Vegan Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka was one of the first recipes I ever made in my first apartment, around 5 years ago. Mind you, I wasn’t vegan at the time so I didn’t know about the wonders of cashew cream. But now I do and here we are.

This dish is simple, creamy, hearty, and delicious – what more could you want?

So why vodka?

“Along with the penne pasta, this dish generally contains cream sauce mixed with marinara sauce or tomato paste, which are a combination unusual in Italian cooking because the acidity of the tomatoes tends to make the oil in the cream separate. The ethanol (vodka) serves as an emulsifier, allowing the water and lipids to remain mixed together.”

“Ethanol is also thought to solvate certain flavors from the tomato that would otherwise be inaccessible in water. This is seen in other vodka sauces, as well.”

Pretty neat! Read more about the origins of the dish here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penne_alla_vodka

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Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Serves about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/2 a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • A generous pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 (28 oz) can of crushed or petite diced tomatoes (sometimes I’ll do a 15 oz can of each for a more interesting texture)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Penne, cooked according to box instructions
  • Fresh parsley or basil for serving (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. Add the cashews to a blender along with the nutritional yeast and water, and blend until very smooth.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté another 2 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned, and the mixture is very fragrant.
  3. Pour in the vodka and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stir, and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened – you may need to lower the heat some.
  5. Stir in the cashew cream and cook for about 10 more minutes, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually end up not needing any), and mix well.
  7. Serve over penne cooked according to box instructions, top with parsley or basil, and enjoy!

Notes:

*If using a high powered blender, you don’t need to pre-soak your cashews to soften them. If you’re short on time, you can immerse the cashews in boiling hot water for 15 minutes (don’t keep the water boiling, just make sure it’s very hot when you put the cashews in, and then let them sit)


Vegan Sausage and Potato Breakfast Skillet

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Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Serves about 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium russet potatoes, cut into cubes (about 1/2″)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • Vegan breakfast sausage of your choice*
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • kosher salt, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 green onions, sliced

*I used 5 links of Field Roast’s Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage

Instructions:

  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender, and set aside.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large skillet/pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes until starting to soften, then add the boiled potato cubes. Crisp the potatoes up for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the sausage, bell pepper, vinegar, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring often, until peppers have softened and sausage is browned.
  4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Add to serving bowls and top with sliced green onions.
  5. Serve with ketchup, hot sauce, or whatever your heart desires!

Carrot and Tomato Cashew Bisque with Old Bay Croutons

I feel like the title of this recipe is explanation enough, so I’ll just say that this bisque reminds me of ordering a cup of crab stew or lobster bisque in little mom and pop restaurants growing up. We no eat crustaceans or dairy anymore, and that’s not an issue at all with this creamy and delicious vegan bisque!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 (14 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup water, adding more as needed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Old Bay crouton recipe follows
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Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring, until vegetables have softened. Mix in the flour and continue stirring until incorporated and flour begins to brown.
  2. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Make the cashew cream while that cooks. Add cashews (softened if not using a high powered blender*), water, and nutritional yeast to a blender, and blend until very smooth.
  4. Add the cashew cream to the pot after 20 minutes, then simmer another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Allow the mixture to cool some.
  5. Pour the soup into your blender in batches until the whole pot is smooth and creamy.* Add freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste. Ladle into bowls after making these Old Bay croutons, toss some on top, and enjoy!

For the Old Bay Croutons:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Slice up half a baguette into crouton-sized pieces and add to a large bowl. Mix together 2 tablespoons melted vegan butter, 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder. Toss croutons in the butter and spice mixture, add to a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.

Notes:

*Soften cashews by soaking in water overnight, or soaking in hot water for 20 minutes.

*Unnecessary, but potentially interesting side note: I am lazy and don’t want to add multiple cups of hot liquid to a blender or wait for the whole pot to cool, so I’ll sometimes use an immersion blender instead to get things as smooth as possible. Then I’ll take 1.5 cups out, let it cool a bit, blend that until completely smooth, then stir it back into the pot. The texture achieved by this is similar to rustic lobster and crab bisques I had before going vegan, so I really like it.


Coconut Curry Lentil Soup with Tomatoes & Kale

I figured now is the perfect time to share one of my absolute favorite soup recipes, what with COVID-19. Most if not all of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry and fridge/freezer, and they all have long shelf lives. And it’s one-pot. Aren’t those always the best kinds of recipes? Anyways…

Stay safe y’all (and make this hearty soup while you’re self-quarantining)!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • thumb of ginger (about 2 tablespoons), minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 (14 oz) can unsalted petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable broth, depending on desired thickness
  • 2 cups packed kale*
  • Fresh cilantro, optional
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

* You could also use frozen kale.

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Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion and carrot with a pinch of salt for 5 – 7 minutes until soft and beginning to brown.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, crushed red pepper, and tomato paste. Cook 1 – 2 minutes until fragrant, then stir in lentils.
  3. Pour in tomatoes, coconut milk, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 – 30 minutes until lentils are cooked and soft.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in kale, cilantro, lemon juice and season to taste with salt (if needed) and fresh ground pepper.


Artichoke & Olive Crostini

Crostini is one of my all time favorite appetizers because, while incredibly simple, it has so much room for creativity. And, I mean, who doesn’t like toasted bread with various toppings?

Appetizers like these are so easy to make ahead of time, they travel well, and aren’t “obviously vegan”, so I often find myself opting for crostini when bringing dishes to gatherings with friends and family.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup castelvetrano olives
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (in oil are okay, just use less olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup grated vegan parmesan (like Violife)
  • Pinch of salt, or to taste
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for topping
  • A baguette
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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Finely chop (or you could use a food processor) the artichoke hearts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers. Add to a bowl and mix in the olive oil, lemon juice, vegan parmesan, salt, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Slice the baguette on a bias into 1/2 inch thick pieces, brush each side with oil, and bake for 5 minutes per side until edges are golden brown.
  4. Top the crostini with the artichoke and olive mixture, sprinkle some more grated parmesan and the fresh parsley over them, and enjoy.

Notes:

This recipe makes a lot, so consider halving it if it’s only for a few people. But hey, it also keeps well in the fridge for days, so maybe bring the leftovers for lunch or throw it in sandwiches and salads.


Vegan Garlic White Pizza Sauce

So, I have a story from my middle school days that involves white pizza (the salt and ice burn challenge makes an appearance), but I’ll refrain from writing that novelesque recipe intro. Anyways, I used to order white pizza at my local pizza & deli all the time growing up. I still haven’t found a vegan white pizza out in the wild, but who cares – now I make my own!

I know I titled this “pizza sauce” but this creamy white garlic sauce is delicious on pasta as well!

Now that I’ve repeated the word pizza so many times that it sounds like an alien language (the phenomenon is actually called semantic satiation), here’s the recipe:

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Prep Time: 5 minutes – Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked or boiled if you don’t have a high-powered blender)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. Blend cashews, vegetable broth, garlic, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast together until very smooth to make the cashew cream.
  2. Melt butter over medium/medium low heat in a medium saucepan, sauté onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent, whisk in flour.
  3. Slowly whisk in the cashew cream. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until it’s thick and creamy. Stir in the parsley, basil, and black pepper. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Go forth and sauce!

Notes:

This recipe makes lots of sauce, so you might want to halve the recipe if you aren’t making multiple pizzas. The leftover sauce is amazing with pasta!

The featured pizza is topped with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, vegan sausage from No Evil Foods, vegan parmesan, and fresh parsley.


Buffalo Chickpea Kale Caesar Wraps

Excuse how stereotypically vegan this next statement is: I am obsessed with kale. Now that that’s off my chest, I figure the title of this recipe is explanation enough. Buffalo. Chickpea. Kale. Caesar. Wraps!

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– Makes about 4 large wraps –

Ingredients:

For the buffalo chickpeas:

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite vegan buffalo sauce

For the kale caesar salad:

  • 4 cups curly or tuscan/dinosaur kale, chopped
  • desired amount of vegan caesar dressing (recipe below)
  • vegan parmesan of your choice (optional)

For the vegan caesar dressing:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or extra water)
  • the juice of 1 small lemon and its zest
  • 1 tablespoon vegan dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon vegan worcestershire
  • 1 heaping tablespoon non-pareil capers
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of parsley flakes for color (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. If making your own caesar dressing, add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Toss chickpeas with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add them to your baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. When they are done roasting, toss with buffalo sauce.
  3. Assemble the wraps. Add kale tossed with caesar dressing and buffalo chickpeas to a whole wheat wrap. Top with vegan parmesan, extra buffalo sauce, fresh ground pepper, avocado slices, or whatever else you’d like. Fold and enjoy! Makes about 4 large wraps.

One-Pan Easy Mexican Quinoa

This Mexican quinoa is one of my favorite lazy (yet tasty and nutritious) meals! It comes together in about 30 minutes and uses ingredients you likely already have in your fridge and pantry – plus they’re pretty cheap! Hello, Rotel?

You could absolutely make a big batch of this quinoa at the beginning of the week and use it in salads, tacos, burritos, or eat it on its own – it’s an awesome prep-ahead dish! I’ve made variations of this dish over the years, but this is definitely my favorite way to do it.

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Serves: 6-8 – Prep Time: 10 minutes – Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or sauté in water for oil-free)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I used red but like yellow, too)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or vegan chicken broth)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies*
  • 2 cups frozen or canned corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • The juice of 1 lime

*(or try the Rotel HOT tomatoes with habaneros!)

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Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and bell pepper in oil for 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté another minute, until very fragrant.
  3. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, black beans, Rotel tomatoes and chilies, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is soft.
  4. Mix in the lime juice, taste, and add additional salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Serve and enjoy! I recommend topping with guacamole and salsa, or adding to salads, burritos, or tacos.

No Mayo Chickpea Salad (Vegan, Oil-free)

So, I’ve made countless chickpea salad recipes over the years. I always end up heavily modifying each one, so I decided to pull my favorite parts of my favorite recipes together to create one chickpea salad to rule them all.

This chickpea salad is packed with so much flavor, texture, and goodness. I hope ya like it!

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For the above pinwheels: I spread some dijon mustard on a spinach wrap, then the chickpea salad, and topped with lettuce. Tightly roll the wrap into a log and use a bread knife to cut 1/2 inch pinwheels. Stick them on a plate and enjoy as a meal or serve them as appetizers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave (alternatively, maple syrup or coconut sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (green onion would work here, also)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dill (I used dry)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (I’ve also used Old Bay here)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sunflower seeds (optional)
  • the juice of half a large lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
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Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a fork or hand-masher until there are just a few whole chickpeas left.
  2. Mix all of the other ingredients in with the mashed chickpeas, taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference.
  3. Add the chickpea salad to a sandwich with lettuce and tomato, roll into pinwheels, add to wraps, have it with crackers, or just eat it out of the bowl!

Savory Baked Tofu Crumbles

Well hey there! Long time no post! I just had to share these baked tofu crumbles that I’ve been using in everything lately.

You only need 5 ingredients here and they’re so easy to make. Say goodbye to expensive, laundry-list ingredient, store bought vegan meat crumbles and make these instead!

I love adding these crumbles to:

a big pile of nachos,

tacos and enchiladas,

my super savory meatless spaghetti sauce,

a hearty bowl of chili (I’m working on a vegan beer chili recipe at the moment – stay tuned!)

You name it!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 to 4 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, olive oil, and liquid smoke. Whisk together.
  3. Crumble the tofu into small pieces and stir it into the sauce.
  4. Spread the crumbles out on a parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer and pop that tray in the oven.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. (I usually will first stir it after about 20 minutes, and then every 5 to 10 minutes until it becomes nice and brown and crispy.)
  6. Go forth and use the baked crumbles however you desire!