Gracious Vegan Massaman Curry

By the Gracious Vegan

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After pinning down Red and Green Thai Curry, I was still having trouble making a good Massaman curry, the scrumptious dish where vegetables swim in sweet peanut sauce. We have a food cart in town that makes fabulous Massaman curry, so I had a very high standard to reach. Finally I succeeded. I have the discarded recipes and rejected homemade curry pastes to prove it. Once I tried the Maesri brand of curry paste and went back to the traditional way of preparing Thai curries, I was home free. This version is divine, Thai comfort food at its finest. 

Makes 2-3 servings

Prep: Spoon a few tablespoons of coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk into a Dutch oven or large skillet.

  • One 14 ounce can coconut milk, regular

Stir the rest of the coconut milk together with these in a bowl and set aside.

  • 1½ cups mild vegetable broth or water
  • ½ Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Thai thin soy sauce or more to taste
  • ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (or ½ teaspoon ground)

Heat the coconut cream on medium. 

Sauté the curry paste, stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

  • ¼ cup Massaman curry paste (I like Maesri brand)

Stir in the coconut milk mixture, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Add vegetables, tofu, and other chunky ingredients and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes, uncovered, or until vegetables are slightly tender but still have a little bit of firmness to them.

  • (optional) 8 ounces baked or fried tofu sliced into 1/4 inch thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • ½ white, yellow, or red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • Sriracha sauce to taste.

Remove from heat, taste and season with more Thai thin soy sauce and lime juice if desired and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with hot rice.

Boiled jasmine rice, for serving

Timing: 25-30 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Gracious Vegan Toasted Quinoa Granola

By the Gracious Vegan

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This recipe is dedicated to my brother-in-law Kevin, who used this granola as fuel to hike up the Yosemite Falls trail this summer. The toasted quinoa adds a nice crunch and a solid dose of protein.  

Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place quinoa in a wide skillet and turn the heat to medium or medium/low. Stir or shake and toast the quinoa until it begins to pop and smell like popcorn, 5-7 minutes. As soon as it has been popping for about a minute, pour it into a large bowl and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red)

After the quinoa has cooled, add these ingredients to the bowl and stir.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour in the liquid ingredients and stir until well-combined.

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Spread mixture on baking sheet and bake until golden-brown, about 45 minutes, stirring twice. It tastes best when it is baked until very dark brown (but not burned), so continue to stir and bake for 5-minute intervals until done.

Let cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Timing: About 60 minutes to mix and bake, then you have to let it cool

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (except for the coconut oil and maple syrup) 

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No Cream Creamed Spinach

By Food Network

Link to No Cream Creamed Spinach recipe.

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

GV comments: This recipe comes from White House Chef Cristeta Comerford who developed this recipe for the Obamas. It's a clever way of creating a creamy texture by pureeing some of the spinach rather than adding butter and cream to chopped or whole spinach. I even make mine without oil, resulting in No-Cream No-Oil Creamed Spinach -- a mouthful. This is a great side dish and can be served alongside many main dishes and other side dishes. It's a wonderful way to help those who don't eat enough greens to get a significant amount in one sitting. 

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (or completely whole-food unprocessed if you skip the oil)


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Gracious Vegan Muffaletta Olive Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Muffaletta Olive Salad.jpg

I remember the first time I tasted a muffaletta sandwich. It was at the New Orleans Jazz Festival a few years ago. I adore Greek olives and tapenade, a spreadable paste made with olives, so I was sure I would like this sandwich topping with the quirky name. I had to ask the woman in the food truck to leave off the cheese and the cold cuts. She gave me a odd look but delivered the custom order. Wow. Celery and caper flavors popped out on top of the briny base of olives, shallots, and red peppers. All my senses were more than pleased that afternoon.

You could make a muffaletta sandwich with this olive salad and vegan cheese (like Chao, since its original flavor tastes a lot like provolone cheese). Or you could use a hummus base, like the open-faced sandwich pictured here. Would also be good with vegan cream cheese or with roasted vegetables. You could also use this for appetizers--serve with crackers or small slices of baguette. 

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir. Ready to use on a sandwich or for appetizers. 

  • 1 cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (not California olives; a mix of black and green looks very pretty, but any Greek olives work here)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1.5 Tablespoons minced celery
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried, and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • (optional) 2-3 Italian hot pickled peppers (such a pepperoncini), chopped

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed


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Wild Rice, Almond and Mushroom Stuffing or Pilaf

By the New York Times

Link to Wild Rice, Almond and Mushroom Stuffing or Pilaf recipe.

Wild Rice, Almond and Mushroom Stuffing or Pilaf.jpg

GV comments: This is an absolutely lovely dish and can serve as a side dish or entree. The flavors (mushrooms, garlic, almonds, sherry, and three fresh herbs) mingle in a way that keeps you eating so you can guess what's in it. The chewy wild rice slows you down and invites you to relax and enjoy. This comforting dish is perfect for fall and winter holidays. 

Timing: About an hour if you work on the vegetables while the wild rice is cooking.

Nutrition: If you leave out the oil, this is almost whole-food unprocessed. The sherry isn't whole-food (alcohol doesn't grow on trees, you know!)


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Gracious Vegan Fruitcake

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Fruitcake 3.jpg

Fruitcake without candied fruit, just dried fruit! What a joy! This recipe has been a long journey for me, but it's been worth it. It all started with a "Wall Street Journal" mention of a recipe by Brian Paul, which I can't find online anymore. I had to veganize it, and it took about 5 years (making it once a year) to get right. But now it works incredibly well, and it's delicious.

The Fruit and Rum. Chop everything up into small pieces with a heavy, sharp knife. (The vegan cake batter doesn’t hold large fruit pieces together well; having small pieces is key to the cake not crumbling.) Place in a gallon Ziplock bag. Of course, try your own combination of fruits if you like -- aim for a total of about 2 pounds of dried fruit. 

  • Dried apples (6 oz.)
  • Dried pineapple (4 oz.)
  • Date bits (4 oz.)
  • Dried apricots (4 oz.)
  • Golden raisins, currants, or dried blueberries (4 oz.)
  • Dried cranberries (4 oz.)
  • Dried cherries (4 oz.)

Pour ¾ cup of Myers's dark rum (golden rum also fine) over the fruit bits, close the bag, toss them, and let them sit for a few hours to absorb the liquid. If they absorb the ¾ cup, add more in ¼-cup increments.

The Nuts. 1.5 pounds pecans, well chopped (again, the vegan cake batter has trouble holding large nut pieces together).

The Pans. I use four disposable 8” x 4” aluminum pans, or sometimes 3 of those plus 3 smaller pans (so that I can give them away as gifts). Loaf pans, ring molds, or other pans are fine, too. Coat aluminum pans with cooking oil spray. For others, spray and line with parchment paper. Don't use waxed paper.

The Batter. Whisk these together in a small bowl. Let sit 10 minutes while you prep the next ingredients.

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tablespoon Ener-G powder

Sift together in a bowl or bag

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon mace

Combine these in a small bowl. 

  • ½ cup plain soymilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Start batter. Cream together 5 minutes or until fluffy

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegan margarine (room temperature)

Add flaxseed-Ener-G mixture and beat until combined.

Alternate dry and wet ingredients and use low speed to combine without over-beating.  

Put the soaked fruit in a very large bowl—discard (or otherwise dispose of…hint hint) any extra rum that the fruit did not absorb.

Spoon the batter on top of the fruit in the large bowl, then add the nuts. Use a wooden spoon or just plunge in with your hands. Mix it all up. You will have a mixture that is mostly fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold it together.

Assembly and Baking. Place the finished batter in the prepared pans, pressing down very well to fill in the corners. You can fill the pans almost to the brim because the cake will rise only slightly.

Place the pans in the lower third of a 275 degree oven for about 1 hour and 50 minutes, until a knife or testing stick comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the fruit on top starts to change to darker colors. Timing is extremely variable. Small cakes will cook quicker, and larger cakes take longer. Test each cake separately and take it out as soon as your tester comes out clean. To paraphrase the old Orson Welles wine commercial: "We will take no fruitcake from the oven before its time."

When the cakes are done, let them cool on racks in their pans. When they are cool, use a plastic knife to loosen any stuck spots as you gently remove the cakes from the pans.

Sprinkle the cakes all over with rum or juice to get the outsides good and moist. Enclose them in plastic bags or, if you use aluminum pans, put them back in their pans and enclose the pans in plastic bags or cover well with plastic wrap or foil.

We like to eat one loaf starting on Day 2, like a Beaujolais wine. Other loaves we let mature in the refrigerator or other cool space for at least a couple of weeks to blend the flavors. If they seem to be getting dry, sprinkle on more liquid, but don't make them wet and soggy. After 3 months or so they lose their tastiness, so enjoy within 3 months.  

For chocolate-covered fruitcake. Slice the fruitcake.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Spoon and spread the chocolate on one side of the slices, laying each on a sheet of waxed paper, then coat the other side and let harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Timing: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients

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Ultimate Vegan Brownies


Link to Ultimate Vegan Brownies recipe

Ultimate Vegan Brownie Recipe.jpg

GV comments: I have tested a lot of vegan brownie recipes in my day and this one comes closest to the traditional brownie taste and texture. It's chewy on the inside with a crisp coating on the outside. The chocolate flavor is just the right one. I was amazed at how this brownie "clicked" when I took my first bite. "Now that's a brownie." 

Timing: Because he recommends cooling the brownie completely before eating, this takes 2-3 hours, so you need to plan ahead.

Nutrition: These are not healthy.

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Rum-Raisin Shortbread Cookies

By Martha Stewart

Link to Rum-Raisin Shortbread Cookies here.

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GV comments: Three major flavors pop out one at a time in your mouth when you eat ones of these tiny gems: the buttery shortbread, the rum, and the currants. I use vegan butter, and the results are wonderful. 

Timing: The recipe calls for soaking the currants in the rum overnight and another hour for chilling the dough, so this requires pre-planning. 

Nutrition: These are not healthy cookies. Sorry. 

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Gracious Vegan Linzer Cookies

By the Gracious Vegan

Photo by mt 23 on flickr

Based on a non-vegan approach from Fine Cooking, this recipe results in melt-in-your-mouth Linzer gems. The combination of almonds and hazelnuts (instead of almonds alone) is brilliant! And the absence of eggs makes these morsels more like shortbread than many Linzer cookies. That's the right direction to lean. These cookies make amazing gifts at holiday time, because most people don't want to take the time to make them. Everything tastes better when you wish you had the time to make it, then someone else does it for you.

Several hours before baking:  In a food processor, process the nuts and 1/2 cup flour until the nuts are finely chopped. Stop the machine occasionally and feel the nuts with your fingers—make sure they aren’t getting too close to nut butter. Some skin from the nuts is fine.

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Add the following to the processor and pulse to combine.

  • 1.5 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Cut the margarine into ½” cubes and add to the flour mixture; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Don’t over-process.

  • 7 oz. (14 Tbs.) chilled vegan butter

Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the Ener-G "egg" over the flour mixture and toss gently to combine.

  • 1.5 teaspoons Ener-G plus 3 Tablespoons cold water, mixed together separately

The dough should hold together when pinched. (If it seems dry, sprinkle on a bit more water.) Gather the dough into two balls and knead briefly just to blend. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.

To bake: Heat the oven to 325°F. Cover your cookie sheets with parchment. Generously flour a work surface. Roll one ball of the dough 3/16 inch thick. (Keep the rest in the refrigerator, and if the dough warms up to the point of being sticky while you’re working with it, return it to the refrigerator.)

Cut out as many 2-1/2-inch rounds as possible, rerolling the scraps to make more rounds. Arrange on the cookie sheets about 3/4 inch apart. Cut 1-1/4-inch holes (or use cute Linzer cutters) in the center of half the rounds. Reroll these center scraps to make more cookies.

Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To assemble, spread a heaping ½ teaspoon preserves on the underside of the whole cookie rounds.

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Top with the doughnut-shaped cookies, bottom sides against the preserves. Just before serving, sift confectioners' sugar lightly over the cookies.

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Timing: Around 4 hours, most of which is chilling and baking time. 

Nutrition: Significant fat, sugar, and refined flour

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Almond Cookie Dough

By Fine Cooking

Link to Almond Cookie Dough recipe

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GV comments: I substitute vegan butter for the dairy butter, and this recipe works perfectly that way. I can't decide on my favorite variation. If I had to, I'd pick the Chocolate Thumbprints, but all three are gorgeous and delicious. This dough comes together very fast in the food processor (under 10 minutes). The longest part is the chilling time (2 hours or overnight). These are fabulous as part of holiday cookie gifts or as part of a holiday buffet. 

Timing: Making the dough, about 10 minutes; it needs to chill for at least 2 hours; then the cookies take 15-25 minutes to bake. 

Nutrition: Not very good for you--mostly vegan butter, white flour, and sugar

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Vegan Caramel Sauce

By Yummy Smellsca on

Link to Vegan Caramel Sauce recipe

GV comments: It's tough to find the right vegan caramel sauce: one that does not require refined sugar (the white kind filtered through animal bone char). There are wonderful recipes for date-based caramel sauces, but to me they work best in raw desserts or with sliced apples. This recipe is closer to classic caramel sauce. 

Timing: About 15 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly sugar, with a tablespoon of vegan sugar, so not good for you. 



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Oatmeal Caramel Chocolate Bars

By the Gracious Vegan

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These decadent bars won the very competitive family cookie contest last year. I dipped them in chocolate for the contest, but I don't recommend that unless you need a huge win. They are plenty rich without an extra coat of chocolate. The caramel sauce makes the difference between these cookies and other oatmeal chocolate bars. It adds a depth of cooked-sugar goodness that you can't get any other way. Vegan caramel sauces are difficult to find in stores or even online. If you find a reliable source, please add to the comments below. I have tried many recipes for vegan caramel sauce and have decided I like the Vegan Caramel Sauce recipe from Date-based caramel sauces unfortunately do not work well. And caramel sauce recipes that use a "dry" technique (heating the sugar without any liquids) work best with refined sugar, the kind filtered through animal bone char, which I won't use. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 9" x 13" inch pan. Lining the bottom with parchment is optional if you need an absolutely smooth removal of bars.

Combine the following. The mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup (1.5 sticks) melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.  Let the crust cool slightly (about 10 minutes) then sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped nuts over the crust. Mix them together before sprinkling over the crust. 

  • 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix the following together and then drizzle over the chocolate chips.

  • 1 cup vegan caramel sauce
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes (until golden). Let the bars cool before cutting.

Timing: Between 45 and 60 minutes plus cooling time. This doesn't count what it might take to make vegan caramel sauce.

Nutrition: Significant fat and other processed ingredients

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Tex-Mex-Style Soft and Chewy Flour Tortillas

Tex-Mex-Style Soft and Chewy Flour Tortillas.jpg

GV comments: Not long ago I was an hour away from dinner and realized I'd forgotten to buy flour tortillas for my Gracious Vegan Vegetable Fajitas. Instead of making a round trip to the store, I decided to try out a recipe for homemade flour tortillas, which always taste better anyway. My internet search quickly surfaced a recipe from Serious Eats that sounded exactly what I was looking for--soft and chewy. I was amazed at how easy the recipe was. There's much more time letting the balls sit than there is hands-on time. Next time I'm going to try using half whole wheat pastry flour. Of course I used vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum brand) instead of lard. These are worth the small effort, and your friends and family will be impressed!

Timing: About 45 minutes, including the time the balls have to sit

Nutrition: If you use half whole wheat flour it will help. Otherwise it is mostly processed foods (flour and shortening).

I have not tried this with gluten-free flour.

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Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan

By the New York Times

Link to Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe.

Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan.jpg

GV comments: This is a great way to make eggplant Parmesan -- skip the breading and frying. For a long time I've found that broiling eggplant slices is the healthiest and tastiest way to enjoy eggplant. Jamie Oliver puts that approach together with a tomato sauce bursting with fresh basil, with thin layers of Parmesan cheese and a top layer of breadcrumbs and oregano. I use vegan Parmesan, of course. Here are three recipes for vegan Parmesan to choose from. This is a wonderful cold-weather casserole that warms and satisfies. 

Timing:  Total just under 2 hours, including baking

Nutrition: If you use vegan Parmesan, then the oil is the only processed ingredient. I use at most half of the quantities he calls for and it still tastes divine.

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free breadcrumbs

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Vegan Parmesan

By “Yup, It’s Vegan,” Minimalist Baker, and Vegan Richa

Link to "Yup, It's Vegan"'s Parmesan recipe.

Link to Minimalist Baker's Vegan Parmesan recipe.

Link to Vegan Richa's Vegan Parmesan recipe.

Vegan Parmesan.jpg

GV comments: I don't have an absolute favorite vegan Parmesan recipe, so I provided three choices. "Yup, It's Vegan" uses hemp seeds as the base. Minimalist Baker calls for raw cashews. Vegan Richa provides a list of nuts and seeds that you might experiment with. They all call for a similar proportion of base-to-nutritional yeast, but you can increase it to taste (I've seen recipes that call for twice as much as these recipes do). Vegan Richa adds spicing beyond salt and garlic powder, and I like what she does, but, again, you might want to try one or more of these recipes to find your favorite. It is wonderful to have vegan Parmesan for recipes and for sprinkling on pasta dishes. The great part about it is that it's whole-food, unprocessed, with lower fat than regular Parmesan. Buon Appetito!

Timing: About 5 minutes. Hooray!

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed


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Gracious Vegan Shepherd's Pie

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Shepherd's Pie.jpg

I wanted to find a recipe for shepherd's pie that wasn't too much like pot pie and that didn't use meat substitutes. If you like vegan "beef crumbles," there are a number of recipes out there for vegan shepherd's pie that you might like. But I find that omnivores can be suspicious of substitutes, so I kept adapting my recipe until I found shepherd's vegetable nirvana. 

Start the lentils – you’ll need one cup of cooked lentils. You can cook more and freeze the leftovers for another purpose. If you’re just making enough for this recipe, start with 1/3 cup lentils. Put them in a saucepan, cover with water by 2”, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes until they are soft but not mushy.

  • Dry lentils, 1/3 cup or more

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

For the filling: put these in a microwave-safe bowl, add 2-3 Tablespoons water, and cook in the microwave until the vegetables are just soft. (That's probably around 5-6 minutes for a weak microwave; about half that for a strong microwave.)

  • 5 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 medium stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced

Put the above vegetables in a Dutch oven on the stove top, add these and stir well, and cook for a minute or two.

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground fresh pepper to taste

Add the liquid, stir, turn the heat to medium, and heat until the mixture is bubbly and thick, about 3-5 minutes.

  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into a deep dish 9-10” pie dish.

For the potato topping: Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until just tender. Remove from heat and drain.

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks.

Put the potatoes in your mixer’s bowl. With the regular paddle, mix the potatoes by themselves for 1 minute at Speed 2.

Add the following ingredients and mix for 30 seconds at Speed 4, then 1 minute at Speed 6.

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • ½ cup soy/nut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Replace the paddle with the whisk attachment and whip on Speed 10 for 2-3 minutes.

Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top of the veggies in the pie dish, and smooth so that it is evenly spread. (You can also drag a fork over it in fun patterns.)

Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees, uncovered.

Allow to cool for five minutes before cutting and serving.

Timing: Around 70-75 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour in the filling

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Pumpkin Tiramisu

By Chef Chloe

Link to Pumpkin Tiramisu recipe.

Pumpkin Tiramisu.jpg

GV comments: This is an impressive looking and delicious dessert. It will be hard for your eaters to believe it's vegan. The vanilla cake is a solid recipe in and of itself--only improved by inundation by the espresso soak. But the pumpkin creme is quite divine and will make people forget about pumpkin pie. This was a hit when I made it for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. I have so many great dessert recipes that I have to rotate them. 

Timing: Over 2 hours because of chilling the pumpkin creme. 

Nutrition: Only the pumpkin puree is whole food unprocessed. Otherwise very desserty -- i.e., fat and refined ingredients. 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour in the cake

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Gracious Vegan Easy Gravy

I adapted this from Angela Liddon's All-Purpose Gravy recipe. I like some mushroom flavor in my gravy, so I added that, and I don't like as much onion flavor as in her original. I also added some tricks about whisking flour into broth and using an immersion blender (one of the most useful tools for any cook). Otherwise this works really well -- especially perfect for Thanksgiving. 

In a medium-large saucepan or small Dutch oven, sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in the oil until the onion softens, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 medium white button mushrooms, chopped

Separately, whisk about a ½ cup of the broth with the flour until smooth. Then slowly pour and whisk the rest of the broth in.

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pour the broth/flour mixture and the following ingredients into the onions. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the gravy starts to thicken (will take just a few minutes). Reduce heat if necessary if the gravy starts to stick to the pot.

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari, soy sauce, or amino liquids
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Once the gravy has thickened, remove it from the heat. Use an immersion blender to create a smooth gravy. Add in the salt and vinegar (if using).

  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (optional - adds brightness)

Keep simmering over low to medium heat until the gravy thickens to your liking. If the gravy is still too thin, whisk together 1 tablespoon of flour with 1 tablespoon of broth in a small bowl and then whisk this into the broth. If it's too thick, thin the gravy with a touch of broth. The gravy thickens a bit as it cools.

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour

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Pasta With Rich and Hearty Mushroom Bolognese

By Serious Eats

Link to Pasta With Rich and Hearty Mushroom Bolognese recipe. 

Pasta With Rich and Hearty Mushroom Bolognese.jpg

GV comments: This is an extra special way to make a pasta sauce. The textures and flavors of roasted eggplant and sauteed mushrooms merge with tomatoes, red wine, and a dozen other ingredients, plus an hour of simmering time, to create a rich and richly textured sauce for pasta. If you have the time and inclination for undertaking this, you will be richly rewarded. 

Timing: Just over 2 hours

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed, except for the olive oil (I don't use as much as they suggest)

Gluten-free: if you use gluten-free pasta

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Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti

On One Green Planet

Link to Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti recipe.

Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti.jpg

GV comments: This dish mimics traditional dairy-based baked ziti well, and, as such, might be an excellent dish to serve to meat-eaters who are willing to try plant-based food. I like that the filling isn't just plain tofu -- there are a lots of other flavors added to give it depth. The marinara is simple but tasty. With a green salad and some roasted broccoli or carrots on the side, this makes a fantastic dinner. 

Timing: About 90 minutes total, including the 15 minutes of rest at the end.

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed, except for the vegan cheeses and refined-flour pasta (unless you use whole-grain) 

Gluten-free: if you use gluten-free pasta

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