Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greek-Style Haroset

I promise this is the last time I'm making a haroset recipe, as I've reached the end of my April cooking magazine (wow, the month went by fast...). This one is ground in a food processor very fine, so works best as a condiment. I'm using it as a spread, nearly like apple-preserves, on crackers. Prepare it in the afternoon ahead of time so the flavors can blend.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup pitted dates, two quarters of a peeled granny smith apple, two quarters of a peeled golden delicious apple and one cup of water. (If that's hard to visualize, see the picture below). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 24 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, along with two tablespoons of sweet red wine, and pulse 5 times until chunky. Add 1/4 cup of chopped almonds and pulse two times.

The yield is two cups. 1/4 cup has about 80 calories.

medjool dates $4.63
granny smith apple $1.29
golden delicious apple $0.92

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Black Bean Soup

A great source of protein, of course, thanks to the beans (12 grams per serving).

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/4 cup diced onion, 2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper and a tablespoon and a half of diced carrot. Saute the veggies for 9 minutes. Add a teaspoon and a half of minced garlic, along with 3/4 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp chili powder and a dash of black pepper. Saute an additional two minutes.

Add one cup vegetable broth, half a cup water and just over 2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed (about a can and a half). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.

Let cool slightly for about five minutes.

Place the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Ladle one cup into each of three bowls (230 calories each). You could garnish this soup with sliced green onions or dollops of vegan sour cream. Just like the "cream cheese" in last night's recipe, I love the "sour cream" from Tofutti

celery $2.99
green bell pepper $0.86
vegetable broth $2.49
black beans $3.38

Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Artichokes with Creamy Horseradish-Dill Dip

I was so excited to work with baby artichokes for this recipe because I never have before. Baby artichokes, I discovered, are not a separate variety from their larger kin, just the fruit from the bottom of the plant, which stay naturally smaller. What's most delightful about these cute mini 'chokes, however, is that the entire thing is edible, so they're much easier to prepare than the big version!

For this appetizer, combine 4 cups water and one tablespoon fresh lemon juice in a large pot. Save the other half of the lemon you squeezed (you'll see why in a minute!) Working with one artichoke at a time, peel back the outer leaves to reach the lighter green ones underneath. Trim off about the top inch of the artichoke, and trim the stem to about one inch. Cut in half and rub the halves against your cut lemon so that they don't discolor. Place in the lemon-water mixture. Repeat with nine more baby artichokes (ten total). Bring the water to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and steam for twelve minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy) and a 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese. Tofutti makes a great one called Better than Cream Cheese that you would swear up and down was the real thing if you hadn't read the ingredient label first. It's vegan, has no cholesterol, and is non-hydrogenated. Don't you love that being vegan naturally makes you healthier? Check it out at:

Add one tablespoon prepared horseradish, 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, one and a half teaspoons lemon juice, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper to the yogurt mixture.

The yield for the recipe is four appetizer portions (5 artichoke halves, and 2 tablespoons of the dip; 110 calories per serving)

lemon $0.79
baby artichokes $2.99
plain soy yogurt $1.00
horseradish $2.00

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spicy Squash Stew

April temperatures have dropped back down, after an early burst of summer - but hey, April Showers Bring May Flowers. In the meantime, here's a stew for a cold night.

Heat two teaspoons of canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion, and saute for 4 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and a dash of salt and saute an additional minute, then add: one and a half teaspoons curry powder, one and a half teaspoons cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and an 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper. Saute another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add two cups cubed butternut squash, half cup chopped parsnip, 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth (sorry for that awkward amount; another way to look at it is just shy of one cup), and 3/4 cup canned, diced tomatoes, undrained. Bring it all to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.

Add half a cup frozen lima beans (thawed), half a cup canned chickpeas, drained, and another dash of salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Add one cup fresh spinach and 1/2 cup light coconut milk (don't forget, the word "milk" here doesn't need to scare a vegan!). Cook an additional two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in two tablespoons chopped cilantro and one and a half teaspoons fresh lime juice.

This recipe yields 4, one-cup servings of 170 calories each. Serve immediately.

If you're sensitive to spicy foods, be careful. This recipe lives up to it's name! You can lower the amount of curry powder, cumin or ground red pepper to make it less so.

onion $0.74
butternut squash $3.04
parsnip $1.25
canned diced tomato $1.19
lima beans $2.69
canned chickpeas $1.69
spinach $2.50
light coconut milk $2.39
cilantro $1.49
lime $0.50

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pineapple Margarita

It's Saturday night, and I've a birthday party to attend, so the recipe of the night is a cocktail. I made sure to do some research beforehand to ascertain for everyone that Jose Cuervo tequila and Triple Sec are both vegan - and they are! Just be careful because one vegan chat forum I found said that sometimes restaurants will add egg whites to margaritas to make them extra frothy, so if you order one out, ask your server. But when you make this one at home, there's no worries!

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1/4 cup tequila, one and a half tablespoons triple sec, 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/4 cup pineapple juice and one teaspoon (raw) sugar. Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and garnish with lime wedge.

Double, triple, quadruple this recipe ad nauseam if you have a crowd since this recipe only makes one serving (270 calories). Also, you can salt the rims of the glasses first if you like by pouring salt into a shallow bowl, wetting the rim of each glass with a lime wedge, and pressing down into the salt.

I can happily report that this recipe finally inspired me to buy a cocktail shaker after ages of wanting one, and boy are they fun to use. Bottoms up.

tequila $8.00
Triple Sec $8.00
limes $3.00
pineapple juice $3.80

Friday, April 25, 2008

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata makes a great hors d'oeuvres. This recipe can be made ahead of time and chilled, then brought back to room temperature just before serving. Serve it with slices of Italian bread or pita bread.

To start, place 2 tablespoons of golden raisins in a bowl; pour hot water over the raisins and let stand for fifteen minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place 3 cups diced, peeled eggplant (about 1/2 lb) in a colandar. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp of salt; toss well and let drain for one hour. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat one and a half tsp of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and saute for nine minutes. Set aside. Using the same skillet, heat another 1/2 tsp of olive oil. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and saute for three minutes. Add one minced garlic clove and saute another minute, then 1/2 cup diced, seeded plum tomato and saute an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture to the eggplant and set aside.

Return the skillet to heat and add two tablespoons of granulated (raw) sugar, and two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring (less than a minute). Add the raisins from earlier in the recipe, two tablespoons chopped kalamata olives and one teaspoon capers. Stir to combine, then add in the reserved eggplant mixture. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Stir in three tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley.

You can serve it warm or at room temperature. A 1/4 cup has 60 calories.

Today was a good example of making sure to read a recipe all the way through before beginning! I was simultaneously trying to do a whole batch of other things, and added a *quarter* cup of tomato, not a *half* cup, and had to quickly remove the pan from heat, seed and chop another tomato, return the pan to heat... you get the idea. So as always, make sure to read a recipe from front to back and know what amounts of what ingredients you're using before you have your pan over the stove!

golden raisins $2.60
eggplant $1.57
onion $1.00
plum tomato $0.94
kalamata olives $4.99

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Vegetarian Paella

I always thought that paella was a seafood dish, but a quick wiki search revealed that the three main ingredients are only this: rice, saffron, and olive oil. Great; all vegan! So this vegetarian version is topped with vegetables, instead of meat or fish.

Despite the daunting list of ingredients, it really does, as the name implies, come together pretty quickly.

Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add one cup chopped onion, one cup chopped green bell pepper, 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms and one minced garlic clove, and saute for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking rice (make sure to use the kind in a box labeled 'quick-cooking' - it already has greater volume than regular uncooked rice, so if you use the regular, you'll wind up with too much rice in the pot - not to mention it won't be thoroughly cooked). Also add 1 cup vegetable broth, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp crushed saffron threads, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme.

Saffron fascinates me. It is the world's most expensive spice, and for good reason, with each "stigma" from the flower hand-picked, and with one pound of saffron requiring 50,000-75,000 of the flowers! For this reason, it's also quite expensive. However, it goes a long way since most recipes only require a tiny amount to achieve saffron's signature taste. My tiny vial, purchased from an Indian spice store in the East Village over a year ago, is still going strong, and was about $6. One-ounce, in comparison, goes for about $70 (!)

Back to your pot, once you've added that batch of ingredients, bring it all to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook for ten minutes.

Add one cup chopped tomato, 1/2 cup frozen green peas, 1/4 cup chopped, pitted green olives, a dash of pepper, and 3-4 coarsely chopped, canned artichoke hearts (about half the can). Cook for 3 minutes until thoroughly heated.

The original recipe called for pimiento-stuffed green olives. Although I found a jar of these easily at Whole Foods, one of the ingredients was lactic acid. Unsure of the source of the lactic acid, I left the bottle on the shelf and took plain old pitted green olives instead. However, once home I did some research and learned that "lactate" and "lactic acid" are vegan - it's lac-TOSE that comes from milk. So next time, the pimiento-stuffed olives it shall be.

Ladle two cups worth of the paella into each of two bowls. Each serving has 350 calories. You'll have about about a cup leftover, in case anyone wants seconds!

onion $0.75
green bell pepper $0.70
cremini mushrooms $1.00
brown rice $2.00
vegetable broth $2.49
tomato $3.07
frozen peas $1.99
green olives $3.99
artichoke hearts $2.29

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Roasted Sesame Asparagus

A super fast and easy side dish, which I needed, getting home from work late! Plus it highlights one of my favorite in-season spring foods - fresh asparagus.

Snap the tough ends off a pound and a half of asparagus, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush with a teaspoon and a half of sesame oil and bake at 450 degrees until crisp (ten minutes).

Remove from oven and toss with one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, one and a half teaspoons of sesame seeds and a 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper.

Place on a platter; sprinkle with a dash of salt, a dash of pepper and a tablespoon of grated vegan "parmesan" (Again, I used the mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods

Like I said, quick and easy! I'll do something more complicated tomorrow...

The yield is 6 side servings (about 5 spears) for 50 calories. Or load up on more like I did if you love asparagus!

asparagus $5.91
sesame seeds $2.19
'parmesan' $3.39

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lemon-Coconut-Almond Haroset

I cook so much that every once in a while I need a night to just eat leftovers! But for the sake of making something, here's another haroset recipe that works just as deliciously as a "fruit salad" for dessert.

In a bowl, combine 2 teaspoons raw sugar (remember my note on refined sugar and how it's not vegan - animal bones - eew!), 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind, and one and a half teaspoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add one and a half cups peeled, cored and chopped gala apples, and 1/2 a cup peeled, cored, chopped granny smith apple, and toss to coat. Gently add in a 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds and two and a quarter teaspoons dried coconut. I already had on hand a package of slivered almonds, which made this step even easier, plus make a great snack any time. As for the coconut, I used Let's Do Organic's unsweetened organic shredded coconut. Although I can't possibly fathom a reason why coconut wouldn't be vegan, my package had the certified Vegan sticker on it, so hey, no complaints from me.

here's some other cool stuff the company offers:

Enjoy one cup of the haroset "dessert" for 200 calories.

lemon $0.79
gala apple $1.32
granny smith apple $1.35

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quinoa with Leeks and Shiitake Mushrooms

Aside from the fact that it has the coolest name ever, here's what you should know about quinoa (keen-wah). Its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. It's also high in fiber, magnesium, and iron. Basically, a dream food for vegans!

To make the recipe, pour one cup vegetable broth, half a cup of water and a dash of salt into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add 3/4 uncooked quinoa. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 12 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Add a tablespoon and a half of chopped flat-leaf parsley, 3/4 tsp of olive oil and a dash of pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

In a medium skillet, heat 3/4 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (buy two! I had to have my boyfriend run out for a second leek at 10:30 pm when I realized my first leek only yielded a cup), and saute for 6 minutes. Add 2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps, 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, and two tablespoons dry white wine (check to see if the producer is vegan...) Cook for two minutes. Stir in a dash each of salt and pepper.

here's a good list of some vegan wine producers:

Place one cup quinoa in each of two shallow bowls. Top each serving with 1 1/4 cups of the vegetable mixture, and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Each serving is about 500 calories.

leek $1.26 plus $2.99 from my boyfriend's late night run to the corner deli
shiitake mushrooms $1.12
red pepper $2.55

Polenta with Spinach, Black Beans, and 'Goat Cheese'

Polenta is a great base for vegan meals. It has seven grams of protein per serving with only 2 grams of fat and next to no sugars. For an even easier preparation, it's sold in the refrigerated section (usually near the tofu) in pre-made tubes, ready to be sliced and topped however you see fit. This recipe uses uncooked polenta which cooks in all of three minutes and then serves as a base for this black bean topping, providing even more protein.

Heat half a teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add one minced garlic clove and saute for one minute. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth, 3/4 cup black beans, rinsed (about half a 15-oz can), a 1/4 tsp of cumin and 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes. (Buy the kind packed in olive oil, not the dehydrated kind). Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and add 4 cups pre-packaged spinach, and toss to coat (the spinach will wilt slightly). Set aside.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup uncooked polenta, 1/4 tsp salt and a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter. My favorite is Earth Balance's Natural Buttery Spread. Anyone who thinks that the lack of butter is a detriment to vegan cooking has never tried this stuff - much healthier than margarine or other oleos, with a buttery taste, but with no animal products, no trans fats etc. Check them out:

Reduce the heat and cook the polenta mixture for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. The mixture will thicken, and still more so as it cools, so don't overcook!

Place 3/4 cup polenta on each of two plates. Top with 3/4 cup of the black bean/spinach mixture. Top each serving with 3 tablespoons crumbled 'cheese'. The original recipe called for goat cheese, but the best substitute is the vegan feta from Sunergia that I've already discussed (again, I used the Mediterranean Herb flavor). Sprinkle with ground black pepper and enjoy! 360 calories per serving.

sun-dried tomatoes $5.79
black beans $1.69
spinach $2.50
polenta $5.69
'goat cheese' $3.69

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New England Haroset

I enjoyed the last haroset recipe I made so much that I thought I'd whip up another. A glance at the ingredients in this one, however, and I could think of no better way to enjoy it than to eat it as an almost fruit-compote-like dessert with a spoon.

It comes together really quickly too, which was perfect for a hot spring day like this one - no time to be in the kitchen!

Combine 1 1/2 cups finely diced gala apple, 1/4 cup diced, sweetened dried cranberries, two tablespoons of kosher concord grape wine, and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup in a bowl.

Gently mix in 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (or you could grind them in a food processor). Refrigerate for two hours.

I recently learned that all kosher wines are vegan, because they never use animal-based products in the refining process. Since it's hard to be sure if a wine is vegan (unless you walk into the liquor store with a print-out list from the internet!), this seems like a nice, easy certainty to have on hand whenever in need of a quick bottle. I used the concord grape one that the original recipe called for because it is much sweeter than other red wines.

As for maple syrup, I once heard a horror story from a friend of mine who was visiting a syrup producer in Vermont, and saw them adding bacon to the vat! Although the bacon was removed by the time the syrup was put in bottles, she was told that it "added to the flavor." I've been investigating this online and it seems her story is backed up, but that there are maple syrup producers who are certified vegan. Best way to be sure is to look into the company before you buy. I'm a bit nervous because my bottle doesn't state one way or the other, and I couldn't find the info online, but it's organic, from Whole Foods, and I was told by a sales clerk that it was okay... ::guilty vegan shrug::

Have 1/2 cup for a 120 calorie dessert. Three servings total.

apple $1.50
dried cranberries $3.99
concord grape wine $9.00

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quick Edamame and Orange Rice

As the name of the recipe states, this meal comes together quickly. Since every recipe I make is new to me on the day of, I never quite know what I'm going to get, and I have to admit, this one felt a little incoherent to me, as if the ingredients didn't quite mesh. But at the end of it all, the taste worked!

Heat a teaspoon and a half of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery, 1/2 cup sliced green onions and 1/2 cup julienne-cut red peppers to the skillet, and saute for one minute. Turn the heat to low while you add: one and a 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice (you can do this step ahead of time - start with about 3/4 cup of dried brown rice to get the proper yield). Also add 1/2 cup frozen, shelled edamame (thawed), 1/4 cup of cashews, 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, a dash of pepper and one small, peeled orange cut into sections.

The main vegan note here is on the teriyaki sauce. I scrutenized the ingredient list of every different bottle in the Asian section of Whole Foods. Some had honey, one looked promising but had 'caramel color' and didn't state the source. The one from Premier Japan Organic, however, had the certified Vegan symbol right on the label. Sold! Here's a link to order it:

As for the oranges, if you look at my picture and they seem a little funny, well, they are. I didn't realize until I was home that my 'orange' boasted a sticker that said 'pink is the new orange' I'm not quite sure what genetic modifying is going on here, but umm, my orange was pink.

You'll get two servings from this recipe, about one and 3/4 cups each, and about 480 calories.

brown rice $1.20
green onion $1.49
red pepper $2.03
edamame, frozen $2.69
cashews $5.99
teriyaki sauce $4.39
orange (pink?) $1.33

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pasta with Caramelized Onion Trio, Arugula, and 'Mozzarella'

I don't often make pasta dishes, but every once in a while, there's no harm. This one has lots of nice fresh veggies to balance all those carbs. It makes a good dinner for two, or can be doubled for four.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add one cup thinly sliced leek, 3/4 cup chopped white onion and two tablespoons of diced green onions. Saute for five minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for twenty minutes until golden brown, stirring every five minutes or so.

While the onions cook, bring water to a boil and cook 4 oz linguine according to package directions. As a rule, I always go for whole wheat varieties over regular pasta, since it will be more nutrient-rich, especially in terms of fiber and B vitamins. Drain the linguine and then return to the pot.

Pour half a cup of vegetable broth into a small skillet. Bring to a boil (it will take only a minute or two), then add two tablespoons dried currents and a teaspoon and a half of balsamic vinegar. Add the broth mixture to the onion mixture, along with 2 tablespoons of soy cream and a 1/4 tsp of salt.

The best soy creamer comes from Silk. It is thicker in consistency than soy milk, mimicking the difference between regular dairy milk and dairy cream, and so, of course, also works great in coffee! Silk sells several varieties, including hazelnut and vanilla, but use the regular flavored 'cream' for this recipe.

Add one cup of chopped arugula, 1/4 cup cubed vegan mozzarella cheese (i.e. Galaxy Foods' version) and a dash of dried thyme to the onion mixture. Pour the whole thing over the linguine and toss well to coat.

Place 1 1/4 cups of the pasta on each of two plates (420 calories per serving).

leek $1.64
white onion $1.25
green onions $0.99
linguine $1.99
vegetable broth $2.39
currants $2.79
soy cream $1.79
arugula $2.50
'mozzarella' $3.39

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Greek-Style Potato, Zucchini, and Bean Stew

April days are sunny but April nights are still cold! I made this stew to take the chill off. It's also a great way to highlight newly-on-the-market vegan feta cheese. Of all the cheeses out there, the briny, salty feta was probably my favorite. The one from Sunergia Foods comes close, both in texture and flavor. Sunergia sells it in several varieties, and I used the 'meditterranean herb' for this recipe.

For the stew, heat two and a quarter teaspoons over medium-high heat in a large stewpot. Add 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion and saute for five minutes until golden brown. Add 1/2 cup cubed, peeled baking potato and a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil (it will boil quickly), then cover, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Add one and 3/4 cups of half-inch thick sliced zucchini, one and 1/4 cups of trimmed green beans (use fresh if available, but frozen cut green beans will do in a pinch), one 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained, and 3/4 cup of canned, rinsed Great Northern beans (about half of the can). Cover and cook for 35 minutes.

Add in two tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, and a dash of black pepper.

Ladle two cups of stew into each of three bowls. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of crumbled soy feta cheese. (270 calories per serving).

onion $0.70
baking potato $0.76
zucchini $1.87
green beans $1.17
canned, diced tomatoes $1.49
great northern beans $1.69
parsley $1.49
soy feta $3.69

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hash Browns with Italian-Seasoned Tofu

The tofu in these hash browns makes for a protein-filled main dish, and the recipe comes together superfast for an easy weeknight meal.

Heat a tablespoon and a half of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add a cup and a half of chopped yellow onion, one cup peeled, chopped carrot, and one minced garlic clove. Saute for four minutes. Add 20-oz refrigerated package of diced potato with onion. The best I found was from Cascadian Farms organic frozen line ( Saute for seven minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned.

Add 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, a 1/4 tsp of salt, a dash of black pepper, and one 8-oz package of Italian style baked garlic-and-herb tofu (cut into half inch cubes). Saute for four minutes until thoroughly heated.

Although this last ingredient sounded obscure, it actually was remarkably easy to find in the refrigerator section of Whole Foods. The brand I used was White Wave, and they have a whole host of delicious baked tofus from which to choose. Other varities included Roma Tomato Basil, Sesame Peanut Thai, and Zesty Lemon Pepper, all of which I am now quite tempted to try!

Back to the recipe, remove from heat, and place 1 1/2 cups of the mixture on each of four plates. Sprinkle each with a teaspoon and a half of chopped parsley. Each serving has 370 calories.

onion $0.75
carrot $0.65
refrigerated diced potato $3.20
red pepper $0.86
baked tofu $3.39

Monday, April 14, 2008

Zucchini-Boats with 'Ricotta'-Basil Mousse

Here's another fun recipe with tofu taking the place of ricotta cheese.

Cut 3 small zucchini (about 3/4 lb total) in half, and scoop the pulp carefully from each half with a spoon. You can discard the pulp or save it for some other creative use! Place the zucchini halves in an 8x8 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray and set aside.

In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup crumbled tofu, 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped, 1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped, 2 tablespoons shredded "mozzarella block" vegan cheese (from Galaxy Foods), one tablespoon hot water, a teaspoon and a half of lemon juice, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. Mix well.

(note: the original recipe called for parmesan, but the mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods works just as well).

Spoon about a heaping tablespoon-ful into each zucchini shell, and press down gently. Bake the zucchini at 450 degrees for twenty minutes.

The yield for this recipe is 6 servings (one stuffed shell, 60 calories).

zucchini $1.43
basil $2.99
vegan cheese $3.39

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stir-Fried Tofu and Spring Greens with Peanut Sauce

I learned two things today, thanks to the components of this recipe! The first is: beware of Thai peanut sauce. There were several brands at Whole Foods but they tended to contain sneaky ingredients like honey or sake (never vegan). The best bet was the one from Whole Foods' house brand, 365 Organic. Likewise, dry-roasted peanuts sound perfectly innocent - what could be un-vegan about a peanut, right? Wrong. Dry-roasted peanuts contain gelatin! I didn't even realize this until I was home from the corner deli, so sure was I that the ingredient-list didn't bear a once-over. I went back and they very kindly let me exchange it for the carton of cocktail peanuts (just peanuts and peanut oil and a dash of salt - phew).

But enough about that... on to the recipe.

Slice 8-oz of extra firm tofu into 1/2 inch slices. Press between several layers of paper towels to sop up most of the moisture until they are just moist. Cut into cubes.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and saute for 5 minutes until golden brown on all sides. Add two tablespoons of peanut sauce and cook for two minutes.

Stir in one cup thinly sliced bok choy, 1/2 cup julienne-cut yellow squash, and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions. Cook for 3 minutes. Add one cup chopped watercress and a tablespoon of soy sauce, and cook for one minute (the watercress will wilt and the soy sauce will be absorbed).

Remove from heat.

Cook 4 oz soba noodles in boiling water for about 7 minutes. Drain. Place one cup noodles in each of two bowls, and top each serving of noodles with 1 1/4 cup of the tofu mixture. Each serving is about 450 calories.

The moral of the story is: check your ingredient labels!

tofu $1.49
Thai peanut sauce $2.49
bok choy $4.18
yellow squash $0.69
green onions $0.99
watercress $1.99
soba $3.39

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Walnut-Crusted Potato and 'Blue Cheese' Cakes

I was so excited to make this recipe, because only recently did I find a vegan version of blue cheese on the market. I used to love the stuff, and while the vegan version isn't exact, it's close enough to satisfy. The purveyor of this new vegan delicacy is Sunergia Foods (incidentally, they also do a great soy feta...).

This recipe is also a great hors d'oeuvre to offer as a vegan option if you're sick of cocktail parties with chicken skewers and meat-stuffed mushrooms. To make them:

Put 1 pound small red potatoes, halved, and a small peeled garlic clove in a pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about twenty minutes). Drain, then return to the pan.

Add 3 tablespoons crumbled Soy Blue cheese, 2 tablespoons soy milk (such as Silk original flavor), a teaspoon and a half chopped fresh parsley, a 1/4 tsp of salt and a dash of pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. (It doesn't matter if it's vegan or not, but I love the potato masher from OXO good grips - works like a charm!)

Let the mixture cool at least 5 minutes or you'll burn your hands, then shape the mixture into 6, 1/2-inch thick patties.

Place a one-and-a-half-oz slice of sourdough bread and a tablespoon and a half of chopped walnuts in a food processor and pulse until you have crumbs. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge each potato cake in the mixture.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the cakes and cook on each side about two minutes.

This recipe only yields 3, two-cake servings (220 calories), but you can double, triple it, etc. quite easily.

red potatoes $1.27
soy blue $3.50
soy milk $1.49
walnuts $4.99
sourdough bread $1.75

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rice and Beans with Avocado

A quick and easy weeknight supper that combines protein, grains, heart-healthy fats from the avocado, and lots of great taste.

Place half a cup of long-grain brown rice and one cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed (about twenty minutes). Add 3/4 cup of canned black beans (drained and rinsed) and cook another five minutes.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, 1/3 cup diced avocado, 3 tablespoons green onion, 3 tablespoons shredded "cheddar" cheese (see my post for 'Orecchiette and Arugula with Creamy 'Ricotta' Sauce' for a more detailed account on vegan cheese), a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, and a teaspoon and a half of chopped ripe (black) olives.

Add the rice mixture and stir gently to combine. The yield for this recipe is three, one-cup servings of 220 calories each.

rice $1.00
avocado $1.99
green onions $0.99
"cheddar" cheese $3.39
olives $1.80

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thai-Style Vegetable Curry

Here's an all-vegan curry with Thai-influenced flavors. As a rule, Asian cuisine is very vegetarian-friendly, but if you take it one step further to vegan, it isn't always so simple - there's a lot of fish sauce and, in Indian cooking especially, a lot of butter. But it only takes a little tweaking to make something vegan!

Do all the prep work for this recipe ahead of time, because there's a lot of chopping.

Start out by heating one and a half teaspoons canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, a teaspoon and a half minced fresh ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves, and saute for five minutes.

Add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Use your own homemade from yesterday's recipe, or you can always buy it at the store ;) Along with the stock, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, about 1 1/2 tsp. of red thai curry paste (the one from Thai Kitchen is certified vegan, and 1/4 tsp salt. Add 3/4 cup chopped carrots and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, one cup cherry tomatoes, 2 cups thinly sliced zucchini, 3/4 cup thinly sliced yellow squash, and 4 oz sliced mushrooms (about a cup and a half). Cook another two minutes.

Add another cup and a half of the vegetable stock, along with 2 cups pre-packaged fresh spinach. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer another five minutes.

While all that's going on, make the noodles in another pot. The original recipe called for rice noodles which I couldn't find (even at Whole Foods!) so I substituted udon instead, and the resulting recipe was delicious anyway. Cook whichever noodles you buy according to package directions.

On each serving plate, ladle 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable mixture over 1/2 cup of cooked noodles for 190 calories a serving.

onion $1.00
red curry paste $3.39
red bell pepper $2.00
cherry tomatoes $1.50
zucchini $1.20
yellow squash $0.75
spinach $2.50
udon $3.49

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Vegetable Stock

This is one of those recipes that I consider therapeutic and almost meditative to make - lots of chopping, lots of different ingredients, but no rushed pace so very relaxing. It takes a little while, but if you have a just-still-too-chilly early spring afternoon like this one, it is an absolutely perfect recipe to make.

On a more practical note, I'm preparing this stock ahead of time to use in a recipe tomorrow night (check back for more details!) but with the leftovers, the possibilities are endless. Make any variation of delicious vegan soups by adding grains such as rice or lentils or beans, other cooked vegetables like potatoes or squash, or anything else that strikes your fancy. You could even add slices of French bread and soy cheese for a makeshift French onion soup!

To make the stock, combine in a large stockpot: 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage, 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped fennel, 1 cup coarsely chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, one onion (peeled and halved), 4-oz sliced button mushrooms, 6 whole black peppercorns, 5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, 3 peeled garlic gloves and 1 bay leaf.

Pour 8 cups of water over the vegetables. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large bowl, discarding the solids. The yield is just over 6 cups. It should be a beautiful, almost amber color. Cool it completely and store it up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

cabbage $1.25
fennel $1.97
celery $2.99
carrots $0.93
tomato paste $0.79
onion $1.39
mushrooms $4.00
parsley $1.49
thyme $1.49

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Banana Pumpkin Smoothie

It's quick, it's easy, and it's delicious as a breakfast or a dessert (I chose the latter).

In a blender, mix 1 cup of vanilla soy yogurt, 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (chilled), 1/2 cup ice cubes, 1/3 cup orange juice, one tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a dash of ground cloves, and one ripe banana (pre-sliced and pre-frozen). Puree until smooth.

Pour into glasses - two, one-cup servings of 280 calories.

It's times like these that I'm thankful to be a vegan in New York City. I didn't realize until just before making this recipe that I needed a full cup of soy yogurt, and only had one yogurt (about 2/3 a cup) in my fridge. I rushed to the nearest corner deli, and even though they didn't have any soy yogurt, they did have vanilla flavored soy milk, so I topped my smoothie off with that, making it a bit more watery than the original, but preserving the right flavor. I'm not sure I can think of another city where such a feat can be performed after midnight on a Tuesday night!

soy yogurt $2.69
canned pumpkin $0.99
orange juice $1.39
ground cloves $4.19
banana $0.29
soy milk (last minute...) $4.00 (ouch, okay, yes they're open after midnight and they carry soy, but they have a steep price tag...)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Avocado-Mango Salsa with Roasted Corn Chips

Here's a beautifully colorful and delicious appetizer. You can use store bought chips, but I think it's much tastier - not to mention healthier - to use fresh corn tortillas. If you do buy your chips at the store, double check the ingredient label to make sure they're vegan.

To do so, cut six, six-inch corn tortillas into six wedges each. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; coat with another layer of cooking spray and a sprinkling of salt, and bake at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes.

To make the salsa, chop up 1/2 cup avocado, 1/2 cup mango, a teaspoon and a half of cilantro, and combine in a bowl. Toss gently with two teaspoons of fresh-squeezed lime juice. Let stand about ten minutes before serving.

And I didn't have to make any changes in order for this recipe to be vegan!

3 tablespoons salsa and 6 chips will be about 100 calories.

tortillas $0.89
avocado $2.50
mango $1.99
lime $0.50

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Potato Roti Curry

Here's another curry dish that's loaded with nutrients and fiber from the squash and potatoes.

Start out by combining 1/4 tsp. salt, a teaspoon of cumin, 3/4 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. ginger, a dash of allspice and a dash of ground red pepper in a small bowl. What a beautiful array of colors in this spice mixture!

Heat a teaspoon and a half of canola oil over medium heat in a saucepot, and add 3/4 cup chopped onion. Saute 3 minutes. Add two minced garlic gloves. Add the spice mixture. Add 2 cups chopped, peeled yukon gold potato, 1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled acorn squash, and 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper. Stir to coat all the vegetables with the spice mixture, and cook for one minute. Add one cup water and a 1/4 cup of light coconut milk. (Don't be thrown off by the word 'milk' here; it simply implies the coconut juice). Bring it all to a boil and, once boiling, cover with a lid, reduce heat and simmer for twenty five minutes.

Stir in a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro.

The yield is three, one-cup servings of 190 calories each. This is a great side dish to sop up with pita bread, or serve alongside rice.

onion: $1.03
yukon gold potato $1.45
acorn squash $6.40 (I purchased one double the weight I needed, and organic! This not need be so pricey...)
red pepper $1.72
light coconut milk $1.67
cilantro $1.49

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mango Mojito

For Saturday night, I thought it'd be fun to make a cocktail recipe.

Just to be sure, I double checked and rum is indeed vegan. The only alcoholic beverages that you have to be careful of are wine and beer, which are often - though not always - filtered using animal substances. These can include gelatine, egg whites and even, horrifically enough, bull's blood, although I'm told this is illegal in France and the United States. But as far as liquor goes, you're pretty much always safe with the exception of Campari (colored with beetle shells) and anything obvious like butterscotch flavored liquor or Irish Cream (man, do I miss Bailey's...)

But Bacardi rum? Vegan.

To whip up this refreshing cocktail, first make a simple syrup by combining two cups of sugar and one cup of water over medium-high heat for five minutes, or until the sugar is melted. Be careful with processed sugar, fellow vegans! The white granulated stuff has been ground down by animal bones. However, sugar is vegan if you buy the "raw" variety (ever growing in popularity and ever-easier to find in packets at coffee shops) or the organic sugars such as turbindo (check your local organic grocery store).

Set aside the simple syrup mixture and line up however many glasses you need for however many thirsty cocktail drinkers you have. In each glass, squeeze two lime wedges and add five mint leaves. Mash it with the back of a spoon for about thirty seconds. Add 1/4 cup of club soda, 3 tablespoons of rum, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and 1 tablespoon mango nectar to each glass. Serve over ice.

Each drink as 100 calories.

Cheers and happy Saturday!

sugar $3.19
lime $0.50
mint $1.99
club soda $1.00
rum $5.00
mango nectar $$2.00

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pear-Pecan Haroset

It’s Friday night, so I’m not cooking a dinner, more of an hors d’oeuvres spread. This is actually adapted from a haroset recipe, but I thought it would make a great condiment over some table water crackers.

Shred one cup golden delicious apple and half a cup pear, and combine in a bowl. I don’t own the proper tools for shredding, so I made do by slicing away strips with my vegetable peeler. You could also use the shredding attachment of a food processor if your kitchen is that decked out.

Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, half a tsp. of vanilla extract, and half a tsp. of agave nectar. Agave nectar, as I mentioned once before, makes the perfect vegan substitute for honey. I’ve even found, since I cut honey out of my diet, that I prefer this new version! It’s slightly less viscous, and thus easier to pour from measuring spoons, and the flavor is comparable in terms of sweetness. Try it in tea as well.

Back to the recipe, chop up pecans very finely to equal two tablespoons, and add this to your mixture gently. Refrigerate it in an air-tight container for two hours before serving. Keep your leftover pecans in the fridge as well – they go bad faster than other nuts, but until they do, they’re a delicious vegan snack.

The whole recipe yields just over a cup, or 300 calories worth.

golden delicious apple $1.12
bartlett pear $1.22
pecans $6.99

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chickpea Curry with Yogurt

A note on spices: yes, they're expensive, but they add the most wonderful flavor to any meal. I currently have 43 different spices in my kitchen cabinet - who says vegans can't eat diversely?

As for this recipe, it comes together really quickly once you start to cook, so I recommend doing all the prep work before you start things over the stove. Because it's so quick, it makes a great weeknight meal for one or two people.

Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add 1/2 a tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. coriander, 3 whole cardamom pods, one cinnamon stick and one bay leaf, and cook for about 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant. Stir in 3/4 cup of chopped onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and a teaspoon of ground ginger and saute another 30 seconds. Add in a teaspoon of garam masala (an indian spice blend) and saute another 10 seconds.

Add half a cup of water, a quarter cup of chopped plum tomato, one can of drained chickpeas and a 1/4 tsp. salt. Let it come to a simmer and cook it for five minutes.

Remove from heat and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf; add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and 1/2 cup of plain soy yogurt. Soy yogurts, much like the cheeses, have made tremendous progress over the past few years - they don't have that chalky taste anymore like they did when I first became vegan. My favorite of the plain flavor soy yogurts is by Whole Soy.

(They also, incidentally, make great vegan ice cream, but we'll save that for dessert...)

Anyway, now you're done. You have two, one-cup servings, at 270 calories each.

onion $0.59
plum tomato $1.25
canned chickpeas $0.99
cilantro $1.49
plain soy yogurt $0.99

the only spice I needed to buy this time around were the cinnamon sticks, but they'll generally run you about $4 a pop. Still, I highly recommend building up that spice cabinet!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Orecchiette and Arugula with Creamy 'Ricotta' Sauce

I'm doing another 'ricotta' recipe tonight (there's a whole section on it in my April cooking magazine).

Orecchiette is also called "little ears" pasta because of its small. rounded shape; every once in a while, I strike it lucky and find them at the supermarket, but generally speaking, you can substitute little shells pasta and they work just as well. That's what I did tonight, from a box of pasta already in my cabinet. The one thing in pasta to watch out for as a vegan is eggs! They're not often in packaged brands, but every once in a while, yes, so read the ingredient panel carefully. If you're eating pasta in a restaurant, make sure you ask your server, because most freshly-made pastas contain eggs.

To start, bring 3 quarts of water (12 cups) to a boil. Add 8 oz. of orecchiette (or similarly shaped pasta). Boil for twelve minutes.

While it boils, crumble tofu to equal half a cup. Combine the tofu with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon and a half of olive oil, a dash of black pepper, and two tablespoons of soy cheese.

The original recipe called for pecorino. Soy cheeses have made progress in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and the company I find most reliable for recipes - especially those that involve shredded cheese - is the Vegan cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Foods.

They make two varieties, one a mozzarella, the other a cheddar. Essentially, if I have a recipe that calls for a white cheese - parmesan, pecorino, mozzarella, swiss - I use the former. If a recipe calls for an orange cheese - cheddar etc. - I use the latter. No, the taste is not exact, but then, if you're still really craving cheese that badly, you're probably not quite ready to be vegan.

So now you've made your tofu mixture while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta but reserve a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid as you drain. Add the hot pasta and a cup and a half of thinly sliced arugula to the tofu mixture, along with two tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the remaining tablespoons of liquid if your mixture is too thick.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups of pasta onto each of four plates. Top each with a 1/4 cup of chopped plum tomato and another tablespoon of the "pecorino." Sprinkle with more black pepper.

Four servings, 320 calories a pop.

tofu $2.19
vegan cheese $3.39
arugula $2.50
plum tomato $1.25

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Roasted Fennel and 'Ricotta' Gratins with Tarragon

The first thing about this recipe, of course, is that ricotta is not vegan. The best substitute, I've found, is not a soy cheese but rather crumbled tofu. The texture holds up perfectly.

This was a straight-forward side-dish recipe, time consuming only because it requires a fair amount of cooking in the oven, but not involving much effort. I cut up 2 fennel bulbs to equal three cups (if anyone knows the proper way to slice fennel, please let me know! Every time a recipe instructs me to do so, I hack away at the bulb in a different manner, and I've never found one that leaves me satisfied...) and let the fennel roast in a pan (coat with cooking spray) at 450 degrees for 40 minutes. While it's in the oven, pulse half a slice of white bread until it becomes crumbs, then toss it with half a teaspoon of dried tarragon and a little dash of pepper.

White bread can be tricky as a vegan. You have to read ingredient lists carefully because, all too often, they contain sneaky ingredients like whey (from milk), milk powder, nonfat milk, you name it. I've found that the organic bread companies are far less likely to include these sneaky, non-vegan ingredients and Whole Foods house brand has become my go-to for sliced bread. Little did I realize that the loaf I brought home contained honey (which I finally gave up only a few weeks ago; I had held off on this last vegan no-no but it seemed time. Note: agave nectar is a perfect substitute). So here I was at home, having purchased my loaf of bread, and only then realizing honey was in it. I decided to use it, rather than waste the loaf, but note to self to buy a different brand of white bread next time.

Once the fennel stops roasting, toss it with a quarter cup of your crumbled tofu, a quarter tsp. of salt, and spoon it into three (cooking spray coated) 4-oz ramekins. Add two tablespoons of your bread crumb mixture to the top and cook them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.


Three servings, at 110 calories each. Since this is a side-dish, add whatever other vegan fare you like to make the meal more substantial. I had some whole wheat pasta sprinkled with herbs de provence.

fennel $2.83
tofu $2.19
white bread $3.29

The rest was already in my pantry.

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance