Monday, May 31, 2010

Pasta with Sauteed Tomatoes, Olives, and Artichokes

This pasta combines two of my favorite foods - olives and artichokes!

Make 4 cups of cooked ziti pasta according to package directions (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta - I used Whole Foods' house brand). Drain, and transfer to a large bowl.

While the ziti cooks, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 (14-ounce) drained can of artichoke hearts, cut into quarters, and 1/2 cup thinly sliced and pitted kalamata olives; cook for 5 minutes. (Note: to save even more time in this already-quick recipe, buy quartered artichoke hearts).

Combine the cooked pasta, the tomato mixture, 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Asiago (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Toss to combine.

1 cup of pasta is 290 calories - this recipe makes enough to serve 6.

cherry tomatoes $2.99
canned artichoke hearts $3.79
ziti $1.99
vegan cheese $3.39

Sunday, May 30, 2010

White Bean and 'Bacon' Dip with Rosemary Pita Chips

Here's the perfect appetizer for your Memorial Day tomorrow!

Measure out 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, and crush between your fingers into smaller pieces. Combine the rosemary with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.

Cut 3 (6-inch) pitas into 8 wedges each, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Most pitas are vegan, but I recommend either Whole Foods' house brand or The Baker. Coat the pita wedges with cooking spray, then sprinkle with the rosemary mixture and lightly re-coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the pita chips are baking, coat a saucepan with cooking spray and add 2 pieces of chopped vegan bacon (such as Light Life). Cook for about 4 minutes, until crisp, then remove from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the burner and add 4 minced garlic cloves; cook for 1 minute. Add 19 ounces (rinsed and drained) canned cannellini beans - about 2 cups-worth - and 1/3 cup vegetable broth; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Combine the bean mixture in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (such as the Hot Stuff from the Wizard), 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. paprika; combine until smooth.

Spoon the bean mixture into a bowl, and stir in 1 tablespoon of the chopped 'bacon' pieces. Sprinkle the remaining 'bacon' on top just before serving.

3 tablespoons of dip plus 3 pita wedges makes a serving of 140 calories.

pitas $1.99
vegan bacon $3.39
cannellini beans $4.38
green onions $0.99
paprika $5.99

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet-Spicy Cucumbers overTomatoes

This salad tastes like summer a plate! You need to marinate the cucumbers ahead of time, so start it now for your Memorial Day weekend.

Thinly slice 2 cups of pickling cucumber and 1 cup Vidalia onion. Pickling cucumbers are shorter and fatter than regular cukes, and thinner skinned as well, which makes them better for, well, pickling, so definitely use them if you can!

Arrange half the cucumber slices in a 9-inch pie plate. Top with half the onion slices, then repeat the layers.

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, 4 minced garlic cloves, and 2 whole dried red chiles (the long thin variety). Bring to a boil, then continue to cook for about 1 minute, until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumber mixture. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least a full 24 hours, and up to 4 days. I only let mine marinate for 1 day.

When ready to serve, arrange 16 (1/4-inch thick) tomato slices on a serving platter. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Remove the cucumber mixture from the marinade with a slotted spoon, and arrange over the tomato slices.

You'll have 8 servings, which is about 2 tomato slices and 1/3 cup cucumber mixture per person. Each serving is 40 calories.

pickling cucumber $1.80
mustard seeds $2.45
tomato $5.06

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fruited Apricots with Lemon-Amaretto Sauce

Yay! The first fresh apricots of the season are at the store. Try this simple dessert to highlight the yummy little fruit.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon amaretto (Disaronno is vegan, according to the company), 3/4 tsp. grated lemon rind, 1/2 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 4 ounces of lemon soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy).

Slice 3 apricots in half, and remove their pits. Place 3 apricot halves on each of two dessert plates. Spoon 1 tablespoon blackberries into the center of each apricot half.

Top each of the two servings with 3 tablespoons of the soy yogurt mixture, an additional tablespoon blackberries and 1 tablespoon slivered almonds (which you can toast first, if you like).

Each of the two servings is 170 calories.

lemon $0.50
apricots $1.04
blackberries $2.00

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Tart with 'Mozzarella' and Basil

This is the third time this month that I've gone back to my basic Pizza Dough recipe from February 2009, instead of purchasing Pillsbury's refrigerated pizza dough - the latter is vegan however, so use that if you don't want to take the time to let dough rise at home. If you do make yours at home, the dough needs two rises for 45 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. The rest of the recipe comes together in a snap.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. If using the canned dough, simple pat it into a 12-inch square on the parchment paper. If you've made your dough at home, roll it into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface, than transfer to the baking sheet.

Slice 1 cup 0f 1/8-inch thick diagonally-cut zucchini slices. Cut 4 plum tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices, and push out the seeds with your thumbs. Arrange the zucchini and tomato slices evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. coarse salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Fold the edges of the dough up so the zucchini and tomato are tucked in.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with 4 ounces sliced vegan mozzarella, then bake for an additional 5 minutes. You'll definitely want to use the vegan mozzarella from Follow Your Heart here, since it most closely resembles the fresh buffalo mozzarella in the original recipe.

Drizzle the tart with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 cup torn fresh basil. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before slicing into 4 portions.

Each serving is 310 calories.

zucchini $1.34
plum tomato $1.31
vegan mozzarella $3.50
basil $2.99

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vegetable-Bean Soup with Spelt

This recipe is probably the last I'll do for a while playing around with spelt, since I've now used up the entire package I bought a couple of weeks ago. Here, spelt takes the place of barley in a hearty vegetable soup! This recipe makes a big batch, but leftovers are great to heat up for lunch at work.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion, 1 and 1/2 cups chopped leek, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, and 3 chopped garlic cloves; saute for 5 minutes.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of chopped country ham, so I used the vegan ham slices from Light Life - 4 slices chopped is about 1/2 cup. Add the 'ham' to the saucepan, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add 2 cups water, 1 cup uncooked (rinsed and drained) spelt, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, 28 ounces vegetable broth, 2 bay leaves, and 1 thyme sprig. I realized last minute that I had no fresh thyme, so used 1/4 tsp. dried thyme instead.

Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups chopped beet greens, 2 (16-ounce) rinsed and drained cans of cannellini beans, and 1 undrained (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves. Ladle about 1 and 1/4 cups of soup into each of 8 bowls. Instead of the shaved Parmesan called for in the original recipe, I sprinkled each serving with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the grated vegan Parmesan from Galaxy Foods.

Each serving is 240 calories.

onion $1.17
leek $3.32
carrot $0.36
vegan ham $2.79
vegetable broth $3.49
beet greens $3.49
canned cannellini beans $4.38
canned diced tomatoes $1.99

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Huevos Rancheros with Zucchini and Green Pepper

I've made 'huevos rancheros' before on this blog, and rather obviously, do not use any huevos - eggs. But slightly modifying a basic vegan omelet recipe yields a yummy little 'egg' topping for these corn tortillas.

To start, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups diced zucchini and 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper; saute for 6 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and 10 ounces of canned diced tomatoes with green chiles. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the equivalent of 4 eggs: in a food processor, combine 12.3 ounces silken firm tofu with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, and 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for color); process until smooth.

Make 4 indentations in the zucchini mixture, and evenly divide the 'egg' mixture among them, pressing to flatten with a spatula or spoon. Cover the pan again and cook for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the mixture with 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods); cover and cook a final 30 seconds.

Place 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas in damp paper towels, and microwave for about 30 seconds, until warm. Place 1 tortilla on each of 4 plates. Spoon one of the 'eggs' onto the center of each tortilla, along with about 3/4 cup of the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 tsp. chopped cilantro. Each serving is 250 calories. This dish would be great either for brunch or dinner!

zucchini $1.44
green bell pepper $0.94
canned diced tomatoes with green chiles $2.99
silken firm tofu
vegan cheddar $3.39

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guacamole with Chipotle Tortilla Chips

Whip up this easy guacamole for your next movie night on the couch!

Cut 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas into 8 wedges each. Place the tortilla wedges on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray, in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder, then lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

While the tortillas are cooking/cooling, make the guacamole: peel the husks from 3 tomatillos, then core and finely chop them.

Combine the chopped tomatillos in a bowl with 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/3 cup chopped plum tomato, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno peppers, and 1 minced garlic clove.

Peel and seed 2 nicely ripe avocados, then coarsely mash them with a fork. Add to the tomatillo mixture, and stir to combine.

2 tablespoons guacamole and 4 tortilla chips makes a serving of 60 calories.

corn tortillas $0.99
tomatillos $1.12
plum tomato $0.64
lime $0.59
avocados $3.00
jalapeno peppers $0.50

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baked Spelt Pudding

I am continuing my experimentation with the package of spelt I bought a couple of weeks ago; I've already made two savory dishes with this ancient grain (see the posts for Spelt Salad and Farrotto with Greens and Parmesan), and tonight I'm turning to spelt's sweet potential.

Rinse and drain 1/2 cup uncooked spelt, then place in a saucepan and cover with water to about 2 inches above the spelt; bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.

Transfer the spelt to a food processor and process for about 45 seconds, until it resembles coarse meal.

Coat an 11x7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In the dish, combine the ground spelt, 4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom, and 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise.

Bake at 275 degrees for 3 and 1/2 hours - this long cooking time at low heat will result in a rich, creamy pudding. Stir about every hour or so during baking, so that a skin doesn't form on the top of the pudding - you may even want to stir every half hour, if you do see a skin starting to form.

Note: the pudding won't really firm up until the last hour of cooking, so don't worry if things still seem very runny during the first and second hours of baking.

Let stand for 5 minutes once out of the oven, then sprinkle with a dash of ground cinnamon. 2/3 a cup makes a serving of 220 calories; the pudding is delicious either warm or chilled!

plain soy milk $2.49
vanilla bean $11.99

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Also spelled fasolakia, this is a classic Greek side dish that consists of braised green beans in a tomato sauce. It is traditionally served at room temperature, so make it a little bit ahead of time!

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped mint, 1/2 tsp. dried dill, and 1 minced garlic clove; saute for 4 minutes. I actually added a whole teaspoon of dried dill, so my fashoulakia was extra dill-y. (Note: you could also use fresh dill, if you prefer, in which case use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped).

Trim the ends off 1 pound of green beans, and add to the pot, along with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 1 undrained (14-ounce) can of stewed tomatoes (such as Muir Glen); bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

You'll have 4 side servings of 1 cup and 110 calories each - but this recipe doubles easily to serve a larger crowd!

parsley $1.69
mint $1.99
green beans $1.91
canned stewed tomatoes $1.99

Friday, May 21, 2010

Strawberries Romanoff

There are several legends concerning the origin of this simple dessert, but one attributes it to a French chef who invented it for the Russian aristocracy. It's a great way to use fresh strawberries!

In a bowl, combine 3 cups quartered strawberries with 3 tablespoons raw sugar and 3 tablespoons Cointreau. (Cointreau, an-orange-flavored liqueur, makes the cut on several online listings of vegan spirits). Cover and chill for 1/2 an hour.

For the next step, I experimented a little, since the original recipe called for whipping cream. The makers of Silk point out that their soy creamer won't whip up like dairy cream will, but I never believe anything until I try it for myself. Unfortunately, it turned out to be true (although I would be curious about adding Ener-G egg replacer to the soy cream...)

For tonight, however, I turned to my back up plan; in a bowl, gently fold 3 tablespoons organic powdered sugar into 1/4 cup canned vegan whipped cream (such as Soyatoo).

Dollop one tablespoon of this 'whipped cream' over 3/4 cup of the strawberries for 4 servings of 140 calories each.

strawberries $3.00
Cointreau $3.50
plain soy creamer $1.99

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farrotto with Greens and 'Parmesan'

The title for this recipe is a play on words, from the Italian for spelt (farro) plus risotto - hence, farrotto. Making the dish with spelt isn't quite as much a labor of love as risotto made with rice, since you only need to stir frequently, not constantly.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 and 1/4 cups chopped red onion and 4 minced garlic cloves; saute for 7 minutes.

Rinse and drain 1 cup uncooked spelt, then add to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup vegan Chardonnay of your choice, and cook for 3 minutes. For some yummy vegan wine options, check out

Add 14 ounces vegetable broth and cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. The original recipe said this step would take about 12 minutes, but mine took 20.

Add 2 cups water and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; again, cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently - the suggested time was again 12 minutes, but mine took nearly 30 minutes (perhaps I should have stirred more frequently?)

Remove from heat and stir in 4 cups chopped gourmet salad greens and 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods).

1 cup of farrotto is 290 calories, and you'll have 4 servings. Although the original recipe billed this recipe as a side dish, it can definitely be a vegan main course.

red onion $2.09
Chardonnay $27.99 (the rest of the bottle was to drink, of course!)
vegetable broth $2.49
gourmet salad greens $2.50

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chiles Rellanos Gratin

Chiles rellenos, which means "stuffed chiles" in Spanish, can consist of any variety of stuffings, and originates from the Mexican city of Puebla. This version is baked like a casserole - make it the next time you want to feed a crowd!

Place 8 whole poblano chiles on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until blackened. Transfer to a plastic bag or paper bag; close the bag and let stand for 15 minutes. Peel the poblanos and discard the skins. Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile, and scoop out the seeds, but leave the stems and the rest of the chile intact. Note: I found this step slightly tricky, since the poblanos were quite tender, so be gentle as you scoop out the seeds!

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add 1 cup chopped red bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Add 1 and 1/2 cups corn kernels (although fresh corn would be best, I used frozen tonight since fresh corn hasn't quite hit the market yet), 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted first, if you like), and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia) in place of queso fresco, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper.

Drain a 15-ounce can of black beans. Place half of the beans in a bowl, and mash with a fork. Add both the mashed beans and the remaining whole beans to the corn mixture. Stuff each poblano with a generous 1/3 cup of the mixture, and close the sides of the chile over the filling. Place the stuffed poblanos in an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg; cook for 30 seconds, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Gradually pour in 2 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), and increase the heat to medium. Cook until thickened (about 8 to 10 minutes) - I stirred occasionally during this phase of the process. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice once the mixture has thickened, then pour over the stuffed chiles.

Sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup vegan feta and 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs over the chiles, then bake the casserole at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and switch the oven heat to "broil." Broil the casserole for 1 additional minute.

1 stuffed chile makes a serving of 220 calories.

poblano chiles $8.53
red bell pepper $2.00
frozen corn $2.99
green onions $0.99
pine nuts $8.99
vegan feta $3.69
canned black beans $1.99
lime $0.50

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grilled Plantains

I'm pulling out my grill pan again tonight, but of course you can make this yummy side dish on an outdoor grill, as well. The plantains make a great compliment to a meal of rice and beans!

You'll need very soft ripe black plantains for this recipe, so be aware that you should probably buy them at the market a couple of weeks - yes weeks! - in advance. Supermarkets tend to sell plantains green, and they ripen much slower than bananas.

Once fully ripe, slice 3 plantains in half lengthwise, then cut each of those halves again, crosswise, so you have 12 pieces total.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) with 1 teaspoon organic brown sugar and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper; brush evenly over the cut sides of each plantain piece.

Grill the plantains, cut-sides up, on a grill pan or grill coated with cooking spray over medium heat for 7 minutes, then turn over and grill for 3 minutes more.

2 plantain sections plus 1 lime wedge makes a side serving of 180 calories. Eat these while they're still warm! The cooked plantain slides right off of the skin.

plantains $1.50
lime $0.50

Monday, May 17, 2010

Portobello Burgers

This is the first time I'm pulling out my grill pan for the summer season! Alas, I don't have a real outdoor grill, but definitely use one if you do. Otherwise, a stove-top version works in a pinch.

The original recipe for these burgers called for onion sandwich buns, but I couldn't find a vegan version in the store. You could probably go ahead and use regular whole wheat burger buns (such as Whole Foods), but I decided to use my bread machine's Onion Rye Roll recipe, so that I'd get that onion-flavor in each bite.

To make the rolls, start by pouring 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice into a measuring cup. Fill with plain soy milk to measure 1/2 cup, and let stand 5 minutes to clabber (sour) the mixture. Voila - vegan 'buttermilk'!

Place 6 tablespoons of the 'buttermilk' in the basket of your bread machine (you can discard the leftover few tablespoons), along with 1/4 cup warm water (between 80 and 90 degrees), 4 teaspoons molasses, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions (patted dry), 1 and 1/4 cups bread flour, 1/2 cup rye flour, 3 tablespoons potato starch, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast, 2 and 1/4 teaspoons caraway seeds, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vital gluten flour.

As with all bread machine recipes, it's important to load the ingredients in the order listed, since the yeast can't touch the wet ingredients! Set the machine to "pizza dough" and it will go through a kneading and rising cycle.

Once done, transfer to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the flour is incorporated and the dough is no longer sticky. Divide into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then pat into a 3-inch circle and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. Dust them with flour and make 2 crossed slashes across the top of each roll, about 1/4-inch deep; bake at 400 degrees for 22 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. You'll only need 4 of the rolls for these burgers tonight, but save the rest for another use!

Now onto the burgers. In a large zip-top bag, combine 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 minced garlic clove. Place 4 (4-inch) portobello mushroom caps in the bag, and let marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

Note: I didn't have a zip-top bag large enough, so I made the marinade in a shallow baking dish, and added the mushrooms to that, turning them occasionally so that both sides would marinate equally.

While the mushrooms marinate, preheat your grill or grill pan to medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Cut a small red bell pepper in half, and discard the seeds and membranes. Grill the pepper until blackened (about 15 to 20 minutes). The original recipe said to turn the pepper occasionally, but I pretty much kept it skin-side down so the skins would blacken. Once blackened, place the pepper halves in a zip-top bag and let stand for 10 minutes, then peel off the skin. Save one half of the pepper for another use; finely chop the other half, and place in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as the canola mayo from Spectrum Foods), 1/2 tsp. olive oil, and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper; set aside.

Remove the portobello mushrooms from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Grill the mushrooms on your grill or grill pan coated with cooking spray for 4 minutes on each side.

Place your sandwich buns (whether homemade or store bought!) on the grill for 30 seconds on each side.

To assemble the burgers, spread 2 tablespoons of the 'mayonnaise' mixture on the top half of each bun. Place 1 mushroom on the bottom half of each bun, and top with 1 (1/4-inch thick) tomato slice, and 1 leaf of curly leaf lettuce; cover with the top half of the bun.

Each burger is 260 calories.

Note: a couple of mistakes that I made. You don't need to scrape out the gills from the portobello caps, which I did automatically before realizing I needn't have. Also, when making my onion rolls, I accidentally added 2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, not 3/4 teaspoon! Normally, I'm pretty careful about salt intake, so I guess my sodium levels can suffer for one day...

plain soy milk $2.49
rye flour $2.99
vital wheat gluten $3.49
balsamic vinegar $4.99
portobello mushroom caps $6.98
red bell pepper $1.44
vegan mayonnaise $3.99
tomato $1.01
curly leaf lettuce $2.49

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Raspberry Melba

Apologies for the numerous desserts lately! As I mentioned, the fresh fruit in season has me really excited right now, and I'll return to less-sweet posts tomorrow.

This delicious dessert, however, is a fun twist on a classic peach melba, which was created for the opera singer Nellie Melba, and normally consists of pureed raspberry sauce over peaches. Instead, the peaches are pureed, and the raspberries are left whole!

To start, peel and coarsely chop 1 pound of ripe peaches. Combine the peaches in a blender with 1/4 cup peach nectar, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice; process until smooth.

Let the peach mixture stand at room temperature for 5 minutes, then spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each of 4 dessert or parfait glasses (champagne flutes work in a pinch!). Top each serving with 1/4 cup raspberry sorbet (such as Ciao Bella) and 2 tablespoons fresh raspberries. Repeat the layers in each glass with 1/4 cup more peach puree, 1/4 cup more raspberry sorbet, and 2 tablespoons more raspberries. Each dessert is 180 calories.

peach nectar $4.39
peaches $3.50
raspberries $4.99

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chocolate Strawberries with Mint Dip

I find myself craving the fresh fruit hitting markets this time of year. This easy dessert is a great way to showcase strawberries!

Coarsely chop 3 ounces of dark chocolate (such as the Endangered Species Company), and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute until nearly melted, then stir until smooth.

Dip the bottom half of 16 strawberries (with their leaves still attached) into the chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet, and chill for at least 5 minutes so the chocolate can set. You can make the strawberries ahead of time, too, but they are best within a few hours of preparing.

Just before serving, combine 8 ounces vegan vanilla yogurt with 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract. Tonight I used the coconut milk yogurt from Turtle Mountain, but soy yogurt would work as well. Serve 4 strawberries with 1/4 cup of the dip for 4 dessert servings of 210 calories each.

strawberries $3.99
dark chocolate $2.69
peppermint extract $3.99
coconut vanilla yogurt $1.50

Friday, May 14, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Roasting the veggies for this salsa in a skillet was a fun new method, and gives a nice smoky flavor to the final product! You can make the recipe ahead of time, but it's best if served within 2 days of cooking.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2 whole ripe tomatoes, 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers (depending how hot you want the salsa!) and 1 unpeeled garlic clove. Cook for 15 minutes, turning the veggies frequently - they should be starting to blacken by the end, and the tomato skins will have almost entirely slipped off.

Let cool slightly before peeling off any remaining tomato skin, then seed and chop the tomatoes. Remove the stems and seeds from the jalapenos, then finely chop. Peel and finely chop the garlic clove. Combine those three ingredients in a bowl with 1/3 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

1/4 cup of salsa is 20 calories. It's delicious with tortilla chips, or as a topping for vegan tacos!

tomatoes $2.03
jalapeno peppers $0.35
cilantro $1.69
limes $1.18

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Macerated Mixed Melon

This yummy fruit dessert is a snap to prepare. Make the melon into cubes or balls, depending on which you prefer! You can use all cantaloupe or all honeydew melon, but I preferred a mixture of the two for the lovely color combination.

In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup brandy with 1/4 cup raw sugar, 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind, and 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice - stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. For the lemon rind, use a large-holed grater to get thick pieces, rather than a regular zester.

Add 2 cups honeydew melon and 2 cups cantaloupe to the bowl; toss to coat, then let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup slivered almonds - toast the almonds for about a minute or two until they are fragrant, shaking the pan frequently.

Serve 1 cup of the melon with 1 tablespoon almonds and a thin (1/8-inch thick) slice of lemon as garnish. Each serving is 220 calories.

lemon $1.00
honeydew melon $3.79
cantaloupe $3.29

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baked Garlic-'Cheese' Grits

These creamy grits are a lightened variation of the southern staple. Serve as a side dish with the vegan protein of your choice.

Bring 4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil. Gradually stir in 1 cup uncooked grits, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes, but remove the lid to stir at frequent intervals - the grits should be thick by the end.

Stir in 1 cup shredded vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods) and 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance); stir until the 'cheese' and 'butter' have melted.

In a bowl, make the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Add 3/4 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. hot sauce - I like the certified vegan Hot Stuff from the Wizard.

Add the soy milk mixture to the grits, and stir until combined. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup of shredded vegan cheddar over the top and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before dividing into 8 side servings of 3/4 cup and 170 calories each.

vegan cheddar $3.39

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Linguine with Garlic and 'Cheese'

I used whole wheat linguine (from Gia Russa) for this simple pasta dish, but you can use regular linguine as well.

Cook 8 ounces of linguine according to package directions; drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, heat 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and cook for 5 minutes - the original recipe said to stir constantly, but I probably stirred closer to "frequently."

Remove the pan from heat and add the cooked pasta, along with 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; toss well to coat.

1 cup of pasta is 340 calories.

linguine $3.49
garlic $0.75
vegan cheese $3.39

Monday, May 10, 2010

Summer Cherries Jubilee

The first of the season's cherries are in at the supermarket, so I had to celebrate the fact with this yummy (easy!) dessert. 'Cherries Jubilee' refers to a dish created for Queen Victoria during a Jubilee celebration, and generally consists of cherries and liqueur. Although normally flambeed, this version is not, hence making it perfect for warm summer months.

If you have a cherry pitter, definitely use it here, but otherwise it's actually a fairly simple task to slice a cherry in half around the center, twist the halves apart, and pluck out the pit by hand.

In a saucepan, combine 1 and 1/2 cups pitted cherries with 1/2 cup vegan Cabernet Sauvignon of your choice, and 1/4 cup cherry preserves. I like the cherry jam from Whole Foods' 365 brand, since it doesn't contain added sugar. For vegan wine ideas, check out

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon amaretto (such as Disaranno) and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Serve the sauce warm over any vegan vanilla 'ice cream' of your choosing, whether soy, rice, or coconut milk based. I like the Soy Delicious vanilla from Turtle Mountain. 1/2 cup of 'ice cream' with 1/3 cup of the sauce makes an easy dessert of 240 calories.

cherries $11.03
Cabernet Sauvignon $24.99
soy vanilla frozen dessert $3.00

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Roasted-Onion Tart with 'Maytag Blue Cheese'

Of course, I didn't use real Maytag blue cheese for this recipe, but the soy blue cheese from Sunergia is one of my favorite vegan products out there! This tart gave me the chance to feature it.

As with the Corn, 'Bacon', and Green Onion Tart I made last week, the original recipe for this tart called for Pillsbury's canned refrigerated pizza dough. You can use it, but I prefer to make my dough at home using the Pizza Dough recipe on this blog. If you make the dough at home, be aware that it needs two rises - the first for 45 minutes, and the second for 30 minutes. You can make the onion filling for the tart during the second rise.

To make the filling, peel 1 medium Vidalia onion, and cut into 8 wedges, leaving the root intact. Place the wedges in a 13x9-inch baking dish, along with 10 peeled and halved shallots and 10 peeled and halved garlic cloves (I only had 8 garlic cloves left at home, but figured that was close enough).

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 2 teaspoons agave nectar (in place of honey), and 1/4 tsp. dried thyme. Drizzle over the onion mixture, and toss to coat.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle the paper with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. If you are using Pillsbury's dough, place the dough right onto the baking sheet, and pat it out to a 14x12-inch rectangle. If you've made your dough at home, roll it into a 14x12-inch rectangle on a floured surface, then transfer to the baking sheet.

Spread the onion mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border on all sides. Fold that border up and over the onion mixture on all sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 2/3 cup crumbled soy blue cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack (still on the baking sheet) for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and divide into 4 equal pieces of 360 calories each.

Vidalia onion $1.19
shallots $3.27
soy blue cheese $4.49
parsley $2.49

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mediterranean Hummus

Bell peppers and olives give a nice twist to a classic hummus recipe!

In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers, 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 2 garlic cloves, and 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed can of chickpeas.

Process until smooth - you'll probably want to stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula.

Transfer to an air-tight container and store this yummy hummus in the fridge. It's great with pita wedges or crudites for dipping, such as bell pepper strips or cucumbers! 2 tablespoons of hummus are 50 calories.

bottled roasted red bell peppers $2.79
kalamata olives $5.99
canned chickpeas $1.99

Friday, May 7, 2010

Insalata di Farro (Spelt Salad)

I bought a package of spelt the other day (available near other cereal grains like oats in the supermarket), and I am so excited to try out some recipes with it. This ancient grain is incredibly versatile, and packed with nutrition - fiber, Vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as calcium and iron.

To start this recipe, make the dressing: in a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 1 crushed garlic clove; set aside.

Rinse 1 and 1/4 cups uncooked spelt in a sieve, then drain and transfer to a saucepan. Add 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth and 1 cup water; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. The original recipe said to simmer for 25 minutes, but at the end of 25, there was still a fair amount of liquid left in my saucepan. This didn't make sense, since I knew I wasn't supposed to drain off any excess liquid, and assumed the spelt should have had time to absorb it all. A quick look online showed that spelt is often cooked for closer to 50 minutes. So I continued to let it simmer, and indeed, at the end of 50 minutes, the liquid had all absorbed.

Meanwhile, cut 1 cup of 1-inch green beans, and 3/4 cups of sliced carrot. Cook the vegetables in boiling water until crisp-tender (about 4 to 5 minutes), then drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Combine the cooked spelt and the cooked beans and carrots in a large bowl with 1/2 cup frozen green peas (thawed in advance), 1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed in advance), 1/2 cup drained and chopped marinated artichoke hearts (such as Native Forest), 1/4 cup pitted ripe (black) olives, 1/4 cup pitted green olives, and 1 (7-ounce) bottle of drained and chopped roasted red bell peppers.

Note: the original recipe made it seem as though the olives should stay whole, but I chopped mine in half so they would be closer inside to the other tidbits in the salad.

Pour the dressing over the spelt mixture, and stir well to coat. You should let the salad stand for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving. However, it's actually even yummier if you make it a whole day in advance, so the flavors can blend. Then, serve it either chilled or at room temperature.

1 cup of salad is 240 calories. Look for some more spelt recipes soon!

flat-leaf parsley $3.99
spelt $4.99
green beans $0.66
carrots $0.65
frozen green peas $2.00
marinated artichoke hearts $2.99
black olives $1.39
green olives $1.99
bottled roasted red bell peppers $2.79

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watermelon Gazpacho

We've had such a burst of early summer weather that when I thought of having soup tonight, I instantly though of gazpacho!

To make this yummy variation of the cold soup, combine 3 cups cubed and seeded watermelon in a bowl with 1/2 cup chopped and peeled English cucumber, 1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper, 3 tablespoons chopped green onions, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. hot sauce (such as the Hot Stuff from the Wizard), and 1 small minced garlic clove.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse about 4 or 5 times, until finely chopped. Return to the bowl and stir in 1/2 cup cranberry-raspberry juice. The recipe said to chill the mixture thoroughly, so I made the recipe about 3 hours before serving.

Two vegan cran-raspberry jucies to try are R.W. Knudsen or Apple & Eve.

3/4 cups of gazpacho makes a serving of 90 calories, and you'll have about 4 servings. You can double the recipe easily if you like though!

watermelon $6.97
yellow bell pepper $1.98
mint $1.99
lime $0.50

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Corn, 'Bacon', and Green Onion Tart

The original recipe for this tart called for Pillsbury's 10-ounce refrigerated pizza crust dough. Although vegan according to PETA's "I can't believe it's vegan" website, there are other things in the ingredient list (ahem, partially hydrogenated oils) that I like to avoid. So use the canned dough if you like, but I made my own from my recipe for Pizza Dough, from February 1, 2009 on this blog. If you do the same, remember that the dough will need two rises - the first one for 45 minutes, the second for 30 minutes. The rest of the ingredients for this tart can come together during that second rise.

Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Add 2, chopped vegan bacon slices (such as Light Life) and cook for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups corn kernels and 1/2 cup chopped green onions; saute for 3 minutes. Although the original recipe called for fresh corn, it's not quite the season yet in the supermarket, so I used frozen corn kernels and thawed them in advance.

Transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl and add the following (or simply to the skillet, and mix everything there): 1 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G); stir until blended.

Coat a 10-inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray, and place on a baking sheet. If you use the canned dough, simply pat into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you made the dough at home, roll it into about a 12-inch circle on a floured surface, than transfer to the tart pan and press into the bottom and sides. Pour in the filling, and sprinkle the top with an additional 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing; the filling will continue to set as it cools.

Divide the tart into 4 servings of 400 calories each.

bacon $3.39
corn $1.69
green onions $0.99

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Farfalle, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers in Pesto

Here's a quick pasta for an easy weeknight meal - it's a great way to use up leftover dry pasta in your pantry.

Cook 8 ounces uncooked farfalle pasta according to package directions; drain, then return to the pan. (I used the farfalle from Whole Foods' house brand).

The original recipe called to add 3 tablespoons commercial pesto. It can be awfully hard to find bottled pesto that does not contain cheese (although options do exist). Much more readily available, however, is concentrated pesto (the kind sold in a tube), which is basically just basil and oil. Since it's concentrated, however, I used half the amount called for - only 1 and 1/2 tablespoons - whisked into 1 and 1/2 tablespoons water. Add to the cooked pasta, and stir to combine.

Add 2 cups shredded zucchini, 1 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Stir in 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods).

Place 2 cups of pasta on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with an additional tablespoon of 'cheese'. Each serving is 350 calories.

pesto $4.19
zucchini $1.94
red bell pepper $2.11

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

I found this Austrian recipe for cauliflower soup interesting because most soups I've encountered made with cauliflower are pureed. Here, the vegetables are simply rendered tender but left whole in a yummy broth.

Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan; add 1 cup finely chopped onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 2 and 1/4 cups cauliflower florets, 1 and 1/2 cups diced and peeled baking potato, 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot, and 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently - the cauliflower should be just starting to brown.

Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add 1/4 tsp. salt and just a dash of black pepper before serving. You can make this soup a little bit ahead of time, but it's best if you serve it on the day you make it - double the above quantities easily to feed a larger crowd! 1 and 1/2 cups makes a serving of 170 calories.

onion $1.22
cauliflower $4.50
baking potato $0.84
carrot $0.23
vegetable broth $3.49

Note: There's a new non-dairy frozen dessert on the market! At least, it's the first time I've noticed Almond Dream next to the Soy Dream and Rice Dream in the freezer section. I currently have a query into the company to make sure the Almond Dream line is vegan, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be, so enjoy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Marinated Onion Rings

This simple side dish would round out any picnic menu - the marinated onions are great on their own, or as a topping for veggie burgers and vegan hot dogs (such as Tofu Pups).

Thinly slice 3 cups sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla) and 1 cup peeled English cucumber. Place in a large bowl.

In a saucepan, combine 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 tsp. dried dill; bring to a boil, then continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onion and cucumbers, and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours, and up to overnight - I thought mine was perfectly marinated after 9 hours. 1/3 cup of the mixture is 60 calories.

sweet onions $2.38
English cucumber $2.49

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Easy Sangria

You can make this sangria ahead of time, for easy entertaining. Because it appeared in an article about Spanish food, I chose a Spanish red wine, but any vegan dry red wine of your choice would work just fine: you'll need one, standard 750 ml bottle for this recipe. As always, I recommend for their selection of vegan wines.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup dry red wine, 1 tablespoon brandy, 1 tablespoon Triple Sec, and 3 tablespoons raw sugar; microwave for 1 minute, then stir to dissolve the sugar (which I forgot to do, so hopefully most of it had dissolved already!)

Transfer the sugar mixture to a large pitcher, and pour in the rest of the bottle of wine, 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice,1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

The recipe called to add 2 whole cloves and 1 whole allspice, and I swear I had cloves in my spice cabinet! In fact, the last time I used my cloves I remember thinking, 'I will never reach the bottom of this bottle.' But today? I couldn't find them anywhere! So I used 3 whole allspice and omitted the cloves. Also add 1 small cinnamon stick.

Chill for two hours, then strain the mixture into a bowl or different pitcher; discard the spices. You can return the mixture to the fridge until ready to serve, at this point. Just before serving, stir in 1 cup sparkling water, 4 orange wedges, 2 lemon slices, and 3 lime slices.

About 3/4 cup of sangria is 200 calories; the recipe doubles easily if you want to serve a crowd.

A note on liquors: the Triple Sec from Hiram Walker is vegan, according to the company. As for brandy, I can never find any indication online that it might not be vegan, so you should be safe with whatever brand you choose. (Although rather hilairously, if you Google for vegan brandy, you will learn that pop singer Brandy is a vegetarian).

dry red wine $19.99
oranges $1.00
limes $0.66
lemons $0.50
whole allspice $2.85
sparkling water $1.99

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