Fast food lunch: Mediterranean style

Take advantage of some serious vegan fast food and have a delicious and easy lunch with a good amount of fiber and protein. Tabouli, falafel and hummus – all from boxes – just add water!

My local health food store sells all these products (and more!) in bulk so they are insanely inexpensive, too!!

Total prep time: less than 10 minutes. Cost: about $2.50 for 2 HUGE lunches.

Tabouli – add water, mix well and chill*

Falafel – add boiling water, mix, let stand a few minutes, form in small patties, brown in a non-stick pan. (It’s difficult to keep the patties together neatly with a mix, so make them small and accept that they won’t be pretty!)

Hummus – add water, mix well and chill*

Add a handful of cherry tomatoes and you’ll be stuffed all day long!

*by omitting the recommended olive oil you can make these very low fat but they will be a bit drier, so depending on whether you’re watching your calories and fat, or not, you can omit the oil!

Muy Macho Nachos

Yes, I realize that I posted a recipe for nachos already – but when you improve them to an unbelievably insane extent I think another post is warranted. These are so good that I contemplated deleting the other post. Seriously.

These nachos were PURE INSANITY! Because I used spicy veggie tempeh + taco seasoning + smoky cashew queso + medium salsa, they were spicy. But in our house, spicy is good. Regular tempeh and mild salsa will bring this down to a much milder level and still totally kick ass!

If you go the spicy route like we did, I suggest you accompany it with your favorite frosty beverage!

  • 8 corn tortillas, each cut in quarters
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 package tempeh (I used spicy veggie tempeh)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used about 10 grape tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • smoky cashew queso, heated
  • salsa
  • avocado (again, I used Wholly Guacamole from Costco)
  • cilantro

Chips

I like my chips *crrrrrunchy* so I prefer to make my own. When you bake them they are also way better for you than fried!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange quartered corn tortillas on the sheet and spray top with a bit more cooking spray. Cook until chips are desired crispness – for me that’s really crispy and golden brown!

Topping

Saute sliced onions in a small amount of olive oil, until just starting to soften. Roughly shred 1 package of tempeh with a cheese grater (largest holes). Add tempeh to onions and saute until tempeh is just starting to brown, stirring frequently. Add chopped tomatoes, taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Stir well and let simmer a few minutes.

To assemble, just start piling!

This is the first time I have grated tempeh and it will not be the last! A can of black beans added would be fantastic, too!

Seriously, I have never had nachos this good in my life – not even when I ate meat a million years ago! I would pretty much kill for another plate of them right now!

😀

Smoky cashew queso and polenta napoleon

Watch out, world! Emily and Haley are inventing! Next time I’ll get a video of us hovering over the blender, tasting, discussing, adjusting… it was hilarious! Don’t know if we were more chef-y or evil scientist-y!

I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for cashew “cheese” and I’ll definitely be trying them soon. Last night I was pressed for time (craaazy day) but was determined to put my new stockpile of raw cashews to work!

The result was heavenly smooth, rich and smokey with a hint of nutty cheesiness. The possibilities are endless! Use it as a dip or a sandwich spread! The best part is that a little goes a long way!

 

Smoky Cashew Queso

  • 1-1/2 cups raw cashews (cashew pieces are less than half the price of whole cashews in bulk!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • scant 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (oh em gee – this is awesome)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/3 cup salsa, strained

Combine all items in blender and blend until completely smooth.

Polenta Napoleon

  • 1 tube prepared polenta (or make your own!), cut in slices
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and strained
  • salsa
  • smokey cashew queso
  • avocado (I used pre-packaged guacamole from Costco because avocados are gross now)
  • salt, pepper
  • cilantro, chopped

Heat a large non-stick skillet on a medium-high flame with a small amount of oil. (too much oil and your polenta will be greasy – which is what I did. boo.) Fry polenta slices on each side until golden brown.

In a small sauce pan, heat kidney beans with 1 cup of salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Layer polenta, beans, queso, avocado and salsa. Top with chopped cilantro.

* The kid made this plate! Impressive!!

Enjoy!

p.s. This whole dish is DELICIOUS as cold leftovers!

Pumpkin zucchette with roasted brussel sprouts

Until last night I was convinced that brussel sprouts were the mini cabbages of the devil. My daughter adores them. I thought they tasted like dirty socks.

But I am a good girl and I periodically recheck my “foods that I loathe” list to see if there are any changes. I have seen brussel sprouts a lot lately, roasted with richly carmelized leaves, and decided it was time to give them another shot.

OMG AM I GLAD I DID!!

  • brussel sprouts, washed, stem end cut off and cut in halves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Seriously – that’s it!

Toss brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Good god… to think all the years I’ve been saying such horrible things about them!!

Zucchetti pasta… wow!

We were shopping at the hippy grocery and came across these fascinating little things in the bulk section. Since they look like little pumpkins and BAM! I happened to have pumpkin in my freezer I thought this was certainly destiny!

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 5-8 pieces of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1+ cup vegetable stock
  • sage, oregano, whatever savory herbs float your boat
  • salt, pepper

In a large skillet saute onion until translucent. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add pumpkin and vegetable stock, stir well, let simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir cooked zucchette into pumpkin sauce over low heat for a minute or two. Don’t overcook the pasta! Serve with roasted brussel sprouts.

Of course this sauce would work well with any shapely pasta and this dish would be especially festive in the fall. Thanksgiving any one?

Tempeh Salad (a la chicken salad)

Sandwiches are my favorite food, hands down. Creamy crunchy sandwiches are sent directly from heaven, in my never so humble opinion!

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1/2 cup Veganaise or other vegan mayo
  • 2 tbsp spicy yellow mustard
  • 1/3 large white onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • salt, pepper, celery seed

In a small sauce pan bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add whole package of tempeh, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, cool and dice.

Mix tempeh with the rest of the ingredients, chill and serve on toasted bread.

I purposely made this heavy on the celery – because it’s inexpensive and it’s a deliciously crunchy way to extend the other ingredients in the recipe! (I’m lazy and CHEAP!)

If you’re a glutton like me I will warn you about this salad… I made it with the intention of having sandwiches for a few days (it keeps REALLY WELL!) but a scoop or two on a cracker just to try it out led to eating all but two sandwiches worth before it even made it to the fridge to chill.

Consider yourself warned.

😀

Nachos!

Who doesn’t LOVE nachos? You will not miss the meat and cheese here, I promise you!

  • Tortilla chips
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • avocado, diced
  • red onion, diced
  • cilantro, finely chopped
  • salsa
  • leftover potatoes, soy taco meat, seitan strips or whatever you have on hand!
  • * cheap-ass Margarita in a bottle optional

Rinse and drain beans. In a small sauce pan cook beans, taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water until beans start to break up and can be roughly mashed with the back of a spoon.

Heat tortilla chips in a 400 degree oven until the edges are turning toasty brown. I think this is what really makes nachos special!

Pile chips on plate and layer on your toppings. EAT!

Smothered Sandwich

After 5 days straight of torrential rain in San Francisco I was craving some serious comfort food.

  • Peppered Tofurkey slices
  • red onion
  • sliced baby portobellos
  • vegan brown gravy mix
  • sourdough rolls

Saute red onions and portobellos. Make gravy according to package. Pile Tofurkey, onions and mushrooms on a roll and smother in gravy.

Mmmm mmmm good. You’ll need a fork and knife to tackle this red-neck bad boy!

Rigatoni with roasted garlic and cannellini “cream” sauce

Last night I was feeling a little icky and I was craving cream sauce (first time I’ve craved ‘dairy’ since giving it up!). I did want to cook dinner being that it was Valentines Day and all, but I was having a hard time coming up with anything. I have seen cannellini beans on a million vegan cookery sites, but had never used them before. I can tell you now that cannellini beans are my new favorite bean!!

  • 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 head roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups spinach, washed
  • 8 baby portobellos, sliced
  • 1 large box whole wheat rigatoni, cooked and drained
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Roasted Garlic: slice the top off a head of garlic, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top, wrap in tinfoil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes – until garlic is golden brown and soft.

Sauce:  Heat cannellini beans, 3/4 cup stock and Italian seasoning in a sauce pan. Break down beans with the back of a wooden spoon as they cook until a creamy texture is achieved. Add 1/4 to 1/2 of the roasted garlic head (just squeeze it out of the skin), depending on your love of garlic, and nutritional yeast and cook for another few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish sauce by pureeing in blender until very smooth. It should be slightly thick in order to hang on to the ridges on the rigatoni. Add more broth if necessary to thin.

In a large saute pan, cook sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until they are *just* browned. (I removed them from the pan and added them on top of the finished pasta with sauce because currently I am the only mushroom lover in te house). Add spinach and cook until just beginning to wilt (only a minute or 2). Add in cooked rigatoni and saute until heated through again if necessary. Top with sauce and toss gently.

“Far from hippy” dinner

The other night in the store Haley asked for potato pancakes – and we came up with our version of “meat and potatoes”. I am quite positive that this meal was doubly delicious because we concocted it and cooked it up together.

Potato Pancakes, sausage and onions, and pickled cabbage

  • potato pancake mix
  • 3 tsp egg replacer + 4 tbsp water ( = 2 eggs)
  • 1 package vegan sausage, cut in quarters
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in slices
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (seasoned, or vinegar+sugar)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl mix vinegar, sugar, fennel seeds, coriander and salt. Mix in shredded cabbage  and carrot. Let sit to pickle.

This pickling liquid is pretty strong tasting of licorice with this amount of fennel seed. We like that and think this plays well with the seasonings in the sausage. Cut back if you’re not a similar fan of strong flavor.

* We were also thinking that a little orange juice and orange zest would be a lovely addition!

Mix potato pancake mix according to directions, using egg replacer. Let stand 10 minutes.

Make sure the dog sleeping in the middle of the kitchen floor is still alive… 😀

Heat 2 large skillets with a thin layer of oil in each. Fry potato pancakes until they are golden brown on each side.

Saute onions and sausage until carmelized. Don’t overcook the sausage or it will get dry and tough – just til the outside is crispy brown and the onions are golden brown on the edges.

Mmmmmmm…. this would have been a good football dinner. Thankfully there’s still some hockey season left!