Under 30 minutes

Pasta with Arugula in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

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By the Gracious Vegan

This recipe started with a Barefoot Contessa dish. She used oil, heavy cream, and dairy parmesan. I got rid of all those and re-built the method as well. The peppery arugula holds it own again the velvety lemon-infused sauce. The combination is strong and very pleasing. 

Makes 5 servings

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

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

Drain them, put them in the blender with water, and liquefy for 30 seconds to several minutes until absolutely smooth. Set aside.

  • 3/4 cup water

Pasta. Start the pasta water. When it is boiling (as you work on the sauce and vegetables) add the pasta and cook according to package directions. 

  • 8 ounces pasta such as rotini (spirals), penne, or other (whole wheat or other whole grain or legume-based)

Sauce and vegetables.Cook the garlic and broccoli in a Dutch oven or other large pot for 3-4 minutes (covered, with several Tablespoons of water added), until tender. 

  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated

  • 3-4 cups broccoli florets

Add the following ingredients to the garlic and broccoli. Stir. Add more water as needed to create a creamy sauce. Cook until heated through and the arugula has wilted. 

  • The cashew cream

  • 5 ounces of fresh baby arugula

  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes

  • Zest and juice of one lemon

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss them together. Serve with 

Timing: About 25 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta used

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Creamy Collard Greens Puree 

Creamy Collard Greens Puree in a baked sweet potato

Creamy Collard Greens Puree in a baked sweet potato

By the Gracious Vegan

This puree is great as a side dish, but has so many other possible uses: on baked potatoes, crackers, bread, pasta, or pizza, or as part of a bowl or quesadilla, or snuggled next to stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice pilaf. Yum! 

Makes 2.5 cups of puree (8-10 servings as a side)

Trim the stems from the collard greens. If the leaves are large, cut them in half or quarters.  (You can either compost the stems or finely slice them and add them to the Instant Pot.)

  • About 1.5 pounds of collard greens (two medium-large bunches)

Put the steam rack in the Instant Pot, add a cup of water, then stack the leaves in a pile. Close the top and use the steam setting for 5 minutes. Quick-release after 10 minutes or so. 

Transfer the steamed collard greens to the food processor. Add the following ingredients.

  • 2 teaspoons tahini

  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (to your taste)

Process until a puree texture is reached. You may need to add a little water, and you may need to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice. 

Timing: Around 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Fabulous Tomato Bruschetta Without Oil

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These bruschetta originated in New Jersey, where the local summer tomatoes are the tastiest imaginable. Most bruschetta recipes called for chopped tomatoes, but this one uses slices of tomatoes. If you have homegrown or local tomatoes, using tomato slabs will make a divine difference. In Oregon we don’t have the bonanza of tomatoes like Jersey, but I can find excellent large cherry tomatoes throughout the summer and occasionally some large tomatoes. The original approach for these called for pan-frying the bread in oil. I’ve found you can get the same effect with a mixture of tahini and water. Tahini also plays a crucial role in the drizzle. No oil here, but no sacrifice either.

Makes 10 bruschetta—can be adjusted up or down

First, on a cookie sheet, make the “loaded” tomato slices. 

Lay out the tomato slices on the cookie sheet.

  • 10 large tomato slices, about 1/2” thick

Season each tomato slice with 

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Spread garlic and shallots on each tomato slice.

  • Very finely chopped garlic and shallots mixed together (1 large clove garlic and about the equivalent amount of shallot)

Then, on top of the garlic and shallots, spoon on

  • Very finely chopped basil and parsley (about 3/8 cup of leaves each, then chop them)

Finally, drizzle this quick dressing on top right before serving. (Whisk them or shake them together in a small bowl or jar.)

  • 3 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (use the expensive stuff if you have it)

Toast the bread and finish the bruschetta. 

Instead of using oil, mix or whisk tahini and water together in a small bowl to create a thin sauce.

  • 1.5 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini

Preheat a large non-stick skillet and/or a griddle. Brush bread on both side with the tahini-water mixture. 

  • 10 slices of great bread. Breads called “battards” work well. French bread too. (Italian and ciabatta loaves tend to have too many air holes.) 

Pan-fry the slices on the first side. When they are just brown, flip them over. While the bottom browns, put a loaded tomato slice onto each one and let that warm a little bit. 

Timing: Under 30 minutes. Once you start toasting the bread in the pan, these will take about 10 minutes. 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread

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Spinach-Mushroom Quesadillas

By the Gracious Vegan

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I started this recipe by experimenting with sliced mushrooms and fresh baby spinach. Eventually I came to prefer finely chopped mushrooms (with the food processor) and frozen chopped spinach. This smoother base stays in the tortilla better when you eat, and the flavors blend nicely. Optional layers and toppings make these extra-special quesadilla, and very healthy too.

Makes 5 servings

Start the vegan crema if you choose to use it (highly recommended). 

Sauté these ingredients in a large skillet or a Dutch oven 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

  • 8 ounces mushrooms (your favorite variety), chopped in a food processor or finely chopped with a knife

Add spinach and cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until spinach is thawed and well combined with the garlic and mushrooms. 

  • 10-12 ounces frozen chopped spinach (thawed, or you can thaw it in the pan)

Drain mixture if there is excess liquid or cook a bit longer to make sure the mixture is dry. Then stir in the following ingredients and stir until everything is well incorporated.

  • 3-4 Tablespoons vegan crema, silken tofu (whisked in a bowl until smooth), vegan sour cream, vegan cream cheese, or thick cashew cream

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder 

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  

Spread a fifth of the mixture onto half of each tortilla and top with shredded vegan cheese as an option.

  • Five 8” whole wheat flour tortillas

  • 1 cup vegan cheese (optional) (not oil-free – see crema option below for oil-free)

Then fold the tortilla in half. Cook the quesadillas on a griddle or in a dry skillet until light brown on the first side, then flip them and cook them on the second side until light brown. 

For an oil-free option, gently open the cooked quesadilla and add one or more additional layers: 

  • Vegan crema

  • Chopped red onion, red pepper, chopped cilantro, and/or green onions

  • A scattering of beans, such as black or pinto beans

Timing: About 30 minutes (if the vegan cream is already made)

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free tortillas used

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Kale and Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

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I’ve discovered that I really like kale, raw or cooked, in very small pieces, the kind of pieces a food processor produces. I rinse the kale, shake out the water, cut it into large pieces, and process it until the pieces are small, like the size of your pinky nail. It mixes well with other ingredients this way, and I find it easier to chew. The peanut dressing on this salad is addictive. I could eat it on lots of things, not just this salad. Maybe on baked potatoes, in a bowl, or on broiled or baked tofu or tempeh. There’s so much to like about this recipe.

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

  • 2.5-3 ounces dry soba noodles (or you can buy a 7-8-ounch package of pre-cooked soba noodles and follow the package directions for heating them with boiling water)

Gently stir the cold noodles together with the following vegetables in a large bowl. 

  • 3-4 green onions, green and white parts, sliced into thin rounds

  • 1 small or half a large red pepper, thinly sliced or diced

  • 4 ounces kale (any kind), thinly sliced or processed in a food processor into small pieces

  • 2 small or 1 large carrot, grated

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Peanut-sesame dressing. Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth. The mixture should be thick but drizzly; if it's too thick, blend in additional water in 1-Tablespoon increments. 

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

  • 1.5 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

  • 1.5 Tablespoons tahini (or, better, roasted sesame paste)

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

  • 3 medium dates (softened in water if they are dry) or 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

  • Optional: sriracha sauce to taste if you want it spicy

Combine and garnish. Toss the dressing with the noodles and vegetables. It is ready to serve or can be refrigerated for up to a few hours (or more, but the dressing begins to soak into the noodles). Optional to garnish salad with:

  • Coarsely chopped peanuts

Timing: around 30 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Gluten-free if you buy 100% buckwheat soba noodles

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Spicy Sweet Potato Chipotle Quesadillas with Guacamole

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So few ingredients, such a great taste! The combination here makes for a perfect quesadilla filling in both taste—spicy but also sweet and savory—and texture—not mushy, but it sticks together and doesn’t spill out of the tortilla. Top it with homemade guacamole, and you’ve got a party in your mouth!

Makes 5 servings

Water-sauté the following ingredients in a large (12”) skillet or a Dutch oven until the vegetables are just tender. 

  • 12-13 ounces sweet potato, peeled and grated (about 3 cups grated)

  • Half of a medium onion, diced

  • Half of a bell pepper (any color), diced

Stir in the following ingredients. 

  • 3-4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) chipotle chili powder (or used finely diced chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Spread a fifth of the mixture onto half of each tortilla, then fold the tortillas in half. Cook the quesadillas on a griddle or in a dry skillet until light brown on the first side, then flip them and cook them on the second side until light brown. (Spray with oil if you want more brown color.) 

  • Five 8” whole wheat flour tortillas

Serve with Gracious Vegan Guacamole.

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free, if gluten-free tortillas are used

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Peas and Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

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This creamy tomato sauce gives the traditional Italian vodka sauce a run for its money. Peas are the perfect complement to the nutty, cheesy sauce, and all kinds of pasta would work well in this dish. The sauce freezes well. 

Makes up to 21 servings

The Sauce (makes 7 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

When ready, drain the nuts and put them in the blender with broth or water and blend on high for as long as it takes to create a very smooth “cashew cream.” 

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

In a Dutch oven or other large pan, sauté garlic and onions over medium heat in 2 Tablespoons vegetable broth or water until the garlic and onions are soft (or microwave with 1-2 Tablespoons water).

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 

  • 1 red or white onion, roughly chopped 

Add the following ingredients to the pan and cook about 5 minutes.

  • 4 cups plain tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

Add in the cashew cream and the basil and stir. 

  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves (measured lightly packed, about 1 ounce), roughly chopped (or 1 Tablespoon dried basil, but fresh basil really makes a difference)

Use an immersion blender (or let the mixture cool a little and use a regular blender) to create a smooth sauce. You can add up to 1 cup water if the sauce is too thick. Make it as smooth or chunky as you like. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt)

The peas and pasta. For each serving, use

  • 2 ounces chunky pasta (whole wheat or other whole-food version preferred)

  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (I like petite peas)

Boil the pasta and add the peas into the pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Once they are cooked to your liking, drain them and combine with about 1/3 cup sauce per serving.

Timing: hands-on time 25 minutes; total time 25 minutes  

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 298 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 55g carbs, 329mg sodium, 10mg fiber, 13g protein 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta

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Garlicky Grape or Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair Pasta

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This easy recipe turns any grape or cherry tomatoes into an intriguing pasta dish that will keep you coming back for more. The combination of garlic, tomato juices, fresh basil, and vegan parmesan cheese creates a magical sauce that’s just hard to stop eating.

Makes 4 servings

Start a large pot of water to boil. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (4-6” from element). Use a 15” x 10” Pyrex pan or large rimmed baking sheet (optional to line with foil; do not line with parchment paper, which will burn) and lightly spray with oil (optional). Put broiler on high. 

Spread the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Broil, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are cracked, very soft, and shrunken, about 15-20 minutes. They’ll be blackened in places. 

  • 2 pints (20 oz.) grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Microwave the garlic cloves for 45-60 seconds to soften them. Then chop them. 

  • 4 large or 5 small cloves garlic, peeled

Cook the pasta and drain. Return to the pot.

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat angel hair pasta

Add the following ingredients to the pasta, toss, and serve.

  • The tomatoes

  • The garlic

  • Large pinch dried red pepper flakes

  • 12 large basil leaves, fresh, chiffonade-cut (i.e., sliced thin)

  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Fresh ground pepper

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 30 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used

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Sugar Snap Pea Stir-Fry

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I mostly enjoy sugar snap peas raw with other vegetable sticks. This changes the game! Sugar snap peas are wonderful in stir-fry. They star in this one, along with other vegetables of your choosing. The sauce brings ginger, garlic, miso, sesame, and chili flavors to the party, meaning this is the opposite of bland. This recipe uses no oil or sugar, but you wouldn’t know it.

Serves 4 

Combine all the stir-fry sauce ingredients in a jar or bowl—or use a stick blender to get everything really well blended.

  • 2 Tablespoons mellow white miso

  • 2 Tablespoons regular or tamari soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger

  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar or 2 Tablespoons date paste

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame paste (or Chinese sesame paste) (if you don’t have this, use sesame oil)

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Use a wok, very large non-stick skillet, or a Dutch oven. Water-sauté the following ingredients, using a Tablespoon of water, until desired tender-firmness is reached and the water is evaporated.

  • 8 ounces whole sugar snap peas (about 3 cups)

  • 3 cups of other vegetables, sliced or diced, which might include asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, yellow or green zucchini, grated or thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, or cabbage (add red cabbage as late as possible, because the purple tends to stain other vegetables) 

After the vegetables are tender-firm to your liking, stir the sauce in and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve on rice. Garnish, if desired with

  • 3-4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (with 1/2 cup brown rice per serving): 207 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 37g carbs, 912mg sodium, 6mg fiber, 7g protein 

Timing: About 30 minutes

Gluten-free

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Sweet and Tangy Edamame

By the Gracious Vegan

These are a fancy version of the edamame pods we often get in Asian restaurants as an appetizer. Here I add a no-oil glaze that takes the whole experience up a notch.

Makes 4 cups of edamame pods

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Cook the edamame by adding the frozen pods to a large pot of boiling water. When they float to the surface, they’re done (either drain them or scoop them out). (Do not pressure cook.)

  • 4 cups frozen edamame in shell

In a large saucepan (so you can stir in the edamame later), water-sauté the following ingredients in a Tablespoon or two of water until they start to get tender. 

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Add in the following ingredients and cook at a low boil for 3-5 minutes, to reach the desired glaze consistency. 

  • 3 Tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons date paste or 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame paste (or sesame oil)

  • 1/8 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes

Add in the cooked edamame and toss to cover all the pods. Pour any leftover glaze into a small dipping bowl to serve it with. Garnish if desired with:

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 20 minutes

Gluten-free

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Edamame Salad Sandwiches

Edamame are fresh young soybeans, before the insides dry into yellowish-white beans. Those of us who know edamame likely tasted it first at an Asian restaurant, where edamame pods are served as an appetizer. In this recipe, shelled edamame are used as the foundation for a tasty sandwich spread. The beans don’t have a ton of flavor on their own, making it crucial to bring in some spices, mustard, and other flavors. This makes enough for multiple sandwiches – it may last all week!

Makes 2.25 cups

Cook the edamame in the microwave (4-6 minutes with 2 Tablespoons water) or on the stove (boil for about 5 minutes), until they are tender and still a bit firm. (I don’t use the Instant Pot for edamame, because they go mushy even with 0 minutes of high pressure.)

  • 1.5 cups frozen shelled edamame

Once they are cooked and drained, pulse them in the food processor briefly (5-6 pulses for me). Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. 

Pulse the next ingredients individually in the food processor until they are chopped. Transfer them to the mixing bowl.

  • 1 stalk celery

  • 1 medium (or 6 baby) carrots

  • 2 large or 3 small green onions

  • (optional) 1/2 cup olives, chopped (I like Greek black olives best, but green, green-with-pimientos, or California olives also work)

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine everything. Adjust the seasonings and hummus/tahini/mayo to your liking.

  • 1/4 cup hummus

  • or vegan mayo or a combination of tahini, water, and lemon juice (2 Tablespoons each of tahini and water, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, stirred together before adding)

  • 1.5 Tablespoons stoneground mustard (or other type if you prefer) 

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted, chopped nuts or seeds 

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • Ground pepper to taste

For sandwiches, use bread of your choice (toasted or not) and one or more of the following toppings.

  • Lettuce leaves

  • Sliced tomato

  • Sliced red onion

  • Dill or sweet pickles

  • Avocado slices

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: Very fast — about 20 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free bread is used

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Grilled Olive Tapenade and Almond Goat Cheese Sandwiches

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These sandwiches evoke a special memory. On one visit to New Jersey by my sister and her daughters, I made and packed grilled tapenade and goat cheese sandwiches for our trip into New York City. We ate them on the train, and everyone loved them—they still talk about those sandwiches years later! Once I became a vegan, I feared that I’d never make them again. But now I can make them, even without butter or oil, and they taste fantastic! They take me back to that train ride and the wonderful day trip we had.

Adjust portions for as many sandwiches as you need. Spread one side of each slice of bread with mayonnaise or a very thin layer of tahini. Join together the two sides with mayo or tahini and lay the pairs on a plate or counter so you can spread the fillings on the top slice.

  • Whole grain bread

  • Vegan mayonnaise (I use this oil-free recipe, or store-bought is fine, but is not oil-free) or tahini

Spread a thin layer of olive tapenade on the bread. Then make thin slices of the goat cheese and spread them as much as possible on top of the tapenade.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium-low. Uncouple the two pieces of bread. Put the one with the fillings on it mayo-side down on the griddle. Top that slice with the other piece of bread, mayo-side up. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until the bottom is golden (it can burn quickly). Then carefully flip the sandwich over. Cook for another few minutes until the second side is golden. Serve and enjoy!

Timing: 10 minutes if all the ingredients are made

Nutrition: Whole-food un-processed (if the mayonnaise is oil-free); WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free bread is 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

Gluten-free

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15-Minute Plant-Based Bowls

By the Gracious Vegan

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Bowls aren’t always the fastest meal to make. You have to be very strategic to cook everything for a bowl in 15 minutes. Here are my suggestions. With a buddy in the kitchen, 15 minutes is definitely doable. Even with one cook it’s possible, but not as fun.  

Quick cooking grain 

  • Whole wheat, regular, or tri-color couscous (pour boiling water, amount equal to couscous, over it, cover, wait 5 minutes, stir, wait another 5 minutes)

  • Bulgur (boil 10-12 minutes with twice as much water as bulgur) 

  • Buckwheat groats (boil 10-12 minutes with twice as much water as groats)

  • Quinoa (boil 10-12 minutes uncovered with twice as much water as quinoa, then cover and let sit 5 minutes)

  • Cauliflower or broccoli rice (microwaving is the fastest way to cook these)

  • Prepare frozen or shelf-stable brown rice

 Protein

  • Beans (broil them with the vegetables) *

  • Broiled tofu, tempeh, or seitan *

Vegetables

  • Broiled zucchini *

  • Raw diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions

  • Boiled/microwaved corn, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and/or other

Sauce

Toppings

  • Green onions

  • Shredded red cabbage

  • Olives

  • Pepitas or other seeds

  • Cilantro

  • Lime zest

  • Garam masala

* Easy basting sauce for broiling vegetables and proteins: 

  • 3 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon miso (your choice of color/strength)

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini

  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon pepper or other spice mix

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Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream

By the Gracious Vegan

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After I included vegan white chocolate chunks in a contest-winning cookie recipe last Christmas, I decided I wanted that flavor in a cake frosting. Many experiments later, I have arrived at this solution. This frosting also serves well as a filling, as I show in this photo with the Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake.

Soak cashews 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).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

When they are done soaking, rinse and drain them. Then put them in the bottom of a blender and add just enough water to barely cover them. Blend on high under you have very smooth cashew cream. Set aside. 

Separately cream butter with a mixer on medium speed.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter at room temperature

Very carefully melt the white chocolate. Use a double-broiler or a microwave (for the microwave, start with 45 seconds, stir, then 30 seconds, stir, then 10-second increments). Stop heating the chocolate when there are still a few small lumps of unmelted chocolate in the bowl and stir them smooth. Do not let it cool much before adding to the butter, or else there will be chunky pieces of chocolate in the frosting. Add to the creamed vegan butter and whip on medium until creamy.

  • 3.5 ounces vegan white chocolate chips or roughly chopped bar chocolate

Add powdered sugar, and cream on medium until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1.25 cups powdered sugar

Stir in the following ingredients and beat on high for about 1 to 3 minutes until the buttercream frosting is smooth and fluffy. 

  • Cashew cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Not healthy, but vegan/plant-based

Gluten-free

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Hummus Variations: Beet and Spinach

By the Gracious Vegan

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I used to buy red pepper hummus from the store, so once I started making my own hummus at home, I wondered about adding other things to it. These two variations are the most colorful I found: beet and spinach. In addition to being tasty, the vegetables significantly lower the calorie count of the hummus.

Beet Hummus

Process 1 cup of Better-Than-Store-Bought Hummus with one can of sliced beets (well drained) and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Yield will be about 1.75 cups.

Spinach Hummus

Process 1 cup of Better-Than-Store-Bought Hummus with one 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and very well squeezed dry) and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Yield will be about 1.75 cups. 

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: about 20 minutes

Gluten-free

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Better-Than-Store-Bought Hummus

By the Gracious Vegan

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This recipe comes at the end of many years of experimentation with hummus recipes. I was searching for the type of hummus you get at Middle Eastern restaurants, but with a method that wouldn’t take 24 hours of soaking the chickpeas. This recipe works really well. The final ah-ha moment came when I figure out to process the chickpeas with the water and lemon juice before adding the tahini. That helps get the mixture as smooth as possible.

Makes about 4 cups of hummus

Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. 

  • Two (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Add the following ingredients and process for several minutes until the paste is very smooth. (It may be a little thin at this point – don’t worry.)

  • 3/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 3/8 cup water 

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

Add tahini and salt and continue processing until smooth again. 

  • 1 cup tahini

  • 1.5 teaspoons salt

Add more water as needed (a Tablespoon at a time) to get the right creamy consistency.

  • Up to 1/4 cup additional water

If not using hummus immediately, refrigerate up to four days. You may need to stir in more water after it’s chilled. 

Nutrition: whole food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: about 15 minutes

Gluten-free

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No-Sacrifice Tahini-Dill Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

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At only 29 calories per tablespoon (compared to at least 75 or 80 for most dressings), this no-oil tahini-based dressing offers full flavors that can stand up to and complement many different types of salad. 

Makes about 1.5 cups

Blend the following ingredients together in a blender or in a container with an immersion (stick) blender until smooth. 

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 3/4 cup water  

  • 3/8 cup tahini   

  • 3/8 cup silken tofu

  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

Add the dill and blend just a few second to distribute it into the entire mixture. 

  • 1/4 cup packed fresh dill or 1 Tablespoon dried dill

Transfer the dressing to a glass or plastic container and chill. The dressing may appear too thin when you first make it. It will thicken up overnight in the refrigerator. Chill. It will keep 7-10 days in the refrigerator. 

Timing: Under 15 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food minimally processed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Snow Pea, Asparagus, and Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

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I started this recipe inspired by a dish in Jeanne Lemlin’s “Main-Course Vegetarian Pleasures.” I made a lot of changes to get the sugar and oil out, plus I thought snow peas would be a good addition. There are so many great flavors and textures in this salad—your mouth will have a great time! The Asian-inspired dressing is mellow and satisfies that sweet-sour craving many of us have.

Makes about 8 cups (6 servings)

See last ingredient in the recipe, roasted almonds. Begin roasting them if they are not already roasted. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Make sure the asparagus and snow peas are prepped. Add the pasta to the water and cook for all but the last 4 minutes of the cooking time (e.g., if directions say 9 minutes to al dente, boil them for 5 minutes before adding the asparagus). 

  • 8 ounces whole grain pasta (I used whole wheat rotini—corkscrew—pasta)

Then add the asparagus to the pot, bring quickly back to a boil, and boil 2 minutes.

  • 1 pound asparagus, bottoms peeled, then cut diagonally into 1.5-inch pieces

Then add the snow peas to the pot, bring quickly back to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Then drain the whole mixture under very cold water to stop further cooking.

  • 8 ounces snow peas, sliced once on the diagonal

Dressing. Blend all dressing ingredients in a Nutribullet or with an immersion (stick) blender and blend until the dates are dissolved.

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 3 Tablespoons Chinese roasted sesame paste 

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 5 medium dates (or 3 Medjool dates), soaked if hard (or 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar)

  • Freshly ground pepper

Bringing it all together. Toss the pasta and vegetables with the following ingredients and the dressing. 

  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Best served at room temperature, but chilled tastes good too!

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used

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Spiced Pita Crisps

By the Gracious Vegan

This is a great way to use up leftover pita bread. I’ve also used leftover rolls (I slice them into 1/4” pieces.) These crisps are very popular when served with a bowl of soup. 

Makes as many as you like

Preheat heat oven to 375°. Use sheet pans or cookie sheets. You can line them with parchment paper or not. 

Cut pitas into 6 or 8 wedges and arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet(s). 

  • As many pitas as you wish (for pocket pitas, I recommend fully separating the two sides and cutting them both into wedges)

Spray the pita wedges with a light coat of oil (optional)

  • Spray-oil or olive oil in a mister

Sprinkle your choice of spices onto the pita wedges. I like these:

  • Cumin

  • Paprika

  • Salt

Bake. If you have thin pita bread, check after 10 minutes. Thicker bread may take 15 minutes or so. 

Timing: about 20 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO (without the spray oil)

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pitas

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