Entree

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

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

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

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO        

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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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

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

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

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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; WFPBNO

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. Serve on English muffins or other bread.

  • Whole wheat English muffins, toasted

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!

Nutritional information per serving (including bread/muffin): 242 calories, 5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 40g carbs, 652mg sodium, 6g fiber, 11g protein

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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 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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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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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; WFPBNO

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; WFPBNO

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

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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; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 339 calories, 11g fat, 2g sat. fat, 45g carbs, 230mg sodium, 9mg fiber17g protein

Gluten-free if gluten-free lasagna noodles used

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Divine Vegan Eggplant Parmigiana

By the Gracious Vegan

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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); WFPBNO

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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Gracious Vegan Crema

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Cream in a layered dip

Gracious Vegan Cream in a layered dip

This crema is the perfect substitute for both sour cream and cheese in many Mexican dishes like tacos, tostadas, nachos, and dips. Think of the calories saved! The complex flavor truly satisfies. The smoked paprika’s dark, edgy taste plays against the brightness of the lime or lemon juice. Sometimes I serve this in a squeeze bottle and let everyone apply their own.  

Makes 1.5 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 raw cashews

Drain cashews and place them with remaining ingredients into a blender and process until creamy. 

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

You can freeze the crema for up to several months. Just let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so to thaw it. 

Timing: 5-10 minutes if you have a high-speed blender; 25-30 if you need to soak the cashews

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Gracious Vegan Ricotta Cheese 

By the Gracious Vegan

Pizza with vegan ricotta cheese, spinach, roasted butternut squash,  Gracious Vegan Parmesan , and  White Garlic Sauce

Pizza with vegan ricotta cheese, spinach, roasted butternut squash, Gracious Vegan Parmesan, and White Garlic Sauce

This creamy concoction tastes excellent and a lot like ricotta cheese. Some of us would say better than dairy ricotta. It works well on pizzas, in calzones, in lasagna, and in many other recipes. 

Makes 2 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes.

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews

Drain cashews and place them with remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor, and process until creamy. (I find that the food processor is better than a blender for this recipe, even a high-speed blender.) You might have to stop and scrape down the sides once or more.

  • ½ cup water

  • 1.5 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Taste for flavors. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two, to stiffen the cheese.

Timing: 5-10 minutes if you have a high-speed blender; 25-30 if you need to soak the cashews

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Gracious Vegan Parmesan Cheese

By the Gracious Vegan

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The difference between this recipe and most vegan Parmesan cheese recipes is the addition of a little miso paste. The miso adds a salty umami undertone that works well with the nutritional yeast to mimic Parmesan. Although this “cheese” does not melt, it can play many of the roles that dairy-based Parmesan can. 

Makes a little over 1 cup

Add to a food processor and mix/pulse until a fine meal is achieved. 

  • 1 cup raw cashews (not soaked)

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • 2 teaspoons yellow or white miso paste

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Timing: 5 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Spinach-Mushroom No-Bake Enchiladas

By the Gracious Vegan

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Baking enchiladas has its drawbacks—they can dry out, merge together, and the tortillas can get too saturated. These verde enchiladas are easy and quick—they’re folded rather than rolled and then go right onto the plates. They keep their shape, look fantastic, and taste divine.

Makes 6 servings

Start the vegan crema if you choose to use it (Gracious Vegan Crema).

Sauté these ingredients in a large skillet with a Tablespoon or two of water, stirring frequently, until the liquid released by the mushrooms is almost evaporated and vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes.

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced, grated, or finely chopped

  • ½ Tablespoon chili powder

  • ½ Tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 ½ pounds button mushrooms, sliced or chopped

Add spinach and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until spinach is reduced and soft. 

  • 16-20 ounces fresh baby spinach

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Drain mixture if there is excess liquid and cook a bit longer to make sure the mixture is dry. Then add the crema and stir it in. Set aside. Unless you have several large skillets, you may need to move the filling to a bowl and clean the large skillet for the final step. 

  • ¼ cup vegan crema, ¼ cup silken tofu (whisked in a bowl until smooth), vegan sour cream, cream cheese, or cashew cream

Heat 1.5 cups of the salsa in a small-medium skillet over low heat. Dredge both sides of each tortilla in the warm salsa using tongs, and stack the tortillas on a plate.

  • Twelve 6” corn tortillas

  • Two 16-ounce jars salsa verde (mild or hot)

Place a large skillet on low heat and pour 2/3 cup of salsa into it. Spoon a twelfth of the mushroom filling onto one side of the first tortilla. Fold it in half and place it at the edge of the skillet on low heat. Repeat for the remaining tortillas, arranging them in an overlapping row, and make sure they all heat up to serving temperature. Serve and top with 

  • Additional salsa (you may not need all of the salsa from the two jars)

  • More crema (use a squeeze bottle for nice presentation), vegan sour cream, or vegan cheese

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

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 219 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat. fat, 35g carbs, 1088mg sodium, 10g fiber8g protein 

Gluten-free

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Mushroom and Pea Creamy Masala

By the Gracious Vegan

Pea and Mushroom Masala 2.jpg

This dish approaches the texture of a creamy korma. The spicing is simple, but the result is wonderful. The fenugreek spice is important to the flavor of this dish, so go online or to a local Asian market. 

Makes 5 servings

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes while you start the rest of the recipe.

  • ½ cups raw cashews

Water-sauté these ingredients in a Dutch oven until the liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, 8-10 minutes.

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or finely chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger

  • 1 pound button mushrooms, sliced (or chopped, if you prefer)

Add the spices and stir 1-2 minutes.

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seed powder

  • Cayenne pepper for spiciness (I used 1/8 teaspoon but some like it hotter)

Add the diced green chili pepper and cook 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1 green chili pepper (jalapeno with seeds removed, or a spicier variety if desired), finely chopped

Separately, drain the cashews and place them in a blender with water 1 cup water and process until absolutely smooth and creamy.

Then add tomato paste to the blender and blend it with the cashew cream.

  • ½ cup tomato paste

Add the cashew-tomato mixture to the Dutch oven along with the peas, salt, and additional water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add additional water to achieve a desired sauce consistency.

  • 1 ½ cup peas (thawed or frozen)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cup water (or more)

Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice, other cooked grains, or with flatbread. 

  • Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Timing: Hands-on time 40 minutes, total time 40 minutes    

Nutrition: Whole-food, unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (with ¾ cup cooked brown rice): 321 calories, 6g fat, 1g sat. fat, 55g carbs, 263mg sodium, 8g fiber12g protein 

Gluten-free

 

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Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms

Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms 3.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

You can use any cooked grain or pasta for this dish. Sautéed mushrooms can also be used as the basis for quesadillas or as a topping for burgers, baked potatoes, or toast. 

Makes: 5 servings

Polenta: in the morning. Put these together in a medium saucepan and let sit all day.

  • 1 cup polenta (not instant)

  • 4 ½ cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

In the evening. Put the saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil, whisking about every minute. Once it boils, turn the heat to very low and let the polenta simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so, stirring or whisking about every 5 minutes to smooth out any lumps, until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Stir in nutritional yeast and take the pan off the heat. The polenta is ready to serve.

  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

The mushrooms. While the polenta is cooking, sauté the following ingredients in broth, 5 minutes or more, until the shallots are transparent and soft.

  • Up to ½ cup vegetable broth, starting with 2 Tablespoons (see additional broth needed below)

  • 1 large or two small 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, grated, or finely chopped

Add the next group of ingredients and cook over medium-high heat 5-8 minutes. Mushrooms should have released their liquid and started the softening process.

  • 1 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, quartered or sliced

  • 1 pound wild or other mushrooms, cut or torn into pieces or slices

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

  • Add the flour, stir, and continue to cook, about 1 minute.

  • 2 teaspoons flour of your choice

Add the next ingredients and turn the heat up. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender, and the surrounding broth is thick.

  • ½ cup dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or dry vermouth (optional, or more broth)

  • ½ cup vegetable broth

  • 2 teaspoons porcini mushroom powder (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor)

Remove from the heat, stir in some freshly ground pepper and the parsley, taste and adjust salt.

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Timing: Hands-on time 30 minutes, total time all-day soaking + 30 minutes  

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 166 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 30g carbs, 22mg sodium, 5g fiber7g protein

Gluten-free

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Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce

Pesto Stuffed Shells with Pan Sauce.JPG

I wanted to show people that vegan food could go upscale. This elegant presentation is matched by the scrumptious flavors. The pesto-based vegetable mixture inside the pasta shells offers a pleasant surprise if you don't know what's coming (and even if you do). The pan sauce adds a savory goodness with a hint of wine. This recipe can be easily multiplied to serve more people--I set up this recipe for a romantic dinner for two. Note in the picture that I served this with Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Butter. A lovely combination.  

2 servings

Preheat oven to 375°F and start the pasta water boiling.

When the oven is hot, toast the pine nuts for about 6 minutes (until just golden) and the breadcrumbs about 8 minutes, until golden. Leave the oven on after you take them out. 

  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts

  • Half slice of bread processed into crumbs in food processor, then sprayed with spray-oil

Meanwhile, boil the pasta shells for about 10 minutes – until al dente, but not too firm. Drain. 

  • 8 jumbo pasta shells

Separately, cook the following vegetables in the microwave (or water-sauté on the stove) until the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain off any extra water.

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables, finely chopped (I use chopped raw broccoli slaw and red peppers, but use anything you think tastes good with pesto)

To start the pesto, mince the garlic in a food processor.

  • 2 cloves garlic

Add the following and process into a paste.

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

  • 2 Tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts

  • ½ Tablespoon yellow or white miso

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Add tofu and process for a few seconds to mix it in.

  • 2 Tablespoons tofu (any kind)

Transfer pesto mixture to a bowl and stir in 

  • The cooked onions and vegetables

Stuff the mixture into the 8 cooked shells. Transfer the shells to a baking dish, pour vegetable stock into the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock (see additional stock needed below)

While the shells are baking, make a pan sauce. 

Sauté shallot in vegan butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shallot is softened and starting to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. 

  • ½ Tablespoon vegan butter

  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1/8 cup)

Add vermouth or wine and boil rapidly until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.

  • ¼ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (sauvignon blanc recommended)

Add broth and boil rapidly, 4-5 minutes, until there is about ½ cup of liquid left.

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

Pre-blend the cornstarch and the water, then whisk the following ingredients into the skillet and bring to a boil while whisking. The sauce should come together in about 30 seconds. 

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch whisked together with 1 Tablespoon cold water until no lumps remain

  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk (I like soymilk)

  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried

If the sauce is too thick, add more broth, water, or nondairy milk.  

When you are ready to serve, ladle a bit of sauce onto each plate, place the shells on top, then spoon on more sauce and top with breadcrumbs.

  • Toasted breadcrumbs (you may not need all the breadcrumbs you made)

  • The remaining toasted pine nuts

Timing: Between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how much you can multitask

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (except for the vegan butter in the gravy, the 2 teaspoons oil in the pesto, and refined-flour pasta shells)

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta shells

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White Garlic Sauce for Pizza

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I based this originally on Vegan Richa’s Buffalo Chickpea Pizza with White Garlic Sauce and Celery Ranch Dressing. This is a great alternative to red sauce on pizza. You can go with vegetable toppings (peppers, spinach, broccoli, red pepper, etc.) or add some novelties (sliced olives, roasted cashews, roasted butternut squash cubes). The possibilities are endless. 

In a blender, blend these together

  • 1 cup of white sauce (e.g., my No-Oil, No-Butter White Sauce)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb blend

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: if the white sauce is done, this takes about 10 minutes

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