Veggie Lasagna with Tofu Cashew Ricotta

Yep, this lightened up, healthy lasagna is vegan but you really won’t miss the cheese, I swear.  I know because I always loved cheesy baked pasta dishes so I if I was going to create a cheeseless lasagna, it had to be good.  I skip using any type of packaged vegan cheese on this because I’m really picky about how I use those and I wanted to preserve the other flavors going on here.  Of course you can always switch up the veggies based on what you like or have on hand.  One important tip, do pick a good quality pasta sauce if you don’t make your own.  I love Rao’s, Marinelli’s, and Paesana sauces.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

Basil Ricotta

¾ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hrs

½ block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Low-sodium broth for sautéing

2 portobello caps, gills removed, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 heaping cup chopped broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

2 cups pasta sauce

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all the basil ricotta ingredients to a food processor and process until it all comes together.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few  tablespoons of broth, just enough to barely coat bottom of the pan.  You don’t want too much liquid because you want the veggies to brown a bit.  Add portobello, bell pepper, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in broccoli and garlic and, adding a little more broth as needed. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Assemble lasagna: (note: you will have to trim noodles to fit and you may not use them all).  Coat bottom of a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, top with half the veggies.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on top.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, veggies and sauce.  Now top with the last layer of noodles, ricotta and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

 

Crispy Tofu Tacos

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so it couldn’t be a better time for perfecting some of those Mexican inspired recipes, of course done vegan and healthy.  When I teach cooking classes people always ask me for tips on cooking tofu.  I think getting the right texture is the biggest challenge when cooking with tofu.  In this recipe I’ve used one of my secret weapons, the vacuum packed tofu that’s already been pressed.  Not the kind in water that you have to drain and press yourself.  This way you cut out a step and the tofu already has that firm texture.  You definitely wouldn’t a watery, mushy mesh of tofu in your tacos. Yuck.

 I love the House Foods Vacuum Packed Tofu, and the Cutlet is great too because it also has a “skin” on it, as well as great texture. And bonus – they’re CERTIFIED ORGANIC and NON-GMO CERTIFIED. So, so important when buying soy products. You can read more about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) on the Non-GMO Project site.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)

1 8oz. package vacuum packed tofu such as House Foods (not the kind in water)

1/4 cup diced onion (or add 1/2 tsp onion powder to spices)

4 crispy taco shells, warmed in the oven

Fixins: Avocado (mashed with a pinch of salt), pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, hot sauce

Method

Mix spices in a bowl, then add soy sauce.  Crumble tofu into the bowl and mix with a fork to further break up tofu and thoroughly coat with spices.

Heat a skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil.  Add tofu and onion.  Cook over medium-heat, stirring a few times, for about 5-8 minutes.  Spoon into tacos shells and pile on the fixins!

Vegan Frijoles Charros

One day I’ll get around to soaking dried beans overnight and cooking them for hours, but that’s not today.  There’s never enough time.  So I figured out a way to cheat use canned pinto beans while still developing a sauce for them to bathe in.  Very flavorful and so easy!  

Bonus: you can puree them or mash with a fork and you’ve got healthier refried beans or add a little extra broth or some salsa, puree and you’ve got yourself a dip.  I just love taking one recipe and morphing it into several different dishes.

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Makes about 2 – 1 cup servings


Ingredients

Cooking spray or oil

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup green pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp chopped jalapeno (optional)

1/2 cup diced tomato

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder (spicy) or smoked paprika (mild)

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Method

Heat a lightly oiled, high-sided skillet over low-medium then add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno with dash of salt.  Cook 5 minutes being careful not to let the garlic get brown.  Stir in tomato, cumin, chipotle or paprika, vinegar and let it cook for a minute, then stir in broth.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture from the pan to a blender or food processor and puree.  Add back to the pan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the beans.  Let them cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then serve.

Spiced Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually not grain but rather a seed. What makes it so wonderful is that it’s a plant-based, complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t produce).  Yea, that’s pretty cool.  One cup cooked gives you 8 grams of protein with just over 200 calories and about 3.5g fat.  For long time I wanted so badly to love this little protein-packed wonder seed, but everytime I cooked it I found it tastless and mushy.  Yuck.  So, I decided to try using less liquid and swapped broth for water, threw in spices, garlic, etc. and voila, I was converted.

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Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

Olive oil or cooking spray

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth (water can be substituted)

Salt and pepper to taste

Pepitas (already roasted pumpkin seeds) or regular raw pumpkin seeds

Chopped cilantro

Method

Heat oil in a skillet.  Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, quinoa; stir o combine everything and cook just a minute.  Add in broth and stir.  Turn heat up and bring to boil, then reduce to low and simmer covered 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  If there’s still too much liquid, you can removed cover and cook a few minutes longer.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve as a side dish, add beans to make it a main dish, or add to a wrap with veggies.

*To roast pumpkin seeds just lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking oil, and bake at 350 for a few minutes until they start to turn golden.  I’ve never actually timed it but they always turn out ok.

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with Coleslaw & Avocado

Can it just be summer already!?  The days are getting longer, the flip flops have had a couple outings, and baseball is here but I’m done with wearing a coat to the games.  So yea, I’ve been daydreaming about all things summer and it shows with what I’ve been craving.

This is the first of many summer recipes that I’ll be cooking up.  The marriage of a smokey barbecue sauce and a tangy coleslaw is simply divine.  Add in the avocado, put it between bread, and it’s heaven!  It’s important to get a stellar barbecue sauce and if you’re vegan, read the ingredients.  Some have worcestershire sauce in them and therefore can have anchovies (yes, many worcestershire sauces have anchovies).  Some BBQ sauces also have honey so heads up for those who may avoid that as well.  I love Stubb’s or Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce, which is pretty kickass.  Check out it’s 5 out 5 stars  review on this site loaded with reviews of barbecue sauces.

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Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

Tempeh

1/2 package of tempeh, sliced

Barbecue sauce

Coleslaw

2 Tbsp unsweetened almond or soy milk

2 tsp distilled white vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp vegan mayo, such as Earth Balance or Vegenaise

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp grated onion

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded or chopped cabbage

1 small carrot, grated

Slice bread or roll

Avocado, mashed

Method

Place sliced tempeh in a shallow tupperware or dish.  Slather on the barbecue sauce with a brush (a small spatula or spoon will work) getting it all nice and coated. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

While it’s marinating, make your slaw.  This is also best if it has a little time to sit.  Mix your almond milk, vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl.  Give it a stir and let it sit for a 5 minutes.  Now whisk in your mayo, sugar, onion, salt and pepper.  Make any adjustments to suit your taste.  Add cabbage and carrot and toss to thoroughly coat.  Set in the fridge.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Take tempeh slices and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, flip pieces and bake another 10-12 minutes depending on how thin the tempeh is sliced and how crispy you want it.

Take some mashed avocado and spread on one or both slices of bread.  My favorite way to assemble is bread w/ avocado, tempeh, spread on a little extra barbecue sauce, coleslaw, bread w/ avocado.  Dig in!

Summer Tomato Bruschetta

Serve this on crostini, pasta, salad, pizza or just eat with a spoon.  It’s always delicious!

 Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil (preferably a higher quality)

1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered (remove some seeds if desired)

1 small handful basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Method

In a large bowl whisk olive oil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes and basil, give a quick stir and voila.  Fresh tomato bruschetta!

Hoe Cakes (aka Cornmeal Pancakes)

Hoe cakes, also known as cornmeal pancakes, are basically a pancake that is typically made with a equal parts flour and cornmeal.  They get their name from way back in the day when they were cooked on hoe over a fire.  These little treats were George Washington’s breakfast of choice and he enjoyed them with honey.  I like mine with raw agave or maple syrup and vegan Earth Balance (note: the Whipped one tastes like butter and is much better than the Original).

Makes 3-4 small hoe cakes

Ingredients

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup flour (I use half whole wheat and oat flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup

Canola oil

Method

Recommended: use a cast iron skillet and set on burner over medium heat to allow it to heat while you mix ingredients.

Measure your almond milk in a measuring cup and then add the lemon juice.  Give it a stir and set aside.

 Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt to a bowl and whisk or stir.  Add applesauce, agave, and almond milk mixture and stir.

For each cake add about 2 tablespoons of batter to lightly oiled, heated skillet. Spread out to form a small circle.  Let cook about 4 minutes (will depend on how hot your skillet is) or until the edges start to dry and crust.  Flip and cook about 3-4 more minutes.

No-Bake Lemon Coconut Bars

I love lemon anything and I love coconut anything.  And I love the two together .  One of my all-time favorite desserts is the lemon coconut bundt cake in my Veganomicon cookbook but unfortunately I can’t eat cake everyday. Since I’ve been experimenting with making my own version of Lara Bars, I had to do one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Oh boy, it did not disappoint.  I feel way less guilty about devouring these little treats that are raw, vegan, whole food ingredients, with no sugar added.

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Makes about 20 1-2 inch squares

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews

2 cups dried dates, pitted

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Zest of one lemon

2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Method

Note: If your dates aren’t very soft, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes or until softened.

Blend cashews in a food processor until it’s just beginning to turn from a powder to a nut butter.  This will take a few minutes so be patient.  Now add your dates and process until it all comes together.  This could also take a few minutes.  Scrape down the sides if needed.  Now add remaining ingredients pulse several times until all incorporated.

Remove and place on parchment paper.  Press into a square or rectangle and place another sheet of parchment on top.  Optional: use a cast iron skillet to flatten the top.  Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, then cut into squares.  Store in the refrigerator.

Southwest Black Bean, Corn, and Rice Salad

So many great things about this dish – it’s an easy mix some stuff together kind of recipe, it’s vegan and healthy, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t really require cooking if you get the kind of rice you can just microwave.  Oh and it’s versatile too.  You can switch up the grains (I used a combination or brown rice and barley), add avocado if you like, use it as a side or a main dish, in tacos or burritos, whatever you want.  The recipe makes 2-3 side dish servings but it can easily be doubled for a 4-5 person dinner or for a party.

Serves 2-3 as a side dish

Ingredients

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cups cooked brown rice, barley or another grain

3/4 cup cooked black beans (about half a can drained)

3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix spices, oil, broth and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is combined and mixed with the dressing.  This is best if left to chill in the refridgerator 1-2 hours before serving.

Falafel Spiced Roasted Chickpea Tacos

I really love falafel.  So much in fact that at one point I created a baked falafel recipe in my early days of blogging.  I’ve been meaning to revisit this recipe to see how I could revamp it, but to have to bust out the food processor, form little patties, and all that, just hasn’t been something I’ve had time for.  So I had this brilliant idea to take all those spices and flavors and just coat the chickpeas in them, then roast them.  I do love roasted chickpeas. I substitute onion for onion powder, fresh garlic with garlic powder that way I wouldn’t have to worry about it burning in the oven and the flavors would be all combined.   It worked like a charm!  I got my falafely goodness without the work. Yep, I’ll pat myself on the back for this one.  It’s pretty freakin’ good.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

Diced tomato

Diced onion

Diced dill pickle (yes this goes very well with falafel)

Lettuce

Tahini dressing (I love the one from Trader Joes that you can find by the hummus or try my recipe)

Taco size tortillas

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chickpeas to a bowl and add olive oil and lemon juice.  Give it a toss to coat.

In a small bowl, mix all the spices together.  This is important so that you have an even flavor throughout.  Add the spices to the chickpeas along with the fresh herbs and lastly the salt and pepper.  Toss to thoroughly coat.

Spread chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes (depending how crispy you want them).