One-Pot Lentil Sloppy Joes

By the Gracious Vegan

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I hope I’ve nailed this one. It’s trickier than I thought it would be. The texture can go from underdone to mushy in a heartbeat. Green lentils work best because they hold their shape better than brown or red. The spicing needs to be mild but strong, without any single flavor dominating. You can add some tomato sauce if you want it saucier and more chili powder (or smoked paprika or chipotle powder) if you want it spicier. This is a family-friendly recipe and great for summer dinners. And only one pot to clean up!

Makes enough for 5-6 Sloppy Joes

Water-sauté the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or other large pan until the onion and peppers are just tender, about 5 minutes. 

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 Anaheim peppers or 1 green bell pepper, diced

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

Add the lentils and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer (covered) until lentils are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Make sure the lentils are cooked through. There should be just a little water on the bottom of the pan when you are done.

  • 1 cup green (French) lentils

  • 2.5 cups water

Add the following ingredients, stir, and simmer (uncovered) until the sauce thickens, 3-5 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard (not dried)

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons oregano

  • 1.5 teaspoons maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Serve in buns with optional toppings.

  • 6 whole-grain hamburger buns

  • Shredded red cabbage

  • Sliced green onions

  • Coleslaw

  • Dill pickles

 Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: about 50 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free buns are used

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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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Foolproof Baked Falafel

By the Gracious Vegan

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Boy, have I tried a lot of falafel recipes. I’ve pan-fried and baked — I don’t deep-fry anymore after nearly setting the kitchen on fire once. I’ve bought special tools from Israel for scooping the disks so the mixture won’t disintegrate. I’ve tried adding spinach for color, baking soda for leavening, and all sorts of inauthentic spices. My solution is not how it’s made in Middle Eastern restaurants and carts, where they soak raw chickpeas for 12-24 hours, grind them with the other ingredients, then deep-fry the balls. Mine are made from canned chickpeas and are baked with a minimum of spray oil. But they hold together without fail, are simply and well spiced, have a lot fewer calories and fat then traditional falafel, and go well with pita, vegetables, and tahini sauce. I’m sticking with these.

Makes about 2 dozen falafel rounds (enough for at least 8 sandwiches)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly spray the papers with spray-oil. 

  • Spray oil

Pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until everything is minced but not reduced to a smooth spread. Stop and scrape down the sides if necessary. 

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

  • 1 small onion, or half a medium-large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons flour (any kind)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Add another Tablespoon of water if the mixture doesn’t adhere.

Scoop the mixture into tightly packed 2-Tablespoon balls (a cookie scoop works well for this). Put the balls on the parchment paper, then flatten them into thick, tight patties. Spray the tops of the falafel with spray-oil. 

Bake for 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden. Then flip them and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the other sides are golden.

Serve on: 

  • Pita bread (I prefer whole wheat)

With a salad of: 

  • Chopped tomatoes

  • Chopped or sliced cucumbers

  • Chopped or sliced onions

Topped with:

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO

Timing: About 50 minutes

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour and gluten-free pita bread

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Creamy Pesto and Vegetable Sandwich

By the Gracious Vegan

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These sandwiches are great for picnics or just a nice meal at home. The creamy pesto spread makes people curious -- "What's in this? It's delicious." You can customize the rest based on taste and what you have in the house.

Makes 8 sandwiches

Creamy pesto spread. Put the almonds in the blender or other container. Pour in enough water so that the water line is at least 2 inches above the almonds. Let them soak an hour or more.

  • 2 cups blanched almonds (whole or slivered)

Drain and rinse the almonds in a colander and put them back into the blender. Add the following ingredients and blend until smooth. Add extra water a tablespoon at a time if the spread is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces

  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

  • Zest and juice of one medium lemon

The vegetables. Use a peeler, grater, mandolin, or knife to finely julienne, grate or thinly slice the vegetables. (Choose from the following or use your imagination.) 

  • Carrot

  • Beet

  • Cucumber

  • Tomato

  • Red cabbage

  • Red onion

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and skin, and slice into thin wedges. 

  • 1 avocado

To assemble, take a slice of bread or a roll, smear an eighth of the spread on it, and layer on the vegetables, avocado, sprouts/spinach, salt and pepper. Wrap the sandwiches in parchment or wax paper if you’re transporting them. Or eat immediately.

  • 16 slices of good quality bread, toasted, or 8 rolls (or use tortillas for wraps)

  • Fresh sprouts or baby spinach (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Variations for the vegetable filling:

  • Roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, Greek olives, artichoke hearts

  • Leftover roasted vegetables

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 75 minutes

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread

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Banh Mi Sandwich with Seitan

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I developed this recipe for a recent "Tempeh and Seitan" demo for Northwest Veg here in Portland. You could switch out the seitan with tempeh or tofu. “Banh mi” is the Vietnamese term for “bread,” specifically a baguette-type roll that is a basic staple in Vietnam. There was a French presence in Vietnam for hundreds of years, leading to this fusion bread. The Vietnamese version has a thinner crust and contains rice flour as well as wheat. 

Here are the layers, starting from the bottom:

  • 6-7” Banh mi bread roll (or a section of baguette or other roll—whole grain preferred), split lengthwise (but leave them connected)

  • A swipe of sriracha mayo on top and bottom sides of the roll (2 or 3 parts vegan mayo to 1 part sriracha) (oil-free may recipe by Kim Campbell can be found on this site.)

  • Thinly-sliced jalapeño, optional

  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves

  • Thin slices of English cucumber (made with a peeler, mandoline or knife)

  • A handful of pickled carrot and daikon radish (see recipe below)

  • A layer of Seitan for Banh Mi (see recipe below)

  • More sriracha on top, if desired

Pickled vegetables (enough for 4 sandwiches). These can be made up to several days ahead (in fact, that improves the flavor).

Pour the pickling ingredients into a glass or plastic container with a lid. Shake or stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.

  • 1.5 cups water­, warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

  • ½ Tablespoon salt

Add vegetables. Add more water if needed to cover them. Secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. It's best to give them several hours, if not a couple of days, to pickle them. 

  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

  • ½ daikon radish, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

Seitan for Banh Mi (enough for 4 sandwiches)In a shallow dish or a Ziplock gallon bag, mix the marinade ingredients together.

  • 2 Tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped (from frozen is fine)

  • 1/4 cup date paste (or 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar)

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped

  • 1.5 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese roasted sesame paste or tahini

  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Add the slices of seitan and let them marinate for at least 20 minutes (preferably several hours).

  • 8 ounces seitan, sliced into thin slices

A few minutes before assembling your sandwiches, heat a large skillet on the stove. Pour the seitan and all the marinade into the skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the marinade is mostly absorbed, anywhere from, say, 3 to 10 minutes. 

Timing: About 2 hours, including soaking. Hands-on time is much less, about 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Not gluten-free unless you substitute tofu or tempeh for the seitan and use gluten-free bread

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Gracious Vegan Muffaletta Olive Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

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I remember the first time I tasted a muffaletta sandwich. It was at the New Orleans Jazz Festival a few years ago. They looked surprised when I asked them to leave off the meat and cheese--I just wanted to olive salad. I adore Greek olives and I can't get enough of tapenade, a spreadable paste made with olives, so I was sure I would like this sandwich topping with the quirky name. With muffaletta, celery and caper flavors pop out on top of the briny base of olives, shallots, and red peppers. All my senses were more than pleased that afternoon.

You could make a muffaletta sandwich with this olive salad and vegan cheese (like Chao, since its original flavor tastes a lot like provolone cheese). Or you could use a hummus base, like the open-faced sandwich pictured here. Muffaletta would also be good with vegan cream cheese or with roasted vegetables. Of course you could use this for appetizers--serve with crackers or small slices of baguette. 

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir. It's ready to use on a sandwich or for appetizers. 

  • 1 cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (not California olives; a mix of black and green looks very pretty, but any Greek olive work here)

  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (jarred is fine -- just rinse them)

  • 2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried, and chopped

  • 1.5 Tablespoons minced celery

  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots

  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • (optional) 2-3 Italian hot pickled peppers (such a pepperoncini), chopped

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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