I’ve made no secret over the years that one of the things from my old, pre-vegan life that I do not miss is cheese. I mean, cheese is good. It’s fine. It’s just no longer my jam since I’m not addicted to it. I’ve experimented with all types of vegan cheese brands and until the past few months, I’ve been underwhelmed. I’ve even done the alt-cheese thing myself, using white beans, a turmeric & nooch béchamel for pizza, a milk-based cheese-ish sauce, and even a carrot cheese. I have tried it all and made an informed decision that I can take or leave cheese.
And then, I did my semi-regular online order of vegan food from a source in Germany and…wow. This super cheesy vegan gnocchi bake was incredible. Ooey and gooey cheesy deliciousness, minus the need to keep eating and eating.
If you know how to make mac & cheese then you know how to make this dish, but there are a few caveats since I got a little fancy with it.
Do you guys watch a lot of YouTube or is it just me? I use it for many of my workout videos, my crime documentaries and most of all, recipes. I subscribe to vegan and non-vegan channels alike because sometimes non-vegan cooks have some really good ideas too.
One of my favorites is Chef John from Food Wishes. I love his corny dad jokes and even though there is always meat or dairy in his recipes, I love to veganize so many of them that it’s worth it. During one of my recent YouTube sessions, which its pretty difficult to call it a single session since it pretty much goes on and on for most of the day, especially since I pay for premium which means…no ads!
Sorry, Chef John and the Pancake Lasagna (recipe here and video here). So my partner and I watched this video together and we both pretty much had the same reaction. “Let’s make this. ASAP.”
So, that’s what we did.
The idea behind this vegan lasagna is pretty simple. Make the lasagna you love, only replace the pasta with thin, homemade pancakes. This idea appealed to me immediately because ever since moving to Europe, I have had a difficult time finding the long lasagna noodles that you boil so they’re nice and malleable no matter what size/shape baking dish you use.
When you think of pesto, you probably imagine the light green sauce we know as pesto alla Genovese, made with basil and pine nuts and usually some type of hard cheese. This is my go-to pesto recipe because the flavor of fresh basil is pretty incredible. When I talk vaguely about pesto, this is what I am referring to.
But, that isn’t the only way to make pesto. In fact, all you really need is the right leafy green and you can make pesto out of almost anything. I’ve used carrot greens, spinach, a mix of herbs, sundried tomatoes and now…ramsons!
Making pesto is pretty easy if you have a food processor but if you prefer the old school method that requires a mortar & pestle you’ll need a bit more muscle to get the job done. Either way will work, so pick your method and grab your ingredients.
Let’s start with basic ingredients for vegan pesto!
Ingredients Basil Scallions (optional) Lemon (juiced) Garlic Pine nuts (I like to lightly toast them) Nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan) Water (if needed and added gradually)
That’s a super basic ingredient list, right? Pesto, for all its delicious flavors, isn’t a sauce that’s over-complicated and that’s certainly part of it’s charm. It’s so flavorful that a little bit goes a long way.
Tip: If you use more than a bunch or 2 of basil, give it a pulse or two on its own before adding the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is especially important if you choose to go oil-free because you won’t get that smooth chop that comes with adding 1/4 cup or more of olive oil to the pesto.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and start with a gentle pulse until the ingredients start to blend. If you’re having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and crank up the speed of the food processor until you get the desired consistency.
Tip: Add half the lemon juice up front and the rest as you need more liquid to break up those leafy greens, and then switch to water or you’ll end up with a SUPER lemony pesto.
Tip: Add nutritional yeast a little at a time, tasting as you go. If you use vegan parmesan, please let me know your tips because I have some Violife Parmesan arriving in the mail…any day now today!
If you make a big batch of pesto, I recommend adding a teaspoon of oil after two days to make the batch last longer. If you make enough for one or two days, feel free to keep the pesto oil-free.
My mother-in-law recently returned from the local Farmer’s Market with a huge bag of ramsons, also known as wild garlic or ramps (pictured below) and once I got a whiff of that yummy garlicky scent, I knew this would be perfect for pesto. The first batch, which I didn’t photograph, was super garlicky because I added about 20 grams of roasted garlic to the pesto. It was delicious but very, very garlicky.
For the second batch, I decided to go with a vegan Ramson Pesto alla Trapanese style vegan pesto which means leafy greens, nuts and fresh tomatoes. I had some heirloom kumatoes that I hoped would work.
My Ingredients: Ramsons Lemon (juiced & zested) Walnuts Kumato Mustard Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parm Tabasco sauce (just a few drops) Water
Break up the ramsons with a few pulses in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients, starting with a slow pulse and then giving them a good go ’round until you have a nice pesto consistency.
If the leaves aren’t broken up enough, add water or lemon juice to keep it an oil-free pesto, but if you don’t mind some extra fat, add oil one teaspoon at a time.
Refrigerate and add to your favorite pasta dishes, sandwiches or whatever else you fancy. In fact, tell me in the comments section how you like to enjoy your pesto. My favorite thing to do besides enjoy it on a toasted baguette or crackers, is to add some veggiegurt to it for a creamy, flavorful salad dressing.
Next time you make pesto of any kind, I’d love to see it so hit me up on Facebook or Instagram with photos!
Today I thought I would do something a little different. Instead of a traditional recipe, because you can add whatever you want to your favorite vegan taco salad, I just want to talk about what I did and how I did it.
I’ve made no secret about how much I love tacos, or taco salads and even taco bowls, so feel free to use any of those for inspiration.
I made corn, mushroom and mince taco salad inside a tortilla salad bowl. Let’s start there.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what makes a good vegan taco salad bowl, let’s talk about what you can put in your salad bowl.
Way back in the day when I was a kid, my favorite thing to have for breakfast on Saturday morning was corned beef hash. No one made it better than my grandmother and I really just couldn’t get enough of it. In college, it was my go to donation during any mid-morning breakfast event.
I was even happy to introduce this weird concoction to my international friends.
Then, my eating habits started to change. Long before going vegan, I started to make changes that included less fried foods, fewer processed foods and a lot more vegetables. And dishes like this slowly faded away. And then I moved to Europe and you just can’t find that weird corned beef stuff there.
But after going vegan and getting comfortable with my new way of life, I started to experiment.
And today I think I have a vegan corned beef hash that recalls the flavors of the original, minus the cruelty and the greasiness.
This is a pretty easy vegan recipe because the base ingredients are: potatoes, bell pepper, vegan mince (or a vegan burger chopped), onion, water/broth & nutritional yeast. Pick the flavor profile you want using the herbs and spices available to you.
When I was a kid one of my favorite canned meals was spaghetti and meatballs. As a latch-key kid, there was nothign better than racing home from school to crack open a can of ravioli, spaghetti-o’s or spaghetti and meatballs. All of that tomato-y goodness that, in hindsight, wasn’t all that good, waiting to stain your lips and your microwave safe bowl!
Who could resist?
Not me, that’s for sure!
So, when I was walking the aisles of Lidl last week and noted that here in Romania they have started to up their vegan food choices game. I found Verdino brand meatballs and you know what I did, grabbed up the last package with a giddy smile. I knew then what I wanted.
What is that?
Well, let’s see. Combine my love of carbs, noodles and pasta with these vegan meatballs and what do you have? One of my childhood favorites, re-done for the fancy, grown-up vegan I am today.
This is one of those vegan dinner recipes that you can do the easy way or the tasty way. Just kidding, I’m sure your jarred pasta is super delicious, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste. But if anyone knows of any no sugar added options, I’m game to give it a try.
Some days you know exactly what you want for vegan dinner goodness and then there are those days when you’re just hungry but you have no idea what you want. We’ve all been there and where I live vegan takeout isn’t really an option so we have to do something.
Oh, the pressure!
So when one of us doesn’t actually know what we want for dinner but it’s our night to choose, we’ll just toss out a few ingredients, like say; pesto, mushrooms and potatoes. From there, the world is the cook’s #vegan oyster. You can do whatever you want as long as it contains the aforementioned ingredients.
This vegan dinner recipe is the result of one those nights.
Crispy Tofu, Smashed Potatoes & Mushrooms with Carrot Green Pesto
The other great this about this is that it is a super quick and easy vegan recipe, with most of the work being done by kitchen appliances. But before we get to that, let’s get to the ingredients.
I have really been enjoying this way of choosing meals that my partner and I have undertaken for more than a year now. Inspired by the Netflix show, Midnight Tokyo Diner, the deal is simple: choose whatever you want to eat and the other person will make it as long as we have the ingredients. Substitutions and your own twist are allowed.
Cooking this way not only allows each of us to stretch our creative muscles in the kitchen, but it allows for unique twists on old favorites. And for us, it’s nice to recreate dishes we haven’t had since going vegan. Trust me when I tell you that it’s an exciting way to cook because you go to the grocery store, buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, vegan alternatives and the like, and each night you get a surprise.
Given how life has been for the past 12-14 months, this is a great way to keep things from getting stale in the kitchen, especially if you have the unfortunate luck of living some place there aren’t a lot of vegan takeout food options. You have to do it yourself and we’ve become pretty good at it.
This night, the request was Cajun sausage and rice, one of my favorite dishes as a child. It has everything a good meal needs, rice, spice and a little bit of protein.
As you can see, the ingredient list for this vegan sausage and rice dish is quite simple.
To me, salad are magic. How else can you eat as much food as your belly can hold, pack your body with nutrients and do it all with very few calories? If there’s another way, I don’t know it and I’m not sure that I want to. But, seriously, if you know another way, I’m all ears because I’m in love with food and I need to know.
Anyway, I was waxing poetic about salad. Going vegan really opened my eyes to what a salad could be and I am happy to report that I never frown at a big bowl of colorful veggies anymore. Well, unless someone else made it and they consider salad best when drenched in oil.
One of my favorite salads had always been Caesar salad. It’s creamy and tangy and really, quite simple. But until recently, I haven’t been bold enough or brave enough to veganize it.
Welcome to today, folks and the chickpea Caesar salad.
This is a simple vegan salad but it will definitely satisfy your appetite and impress your palette.
Let’s start with the list of ingredients. It seems daunting, but I promise it’s not. The dressing requires a few ingredients but that’s mostly measuring and mixing.