Pasta With Rich and Hearty Mushroom Bolognese

By Serious Eats

Link to Pasta With Rich and Hearty Mushroom Bolognese recipe. 

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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

Affordability: Probably between $10 and $15 total

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

Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti

On One Green Planet

Link to Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti recipe.

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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.

Affordability: Between $10 and $15 total

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

Vegan Manicotti with Spinach Ricotta

By Ordinary Vegan

Link to Vegan Manicotti with Spinach Ricotta recipe.

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GV comments: This is a great way to make manicotti -- use lasagna noodles and roll them up! That's so much easier than trying to stuff filling into a wobbly wet noodle tube. The filling is made not just from tofu and spinach but lots of spices, other vegetables, and nutritional yeast as well, so it's super-flavorful. And the tomato sauce is rich and tasty, so much better than jarred sauce. This is a great dish for omnivores who like traditional stuffed manicotti but who want to try vegan food, since everything looks and tastes so much the same. 

Timing: About 90 minutes

Affordability: Around $10 total

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed. If you skip the oil and if you use whole grain noodles, it would go to 100% whole-food unprocessed.

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free noodles.


Mushroom Soup With Cashew Cream

Featured on PopSugar

Link to Mushroom Soup With Cashew Cream recipe.

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GV comments: I look long and hard, high and low, for a great vegan mushroom soup recipe. It's hard to get the right creamy texture. Cashew cream is definitely the way to go (rather than non-dairy milk). I also like the use of dried porcini mushrooms for their earthy depth. I'm not a big fan of oyster mushrooms and others with strong flavors, so I stick to button, cremini, and portabella. 

This makes massive amounts. Even a half-recipe serves 6 comfortably. I also skip the oil and soften the onions in the microwave instead. Because of the cashews, there is still a ton of richness to the texture. 

Timing: You have to soak the raw cashews for at least 4 hours. Once that's done, it's 45-60 minutes to make the soup, including vegetable prep.

Affordability: Given all the mushrooms, it's likely to be close to $15 total.

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (if you leave out the oil, then it is 100% whole-food unprocessed)


Vegan Tempeh Reubens

By Vegetarian Times

Link to Vegan Tempeh Reubens recipe.

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GV comments: What screams "Reuben" in a Reuben sandwich is the combination of rye bread, sauerkraut, and salty cheese. So vegans can substitute tempeh for corned beef and vegan cheese for dairy cheese, and you still get that scream. I love this recipe because it boils the tempeh in a rich oniony, galicky, soy broth, so you get a depth of flavor from the tempeh layer of the sandwich--it's not just filling up space.  

Timing: About 45 minutes, including cooling time for the tempeh, but you could make the tempeh the day before or earlier in the day, then the sandwiches would come together in less than 15 minutes at dinnertime.

Affordability: Maybe around $10, given you need tempeh and rye bread.

Nutrition: With vegan mayo, ketchup, and cheese, this isn't whole-food unprocessed. Look for whole-grain rye bread (many are made with refined rye flour, and some have refined wheat flour mixed it).

Rye has gluten.

Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce

By Mark Bittman

Link to Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce recipe.

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GV comments: This recipe offers the best of two approaches. Authentic falafels are made with soaked but uncooked chickpeas, and Mr. Bittman reproduces that here. But authentic falafels are deep-fried, and I don't deep-fry at home for health and safety reasons (I almost started a kitchen fire once). The only downside to this recipe is that the chickpeas have to soak for 24 hours to get them nice and soft. But pre-planning is a small price to pay for this ingenious solution to homemade falafel. 

I prefer tahini sauce with lemon juice and garlic added, not just tahini and water. Mr. Bittman uses just tahini and water. 

Timing: 24 hours to soak the chickpeas, then about 15 minutes to prepare, then about 30 minutes in the oven. 

Affordability: Under $10 total

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the oil.


Vegan Sloppy Joes

By Hell Yeah It's Vegan

Link to Vegan Sloppy Joes recipe.

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GV comments: Sloppy Joes were served every Thursday in our elementary school cafeteria. Although my mom packed our lunches every day, we sometimes got to buy our lunches on Thursdays. Sloppy Joes are now a bit old-fashioned, and made from beef they're not very healthy, but I still like vegan versions of the sandwich. The sweet/salty/spicy combination is winning, and if you get good-tasting buns, the texture is fun in your mouth. I like this version using textured vegetable protein (TVP), because I think tofu- and lentil-based versions are too mushy. You could go for frozen meat-like crumbles, but TVP is so much less expensive, and the results are the same by the time you add the sauce. If you're under 40, serve these to your older relatives and make them smile.

Timing: 35-40 minutes, including prepping the vegetables

Affordability: Very affordable--under $5 total

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (TVP is processed, as is oil, although you could microwave or water-saute the onions and peppers)

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free buns

Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup

By Madhur Jaffrey on the Food Network site

Link to Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup recipe.

GV comments: I discovered this recipe many years ago when I borrowed one of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks from a friend. I have loved this soup ever since. It takes a bit of vegetable peeling and prepping, but the results are worth it. (Here is an easy version of mulligatawny by Jaffrey, but it's based mostly on legumes, while this one is almost all vegetables.)

I don't use a teaspoon of black peppercorns: way too spicy for me. I use a scant 1/2 teaspoon. Just beware... 

The preface to the recipe says that a quarter-cup of red lentils can be added to the recipe--sounds good.

The recipe says to blend the soup and then put it through a coarse sieve if desired. I just use an immersion blender right in the soup pot; I don't put it through a sieve.  

Doubling this and having it all week is a good way to make it worth the time and effort.

Timing: Around an hour and a half, including 50 minutes of cooking

Affordability: Less than $10

Nutrition: Except for the coconut milk, it's entirely whole-food unprocessed.


Oven Baked Vegetarian Samosas

By Sharon123 on

Link to Oven Baked Vegetarian Samosas recipe.

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GV comments: Samosas and pakoras are my favorite Indian restaurant appetizers, and they make great side dishes with a curry for a home dinner. I don't deep-fry at my house (almost started a kitchen fire the only time I tried it...), and I endorse a minimal-oil approach to cooking. Luckly baking works really well for samosas.

Making the outer dough from scratch takes a lot of time and, to me, the taste isn't that much better than shortcuts. This recipe calls for using store-bought pie crust. I prefer (vegan) spring roll wrappers, phyllo dough, or puff pastry. The good thing is that the filling is completely cooked, so when you are baking them you only have to worry about browning the crust to the right degree. I don't use an egg white on the crust, of course. If you want them shiny, you can mix a tablespoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of cold water, then mix in another 1/2 cup of water, then microwave for 1-2 minutes or until thick. 

You can even avoid the 1 tablespoon of oil in this recipe by microwaving or water-sautéing your vegetables. Otherwise I love the spicing and proportions of this recipe, and it's worked really well for me.

Timing: About 45 minutes

Affordability: Under $10 total

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (white flour and, if you use it, oil are the culprits here)

Gluten-free, if you use a gluten-free pie crust for the outer shells

Zucchini Bhaji

By Maple Spice

Link to Zucchini Bhaji recipe.

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GV comments: These hand-held fritters are very much like pakoras, only larger and baked. If you aren't an Indian food fan (yet), you may not know that pakoras are scrumptious deep-fried morsels of vegetables, spices, and chickpea flour offered as appetizers in almost every Indian restaurant in the U.S. I was amazed after I tried this recipe that I got the same essence and joy as from the restaurant appetizers. It helps to have tamarind or mango chutney to slather on top. These make a great meal with a curry and rice. 

Timing: About 45 minutes

Affordability: Around $5

Nutrition: Almost entirely whole-food, except for the coconut oil


Homemade Vegan Vietnamese Pho

By the Viet Vegan

Link to Homemade Vegan Vietnamese Pho recipe.

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GV comments: I have yet to try this recipe, but it looks the most authentic of the vegan recipes I've found. 

Timing: She says it takes 2 hours

Affordability: There are some specialized ingredients, so likely in the $10-15 range

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the noodles are made from white rice flour, not brown rice flour


Vegan Pad Thai

By Kim Campbell (PlantPure Nation) on

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Link to Vegan Pad Thai recipe.

GV comments: Kim Campbell is an exceptionally talented recipe creator. All of her recipes are whole-food unprocessed, but they don't taste like they are, unlike many "healthy" recipes. This one is Exhibit A. This Pad Thai is incredibly tasty, but you don't miss the oil that most Pad Thai recipes use a lot of. It's full of vegetables, but no single vegetable dominates. The balance is fantastic.

Timing: About an hour, but you could do the prep a day or more ahead of time and need less than 30 minutes right before dinner.

Affordability: Around $10 total

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Gluten-free can be accomplished with her substitutes

Vegan Mu Shu Vegetables

By Food52

Link to Vegan Mu Shu Vegetables recipe

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GV comments: I adore mu shu vegetables, although I'm never sure how to spell the name (moo shu? moo shoo?). The hoisin sauce is the critical element--that sweet, fermented, spicy (not too spicy), salty combination creates a depth that makes these truly satisfying. I remember ordering mu shu vegetables all the time in the 1990s at The Bean Curd restaurant in Chatham, NJ. They were delish, but half the enjoyment came from watching the waiter make them in front of our eyes so quickly with a spoon in each hand.

Timing: with the vegetable prep, a little over 30 minutes. If the vegetables are already prepped, then likely only around 20 minutes.

Affordability: Less than $10

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (especially if you use whole grain tortillas); otherwise it's just the oil that keeps it from being 100% whole-food

Not gluten-free because the hoisin sauce may be made from regular soy sauce. 

Cashew Ricotta Cheese

By The Simple Veganista

Link to Cashew Ricotta Cheese recipe.

GV comments: This ricotta-like cashew cheese features a rich mingling of sharpness (from vinegar), cheesiness (from nutritional yeast), and garlic/onion. It takes only a few minutes to create in the blender (after a couple of hours soaking the cashews), and you're ready to use it. I like to use it on pizza and in vegan lasagna, baked ziti, or other casseroles. It gets slightly darker than dairy ricotta when cooked, but the taste is excellent. 

Timing: Less than 10 minutes (after you soak the cashews for a couple of hours)

Affordability: Should be around $5, depending on cashew prices

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed


New York-Style Pizza Sauce

By Serious Eats

Link to New York-Style Pizza Sauce recipe

GV comments: I lived in New Jersey for over 30 years and now realize how incredible the pizza is there and in the rest of the "pizza belt" (from Philly through New Jersey to New York City and up to Boston). Nineteenth-century Italian immigrants brought pizza from Italy to the east coast, and the tradition has stuck. Elsewhere in the U.S. the tradition got compromised or diluted. Even without cheese or with vegan cheese, this sauce on a good homemade crust, with perhaps a few roasted vegetables, is incredibly delicious. This takes very little effort and is worth the time. I like to use canned San Marzano tomatoes. I use vegan butter instead of dairy butter, and it works well. 

Timing: About an hour and 10 minutes (10 minutes is the active time; the rest is simmering and reducing time)

Affordability: Very affordable; less than $5 total, unless you have to pay a lot for the basil sprigs.

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (except for the oil and butter)



Quick Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Black Bean Burritos

GV comments: I adore this version of the sweet potato-black bean burrito because it's quick (they claim 22 minutes; for me it's about 30), it includes mushrooms and rice, and the texture is perfect (not pureed but not in big chunks either). Of course I leave out sour cream and dairy cheese. I use vegan cheese or my new favorite, cashew crema (from this enchilada recipe). It's hard to believe this has so many healthy ingredients in it. 

Timing: Around 30 minutes

Affordability: Under $10 total

Nutrition: If you leave out the sour cream and cheese and use a relatively healthy substitute, you're doing well. Try to decrease or eliminate the oil, too.

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free tortillas.

Ultimate Rainbow Veggie Sandwich

By Tina from Scaling Back

Link to Ultimate Rainbow Veggie Sandwich recipe.

GV comments: The basil-almond ricotta lifts this recipe above the crowd. Its elusive flavors (basil, garlic, lemon, and more) keep you asking "What is this spread? What am I tasting? Why is it so good?" So you keep on eating, hoping to find the answer. Pretty soon you are done with the sandwich and want another one. 

The lovely pictures on the website feature white bread. I like to use multi-grain. You can, obviously, also play with the vegetables. Roasted vegetables would work well too. Adding slices of your favorite protein (baked or smoked tofu, for example) is also an option. 

Timing: Around an hour and 15 minutes, including the soaking of the almonds. 

Affordability: Less than $10 total

Nutrition: All whole foods except for the 2 Tablespoons of oil (and assuming you use whole-grain bread)

Gluten-free (if you use gluten-free bread)

Vegan Twix Bars

By Mona Zavosh For Glow

Link to Vegan Twix Bars recipe

GV comments: These don't win any nutrition contests, but they taste way better than industrial Twix Bars! They're also more substantial and satisfying, meaning you can stop after one bar (well, maybe one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Like the Raw Snickers Slab, these bars will delight all the dessert-lovers in your house, or at a picnic or potluck. 

If you're not concerned about the bars being gluten-free, you can substitute regular (vegan) sugar for the coconut sugar and whole wheat pastry flour for the coconut flour. 

Timing: About 90 minutes from start to eating.

Affordability: If you go with coconut sugar and coconut flour, you're probably going to spend $10-$15 on ingredients. 

Nutrition: Significant fat/sugar/processed


Peanut-Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles

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GV comments:  The first couple times I made it for a group, it disappeared before I could taste it. But since then I've had my share and love it. You can use Kate's suggested shortcuts and get it on the table in about 15 minutes. Or start from scratch and add 10-15 minutes. The peanut butter and sesame oil in the dressing, along with grated fresh ginger and minced garlic cloves, pack enough flavor to counterbalance the slightly bitter cabbage and bland soba noodles. This would make a dinner with a hearty soup. 

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Affordability: Less than $5 total

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food unprocessed (the sesame oil is the only processed ingredient)

Gluten-free if you buy 100% buckwheat soba noodles

Kasha Varnishkes

By Vegan Street 

Link to Kasha Varnishkes recipe.

GV comments: I was a vegetarian for 30 years before I turned vegan. One of the dishes I remember loving so much was a vegetarian version of Kasha Varnishkes, a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish. The trick of the dish was to saute the roasted buckwheat groats (also know as kasha) with a lightly whipped egg--the egg formed a coating around the groats, so that when you then simmered them in broth, they wouldn't dissolve into each other but stay nice and separate. Once I became a vegan, I thought I'd never taste that wonderful flavor again. But I found this recipe from the website Vegan Street. The dish brought back all my good memories of the flavor, and I've heard the same from people I've served this to. 

Timing: A good 45 minutes, and you'll be working constantly (but worth it!)

Affordability: Under $10, and roasted buckwheat groats (also called kasha) are widely available

Nutrition: Almost entirely whole-food unprocessed except for some processed-sounding ingredients in the Vegan Egg