Vegan Lace Cookies

 
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The first time I ever had a lace cookie was because of my friend Linda Lomelino. I was actually living in Jackson, MS at the time, working on my cookbook, and she sent out an email with a new recipe she had created, which was a thin oat cookie dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. This old school Swedish recipe is also know as Havreflarn. You can check out her recipe here and make sure to peruse around her site as she is one of my absolute favorite food photographers and has inspired me greatly throughout the years.

After scanning through the recipe and realizing that I could easily veganize some of the ingredients and that I had everything on hand- I made them immediately. This rarely happens but when it does, nothing will stop me from making the recipe. The excitement takes over and I drop everything to make it. (Check out the instagram post from way back when I made her variation and posted about it!)

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After talking about these cookies and doing some research, I came to realize that here in America we have a similar cookie known as ‘Lace Cookies’ which implies that because the cookies are so thin, the texture looks like lace!

Fast forward to about a month ago, I decided to make them again but this time with almonds. Traditionally, these cookies are made around the holidays but this is my blog and I do what I want. I knew deep down in my heart that the texture of thinly sliced toasted almonds would take this recipe to the next level and so I added them in. Duh, it worked. Not to mention, because these cookies are so light and thin- they are perfect for the summer! Not too heavy- crispy, delightful, buttery, and crunchy.

I looked a quite a few recipes out there and this one stuck out to me from Add a Pinch blog. So that, in combination with Linda’s recipe, me veganizing a few things, and, of course, adding my own twist like nutmeg, almonds and almond extract- these cookies were born! Before moving on, let me address a few important notes.

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Because these cookies are going to spread out to be very thin, we need to encourage their shape to be round and even. By pressing the dough down with your fingers (like in the 2 images above) this will ensure that the cookies come out thin and pretty. Hot tip! Wet your fingers with a little water before pressing as this will prevent them from sticking. Do note, they surely don’t need to look perfect! If the shape is slightly odd it merely implies that it is homemade! Also, they spread out A LOT, so make sure to leave plenty of space in between the mounds.

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Now, this step is important so listen up! The cookies bake off best one sheet at a time. I tried cooking two at a time and the top sheet was perfect but the bottom sheet needed more time and I had to keep fiddling with them to finish baking. It’s much easier to bake off one sheet at a time. While one sheet is in the oven, you can start loading up the second one. Once the cooled cookies are removed from the first tray, simply load it back up with more dough and bake them off like before.

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Once removed from the oven, the cookies will need to hang out on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes. Then, using the thinnest spatula you can get your hands on, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool until the middle sets. You’ll know they are done once you can pick them up!

Full Disclosure: These cookies do not last long (especially in the summertime!). They are delicate. They don’t store well, as they become soft and super sticky. They should be consumed within the first 2 to 3 hours of baking but they are best enjoyed immediately. Check out more tips and ideas on how to transport below, after the recipe. This might have something to do with the fact that I live in the hottest, most humid city in America. If these were baked in the winter (which traditionally they are), they might last a bit longer (or if in a dry, dessert environment like Las Vegas). Either way, for best results- eat immediately!

Vegan Lace Cookies 

makes about 20 cookies

1 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal 
1 tablespoon water
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup sliced almonds
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon almond extract 
Maldon salt, to garnish, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 375º F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water. Mix well and set aside.

2. In a small pot, add the butter and light brown sugar. Bring to medium-low heat, mixing every so often, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add oats, almonds, flour, sea salt, vanilla, nutmeg, almond extract and flaxseed mixture. Mix well. 

3. Drop one tablespoon of cookie batter onto lined baking sheets, leaving at least 5 inches between. These cookies will spread out! Next, wet your fingers with a little water and press down on each mound to flatten them, encouraging a circular shape. If desired, sprinkle on a small amount of Maldon salt.

4. Bake, one tray at a time, in the middle of your oven, for 7 minutes unless your oven is known for being too hot. Then cut it back to 6. You want the edges of the cookie to be golden brown. If you think they could bake a little bit longer, you can pop them back in for a minute. After the first sheet is done, repeat this step with the next sheet. Once the cookies are removed from the first sheet to cool, use the same lined baking sheet to bake off more cookie dough until all the cookies are baked.

5. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the cookies have firmed up, using a thin spatula, transfer to a cooling rack. Once the middle sets and you can pick a cookie up- they’re ready! Gobble up!

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Tips, Tricks & Other Tidbits

Once the cookies are cooled, if you notice the middle has not set, you can add them back to the oven for another minute or two. This final push will set the center. The best tool to transfer these cookies with is a very thin spatula. I highly recommend it!

Traditionally, these cookies are much smaller. But I quite like them bigger because they have a chewy center and a crunchy outside so I like the fact that you get more bites out of it makes it much more satisfying. Feel free to make these cookies smaller- you’ll just need to reduce the cooking time to make sure they don’t burn.

These can be tricky to transport because they are sticky! The best way to move them around is to line an old pizza box or large serving platter with parchment paper. If you must stack them, make sure to use pieces of parchment paper to stack them.

If you’d like to make the dough in advance, you can store it in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge! I tried this out and they came out just fine.

If you like this recipe, please check out my cookbook, Mississippi Vegan.

Double Decker Tacos

 
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Look at these tacos. Just look at ‘em! They are so ready to go it’s not even funny. Now I know that some of you might be like, “What’s going on here?” Let me explain.

A double decker taco is a soft flour tortilla that is spread with a thin layer of refried beans and than wrapped around a hard shell taco. The fillings are the usual suspects: meat, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, etc…

BRILLIANT!

Now to better understand my relationship with these tacos, let me tell you a little story. Obviously if you’re not interested you can just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the recipe (RUDE).

When I was in the 5th grade, I had braces. I was banished from eating anything that was a) crunchy b) that you had to bite into. Therefore, crunchy tacos was deemed one of the culprits. Also, my orthodontist was a very strict man and 100% instilled fear within me to not jeopardize my precious braces with anything hard and crunchy. At the tender age of 11- I was depressed.

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After wearing my braces from months, I remember eating in the school cafeteria. Everyone around me, munching and crunching on their delightful meals while I sunk my metal heavy teeth into a squooshy, soft sandwich with a cup of apple sauce. Somehow the topic of tacos came up, as topics of that nature do in an elementary school environment. I overheard my friend talking about Taco Bell’s double decker tacos. As she raved about them, my eyes began to tear up as I knew that I would not be able to have them because of my braces. I expressed my concern to my friend and she replied:

“Oh but because the refried beans are wrapped around the hardshell tacos, they become soft and not so crunchy so you should be able to have them.”

I raised my eyebrows and exclaimed with excitement, “Really!?”

She said, ‘Yeah!’

From that point on it was my mission to seek out and eat these double decker tacos. When that day arrived, I remember ordering them. I was nervous and excited. With the very first bite, I was hooked. The texture of biting into a warm, soft tortilla and a hard corn taco with a thin layer of refried beans in between them was undeniably satisfying. The best part? My friend was right- the hard shell taco was softened ever so slightly by the beans. It’s almost as if the soft flour tortilla and refried beans worked together to become the perfect blanket to soften the crunch of a hard shell taco. That’s called teamwork people.

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Fast forward to college, I began making these tacos for my friends at dinner parties. It was perfect. I created a large buffet of tortillas and taco shells, a savory vegan meat filling, shredded lettuce and tomatoes, loads of condiments like salsa, vegan sour cream, sliced avocado- you get it. Now, have you ever walked into a room with a situation like this set up? It’s very exciting.

As for the vegan sour cream game a decade ago- it was bad. Basically, the only option was a soy based product that tasted more like melted plastic. Eventually, I learned to realized that an almond based cream cheese mixed with fresh lime juice became a better option. That was until thick and creamy coconut yogurt hit the market. Mix that with some fresh lime juice and a pinch of sea salt and you have the very best vegan sour cream, perfect for baked potatoes, nachos, and, most importantly, double decker tacos.

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Thinly sliced or diced radishes add a nice peppery crunch. As I’ve mentioned before, soaking the slices in a plate of water allows them to crisp up nicely. You can then garnish them as is or cut into smaller pieces (think matchsticks!). I like to offer fresh jalapeño, sliced avocado and freshly squeezed lime juice to make these tacos really sing.

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To garnish you can use whatever you have lying around in the fridge. I always like to add tomatoes, cilantro, onions and shredded lettuce. My assistant Melissa suggested that we combine the cilantro and onion together as a garnish (she had learned this trick while living in southern California). This was an excellent idea.

As for the meat filling, I like to use Amy’s Kitchen Organic Black Bean Veggie Burger patties that are crumbled and browned with some onions, seasonings and spices. A hit of salsa moistens the mixture up while also adding depth of flavor. Once everything is laid out on a table you have yourself an epic double decker taco buffet. Enjoy!

Double Decker Tacos

Makes 10-12 tacos - Serves 4 to 6

1 box of hard corn taco shells (10 to 12)
1 pack of soft flour tortillas (10 to 12)

Taco Filling

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pack Amy’s black bean burgers, defrosted and chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
⅓ cup salsa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup water

Refried Beans

1-15 ounce can Amy’s Traditional Refried Beans
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt

Toppings

2-3 radishes, thinly sliced/matchstick julienned
2 cups iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
½ jalapeño, diced
3 limes, quartered and halved, to squeeze
Avocado, sliced, if desired
Salsa, if desired
Hot sauce, if desired

Sour Cream

10 ounces coconut yogurt (thicker variety, if possible)
1 lime (approx. 2 tablespoons lime juice)
¼ teaspoon salt



  1. Bring a large skillet to medium heat and drizzle in some oil. Add onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Add black bean burgers and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often to brown. Add red wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, tamari, cumin, chili powder, salsa, oregano, and liquid smoke. Mix well. Once patties and spices are browned, add a splash of water and scrape the bottom bits. Give the mixture a taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Set aside and cover.


  2. For the bean mixture, combine canned beans, paprika, salt and mix well. Heat in a small sauce pan on stovetop or in the microwave. Transfer to a bowl for serving.


  3. Prepare toppings for taco buffet: Mix together chopped cilantro and onion and place in a small bowl. Place thinly sliced radishes in a small bowl of water to enhance freshness and crispness. Once ready to serve, remove from water and place in a small serving bowl. For the sour cream, mix together coconut yogurt, lime juice and salt. Place halved tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeño, salsa and quartered limes into small serving bowls (or in one large serving bowl- be creative!)


  4. Toast hard shell tacos: pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the shells on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add them to the buffet. For the tortillas, gently heat them over a gas stove or microwave. Add to the buffet as well.


  5. To assemble: Spread a heaping tablespoon of beans onto soft tortilla and wrap around a hard taco. Fill with taco filling, lettuce, radishes, and sour cream (this will act as a glue to hold the other toppings). Then add tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro onion mixture, salsa, avocado, hot sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.

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tips, tricks and other tidbits

Make sure the flour tortillas are the smallest you can find. If they are too large, they will consume the hard shell taco like a large blanket around a little dog. You will look silly and I don’t want that.

This recipe comes together quickly so there is no need to try and prep ahead of time. Please stop making things super complicated. Everything should come together in about 30 minutes. If you are making this for a dinner party, be creative and have fun with the set up. Wrap the warmed tortillas in a pretty cloth, place some fresh cilantro in a vase with water on the table, lay clusters of cherry tomatoes out, have some ice cold beer in a cooler… you get the drift.

You could easily make a pico de gallo and guacamole to streamline this recipe even more. The addition of fluffy rice is also quite nice. Add a pinch of turmeric and lime juice for tang and a bright yellow color.

Big thanks to Amy’s for sponsoring this blog post and recipe. If you’d to check out more recipes using Amy’s products, sign up for their newsletter here!

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One-Pot Vegan Hamburger Helper

 
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Hamburger helper… a distant memory from my youth with that adorable little cartoon character of a weird white glove holding a wooden spoon, just ready to get to cooking! Why was this little glove the face of the brand that was all about selling boxed pasta that you put crumbled hamburger meat into? I have no idea.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten about this classic American dish. It wasn’t until Eat Figs, Not Pigs was making their own version on Instagram Stories that it planted a little bug in my ear. Needless to say, I made it immediately.

The concept and execution of hamburger helper is very simple. In the box you have loads of seasonings and spices mixed with dried pasta. All you have to do is grab a pack of hamburger meat and sauté it in a pan. Then add the pasta and some water and ta da! You have a filling, quick, and delicious meal. Well, at least I thought so when I was a kid.

Now that I have slightly more sophisticated taste buds and a substantially different relationship with my food choices, I’ve realized that I could make a much better and more respectable interpretation of hamburger helper. No shade to you little glove man, but mine’s better.

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I used Cavatappi noodles because they remind me of the traditional boxed version of this recipe. But I also used large rotini noodles when I was testing this dish out (albeit drunk) and that worked great as well. I think macaroni shaped noodles would also look cute. I do not think long, thin noodles would be good for this. Just my opinion… don’t have a nervous breakdown.

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The key ingredients that make this recipe sing are: fire roasted tomatoes, smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder. If you don’t have these ingredients, go buy them. They are easy to find and they are amazing. If you want to sub them out for something else then don’t tell me about it because I won’t approve!

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Did I mention there are crispy onions on top? You know, the kind from the green bean casserole? Why they are only used for that one itty bitty dish beats me! I think they’re fantastic and they work so perfectly with a baked, cheesy pasta casserole situation like this. Trust.

As for the parmesan cheese on top, I like to use Follow Your Heart brand. I also really like the container the cheese comes in as you can reuse it for all kinds of storage. You could use your own homemade version of vegan parm or the Violife brand. Also, when serving, make sure that everyone gets some of the crispy cheesy onion top. It would be very mean to hog it all!

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The best part about this dish is that it’s done in ONE-POT. That’s right. Brown the onions, cook the meat, add the garlic and loads of spices and then add in everything else. While the dish cooks for 30 minutes in the oven, you can clean the kitchen, set the table, and have a glass of wine! Man, I’m good.

One-Pot Hamburger Helper

serves 6 to 8, use GF noodles, if desired

1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pack Beyond Meat Sausage (preferably Hot Italian), roughly chopped
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon dried oregano
28 ounces diced fire roasted tomatoes (one large can)
7 ounces vegan cheddar or American cheese (shreds or if using a block, diced)
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
One pound box of desired pasta noodles + water to cover
4 ounces crispy onions
¼ cup shredded vegan parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add oil and onions to a large dutch oven and bring to medium-high heat. Sauté for a good 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and slightly dark on the edges. (Think like grilled onions on a burger ;)

2. Reduce heat to medium and add the sausage and garlic. Cook, stirring often, to caramelize the garlic. Add the paprika, chipotle chili powder, pinch cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, thyme, sage, and oregano. Cook for a few more minutes to toast the herbs, stirring often.

3. At this point the mixture should smell outrageously good. Pour in the canned tomatoes, cheese, tamari, and sea salt. Mix well and continue to cook for about 7-8 minutes to bring the mixture to light simmer. Make sure to stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Once to a simmer, add the pasta noodles and enough water to just barely cover the pasta. Mix well and place the lid on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. Carefully remove from oven and take off the lid. Mix well. By now, all of the cheese should be melted and the pasta should be very close to being done! At this point you can taste a little bit and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Sprinkle on the crispy onions and some shredded vegan parmesan. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is crunchy and bubbly and the pasta noodles are thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and let stand for a bit as it will be hot! Serve.

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tips, tricks and other tidbits

Because we are not cooking and draining the pasta first, we only need a few cups of water. This way, all of the flavor from the other ingredients soaks into the noodles when cooking! When adding the water, please just make sure to barely cover the noodles. If you put too much liquid they will over cook and become squooshy like me.

This dish would be just perfect served with a simple salad with a light vinaigrette and some garlic bread. Or, instead of a salad, you could roast some lemony asparagus or broccoli in the oven while the dish cooks for a nice veggie side.

You can totally use ‘Beyond Burger’ meat if you’d like. But I prefer the flavor of the ‘Hot Italian Sausage’. I think it works really well with this recipe. I find the burger meat to have a little too much grilled/smoke flavor. I think they are working on just a plain vegan beef to sell but we’re not there yet, so this is where I’m at.

If you have fresh herbs then by all means use them! I just didn’t want to call for them and you have to buy a whole pack of fresh thyme and oregano to only use a small amount and then tell me this recipe is expensive. It’s not really but you like to give me a hard time. I do recommend throwing in some chopped fresh basil, oregano, thyme or sage if you have them. They should go in when you add the dried herbs.

You can make the whole batch of this and divide some up into ramekins and bake off for a dinner party at another time! It freezes beautifully.

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Sesame Noodle Salad

 
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Look at this salad GO! Those noodles are having so much fun. And all those colorful and crunchy vegetables? Uh! It’s just the perfect summer salad that doubles as a full meal, too. We’ve got loads of veggies, protein from the edamame and noodles, a zesty and tangy sesame-lime dressing, dramatic black sesame seeds and a good dose of fresh herbs for the final punch. Did I mention the succulent butternut squash? No? Well they were invited to the party too, providing the perfect balance of sweetness and color that this noodle salad needs.

As for the dressing, it’s not too complicated. The only two ingredients you might not be familiar with are ume plum vinegar and mirin, both of which you can find in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Ume plum vinegar is bright, tangy and salty. Mirin is a rice cooking wine with a buttery, savory flavor. I’d say you can swap these out with other ingredients but I wouldn’t really mean it. Sorry.

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This salad comes together beautifully. However, you gotta put in some solid veggie prep to get it going. Don’t worry though! Once you get the butternut squash in the oven you’ll have thirty solid minutes to do everything else. By the time the squash is roasted and golden, you’ll be ready to assemble (or at least close!).

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For the carrots, I use a Hand Held Julienne Vegetable Peeler. It’s one of my favorite kitchen tools. I love how easy it is to create beautiful strands of carrots, cucumbers, or any large root vegetable.

I also love and use the Mandoline just about every day, That’s how you are going to get the radishes paper thin. You can try using a sharp knife but it would be very difficult to achieve the gorgeous thin slices we are looking for.

You will also notice that some of the veggies are cooked and some are not. Hear me out because there is a method to my madness. Snow peas and carrots are delicious when they are cooked just a bit. This makes them slightly tender yet still crunchy. It also makes their colors PoP! The trick here is to throw them into the boiling pasta water towards the end of the noodle cooking time. Once drained, you have perfectly blanched veggies with your noodles.

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While the pasta is cooking and the squash is roasting, you can easily whip up the dressing. Simply combine all of the ingredients into one bowl and whisk well. If you’d like, you can whisk the dressing in a larger bowl and then add the cooked noodles and veggies to the dressing once they’re done. This would make one less bowl to clean.

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Sesame Noodle Salad

serves 4 to 6, gluten free

Noodle Salad

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (or buy pre-cut)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 radishes, washed and de-stemmed
1 box (12 ounces) gluten-free spaghetti sized noodles (or desired brand)
2 cups snow peas, ends pinched off
2-3 large carrots, julienned (about 2 cups)
6 ounces shelled edamame (half a 12 oz bag, defrosted)
1 cup cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced + some to garnish
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds + some to garnish
½ cup fresh Thai basil, chopped + some to garnish
½ teaspoon of salt, less if desired
Black pepper, to taste

Sesame Lime Dressing

½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (3 to 4 limes)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons mirin
¼  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 . Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss butternut squash on sheet pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes until the squash becomes fork tender and golden brown on the bottom.

2. Using a madoline, slice the radishes paper thin. Be careful! Transfer the radishes to a small plate and cover with water. This will allow them to become crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil. Once pasta has become al dente add the carrots and snow peas to the pot for last 2 minutes until pasta is fully cooked and vegetables have become slightly cooked and bright in color. Rinse the pasta and vegetables under cold water to stop the noodles from cooking and to set the color in the veggies. Once cooled, transfer to a large bowl.

4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.

5. Pour the dressing over the noodle vegetable mixture. Add the butternut squash, edamame, cucumber, green onions, sesame seeds and basil. Toss and mix well. Give it a taste and add the remaining salt and pepper as desired. Let sit in the fridge for at least one hour.

6. When ready to serve, mix the salad well and transfer to a gorgeous serving bowl. Drain off any excess liquid their might be at the bottom of the bowl. Garnish with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, chopped basil and crispy radish slices.



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tips, tricks, and other tidbits

I wanted this salad to feel light and refreshing, so I used gluten-free noodles which worked beautifully. The same texture and satisfaction is achieved but without feeling so heavy after eating. But you can use whatever kind of sphagetti style noodles you’d like!

If breaking down a butternut squash feels a bit intimidating, you can always look for the pre-chopped squash in the produce section of your market. Same goes for the snow peas- they’re usually prepped, washed, and ready to go as well.

Dirty secret, I actually didn’t use Thai basil. GASP! I used cinnamon basil and lime basil. But that’s only because I’m a fancy gardener! Thai basil would be amazing for this salad and I figured that’s more easy for you to access then the varieties I grow. Right?

I must say, letting this salad chill in the fridge for a few hours does wonders. It allows the noodles to soak up all of that delicious flavor from the dressing.

You can add the radishes earlier on but I noticed that they can get a little soggy which may not bother you. But if you are trying to impress some family or people at a dinner party, wait to garnish those until right before you serve.

To make the salad even more refreshing, try adding some thinly sliced romaine lettuce to bulk it up with some greens.

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Spring Potato Salad

 
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Springtime is in full throttle right now and I want all the fresh herbs and veggies! When my family and I decided to have a picnic I thought to myself, ‘What would be the perfect dish to bring?’ My go to for any picnic endeavor is potato salad with a creamy creole mustard dressing, lots of shiitake bacon, red onion, celery and some crunchy diced carrots (recipe is in my cookbook). Then came this recipe.

First, let’s talk potato salad. Did you know that it is made across the globe? It’s true! There are many different countries that have their very own variation and they are all unique. When I was initially researching potato salad for my cookbook, I kind of assumed it was just a American southern thing. Turns out, that’s just not true. The more you know! ;)

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For my second variation of potato salad, I wanted something vibrant, refreshing, and bursting with spring flavor. I noticed that my tarragon plant in the garden was looking particularly fecund, bursting with green leaves. In the past I’ve made a German style potato salad with tarragon and I loved it so I thought to myself, why not try a creamy, tarragon dill potato salad. And I’m so glad I did.

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Traditional potato salad can be a little potato heavy, you know? Not that anything is wrong with that. You guys know how much I love potatoes. But because I wanted this salad to be refreshing, I decided to bulk it up with fresh peas, asparagus, and baby arugula. This makes it more like a potato salad salad rather than just a potato salad, ya feel? Of course, ripe avocado and loads of fresh dill and tarragon totally make the dish.

One trick you’ll notice is that I like to season the water for the potatoes with bay leaves, vinegar and salt. This helps out in the flavor department. When the potatoes are tender, I throw in the asparagus and then the peas. This cooks them briefly, as you want them to keep their crunch. Then everything is drained together. Easy peasy, literally.

I have some more tips and tricks below, so make sure to check those out. I truly hope that you love this salad and make it for your friends and family. If you make it, please let me know on Instagram and make sure to leave a review on the blog. Thanks in advance. Happy spring! Now… here’s the recipe. :)

Spring Potato Salad

serves 4 to 6, gluten-free

3 lbs new potatoes, rinsed and quartered
3 bay leaves
1 bunch asparagus, rinsed, bottoms removed, and cut into bite size pieces
12 oz bag frozen peas
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup vegan mayo
¼ cup whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, plus ½ tablespoon for boiling water
1 large Meyer lemon, squeezed
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup good olive oil (cold pressed)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ripe avocado, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups baby arugula
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
½ cup fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, combine potatoes and bay leaves. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt and 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar and cover with water. Cover and cook on medium high heat until the water comes to a boil. Remove lid and let boil for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

  2. Once the potatoes are fork tender, throw in the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Once the asparagus becomes bright green, add in the bag of frozen peas. Cook for an additional minute and drain the mixture in a colander over the sink. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Let cool completely. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or preferable overnight).

  3. Make the dressing: drizzle a few glugs of olive oil in a skillet and bring to medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions become tender and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

  4. In a small bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, sherry vinegar, Meyer lemon juice, black pepper, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and sea salt. Mix well. Once the onions and garlic are cool, combine them with the dressing and mix well. Use immediately or keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.

  5. Once the potato vegetable mixture is cool, add the dressing and gently toss. Throw in the avocado, arugula, dill and tarragon. Gently toss and again and give it a taste. Season with salt and pepper as desired. (If you have dill flowers from the garden, sprinkle them on top too!)

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tips, tricks, and other tidbits

If you are wondering if you can use dried dill or dried tarragon the answer is no. They both must be fresh. Sorry!

I highly recommend making the dressing and potato vegetable mixture the day before. That way, they have plenty of time to chill in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, simply combine those mixtures with the fresh herbs, arugula, and avocado. This way you can make sure the salad looks extra pretty before serving and it feels like less work, IMO.

Sherry vinegar is a little bit more subdued than say red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I find it to have a buttery flavor as well. I just love it! I highly recommend purchasing a bottle for this recipe and for you to use in the future. Once you try it, I think you’ll agree.

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Muffaletta Pasta Salad

 
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Have you ever had a muffaletta sandwich? It’s kind of ridiculous. Loaded with multiple layers of deli meats and cheeses, Sicilian olive salad, and a round loaf of sesame seed bread. This sandwich is totally decadent and over the top. It’s no wonder it originated in New Orleans! It was first created and sold at Central Grocery in the historic French Quarter and is still popular to this day.

Now, in my humble opinion, the best part about this sandwich is the briny and delightfully tangy olive salad which has carrots, peppers, and cauliflower in combination to the olives. That’s what really seals the deal for me. I also love the bread (which is vegan BTW) because it has sesame seeds on top. Who doesn’t love sesame seeds?

When I was walking around a local grocery store here in NOLA, right down the street from my house, I saw some pre-packaged pasta salad. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was labeled ‘Muffaletta Pasta Salad.’ I gasped, as I frequently do throughout the day, and immediately called my mother asking her if she had ever heard of this. She said yes and I gasped again.

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From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to make a veganized version for all of you. So here you are! Now, I know what you might be thinking- there’s no meat? Yes. You are correct. There is no meat and it simply doesn’t matter. Mainly because I have upped all of the herbs and spices to the max so the overall flavor is still there. Instead of using a pre-made jar of olive salad (which is not accessible to all) I’ve used the whole variety from an olive bar and cut them into slices, along with some pickled cauliflower and carrots. Capers and peperoncinis elevate the whole blend to excellency.

For sweetness and color, I’ve also added some roasted red pepper. For a nice crunch, chopped celery and carrots. And for flavor, fresh dill, oregano, parsley, and red onion. I wanted the dressing to be bright and flavorful, so red wine vinegar it is, along with some tamari, garlic and nutritional yeast.

Instead of using bread, like in the traditional recipe, we’re going to use pasta noodles for a fun variation. For the cheese, we’re using vegan parmesan shreds and a smoked provolone. You could use whatever kind of vegan cheese you like, but a smoked variety works particularly nice with this salad. Of course, to finish this dish perfectly- a hefty sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Happy Mardi Gras!

-Timothy

muffaletta pasta salad

Serves 6 - gluten-free option by using desired pasta

16 ounces of pennoni or penne pasta*
2 tablespoons olive oil

olive salad

½ cup sliced garlic stuffed green olives
½ cup sliced kalamata olives
½ cup sliced castlevetrano olives
⅓ cup chopped pickled carrots
⅓ cup chopped pickled cauliflower
⅓ cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
1 cup sliced celery hearts
½ cup chopped roasted red peppers
¼ cup Peruvian pickled cherry peppers, plus some to garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup chopped carrots
⅓ fresh chopped dill, plus some to garnish
⅓ cup fresh chopped parsley, plus some to garnish
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano, plus some to garnish
⅓ cup diced red onion
¼ cup shredded vegan parmesan cheese
4 ounces chopped vegan smoked provolone cheese

dressing

⅓ cup quality olive oil (Italian or Greek, cold pressed)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons tamari
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
⅓ cup sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Fill a large pot with water and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt. Bring to a boil, add pasta noodles, and boil until al dente. Once done, drain and cool down with cold water. Return back to the pot and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil. Toss and set aside.

  2. Chop and prepare all of the olive salad ingredients and add them to the pot of cooked pasta as you go.

  3. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan/skillet over medium heat, moving them around so they don’t burn, until they smell fragrant and are just toasted. Add them to the pot of pasta and olive salad.

  4. Combine all of the dressing ingredients together into a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and pour over the pasta mixture. Stir everything until ingredients are well incorporated.

  5. To serve, divide pasta into bowls and garnish with reserved fresh herbs.

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tips, tricks, and other tidbits

For the pasta, I found some fancy noodles that look like oversize penne. You could use the normal penne pasta shape. Or the squiggly kind. Or even bow tie pasta- whatever you are feeling. Just don’t use sphagetti noodles- that would be weird. Think bite sized and stop making it so complicated…

For the olives and pickled vegetables you have two options: 1. Olive bar! 2. Pickled section of the grocery store. If you haven’t noticed olive bars have a large assortment of ingredients other than just olives, so check them out. If you can find some Peruvian peppers, that makes for a great garnish.

For the cheese I recommend using smoked gouda or provolone variety. If you can’t find those, go with a regular provolone or sliced mozzarella, as long as they are vegan. If they aren’t vegan the recipe won’t work.

To make this salad extra pretty when serving, make sure to grab any tidbits from the bottom of the bowl and sprinkle them on top. Or set some of the chopped ingredients aside until ready to serve. Basically, you want to see all of the ingredients on top of the salad so each person knows exactly what they are eating and it also looks super appetizing. Also notice how I sprinkled on fresh herbs as well to make the dish pop. It’s called food styling people, get into it.

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Easy Vegan Quiche 2 Ways

 
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Omg, QUICHE. I love it so much. And because I have been vegan for over a decade, I haven’t really had an authentic quiche in a minute. The reason for this is because most vegan quiche is made from tofu. WHiCh iS FiNe! But it’s not quiche. It’s a tofu pie. Feel me?

Not anymore y’all! The time has come for my quiche recipe to enter the world. One that is vegan and without tofu. A triumph! The answer? JUST Egg. It’s an incredible product made from mung beans. It scrambles just like eggs and it also makes an excellent quiche filling. Fluffy, yet firm, rich and satisfying- this plant-based egg works beautifully. To find it, check the section of your grocery store that sells refrigerated plant based options.

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As for the crust, I used store bought and I am NOT ashamed to admit it. Most brands are actually vegan, just check for lard or milk. TBH, I wasn’t in the mood to make crust and I’m sure you won’t be either. Of course, feel free to use you own homemade crust. Either way, you’re going to have to par-bake. And even thought it’s an extra few steps- it’s definitely the way to go. This creates a flaky bottom which makes the overall experience optimal while consuming quiche.

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Now, full disclosure, I’ve made this recipe without par-baking the crust and it came out just fine. The soft, squooshy bottom crust was still delicious and the overall effect of quiche was met. However, I did offer a sample to my family, explaining to them that I was perfecting the recipe for my blog. My aunt delicately, yet assertively, pointed out that the crust on the bottom was in fact raw and if the recipe were to be perfected it should be par-baked. I knew she was right and that I was just being lazy. So there. Do what you will!

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Oh yeah, did I mention there are TWO recipes? That’s right! I’m such a sweetheart. First up, I have a springy and bright quiche with fresh dill, baby greens, and cherry tomatoes. I’ve always loved dill in quiche. The fluffy egg mixture and buttery crust are the perfect blank canvas for such a pungent herb. A touch of nutmeg makes this one super special.

Next up, I have a combination that is inspired by ‘Quiche Lorraine’ with smokey tempeh bacon, caramelized shallots, and a good amount of cheese. All the flavors in this version really hit the mark for me. Quiche realness if you will. I like to add crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick. Give that a go for sure.

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I definitely recommend making both recipes because pre-made pie crust usually comes in a pack of two. So why not? Especially if you are cooking for a crowd. And just think, if you show up to a brunch with not one but two quiches, don’t you think you’ll be the most popular person in the world? ( Tip: If you do make both, I recommend using a large baking sheet to place them on. This makes transferring them to and from the oven a hell of a lot easier. ;)

Ok, let’s get to cookin’!

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Spinach Dill Tomato Quiche

1 (9 inch, deep dish) vegan pre-shaped pie crust (or homemade crust if desired)
½ cup onion, chopped (half of one medium onion)
5 ounce box baby spinach or baby mixed greens, roughly chopped or hand torn
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground (use a microplane)
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓  cup shredded vegan cheddar
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped + some to garnish
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 bottle of JUST Egg, cold and shaken well
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 tablespoons shredded vegan parmesan

  1. Par-bake the crust: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover pie crust with parchment paper (or foil) and fill with baking beans (to keep bottom of crust from rising). Gently press down on the beans and wrap the parchment/foil around and under the crust. This will prevent the crust from burning. Bake 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Remove baking beans and parchment paper/foil, prick holes in bottom of pie crust with a fork and bake for an additional 8 minutes.

  2. Add chopped onion, greens, and nutmeg to the pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring every so often, until the mixture has cooked down and most of the water has evaporated.

  3. Sprinkle ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Add cooked onion and greens mixture. Top with chopped fresh dill, nutritional yeast, and crack of fresh black pepper. Shake Just Egg vigorously and evenly pour over quiche filling. Garnish with halved tomatoes and parmesan.

  4. Bake in 325 degree oven for 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Let cool 15-20 minutes and sprinkle with kala namak and fresh dill. Serve warm (or cold if you’d like!).

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Bacon Shallot Quiche

1 (9 inch, deep dish) vegan pre-shaped pie crust (or homemade crust if desired)
3 ounces tempeh bacon strips, chopped (half a package)
⅓ cup shallot, chopped + 1 small shallot (sliced lengthwise), to garnish on top
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (or mozzarella)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried), plus some to garnish
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 bottle of JUST Egg, cold and shaken well
2-3 tablespoons shredded vegan parmesan
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired for a kick

  1. Par-bake the crust: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover pie crust with parchment paper (or foil) and fill with baking beans (to keep bottom of crust from rising). Gently press down on the beans and wrap the parchment/foil around and under the crust. This will prevent the crust from burning. Bake 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Remove baking beans and parchment paper/foil, prick holes in bottom of pie crust with a fork and bake for an additional 8 minutes.

  2. Add ⅓ cup chopped shallot and 3 ounces of chopped tempeh bacon to a pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stirring every so often. Cook for about 10 minutes until the tempeh has browned and the shallots are soft.

  3. Sprinkle ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Add cooked shallot and tempeh bacon filling on top of cheese into pie crust.Top with fresh or dried thyme, nutritional yeast, and crack of fresh black pepper. Shake JUST Egg vigorously and evenly pour over quiche filling. Garnish with sliced shallots, parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes.

  4. Bake in 325 degree oven for 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Let cool 15-20 minutes and sprinkle with kala namak, fresh thyme leaves, and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve warm (or cold if you’d like!).

tips, tricks, and other tidbits

Baking beans are just beans that are dedicated to this one purpose: baking on top of a crust to par-bake it. This keeps the crust from puffing up. You simply use the beans and place them back in a jar labeled ‘Baking Beans’. I wouldn’t suggest ever trying to consume them- just use ‘em for their weight! :D

For the spinach quiche, you can actually use whatever mix of baby greens you like. For example, baby kale and baby bok choy. Or arugula. You get the idea booger.

I like to sprinkle on kala namak at the end because it has sulfur which tastes very eggy. This is not required but I think it’s a nice touch.

Of course, warm quiche is ideal but you can certainly serve it cold from the fridge. I must admit, I don’t mind it this way. I’ve been snacking on it for days, grabbing a piece when I am running out the door and spilling crumbs everywhere as I go.

Lastly, about the crust. Obviously you can make your own homemade crust. Like, totally. I am just trying to make this recipe as easy as possible for everyone. If you’re a badass in the kitchen and know how to make the most amazing vegan crust ever- you go girl!

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Tofu Vegetable Biscuit Pot Pie

 
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This post is sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company. All opinions are my own.

Will you check this out? It’s a biscuit pot pie with a rich and creamy gravy, bright green peas, delightfully chewy cubes of roasted tofu, sweet carrots, savory shiitake mushrooms, and succulent chunks of russet potatoes. The best part? A golden brown biscuit top.

For this recipe, I wanted to streamline everything. Trust me, I know none of you want anything complicated or fussy. First off, all of the vegetables have different cooking times in a traditional pot pie. If you were to cook everything together- it wouldn’t work. The potatoes would be too hard and the peas would be too soft. I’m not into mush and you shouldn’t be either booger.

To remedy this, I roast the tofu, carrots, and potatoes separately. That gives them a head start. Then I cook the onions a tad bit in the gravy which helps to soften them up. THEN I combine everything including the peas, carrots, mushrooms and celery…that way, after the bake, they stay plump and hold their shape. This provides a nice contrast of textures for the savory pie.

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Now for the topping, I wanted to cheat because I’m bad, and I know you probably are too. So, I used organic canned biscuits and chopped them up. That’s right, you heard me. I’m not ashamed. And if you knew how many batches of homemade biscuits I’ve made you would understand. One less bowl to clean up if you ask me! If you’d like to use either one of the biscuit recipes in my cookbook- knock yourself out! They both would work perfectly for this. I’m just not in the mood.

One other reason why I love this recipe is because while the tofu, potatoes, and carrots are roasting, you have time to put together the rest of the recipe. While it is baking in the oven, you have time to clean up. That way, once it’s done, you can fully enjoy the dish. You are very welcome!

This meal is hearty and satisfying. The tofu in combination with everything else provides a solid punch of protein and is deliciously nutritious. I think once you try this, it will become a new favorite for a busy weeknight dinner. So get on it!

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Tofu Vegetable Biscuit Pot Pie

Serves 4 to 6

1 (16 oz) package high protein, super firm tofu, cubed into bite-size chunks
2 cups russet potato, cubed into bite-size chunks (1 medium sized potato)
2 cups carrots, cut into large chunks (3-4 medium carrots)*
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus some extra
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus some extra
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus some to garnish
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 oz bag frozen peas
2 cups chopped shiitake mushroom caps, cut into bite-size chunks (about 8 oz)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup vegan butter, plus some to brush on biscuits
4 cups unsweetened, plain oat or pea milk, plus some to brush on biscuits
2 cups frozen white pearl onions (about 8 ounces)
1 cup diced celery, including leaves (2 large stalks)
1 lb. can vegan biscuits

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (use two small ones if needed).

2. Add tofu, potato, carrots to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, dried thyme, and olive oil. Gently toss with hands until thoroughly coated. Spread into an even layer with fingers, separating the pieces as much as possible. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Once done, set aside.

3. Combine the peas, mushrooms, parsley, and vinegar into a 9 x 13” baking dish. Season with ½ teaspoon sea salt and few cracks black pepper, about ¼ teaspoon unless you prefer less. Set aside.

4. Next, melt vegan butter in a skillet and add flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spatula until the mixture is lightly bubbling, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add pearled onions and celery and mix thoroughly. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to soften the onions, stirring often.

5. Add 2 cups milk and stir until well combined. Once smooth and thick, remove from heat and stir in an additional 2 cups of milk. Mix well and add a pinch of sea salt and few cracks of black pepper. Pour over the baking dish of vegetables.

6. Transfer the roasted tofu, potatoes, and carrots into the baking dish and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use back of spoon to evenly smooth top of mixture. Transfer the dish to the baking sheet (in case any filling bubbles over).

7. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the biscuits from can and cut a cross into each one and all the way through, creating 4 triangle pieces per biscuit. Beautifully place the biscuit chunks on top of the mixture.

8. Combine 1 tablespoon of melted vegan butter and 2 tablespoons of plant-based milk in a small cup and gently brush over top of biscuits. Sprinkle with a dusting of sea salt, a few cracks of black pepper and a light dusting of nutritional yeast.

9. Bake for 35 minutes. To brown the tops, crank the heat up to 400 and cook for an additional 10 minutes (a total of 40 minutes). Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Season with salt, as needed, and serve.

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Tips, Tricks, and other Tidbits

For the larger pieces of carrots, slice in half lengthwise and then into half-moon rounds. You want the chunks to be all the same size (at least close) so that they cook evenly. Same goes for the potatoes. You know?

You could easily divide this up into small ramekins for individual servings, which would be super cute for a dinner party.

Yes, most canned biscuits are vegan. By accident? Probably. But they still are- so there. Of course, if you can find the organic variety the ingredients will be a little less sketchy. If you are completely opposed to canned biscuits, then one batch of my drop biscuits or golden garlic biscuits will work perfectly for this recipe. Simply make the batter when ready and use an ice cream scoop or spoon to plop it on. Please note that the temperature will need to be higher for the homemade biscuits, so maybe reduce the total cooking time to work with the book recipe.

This dish would work beautifully with a cornbread topping as well. I haven’t tried it and I am just thinking out loud. However, that sounds really bomb doesn’t it?

For a fun, colorful variation, swap out the russet potatoes for sweet potatoes and add a few cups of shredded kale. Yum.




White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

 
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The time has come my lovelies! My ‘White Truffle Macaroni & Cheese’ is finally here. Now, if you’ve been paying close attention, you will notice that I made this variation over Thanksgiving and I had quite a few of you ask me to share the recipe. Fast forward four months later, you can imagine how good it feels to finally share it with you. I took my time fine tuning it and now I can honestly say it’s perfect and ready to go.

This recipe is very similar to my traditional mac and cheese (which is actually the most popular recipe on my blog). The main difference is I cut back on the water and removed the cornstarch. The results are still thick and creamy. Although I love what the cornstarch adds to the original texture, I also wanted to try a version without it and I think it is just as delicious. I also added a carefully selected group of powerhouse ingredients to elevate the flavor of the dish to be over the top and decadent.

The two most important ingredients to this newly revised recipe are: white truffle oil and roasted garlic. What I am about to say is very important so listen up! You MUST invest in some REALLY good white truffle oil. This specialty oil is expensive and it should be. It is infused with an incredibly expensive, fragrant, and highly desirable mushroom that grows wild and underground. It is one of the most exquisite ingredients humans have to consume. I do not want any eye rolls when you see the prices for different bottles on the market.

First, truffle oil lasts a long time because you don’t need that much for big results. Think of it as a finishing oil. Second, it’s a treat. You shouldn’t be dousing everything you eat in truffle oil. Think of it as a nice bottle of wine or expensive candle. Be conservative. (Unless you’re rich and then I guess it doesn’t matter. Show off.)

My favorite white truffle oil is from the Filling Station in NYC. I have also used this one from Amazon and would recommend it as well. A good trick to finding the best white truffle oil is to smell it. When you open a bottle of good oil, it should hit your nose intensely and make your eyes roll into the back of your head. Smelling and consuming fragrant white truffle oil is a sensual experience. Do note that this oil is not intense like say a spoonful of soy sauce or hot sauce. It doesn’t explode on your tongue like that. It is more of a deeply aromatic experience than anything. Take your time while eating and savor it.

If you think you can get away with using black truffle oil- think again! White truffles are more flavorful and aromatic. This makes them more expensive and thusly, the oil is more expensive. Don’t worry tough, this recipe only calls for 1 to 2 tablespoons, so even if the bottle is really nice, it should only be around five dollars worth.

As for roasting the garlic it is so easy! Please trust me on this, no melt downs if you’ve never done it before. There are literally a dozen ways to do it. The basic idea is to slice the tip of the garlic head off to reveal all of the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap or cover with foil or baking vessel, and roast until the cloves are golden and caramelized. You can check out the many ways to do that here. Now let’s get to the recipe.

White Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 6 to 8 + gluten-free option

1 (16 ounce) pack small pasta shells or desired noodles, plus water + salt to boil
1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight if using a regular blender)
3 cups filtered water
1 pack vegan provolone slices (7 ounces)*
1 pack vegan mozzarella slices (7 ounces)*
1 pack vegan white aged cheddar slices (7 ounces)*
¼ cup vegan butter
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons chickpea miso
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 head roasted garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons white truffle oil

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1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and begin roasting head of garlic.

2. Fill a large pot with water and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt. Bring to a boil and add the noodles. Boil for about 5 minutes, until they are al dente (remembering it’s ok if they are slightly firm because they will cook more in the oven, so no need to worry). Drain with a colander and transfer to a 9” x 13” baking dish (this recipe will just fit in that!) or desired baking vessel. Set aside.

3. In a high-speed blender, add the cashews and water and blend until smooth and creamy. This should take a minute or two. Add the chopped cheeses, butter, dry mustard, nutmeg, miso, peeled roasted garlic head, and cayenne pepper. Start by blending on low and gradually turn up the speed, until you are left with a smooth and creamy sauce, scraping down the sides and moving everything around as needed (please work with your blender, help it out and don’t give it a brain aneurysm). If using a smaller blender, divide the cashew milk in half and try making the sauce in two separate batches.

4. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles in the baking dish. Mix well.

5. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden and the cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from the oven, pour on truffle oil, and stir with a large spoon. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Tips, Tricks, and other Tidbits

Hot Tip! At the very end, turn the oven broiler on and place the baking dish on the top shelf. Watch it closely and it will begin to brown and look gorgeous (only a few minutes). Once desired color is achieved, remove and enjoy.

PLEASE STIR AND KEEP CALM. I know someone who made a recipe video of this mac and cheese (who I love) and she ate it right out of the skillet without mixing or letting it sit. She then mentioned it tasted better after it sat out for a while. HeLLo! That’s what the recipes says to do booger! By mixing and letting the dish sit, it becomes thicker and creamier. And believe me you will be rewarded for your patience!

For the cheeses, I recommend using a mixture of Field Roast’s Creamy Original Chao Cheese, Follow Your Heart’s Mozzarella or Provolone, and Violife’s Mature Cheddar. The most important thing to remember is only choose pale yellow or white cheese to keep that beautiful color. If you can’t find all 3 varieties of cheese, simply double or triple up on what you can find. It will still be delicious and work beautifully. I recommend avoiding the smoked flavor ones as this will compete with the truffle oil’s delicate flavor.

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For this recipe, I chose to go with small shells with ridges. I feel as though this recipe is for a special occasion and because it uses such an expensive ingredient (i.e. truffle oil), the shape and feel should be fancy, too. You can use whatever noodles you like, but if you want to be cool like me- stick with the small shells.

When making the cheese sauce, please remember to blend the cashews and water FIRST. If you add everything at the same time, your blender will have a very hard time making everything velvety smooth. In fact, it might not even be able to blend up those cashews to the desired consistency. Follow the recipe as written and make the cream first. You will thank me later.

If you are allergic to nuts you can use any desired plant based milk (as long as it’s vegan or it won’t work). This may change the texture of this (making it not as thick) and I have not tested it but my gut tells me it should be just fine. I’ve used shelled hemp hearts before (instead of cashews) and it was okay. The flavor was sort of grassy from the hearts, which isn’t ideal, but for all you nut allergy people-you understand. Sorry folks.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe. If you make it, please let me know in the comments and/or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your creations. And most importantly, have fun and order white truffle oil today! Happy cooking!

-Timothy

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Pink Potato Soup

 
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This pink potato soup is the perfect Valentine’s Day recipe. And although the idea is a bit cheesy and I’m single as hell, I still thought it’d be cute to share. The secret weapon to that gorgeous color is raw beet. Just a few small chunks are all you need to create that pop of pink.

As for the base, it’s creamy, luxurious, and delightfully savory. A few other simple ingredients come together to make this soup rich, velvety and melt in your mouth delicious. Finish this bowl of pretty in pink with large chunks of buttery avocado, fresh dill and watermelon radishes. Not only do they add fun variations of color, the radish adds a peppery note. However, if you can’t find them-totally skip. Not a big deal.

The best part about this recipe is how easy it is! You simply add everything in a pot, blend, pour, garnish and serve. This recipe is a seriously impressive dish for not only that special someone, but any lunch or dinner guest. Here’s what you’ll need:

pink potato soup

makes 4-6 servings, gluten free

6 cups spring water
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 cups chopped russet potato, peeled
1 cup raw cashews
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 large bay leaves
1 small beet, raw, peeled and cut into fourths
1 large ripe avocado, cut into chunks
1 bunch fresh dill, to garnish
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced
Sea salt + black pepper, to garnish

1. For the soup base combine the water, vinegar, potatoes, cashews, garlic, sea salt, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves into a large pot and bring to a boil. Once this has come to a boil and the potatoes are tender, remove from heat. Let cool for about 20 minutes.

2. Once cooled, remove the bay leaves and add the mixture to a high-speed blender. Then add in one piece of raw beet. Blend until smooth. Continue this step, adding more beet, until desired color is reached.

3. At this point, you are ready to serve. Or return it to the stovetop until needed. Making this the perfect make ahead of time soup. Cover and simmer on low heat.

4. Garnish with 2 to 3 slices of watermelon radish, ripe avocado chunks, a few sprigs of chopped dill, a sprinkling of Maldon salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

-Timothy


TIPS, tricks, and other tidbits

Above is a video for you to watch exactly how to make it! Note that while blending, because the soup mixture will be hot, you want to keep the small feed hole open so steam can escape. Simply use a clean cloth to cover it up so it doesn’t splatter everywhere!

This soup base is a great go-to 'cream of potato soup'. Boiling the cashews with the potatoes makes them blend easily and provides the heavy cream we are looking for. And the possibilities are endless: add roasted shallots and mushrooms as garnishes (which I've done previously in my Instagram gallery- go look). You could add vegan shredded cheese, shiitake bacon, and green onions on top to make it fully loaded potato soup. Or, you could simply serve it with a drizzle of truffle oil and cracked black pepper. Now that sounds good! 

You want to make sure the potatoes are cut into chunks so that they cook faster. This makes the cooking time very short... around 15 minutes max.

Curried Variation

If you have been a fan of MV for a long time, you might notice that this is actually an older recipe that I’ve given a face lift to. It’s true! It originally was a curried potato soup with crispy chickpeas! I still love that variation and I recommend that you try it as well. The results will be a bright yellow soup instead of pink. Simply swap out the beets with one tablespoon of curry powder. To garnish, how about these crispy spiced chickpeas?

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crispy spiced chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons favorite spice blend
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix together in a bowl the chickpeas, olive oil, spices, nutritional yeast, and sea salt. Mix well and toss onto a baking sheet. Spread evenly and bake for 30-40 minutes, removing and tossing halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once toasted to desired texture, remove and use to garnish soup or keep in an airtight container for a snack.

You can also use just a mixture of your favorite seasonings for the chickpeas as well. If you don't have access to pre-made Indian spice blends, try mixing dry turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg and clove together. Since the chickpeas are already cooked, you can taste them before roasting to see if you like the way they taste. Just have fun with it!

In regards to the roasting time, I only roasted mine for 30 minutes and the texture was a bit soft- which I liked! The texture reminded me of roasted potatoes. Now, you can certainly roast them for an extra 10-15 minutes to make them crunchy. It just depends on your mood and what you want. Do be careful towards the end- you don't want them burning! 

 

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Apricot Glazed Tempeh

 

This post is sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland ( ADM ) Company. All opinions are my own.

This tempeh recipe is absolutely perfect! The glaze is sweet, tangy, and savory, with just a kick of spice. The texture of the tempeh is firm yet tender with a delightful crunch. The trick to making good tempeh is to steam it, which removes the bitter taste it can have straight out of the package.

With this technique, the marinade is poured over the tempeh and wrapped tightly in foil. While baking, it’s not only steamed, but all of the flavor from the marinade is infused throughout. To finish, remove the foil and continue baking in the oven. This thickens the glaze and the tempeh becomes nice and firm.

Soy protein is one of the few plant-based proteins that is comparable with animal protein, providing all the amino acid building blocks at levels and the availability needed by the body. This is why it works as a delightful protein source for many different meal variations一 serve it with steamed broccoli, asparagus, carrots, sugar snap peas, or green beans and a fluffy grain like quinoa or rice. You can also try it with buckwheat or rice noodles, it works beautifully. Tempeh is super easy to slice, you can try cutting different shapes and sizes for fun variations.

By combining sweet apricot preserves with tangy whole grain mustard, savory tamari, onion, garlic, with a touch of vinegar, fresh bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes, you are left with a marinade that is truly a party for your taste buds.

Apricot glazed Tempeh

2 (8oz) packages tempeh (soybean variety)
1 (10oz) jar apricot preserves
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup filtered or spring water
¼ cup tamari (or soy sauce)
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 to 4 bay leaves, depending on size

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. For triangles, cut the blocks of tempeh in half, lengthwise (like slicing a thin loaf of bread in half for a sub). Then cut into squares and finally, triangles. For batons (small long rectangles), cut the block of tempeh in half, lengthwise. The cut in half and into small batons (see picture above). Transfer to a 9” x 13” baking dish. Set aside.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, add the apricot preserves, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Mix until smooth. Then add the water, tamari, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and minced garlic. Mix well and give it a taste. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

4. Pour marinade over the tempeh and give the dish a nice jiggle, making sure some of the marinade goes under the tempeh. Place the bay leaves on top and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven once again and using a pastry brush (or a spoon if don’t have one), brush/spoon over some of the remaining marinade over the tempeh to glaze the pieces. Pop back in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the tempeh is sticky. (If you halve this recipe, pull back on the final cooking time so the marinade doesn’t burn.)

5. Serve with freshly steamed or roasted vegetables, grain of your choice, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Feel free to spoon over some of the remaining glaze on top. :)

tips, tricks, and other tidbits

Did I mention that this tempeh works perfectly as a filling for spring rolls?. The combinations and variations are endless. To start, instead of baking the tempeh into triangle shapes, you simply cut the tempeh into strips, like batons. This makes it easier to fit the tempeh into spring rolls.

For the filling, I recommend using any kind of lettuce you desire (spinach, shredded romaine, or arugula work great!). To make the spring rolls, hold a large piece of rice paper in the sink and run some water, just to wet it briefly. Transfer the sheet to a cutting board. Then, add 2 to 3 tempeh batons, some fresh herbs (like cilantro, Thai basil and mint).

For an added layer of texture, I add strips of roasted sweet potato that I simply steamed until soft. You could roast as well. You can also add some rice or mung bean noodles for fun, but they are not necessary. Julienned strips of carrots add a lovely crunch. And cucumbers also add a nice fresh flavor. I’ve created a little story on my Instagram for how to roll them. You can watch that video on my instagram page: it is saved under the highlight ‘Spring Rolls’.)

As for the dipping sauce, here is a delicious miso-tahini recipe that I absolutely adore! Did you know that miso is made from soybeans? Yep, it’s a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice, barley, seaweed or other ingredients. You can use any leftovers as a salad dressing or as a dip with roasted veggies.

Miso Tahini Dressing

3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons mellow white miso
2 tablespoons filtered water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Serve immediately or keep in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to one week.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe! If you do make it, please leave a review on the blog and/or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your creations. Most importantly, remember to have fun. Happy cooking!

-Timothy

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New Year’s Stew

 
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The new year is just a few days a way people! That means it is time for all you to plan on what you’ll be cooking. Now, if you own my cookbook you would know that I have a pretty killer Hoppin’ John Stew which is perfect for the occasion. However, because all of you don’t own my book (which makes me cry), I decided that I should have another perfect recipe for ringing in the new year. And this is it…My New Year’s Stew!

If you didn’t know, you’re supposed to eat black eyed peas and greens for good luck in the new year. Think of it as an invitation for wealth and success to come into your life. Can’t hurt, right? Some say the greens represent money and the black eyed peas represents pennies (wait a minute, pennies? Can’t we shoot higher than that!?). Others say to eat cornbread as it represents gold. I honestly don’t even need a reason to eat any of these things because I love them all! You ain’t gotta tell me twice to eat no damn peas with rice, tender greens, and cornbread! Please.

Aside from all of the luck and tradition, this dish was inspired from a recipe my mama would make for my father. It was basically braised cabbage with potatoes and sausage, a Polish classic. (If you didn’t know I am part Polish, now you do.) To veganize this dish, I used Beyond Sausage (not sponsored!) because the texture is incredible and the flavor is spot on. I like to add carrots for sweetness and tomatoes for some acidity. Green bell peppers and celery add freshness. Of course, by adding the black eyed peas and collards, this becomes a New Year’s classic. So make sure to invite some friends over and enjoy this stew with fluffy white rice and large chunks of cornbread. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Stew

Serves 8 to 10 / Make half to serve 4 to 6

½ lb dried black eyed peas or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery, including leaves
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups new potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 small head green cabbage, roughly chopped (8 to 9 cups, packed)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
3 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ crushed red pepper flakes, less if desired
14 oz hot Italian plant based sausage*
1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole
9 cups spring or filtered water
3 cups roughly chopped collard greens
Fluffy rice, to serve
Freshly chopped chives, to garnish

1. If you are using dried peas, you will need to soak and cook them. Hop on down to the close up shot of the peas at the bottom of this post to learn how to do so. If you are using canned peas, simply open ‘em up and give them a good rinse. Set aside.

2. In a large pot (at least 7.25 quarts*), add onions, bell peppers, celery, carrots and a good drizzle of olive oil. Season with a few pinches of sea salt and pepper. Bring to medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, until the vegetables become tender and juicy, stirring every so often.

3. Next add in the garlic, potatoes, cabbage, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, tamari, sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Give it a good mix and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the cabbage becomes soft and tender and it smells delicious.

4. Add the sausage, tomatoes, black eyed peas and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook at a low simmer with a cracked lid, stirring every so often, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender to fork. Once done, throw in the collard greens and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until they become tender.

5. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with fluffy white rice, freshly chopped chives, and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. Hot sauce is welcome!

tips, tricks, and other tidbits

As I said, this recipe makes A LOT. I used a large 7.25 quart dutch oven and the full amount fit perfectly. If you do not have a pot this large, I would cut this recipe in half and you should have no problems.

When making rice, I would think 2 cups of dried would make enough for this recipe. To garnish, I would scoop about 1/3 cup of cooked rice on top. The rice is more of a garnish so the ratio of rice to stew should be more stew, you feel me? When cooking rice, at a bare minimum, I always throw in some sea salt, olive oil, pepper, rice vinegar and a few bay leaves. You should do the same as this makes for flavorful rice.

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I grew up eating Camellia beans and black eyed peas, so they are very nostalgic to me. Funny enough, the packaging hasn’t changed since I was a little boy. Feel free to buy your peas from the bulk section if you’d like and if purchasing canned peas, I try to buy organic and non-BPA lined cans.

For this recipe, I strayed away from using too many herbs. I really wanted the flavor of the cabbage to shine through. Not the mention, the sausage has loads of flavor, which helps to season the stew. If you don’t like plant based sausages, you can totally omit this ingredient. In that case, you might want to add some more salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like to use another brand other than Beyond Sausage, you could. However, I think it works perfectly with this recipe so that wouldn’t be ideal. ;)

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I like this stew because it is so hearty. See those big chunks of cabbage? Don’t worry, they become tender and succulent. This is the perfect contrast to large chunks of boiled potatoes and dark green strips of collard greens. The black eyed peas provide little plump pops of texture and flavor. Cute, right? When serving soups and stews, I always like to sprinkle on top some sea salt and pepper for an extra kick of flavor to enhance the dish.

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how to cook dried black eyed peas

If you ask me, cooking dried peas and beans can be quite therapeutic. Sorting, rinsing, soaking. I love it! Of course, they also taste better than canned and rightfully so. You showed them some extra TLC and any pea or bean will appreciate that. Some require more time to soak and take longer to cook, so these instructions may vary for other varieties. Right now, let’s just focus on black eyed peas, as they take less time to soak and cook than most and we’re using them in the recipe.

I like to soak my peas over night. First, sort through them and remove any weird pieces or anything other than peas. Then cover the peas with a few inches of water. This allows the water to slowly absorb into the peas which allows them to cook evenly and more quickly. This also draws out some of the phytic acid, which can cause bloating. If you are strapped for time but would still like to do this, you can do a quick soak. Simply throw the beans in a medium sized pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover with the lid and let the peas steep for 30 minutes. Drain the peas and rinse them well.

To cook, transfer the drained peas back to the pot and cover with fresh water. Throw in a piece of kombu (dried seaweed- for flavor and to help aid in digestion), a bay leaf or two, and bring to a boil. No salt as this will make them tough! (Sometimes I’ll add splash of vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil, it really just depends on my mood.) Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the peas are tender. Done!

You can then drain the peas and add them to a recipe. Or you can store the peas in a jar with the cooking liquid for a few days. If using for a soup or a stew, feel free to use some of the cooking liquid as it has good flavor as well.

Black Bean Spread

 
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There’s nothing quite like a crowd pleasing appetizer to offer at a gathering or bring to a party. A quick and easy idea is to create a delicious spread with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of spice. By placing the spread in the middle of a platter loaded with colorful vegetables, crunchy crostini and salty olives - it’s the perfect dish for a party. Everyone can grab exactly what they want, and there is no fuss! Not to mention, a spread like this can be made a few days in advance and can handle sitting out on the table for a few hours. For this variation, I am teaming up with Amy’s (whom I just love!) to bring you a black bean spread. Talk about an effective shortcut, I start this recipe off with their refried black beans, which are already loaded with flavor. Then I doctor them up with additions like caramelized garlic, fresh lime juice, cumin and smoked paprika. Yum! Feel free to push and pull this recipe to your liking: instead of using garlic, try minced shallots. Instead of using smoked paprika, try sweet paprika. A pinch of curry powder? Sure! Freshly chopped oregano or cilantro would be a lovely addition as well. Once the dip is surrounded by an array of delicious dipping options, you’ve got yourself a lovely holiday appetizer.

Black Bean Spread

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

2 cans Amy’s Refried Black Beans
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to drizzle
2 - 3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Add the beans to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Squeeze on the lime juice and add the onion powder and garlic powder. Mix well and set aside.

2. Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet and bring to medium heat, stirring every so often with a spatula. Cook for a good 5 to 6 minutes until the garlic becomes soft and golden. Lower the heat just a tad and add the oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika. Continue to stir and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Once your kitchen smells outrageous and the garlic is fully caramelized, transfer to the bowl of beans and scrape every last drop out.

3. Mix everything together vigorously. Give it a taste and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to your liking. Transfer to a pretty bowl and garnish with a dusting of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

To dip:

You can use any assortment of vegetables, such as carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans bell peppers. If you are going to add a crunchy green vegetable, like green beans, asparagus or broccoli florets, I suggest that you lightly steam them or pour boiling water on then rinse them with cold water. This gets rid of that chalky raw taste and makes them more enjoyable.

A fun option as well are thinly sliced apples and crunchy crostini or any kind of cracker. I also love using olives and other pickled vegetables, from the olive bar, like artichoke hearts and baby peppers, for a variety of color and texture. Salted and roasted Marcona almonds also pair beautifully with this dip. If you’ve never made crostini, here’s a super simple recipe.

Crostini

1 good baguette
Olive oil
Sea salt
Nutritional yeast

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the baguette into ½ thick slices. Drizzle some olive oil onto a small plate. Press one side of a bread slice into the oil until coated.

2. Place the slice oil side up on the baking sheet and repeat this until all the slices are coated. Sprinkle with sea salt and nutritional yeast and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Tips

The whole point of a vegetable platter like this is to have fun and make it gorgeous! Think lots of color and enticing textures. I definitely recommend hitting up your local farmers market for unique produce and fresh herbs to garnish.

Sign up here for more tasty recipes like this from Amy’s.

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Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

 
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Ahh, risotto. Creamy, luxurious, and incredibly satisfying, this dish is a quintessential classic. There are many different variations out there and one of the more popular combinations is with mushrooms and peas. Sounds good to me! In my vegan rendition, since we are not adding any dairy cheese or cream, I like to create a strong depth of flavor with mustard and miso (a trick I learned while working as a server in a restaurant in NYC). The tang from the mustard and cheesiness from the miso works wonders for the creamy rice known as 'Arborio'. My other secret weapon is rosemary. This powerful herb offers a very strong savory flavor that is earthy and robust. It works beautifully with rice and mushrooms. In regards to risotto, I think people are intimidated, but I am here to prove to all of you that it's really not that bad! Matter of fact, it's quite simple. The most important ingredient is time. Instead of cooking the grains in one large amount of water all at the same time, you slowly add it, little by little. The rice slowly absorbs the liquid and the result is a luxuriously creamy dish. The key here is to only add a warm liquid so that it cooks perfectly. That’s why you heat up the vegetable broth before cooking. As for the veggies, I like to add asparagus and blanched fava beans for a nice crunch and variation in texture, but you could add whatever vegetables you like. Frozen peas work beautifully! When making this dish, I recommend serving it immediately as that’s when it’s best. A crusty piece of bread works as the perfect vehicle to help scrape the sides of bowl- just sayin’.

Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4 to 6, gluten free

8 cups vegetable broth (low- or no-sodium)
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms caps, packed
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoon mellow white miso
Vegan parmesan, shredded, to taste
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Vegetable Options:

1 to 2 cups frozen peas
1 cup Fava beans, blanched and peeled
1 to 2 cups asparagus tips, raw

1. Add broth to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

2. Melt butter over medium heat then add olive oil, mushrooms, onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add garlic, rosemary, nutritional yeast and arborio rice. Stirring often, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until garlic is soft and rice is toasted. Add the wine, mustard, and miso and mix well. Cook for a few more minutes until the wine has evaporated, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn.

3. Once the wine is evaporated, add 1 cup of warm broth to the rice mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat this step, adding the broth in 1 cup increments, until risotto becomes thick and creamy. This should take about 20-30 minutes. If the risotto seems done, give it a taste and you will now. The rice should be chewy, firm, yet tender. You may not use all of the broth and that’s ok. Don’t have a melt down.

4. At this point, you can fold in whatever vegetables you are using along with the shredded vegan parm. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is tender and the peas are bright green. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Tip

To garnish, I like to fry up some additional sliced mushrooms to place on top, as well as some blanched vegetables (especially peas!). That’s because I’m a food stylist and I want it to look extra pretty. You totally don’t have to do this! But if you’d like to impress someone, I suggest that you do. ;)

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Cookbook Clarifications and FAQs

 
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Dear Readers,

Now that my cookbook is out, I have had some frequently asked clarifications and questions come up in regards to a few of the recipes. I decided to create this very blog post so that all of my answers can be organized in one place for efficiency.

Since the book’s release, a few errors have been brought to my attention. These will be updated for the 2nd edition printing. That said, I wanted to inform all of you that even though every recipe was tested, some of the updates and feedback slipped through the cracks, which I address below. I sincerely apologize for this!

I truly hope that this page helps all of you and allows for your cooking experience to be informed and fun. If you have any other questions or concerns, please submit them to me here and I will add them to this page. Feel free to leave a comment below, as well!

Thank you!

Timothy Pakron


clarifications & Corrections

Scalloped Root Casserole (page 221)

The roots should be sliced 1/16th of an inch, not 1/4th of an inch. I’ve had people tell me it still works at 1/4th of an inch but it takes longer to cook.

Gumbo z’Fungi (page 151)

For this gumbo, I call for a homemade mushroom stock. The printed recipe calls for 12 ounces of dried shiitake mushrooms when it should be 2 ounces. Yikes! That would be an insane amount of mushrooms. I also forgot to mention when to incorporate the chopped mushrooms into the recipe. They should be added in step 7 when you add the broth and bay leaves.

Sweet Onion Soup (page 130)

Again, the mushroom stock should be made with 2 ounces of dried mushrooms, not 12.

My Father’s Hash Browns (page 51)

In the headnote I mention using shallots but they are not listed in the ingredients. They are optional and if you’d like to use them, add ‘1 small shallot, chopped’ to the onion mixture and cook accordingly.

Creole Spice Blend (page 250)

I’ve had some readers ask how much of the ‘Creole Spice Blend’ to use in the gumbo recipes. You use the whole batch on page 250 for each gumbo recipe.

Mama’s Pralines (page 243)

In the headnote, I mention using vegan butter while recreating the traditional recipe. After testing it, my Mama and I decided that because vegan butter has water, this made the pralines too liquidity. Because the coconut cream is so rich, we decided that the recipe didn’t even need the butter! Therefore, the recipe is correct as is with no vegan butter.


FAQs

How many recipes are gluten-free (out of 125 recipes)?

Totally Gluten Free: 82

Gluten-Free Friendly : 20
By subbing gluten free bread for the sandwiches or croutons, crust for desserts, sorghum flour for gumbo roux.

I can’t find any okra for the gumbo recipe? Can I still make it? What could I replace it with?

Yes, you can make the gumbo without okra. If you cannot find fresh okra, try looking in the freezer section of any grocery store. Frozen okra isn’t the best to use, but it will work in a pinch. You might be surprised to find it! If you still can’t find any or you simply don’t like okra, try subbing chopped zucchini and squash with a few handfuls of spinach. The soft spinach will help thicken the stew while the zucchini and squash will bulk it up. It should still be absolutely delicious!

I made the ‘Skillet Cornbread’ on page 63 and it was delicious but crumbly. Is this how it’s supposed to be?

Yes! Since there already is a more fluffy cornbread containing wheat flour in the book, I wanted to have a more dense and solely cornmeal based cornbread for a more classic and gluten free option. This inevitably makes for a more crumbly cornbread. Do remember not to over mix the batter, as this will make it even more crumbly. I also recommend serving hot and straight out of the skillet.

Your gumbo is amazing but it makes a lot! Can I halve the recipe?

Yes, I know it does! LOL. And honestly, it’s just the way my Mom taught me how to make it. Of course you can halve the recipe, but I think if you are going to go to all the effort to make this recipe you should just make the full batch. It keeps well in the fridge for leftovers and it freezes beautifully. It’s also a lovely gift to give to someone!

Can I use the ‘Hummingbird Cake’ batter on page 239 to make cupcakes?

Yes! The batter works perfectly for a 12 well cupcake pan. You can also use the batter to make round cake layers (I’ve seen this done on Instagram) and also mini-cupcakes (I personally love doing this)!

For the ‘Salisbury Steak’ recipe on page 190, there are no mushrooms listed under the ‘Mushroom Onion Gravy’- are they missing?

No sweetheart, they are used earlier in the recipe when the steaks are cooking. You make the gravy with them after the steaks are removed from the skillet and they are browned and delicious along with the onions. Look on page 192 and you’ll see 1/2 pound of sliced cremini mushrooms listed.

Should I cover the slow cooked red beans on page 169 when they are cooking?

I actually don’t cover my red beans. That way, the brothy liquid evaporates and cooks down. More water is added if needed to achieve a thick gravy texture.

For the sweet potato casserole (page 214), the marshmallows ballooned up without browning. Any tips for making the marshmallows brown for the sweet potato casserole?

Make sure to only cover the sweet potato mash with the marshmallows and not to stuff too many in the dish. This will make them overflow while baking! If they are ballooning too much without browning, simply remove from the oven and let them deflate a bit. Crank up the heat to 400 degrees F and pop back in for a few minutes to brown. Although risky, you could pop the casserole under the broiler but please watch very carefully!

My biscuits/cornbread didn’t rise and become fluffy! What went wrong?

I’ve had this happen to two readers now. Upon further investigation, each reader came to realize that their baking powder was expired! To avoid this, I recommend buying baking powder in small amounts so that it is replaced often. If you’d like to test your baking powder, simply add a teaspoon to a cup and pour over 1/3rd a cup of hot water. If it bubbles, you are good. If nothing happens, it’s old!

When you make biscuits, do you use soft wheat flour? Or do you get same results with other kinds of all purpose flour?

I’ve used both a standard AP flour and also a soft wheat flour for my biscuits and I would say that the results are great for either. But I would say that when using White Lily Flour, which is a soft winter wheat, the biscuits are a bit fluffier and softer. That’s my preferred flour for biscuits, cakes, and cookies. For bread recipes like bagels or focaccia, I prefer to use King Arthur’s bread flour.

You call for red wine in your gumbo recipes, what kind do you recommend?

I like to use a bold and dark red wine, like a Malbec, but you could also use Merlot or a Cabernet.

How long will the shiitake bacon last in the fridge?

Honestly, because most of the moisture is cooked out of the mushrooms and there is so much salt, it should last for a good while- I’d say a week max (probably longer but just to be safe). One other trick is lay it back out on a sheet pan and pop into a preheated oven (350 degrees F) to crispy it back up! Not to long though, only a few minutes. My question for you is how do you have any left over? Mine doesn’t last more than a few hours!


One-Pot Pasta Bolognese

 
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This one-pot pasta bolognese is incredibly delicious and satisfying. Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce cooked with wine and some heavy cream. The results are a rich and flavorful sauce which can be served with any kind of pasta you desire. I love using thick spaghetti noodles, as featured in the picture above, but I also recommend using fettuccini or regular spaghetti for this rendition. I particularly love this recipe because I have streamlined it all into ONE pot. That’s right! You simply throw the noodles in once the sauce is loaded with tons of seasonings and spices and they cook perfectly, absorbing all of the flavors while still becoming delightfully squooshy. To start, vegan sausage is crumbled and browned with onions, carrots, and celery. Once that all gets happy- garlic, fresh herbs, and crushed fire roasted tomatoes are added to the pot. I also like adding cherry tomatoes and tomato paste for extra flavor and added texture. To make the sauce creamy, I like adding in pea milk, which is available at most grocery stores these days. Feel free to use whatever unsweetened plant-based milk you prefer. Once to a simmer, you throw in the noodles and cook. The only catch is you have to stir the mixture often so that the bottom doesn’t burn. Because the noodles are cooking in a thick sauce, movement is key. I like to use a large wooden spatula to make sure the bottom is scraped and moved thoroughly. Once the noodles are al dente, you remove from heat, add some vegan cheese, and cover with a lid. Let it sit for a good 10 minutes allowing the noodles to finish cooking and you’re done! A hefty shredding of vegan parmesan cheese on top with some fresh basil and cherry tomatoes completes this beautiful dish. Serve with a simple side salad and some crusty garlic bread for an epic meal, with wine of course!

One-Pot Pasta Bolognese

serves 6 - you can halve the recipe

14 ounces beyond sausage, crumbled*
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup fresh chopped basil, plus some to garnish
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ cup red wine
3 cups crushed fire roasted tomatoes (one 28 ounce can)
¾ cup tomato paste (one 6 ounce can)
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 cups pea milk, plus some if needed*
2 cups filtered water
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 lb pasta noodles
¼ cup shredded vegan parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish


1. In a large pot or large dutch oven, add the sausage, onions, carrots, celery and olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add a pinch of sea salt and pepper and stir with a large wooden spatula. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, stirring often. Use the spatula to break up the sausage into a crumbly texture.

2. Throw in the garlic and cook for a few minutes (2 to 3), until softened. Add the parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and nutritional yeast. Cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the canned tomatoes and continue to scrape so that there is nothing stuck to the bottom.

3. Next, add the tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, pea milk, filtered water, sea salt, black pepper, and noodles. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Once to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Towards the 15 minute mark, test a noodle. (If using a thinner noodle, maybe check around 13 minutes as they will cook quicker). Once the noodles are al dente (cooked yet slightly hard), remove from heat, mix in the cheese, and cover with a lid. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the noodles finish cooking.

4. After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the lid and give it a stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like to loosen it up, add a few more splashes of milk and mix. Serve in bowls and garnish with freshly shaven vegan parmesan and basil leaves. You could also throw on some halved cherry tomatoes because it’s pretty!

Tips

I highly recommend using the Hot Italian Beyond Sausage (or any of their flavors if you can’t find this one). You could use another brand of vegan sausage (or a homemade recipe), but this has the perfect texture, flavoring, and fat content for this dish in particular.

You can make this a day ahead and keep in the fridge. It will thicken up considerably once chilled, so when you are ready to heat it back up, I recommend adding some more milk and baking it in the oven, covered. I would advise against heating it up on the stovetop as it could burn easily (because it is much thicker when cold). If you are heating up a small amount, you could use the stove top, just make sure to keep it moving!

I personally love the Ripple brand of unsweetened pea milk for this recipe. I find that it has just the right creamy texture.

The dish featured above is 4 quarts, which would be perfect if you halved the recipe. If you are going to make the full recipe, I recommend using a large pot or large dutch oven so you have plenty of wiggle room. It’s not fun to cook a sauce that’s all the way up to the brim, it can be quite stressful!

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Holiday Pizza

 
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This holiday pizza is the perfect crowd pleaser. I love that it uses leftover scraps of holiday ingredients like hazelnuts, brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. The best part is the recipe starts with a delicious Amy’s frozen pizza as the base, which makes it super fast and super easy. (I always have 1 or 2 as a backup in the freezer!) It’s the perfect solution for serving to family or guests when people are hungry and you need something quick. Feel me? The brussels sprouts are tenderized and infused with flavor before placing on top of the pizza from a splash of vinegar, sprinkling of nutritional yeast, orange zest and orange juice. This really elevates their flavor which pairs beautifully with toasted hazelnuts and cranberry sauce. I like to add dollops of any store-bought vegan nut cheese, but you could totally skip that. This recipe is all about using what you have and being super easy. After the pizza is baked in the oven, I love adding fresh oregano for a pop of color and fresh flavor. Do note that I’ve made this pizza multiple times now and I can honestly say that I love it and I think you will to.


Holiday Pizza

Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup hazelnuts, peeled
1 ½ cups quartered brussels sprouts (white bottoms removed)
½ cup filtered water
1 teaspoon vinegar (plain, rice, or cider)
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza
2 to 3 tablespoons desired vegan nut cheese (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons cranberry sauce
Fresh oregano, to garnish


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


2. Spread the hazelnuts on the baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes, until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.* Once cooled, using the side of your knife, gently press down on them until they break in half or into smaller pieces. Set aside.

3. Add the brussels sprouts to a skillet, along with the water, vinegar, nutritional yeast, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bring to medium heat, stirring every so often. Cook until liquid has evaporated and the brussels sprouts are tender to fork. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Using the same parchment-lined baking sheet as the hazelnuts, remove the Amy’s frozen from the box and place in the middle of the pan. Artfully add the brussels sprouts. Then add ½ teaspoon dollops of the cranberry sauce scattered across the top (to make sure each slice gets some). If using cheese, repeat this step, scattering small dollops across the top. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes.

5. Once baked, remove from oven and sprinkle on the hazelnuts. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves, slice, and serve.


Tips

If you cannot find hazelnuts already peeled, you can do so at home. After they are roasted carefully transfer them to a paper towel and wrap up the edges. Rub them around until the peels flake off. It’s ok if they are not completely peeled. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

You can use whatever store-bought vegan nut cheese you desire: almond ricotta, cashew herb, etc.

This pizza is delicious cold! I tried some the next day and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

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Autumnal Stew

 
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Autumnal Stew

This recipe is quintessential fall. It’s loaded with curried root vegetables like beets, radishes, turnips, winter squash, and sweet potatoes. The broth is infused with loads of earthy and spicy curry powder which is the perfect warming up spice for the cool weather that’s coming in, albeit slowly here in New Orleans! Nonetheless, fall is fall and I was ready for some stew. So that’s precisely why this recipe came to fruition. I’m keeping things super simple by throwing most of the ingredients in at once in the beginning. No need to fuss. Once things are nice and tender, I introduce some garlic, ginger, vinegar, sweet mirin (a cooking wine), nutritional yeast, and tamari. All of these combined results in a super flavorful, savory, and delicious broth that becomes infused in the tender and succulent root vegetables. To be resourceful and fun, I like to throw in some of the green tops from the beets and turnips. They provide a nice body to the stew and they’re delicious! The only thing that could make this recipe any better is a fluffy grain to go on top with some toasted nuts. I chose quinoa and pecans because that screams fall to me, but do what you will with what you want. I’m not here to tell you what to do (well, kinda). Make the stew, have fun, and share it with friends.

Autumnal Stew

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups chopped beets, reserve some of the tops
1 ½ cups chopped butternut squash, peeled
1 ½ cups chopped red kuri or kabocha squash, peeled
1 ½ cups chopped (or baby) turnips
4 to 5 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup chopped fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (duh)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons mirin*
6 cups filtered or spring water
3 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 to 3 bay leaves
Beet greens (about 1 cup), shredded
Turnip greens (about 1 cup), shredded
Toasted Pecans, chopped (about 2 cups)
Fluffy Quinoa, a few cups
Fresh herbs, like thyme, basil, or parsley, to garnish
1 lemon, cut into slices

1. In a large pot, add olive oil, onion, sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, red kuri squash, and turnips. Bring to medium heat, stirring often, and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and the vegetables begin to brown.

2. Next, throw in the garlic, ginger, curry powder, nutritional yeast, and cinnamon. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often, to toast the seasonings and spices and soften the garlic.

3. Add the mirin, water, tamari, chopped tomatoes, sea salt, and bay leaves. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and succulent. Once they are done, throw in the shredded beet greens and turnip greens. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cook for a few more minutes until the greens are tender.

4. To serve, remove the bay leaves and ladle the soup into pretty bowls. Add a scoop of fluffy quinoa in the middle and sprinkle on top some toasted pecans and whatever fresh herbs you desire. On the side, serve a small slice of lemon with each bowl to be squeezed on top right before consuming.

Tips

Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine that is sweet and pairs perfectly with tamari or soy sauce. It works beautifully in marinades, soups, and salad dressings. I recommend this brand.

For the quinoa, I like to add a splash of rice vinegar, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, a few pinches of salt, a crack of pepper, and a drizzle of smoked olive oil or toasted sesame seed oil before cooking. You could also add a pinch of curry powder and cinnamon to echo the flavors in the soup.

You can totally eat the tops of beets and turnips. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly as they can oftentimes be sandy. I don’t particularly like them raw, but once they are wilted in a hot broth, they become tender and delicious!

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Jambalaya

 
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Here you have it: my jambalaya recipe. Jambalaya is a famous rice dish that was created in Louisiana with Spanish and French influences. What I love about this recipe is the cooking method. By cooking the rice with a flavorful base (instead of just using water) and adding partially browned vegetables and proteins, the rice is infused with flavor. Now, I know that the ingredient list looks long as hell, but hear me out- it’s totally worth it. I promise! All of the spices and herbs work synergistically to create an incredibly satisfying flavor, one that tickles your tastebuds and leaves you craving more and more with each bite. Traditionally, Jambalaya is served with some sort of protein so for this vegan translation I give you two options, but feel free to be creative. I particularly like using black eyed peas but chickpeas or red beans would be great too. If you are craving a more meaty texture, try using your favorite vegan sausage. As you probably already know, I am a mushroom fanatic so I love to use them for their chewy texture and earthy flavor. What I love most about this recipe is that it’s a one pot shop. Start by sautéing everything on the stove top, add your broth, bring to a sizzle, throw in the rice, and transfer it to the oven. By giving the rice that head start of sizzling broth, after 30 minutes you are left with fluffy grains of rice that have absorbed all of the deliciousness you see listed below. If you do make this, please let me know what you think in the comments below and, most importantly, enjoy.

Jambalaya

Serves 8 people (halve for 4)

⅓ cup vegan butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered  + pinch of salt
1 can black eyed peas or 2 to 3 cups sliced vegan sausage
1 ½ cups diced onion
½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried sage
½  teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½  teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegan worchestire
1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
1 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
½  teaspoons liquid smoke
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
2 ½ cups vegetable stock, plus more if desired
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
Sliced green onion, to garnish
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Cherry tomatoes, sliced to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Bring a large dutch oven to medium heat and melt the butter.  Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until all sides are golden-brown, occasionally stirring gently, about 10 minutes.

  3. If using vegan sausage, add and sauté until golden-brown, occasionally stirring,  about 5 minutes.

  4. Add onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

  5. Add onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, sweet paprika, cayenne, cumin, dried sage, dried oregano, dried parsley, and black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 minutes to toast the spices.

  6. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire, rice or cider vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, liquid smoke, fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock, fresh thyme, and bay leaves. Stir together and bring to a simmer. (You can leave the thyme sprigs and bay leaves whole as you will remove them at the end.)

  7. Once at a simmer, stir in the rice and the peas (if using), mix well, and cover. Place in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and give it a taste. If the rice needs to cook longer or seems dry, drizzle some more vegetable stock on top and pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes.


  8. Once done, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and serve in bowls. Sprinkle with desired garnishes.

Tips

This dish pairs perfectly with garlic bread and simple salad. And lots of wine. ;)

If you don’t have an oven safe lid for your pot, you can use foil. Just make sure it’s tightly wrapped so that the rice cooks effectively.

You can absolutely make this a day or two before hand. Simply keep it tightly wrapped in the fridge and warm it up when ready to serve. Just make sure to keep in covered and cook it at a lower heat, like 300 degrees F, so that it doesn’t dry out.

This dish works amazingly as a burrito filling! I can attest because I’ve done it. Simply load up a tortilla, close it up, and grill it till crispy. Yum!

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Garden Herb Rolls

 
 
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Garden Herb Rolls! The main concept behind this recipe is to celebrate fragrant, fresh herbs straight from the garden. By chopping the herbs up with garlic and mixing them with a simple blend of seasonings and spices, you are left with a filling that's loaded with intense flavor. By rolling that up with dough and baking it in the oven, the flavor is deeply infused throughout the fluffy bread. The end result is truly magnificent! If you don't have an herb garden, don't fret! You can easily grab some herbs from your local grocery store or farmers market. You are looking for fresh and beautiful herbs- skip the shriveled up and dried out kind that looked left behind. Go for vibrant and brightly colored. In this recipe, the lemon juice and lemon zest accentuate the flavor of the herbs, bringing them to life just a bit more. The nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan shreds pair perfectly with the savory herbs and the dough, while the olive oil provides the perfect richness. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper rounds out the flavor with a tickle of spice. 

Important Note: This recipe does take time. It's not a weeknight recipe for a busy mom. You must be patient and artful with the process. The dough needs to rise twice (once after kneaded and once after placing in the dish before baking). The herb blend needs to be made with a large amount of herbs with the woody stems picked out, which takes time. Attention to detail is a must when rolling, cutting, and transferring the rolls. If you don't have access to beautiful herbs, I do not recommend this recipe for you. Because it is rather labor intensive, you should only be using the best of the best ingredients. This will provide the results you are looking for.

Here is a video for you to look over to help you better understand the process. Thank you Patricia of @veganstars for the amazing pizza dough recipe. It's all I use now! Enjoy y'all.

Garden Herb Rolls
Makes 8 - 9 large rolls

Dough

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon agave, maple syrup, or sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

Filling

1 ½ cup freshly chopped basil (lemon, lime, blue spice, or sweet)
½ cup freshly chopped parsley, flat lead or curly, plus some to garnish
¼ cup freshly chopped thyme, plus some to garnish
¼ cup freshly chopped oregano
¼ cup freshly chopped dill or chives
1 cup Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½  tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
½  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup olive oil

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. Mix the yeast and desired sweeter in a small bowl. Slowly add the warm water, mixing with a fork as your pour. Set aside until it becomes bubbly and happy, around 5 to 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, add the flour, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and olive oil. Using the same fork from the yeast mixture, blend and fluff of the flour mixture. Once the yeast is bubbly, pour over the flour mixture and using the same fork, mix until the dough combines into one large ball. 

4. Rub a small amount of olive oil on desired cutting board/clean surface to knead the dough. Rub some olive oil on your hands and trasfer the dough. Knead for a good 5 minutes until the dough becomes elastic and springy. If it is sticking to the board or your hands, add more olive oil as needed. 

5. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl with some olive oil. Roll the dough so that it's lightly coated in the oil and cover with a cloth. Place the dough in a warm spot until it doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

6. While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine all of the ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Mix well with a fork and set aside.

7. On a cutting board or clean surface, transfer the risen dough and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to create a rectangle, around 15" x 12". Spread the filling out on the dough in an even layer, leaving a small border of dough. Gently and tightly roll the dough up into a log. Using a very sharp knife, cut about a ½ inch off each end. (Bake these separately, they’re the duds but you can still eat 'em). Cut the roll into 8 or 9 pieces and delicately transfer them to a large cast iron skillet or baking sheet. Leave only a little amount of space in between them, as they rolls will help each other rise and form shape.

8. Cover and place in a warm spot for the second rise, an additional 40 minutes. Before popping in the oven, sprinkle the rolls with a little more cheese and a dusting of nutritional yeast. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the rolls have cooked thoroughly and they become springy and the tops are golden brown.

9. Let cool for about 10 minutes and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and thyme. Serve!

Lagniappe

You can use store-bought pizza dough if you'd like to take short cut. These would also be good with vegan puff pastry. Read the instructions on the package for baking temperature and time, but it should be close if not the same as this recipe. 

You need a total of 3 cups of freshly chopped herbs. You can play with the variations and amounts. I recommend using soft herbs for the base (basil, parsley, dill, and tarragon), as they are milder and tender, and small amounts of hard herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), as they are more concentrated in flavor and can be a bit astringent if too much is used. 

For the best texture and flavor, I highly recommend using Follow Your Heart parmesan shreds. You can, although, substitute another vegan cheese if need be.  

You can make these a day ahead. After the second rise, cover the rolls and place them in the fridge overnight. 

To check out more recipes by my friend Patricia, who created the pizza dough, check out her website.

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