Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eggplant-Noodle Gratin

The original recipe called for egg noodles, which says right in the name why vegans will want to stay away. The best substitute I found, was wide Chinese lo mein noodles, which are only made of wheat flour and water, but have the same long flat shape as egg noodles. So use those in the recipe below.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled eggplant, 1 cup chopped yellow onion and 1 cup chopped red bell pepper. Saute for 5 minutes. Add two cups chopped tomato and 3 minced garlic cloves and cook another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in 3 cups cooked lo mein (or other wide flat noodle), 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh), 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

Spoon into an 11x7 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with 2/3 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of the provolone that the original recipe called for - if I was at home in New York, I would use the vegan mozzarella block, which shreds really well, but I'm on Martha's Vineyard and the only soy cheese in the supermarket here was sandwich slices of mozzarella from Tofutti. While I was happy to find vegan on the Vineyard (yay!), this variety doesn't really shred or melt as well. Sorry; it's the best I could do!

Each one cup serving is 230 calories.

eggplant $1.50
yellow onion $0.85
red bell pepper $1.74
tomato $0.95
noodles $2.29
basil (free from the pot in my mother's patio - gorgeous!)
vegan cheese $3.69

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Two-Tomato Gratin

Yum - a simple side dish highlighting summer's tomatoes.

In a food processor, combine one garlic clove and 3-oz of torn French bread. Pulse until the mixture equals about 1 3/4 cups crumbs. Drizzle with two teaspoons melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) and pulse until moist.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 cup chopped shallot and cook 3 minutes. Add a pint of grape tomatoes and a pint of yellow pear tomatoes (check your local farmer's market for this latter variety especially!), along with 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper. Cook another minute and a half until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons chopped parsley.

If your skillet is ovenproof, leave the mixture right there. If not, transfer to an 11x7 baking dish. Either way, sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumb mixture, and lightly coat the top with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

You'll have 6 side servings of 2/3 cup and 90 calories each.

French bread $1.29
shallot $0.52
grape tomatoes $2.99
yellow pear tomatoes $3.49

Friday, August 29, 2008

Herbed Lemon-'Buttermilk' Dressing

Here's another all-purpose dressing, similar to Ranch Dressing. If you have company coming for Labor Day weekend, toss it with some greens and they probably won't even know it's vegan!

The base of the original recipe was buttermilk. As I've pointed out in other posts, vegan buttermilk is just one cup plain soy milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice added to "clabber" or sour/thicken it. Add the lemon juice, stir with a whisk, and let stand five minutes. Then pour 3/4 cup of the 'buttermilk' into a bowl. (Discard the remaining 1/4 cup or save it for another use).

To the bowl, add: 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (try the Light Canola mayo from Spectrum), one tablespoon grated lemon rind, one tablespoon finely chopped onion, a teaspoon chopped fresh chives, a teaspoon chopped fresh basil, a teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt and one minced garlic clove.

As you can see, this is also a great way to use up any fresh summer herbs you might have, but for all three (the chives, basil, thyme) you can substitute 1/2 tsp. dried instead of fresh if you prefer.

You'll have 1 1/4 cups of dressing, that will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Just stir well before using! A tablespoon is about 20 calories.

soy milk $1.00
lemon $0.89

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Double-Squash Basmati Gratin

I told you I'd be making several different vegetable gratins toward the end of this month... This one focuses on sister squashes: zucchini and yellow squash. To slice both varieties, cut each zucchini/yellow squash in half lengthwise and thinly slice to equal two cups, so the pieces are small.

In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups thinly sliced zucchini, 2 cups thinly sliced yellow squash, one cup thinly sliced leek, 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 2 small minced garlic cloves. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes until the squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. (While the squash cooks is also a good time to cook basmati rice according to package directions, since you'll need a cup and a half of cooked rice in the steps below).

In a large bowl, combine another 1/4 tsp. salt, another 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti), 1/3 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), and the equivalent of one egg using egg replacer of your choice (i.e. Ener-G). Combine well with a whisk.

Stir in the squash mixture, 1 and 1/2 cups cooked basmati rice, 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta cheese (such as Sunergia), 1/4 cup grated fresh 'parmesan' (try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods), 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and one teaspoon chopped fresh oregano. Combine well.

Pour into an 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place 12 melba snack crackers in a food processor and process into coarse crumbs. Add a tablespoon of melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), and pulse three times until the cracker crumbs are moist. Sprinkly evenly over the rice casserole. I was delighted to find an organic version of melba crackers with all vegan-friendly ingredients, from Devonsheer Organics. If you prefer, buy onion or garlic flavored melba toasts.

Bake it all in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Let stand for ten minutes before serving. Each one cup serving is 260 calories.

zucchini $2.71
yellow squash $2.07
leek $2.12
vegetable broth $2.69
sour cream $2.49
basmati rice $1.16
'feta' $4.19
'parmesan' $3.39
melba crackers $2.69

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Individual Corn Custards with 'Bacon'-Potato Crust

I almost hate to admit this, but I'm on a vegan bacon kick. Even though I know this is the last product in the world to feel guilty about, I still can't help but think its cheating! Oh well, because these little custards are delicious.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add 3 strips of vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon). Cook for about 2 minutes on each side until crisp; crumble and set aside.

To the skillet, add 2 cups fresh corn kernels, 1/4 cup chopped onion, one seeded and finely minced jalapeno and one minced garlic clove. Saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Place a final cup of fresh corn kernels (you'll have needed about 5 ears total for the recipe) in a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk). Process until smooth and pour into a large bowl.

Add the sauteed corn mixture, one more cup plain soy milk, 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and the equivalent of 2 eggs using the egg replacer of your choice (such as Ener-G). Stir to combine.

Divide evenly among 6 (6-oz) ramekins. Place the ramekins in a 13x9 inch glass baking dish, and fill the dish with an inch of hot water. Cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes; a knife inserted into the center of each custard should come out clean.

Mix your pre-made vegan bacon crumbles with 1/3 cup crushed baked potato chips (try the organic variety from Michael Seasons' brand: Sprinkle about a tablespoon and a half of the topping mixture over each custard. Return them to the oven at an increased temp of 'Broil' and broil for one minute until the tops begin to brown.

Each custard is 160 calories.

vegan bacon $2.50
corn $3.98
jalapeno pepper $0.12
baked potato chips $2.50

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Creamy Truffle-Scented White Bean Soup

What's interesting about this recipe for vegans is that the word 'creamy' in the title doesn't refer to a dairy product at all, even in the original version! It's pureeing the beans that makes the soup 'creamy'.

The other ingredient in the title - truffles - are truly one of the priciest foods out there - $55 per one-ounce jar of black truffles, $45 for a one-ounce jar of the white variety, according to various internet sources I checked out. I've heard of them selling for over a hundred dollars per ounce in seasons with poor yields! But if you want the delicious taste of truffles without all that expense, a small vial of truffle oil - such as this recipe calls for - is a great alternative. Although higher priced than other oils - olive, canola etc. - truffle oil has a strong taste, so a little goes a long way. That one vial will last you quite some time! I bought mine a little while back for about $14. But as you can see, it's only about as tall as my cell phone :)

For the soup tonight, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add one cup chopped onion and saute 2 minutes. Add one tablespoon bottled minced garlic and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and saute another 2 minutes. Finally, add a teaspoon and a half of chopped fresh rosemary; saute a final 30 seconds.

Add 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 (19-ounce) cans of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in two tablespoons lemon juice and let stand five minutes.

The recipe called to blend this in a blender in two batches. It was when I went to fetch my blender from the cupboard that I remembered I'm currently using it as a vase for some beautiful flowers my boyfriend brought home the other day. (It's the only vase-shaped vessel I have that was big enough for the bouquet!) So in a pinch, I used my hand blender, which I'm happy to report worked just as well in making this soup smooth and creamy.

Ladle one cup of soup into each of four bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/4 tsp. of truffle oil (remember: a little goes a long way). Each serving is 230 calories.

rosemary $2.99
broth $2.69
cannellini beans $2.37

Monday, August 25, 2008

Apple-Kiwi Dressing

Here's a simple dressing that you can refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days - try tossing it with a crunchy vegetable salad for lunch at work.

In a blender or food processor, combine 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons apple juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 tsp. raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 pound kiwifruit (about 2-3 kiwis) peeled and cut into chunks, and one small garlic clove. Process until smooth.

It's as easy as that! A tablespoon of the dressing is 20 calories, and you'll have about a cup.

cider vinegar $3.39
apple juice $1.99
kiwifruit $0.50

Sunday, August 24, 2008

'Cheesy' Polenta-Green Tomato Gratin

I wanted some way to use up the beautiful crop of farmer's market green tomatoes before their season ended! This gratin is like a spoonful of comfort.

In a saucepan, combine 1 and 3/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 3/4 cup water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil (be careful not to let the soy milk burn to the bottom of the pan - medium-high heat is better than very high). Once boiling, stir in 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes until thick - you'll want to stir frequently to prevent splattering. Transfer to an 8x8 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray - don't worry if the polenta mixture is still a little runny, as it will set once in the pan.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 1/2 cups chopped, firm green tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cumin, one chopped and seeded jalapeno, and one minced garlic glove. Saute for 6 minutes until the tomatoes are tender. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro if you like (I always think I have some in my fridge and then realize at the last minute it's parsley, so I had to skip this step!).

Pour the green tomato mixture evenly over the polenta. The original recipe called to top with a mixture of queso fresco and Monterey Jack. For the queso fresco, try the vegan feta from Sunergia ( crumbled to equal 3/4 cup. For the latter, try the vegan Monterey Jack from Vegan Gourmet ( shredded to equal 1/2 cup.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Divide into six equal portions of 200 calories each.

soy milk $2.39
green tomato $5.00
green onions $0.98
jalapeno $0.20
'feta' $3.69
'Monterey Jack' $4.19

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ginger Limeade

Pack this in a thermos and sip it anywhere you can watch the sunset.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger, 3 tablespoons grated lime rind (about 2 limes), 1/2 cup raw sugar and 10 mint leaves. Process until smooth, then cover and chill for two hours.

Add 5 and 3/4 cups water plus 1 and 1/4 cups fresh squeezed lime juice to the ginger mixture, stirring to combine. This recipe said that it would take about six limes to procure that much juice, but if you don't have a juicer, I recommend buying a few extra - I had about 8 limes and I still had to squeeze like heck to get out enough! Worst case scenario, if you're a 1/4 cup or so lime juice short, make up the difference with a little more water.

Pour 2 cups of limeade into each of 4 tall glasses for 4 servings of 130 calories. Garnish with lime wedges for a pretty presentation.

ginger $0.92
limes $3.00
mint $1.99

Friday, August 22, 2008

Grilled Vegetables with 'Feta'

Lovin' my grill pan these days, so here's another fun way to use it...

First make a vinaigrette by combining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette, one tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt and 2 small, minced garlic cloves - stir well with a whisk. I made the mistake of using up the last of my garlic last night, and thinking I wouldn't need any until the end of the weekend! Luckily, I have dried minced garlic in my spice cabinet, but since it's more potent than fresh, I only used a 1/4 tsp.

Slice one medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound) in half lengthwise. Place in a large bowl along with 2 quarters of a red bell pepper and 2 quarters of a yellow bell pepper. Toss with two tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

Brush the other two tablespoons of vinaigrette over 2 (4-inch) portobello mushroom caps and 2 (1/2-inch thick) slices of sweet onion - try Vidalia or Walla Walla.

Grill the vegetables on a grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. I used medium-high heat, and grilled the veggies in 2 separate batches since my grill pan is a bit small.

Transfer to a cutting board and cut each vegetable in half.

Place 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice on each of four plates. Top each serving of rice with one quarter of the vegetable slices - i.e. one yellow pepper slice, one red pepper slice, one zucchini quarter, one portobello slice and one onion slice). Top each serving with a tablespoon of crumbled 'feta' cheese - try the vegan feta from Sunergia:

Each serving is 350 calories - this recipe easily doubles if you're entertaining for a crowd... The only downside I can see is that it requires a lot of pans, ergo a lot of cleanup, so enlist a few helping hands to do the dishes in the kitchen while you - the chef - kick back with a chilled glass of wine.

zucchini $1.03
red bell pepper $1.44
yellow bell pepper $1.64
vidalia onion $0.51
portobello caps $3.49
basmati rice $1.93

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pasta with Five Fresh Herbs

A quick pasta dish for a busy weeknight. D0 try to buy the fresh herbs that this pasta calls for, although you can substitute dried in a pinch.

Cook 1/2 a pound penne rigate pasta according to package directions; drain and pour into a large bowl. Toss with one teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh oregano, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. (A note on the pasta: I like the organic penne from Bionaturae:

Heat a teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add one pint cherry tomatoes (grape tomatoes would work, too) and one small minced garlic clove. Cook for two minutes. Add a teaspoon and a half chopped fresh chives and 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme; cook another minute. Pour in 1/4 cup vegetable broth; it will come quickly to a boil. Once it boils, cook for another minute at high heat until the tomatoes just begin to char.

Add the tomato mixture to the pasta, along with a tablespoon chopped fresh parsley.

Place one and a half cups of pasta on each of three plates. The original recipe called for topping each serving with a teaspoon and a half of crumbled goat cheese. Instead try the soy feta from Sunergia ( Each serving is a filling 370 calories.

penne $2.50
basil $3.49
oregano $3.29
cherry tomatoes $2.99
chives $2.99
thyme $3.29
vegan feta $3.69

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Individual Spinach-'Asiago' Gratins

Believe it or not there's been a feeling of autumn in the air at night, this past week, even though the days are still humid and hot. Tonight I'm taking advantage by making a vegetable gratin that features fresh summer vegetables, but that's warm and comforting on a cool night... I'm going to be a doing a few different gratins in the next week or so, and they all sound delicious! So here's the first:

In a food processor, pulse a one-ounce slice of firm white bread (such as the Organic soft white from the Vermont Company) in a food processor, into coarse crumbs. Add one tablespoon parsley and pulse until combined. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray, and melt one teaspoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in the skillet. Add 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion and 2 minced garlic cloves; saute for 3 minutes. Add half a 10-oz package of fresh spinach (coarsely chopped); cook an additional 2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt. Add the remaining half of the package, and cook another 2 minutes until the spinach is thoroughly wilted. Remove from heat.

Place a tablespoon and a half all-purpose flour in a bowl. Add one cup plain soy milk, stirring with a whisk until combined. Pour the flour mixture into the skillet, along with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and a dash of nutmeg, and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thick. (The original recipe said it would be bubbly as well, but I found that - while mine thickened - it didn't bubble. I chalked this up to differences between cow's milk and soy milk).

Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup grated 'cheese' and stir until the 'cheese' melts. Of course the original recipe called for Asiago; try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods.

Divide the spinach mixture evenly among 4 (4-oz) ramekins while you preheat the oven to a broil. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture you made earlier. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil for one minute until the tops are lightly browned.

Each individual gratin is 120 calories. Serve this as a pretty side dish to the vegan entree of your choice!

sweet onion $0.51
fresh spinach $2.49
plain soy milk $1.00
vegan mozzarella $3.39
parsley $1.99

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Asian Cucumber Soup

This soup is like a gazpacho, but with cucumbers as a base instead of tomatoes.

In a blender, pulse one (1-ounce) slice of white bread into crumbs. (Try the organic soft white from the Vermont Company). Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a second bowl, combine 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper, 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, one and a half teaspoons chopped fresh garlic, one small garlic clove (minced) and two pounds of cucumber - peeled, seeded, cut in half lengthwise and chopped.

Place half of the cucumber mixture plus one cup vegetable broth in the blender; puree until smooth and then pour into the large bowl over the bread crumbs. Place the remaining half of the cucumber mixture in the blender with 2/3 cup vegetable broth; puree until smooth and add to the first batch.

Stir in 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, one teaspoon raw sugar, 1/2 tsp chile sauce and 1/4 tsp. salt. The original recipe called for Sriracha, a hot thai chile sauce, but versions I found on the grocery shelves contained fish sauce. Instead, try the chile sauce from Union Foods brand, the only ingredients of which are chile, salt, vinegar and sesame oil. (

Ladle 1 and 1/4 cups of the soup into each of 4 bowls. Drizzle each with 1/2 tsp. peanut oil, and you'll have four servings of 90 calories. Serve chilled!

yellow bell pepper $1.76
green onions $0.99
cilantro $1.99
cucumber $2.97
vegetable broth $2.69

Monday, August 18, 2008

Papaya-Carrot Slaw

An easy summer side dish for alongside a dinner or a picnic lunch.

Simply combine one cup shredded papaya, 1/2 cup shredded carrot, and 1/2 cup red bell pepper slices in a medium bowl. It was easy to finely slice red pepper slices and easier still to buy pre-shredded carrot, but I was a bit confused as to how one shreds a papaya. Luckily, I found the coolest instructive video online. Watch it here:

If that seems too complicated, peel a papaya and cut in half. Very thinly slice it with a knife.

To the papaya mixture, add one tablespoon grated, peeled ginger, 1 teaspoon grated lime rind, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and a 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss to combine; cover and chill until ready to serve.

1/2 cup is 30 calories - you'll have about 4 servings of that size.

papaya $3.36
pre-shredded carrot $1.79
red bell pepper $1.18
limes $1.50

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Red Tomato Chutney

This chutney would be delicious over any grilled veggie burger of your choice! Try the Bistro burger from Amy's ( for a lighter variety, or, if you really want something to sink your teeth into, try Amy's quarter-pounder... Since the flavors of this chutney start to trend towards fall, it's a great food for these end-of-August nights when things start to suddenly cool down again. If you prefer, make this in a couple more months and toss it with root vegetables - turnips, parsnips, sweet potato slices etc.. You could also make it now, mix it with vegan mayonnaise and voila - an instant dip for crudites.

To make: start by peeling 4 large tomatoes. Peeling tomatoes is an easy (and I think fun!) process; just bring a pot of water to a bowl. Mark a one-inch X in the bottom of each tomato with a knife. Place in the boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute, then immediately plunge in a bowl of ice water. The skins will slip right off!

Finely chop the tomatoes to equal 3 cups (although the recipe didn't specify, I seeded the tomato as well, so the chutney wouldn't be too runny). Place the tomato pieces in a large saucepan along with: 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, one cup finely chopped red onion, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (try an organic variety such as the one from Whole Foods' 365 brand), 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. allspice and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduced heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes until thick, stirring frequently. Cool, and then pour into an airtight container. You'll wind up with about 3 1/2 cups, but it will keep in the fridge for up to two months. Two tablespoons is 30 calories - enjoy the chutney with any of the suggestions above, or in your own creative way!

tomato $4.72
red bell pepper $1.18
red onion $1.59
dried cranberries $5.99
brown sugar $3.39
ginger $1.32

Saturday, August 16, 2008

'Feta'-Basil Sandwiches

Here's another great way to take advantage of the fact that there's finally a yummy vegan feta (my favorite and most missed cheese) on the market...

In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as the any of the varieties from Sunergia:, along with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 2 tablespoons vegan mayo of your choice (I like the canola mayo from Spectrum Foods), and a dash of black pepper.

Spread about 2 and a half tablespoons of the 'feta' mixture onto each of two (one and a half ounce) slices of white bread. White bread is yet another version that is tough to find in vegan form - why oh why do companies feel that bread needs to contain nonfat milk?? But I verified that the Vermont Company's organic soft white is vegan, after a thorough perusal of the ingredients, so try that one!

Top each bread slice with two (1/4 inch thick) slices of tomato. Top with another slice of white bread. You now have two sandwiches of 320 calories and lots of yumminess.

'feta' $3.69
basil $3.49
white bread $4.39
tomato $1.67

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer Squash and Pasta Soup

If you have a bumper crop of summer squash right now - or just like the stuff! - try this easy soup recipe.

Melt 2 teaspoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion and one minced garlic clove; saute for 3 minutes. Add one and a half cups of yellow squash (buy small ones, halve them lengthwise, and then thinly slice, so the pieces fit onto a soup spoon!) Saute another 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine and cook for an additional minute or so until the wine mostly evaporates (it took me a bit more than a minute). Then add two cups vegetable broth and one cup water, and bring to a boil.

A note on the wine: I was in a French mood, so went with a Sancerre... look for a producer that's either bio-dynamic or practicing organic (since they're less likely to use animal products in the filtration) or one that's unfiltered altogether... that's your best bet for finding a vegan wine.

Once the broth mixture comes to a boil, add 2/3 cup uncooked ditalini pasta. Ditalini is a very short, almost square tube-shaped macaroni that works well for soups. Eden Organics makes a kamut ditalini that is vegan. ( You can find this shape from non-organic producers as well, but since regular pastas in this country tend to be enriched (iron being the most suspicious ingredient; I just learned it usually comes from pig corpses ::shudder::), then avoid buying this if you can. If you can't find the ditalini from Eden, try an organic short elbow macaroni, instead. Incidentally, I like the Ancient Harvest elbows, because they are a bit wider than other brands' versions, and thus look more like ditalini: Incidentally, since they are made with quinoa flour, they are higher in protein, which can never steer you wrong.

Phew - sorry for that long tangent! Anyway, add 2/3 cup uncooked ditalini pasta and cook for ten minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or use 1/2. tsp chopped fresh thyme if you prefer). Ladle one cup into each of 4 bowls for 4 servings of 130 calories.

yellow squash $1.59
white wine $16.99
vegetable broth $2.69
pasta $2.99

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Succotash-'Cheddar' Casserole with Crunchy 'Bacon' Topping

Succotash is traditionally made with corn and lima beans, so this is a great way to use the last of fresh summer corn before its season comes to a close. The richness of this casserole would make a good dinner, if you double the portions, and serve it alongside whole grain bread or mashed potatoes.

To start, add 2 cups frozen lima beans to boiling water and cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add 3 slices of vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon) and cook for 3 minutes, turning once, until crisp. The original recipe, of course, called for cooking the bacon in its own juices and using that to coat the pan, but since vegan bacon is a lot leaner (and healthier!) add cooking spray so nothing sticks.

Remove the 'bacon' from the pan - crumble and set aside. To the pan, add 2/3 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook for four minutes.

Stir in the cooked lima beans plus 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3-4 ears of corn).

While the vegetables have been cooking, make a 'slurry.' A slurry is a 'suspension of solids in a liquid', according to Wikipedia. In cooking terms, this means a liquid and a starch, used as a thickening agent. In this case, place 2 and a half tablespoons flour in a bowl. Gradually add 1/3 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) to form the slurry, stirring with a whisk.

Add the slurry to the vegetables in the pan, along with an additional 1/4 tsp. salt and an additional cup of plain soy milk. Cook for another 2 and 1/2 minutes over medium heat until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (try the cheddar block from Galaxy Foods), stirring until the 'cheese' melts.

Transfer to an 8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

The original recipe called for crumbled Ritz crackers as a topping. I was not optimistic, heading to the grocery store, that I would be able to find an exact vegan substitute, but on the shelf I made a great discovery! The Classic Rich flavor "flaky buttery tasting crackers" from Late July organics contain: no trans fat, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, no cholesterol and are certified kosher and VEGAN. It was like stumbling upon a dream come true. So everybody, hie to the website for Late July: I intend to make this my snacking company of choice.

Anyway, place 15 of the 'classic rich' flavored crackers in a zip lock plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. Sprinkle evenly over the succotash. Top that evenly with the crumbled 'bacon' slices.

Cook it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until nice and bubbly. Divide into six servings of 3/4 cup (260 calories).

lima beans $2.19
vegan bacon $2.50
onion $1.06
red bell pepper $1.47
corn $2.99
soy milk $1.00
'cheddar cheese' $3.39
crackers $2.99

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Monterey Jack' and Jalapeno Sandwiches

Try this vegan version of a pimiento cheese sandwich, a sandwich specialty from down South.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill 4 slices of sourdough bread for two minutes on each side, until lightly browned. I had a bit of trouble finding a pre-packaged sourdough that would work for this recipe - the ones on offer from popular companies like Pepperidge Farm contained a whole host of vegan no nos, starting with nonfat milk and going downhill from there. Plus, I tend to stay away from any bread with an ingredient list that long....

Luckily, the whole grain sourdough from The Baker was vegan. I love their other breads, too:

Slice a garlic clove in half. Discard one of the halves, and rub the other over one side of each of the four bread slices.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup shredded vegan Monterey Jack cheese (such as the one from Vegan Gourmet:, 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, a teaspoon and a half finely chopped green onions and a teaspoon and a half finely chopped pickled jalapenos (look for these either with pickles or in the Mexican food section of a grocery store).

For vegan mayonnaise, I go with Spectrum's Light Canola Mayo, which is certified eggless and vegan. But there's plenty of other options on the market - Vegenaise, Nasoya etc. As is so often the case with vegan alternatives, these not only have the benefit of being cruelty free, but are better for your health too!

Spread about 3 tablespoons of the 'cheese' filling onto two of the bread slices, garlic side up. Place the other two bread slices on top of the sandwiches, garlic side down. Each of the two sandwiches is 360 calories.

sourdough bread $2.69
vegan mayonnaise $3.99
pickled jalapeno $0.99

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eggplant and Tomato-Mint Salsa

Try this salsa as an appetizer with crusty bread slices or crackers - or you could use it as a filling for pita bread to make pocket sandwiches.

Slice two medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total) in half lengthwise. Lightly score the cut sides of the eggplant by making a few shallow x's with a knife. Place the eggplant, cut sides down on a prepared grill (or stovetop grill pan) coated with cooking spray and cook for 20 minutes until very tender, turning occasionally. The recipe didn't specify how much heat to use, so I kept the burner hovering between medium/medium-high, and this seems to have worked perfectly.

Scoop out the pulp - be careful not to burn your fingers! - and place the pulp in a sieve; let stand for one hour until cooled and drained.

Coarsely mash the pulp and place in a bowl, along with one and a half cups chopped, seeded tomato, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and one minced garlic clove.

Serve at room temperature. Each 1/2 cup is 70 calories - you should have about 4 servings.

eggplant $2.37
tomato $2.95
mint $1.99

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Day Soup

I love soup. I love summer. Alas, they don't always go hand-in-hand. But try this chilled summer soup recipe and you can enjoy a bowlful for lunch on even the most humid day. Try this with hearty whole grain bread on the side, or a grilled soy cheese sandwich.

Get ready for a long list of ingredients. In a large bowl, combine: 4 cups chilled vegetable juice (I like the low-sodium kind from R.W. Knudsen:, 2 cups chopped tomato, 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion, 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled and seeded cucumber, one cup chopped bell pepper (use whatever color you prefer - I chose green), 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, one teaspoon dried basil, one teaspoon agave nectar (in place of honey, for which the original recipe called), 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, and 2 minced garlic cloves.


Ladle 4 cups of the mixture into a blender; process until smooth. Return back to the bowl, and stir to combine. Cover and chill. You'll have about 8, one-cup servings of 70 calories.

vegetable juice $2.79
tomato $2.95
sweet onion $1.24
cucumber $0.99
bell pepper $1.00
tarragon vinegar $6.34
dried basil $3.99

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread

Try this southwestern version of that Middle Eastern vegan/vegetarian staple - falafel. These little sandwiches are a great way to get some protein, plus absolutely delicious! The sauce in this version is more like guacamole than the traditional tahini.

To make the patties, pour one (15.5 oz) can pinto beans (rinsed and drained) into a medium bowl. Mash slightly with a fork. The recipe calls for one egg white to use as a thickener, but make the equivalent of one egg using the egg replacer of your choice (such as Ener-G). Along with the 'egg' add: 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack vegan cheese (try the one from Vegan Gourmet:, 1/4 cup crushed baked tortilla chips (I like the ones from Guiltless Gourmet - salted or unsalted, whichever you prefer), 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro and 1/8 tsp. cumin. Stir to combine. (Full disclosure: I thought I had cilantro in my fridge, but didn't, so I omitted it - oops!).

Shape the bean mixture into four even patties.

Heat a teaspoon and a half of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

While they cook, mix together: 1/4 cup mashed peeled avocado, 2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomato, one tablespoon finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti), a teaspoon lime juice and 1/8 tsp. salt.

Cut 2 (6-inch) pitas in half. Place one bean patty in each pita half, and spread two tablespoons of the avocado mixture over each patty. One pita half is 290 calories.

pinto beans $0.79
'Monterey Jack' $4.19
tortilla chips $2.29
green onions $0.99
avocado $1.99
plum tomato $1.99
red onion $1.01
pitas $1.99

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Couscous and Summer Vegetable Saute

A couple servings of this make a light summer supper. It would also be good packed in tupperware and brought to work during the week for lunch.

Cook 3/4 cup uncooked couscous according to package directions; keep warm.

Heat a teaspoon and a half olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini and 1/4 cup chopped onion; saute for 3 minutes. Add the cooked couscous, along with 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears). Cook an additional minute. Remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

This recipe makes 6 small servings of 2/3 cup and 140 calories each (or, as I mentioned above, double the portions for 3 larger servings).

zucchini $1.43
corn $2.99

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mashed Potatoes with Chives

When I was a kid, my dad used to make what we dubbed his "world-famous mashed potatoes." Needless to say, this decadent recipe involved copious amounts of milk and butter, so I can no longer enjoy his version as an adult. I do, however, enjoy trying to find mashed potato recipes that mimic the ones I remember from my childhood! These make a great side dish to vegan sausage patties or tempeh. For ideas, check out any of the vegan varieties from Gardenburger.

But for this recipe, start by peeling one pound Yukon gold potatoes. Place in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until tender (Note: cutting the potatoes into smaller pieces will speed up cook time, if you buy large ones - which are easier to peel!). Drain, and set aside. Yukon golds have a slightly buttery flavor naturally, which helps mimic what this vegan version lacks in real butter.

Heat 1/4 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) and a tablespoon and a half vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter melts, then remove from heat.

Place the potatoes in a bowl and mash to desired consistency. Add the soy milk mixture, 1/4 tsp. salt (use kosher salt for crunchier texture), and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, stirring until combined. Stir in one tablespoon chopped fresh chives.

3/4 cup is 190 calories. You'll have about 3 servings.

Yukon gold potatoes $1.04
soy milk $1.49
vegan butter $3.19
chives $2.49

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bean and Corn Salsa

Instead of having this salsa as an appetizer with chips, try it over a baked potato for a hearty vegan entree.

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups chopped seeded tomato, 3/4 cup chopped vidalia onion, 1/2 cup chopped tomatillo, 1/4 cup black beans (rinsed and drained), 1/4 cup fresh corn (about one ear), 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. of hot sauce (I like the organic hot sauce from Whole Foods' 365 brand).

Cover and chill the mixture for at least 2 hours, then do with it as you will - tortilla chips, baked potatoes etc. Be creative!

1/4 cup of the salsa is 20 calories.

tomatoes $3.74
vidalia onion $1.01
tomatillo $1.40
black beans $1.79
corn $2.99
parsley $2.29

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Classic Basil Pesto

Try this fresh pesto over any pasta of your choice - it works especially well with thinner noodles such as spaghetti or angel hair. Making pesto at home is a great way to ensure that it has more basil than olive oil, as commercial versions can be awfully oily! Plus, of course, most commercial versions contain cheese.

In a food processor, combine 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, 1/3 cup grated 'cheese' (the original recipe called for Parmesan; I used the vegan Mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 cup vegetable broth, one tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts, one tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. each of salt and black pepper, and one minced garlic clove. Process until smooth.

You'll have about 3/4 cup pesto total. A quarter cup is 120 calories.

basil $2.99
vegan cheese $3.39
walnuts $4.99

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

I'm quite enjoying the use of my grill pan, to capture the flavor of summer. Sure, you could steam or saute asparagusany time, but grilling gives the vegetable a wonderful taste and texture.

This recipe is super simple: snap the ends off one pound of asparagus. In a bowl or dish, drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt (use kosher salt for crunchier texture if you like), and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Toss to coat.

Grill over medium-high heat on a grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray for 4 minutes, turning once so that all sides grill evenly. Place back in a serving platter and drizzle with one tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette. This is best if you serve it immediately. Coincidentally, it would go great with the tofu steaks I made last night (August 4 post). 4 servings of 30 calories (about 6-7 spears).

asparagus $3.91

Monday, August 4, 2008

GInger-Sesame Grilled Tofu Steaks

As promised, here's a main dish recipe that utilizes the vinaigrette from yesterday. You can grill these tofu steaks either outdoors or over a stovetop grill pan.

First, slice 1/2 a pound extra-firm, water-packed tofu into 4 equal slices. Place on several layers of paper towels, and top with additional layers. Let stand for twenty minutes, pressing down occasionally. This ensures that the tofu will be able to soak up the marinade!

In an 8x8 baking dish, combine 1/3 cup Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette (see recipe from August 3) with one and a half teaspoons finely chopped cilantro and one and a half teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce. Remove two tablespoons of the marinde and set aside in a bowl for later. Place the four tofu slices in the baking dish, turning to coat in the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for thirty minutes, turning occasionally.

Remove from fridge and momentarily add 4 lime slices into the marinade, turning to coat. Remove the lime and the tofu from the dish and place on a grill rack or pan heated over medium-high heat and coated with cooking spray. Cook for two minutes on each side, basting with the left-over marinade in the dish.

On each of two plates, spoon 1/2 cup cooked, short-grain white rice. (Incidentally, I love purchasing grains like rice, quinoa etc. from the bulk bins at my local organic grocer - this way, if you have a recipe that calls for only a small amount of rice, you don't have a whole extra tub-ful of it sitting on your shelf!) Top each servingof rice with two slices of tofu, two slices of lime, and one tablespoon of the marinade that you set aside earlier. Each serving is 310 calories and voila - dinner for two. Add a side of steamed sugar snap peas or snow peas to make a complete meal. You can easily double this if you're serving four.

tofu $1.69
lime $0.50
white rice $1.20

Sunday, August 3, 2008

GInger-Sesame Vinaigrette

Mostly I'm making this dressing to use in tomorrow night's recipe (so stay tuned!) but I'm making it ahead to use the leftover in a salad tonight. It's really versatile and is a great compliment to any salad made with sweeter veggies - think jicama, oranges, spinach leaves, or drizzled over avocado slices or even rice noodles. I'll give you a more main-dish way to use this dressing tomorrow night. But first...

In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup yellow or white miso paste, whisking until smooth.

Add 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons soy sauce (try to use the low-sodium kind), 4 teaspoons canola oil and 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil.

You can store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, but shake well before serving, since the solids will float to the top! One tablespoon is 30 calories.

rice wine vinegar $2.99
miso $3.99
green onions $0.99
ginger $0.60

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Zucchini Oven Chips

These make a great nosh to pass around with drinks before dinner. Make them right before serving, as they're best hot out of the oven!

The original recipe called for grated fresh parmesan, but the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods works well here. In a shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the 'cheese' with 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp. regular or seasoned salt, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.
Place 2 tablespoons of plain soy milk (such as Silk) in a small bowl.

Slice 1/4-inch thick slices of zucchini to equal 2 1/2 cups. Working with one slice at a time, dip into the soy milk, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the slices on an ovenproof wire cooling rack (coated with cooking spray), placed over a baking sheet. This ensures that the zucchini chips receive heat from all sides while baking, and get extra crisp. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes until your zucchini slices are crisp and golden. 3/4 cups worth of 'chips' is 70 calories, and you'll have about 4 servings total. Bon appetit!

soy milk $1.49
zucchini $1.73

Friday, August 1, 2008

Polenta with Chunky Tomato Sauce and 'Pecorino Romano'

To compliment my sweet polenta cake from the other night, here's one option for serving it as a dinner. Polenta is a great vegan staple because it's filling with about 9 grams of protein per serving. Try this recipe tonight, and experiment with other toppings for another night.

To make the polenta, place 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal in a saucepan. Gradually add 3 cups water, stirring with a whisk constantly. Add 1/4 tsp. salt.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently - the more you stir, the less it splatters! Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup grated 'pecorino romano' cheese - I used the vegan Mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods.

Pour into an 8x8 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading so that it is even and the surface is flat. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, until firm. (Note: you can leave it to chill as long as overnight, if you want to speed up preparation on the night that you make this).

To prepare the topping, combine 1 and 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot, one and a half tablespoons thinly sliced basil, 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram (use about 3/4 tsp. fresh if you prefer), 1/2 tsp. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper. Set aside.

Heat a grill or grill pan coated with cooking spray over the stove over medium heat. Using a 2-and-a-half-inch round cookie cutter, cut six rounds into the polenta (you'll have a bit of leftover, that you can either discard or reserve for another use). Grill the polenta for five minutes on each side until golden brown.

On each of three plates, arrange 2 polenta rounds and 1/2 a cup of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the servings evenly with an additional two tablespoons of grated 'cheese'. Each serving is 260 calories. This makes a great al fresco summer dinner!

tomato $1.92
shallots $0.20
basil $2.99

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