Friday, October 31, 2008

Quince Butter

One final recipe to take advantage of the quince that is season! Quince has a naturally high level of pectin, which makes it ideal for jams or 'butters' such as this one.

Combine 2 cups water and 1/2 cup raw sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook at a boil for 2 minutes. Add 3/4 lb. of cored, peeled, and quartered quince (about one large or two small). Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove from heat, and remove the quince with a slotted spoon to a food processor; process until smooth.

Return the cooking liquid to the burner over medium-high heat. Cook without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees. (It'll be really bubbly!)

Remove from heat, and stir in the quince puree and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to two months.

Two tablespoons is 100 calories. For a yummy hors d'oeuvre, spread onto crusty bread, and top with thin slices of the vegan cheese of your choice - or if you have non-vegans coming over and don't mind buying it, try thinly sliced Manchego cheese.

quince $1.98

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Polenta with Port-Poached Quince and 'Blue Cheese'

This is a great appetizer to serve at any party, but especially fun for Halloween since it's orange-y in color - although as you poach the quince, your kitchen will smell like Christmas!

You can make the quince ahead of time. Simply combine one cup apple juice (try to buy an organic variety without any added sugar), one cup tawny port, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and one rosemary sprig in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add one cup of peeled, cored and chopped quince. Reduce the heat to medium-low (it should just be at a simmer) and simmer for 45 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature before draining through a sieve over a bowl. Store the quince and the reserved cooking liquid separately until ready to make the rest of the recipe - discard the rosemary.

When it comes close to serving time, return the reserved liquid to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then cook for ten minutes until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Slice a (16-ounce) tube of polenta into 14 (1/2-inch thick) slices. Place in a single layer in the pan, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and cook for 8 minutes. Turn over and cook another 8 minutes.

Place the polenta slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top each with one tablespoon quince and one teaspoon of crumbled vegan blue cheese (try the Soy Blue from Sunergia) - broil in the oven for 2 minutes.

Place the polenta rounds on a platter and drizzle with the reduced cooking liquid. 2 rounds make an appetizer serving of 150 calories. Serve warm.

A note on the port: as with wines, some ports are filtered with animal byproducts. If this troubles you, look for one that is vegan; yes they are out there. Casal dos Jordoes makes a tawny port that is certified vegan, although a bit pricey, so you may only want to opt for that if you're a port drinker and intend to finish the bottle. You can order it online from: (which also has tons of vegan wine!)

apple juice $2.00
tawny port $11.99
quince $1.98
polenta $2.79
'blue cheese' $4.19

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Walnuts

I had to get a cavity filled today - it's my first one, but I guess even health-conscious vegans need fillings sometimes! Anyway, it made it seem like a good night for soup.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat the foil with cooking spray. Place 4 cups chopped and peeled butternut squash, 3/4 tsp. olive oil, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper on the baking sheet and toss to combine. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until the squash is tender. (Note: buying pre-chopped butternut squash saves a lot of time here - check the produce section of your grocery store!)

Place the squash in a blender along with two cups plain soy milk (such as Silk) and 7 ounces of vegetable broth. Blend until smooth and transfer to a large saucepan. Do this in two batches if your blender is small.

Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes until thoroughly heated (but don't bring to a boil). Add a 1/4 tsp. salt and another dash of black pepper.

Meanwhile, toast 2 tablespoons of walnuts in a small saucepan over medium heat for one to two minutes, stirring or tossing pretty frequently so they don't burn - they're done when you begin to smell their aroma. Don't chop the walnuts until after they're toasted, if you use this method.

Ladle one cup of soup into each of four bowls and top each serving with a teaspoon and a half of the toasted walnuts, for four servings of 210 calories.

butternut squash $3.26
soy milk $2.49
vegetable broth $1.29
walnuts $5.49

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Olive Oil-Whipped Potatoes

Olive oil and 'cream' make these potatoes the ultimate comfort food.

Peel 2 pounds of baking potato (about 3). Cut each potato lengthwise into quarters, and then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices - these smaller pieces help cut down on cooking time for busy nights!

Place in a saucepan and cover with warm water (another time saver over adding cold water); bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Drain the potatoes and let stand 5 minutes before returning to the pan. Add 1/3 a cup warm 'cream' (try the plain-flavored creamer from Silk - heat it in a saucepan over low heat for a few minutes to warm it up), along with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency, or, for even smoother potatoes, use a ricer (which, alas, I do not have). This recipe yields 5 side servings - 3/4 cup and 230 calories.

baking potato $2.05

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kale with Garlic and Peppers

Green leafy vegetables are highly nutritious, and easy to prepare into any number of side dishes. In this one, I use kale, which is high in antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and potent anti-cancer properties similar to those in broccoli.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper and one tablespoon chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper, along with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; saute 3 minutes.

Add 14 cups of kale, chopped and stems discarded (don't worry - all of that kale is going to reduce way down!) and 1/2 a cup vegetable broth; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for ten minutes, stirring once.

Remove the lid, add one minced garlic clove, and cook an additional two minutes, uncovered, or until the liquid evaporates (this step actually took more more like 5 minutes).

A one cup serving (of which you'll have 4) is about 160 calories. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

red bell pepper $2.17
kale $5.98
lemon $0.99

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Polenta Lasagna

Slices of precooked polenta stand in for lasagna noodles in this recipe.

This recipe also called for meatless fat-free sausage - my eyes actually nearly skipped over it in the magazine, assuming it was a carnivore's dish, until I spotted the word 'meatless' in the ingredient list! A lot of versions of vegetarian sausage are actually quite high in fat, so be careful while selecting, and check ingredient list for sneaky things like eggs. I found that the breakfast sausage links from Lightlife worked great in this recipe, as well as being low in fat and certified vegan:

Whichever brand you choose, cook the sausages according to package directions, let cool slightly and then crumble to equal one cup. Set aside.

Spoon 1/2 a cup of marinara sauce from a 26-ounce jar into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, spreading evenly. Set aside. For the marinara sauce, just be sure to check ingredient lists - some brands will throw Parmesan cheese in there! I used the organic brand Gia Russa:

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add one cup finely chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper; saute for 4 minutes. Stir in the crumbled 'sausage' and cook another 2 minutes. Next, add one cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped zucchini and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook a final two minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the rest of the 26-ounce can of marinara sauce; reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, slice one (16-ounce) tube of polenta into 18 equal slices - you can usually find polenta usually with other grains in the grocery store, or check near the tofu section.

Arrange 9 of the slices evenly over the marinara sauce in the baking dish. Top evenly with half of the vegetable mixture, and 1/4 cup shredded 'mozzarella' (i.e. the Vegan Mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods). Repeat the layers with 9 more slices of polenta, the rest of the vegetable mixture, and another 1/4 cup of cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Cut this into 6 slices; each piece is 220 calories.

A note for the eco-conscious out there: the company If You Care makes a 100% recycled aluminum foil - gone are the days of cut-rite and saran wrap of my childhood. The company also makes coffee filters, parchment paper, baking cups etc. ... check them out!

And finally, if you haven't been following the issue of Prop 2 in California, it's a super important measure on the ballot this voting day in California - the New York Times magazine even had a full length article about it today. It would make it illegal to keep animals raised for livestock in small cages... this issue is super important so please visit: and donate!

marinara sauce $5.49
onion $0.42
red bell pepper $1.84
'sausage' $2.79
mushrooms $2.79
zucchini $0.96
polenta $3.99
'mozzarella' $3.39

Saturday, October 25, 2008

'Orange Blossom Honey Butter'

Okay, well obviously I used neither orange blossom honey nor butter in this recipe. Instead, mine is made with agave nectar and vegan butter (from Earth Balance). But whether or not the title of the recipe still applies, this buttery spread rounds out a brunch menu - serve on toasted English muffins (I like the whole wheat ones from Whole Foods).

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/4 cup softened vegan butter, 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind and 1/4 tsp. grated orange rind. Blend with a mixer at low speed until well combined (about 2 minutes).

You can store this in the fridge, but serve it at room temperature for optimum spreadability! One tablespoon is 80 calories.

lemon $0.99
orange $1.23

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maple Raisin Bran Muffins

Before I give you tonight's recipe, let me tell you about the recipe I initially hoped to make:

This being Halloween season, I saw a recipe for candied apples. I haven't eaten one of these since childhood, and thought it would be fun! A look at the ingredient list made me scratch my head though, since it called for cinnamon decorator candies (i.e. redhots). I managed to track down redhots, but they are made up almost entirely of sugar (which is probably refined with animal char, ergo not vegan) and also contained beeswax (which is definitely not vegan). I found generic brands which posed the same problem; I bought vegan cinnamon mints in the hopes they might be a good substitute (nope); and I even was contemplating using a little red food dye and a little cinnamon extract to mimic the taste/color of the redhots, but the only red food dye I could find was the one with Red 40 (a no-no in my book for health reasons, not vegan ones). I did track down some natural red food colorings online, but at $7.50 plus shipping, and no guarantee they'd be here by Halloween, I finally decided to throw in the towel on this one.

My hope is, by next year, some vegan candy company will be producing cinnamon decorator candies! Any takers out there? Please?

So instead I whipped up these muffins, which I thought would be great to have on hand for brunches over the weekend. I already had almost every ingredient in my pantry, so it was an easy switch.

Measure out 2/3 a cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 a cup whole wheat flour, spooning the flours into measuring cups and leveling with a knife for accuracy. Place in a large bowl, along with 1/2 a cup oat bran, 1/2 a cup raisins, 1/3 cup packed organic brown sugar, 1/4 cup raw sugar, one teaspoon baking powder, one teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Mix together, and set aside.

In a second bowl, combine 1/2 a cup vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti), 1/2 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/4 cup melted and cooled vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and the equivalant of one egg using egg replacer of your choice. Stir well with a whisk.

Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir until moist. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 a cup packed organic brown sugar, 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, one tablespoon canola oil, one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon cinnamon. Mix with a fork. Sprinkle evenly over all the muffins.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (my took more like 17 minutes). Cool for ten minutes on a wire rack still in the pan, before removing from the muffin tins.

Each muffin is 250 calories. Make these on Friday night like I did and they're ready to go for brunch tomorrow morning!

Cost: (I had everything else to hand already!)
oat bran $3.49
raisins $2.99

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Roasted Squash Salad with 'Bacon' and Pumpkin Seeds

This salad has all the flavors of fall. A larger portion makes an entree sized serving - try with some leftover 'cheddar' toasts from last night's recipe, since you probably have extra baguette lying around!

Place 4 cups of (1/4-inch) cubed, peeled butternut squash on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat the squash with cooking spray, and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for thirty minutes, stirring half way through.

While the squash bakes, combine another 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

Coat a small skillet with cooking spray and cook one vegan bacon slice until crisp, over medium heat (if you're using Smart Bacon, cook it an extra minute longer than package directions - about 4 minutes - so it's nice and crispy). Crumble the bacon slice and add to the vinegar mixture. Add one minced (medium-sized) shallot to the skillet and cook for one minute, than add that to the vinegar mixture, too. Stir well with a whisk.

Place 10 cups of gourmet salad greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with the vinegar mixture and toss to coat. If you want side servings, place one and 1/3 cups of salad on each of 6 plates and top with 2/3 cup squash and one and a half teaspoons of toasted pumpkin seed kernels. If you want main servings, place two and 2/3 cups of salad on each of 3 plates and top with one and 1/3 cups squash and one tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seed kernels. The smaller size is 130 calories; the larger is 260.

Note: pumpkin seed kernels are also called pepitas; you can find them in the supermarket near other nuts and seeds, so look for either name on the packaging. To toast the seeds, heat in a skillet for one to two minutes over medium heat.

butternut squash $4.23
vegan bacon $3.39
shallot $0.36
gourmet salad greens $5.00
pumpkin seeds $2.99

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Golden Potato-Leek Soup with 'Cheddar' Toasts

My cooking magazine billed this fall's "best bowl of soup" and they might just be right!

Melt a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium heat. Add a cup and a half of thinly sliced leek, and cook for ten minutes until tender, being careful not to brown the leeks. (A note on washing leeks: because dirt gathers in all the layers, it's best to slice them first, then place in a sieve and rinse with water).

Add 3 cups cubed and peeled Yukon gold potato, one cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt, one 14-ounce can of vegetable broth, and one thyme sprig to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer uncovered for twenty minutes.

While the soup simmers, place 4 (1/4-inch thick) slices of sourdough baguette on a baking sheet. First bake at 375 degrees for seven minutes. Turn the slices over, coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar (try the Cheddar block from Galaxy Foods). Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with a dash of ground red pepper.

Once the soup is done simmering, remove from heat and discard the thyme sprig (which I forgot to do, but it wasn't a huge error!). Partially mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in 3 tablespoons of vegan cream (such as Silk plain-flavored creamer) and a dash of black pepper.

One cup of soup and one 'cheddar' toast make a serving of 300 calories. Garnish with extra thyme sprigs for a pretty presentation.

leek $2.00
Yukon gold potato $0.95
vegetable broth $1.29
sourdough baguette $2.29
'cheddar' $3.39
'cream' $2.39

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Golden Smashed Potatoes

Since this is the third potato dish I've done this month, you can probably guess that it's root veggie season. Here's another variation on the good old potato:

Cut one and 1/4 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 or 4) into quarters. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil, then cook for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pan.

While the potatoes cook, heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until they begin to "pop" - you'll literally see them start jumping.

Add 1/2 a cup of plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp. turmeric (which lends itself to the word "golden" in this recipe's title). Simmer for ten minutes until the soy milk mixture is reduced to a quarter cup.

Add the soy milk mixture to the potatoes in the pan, along with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Mash with a fork or potato masher. One cup of potatoes makes a side serving of 220 calories. These are best served immediately.

Yukon gold potatoes $2.31
soy milk $1.69

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poached Quinces

Quinces are also just now in season, and get them while they're good because the season is fleeting - October-December. Serve these over toast for breakfast, or over vegan vanilla ice cream for dessert. You could also chop up the quinces and get creative - use them as a pie filling, or for a quince crumble.

This recipe called for four quinces (or 1 and 3/4 pounds total), each peeled, cored, and cut into quarters. However, the quinces at my grocer were enormous, so only two of them equaled the suggested weight! Therefore, I cut each of my 2 quinces into 8 wedges, instead of cutting 4 quinces into 4 wedges. Either way works just as well.

Combine 4 cups of water, one cup of raw sugar, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, one cinnamon stick, and one (1-inch) piece of lemon rind in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes at that heat.

Add the quinces, reduce heat, and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool to room temperature.

Remove the quinces from the liquid with a slotted spoon or a fork. Drain the liquid through a sieve over a bowl, and discard the solids. Pour the reserved liquid back over the quinces.

One quince quarter (or "eighth" in my case) plus one tablespoon of liquid is 70 calories. These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

sugar $3.19
lemon $0.99
quinces $3.00

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fettuccine with Wild Mushrooms and 'Parmesan'

This is a hearty dish - perfect for a cold night. You know that winter is on its way when the heat in the building comes on for the first time!

Cook 6 ounces of fettuccine according to package directions - buy an organic variety that is 100% duram wheat to avoid any enriched pastas; I used Whole Foods' new in-house brand. Drain and set aside.

Melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons chopped shallot, 2 minced garlic cloves, one and a quarter cups sliced cremini mushroom caps, 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps and one cup sliced oyster mushroom caps. Of the three, oyster mushrooms are the hardest to find in the stores. Worst case scenario, look for them dried instead of fresh, and rehydrate according to package directions before making the rest of this recipe.

Saute for 5 minutes until any moisture evaporates. Add 2 tablespoons of dry sherry (buy unfiltered if you want to be sure it's vegan!) and cook another 2 minutes. Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, reduce heat, and simmer for five minutes.

Stir in 2 and 1/4 teaspoons chopped parsley, one teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream (try Tofutti's Better than Sour Cream), 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper.

Add the pasta, tossing to combine. Place one and 1/3 cups of the pasta on each of three plates. Divide 1/4 cup of grated "parmesan" (shred the Vegan Mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods) evenly over all three plates. Each serving is 330 calories.

fettuccine $1.79
cremini mushrooms $1.52
oyster mushrooms (dried) $5.99
shiitake mushrooms $3.12
garlic $0.84
sherry $18.99
thyme $2.99
'parmesan' $3.39

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple, Pear, and Cranberry Compote

Cranberries are incredibly good for you, with more antioxidants than almost any other fruit, a high dosage of Vitamin C, and properties that fight bladder infections. So please don't only save them for the Thanksgiving table! Fresh ones are just now in season. Try this compote which is an update on traditional cranberry sauce - use it as a spread on toast for breakfast or with hearty crackers as an appetizer, or as a side dish to round out a fall-themed meal.

In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of chopped and peeled Fuji apple (about 2), 2 1/4 cups chopped and peeled Bartlett pear (about 2), 3/4 cup apple cider, 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 2 packed tablespoons of organic brown sugar, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. salt.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the fruit is tender. Stir in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

1/3 a cup of the compote is 50 calories - you'll have about 12 servings.

Fuji apples $2.90
Bartlett pears $2.27
apple cider $4.69
cranberries $2.49

Friday, October 17, 2008

Couscous with Caramelized Onion and 'Goat Cheese'

This recipe was originally billed as a side dish, but double the portions and it serves as a good vegan entree around which to build a full menu.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups of thinly, vertically sliced red onion and saute for 7 minutes until golden brown.

Place one cup of uncooked couscous in a medium-sized bowl, along with 1 teaspoon of garlic pepper (a blend available in the spice section). Top with the onions. Instead of the 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese called for in the original recipe, crumble the vegan feta from Sunergia to equal that amount. Sprinkle that over the couscous mixture, too.

Bring one cup of vegetable broth to a boil on the stovetop (or, if you want to make this recipe even quicker, heat it in a microwave for 2 1/2 minutes until hot). Pour slowly over the couscous mixture, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

3/4 cups of the couscous is 140 calories - you'll have about 5 servings that small, but again, double it for a heartier portion.

red onion $1.51
garlic pepper $1.67
'goat cheese' $3.69
vegetable broth $2.69

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Honey'-Roasted Root Vegetables

Don't use honey for this dish of course - use its vegan cousin, agave nectar!

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of chopped, peeled sweet potato (about one large), one and a half cups chopped, peeled turnip, one and a half cups chopped, peeled parsnip, one and a half cups chopped, peeled carrot, 1/4 cup of agave nectar (in place of tupelo honey), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 3 halved shallots. Toss well to coat the vegetables.

Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and place in the oven at 450 degrees for 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender - stir every 15 minutes or so.

1/2 a cup of vegetables is 120 calories. Try this alongside stuffed acorn squash or a bowl of soup!

sweet potato $1.08
turnip $1.04
parsnip $1.60 (inexact figure; I lost my receipt for these)
carrot $0.93
olive oil $9.99
shallots $0.68

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Roasted Potato Salad

You can make the two components of this dish - the potato salad and the dressing - ahead of time. Just store separately and drizzle the dressing over the potatoes just before serving.

Combine 2 pounds of small red potatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil and 1/8 tsp. salt in a bowl, tossing to combine. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and cook at 450 degrees for thirty minutes.

Let cool, then add 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 2 vegan 'bacon' slices (cooked according to package directions and then crumbled). Smart Bacon works great in this recipe - you'll want it crispy so that it crumbles well, but just don't get so caught up blogging that you burn the edges of yours a bit like I did! 4 minutes of stove top cooking ought to do it.

For the dressing, combine one tablespoon plus 3/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon and a half of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Stir well with a whisk, or make it in a jar and shake vigorously. As mentioned, pour over the potato mixture just before serving.

Sorry for that strange measurement on the balsamic vinegar! I halved the original recipe, which resulted in that strange number. Also, if you don't have balsamic vinegar, white balsamic will do in a pinch.

You'll have 4 side portions of 210 calories and about one cup.

salt $2.19
red potatoes $3.99
green onions $0.99
parsley $1.99
'bacon' $3.39

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spinach 'Custard' Pie

The definition of a custard is a thickened dish consisting of milk, eggs, and flavoring, either savory or sweet, which is why I put it in quotation marks in the title. The 'custard' in the original version of this recipe came from sour cream and a combination of eggs and egg whites. This vegan version uses Tofutti's Better than Sour Cream and Ener-G's egg replacer.

First cook two (10-ounce) packages of frozen spinach according to package directions. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper to the pan and saute for two minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the spinach, along with enough egg substitute to equal 2 eggs and 2 egg whites. (If you're using Ener-G, this is about two tablespoons of the powder mixed with 1/2 a cup of warm water; stir well with a whisk).

To the spinach mixture, add: 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan (such as the Parmesan grated topping from Galaxy Foods), 2 teaspoons of melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, and the 'sour cream'.

The original recipe called for one full 8-ounce carton of sour cream, but alas Tofutti sells their Better than Sour Cream in 12-ounce containers; 8 ounces is about one cup worth. Also, a note on the vegan Parmesan: the grated topping from Galaxy Foods has a very strong flavor which I find more potent than regular Parmesan cheese. Therefore, I only used one tablespoon of it, instead of two (okay, and I was almost out, so that was all I had left!) So add your 'Parmesan' to taste.

Spoon the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with the 1/4 tsp. of paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving, and then cut into six wedges.

One wedge is 120 calories.

frozen spinach $4.66
'sour cream' $2.49

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pan Catalan

Tonight continues my exploration of international side dishes that are vegan without even meaning to be! Tonight's comes from the Catalonia region of Spain, and is like the Spanish version of bruschetta. Also known as pan con tomate (or "tomato with bread") it really is about that simple - but with a lot of great taste.

Toast 4 (2-ounce) slices of country white or wheat bread (I went with the wheat, just because the health nut in me shies away from white bread). If you don't have a toaster oven (which I do not), broil the slices in the oven for one minute on each side.

Cut one garlic clove in half, and rub one side of each toast slice with the cut sides of the cloves. Discard the garlic.

Cut two plum tomatoes in half, and rub over that same side of each toast slice. You can save the plum tomatoes for another use after this!

Sprinkle all four slices evenly with a 1/4 tsp. of salt, and drizzle evenly with one tablespoon of olive oil. Each slice if 200 calories.

country wheat bread $3.49
plum tomatoes $1.03

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Molasses Cookies

Baking moods usually strike me on a Sunday! These cookies were actually nearly vegan in the original version, with only the exception of an egg, since they call for vegetable shortening instead of butter.

In a large bowl, combine one packed cup organic brown sugar and 1/2 a cup of vegetable shortening - try the non-hydrogenated shortening from Jungle which is certified vegan - much preferable to the Crisco my mom used in my childhood! Beat well with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Add 1/2 a cup of molasses and the equivalent of one large egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G), and beat until well combined. Molasses, FYI, is a vegan powerhouse. It has a high dose of Vitamins B12 and B6 and a good amount of iron and potassium - I even remember reading in several sources that vegans should have a spoonful a day! Rather than resort to that, just have a few cookies ;) Although most molasses should be vegan anyway, the one from Wholesome Sweetners is certified as such, and organic.

Place 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife) in a bowl, along with 2 teaspoons of baking soda, one teaspoon of cinammon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt; stir with a whisk.

Add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and beat until combined. Cover and freeze for one hour.

Fill one small bowl with 1/2 a cup of water and another with 1/4 cup raw sugar. Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray and shape the dough into 48 balls. Dip one half of each ball into the water, and then dip that same half into the sugar.

Place on baking sheets one inch apart and bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. (Note: I actually found that my oven needed closer to 11 minutes, so check yours starting at about the 8 minute mark; they were also easier to remove from the baking sheets if you let them sit a minute or two out of the oven). Cool on wire racks. Each cookie is 70 calories.

vegetable shortening $3.99
molasses $5.39

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tomato, Caper, and Artichoke Sauce

Try this over whole wheat pasta, or even over a baked potato - yum!

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion and one minced garlic clove; cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 and 3/4 cups of pre-sliced mushrooms (a great time saver!) and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add one (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, and 1 tablespoon of capers; cook 30 seconds.

Now add 1/2 a cup of tomato sauce (I like the organic one from Whole Foods' 365 brand), 1/4 cup chopped ripe (black) olives, 1/4 cup dry white wine (I chose a Chenin Blanc from South Africa but any dry white will do; look for a wine that is organic or unfiltered), and one (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You'll have about 3 cups of sauce, 3/4 cups of which is 110 calories.

onion $0.52
pre-sliced mushrooms $2.49
artichoke hearts $2.29
tomato sauce $1.19
black olives $1.39
white wine $10.99
canned diced tomatoes $1.19

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black Beans and Rice with 'Cheese'

My cooking magazine called this dish a side recipe, but double the portion and it makes a pretty complete vegan meal.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 a cup chopped onion and 1/2 a cup chopped red bell pepper - cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and cook an additional minute.

Add 1/2 a cup water, along with 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/4 tsp. coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, and one 15-ounce can of black beans (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.

In the meantime, cook enough basmati rice (or other long-grain rice) according to package directions to equal one cup cooked rice.

Place 1/2 a cup of cooked rice on each of two plates. Top each serving with one cup of the black bean mixture. Sprinkle each with a 2 tablespoons of shredded vegan cheddar cheese (such as the Cheddar block from Galaxy Foods). Each main dish serving is 320 calories. As I mentioned, you can also halve each of these servings and instead have 4 side portions of 160 calories.

red bell pepper $1.01
cumin $5.49
black beans $1.79
long-grain rice $2.12
'cheddar cheese' $3.39

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Try this new twist on basic mashed potatoes!

Peel and cube four cups worth of baking potato (about 1 and 3/4 pounds, or two large potatoes). Place in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil, then cook at a boil for ten minutes until tender. Drain.

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, and add 3/4 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy), 3/4 tsp. wasabi powder (available in the Asian section of supermarkets), and 1/4 tsp. salt. Beat with a mixer until smooth.

2/3 a cup of mashed potato is about 120 calories - you'll have about six servings; these potatoes are best served immediately. Try them alongside marinated tempeh, for a vegan take on steak-and-potatoes.

baking potato $1.35
plain soy yogurt $0.99
wasabi powder $5.19

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

'Creamy', of course, does not necessitate animal cream in the slightest. Serve this alongside a sandwich or salad on a cool fall night.

In a small bowl, combine half a cup vegetable broth with a tablespoon of organic brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Stir well with a whisk.

Drain two (28-ounce) cans of whole tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a 13x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, along with a cup of coarsely chopped onion and 5 garlic cloves. Pour the broth mixture over the vegetables. Bake in the oven at 500 degrees for 50 minutes, so the vegetables caramelize - your kitchen is going to smell delicious!

Let cool slightly, then place the tomato mixture in a blender along with another 1/2 cup of broth and 3/4 cup of soy cream (instead of half +half; I like the plain creamer from Silk). Puree until smooth.

Strain the mixture through a very fine sieve over a large bowl, and discard the solids (of which you'll actually have quite a lot), leaving about 2 cups of soup behind.

1/2 a cup of the soup is 120 calories. Garnish with fresh black pepper if you like.

onion $0.40
canned whole tomatoes $3.58
"half and half" $1.99

p.s. if you have a bowl of this for lunch, have some Fritos chips on the side - no I'm not kidding! My boyfriend just brought home a bag of them, and a quick perusal of the ingredients (an ingrained habit ever since becoming vegan) led me to exclaim, "Oh my god these are vegan!" I checked on PETA's website to be sure, under their link to "I can't believe it's vegan!" but yes ladies and gentleman, Fritos are. Now, as a health nut and mostly organic-eater on top of being vegan for animal rights reasons, eating Fritos feels a little bit antithetical, but for one day, have a serving of Fritos with your vegan tomato soup and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Antipasto Plate

I saw this recipe and couldn't wait to make it! Arrange a platter of red pepper dip, a caponata spread, crackers and imitation prosciutto, and you've got all the trappings for vegan antipasto. The dip and spread can both be made in the day ahead of time, and kept in the fridge. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

For the dip: bring 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to a quick boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons of golden raisins and let stand ten minutes. (You could also do this step in the microwave if you have one, which I do not: combine the raisins and the vinegar in a small bowl, microwave for 45 seconds, then let stand for ten minutes). Drain, and transfer the raisins to a food processor.

To the food processor, add 3 tablespoons crumbled firm tofu (in place of ricotta cheese), 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti), 3/4 tsp. agave nectar (in place of honey), a dash of salt, and a 5.5 oz bottle of roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained.

Note: if you can't find that size bottle of peppers, simply measure out about 5 ounces from a larger jar. The smallest I could find at my grocer was a 7.25 ounce!

Now process it all until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

For the spread: line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Onto the baking sheet, place 4 plum tomatoes (quartered and seeded; push out the seeds with your thumbs), 1/2 of a medium-sized onion, peeled and quartered, 2 garlic cloves (the recipe didn't say to peel them, but one would assume so?), and one (1-pound) eggplant, cubed. Drizzle the vegetables with a teaspoon of olive oil and a dash of salt, tossing to combine. Arrange in a single layer and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Cool the vegetables slightly, then place in a food processor with 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a 1/4 tsp. of sun-dried tomato paste (actually, the original recipe called for anchovy paste here, but sun-dried tomato paste imitates the saltiness and texture just fine). Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

Come time to serve, arrange 16 water crackers and 2 ounces of 'ham' on a plate, along with the dip and spread. The original recipe called for thinly sliced prosciutto, but I used the 'ham' from Smart Deli which is certified vegan - these slices make for great sandwiches too, if you find yourself craving an old deli-style concoction!

4 crackers, 3 tablespoons spread, 3 tablespoons dip and 1/2 an ounce of 'ham' is 230 calories.

firm tofu $1.69
parsley $1.99
basil $2.99
bottled red peppers $2.39
plum tomatoes $1.61
eggplant $1.31
onion $0.66
water crackers $3.19
'ham' $2.79

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pasta with Winter Squash and Pine Nuts

Squashes are in season in the supermarket! They're in big beautiful piles right now - butternut, acorn, kabocha, hubbard. This pasta is a great way to capture the taste of the fall.

Heat a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts and a teaspoon and a half of chopped fresh sage - remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to the burner and heat half a teaspoon of olive oil, again over medium-high heat. Add one small minced garlic clove; saute thirty seconds, then add 1/2 a pound peeled, seeded and shredded butternut squash and 1/2 cup water to the skillet. Cook for about 6 minutes until the initial batch of liquid is absorbed. Add 3/4 cup of water to the skillet, (1/4 cup at a time), absorbing the liquid in between each dose, and stirring occasionally - this felt almost like making a risotto with squash instead of rice!

Add 1/2 tsp. raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper, and transfer the squash mixture to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook 6 ounces of penne pasta according to package directions (this is a great time to use a kitchen scale for accuracy). I used the organic penne from Bionaturae:

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking liquid (and,um, don't splash boiling water on your finger like I did). Add the pasta to the squash mixture, along with the reserved cooking liquid, the pine nut mixture from earlier, and 6 tablespoons of shredded vegan cheese - I used the mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods instead of the Parmesan in the original recipe.

Place one cup of the pasta mixture on each of three plates - top each serving with 2 more teaspoons of the shredded cheese for a dinner of 360 calories.

sage $2.99
butternut squash $2.99
'cheese' $3.39

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I lived in France for seven months back in 2005. As an avowed francophile, I adore the country, but I will say this: being vegan there was hard! Luckily, one thing I never had to worry about was that staple of the French diet - the daily baguette. It occurred to me, though, that I've never tried to make my own.

My first attempt, as you can see in the photo, didn't quite turn out right. That's because, while the recipe called for bread flour, I couldn't find an organic version and thought substituting pastry flour might work just fine. I don't recommend doing so: it seems that, to really produce an authentic baguette, bread flour is what you want. However, I still produced something pretty much like a baguette, and here's how:

First dissolve one packet of yeast (about 2 and 1/4 tsps.) in 1 and 1/4 cups warm water (check that the temperature is between 100 and 110 degrees). Let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 and 3/4 cups of bread flour to the yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

This process, called an autolyse, is apparently the French baker's secret to a light and airy baguette with a crunchy crust. Letting the flour, yeast and water rest for fifteen minutes means the flour absorbs waters so it is less sticky as you knead, which ends up producing that light baguette texture.

After fifteen minutes, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle evenly with one teaspoon of salt, then knead for 6 minutes (press down with your palm, fold over, quarter turn, repeat). Place in a bowl, cover and let rise for 40 minutes until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and let it rest for five minutes, then divide in half. Working with one portion at a time, shape into a 12-inch rope, slightly tapered at the ends. Place the two loaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with a teaspoon of cornmeal. Lightly coat the tops with cooking spray and let rise another 20 minutes.

During the second rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Apparently this high baking temp is yet another trade secret of the French baker.

Uncover the dough and cut 3 (1/4 inch deep) slits in each loaf. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Each loaf will have 12 slices of 60 calories each. Bon appetit!

flour $2.99

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Green Beans Tossed with Walnut-Miso Sauce

Okay, the last of the side dishes for at least a little while, this one with Asian flavors from the ginger and the miso.

Add 4 cups of trimmed green beans (about 10 ounces) to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

Grate about 2 tablespoons worth of ginger using a fine grater or zester. Place the ginger on several layers of cheesecloth, and fold up the ends to form a little pouch. Squeeze over a small bowl. Put 1/2 tsp. of the ginger juice in a food processor (you can discard the rest or save it for another use), along with 3 tablespoons of chopped walnuts (toast first, if you prefer: see directions from the post for Beets with Walnut-Garlic Sauce), 2 tablespoons of water, a tablespoon and a half of white or yellow miso, and 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (use the low-sodium kind). Puree until smooth.

Toss the miso sauce with the green beans in a bowl. One cup makes a side dish of 70 calories.

green beans $2.50 (sorry, this is actually an estimate from a non-itemized receipt)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Shaved Fennel with Maple Gastrique

Here's yet another side dish with an international flair and all-vegan ingredients. A gastrique is simply a reduction sauce of a vinegar and a sugar - in this case, cider vinegar and maple syrup.

Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger, 2 whole star anise (available in the spice aisle), and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add one large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, and cook another four minutes until the fennel begins to brown, still stirring occasionally.

Pour in 1/4 cup cider vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan in case there are any brown bits. Add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the fennel is very tender (this step actually only took me about 10 minutes, because I think I had my burner on a little too high). Remove from heat and discard the star anise.

1/4 cup of this as a side dish is 60 calories.

ginger $1.15
fennel $1.35

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Marinated Chickpeas

Continuing my exploration of side dishes with both international flair and (nearly) all-vegan ingredients, try this Middle-Eastern inspired dish.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, two tablespoons chopped and pitted kalamata olives, 2 tablespoons chopped pickled pepperoncini peppers (also known as banana peppers; look for these in the Mexican section of grocery stores next to the other canned peppers and chilis), 2 tablespoons crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia), a teaspoon chopped fresh chives, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, and one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained).

Combine a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, a teaspoon and a half of olive oil and one minced garlic clove, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Chill for at least one hour before serving. This recipe makes 3 sides servings (1/2 a cup and 170 calories each). The recipe can easily double! You could also toss it with pasta for an entree pasta salad or serve it over lettuce for a dinner salad.

flat-leaf parsley $2.29
pickled banana peppers $3.00
'feta' $4.19
chives $3.29
rosemary $3.29
chickpeas $1.49

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beets with Walnut-Garlic Sauce (Pkhali)

I always say New York City is one of the easiest places in the world to be vegan. But that's not to say that the rest of the world doesn't have its fair share of vegetarian or even vegan dishes, that require no modification whatsoever! This dish, traditional in the Balkans, Russia and Turkey, is great alone or spooned onto pita bread.

To speed up preparation, you can buy precooked beets (check your local grocery store's produce section). If you want to roast your own, trim the stems off the beets to one inch, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool, then trim off the stems and rub off the skins.

For the sauce: in a food processor, combine 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons walnuts (toast the walnuts first if you like; before chopping into smaller pieces, simply heat in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes), a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, 1/4 tsp. coriander and one small peeled garlic clove. Puree until smooth.

Toss the walnut mixture with 2 cups of either precooked beets or your own roasted beets, finely chopped. Make this a couple hours ahead of time so the flavors can meld. You'll have 3 side servings of 2/3 cup and 100 calories.

walnuts $4.99
precooked beets $5.98

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