When the weather is nice and the greens are fresh and crispy, nothing is better than a big ol’ satisfying salad.
When it comes to making salad, I don’t like to stand on ceremony, I like to paint outside the lines by using vegetables not traditionally associated with a boring salad, such as buffalo vegan chicken. Don’t just limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers, which are incredible by the way, but they aren’t the only way to make a salad.
For today’s vegan salad recipe, I decided to go with a rainbow theme. Why?
Because the more colors in your salad, the more nutrients you’re giving your body, it really is just that simple.
Remember to rinse all of your ingredients before you eat them!
I don’t usually post on Fridays anymore because everyone is so busy planning for the weekend there isn’t much interaction but I just couldn’t resist with this easy vegan pizza recipe.
It doesn’t require a whole big thing, in fact that only difference is that I replaced pizza dough with bread.
Mostly because pizza dough is super high in calories and honestly, as good as pizza is, it’s just not worth it. But if you love pizza and want to enjoy it without an 800+ calorie meal, try out the different options at your local bakery, or if you’re like me bakeries.
Enjoy my Friday Night Vegan Pesto Pizza Brot!
This particular vegan recipe included: vegan mince, homemade pesto, bell peppers, onions, shallots & vegan mozzarella shreds.
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!
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.
Recently I found myself binge watching this strange British reality show called ‘Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away’ and it’s pretty fantastic in an awful train wreck kind of a way. Anyway, long story short one of the people who owed money was eating beans & sausage, which I immediately thought to myself was kind of protein redundant. Then I remembered we still had a couple Beyond sausages in the freezer and I decided why not vegan-ize it?
But of course I couldn’t just stop with a fancy vegan tomato sauce for the beans. Nope, I wanted something with a bit more flavor since we’re rounding the corner into winter and there aren’t many chances to enjoy fresh basil and I figured, why not pesto beans with the sausage?
Why not, indeed?
This is another recipe you can file under easy weeknight vegan meals because it took about half an hour and that includes all the time it took to get the pesto the right consistency.
As far as ingredients go, I used canned canellini beans (known as navy beans in some parts of the world), pesto, grilled shallots and two Beyond Sausage links. The pesto contains: basil, lemon zest, capers, scallions, parsley, roasted red pepper (about a quarter), hot sauce, lemon juice, and vegan parm (ParVeggio).
Grill the shallots and when they’re almost how you want them, toss the links into the skillet and cook using the instructions on the package. They are fairly greasy so if you use oil to cook the shallots, take it easy because there will be grease. Drain and rinse the beans, then warm through and toss with pesto.
I even put a little smear of pesto under the vegan sausage to bring it all together and I topped it with a sprinkling of smoky paprika because it smells as good as it tastes and it adds such depth to just about everything.
Just in case you’re wondering, yes I did wash it down with something ice cold, but it was Harmin which I’ve showed you a million times so I decided not to today. Well…that and the fact that I’m still getting acquainted with my new phone, hence the limited photos for today’s recipe.
Have I mentioned how much I love Buddha Bowls, because I do. A lot.
But before we get into the goodness of this latest meal, I should apologize for my absences and sporadic posts. Finishing this latest book and exploring the country of Romania with my husband, and time with our family has packed my schedule more than I’m used to and something had to give. The good news is, I have plenty of recipes because taking pictures of the food is easy…posting it all, not so much.
But I’m back and today we’re talking Buddha Bowls.
Why do I love them so hard, you ask?
1. They are packed with veggies which means packed with nutrients.
3. Easy to do
4. Always leaves you enough calories for a delicious sauce!
Some people will tell you that autumn is a great time for a Buddha Bowl but I think spring and summer are even better because there are so many vegetables in season which gives you so much to choose from! for this bowl I grabbed a big head of broccoli, a giant sweet potato, carrots, red bell pepper and onion. And just in case you’re wondering, YES, that’s all I used. One of each vegetable and it was enough to feed three people, of course with 1 cup of brown rice.
Which brings me to the other thing I LOVE about these bowls. The calorie count is totally irresistible for those of us still trying to manage our weight and these bowls have helped me drop 33kg (& counting!).
It seems like a lot of food and your belly will certainly think you’ve over-indulged but you haven’t. At all.
And like I said, you can create a delicious sauce that maybe not be 100% TOTALLY good for you, because food is meant to be enjoyed!
I made a creamy pesto that began as a regular basil pesto complete with garlic, cashews (couldn’t find pine nuts), lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and black pepper. I split the pesto in half and chucked one half in the fridge for later and for the other, I added a quarter cup of vegan yogurt and a tablespoon of mustard for a delicious pesto cream that complimented the dish perfectly.
Whenever I’m lucky enough to happen upon fresh basil, I instinctively grab 3 or 4 packages because I know how versatile pesto can be, even more for those of us on a plant based diet. Add a couple grilled veggies and slather the pesto on bread for a quick & easy sandwich.
If you notice a shine on the carrot, pepper & onion mixture, it’s because I used (gasp) coconut oil! I figured this was the perfect place to indulge, cooking these veggies in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil with paprika, salt & pepper, baharrat and a few other Northern African spices.
Which brings us to my final tip for Buddha Bowls. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your spice rack!!! I’ve made Cajun Buddha Bowls for a little extra spice, Indian, Asian, Spanish, Mexican, Italian and just about every other cuisine that intrigues me. Your herbs & spices are the key to keeping your diet fresh.
You ever have those nights where you just don’t feel like cooking? You’ve bought all the ingredients for a few awesome meals you want to try out but when the time comes to start cooking you just want something else. Something simple.
Well that’s how this dish came about. That and the fact that the fridge had a bunch of leftover ingredients from the week since it was a day or two before shopping day. When I’m working, I get in the zone and forget all about important things like time and meals and on this particular day I’d finally made some headway on a particularly difficult scene and the next thing I know it’s eight-thirty, which meant if I wanted to make the meal on the menu dinner would have been at eleven.
Instead, like any good vegan I have a pantry with more than a sufficient amount of grains. Everything from whole wheat pasta to bulgur and half a dozen different types of Asian noodles. I reached in and pulled out the whole wheat penne and the idea slowly came together. Well it was mostly because of the penne but also because there were three packages of fresh basil in my veggie crisper just waiting to become pesto and I REALLY wanted pesto and thus…pesto pasta was born.
Before we get into the details of this recipe, I have to gush a little about my newest vegan find, Parveggio. I happened upon this ingredient by accident and if you’ve read this blog before you know all about my love-hate relationship with vegan cheese. But Parm is a different beast altogether and when I lived in Germany I also found a really great vegan parm.
I don’t know if it was the lack of palm oil or just the simple fact that there have been incredible advances with vegan food over the past few years, but this was incredible. It had the slightly salty, tangy flavor of Parm without the need for dairy products and all the drama that goes along with animal-based cheese products. I bought it mostly for the pesto so pesto pasta was a natural solution.
For the pesto, I roasted the garlic because I wanted a more intense and less raw garlic flavor and I didn’t use any oil other than what dripped from the 3 sun-dried tomatoes I added. I used: basil, mint (just a handful) garlic, lemon zest & juice, pistachios, sun-dried tomatoes, parm, a few drops of chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce and a teaspoon of capers. Toss it in the food processor and let it run until smooth.
Because I didn’t use oil, I added the lemon juice in batches to make sure everything got chopped up with the proper consistency. If you add oil, do so in a slow but steady stream until the consistency is just right.
The rest of the dish was super easy. I used a couple teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to saute the onions and crimini mushrooms for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then I added a 1/4 cup of peas and tofu crumbles, seasoning with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and a pinch of smoky paprika. When everything was done, I drained the pasta and tossed it with the onion & mushroom mixture before tossing with pesto in batches until every bite was coated.
Then I added a dollop on top with a sprinkling of parm and we LOVED it. It took about twenty minutes, most of which was prep time and I was able to serve a delicious and mostly healthy meal well before eleven at night!
If you’re curious about Parveggio, check out the page for GreenVie Foods.