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 I’ll end the obligatory little recipe ramblings here.

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Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 50 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
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 (28 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes (or crushed, but I like the texture the petite diced give)
  • A generous pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 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 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 5-10 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stir, and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes – you may need to lower the heat some.
  5. Stir in the cashew cream and cook for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
  6. Add a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, as well as 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!

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!

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli

Oh man… Have I mentioned my love for sun-dried tomatoes before? Yes? Well I’m gonna say it again – that intense, sweet-tart flavor is everything!

Some lovely sun-dried tomatoes along with sautéed onions and garlic, white wine, baby spinach, and a cashew cream sauce make this vegan pasta dish so creamy and flavorful!

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The fusilli pasta really grabs as much of the sauce as possible – it’s awesome.

Cook up this dish and be amazed as your multiple cups of spinach are reduced to what seems like a tablespoon. We’ve all been there, am I right?

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Caution: be sure to cook enough for all parties present because your house will be smelling heavenly. Thank you onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Anyways, let’s get to it:

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Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 15 minutes – Serves: About 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or use the quick boil method*
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water (if using water, you may want to add a bit more salt)
  • 3/4 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 of one medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine (I used a vegan pinot grigio)
  • 3 – 4 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz fusilli pasta, cooked (you could also use bowties, penne, fettuccine, you name it)
  • vegan parmesan for topping (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. Begin boiling the water for the fusilli pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. Make the cashew cream by blending cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, and salt/pepper to taste until very smooth.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  5. Then, toss in the sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach, cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Pour in the wine and simmer for a few more minutes until the wine has reduced by half.
  7. Stir in the cashew cream sauce until combined, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, then add in the pasta noodles and stir again to coat.
  8. Top with vegan parmesan if you’d like, serve, and enjoy!

*Quick-boiling cashews: If you’re not someone who plans out far enough ahead to soak cashews overnight, you can add the cashews to a small sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and let sit for 10 minutes to soften.


Caramelized Onion Gravy

So I’m all for eating healthy and I strive to do so most of the time, but this gravy recipe is definitely an indulgence. It’s:

creamy

tangy

salty

buttery

oh my!

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I’d absolutely bring this to Thanksgiving or a potluck – you’d never know it’s vegan! Plus gravy boats are adorable and now you have an excuse to use one.

Taste this recipe as you go. You may not like it quite as salty as me, so you can always start with less soy sauce or vegan butter. It’s not an exact science and will be even better if you tailor it to you!

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I love serving this over roasted garlic and chive mashed potatoes, as well as poutine (which, for those of you who may not know about this Canadian delicacy, is fries, gravy, and cheese curds). Obviously we ain’t cooking with any cheese curds here, but I’ve tried it with homemade vegan mozzarella as well as store-bought Violife feta and both are fantastic!

Fun fact about poutine that I just found via cottagelife.com: “The traditional story is that poutine originated in the 1950s in Warwick, Quebec, at a restaurant called Le Lutin qui rit. Upon being asked to add cheese curds to a customer’s fries, owner Fernand Lachance responded, “Ça va faire une mauditepoutine,” or, “That’s going to make a dreadful mess.”

And what a delicious mess indeed!

Anyways, here’s the gravy:

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Prep time: 5 minutes – Cook time: 1 hour – Serves about 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 small red or yellow onion, diced (or half a large onion)
  • 3 tbsps flour
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • about 3 tbsps vegan butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • a few cracks of fresh ground pepper
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Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, then add in the diced onion.
  2. Spread the onions in an even layer in the pan, and cook, stirring every few minutes or so.
  3. Stir in a teaspoon of sugar after about 10 minutes to speed up the caramelization process.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring every few minutes until they are nice and caramelized – about 30 to 45 minutes. Make sure not to stir too frequently, or they won’t brown enough to caramelize.
  5. Note: If they start to brown too quickly or are drying out, add a splash of water and turn the heat down a bit. If they aren’t caramelizing quickly enough, turn the heat up a bit.
  6. Add the flour to the onions and stir to mix well. It should be a paste-like texture.
  7. Slowly whisk in the vegetable broth, pouring small amounts in at a time. Then whisk in the soy sauce as well.
  8. Raise the heat to medium and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
  9. Reduce heat if necessary, stirring often until it reaches a gravy consistency to your liking. It’s usually about 5-10 minutes for me.
  10. Crack in some fresh ground pepper, and voila! Serve over mashed potatoes, poutine, or any other gravy vessel.

Note: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. You can reheat it in the microwave or pour in back into a sauce pot on the stove. It may need a little splash of water depending on how thick you made it.


Baked Black Bean Burgers

No matter how many vegan meat alternatives come to market (like Beyond and Impossible), I’ll always love a good black bean burger. They pack so much flavor, and really spice up a plain ol’ burger in my humble opinion.

They’re great for any occasion, but I’m posting these on the 4th of July because Amurica, amiright? Make these for your guests and show off your thoughtfulness and the yumminess of vegan burgers, wahoo!

This recipe is loaded with spices and it makes me so happy. Making my own veggie burgers has been one of my recent favorite things to do. I love selecting and actually seeing all of the ingredients that go into the patties.

You can also make a large batch and freeze them! Way healthier, more delicious, and less expensive than spending $8 on a pack of 4 sad veggie patties in the freezer section.

Anyways, let’s get to it:

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Ooooh, ahhhh, a glimpse into the future.

But first, it’s patty making time:

Behind the scenes of this recipe on my very serious and very professional Instagram (which is @plants_in_my_pants btw).

Okay this is more like it. Above are the patties prior to baking, ready for their glamour shot.

And… here they are again, post baking.

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Burger contestant #1: The Classic American, sans red onion because the patty is already filled with them, ya know? You could definitely still add some fresh red onion for some color, crunch, and added onion-y-ness. In the realm of condiments, I just went with ketchup but usually am a fan of spicy mustard and some vegan mayo on my classic style burgers. This is about the patties, though, the patties.

Burger contestant #2: The Mexican Burger. Now we’re talking. I topped this one with cashew queso, pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, and hot sauce. I’m not going to tell you what kind of hot sauce to use, because that is a personal choice not to be taken lightly. Some guac or avocado would have also been fabulous on this guy.

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So… which path will you choose? (I mean obviously you can top with whatever the heck you want but let me just humor myself, okay?)

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 24 minutes Makes 6 to 7 large patties

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of one small onion (red or yellow)
  • 1/2 of one red bell pepper
  • 2 (14oz) cans of black beans, or 1 20oz can (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal + 2.5 tablespoons water, mixed in a small bowl and left to thicken for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • a few cracks of fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
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Instructions:

  • Sauté onion over medium heat for 3 minutes (either with a small bit of oil, or water for oil-free), add the bell pepper and cook for another 3 minutes or so until the onions are translucent and the peppers are tender but not mushy.
  • Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mash or use a food processor to mix. You want to still have some whole beans in there, so don’t go overboard with the mashing/mixing.
  • Form about 6 to 7 large patties, packing each one tightly.
  • Bake at 350F on a parchment lined baking sheet for 24 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • Serve with your favorite burger toppings and enjoy! They’re also delicious crumbled in a taco salad.

Note:

To freeze these patties, place them on a baking sheet and stick them in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Then you can add them to a freezer bag or container and save for a later date. I like to add a small piece of parchment paper between each patty to prevent them from sticking together in the freezer. I’ve baked them thawed and from frozen, and both work just fine!


Brazilian Coconut Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

Before going vegan, there was this dish I really liked called Brazilian Shrimp Soup. I loved the creaminess of the coconut milk and heartiness of the rice and tomatoes. I realized that the shrimp in the dish wasn’t even the best part for me, and thought “duh – who needs shrimp anyways?!” Chickpeas are way cooler. (insert sunglasses emoji)

This vegan version is so

tasty

creamy

hearty

and animal-free! Yay!

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The chickpeas add a delicious crunch and savoriness to this soup.

They make it heartier and healthier, too, of course!

I totally recommend serving the soup with some crusty bread to soak up all that creamy, tomatoey goodness.

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15 minutes prep time – 35 minutes cook time – Serves about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used half a red and half a green for color)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes (15oz, no salt added)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz, no salt added)
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2-3 cups of vegetable broth (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • The juice of half a lemon (about a 1 1/2 tbsps)
  • Green onion, chopped (to add on top at the end)

For the chickpeas:

  • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a couple cracks of fresh ground pepper
  • optional: cayenne pepper to taste (I added a couple dashes)
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Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the bell pepper and cook for another couple of minutes until the onions are translucent and soft. Next, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about a minute).
  2. Add the rice, petite diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is done.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Finish by adding in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preferences.
  5. Serve in bowls and top with the roasted chickpeas and green onions. And some crusty bread if you’re so inclined!

For the chickpeas:

  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to a parchment lined baking sheet (you could also use a silicon mat).
  • Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground cayenne pepper.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, making sure to stir halfway through to ensure they’re evenly cooked.

Notes:

You’ll want to put the chickpeas in the oven around the time you’ve reduced the heat from a boil for the soup.

Adapted from JoCook’s Brazilian Shrimp Soup Recipe


Vegan Asian Dipping Sauce

This asian dipping sauce is sweet, sour, and delicious. It’s super simple, too – you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your kitchen already. Hurray!

Try it out with dumplings, spring rolls, wontons, you name it! I’ve chosen dumplings, as you can see. (insert drool emoji here)

Anyways, I won’t bore you with a long story about my personal history with dumplings and their origins (mostly because I don’t have one).

Let’s just get to it!

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Ooooh

Ahhhh

We’re going to do things the easier way and just use garlic and ginger powder. It’s still super delicious, but definitely try it out with fresh minced garlic and grated ginger if you have them!

I’ve given the measurements for one dish of sauce, but you could always double or triple the recipe and save the leftovers in the fridge for later.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp agave
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • a dash of garlic powder (or preferably 1 small clove of fresh minced garlic)
  • a dash of ginger powder (or a bit of fresh grated ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp sesame seeds
  • chopped green onion

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. (Very daunting and complex, I know)
  • Top with the chopped green onions.
  • Get to dippin’ and enjoy!

Notes:

If you’d like to make this a spicy vegan asian dipping sauce, go ahead and stir in a pinch or red pepper flakes or a squirt of sriracha!