Easy Vegan Dips ~ Shallot & Banana Pepper Relish

Hummus.

Salsa.

Pesto.

Spinach & artichoke.

Romesco.

Tapenade.

Vegan queso.

What do these yummy dishes all have in common? They are delicious vegan dips!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am always looking for different things to dip-ify. My favorite is salsa, followed up with hummus but I can totally get down with a nice tapenade if the olive selection is appealing enough. But any one of these vegan dips can get boring after a while and I find it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, so when my father-in-law brought A LOT of white plums back from a trip to the Romanian countryside, it was the perfect time to improvise.

White plums are not just for sweet vegan dishes

To be fair, white plums are not all that delicious on their own. The texture is very similar to the plums you can find in most supermarkets around the world, but the taste is so mild that it’s almost nonexistent. If you give them a day or two after they’re perfectly ripe, they are much sweeter and perfect for this vegan relish I created. Well…maybe someone else created and I just made it up in my head. Either way, this one is mine and I’m claiming it.

Quick & easy vegan dips don’t have to be complicated. Just add chips!

The ingredient list on this vegan dip is super simple. All you need is: banana pepper, shallot, white plums, fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar. The only seasoning I added was salt, black pepper & garlic granules.

Nothing else.

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Start with the shallots, because you want to give him a little bit of pickling so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Dice the shallots and add them straight to a bowl, along with salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a little stir and let it sit while you chop the banana peppers and plums.

I used jarred banana peppers because that’s what I had on hand, and truthfully I don’t think I’ve seen any fresh banana peppers since moving to Romania. Add the banana peppers to the bowl and give a good stir before moving on to the plums.

For the white plums, you can peel the skin off but I kept them on because, you know, fiber. Give them an even dice and add to the bowl. Give everything a quick stir and refrigerate. I let them sit in the fridge for a few days so the flavors could get together and have a little party, but you can dig right in if you want.

And now you have another easy vegan dip added to your repertoire.

And what’s even better? It is SUPER calorie/figure friendly!

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I know what you’re thinking. What the hell do I do with this weird vegan relish?

I’m glad you asked.

Shallot, banana pepper & white plum relish with tortilla chips

You can use this dip in a number of ways

*Mix it with your favorite brand of vegan tuna and make a sandwich

*Grab tortilla chips and nosh away

*Pita chips or pita bread, naan, rustic bread etc…

*Add a few tablespoons to your favorite vegan yogurt or sour cream and make a creamy dip

*Add it on top of your favorite vegan hot dog or sausage, Chicago style

If you’re feeling really hungry, grab a spoon and let go, but I recommend a healthy dose of carbs to go with it.

Vegan Backyard BBQ Salad Recipe – Smoked Tofu, Sweet Potato & Corn Salad

We have all seen the vegan salad memes and if you’ve been vegan for even a few months, you know how true the meme is.

loaded vegan salads

It’s kind of sad to think that only vegans are privileged enough to enjoy these delicious salads when they are so packed with nutrition, vibrant colors (which is also a clue to nutrition) and tons of raw, high fiber vegetables. But hey, if you need animals in your salad…

Today’s vegan salad recipe is kind of my own creation. In my mind, I love a good backyard barbecue and that probably stems from all the great cookouts spent at my grandmother’s house as a kid. But the reality of charcoal and lighter fluid, the awful smell and burnt food makes it less appealing.

So I decided to veganize and salad-ify the backyard barbecue.

Easy vegan salads and homemade vegan salad dressing
Fresh cut corn, smoked tofu & herbed veggiegurt vegan salad dressing

One of the first lessons I learned when I became a vegan and a healthy (ish) eater, was that a salad can be just about anything. I always thought of salad as the pitiful thing you get at restaurants when the choice is soup or salad, you know two quartered tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and a few half-moons of cucumber. That can–and has–turned plenty of people of eating salad.

Lazy Vegan Brunch

I’m not here for a long post today, just to share a few quick photos of our most recent vegan brunch!

It was simple and easy; vegan eggs, sausage, toast and hash browns. It’s more food than we would normally eat but I just got the vegan sausage and the eggs, so I had to try them out.

The spinach sausage from Verdino was surprisingly delicious but the other…not so much. It came wrapped in an inedible casing and the flavor was off-putting. The “eggs” were oddly good and not all that eggy.

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.

Vegan Mici, Mushrooms & Potatoes Two Ways

Who loves potatoes?

Me. I love potatoes and I could eat them every single day and not having them the same way. Whether its sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, fries or home fries, I am here for POTATOES. So when I found these vegan mici (Romanian word for “little ones” or “small ones”) I knew it was the perfect way to over-indulge in potatoes.

Just a little, anyway.

And since I’m (still) editing like my life depends on it, I’m going to make this a quick-ish post.

This was kind of a hodge-podge meal, as you can see with just a few mushrooms because there were only a few leftover as it was almost grocery day. Again.

Quatro Vegan Formaggio ~ Vegan Shells & Cheese

I’ll tell you up front that I was so excited about how well, and by well I mean cheesy this dish came out, that I dug right in and finished it all before I remembered the small matter of taking photos. Oops.

Forgive me?

Since the Hubs and I still do the Midnight Tokyo Diner dinner choices, our meal choices are at the mercy of that on any given night, which means some nights we have more not-so-healthy meals than others.

This is one of those nights.

He requested cheesy mac & cheese and I may have gone a little overboard, but here we are.

The truth is that I like to experiment with different vegan foods when they hit the market and well, my most recent haul included several different types of vegan cheese and since my husband LOVES mac & cheese, I knew this request would come, sooner or later.

So when he made his request, I had my marching orders.

Vegan Soul Food Lunch Plate

Most days I know what I want to eat for lunch and that usually consists of some type of vegan salad. I’m not talking about your basic iceberg lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo, either. I’m talking a nice salad loaded up with vegetables, colors, vitamins and nutrients, but not with calories.

If you like quinoa, here is a salad for you. Do you prefer bulgur? Here is one for you. Get plenty of tips on how to make glorious vegan salads here.

But some days I’m not sure what I want and one of those days recently, an idea fell into my lap. We had just come from the grocery store where I found turnips with some lovely greens on top so I yanked the tops off of a few more bunches because that’s totally allowed here (and its free) and decided I would make some turnip greens at some point in the future. Then my mother-in-law showed up with a big bag of Monk’s Rhubarb, which I had honestly ever heard of before. But my father-in-law had already rinsed them so I nibbled on a leaf and realized I could add them to the turnip greens for more dark leafy greens.

From there, this vegan soul food lunch plate was born.

Why is it a lunch plate? That’s simple. If you find a soul food restaurant near you, chances are good there will be a lunch plate special that allows you to mix and match your favorite soul food menu items for one yummy lunch. In some areas, you might even find a entrepreneur offering them up around the neighborhood for a very good price.

Vegan Meatloaf Dinner: Take ONE

Trying out new things is kind of my jam and even if they don’t turn out photo-worthy, they are almost always tasty and I will always consider that a success. Always.

There are some vegan meat brands, like Beyond, which work very well as a direct meat substitute if you want to make vegan meatballs or Bolognese, but that’s not always available and that’s when you have to get creative and experiment a little bit.

Recently I wanted to make meatloaf, like old school, 1980’s style meatloaf with the retro feel but updated for, you know, the 21st Century vegan.

It tasted delicious but it wasn’t all that pretty. #Notsorry

My problem when creating this vegan meatloaf dinner was that I tried to make it too healthy, or rather too calorie-friendly and that impacted the structure of the vegan meatloaf. Oh, and maybe it had something to do with the vegan mince I used from Verdino, it isn’t an exact substitute so it needed more magic than I gave it.

Lazy But Tasty Vegan Dinner ~ Meatless Balls with Broccoli & Rice

I don’t always use meat alternatives when I cook, in fact I try not to use them too often just because you can’t go wrong with a plate full of whole food foods. But times are rough and sometimes your self-care just has to be a bigger priority without sacrificing healthy choices, and when that happens you need a lazy but tasty vegan dinner.

Lazy meals don’t necessarily mean vegan comfort food so just get thoughts of vegan pizza or deep fried cauliflower wings out of your head right now. Lazy mostly, for the sake of this vegan food post, means quick and easy.

Not a lot of prep time.

Not a long list of ingredients.

And it doesn’t get easier than this. Okay, yeah it does but you’re an adult and you still need to eat your veggies.

So. Eat. Your. Veggies.

All you’ll need is: vegan meatballs, rice, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper and whatever you want from your herbs & spices.

That’s it.

No more.

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?