tender enough to eat.

While the tomatoes did their thing, I added some garlic and half a yellow chili pepper because they are an important part of the vegan ricotta I tried to make.

So Brad’s original recipe used regular old animal ricotta so I knew I needed to replace it. Somehow. The Google Machine gave me tons of vegan ricotta recipes that used cashews. I LOVE cashews. I’d probably rank them as my second favorite nut behind pecans, but the truth is that I’m still trying to reach my weight loss goals and I just couldn’t do cashew ricotta.

So I got a little creative. Tofu in salty brine water (I used Inedit brand) mixed with vegan cream cheese (Simply V brand). Give them, along with the garlic, lemon juice and chili pepper, a quick run in the food processor until smooth. You might have to add a bit of almond milk or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer. I used roasted unsweetened almond milk so it wouldn’t change the flavor too much.

It didn’t photograph all that well but it was very delicious. I mixed it in a food processor until I got a consistency that satisfied me and that was slightly grainy and smooth.

It’s pretty easy even if it does take more time than a simple vegan sandwich should. It was tasty and well worth the effort, besides I got to share it with you!

Tip: If you need more flavor for the ricotta, add nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan.

A slightly closer look so you can see all the herbs and green bits added to the ricotta.

And now…the sandwich!

I smashed the tomatoes a little and poured some balsamic vinegar on top and that was it.

Smear the ricotta on your favorite crispy, toasted bread and top with the tomato mix.

All that’s left is to enjoy it…with an ice cold beer, since we’re all still stuck inside and day drinking is totally appropriate.

Posted in International vegan cuisine, Italian, Plant Based, Sandwiches, Vegan

Grownup Vegan Stromboli

One of my favorite memories from college is spending Mock Trial strategy sessions at Jerry’s Pizza right across the street from my all girls dorm room. Yes, the proximity to home was a major selling point and so was the vintage PacMan machine that I spent too many hours and too many quarters playing but the thing that kept me coming back for more was the delicious cheesy stromboli.

The old version is ground beef, some kind of tomato sauce with pepperoncini peppers and giardiniera peppers if you ask really nicely. The sandwich was delicious and cheap but it was also big enough to enjoy the other half for lunch the next day. Over the years I have recreated the sandwich ad nauseam, never quite getting it right.

This time though, I’m feeling a little bit cocky.

This time around I made a few changes to correct things I wasn’t happy about in the past. The protein was always a problem for me because let’s be honest, ground meat and tofu scrambles are both greasy and not the greatest. So I replaced it with a Beyond Burger and 100 grams of chickpeas, along with bell peppers (any color you like), garlic and onion. That’s the main base and it’s pretty simple, right?

You’re halfway there. Now it’s time for the sauce and this is where I got a little more creative, a little more grownup and a lot more vegan. I got rid of the canned tomatoes and replaced them with cherry tomatoes on the vine, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Toss a clove of fresh garlic, capers, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce and lemon juice into a food processor and blend until smooth. This is your fabulous tomato sauce that will bring this vegan stromboli together beautifully.

When the veggies are cooked enough, add the sauce and bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened to an acceptable level, about 15 minutes.

Once the sauce thickened, I added a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a handful of green olives. Stack it on a long bun or a roll like I did here and you have a perfect vegan sandwich that tastes like it took all day to make.

I added jalapeno peppers to mine because I like things spicy but you can omit them if you want, or add more spice to the sauce. The choice is yours!

Since this was a pretty satisfying meal, I served them as open-faced vegan sandwiches and skipped a side dish. I didn’t want to add greasy fries, even if they were oven cooked and cold veggies wouldn’t have been right with this hot dish.

I’ve finally found a new & improved version of the Stromboli and I’m happy to add it to the rotation so let me know what tweaks you made when you try it at home!

Posted in Bowls, Dips, International vegan cuisine, Plant Based, Potatoes, Sandwiches, Vegan

Beyond Animal Fries!!!

Happy 2020!! Things have been crazy around here with editing my book, sending it out to beta readers and all of that, so I’ve been neglecting The Spicy Spatula terribly. I hope you’re still around and ready for another year of easy, healthy, vegan home cooking.

I spent nearly a decade living in Los Angeles and I even ate at In n Out burger a few times, but I must admit that I’ve never eaten their animal fries. I wasn’t on a health kick and I wouldn’t go vegan for nearly a decade. The truth is that it was one of my least favorite fast food restaurants, which is saying something because I pretty much dislike them all, and so I didn’t explore their menu as much as I might have.

But recently I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with Beyond Burger, chickpeas, tofu and dehydrated soy protein and I figured it was time that I added a few not so healthy recipes to this site…right?

So today we’re having vegan animal style fries made with, (drum roll please), the Beyond Burger!

One of the things I always have to check myself on is trying to be too strict with a recipe. There are a lot of ingredients in animal fries and I don’t know about you, but my weight loss goals can’t take it and this dish is super delicious, but it ain’t worth all that. My point is to go as far as you’re comfortable going and stop there.

For example I kept the fries but I baked them because I always do. This is partially for health reasons but mostly it’s because I’m lazy and I hate to deep fry things. And my tiny Euro-kitchen has no room for anything as big as a fritteuse (that’s German for deep fryer!).

So for my vegan animal fries I used:

Potatoes, 2 Beyond Burger patties, onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno peppers, veggiegurt (vegan yogurt), Sriracha, lime juice, cumin, pickles and herbs & spices. And that’s it, your ingredient list.

Once the Beyond Burger is thawed, I just diced it in a grid fashion because once you toss it in the skillet you can break it apart with a wooden spoon. I added the onions and bell peppers first because the burger “meat” cooks very fast and then added the garlic and burgers at the same time.

Tip: Don’t add oil to the skillet since the burger will release a ton of it during cooking!

When you season this, add burger-seasonings like Worcestershire, cumin powder, smoked paprika and garlic granules. It’ll give you the flavor you’re looking for.

Your potatoes are baking in the oven and your toppings are just about done, which means it is time to make the sauce!

Take a pickle or two and finely dice it up along with a few slices of jarred jalapeno peppers, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, and measure out your veggiegurt. Stir and you’ve got a fun sauce for your vegan animal fries.

If you love spicy foods like I do or if you’re just feeling adventurous, add more diced jalapeno peppers on top and enjoy!

And if you feel inclined, wash it down with an ice cold beverage. I opted for water but I’d love to hear/see what you’d pair with this plate.