Side Dish

Lemony Kale Rice

By the Gracious Vegan

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This recipe started from one of the many recipes for “green rice,” which usually use parsley for the green. They also often call for a lot of butter. I wanted to engineer a solution with kale as the “green” and without butter or oil. It definitely took some experimentation, but I think I’ve hit it. The key is a white sauce made with cashews and tofu. Delish!

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.) 

  • 1/4 cup cashews

Prepare 3 cups of cooked brown rice. 

  • 1 cup raw brown rice + 2 cups water, cooked according to package instructions (other options include shelf-stable rice or frozen rice, such as Trader Joe’s)

Blend the following ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

  • The soaked cashews

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 cup tofu (any kind)

  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1.5 Tablespoons flour (any kind)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pour the blended mixture into a microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup and microwave it on high for 1.5 minutes. Then whisk it and microwave it for another 1 minute and whisk. It should be a smooth, thick sauce. If it’s not thick, microwave it for another minute or so. 

Microwave onions in a microwave-safe bowl until soft, about 3 minutes. 

  • 1 small-medium onion, diced

Finely chop the kale and parsley in the food processor (it may take two batches). 

  • 4-5 ounces kale (4-5 large leaves)

  • 1/2 cup parsley (loosely packed)

Mix everything together (rice, white sauce, onion, kale, parsley, and lemon zest) in a big bowl.

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Spoon the mixture into a sprayed medium casserole dish (about 7” x 10”). On the top, sprinkle crumbs and spray with spray-oil. 

  • ¼ cup dried bread crumbs

  • Oil spray (optional)

Bake for 375°for 25-30 minutes till bubbly and golden on top.

Timing: About an hour, including baking

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free flour used

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Red Cabbage with Almond Goat Cheese and Pecans

By the Gracious Vegan

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I owe the genesis of this dish to Deborah Madison’s Warm Red Cabbage Salad. It took a lot of undoing and redoing, however, to create something as magical without oil and without dairy cheese. This is a dish with amazing flavors and totally worth the work every now and then. The dish itself doesn’t take too much work, but it’s not every day that I make the almond-based goat cheese that is a must for this to work.

Add the following ingredients to a Dutch oven or wide skillet. Add 1/4 cup water and cook the vegetables until they are wilted to your preference. This takes about 10 minutes. I covered the pot for the first 5 minutes, then uncovered it for the remaining time so that the water evaporated. 

  • 20 ounces red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced or shredded  (about 5 cups)

  • 1 red apple (do not peel), cored, cut into 8 slices and then thinly sliced

  • 1/2 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Add the following and stir just enough to combine. Remove from heat quickly and serve.

  • About 2.5 ounces of Almond Goat Cheese (about a quarter of a 6” round), crumbled

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup pitted and halved Greek or Kalamata olives

  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar (or other kind if you don’t have sherry vinegar, but it is pleasingly mellow in this dish)

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh)

  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh)

  • 1/2  teaspoon salt

  • Fresh ground pepper

Timing: About 30 minutes (assuming the goat cheese is made)

Nutrition: Whole-food, unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Raw Cranberry-Orange Relish

By the Gracious Vegan

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This delicious relish is a nice alternative to home-cooked cranberry sauce, and certainly superior to store-bought canned cranberry sauce. The citrus gives it a wonderful sharpness, and the walnuts brings further complexity. This goes well with mellow Thanksgiving mains and sides, offering a tang that sets everything off for the better. The color is gorgeous, too, and breaks up the monotony of browns and whites on the Thanksgiving table.

Makes about 3.5 cups

Combine the following ingredients in the food processor, then refrigerate for at least a few hours. 

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries

  • 1 fresh clementine, tangerine, or mandarin orange, cut into a few pieces, with peel

  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1 cup dates (pitted and halved)

  • 1/3 cup walnuts

Keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. 

Timing: 10 minutes or less

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed if you use dates instead of sugar, WFPBNO


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Vegan Dressing with Gravy

By the Gracious Vegan

Tweaked and perfected over the years, this recipe is great as is, but you can customize the vegetables and the seasonings.

Makes: 10 servings

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Heat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease a 9”x13” baking dish with oil or cooking spray. Make a vegan "egg" by putting the following ingredients into a two-cup measure. Blend with a stick (immersion) blender until the mixture is thick, about a minute. Set aside.

  • 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

Tear or cut bread into 3/4-inch pieces until you have 8-10 cups. Put in a large bowl.

  • 14-16 ounces whole grain country, Italian, French, or other loaf (not sandwich bread). It should be dry, going stale. If it isn’t, bake the cubes for a few minutes in a 200º oven until they are dry. 

Microwave the following vegetables in a microwave-safe container until tender, 4-7 minutes, depending on your microwave. Add to the bowl with the bread.

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 cup chopped carrots

  • 1 cup chopped green peppers

Add the following ingredients to the bowl and toss everything well.

  • 1 cup toasted nuts (all one type or mixed: walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, etc.)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

  • 1.5 Tablespoons dried sage

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour the broth over the stuffing and stir gently. The bread should be moist but not soggy. Add up to another 1/2 cup of broth if necessary.

  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth, more as needed

Stir in the “egg.” Spread the stuffing into the greased casserole, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and crisp, another 20-30 minutes. Serve with Gracious Vegan Easy Gravy.


Timing: Hands-on time 45 minutes; total time 1 hour, 40 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed (WFPBNO)

Nutritional information per serving (without gravy): 193 calories, 8g fat, 1g sat. fat, 25g carbs, 441 mg sodium, 4mg fiber, 7g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free bread is used

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No-Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Bowls 

By The Gracious Vegan

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Sweet potato cubes can be roasted on parchment paper without oil and will bake up nicely. The approach here is different. The tahini mixture coats the sweet potatoes and browns as the sweet potatoes roast. You get closer to a roasted look and feel but without the oil. 

Makes: 4 servings

Roast the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Whisk the following ingredients together in a large bowl. 

  • 5 teaspoons water

  • 4 teaspoons tahini

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Pinch of smoked paprika

Add in the cubed sweet potatoes and fold with a spatula until all the cubes are coated. 

16 ounces sweet potatoes, 1-inch cubes

Pour the sweet potato cubes onto the parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip and roast for 10-15 minutes more, until desired tenderness is reached. If needed, switch to broiler mode and broil the potatoes 1-2 minutes to get the tops brown.

Ideas for bowls


Garbanzo beans; Cucumber, tomatoes, onions; Tahini Sauce; green onions, Greek or green olives


Black beluga lentils; Tomatoes, onions, zucchini; Vegan Tzatziki; green onions, Greek olives


Black beans; Corn, peppers, tomatoes; Vegan Crema and/or salsa; California olives, pepitas, cilantro


Baked/broiled tofu, tempeh; bell peppers, zucchini; peanut sauce; cilantro, lime zest


Baked/broiled tofu, tempeh; green beans, cauliflower, bell peppers; curry sauce; cilantro, garam masala

Timing: Hands-on time 20 minutes; Total time 45 minutes                                                

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (roasted sweet potatoes only): 126 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 23g carbs, 355mg sodium, 4mg fiber, 3g protein

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Baked Sweet Potatoes with Easy, Tasty Toppings 

By The Gracious Vegan

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Easy baked sweet potatoes can make for a quick lunch or dinner. Combine them with leftover soup or salad, and you’ve got a meal. 

Makes: Adjustable

Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven, microwave, or Instant Pot. Wash, dry, and pierce each sweet potato in several places with a fork or pointed knife. 

  • Sweet potatoes (as many as you want)

For oven-baking, place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Baking times can vary depending on potato size.

For microwave-baking, wrap each sweet potato in a paper towel (it doesn’t need to be moist). Microwave for 3 minutes, check it, then cook for a minute at a time until just tender (they will continue softening). Baking times will vary depending on your oven, how many potatoes you bake together, and the size of the potatoes.  

For Instant Pot, put 1 cup cold water in the pot, insert the steamer rack that came with your Instant Pot. Slice each sweet potato in half the long way. Pile the sweet potato halves on the rack, putting the fattest halves on the bottom and facing all the cut sides up. Set on “Steam” for 4 minutes. Use natural release method (10 minutes). 

Suggestions for toppings

  • Black beans and salsa (Guacamole optional)

  • Chili beans and Vegan Crema (ditto on Guacamole)

  • Cowboy caviar (a mixture of black-eyed peas, corn, avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, a little vinegar and salt)

  • Chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and cucumber with Tahini Sauce

  • Leftover chili

  • Cooked vegetables with leftover sauce (peanut sauce, creamy tomato sauce, white garlic sauce, creamy pesto sauce, gravy)

  • Vegan Crema, pomegranate molasses, and an interesting dried spice like urfa biber, za’atar, or Aleppo pepper

Timing: Hands-on time 10 minutes; Total time 10-60 minutes                                             

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (one 8-ounce sweet potato without toppings: 192 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat. fat, 46g carbs, 128mg sodium, 7mg fiber, 3g protein 


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Old-Fashioned (but Vegan) Scalloped Corn

By the Gracious Vegan 

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Some dishes are just homey and good. Scalloped corn, like its close relation scalloped potatoes, is one of them. Blended cashews made into a white sauce provide an excellent (superior, in my opinion) substitute for a traditional dairy-based white sauce. This is a great side dish, or a “co-entrée” with stewed tomatoes, a substantial salad, a soup, and/or anything else you think would go well with it. 

Makes 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

White sauce. 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.) 

  • 3/8 cup raw cashews

Put cashews in a blender, add these ingredients, then blend until cashews are completely smooth (1-4 minutes). 

  • 1.5 cups water

  • 1/4 cup tofu (any kind)

  • 1/4 cup flour (any kind)

  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil slowly, stirring frequently. Once it boils, allow it to thicken for a minute or two, then remove from heat. Stir in the bread crumbs and set aside.

  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (whole wheat works well)

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

  • About 3/4 cup chopped onion

  • About 3/4 cup chopped green pepper

Add corn, stir, and cook until the corn is just tender (will vary depending on your corn and microwave).

  • 4 cups corn, fresh (from 5 ears), frozen (thawed), or canned

Stir in the white sauce. Spoon the mixture into an ungreased medium casserole dish. Sprinkle with

  • 1/8 cup bread crumbs

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden. 

Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes; Total time 60 minutes         

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 217 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat. fat, 34g carbs, 273mg sodium, 5mg fiber7g protein 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread crumbs

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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; WFPBNO


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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


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No Cream Creamed Spinach

By Food Network

Link to No Cream Creamed Spinach recipe.

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

No-oil version by the Gracious Vegan

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

Timing: About 20 minutes

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


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Gracious Vegan Easy Gravy

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Without oil or butter, this gravy is healthy, whole-food, robust, and creamy. It goes with so many dishes. (It also freezes well.) You can play with the spices and herbs as you like--the nutritional yeast flavor may or may not work in combination with what you add. Experimentation is a good thing!

Makes about 2.5 cups

In a medium-large saucepan or small Dutch oven, water-sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms until the vegetables soften and the onion is transparent, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 4 medium white button mushrooms, chopped

Separately in a small container, whisk together the flour and water until smooth. 

  • 1/4 cup cold water

  • 5 Tablespoons flour of your choice

Add the water/flour mixture and the broth into the vegetables and stir together. 

  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes)

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the gravy starts to thicken (will take just a few minutes). Once the gravy has thickened, remove it from the heat and add the following ingredients. Use a stick (immersion) blender to create a smooth gravy.

  • 2 Tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or amino liquids

  • 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini (do not omit)

  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Given the soy sauce, you will likely not need to add salt, but adjust to your taste. If you want thicker gravy, use 1-2 more Tablespoons of flour. (If you need to add it at the end, whisk together the flour with an equal amount of water in a small bowl until smooth, then add it to the gravy and heat briefly to the boiling point). 

Timing: Hands-on time 20 minutes; total time 20 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food, unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (based on 1/4-cup servings): 35 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat. fat, 4g carbs, 146mg sodium, 1mg fiber, 2g protein

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour

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Vegan Mashed Potatoes

By the Gracious Vegan

My mother made mashed potatoes so effortlessly. They were always the last thing she tackled before we sat down to eat our special holiday dinners. As my sister and I finished filling the water glasses, I'd hear the mixer on high speed, with Mom wielding her plastic spatula down the sides of the bowl. I guess that's how she got them so smooth and light. She used dairy milk and butter and she never wrote down what she did, so I've had to experiment to get back to her results with vegan ingredients. I started with the recipe that came with my Kitchen Aid mixer and took it from there. When I whip these up, I think of my mother. This recipe serves 6-8, depending on appetite levels.

Boil for 15 minutes, then drain, saving some of the cooking water. 

  • 5 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

Place hot potatoes in Kitchen Aid bowl.  Use flat beater on Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute, or until smooth.


  • ½ cup vegan milk, heated

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini or 2 Tablespoons vegan butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Turn to Speed 4 and beat about 30 seconds, or until milk is absorbed. Gradually turn to Speed 6 and beat about 1 minute, or until fluffy. Stop and scrape bowl. Exchange flat beater for wire whip. Add in some of the cooking water if the potatoes are too dry. Turn to Speed 10 and whip 2-3 minutes. 

Timing: about 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed (if you use tahini); WFPBNO


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Marisa's Baked Beans

By the Gracious Vegan

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This recipe was dictated to me by my friend Marisa. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it tastes as miraculous now as it did then. It is semi-homemade—the canned vegetarian beans are augmented with great-tasting add-ins, then the whole thing is baked for a long time so the flavors blend.

Stir these together in a 2-quart casserole

  • 3 cans (15-16 oz. each) vegetarian baked beans

  • 3/8 cup ketchup

  • One spoonful mustard

  • Scant ¼ cup brown sugar

  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped

  • 1 small or 1/2 large green pepper, chopped

Bake, covered, for 2.5 hours total: 30 minutes at 500⁰, one hour at 350⁰, and one hour at 200⁰.

Timing: About 3 hours, start to finish

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food



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