Hey there. I apologize for the lack of posts; I’ve had a stubborn cold for the past week and half. I’m usually not this sick, but, man, this fall has been a doozy. As far as cooking, I did make a lasagna over the weekend, but I had no sense of smell, so it wasn’t my best. Anyway, to get back into the swing of things, here’s a roundup of vegan-related items that I think you’ll enjoy (you can tell I had soup on the brain). I hope you all are well, and if you live on the East Coast, I hope you and your families are safe and sound.
How to stretch pizza dough (I need this lesson).
Stir-fried peas and carrots — looks simple and delicious.
I’m determined to make an authentic pot of miso soup this winter (in other words, not out of a packet).
Vegan caramel sauce — just in time for the holidays.
This Mexican Quinoa Soup could definitely be made vegan.
I’m making this Curried Carrot Almond Soup for our lunches next week.
And, finally, a little Grizzly Bear to take you into the weekend:
This dish reminded me that I really need to cook more from “Appetite for Reduction.” The recipes in the book are low-fat, but they certainly don’t lack the flavor. And I love that there is a lot of nutritional value to each recipe.
Both the tofu recipe and the cabbage recipe have very similar ingredients. For the Masala Baked Tofu, slices of tofu marinate in a mixture of soy (I used Bragg’s), vinegar, garlic, ginger and spices. The final result packed so much flavor.
The Curried Cabbage & Peas comes together so quickly. Sliced cabbage and carrots are simmered in a broth with curry, onions, garlic and more. The aromas coming off both dishes were amazing. (My downstairs neighbor even sent me a text from below commenting on how great it smelled.)
I could see serving this with a side of basmati rice if you want to bulk it up a bit, but it works just fine without it.
I love lasagna. It’s up there on my list of comfort foods. I had actually planned on making this last week, but kept putting it off — lasagna’s not the quickest meal to throw together. It doesn’t exactly fit in with my detox plan for this week, but I still feel like it’s a healthy, hearty meal.
I don’t have exact measurements for this recipe because, well, I didn’t really measure out everything. I just added and tasted it as I went. So, if you do have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments. It does make enough for two full layers in a 9-in x 13-in casserole dish.
For this particular lasagna, I followed Veganomicon‘s recipe for Cashew Ricotta, which is absolutely amazing if you haven’t tried it. As far as the sauce, I sauteed half a yellow onion, three cloves of garlic and one finely diced carrot. To that, I added a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, along with dried basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. (I tend to like my lasagna on the dry side, so you may want to add an additional can of tomatoes if you prefer a saucier lasagna.)
To cut down on pots and pans, I used the same pot that I used for the lasagna noodles to cook down a large package of frozen, chopped spinach and 8 ounces of sliced button mushrooms. Finally, I layered it all in baking dish, topped it with extra sauce and a sprinkle of basil and nutritional yeast, and baked it for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.
A spring mix salad, crusty bread and olives rounded out the meal.
I don’t know about you, but I have such a hard time coming up with lunch ideas. And it doesn’t help that my husband is really limited to what he can bring with him. He’s on the road non-stop and his “office” is his car, which means I can’t pack anything that needs to be warmed in a microwave.
This week, I decided to make wraps. Boring, I know, but it’s an improvement from the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he’s been taking.
For this particular wrap, I made a roasted red pepper hummus, and I added baby spinach, shredded carrots, sliced cucumber and red onion, and shredded iceberg lettuce from Ancho Lentil Tacos I made earlier in the week. The wrap bread itself was an extra-large, whole wheat tortilla. Simple, fast and cheap. My kind of meal.
Do you have suggestions for cheap and easy lunch ideas that don’t require a microwave?
I don’t often make meals that feature a lot of sides. My meals usually consist of a soup with cornbread, or a casserole or main dish with a quick salad. I don’t know why that is because I love having lots of options on my plate. I’ve always been a fan of potlucks for that reason.
For this dish, I went all out. I made the Atomic Tofu Pecan Loaf (which I’ve featured on here before) in my slow cooker, and a side of roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. Looking for a second side, I found a Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf recipe in Veganomicon. It was so good and so, so easy to make.
All in all, it was a healthy and hearty meal that warmed our bellies on a cool spring day.
I promise we do eat more than stir-fry, but I thought I do another post to hopefully give you more ideas for your own. It’s such a great way to use up extra veggies you have on hand. For the dish you see above, I fried cubes of tofu in my wok, then I added carrots, edamame, a green pepper and some kale that needed to be used. A couple of vegetable gyozas from Trader Joe’s rounded out the meal.
We eat stir-fry all the time and never seem to tire of it. I cook about 2 cups of brown rice, fry a whole block of tofu that’s been cubed and then throw in whatever veggies I have on hand. And I don’t even make a sauce; a little Bragg’s, a little Sriracha and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and there you go. For this particular meal, I used fresh broccoli, carrots and a green pepper. I also found vegan spring rolls at Whole Foods to round out the meal. The whole thing was under $12 and was enough for two dinners.
If you haven’t had it already, I’m not sure if the above picture will look all that appetizing to you. After all, even traditional egg salad isn’t all that attractive. But the Best-Ever Tofu “Egg” Salad with Sunny Seeds recipe from “Big Vegan” is, by far, the best mock egg salad I’ve ever had. I’ve not made that many recipes from the cookbook, but this recipe alone makes the book worth the price. (Oddly, I found the recipe on Google Books.) It’s a delicious and addictive mix of different flavors and textures, from the creamy parsley-laced base, to the chewy bits of tofu and crunchy carrots, celery and sunflower seeds. The only change I made was to add a pinch of turmeric to give it a golden color; without, the chopped parsley gives it a green hue. I also added a pinch of curry powder because I happen to like it in my “egg” salad.
Though there are three different parts to the recipe, it comes together relatively fast. I serve mine on slices of whole wheat bread with a little spring mix, or sometimes I just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good.
Now if I could just find a veganized pimento cheese recipe …
Despite being vegan, I still look to non-vegan sources for food inspiration. I was watching an episode of “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain in which he visited Provence, and was intrigued by the food. There was one scene where Anthony Bourdain has dinner with a Provencal family on their estate. The meal was very simple and rustic, which I love, and consisted of roasted vegetables, aioli, crusty bread and olives. Sometimes, myself included, we get so caught up in trying to create elaborate meals, that we forget how delicious simple food tastes. Inspired by the meal, I decided to recreate it and it’s become one of my favorite meals. It’s so simple and so comforting.
I’m sure this meal tastes better in Provence, but it’s incredibly easy to recreate a similar version at home. The first time I tried it, I did create an aioli by crushing garlic using a mortar and pestle and sea salt, and adding Vegenaise. It’s certainly not authentic, but it’s a good substitute. For the meal in the above picture, I made a Dijon dipping sauce by combining Dijon mustard and Vegenaise. I also served my roasted vegetables with a simple salad consisting of baby arugula tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. Good, crusty bread and olives rounded out the meal.
As for the vegetables, I chose Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, but the first time I made it, I used fennel instead of the Brussels sprouts. To roast them, first preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If your potatoes are small enough, leave them whole and make sure your carrots and other vegetables are similar in size. Otherwise, slice your potatoes accordingly. Toss the vegetables in olive oil, and sprinkle generously with Herbs de Provence, and sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized.
Despite the unseasonably warm weather (we’re talking highs in the 90’s!), I’ve been on a soup kick. I had planned on making a big pot of basic vegetable soup, but I decided at the last minute to add some kidney beans, kale, and pasta to make it more of a minestrone-inspired soup. And really, it’s pretty thick, so I’d say it’s more of a stew than a soup.
Serves 2 + leftovers for freezing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 carrots, sliced evenly
5 red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen okra
1 15-ounce can of dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock (I used 6 cups of water with 6 tsp of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base)
1 1/2 cup tomato juice
1 1/2 cups rotini pasta
1 small head of kale, chopped into small pieces
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to a pan set to medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to keep the garlic from burning. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, okra, kidney beans, vegetable stock, tomato juice, and spices. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, then add the kale and cook for another 2 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.