Summer Squash and Chickpea Curry

By the Gracious Vegan

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This lovely curry, with its smooth coconut-tomato base, is chock-full of tasty ingredients that happen to be good for you. Only the coconut milk is not whole-food, and going with “light” makes it healthier than full-fat coconut milk. I like to serve this curry with the baked Indian fritters. 

Makes: 6 servings

Water-sauté the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or other large pan (start with ¼ cup water and add more as needed.) Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender.

  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium straightneck summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (around 1.5 cups)
  • 1 large or two small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (around 1.5 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir in the following ingredients and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon siracha sauce (or to taste) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Add the following ingredients to the pot and stir.

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can tomato sauce or one 14-ounce can petite-dice tomatoes (your preference depending on the texture you’d like)
  • One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (see more needed below)

Raise the heat to medium high and bring the curry to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant, squash, and zucchini are completely tender but still hold their shape, and the sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve the curry with rice and sprinkle with additional cilantro.

  • Cooked rice (preferably brown basmati rice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Timing: Hands-on time: 30 minutes; total time: 55 minutes        

Nutritional information per serving (including 1/2 cup brown rice each): 292 calories, 5g fat, 4g sat. fat, 51g carbs, 880mg sodium, 9mg fiber9g protein 

Gluten-free

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Zoodles with Creamy Pesto Sauce

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By the Gracious Vegan

Spiralizing is fun! Zucchini “noodles” cook quickly, making for a fast dinner. Pair it with a no-oil pesto and you’ve got a delicious, satisfying, healthy dish that’s light on calories. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a small julienne blade on a mandoline slicer or other gadget. Grating isn’t a good choice because the zucchini gets too mushy.

Makes: 4 servings

Creamy pesto sauce. Blend these together in a small (mini) food processor or with an immersion blender in a relatively small container. If you double the recipe, a larger food processor or blender will work. Add additional water if you need it. 

  • One small/medium avocado, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces each
  • 1.5 cups (packed) basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon miso
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Zoodles. Trim the ends of the zucchini and spiralize them according to your spiralizer’s instructions. If you end up with very long strands, cut them to shorter lengths. 

  • 2 pounds zucchini 

Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven on the stove to medium-high. Add ¼ cup water, the spiralized zucchini, and a bit of salt (to taste). Cook, stirring regularly, for 7-10 minutes, until the zucchini reaches your preferred texture. (You could cook them in a large glass bowl in the microwave if you prefer.)

Stir in the creamy pesto sauce, heat it briefly, and serve immediately. 

Timing: Hands-on time: 35 minutes; total time: 35 minutes

Nutritional information per serving: 165 calories, 12g fat, 1g sat. fat, 14g carbs, 378mg sodium, 6mg fiber5g protein 

Gluten-free

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Broiled Zucchini

By the Gracious Vegan

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I like to broil zucchini instead of roasting or sautéing to avoid using a lot of oil and/or ending up with mushy zucchini. Broiled zucchini is very good with Vegan Tzatziki but goes with a lot of sauces too. With a substantial side dish, broiled zucchini with a sauce can serve as a wonderful low-calorie entree.

Makes: 4 servings

Preheat broiler on high. Place a rack 3-4 inches from the broiler element. 

Trim the ends off the zucchini. Slice it diagonally into ½” oblong slices.  

  • 1 pound zucchini

Line a sheet pan or cookie sheet with foil. (Parchment paper can catch fire, and silicone mats may melt at this temperature.) Spray or brush the pan with oil. Lay the zucchini slices on the foil. Spray or brush with oil and season with salt and pepper and/or other spices (e.g., Montreal steak seasoning, Italian herbs).

Broil the zucchini until it is brown on top (timing is extremely variable depending on the broiler—check after 4 minutes and go from there), then flip and broil until there are brown spots and it’s tender but not mushy. 

Timing: Hands-on time: 10 minutes; total time: 15 minutes        

Nutritional information per serving (4 servings, using half of the vegan tzatziki sauce recipe): 103 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 9g carbs, 227mg sodium, 2mg fiber3g protein 

Gluten-free

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Vegan Tzatziki

By the Gracious Vegan

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Tzatziki is a delicious side dish from Greece. Traditionally made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, and dill, tzatziki can also be made with cashew cream, and it comes out divine. You can use tzatziki with many other dishes (or just eat it straight from the refrigerator!).

Makes 1.75 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender.) 

  • 1 cup cashews

Drain the cashews and rinse them under cold water. Then place them in a blender with these ingredients and blend on high for 30 seconds to several minutes until very smooth.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Grate the cucumber (I peel mine first) and use a clean kitchen towel, cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or several paper towels to squeeze out the excess moisture. 

  • About 6” of cucumber, any kind; remove seeds if they are prominent

Stir in (don’t blend) the grated cucumber and dill. 

  • 1 teaspoon dried dill

Stir in more water if needed for a yogurt-like texture.

Timing: 25 minutes (more like 10 minutes if you have a high-speed blender)

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed

Gluten-free

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Baked Indian Fritters

By the Gracious Vegan

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These fritters are very much like pakora appetizers at Indian restaurants. Baking them rather than deep-frying makes them a lot healthier. They’re substantial enough to serve as a main course or side dish. 

Makes: 13-15 fritters

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

The zucchini. Trim and grate the zucchini. Move to a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and toss well, massaging the salt into the zucchini. The salt will be rinsed off later, so don’t worry. 

  • 1.25 pounds zucchini

Leave the grated zucchini in the colander for 20 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Squeeze as much water out as you can, then spread out on a clean dish towel. Cover with another clean dish towel and press or roll, getting the zucchini as dry as you can. 

The onion mixture. In a microwave-safe dish, microwave the following ingredients until the onion is transparent and soft, about 4-6 minutes.

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 fresh green or red chili (jalapeño or hotter), de-seeded and de-veined (to keep it mild if you wish), finely chopped (or use half a can of diced mild green chilis)
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

The “egg”. Blend the following ingredients together with an immersion blender in a smallish container (e.g., a two-cup measure). Blend on high until the mixture is thick, about a minute. 

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum 
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Flour and assembly. Whisk together the following ingredients ina medium-large bowl.

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (aka gram or garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add in the zucchini, “egg,” and onion mixture and stir until well blended. There should be no more flour showing and you should have a thick mixture.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Drop scant 1/4 cups of the mixture onto the sheet. Press down lightly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked with definite golden or brown edges. 

Serve with chutney, such as my Mint Cilantro Chutney.

Timing: Hands-on time 40 minutes; total time 65 minutes

Nutritional information per serving (5 servings): 113 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 19g carbs, 427mg sodium, 4mg fiber6g protein 

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Curried Zucchini Soup

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By the Gracious Vegan

Zucchini and curry play well together. This easy soup is thickened with beans and rice. No oil and whole-food ingredients mean this soup is super-healthy and low-calorie, though it doesn’t taste like it. 

Makes: 6 servings

In a Dutch oven or other large pan, cook the following ingredients in water (start with 1/4 cup and keep adding as needed), until onion is soft and transparent and zucchini cubes are soft, 5-10 minutes. 

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 12 ounces zucchini, cubed (about 3/4”)

Add the following ingredients, bring the soup to a boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. 

  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1.5 - 2 cups cooked white beans (any kind) or black-eyed peas (if using a can of beans, drain and rinse them)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked white rice (or 1 cup cooked brown rice)*
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Once the soup is cooked, use a hand (immersion) blender to puree soup in pan.

* Pre-cooked brown rice is available in the frozen section of some stores, like Trader Joe’s.

Timing: Hands-on time: 15 minutes; total time: 40 minutes

Nutritional information per serving: 152 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat. fat, 25g carbs, 820mg sodium, 4mg fiber11g protein 

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Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla Crisps

By the Gracious Vegan

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These tortilla crisps are great on so many levels. First, they're a great way to use up leftover flour tortillas. Second, they taste fantastic. They are just as delicious as, say, tortilla chips, but have much less fat. You can add spices (cumin, paprika, you name it) if you want more zing than just a bit of salt. You can also choose your shape--triangles, rectangles, whatever you're feeling like. 

Heat oven to 400° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Cut tortillas into quarters or eighths and lay them on the paper or foil in a single layer. If desired, spray tortillas with spray-oil on the top and sprinkle a little salt on them. 

  • Four 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas (or whatever quantity you want)

Bake them, switching the sheets halfway through, until crisp (but not burnt), for a total of 5-7 minutes. 

Nutrition: Manufactured whole wheat flour tortillas are made with some fat, so these are not 100% unprocessed. 

Timing: about 10 minutes

I have not tried this with gluten-free tortillas.

 

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Golden Green Split Pea Soup

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By the Gracious Vegan

This is one of those comforting soups that helps you relax. It's not trying to impress -- it just taste good and wholesome, and that's enough. The combination of green and yellow split peas gives it a golden-green glow, and the vegetables provide welcome chunkiness and variety.

Makes 9 cups (6 servings)

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, water-sauté the following ingredients until the onion is soft and transparent, 5-8 minutes. (Start with ¼ cup water and add more if you need it.)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped

Add the following ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very soft, about 1 hour.

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced (1/2”)
  • 1 cup dried green split peas
  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The soup will thicken as it sits after cooking. Stir in additional water as needed. 

Timing: 20 minutes hands-on time; 80 minutes total

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed

Gluten-free

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Mint-Cilantro Chutney

By the Gracious Vegan

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This chutney is super-flavorful. Packed with cilantro and mint, it makes a big impact on breads, appetizers, roasted vegetables, or just spooned out of the container into your mouth! It has a great sweet-sour thing going on with the dates and onions. You can control the spiciness with the number of peppers and whether you de-seed and de-vein them.  

Makes about 1.75 cups

In a food processor or blender, add these and combine into a paste.

  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed
  • 2 dates, chopped (or 2 Tablespoons chopped dates, or 1 Tablespoon date sugar) (soften date pieces in hot water for a few minutes if they are hard; drain)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and deveined (unless you like it HOT)
  • Juice of 1 small/medium lemon 
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup ground almonds or dry coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Then add water and process until blended

  • 3/8 cup water

Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Timing:  About 15 minutes

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Gluten-free

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Easy, Tasty, Baked Black Bean Burgers

By the Gracious Vegan 

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This black bean burger has incredible texture and taste without any added oil, except a little spray-oil (which could be skipped, but it helps crisp the surfaces). The burgers are baked rather than pan-fried, which not only saves on oil but also eliminates time standing at the stove. Big thanks to Matt Frazier, the No Meat Athlete, for the starting point of this recipe, his Veggie Burger Formula. These freeze well, meaning great leftover meals! 

Makes 10-12 burger patties

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two large sheet pans with parchment or foil. Spray with oil. 

Sauté the following ingredients in a skillet with water (start with ¼ cup water) for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and soft and the pan is dry. (Do not microwave, because that results in too much moisture.)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (4 mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse with the following ingredients until nicely combined but still chunky. 

  • 1.5 cups black beans (equivalent to one can; drain and rinse if using canned)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat crumbs work well)
  • 1/2 cup well-chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon regular or Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Form 3-4" patties (fairly thin) with your hands and lay them on the parchment paper. Spray the tops with spray-oil. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip them over and bake 8-10 minutes more or until firm with brown surfaces. 

Timing: Around 50-55 minutes

Nutrition: The ketchup, spray-oil, and vital wheat gluten keep this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed. Pretty close, though!

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Gracious Vegan Pie Crust (Savory and Sweet)

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By the Gracious Vegan

I owe the gist of this recipe to Carole Walters. I veganized it, played with the proportions, and adapted it for savory pies (like my Vegetable Pot Pie). This dough is easy to make, easy to handle, and is reliably flaky. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter or a couple of table knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour. 

Makes 2 crusts

Put these in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

  • 2.5 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup white)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar for savory pie OR 1 Tablespoon for sweet pie
  • 1 teaspoon salt for savory pie OR 1/2 teaspoon for sweet pie

Add the fats and pulse as much as needed to get a texture with pea-size pellets of butter/shortening.

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, cut into ½” cubes (refrigerated)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening refrigerated, then cut into ½” pieces (refrigerated)

Transfer to a bowl. Add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, drizzling it around the rim of the bowl. Use a kitchen fork to push the mixture toward the center with each addition.

  • 6 to 7 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

To determine if the mixture has enough water, gather some in your hand and press it against the bowl to see if it will hold together. If not, add more water sparingly, about 1 teaspoon at a time, adding only enough for it to form a mass. Too much liquid and/or overworking the dough will toughen it.

With floured hands, press the dough against the side of the bowl, forming 2 balls. All the crumbs should adhere to the balls and clean the bowl. If not, add a few drops of water. Flatten the balls into two 4- to 5-inch disks.

Dust the disks with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes or longer before rolling out. If too hard to roll out, let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Storage: The dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. To thaw, remove from the freezer to refrigerator. Thaw overnight or at least 12 hours.

Timing: About 45 minutes, including chilling time

Nutrition: Crusts have a lot of processed fat, so they are not particularly healthy

 

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Avocado Chickpea Toast

By the Gracious Vegan

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Avocado toast is a fast breakfast, and with this addition of chickpeas, it’s also the delivery system for lots of protein and fiber, not to mention iron, zinc, folate, and potassium (found in all legumes). You could prepare the whole can of chickpeas at once and have the topping ready for 4 servings.

Makes: 1 serving

Prepare the chickpea topping by mashing the following ingredients together with a fork, pastry blender, or potato masher. You’re going for a coarse mash, not a smooth texture.

  • 3/8 cup canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) (1/4 of a can)
  • ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Toast two slices of bread.

  • Two slices thin-slice whole grain bread

Spread a quarter of an avocado on each slide of toast.

  • Half of a ripe avocado

Spread the chickpea topping over the avocado and enjoy.

Timing: 10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving:   

365 calories, 24g fat, 2g sat. fat, 51g carbs, 773mg sodium, 15g fiber, 13g protein

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread

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Mushroom-Ricotta Calzones

By the Gracious Vegan

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Mushrooms and ricotta cheese couldn’t be more complementary: earthy vs. sharp, chewy vs. creamy, brown vs. white. Throw in tomatoes and Italian spices, and you’ve got a delicious party going on inside the folded-over pizza crust.

Makes 2 calzones (4 servings)

If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven, preheat the oven to 500°, and let it heat 30 minutes after it hits 500°. If you do not have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 475°.

The dough. You’ll need one pound of pizza dough, thawed. Most supermarkets sell one-pound slabs of dough. I have not found one that is oil-free. If you want to make your own, note that recipes with around 2 cups of flour make about a pound of dough. 

  • One pound of pizza dough (whole wheat dough works well)

The filling. Water-sauté these ingredients in a large skillet over low-medium heat until the liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, 8-10 minutes.

  • One pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, grated, or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Turn off the heat and stir in the following ingredients.

Divide the pizza dough in half. Stretch out the first piece with your hands (or a rolling pin) into a ¼” thick round (10-12”).  Put half the filling in the center of the dough. Fold the round in half over the filling. Press or crimp the edges of the dough to seal the calzone. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining filling. Cut a few small vents in the top of the calzones to let steam escape.

Put the calzones directly on the pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes until browned. If you are not using a stone, put them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 475°for 16 to 18 minutes or more, until browned. Let them stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

While the calzones bake, in the pan used to cook the mushrooms, combine the following and cook at low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Serve alongside the calzones for topping or dipping.

  • Remaining half of the petite diced tomatoes
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Red pepper flakes as desired

Timing: Hands-on time 35 minutes, total time: 45 minutes (the times assume you have the vegan ricotta and Parmesan cheese already made or bought)

Nutrition: most commercial doughs include some oil, so this is just shy of 100% whole-food unprocessed

Nutritional information per serving (assuming whole wheat pizza dough): 

493 calories, 18g fat, 3g sat. fat, 68g carbs, 770mg sodium, 13g fiber19g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free pizza dough is used

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Rich and Creamy Vegan Tiramisu

By the Gracious Vegan

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Faces light up when you announce that dessert is tiramisu! This version will please tiramisu lovers and may create some new ones. The cashew cream gives dairy-based mascarpone cheese a run for its money. No sacrifices with this vegan version. 

Makes 10 servings

Cake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray two 8” x 8” square pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together 

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour if desired)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2 Tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill each prepared pan with batter and smooth. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely before assembly.

“Mascarpone.”  Blend the following ingredients together in a blender until a very smooth, thick texture is achieved. Chill.

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in cold water at least 2 hours (or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes); even if you have a high-speed blender, I recommend soaking the cashews for this recipe
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon white miso

Espresso Soak. Stir the following ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup.

  • ½ cup amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder

Chocolate shavings. Use a vegetable peeler and shave the side of the chocolate bar until you have a pile of chocolate shavings.

  • 1.5-ounce vegan dark chocolate bar 

Assembly. You can make your tiramisu in one large glass or ceramic dish. Or you can make individual servings in ice-cream or other glass dishes, or even make free-form mini-tiramisu’s and serve them on a platter - lovely for a dessert buffet. 

Start with a layer of cake, then spoon some espresso soak onto the cake and let it seep in. Then layer on some mascarpone and then chocolate shavings. Repeating the layers at least once makes the dessert look beautiful. End with mascarpone and chocolate shavings.

Timing: hands-on time 40 minutes, total time 2-3 hours

Nutrition: This isn’t a healthy food – it’s healthier than dairy-based tiramisu, though. 

Nutritional information per serving:           

419 calories, 18g fat, 4g sat. fat, 54g carbs, 44mg sodium, 3mg fiber6g protein

Gluten-free if you adapt the cake recipe and use gluten-free flour

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Creamy Rice with Sundried Tomatoes

By the Gracious Vegan

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This dish is related to risotto, which is made from Arborio rice, not brown rice. I prefer to use brown rice and skip oil and butter, so I took my inspiration from a recipe by Kim Campbell and adapted it for one of my favorite combinations, sundried tomatoes and basil. This could serve as a side dish or an entrée. 

Makes: 6 servings

Over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet, water-sauté the onions starting with ¼ cup water until the onions are transparent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

  • 1 onion, diced 

Add the following ingredients and cook for about 3 more minutes.   

  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (the pouches of Bella Sun Luci tomatoes, julienne-cut, are ideal, because there is no oil, and they are soft; available at many supermarkets)

Separately, blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. 

  • 8 ounces silken tofu (any kind)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Add the cream sauce, brown rice and basil to the onion-tomato mixture. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, about 3-5 minutes. 

  • 3 cups cooked short grain brown rice (or use long-grain rice; cooked brown rice can be purchased either frozen or in shelf-stable packages in the grocery aisle)
  • ¼ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, chopped or sliced

You may need to add a little water to thin out the mixture, especially if you reheat all or some of it – the rice tends to absorb more of the liquid the longer it sits. 

Garnish with more chopped basil, if desired.

Timing: hands-on time 20 minutes, total time: 50 minutes (including rice)

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving:           

231 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 33g carbs, 45mg sodium, 4mg fiber10g protein

Gluten-free

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Favorite Vegan Meatballs

By the Gracious Vegan

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My husband is picky about texture. I have been through a lot of vegan meatball recipes. I kept tweaking this recipe once I was on the right track, and the finished result is here. These are great with spaghetti and marinara or with whatever sauce you fancy. They also have 15 grams of protein per serving and freeze well. 

Makes: 16 meatballs

Preheat oven to 375°degrees. 

Sauté the peppers and onion in a skillet with water (start with ¼ cup water) for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and soft and the pan is dry. (Do not microwave, because that results in too much moisture.) Set aside.

  • ½ medium green pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium red pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped

Place the following ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until well combined. 

  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (if using frozen, thaw it first)
  • ½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • ½ cup cooked black beans or lentils (if canned, drain and rinse)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika 

Combine this mixture with the pepper and onions and mix them with your hands for a few minutes to activate the gluten’s elasticity. 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 16 ping-pong-ball-size meatballs. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Turn them over and cook for another 15 minutes or more until they are a full shade darker with some parts nicely browned. 

Serve with Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce or whatever sauce you like, and your choice of pasta. 

Timing: hands-on time 35 minutes, total time 60 minutes (assuming the rice is made)

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving (based on 4 meatballs per serving):         

251 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 44g carbs, 448mg sodium, 7mg fiber15g protein 

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Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

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This recipe started with Isa Moscowitz’s recipe for spaghetti sauce in her Isa Does It cookbook. But I’ve tweaked enough aspects of it that it needs its own identity. You can use water instead of red wine if you don’t like the taste of red wine. 

Makes about 4 cups (1 quart)

Heat a large saucepan or small Dutch oven on medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of red wine (or water) and wine-sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft.

  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Add the brown sugar and additional wine. Cook about 1 more minute.

  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar (optional)
  • Additional ¼ cup red wine

Mix in the spices and tomatoes and stir. Cook for about 15 minutes with the pot covered (but with the lid ajar to let steam escape).

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (about ¼ teaspoon or more if you like it hot) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: The wine and sugar are the only processed ingredients

Total for the batch: 440 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 85g carbs, 1058mg sodium, 17mg fiber14g protein 

Gluten-free

Photo by Foodista on Flickr

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Hearty Vegan Vegetable Lasagna

Lasagna.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

You don’t have to tell people there’s tofu in this lasagna unless they insist on knowing. My guess is that they will not care what’s in it. They’ll only want to know if there’s more. Multiply the recipe by 1.5 if you want to use a 9” x 13” pan. This freezes well.

Makes 8 servings

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. 

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (I recommend this even if you have a high-speed blender.) 

  • 1 cup raw cashews (whole or pieces)

Thaw the package of spinach by leaving it out for a few hours or by microwaving it for a few minutes. Let it cool a bit then squeeze out the water well.

  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

Noodles. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

  • 9  whole wheat lasagna noodles

Vegetables. Microwave or water-sauté the following vegetables until they are fully cooked. Drain away any excess moisture. 

  • 2 cups chopped white mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped vegetables of your choice (e.g., zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli)

Tomato sauce. Use Gracious Vegan Marinara Sauce or your favorite (you’ll need about 4 cups).

“Ricotta.” In a blender or food processor, process the following ingredients until smooth. The cashews may not get 100% smooth, but that’s okay.

  • The soaked cashews
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained (the kind sold in the refrigerated section, not the vacuum-packed, shelf-stable kind)
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Stir the thawed, squeezed spinach into the ricotta mixture separately. 

Assembly. In a baking dish (9” x 9” or 7” x 10”), pour in about a cup of sauce to cover the bottom. Layer 3 lasagna noodles (fold or tear them if necessary). Top with a third of the ricotta mixture. Top with a third of the mushroom-vegetable mixture. Repeat 1 cup sauce – 3 noodles – 1/3 ricotta – 1/3 vegetables two more times. End with the final cup of sauce. Top with breadcrumb mixture.

  • ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs (Italian or plain) mixed with ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving. 

 

Timing: hands-on time 45 minutes, total time 1.5 hours

Nutrition: 100% whole-food, unprocessed ingredients

Nutritional information per serving:           

339 calories, 11g fat, 2g sat. fat, 45g carbs, 230mgsodium, 9mg fiber17gprotein

Gluten-free if gluten-free lasagna noodles used

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Divine Vegan Eggplant Parmigiana

By the Gracious Vegan

Divine Eggplant Parmigiana.jpg

Hard to believe that you can have eggplant parmigiana with virtually no oil. No breading, no frying. Just broiling the eggplant slices releases their flavor, caramelizes them, and keeps the dish clean tasting. Vegan parmesan means you can also avoid heavy dairy. Light and delicious, this Parmigiana will please the eggplant lovers among us. This dish freezes well.

Makes 8 servings

Eggplant. Turn on broiler to high (500°). Line a baking sheet with foil, spray it with oil, and fit as many slices as you can in a single layer on the foil. Spray the top of the slices with a little oil. (They get tough and dry if you don’t use any oil.) Broil 3-4” from the element until the tops are brown to dark-brown, about 4-5 minutes. Then flip them and broil until the other sides are browned, about 3-4 minutes. Repeat for remaining slices. Set aside and change the oven to bake mode at 375°.

  • 3 medium or 2 large eggplants, peeled or unpeeled, sliced crosswise into ½” rounds (for those who are a bit hesitant about eggplant, I recommend peeling them)

Sauce. In the meantime, water-sauté the aromatics in a Dutch oven or large skillet with ¼ cup water until onion is translucent, around 5 minutes. 

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

Add tomatoes and oregano, breaking up any whole tomatoes. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.

  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

Add and stir these in to finish the sauce.

  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Use a 9” x 9” square or an oval (12” x 8” or so) baking dish. Spread thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, then add a thin scattering of vegan parmesan. 

Then create a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. 

  • 1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs (Italian or plain) mixed with ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Bake at 375°until the mixture is bubbly, at least 35 minutes and maybe more. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. 

Timing: hands-on time 45 minutes, total time 90 minutes

Nutrition: 100% whole food (except for sprays of oil on eggplant)

Nutritional information per serving: 

156 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat. fat, 25g carbs, 237mgsodium, 9mg fiber6gprotein

Gluten-free with gluten-free bread crumbs

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Vegan Pizza Like You Wouldn’t Believe

 Mixing it up with roasted garlic cloves, red peppers, cashews, and vegan feta 

Mixing it up with roasted garlic cloves, red peppers, cashews, and vegan feta 

If the only pizza you like is pepperoni with a pound of mozzarella cheese on top, you might not be ready for vegan pizza. But if you love a good crust and are open to new toppings, vegan pizza could be for you.

Whether you’re a new cook, experienced, or a plant-based expert, there’s a vegan pizza for you. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts. There’s nothing like great pizza straight out of the oven. 

Basics

A few basic techniques make a big difference to the texture and taste of your pizza no matter what your approach. 

  • Make crust from fresh dough – avoid pre-made, partially cooked flatbreads if you can
  • Use a hot oven – the highest temperature your oven will reach (probably 500°or 550°)
  • Use vegan cheese as an accent, not a blanket – this is healthier and minimizes unfavorable comparisons with dairy-based cheeses

Here are my recommendations for plant-based pizza for three levels of cooking skill (or available time).

Crust

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – buy fresh dough in the deli section of the supermarket
  • Experienced cooks – use one of the thousands of easy yeast-based pizza dough recipes online. They usually take less than two hours, including time for the dough to rise.
  • Expert cooks – get gourmet pizza quality (crispy on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside) with Ken Forkish’s The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home.

Sauce

Toppings

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – use very thin slices of mushrooms, onions, peppers, and easy add-ons like sliced olives and chopped raw spinach
  • Experienced cooks – Consider pre-roasting some vegetable chunks (e.g., broccoli, red pepper, butternut squash)
  • Expert cooks– Experiment with unusual topping combinations and include roasted cashews, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, Greek olives, and/or roasted garlic cloves

Cheese

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – Use vegan mozzarella cheese sold in supermarkets (e.g., Daiya, Follow your Heart)
  • Experienced cooks –Same as above
  • Expert cooks –Make your own Cashew Ricotta Cheese or Almond Feta Cheese to use on their own or in combination with vegan mozzarella

Baking Approach

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – Shape the dough on a counter or cutting board, transfer to a sheet pan lined with a good dusting of flour and cornmeal or use a pizza pan with holes in it. Add sauce, toppings, and cheese, then put it in the oven.
  • Experienced and Expert cooks – Learn how to handle a pizza peel and baking stone. It takes practice, but ultimately you will be producing pizza to rival an Italian pizza parlor. 

Buon appetito!

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