Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole – gluten-free, vegan, warm, soothing, and delicious

Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole

 

Potatoes and frozen veggies

Whole potatoes and frozen veggies

Oh my goodness it’s been a long time since I last posted here!!! I always have good intentions of posting twice a week — and then life gets in the way.

My daughter Kendra and I adore this recipe. It is my adaptation of a recipe for Southwestern Twice Baked Potatoes from the very yummy cookbook Forks Over Knives by Del Sroufe.

a diced potato

The easiest way to chop most veggies is to cut them in half first (from top to bottom, not sideways like in this picture!), so that you have a flat surface to put on the bottom.

I have changed the recipe enough that it barely resembles the original. Actually I feel a little weird about the changes that I made, because Forks Over Knives is an oil-free cookbook, and I have added some oil to this recipe. It feels disrespectful to fundamentally change a recipe like that. It’s like taking a vegan recipe and posting that you think that you made it better by adding meat — that feels wrong to me. But I do think that it’s important to have some fat in our diet. Fat is needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Plus, research shows that unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola and olive oils are associated with healthier outcomes. So I think it is important to include them in one’s diet.

Toasted potatoes

The bottom layer of toasted potatoes, before spreading them out evenly.

The original version of this recipe involved baking whole potatoes in the oven, then topping them with a variety of veggies and beans, and adding a creamy white sauce on top, made from blended tofu — a bit like sour cream but much healthier. I have speeded up this recipe by dicing the potatoes into little cubes before baking them. In addition to being much faster to cook, I think this dish is easier to eat that way, too.

All layers except for the sauce

All layers except for the sauce

The casserole after baking

The whole casserole after baking

Also, I have replaced the creamy topping with a salty version of my adaptation of the house dressing from the awesome vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant, located in Ithaca, New York. Like the main recipe here, my version of this dressing has diverged very far from the original version, but it is awesomely yummy. I have also given my salad dressing recipe its own page on this website, because it is so yummy that it is really worth talking about. But I am also including it as an ingredient here.

Southwestern Twice Baked Potato Casserole
 
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My daughter and I totally adore this casserole, made of toasted potatoes, red bell peppers, corn kernels, black beans, and a creamy vegan sauce on top that is made from blended silken tofu that tastes like sour cream but is much healthier.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Potatoes
  • 6 cups of potatoes -- about 2 pounds
  • olive or canola oil
  • salt
Toppings
  • 1 red bell pepper, or about 1 cup of frozen, chopped bell peppers
  • 10 ounces of frozen corn kernels -- "supersweet" corn is good in this, though any kind should work
  • 1 15-ounce can or bag of black beans, drained and rinsed
Sauce
  • 1 12.3 ounce package of silken tofu (I like Mori-Nu organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive and/or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Dice the potatoes into cubes that are 1/2 inch or smaller.
  3. Place the diced potatoes onto a non-stick cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkle on some salt (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) and some oil (maybe 2 tablespoons).
  5. Stir the potatoes, oil, and salt until they are evenly mixed.
  6. Bake the potatoes in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on most sides. When I did not preheat my oven ahead of time, I clocked this step at 30 minutes. If your oven is fully pre-heated, figure maybe 20 minutes. When the potatoes are done, they should look like gorgeous cube-shaped nicely-browned french fries. If you are in a hurry, you can bake them less, just until they are soft when pierced with a fork. That will work fine too, though I think they are yummier when they are browned.
  7. Meanwhile, while the potatoes cook, defrost the corn in a bowl in the microwave. Microwaves vary, but in my microwave this takes about 4 minutes.
  8. If you are using fresh bell pepper, chop it. If you are using frozen, defrost it in the microwave.
  9. Rinse the black beans -- I like to put them into a strainer and run cold water through it to do this.
  10. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  11. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
  12. Carefully pour the hot potatoes and any oil that is with them into a 9x13 inch pan. Distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan.
  13. On top of the potatoes, add layers of beans, corn, and bell pepper, spreading out each one evenly.
  14. Pour the sauce on top. Use a spatula to spread it out to almost reach the edges of the pan, but not quite touching. (By not quite touching the edges, this keeps the sauce from sticking to the sides of the pan, which makes cleanup easier.) Keeping the sauce at about 1/4 inch of distance from the edges works well.
  15. Put the 9x13 inch pan in the oven, uncovered.
  16. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  17. Serve!

 

Cucumber Sandwiches – gluten-free, dairy-free, sophisticated, and easy!

Cucumber Sandwiches

chopped cucumbersI can’t believe how long it’s been since my last posting!! Last winter, I had plans for recipes that I would post in the spring and summer with fresh ingredients like blueberries, strawberries, and cucumbers. But then over the summer with my kids at home, even with an awesome nanny for my youngest, there was never enough free time for me to get to all of my paying work programming computers, let alone time left over for blogging. And so here it is, the end of September — and I have a zillion recipes in my head, waiting to be typed in and posted here.

cornbread before baking

cornbread before baking

This is a good springtime recipe — though really it works anytime that you can find fresh cucumbers, which is pretty much all year long. Though if you have garden-fresh homegrown cucumbers, those are fabulous in this recipe!

I invented this recipe one day when I was reading someone else’s cucumber sandwich recipe and wishing for an easy type of gluten-free yeast-free bread. Then I realized that I have an awesome cornbread recipe, which is gluten-free and yeast-free, and which can be baked in a thin layer on a cookie

vegan cream cheese in blender

vegan cream cheese in blender

sheet to make a very decent, quick and easy type of bread that works great in sandwiches.

And so, this very alternative-y cucumber sandwich recipe was born.

You can easily make this vegan by using flax eggs to replace the eggs in the cornbread.

Here are two variations for how to make vegan cream cheese. In case it is helpful for deciding which kind to use: The tofu version has fewer calories, more protein, and is less filling. The nut-based version has

baked cornbread, cut into triangles for this recipe

baked cornbread, cut into triangles for this recipe

more calories, and is more filling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cucumber sandwiches!

Cucumber sandwiches! Yum!

Cucumber Sandwiches - gluten-free, dairy-free, sophisticated, and easy!
 
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Awesomely yummy easy homemade gluten-free dairy-free cucumber sandwiches.
Author:
Recipe type: lunch or dinner
Cuisine: Vaguely British
Serves: Serves 4
Ingredients
Cornbread
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk OR 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar (see my recipe for super-easy cashew milk)
Vegan Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup tofu OR 1/3 cup cashews plus 1/3 cup sunflower seeds plus 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cucumbers
  • 2 cucumbers
Instructions
Cornbread
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix all cornbread ingredients.
  3. Pour onto an awesomely nonstick 11x15 inch cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes.
Vegan Cream Cheese
  1. Mix all cream cheese ingredients in a blender. If it won't mix, add a tiny bit more water and continue blending. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
Cucumbers
  1. Cut cucumbers into 1/4 inch thick quarter-circles. A mandoline is helpful for slicing to a very even thickness, but you can also slice them with a regular knife and that works fine.
Assembly
  1. Use a hard plastic spatula to cut the cornbread into a grid of twelve squares (see picture), then cut the squares diagonally so that you have 24 triangles.
  2. Spread some vegan cream cheese on each triangle, then decorate with plenty of cucumber slices.
  3. Yum!
Variation
  1. Instead of making triangles, you can use a cookie cutter to cut the cornbread into shapes. Heart-shaped cucumber sandwiches are adorable!

I shared this recipe on Gluten-Free Fridays!

Quick Ethiopian Dinner – gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, and really yummy!

Quick Ethiopian Dinner

Quick Ethiopian DinnerI love
Ethiopian food! The salty complex flavors, the variety of different dishes, the unusual way of eating it family-style with flatbread instead of silverware. Fun and yummy!

When my family first went gluten-free, I thought we would still be able to eat at our local Ethiopian restaurants, because all of the Ethiopian stews are gluten-free, and the Ethiopian flatbread, called injera, is made with teff flour — and teff is gluten-free. Alas, when I asked the local Ethiopian restaurants about it, I found out that they all use regular American flour, made from wheat, in their injera. So I could not eat there. How sad!

Cooking Ethiopian

In the front you can see three pans that are cooking injera. In the background is a pot of split pea alecha. To the left you can see the batter for the flatbread. In front of the batter, I keep a saucer with a metal 1/4 cup measuring cup, for scooping batter into the frying pans.

So, of course I had to learn to make my own!

Ethiopian food is usually served family style, with a single platter shared by everybody at the table. You are served a huge metal platter, covered in injera, with about six piles of different types of Ethiopian stew on top of the injera. Sharing food with your tablemates is hygienic because instead of silverware, you use pieces of injera to pick up your food — and then you eat the injera and the food together. I think of it as eating my silverware after every bite, so that there is always brand new, fresh, clean silverware for the next bite.  :)

Injera

A stack of cooked injera.

I wanted to be able to make Ethiopian food as a weeknight dinner, so I have greatly simplified this recipe, in order to be able to make it quickly enough to serve it as a regular dinner for my family. It isn’t nearly as fancy as a real Ethiopian feast at a restaurant. But it has that same yummy Ethiopian flavor. Plus, because it is quicker to cook, I make it a lot more often, so we end up eating it much more often than we would if it was a more elaborate recipe.

Split Pea Alecha

Split Pea Alecha

 

Quick Ethiopian DinnerRelatedly: I recently bought a cookbook called Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking, which is an entire cookbook of vegan Ethiopian recipes, made with Americanized ingredients. I haven’t cooked anything from it yet, but I bought a copy and am eagerly looking forward to experimenting with it. I’ve linked its title to the book on Amazon in case you are interested in finding a copy too.

My Ethiopian recipes in this posting are heavily adapted from the wonderful cookbook Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love! — another really wonderful cookbook.

There are three parts to this meal: Injera (the flatbread), a split pea stew called Split Pea Alecha, and some broccoli.

I make Injera from my crepe recipe, but replacing most of the gluten-free flour mix with teff flour. Teff is the smallest grain, and the highest in iron. It is from Africa. It gives a “wheaty” taste to gluten-free baked goods.

The timing for this recipe works like this:

  1. Start cooking the Split Pea Alecha.
  2. While it cooks, make the injera. IMPORTANT: Make a triple batch of injera, so that you’ll have enough.
  3. Toward the end of making the injera, cook a pound of frozen broccoli as a side dish. See my quick and easy broccoli recipe here.
  4. To serve, put a piece of injera on each plate. Add a scoop of Split Pea Alecha, a scoop of cooked broccoli, and a folded piece of injera.
  5. Serve!
  6. Eaters tear off a piece of injera and use that to scoop up a bite of stew or broccoli, then eat it. They may need some extra injera to eat their meal. When you finish your folded piece of injera, you can also eat the injera that is under the food on the plate. Yummy!

To make injera, make a triple batch of my crepe recipe. You can optionally replace up to three quarters of the flour mix with teff flour, to make it more Ethiopian.

My broccoli recipe is here. It is quick and yummy.

Split Pea Alecha - gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, Ethiopian food and really yummy!
 
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This is the main component of a quick weeknight Ethiopian dinner. It has the lovely allure of Ethiopian spices, but it is simple enough to cook for dinner on a weeknight.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Serves: serves 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups dried split peas - either green (cooks faster) or yellow (more authentic) is okay
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 slices (1/4 inch) fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 2 pods, crushed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (or 1 clove, crushed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Put the split peas into a big pot, with water. Sprinkle with the turmeric. Check the package from the split peas for how much water to use, or use 6 cups if you are using green split peas, or 10 cups if you have yellow split peas. (Yellow seems to be more absorbent.)
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat.
  3. Simmer until the liquid has been mostly absorbed and the stew is starting to look thickened. The amount of time that this takes varies widely depending on the variety of split peas and how long ago they were harvested. In my experience it can take anything from 30 to 90 minutes. Green split peas cook faster; yellow ones take longer.
  4. Stir in all of the other ingredients.
  5. Serve on injera (see recipe notes), with broccoli and more injera for scooping.

 

This recipe has been entered into the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. Yum!!!

This recipe has been shared on Gluten-Free Fridays.  Yum!!!

Riz Bi Har – an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice

Riz Bi Har
cutting eggplant

To cube an eggplant, cut off the stem end, then cut it in half to make a flat surface. Then cut parallel lines the long way, half an inch apart. Turn the cut strips of eggplant on their sides, flat side down, and cut the long way again, so that you have long thin pieces of eggplant. Then cut crosswise to get cubes.

Once upon a time, there was a local Ann Arbor restaurant called Sharayar. Whenever I ate there, I always ordered a dish called Riz Bi Har. They had lots of other good food on the menu too, but I really especially adored the Riz Bi Har, so I started to order it every time I went there.

The restaurant Sharayar was a favorite for many years of happy eating. It was a sad day when they closed.

After years without Riz Bi Har, I decided to undertake making my own.

eggplant ready to cookI started by asking people on the Ann Arbor Parenting e-mail list, Arborparents, if they remembered the Riz Bi Har from Sharayar, and what they thought was in it.

People remembered eggplant, rice, cauliflower, other veggies, vermicelli noodles, and a tantalizing white garlicky sauce, wrapped in a cylinder of flatbread.

cooked eggplant

This is the same tray of eggplant after cooking. The volume decreases a lot as it cooks.

So, I set out to make that.  My experiments led to something really good, even on the first try. But over time this dish has evolved into something less like Sharayar’s version and more truly my own.

The magic in this is the combination of eggplant with a creamy, tangy, garlicky, vegan Tzatziki sauce. All of the other ingredients in this recipe can be swapped around and the results will still taste good. As a variation, you can serve it in a bowl

assembled riz bi har

Here is a filled tortilla, ready for folding or rolling. This one is really full, so I folded it in half rather than trying to roll it up.

instead of wrapped in a tortilla. You can swap around which vegetables you choose. If you are not a fan of eggplant, you can swap it out and replace it with some additional grilled or roasted veggies instead.

I am so glad that I tried making my own Riz Bi Har. If it was gone forever I would have missed it — it is very yummy and one of my favorite recipes.

riz bi har after folding

Folded, the yummy stuff inside gets covered up, which is harder to photograph. But it is still yummy. :)

 

Riz Bi Har - an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice
 
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A mix of rice, grilled veggies, and an addictive, garlicky, vegan tzatziki sauce, rolled up in a tortilla, makes a really delicious meal!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern-ish
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
  • 11 tortillas (or a double batch of my homemade tortilla recipe, made with a little salt added to the batter)
  • tzatziki sauce or creamy white salad dressing (click to see my recipe for it)
  • 1 small to medium sized eggplant
  • 4 cups of assorted veggies (can be red bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
  • optional: a 15-ounce can of beans, eg. pinto beans
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • brown rice
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the rice, according to package directions.
  2. Cut the eggplant and other veggies (but not broccoli or cauliflower) into bite-sized pieces or half-inch cubes. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt. Bake at 400 to 450 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are getting well-browned and the eggplant looks toasted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli and/or cauliflower in the microwave.
To assemble:
  1. If the tortillas are not warm, warm them up.
  2. Inside each tortilla, place a few tablespoons of rice, a few tablespoons of veggies, a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce, and optionally the beans, if you are including beans.
  3. Roll up the tortilla and serve! Or, if it is too full to roll, then fold it in half -- that works nicely too. Mine are always too full to roll! :)

 

Potato Pancakes – gluten-free Latkes for Chanukah or anytime!

Chanukah table with potato pancakes

In honor of Chanukah, here is my potato pancake (latke) recipe. Served with a salad or a veggie on the side, these make a lovely dinner.

I’ve replaced most of the potatoes with sweet potato, and drastically reduced the oil, to make really healthy potato pancakes that taste delicious! Even my pickiest kids love these.

latke batter

The batter. You can see that it is mostly sweet potatoes, but there are also some regular potatoes in there too.

I originally got this from my oldest son’s kindergarten teacher, many years ago. His birthday is right around Chanukah, so when I asked his kindergarten teacher if I could bring in cupcakes as a birthday treat, she decided that since I am Jewish I should also help the class to make potato pancakes. It was really neat watching her cook with the class — she had one student practicing reading by reading the recipe, another student practicing math by multiplying the ingredients, another one learning kitchen skills by grating potatoes, and so on, with each student matched to a task that practiced something appropriate for that kid. I wasn’t happy about being pressed into volunteering in the classroom, nor about the teacher’s assumption that being Jewish meant I’d be knowledgeable about potato pancakes. But I ended up with an appreciation of differentiated multi-grade education and also a very yummy recipe for potato pancakes. This version is very different from her recipe — I’ve cut way down on the salt, reduced the eggs, took out the onions, replaced most of the potatoes (no nutrients) with sweet potatoes (lots of nutrients), added optional green leafy veggies, and lowered the oil content far below what’s traditionalatkes cookingl. And the resulting potato pancakes are delicious!

Some tips:
* If your nonstick pan is pretty good and the pancake is sticking anyway, it is not fully cooked. Let it keep cooking for a few more minutes and then try again.
* I always think about balancing the liquid as I’m making this recipe. The potatoes gradually give off liquid as they sit in the batter. So at first the batter is on the dry side, and later on it gets wetter. So for the first pancakes, I use batter from the wettest part of the bowl, to make sure there is enough liquid. Later on, I stir the batter to keep the liquid proportionate to the solids, so that both the liquid and the potatoes last until the end.

My pickiest eater, who normally eats only beige food, will gobble down potato pancakes and serve himself more. Go figure!

Jewish cooking tip: A pizza cutter is a quick way to cut up potato pancakes for a small child.  :) Kitchen scissors can do this as well.

IMPORTANT: This is a small recipe, about enough to serve one person. I multiply it by five to make dinner for the family.

Potato Pancakes - gluten-free Latkes for Chanukah or anytime!
 
These healthy potato pancakes taste delicious! I've replaced most of the potatoes with sweet potato, and drastically reduced the oil. Even my pickiest kids love these.
Author:
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: 1 person -- makes 4-6 latkes
Ingredients
Note: I usually quintuple this recipe.
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, grated (use a food processor -- it is much faster and safer)
  • 1/2 cup potatoes, grated (don't omit - their liquid makes the recipe work)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch or, if you're not gluten-free, regular flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional: a few leaves of greens (chard, kale, etc.), chopped finely in the food processor
  • 1 or 2 glugs of oil (not a very exact measurement -- a glug is about a tablespoon)
  • toppings: applesauce, sour cream, homemade beannaise, etc.
  • a green side dish, such as broccoli or a salad
Instructions
  1. Preheat one or more nonstick frying pans on the stove. Good pre-heating helps to prevent sticking. For a big batch, I use three frying pans at once. I preheat the empty pans on medium-low, then turn the heat up to Medium a couple of minutes before adding food.
  2. Mix all ingredients (except toppings and side dishes!) in a big bowl. Stir very thoroughly, to make sure it's all well mixed, so that there aren't any lurking patches of salt or potato starch.
  3. Use a dinnertable tablespoon to ball up a wet blob of the mixture, then drop it into the pan and pat it with the back of the spoon to gradually widen it and shape it into a pancake shape. At this point for the first batch turn the heat up to medium-high, then once the pancakes are really cooking, lower it to just above medium and leave it there. When the pancake is gorgeous and brown on the bottom, use a spatula to flip it, pat it down, and cook the other side. When the second side is cooked, remove the pancake to a serving plate.
  4. Serve with bowls of toppings on the table. Eaters get 3-4 potato pancakes, and then put a spoonful of applesauce or sour cream or beannaise on top, spread it around and eat with a fork.
  5. The cooking time varies depending on how big a batch you are making. When I quintuple the recipe, it can take maybe 90 minutes to cook everything.

 

Macaroni and Cheese – healthy, vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free!

vegan macaroni and cheese

cheese sauce after blendingOnce upon a time, I perfected my macaroni and cheese recipe. It was a specialty of mine — fancy macaroni and cheese mixed with a creamy white sauce, using a small amount of fancy cheese to make it healthier and yummy. Then we had to stop eating dairy and gluten, and so, my oldest son, stirring the cheese saucesadly, for a long time that was the end of macaroni and cheese at our house.

After that, I experimented with creamy vegan cheese-like sauces. I came up with some that I liked quite a bit. But nothing was quite right for macaroni and cheese.

thickened vegan cheese sauce on the stoveThen in March I ran across Vegan Richa‘s recipe for vegan Mozarella Sticks, made with homemade cashew mozzarella. The cheese sticks came out tasting really cheesy, even though they are totally vegan. I am convinced that Richa is a genius at creative food chemistry. Her blog is a wonderful mix of creative vegan versions of American food and Indian cuisine.

Richa’s recipe made a great starting point for experimenting with my own vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. The very first time I tried making it, it came out tasting surprisingly similar to my old macaroni and cheese recipe, with the white sauce and fancy cheeses.  I was very pleased!!!!!

So here is my version of vegan macaroni and cheese.

Nut-free option: I have not tried this, but I think you could replace the nuts and 1 cup of the water with a pound of firm tofu.

In the third picture, that’s my oldest son cooking.  :)

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
 
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A creamy cheesy VEGAN macaroni and cheese that cooks very quickly. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
Sauce ingredients:
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Other ingredients:
  • 1 pound pasta -- gluten-free if you eat that way (which I do!)
  • optional: goes well with broccoli as a side dish (see my broccoli recipe)
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the pasta.
  2. Place the cashews and one cup of the water in a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Let it sit for a couple of minutes (to soften the tiny cashew pieces) while you juice the lemon and add the rest of the sauce ingredients EXCEPT not the rest of the water, to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Place the sauce mixture in a large nonstick pan. (Nonstick is essential for this recipe!)
  4. Start heating the sauce and stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the blender, then add it to the sauce.
  6. Heat and stir the sauce until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Mix with the cooked macaroni.
  8. Serve with broccoli on the side.

p.s.  You should try Vegan Richa’s mozzarella sticks recipe!

15-Minute Chili – quick, gluten-free, vegan, and really good!

chili

Once upon a time, dry soy curlsI was talking with a mom from my kids’ school, Sue Barker, who has an awesome talent for organizing big, fun school events, often where chili is served as a fundraiser. While we talked, someone asked Sue for her chili recipe. Sue said that it was “just a recipe from allrecipes.com” and that the important ingredient was salsa.

The idea of putting salsa in chili rang all sorts of happy bells in my mind. Salsa transforms chili into something really amazing. Salsa is like yummy “pourable nutrients” — it adds magic to this awesomely easy and quick chili recipe.

rinsing beansSince this is a vegetarian chili, it (optionally) uses Butler Soy Curls. Soy curls are dried pieces of soy that you can reconstitute by soaking for ten minutes in warm water. Then they look a bit like cooked chicken. As they soak, they absorb the flavor of whatever liquid you use to reconstitute them, so by soaking them in chili while it cooks, they become chili-flavored. I haven’t seen soy curls available in the local stores, but you can order them from Amazon or from Butler’s website.

Note that this recipe makes about three bowls of chili, so you will need to pot of chilimultiply it if you are feeding a crowd. (Most recipes on this website make enough food to serve dinner to four to six people.)

There is no need to measure the quantities for this recipe — it’s fine to estimate.

The photos for this recipe show: 1) A bowl of chili ready for eating, with beannaise on top. 2) Dry soy curls, broken into shorter pieces and ready for cooking. 3) Rinsing beans in a strainer at the sink. I love how my camera caught individual droplets of water coming from the faucet. 4) A pot of chili being cooked.

15-Minute Chili - gluten-free, vegan, quick, and really good!
 
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This quick, yummy, super-healthy chili makes a great homecooked weekday lunch in minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-ish
Serves: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • optional: 1 cup (dry) Butler Soy Curls or other protein (such as seitan, if you are not gluten-free)
  • 1 1/4 cups spaghetti sauce (from a jar) (preferably a variety with veggies such as Muir Glen Garden Vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup salsa, or more (Amy's mild salsa is perfect here)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (check that it's gluten-free - most varieties are not!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans of beans in contrasting colors, such as cannellinis and pintos, or kidney beans
  • vegan sour cream or Beannaise to serve it with
Instructions
  1. Put the dry soy curls into a pot, if you are using them. If there are any pieces that are more than one inch long, break them into pieces that are less than an inch long. Add enough cold water to just barely cover the soy curls. Turn the heat to medium-high.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients except for the sour cream or Beannaise.
  3. Heat to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Beannaise on top.

 

The White Dinner — a quick, gluten-free, vegan meal that my kids love

the white dinner

This recipe is adapted from a recipe called “Farfalle with White Beans and Cabbage” or “Halushki” from the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap. My kids renamed it to “The White Dinner.”  :)

I really love the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap, by Robin Robertson. We often eat vegan food at our house. I like this cookbook not because we are trying to eat cheaply, but because it has a huge number of very accessible recipes that are easy to cook and come out tasting great!

By the way, Robin Robertson has a nice blog.

This recipe is a mixture of cabbage, white beans, and pasta. I usually add either greens or broccoli to get additional healthy vegetables into the meal.

The White Dinner -- a quick, gluten-free, vegan meal that my kids love
 
Prep time
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A buttery vegan mixture of pasta, cabbage, white beans, and optionally some greens. My picky kids love this dinner!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Eastern European-ish
Serves: 4-5 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of pasta, such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Pasta -- noodles or spirals or elbows work well in this recipe
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 small head of cabbage, finely shredded (4 to 12 cups) - don't include the solid core
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups of cooked cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • optional: 2-3 cups of cooked broccoli or 1-2 cups raw greens (such as kale or chard)
  • optional: smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Chop the cabbage. Put it in a big pot with the oil and salt. If you are using the optional greens, add them. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is starting to brown in places. Then turn down the heat to a lower temperature and let it continue cooking, still stirring from time to time. The longer the cabbage is on the heat, the better this recipe tastes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat water to cook pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Add those and the pepper to the cabbage mixture and stir.
  4. Meanwhile, if you are cooking broccoli, cook it and drain. In case it's useful, here is my quick, easy broccoli recipe.
  5. When the pasta mixture is cooked, stir it into the cabbage mixture, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve hot, optionally sprinkled with smoked paprika.

 

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos – quick, vegan, gluten-free, and satisfying

back bean sweet potato burritos

These burritos are filled with a creamy black bean and sweet potato mixture. They are soothing and nourishing. My whole family likes this recipe, especially my daughter Kendra.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Back when my youngest child, Corbin, was starting to eat solid foods, the filling from these burritos was the first food that really interested him. He liked it so much that it was his gateway to eating solid foods — so surely this is a very delicious food.

This is my version of a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites — one of my favorite cookbooks ever! Their version is baked, which makes the tortillas crunchy on top; my version is served without baking.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos - quick, vegan, and satisfying
 
Prep time
25 mins
Total time
25 mins
 
These vegan black bean sweet potato burritos are creamy and satisfying.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-ish
Serves: Serves 5
Ingredients
  • 5 cups of sweet potatoes (more is okay), cut into roughly 1 inch cubes, skin still on
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 cans black beans (4 1/2 cups cooked), rinsed and drained
  • optional: 2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tortillas (either storebought -- or my tortilla recipe, with a little salt added to the batter, is fabulous here)
  • salsa (such as Amy's mild salsa)
  • optional: lettuce, chopped
  • optional: chopped bell pepper
Instructions
  1. Put the sweet potatoes into a pot. Add enough water to just cover them. Heat to boiling. Turn heat to medium and cook for 12 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are very soft. (You can test for doneness by poking them with a fork.)
  2. Drain the sweet potatoes and let them cool for a bit.
  3. In a food processor, blend the sweet potatoes, oil, cumin, coriander, beans, lemon juice, salt, and optionally the cilantro, until smooth.
  4. Place about 3-4 tablespoons of filling in a line off-center in a tortilla. Add some lettuce and bell pepper, if you are using them. Roll up the tortilla.
  5. Serve with salsa on top.
  6. A time saving tip: If you are making your own tortillas, you can fill them one by one as they get cooked, rather than waiting for them all to be ready.
3.4.3177

 

Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks – nourishing, gluten-free, quick, and the soup is vegan

Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks

I invented the recipe for Spinach Bean Soup in 2002 or 2003, one evening when we all had colds. I wanted to cook something warm and soothing — and quickly!

Years later, I shared this recipe with a group of moms, who liked it and fed it to their kids. Later on, to my surprise, TWO friends of theirs shared this recipe with me, not realizing that I had invented it. I was very pleased that people liked this recipe enough to share it!

There are two versions of this recipe. The first one takes only about twenty minutes to cook, but it uses storebought veggie broth. The second version takes a little longer, but uses no pre-made broth, so it is onion-free and garlic-free. (We have a person in my family who is sensitive to onion and garlic in my family.) I’ve made both versions many times — they are both easy and good, and a real favorite in my family.

breadsticksAlso below is my recipe for breadsticks made from Chebe dough. These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread. Chebe dough is originally from Brasil, where it is known as Pão de Queijo. Traditionally it is made from cheese and tapioca flour. My version has tapioca flour, but it is dairy-free and has no cheese. I use Chebe Mix to make the breadsticks, but I hope to someday find a recipe for making dairy-free Pão de Queijo from scratch, without a mix.

A soup tip: The last ingredient to go into the soup is frozen spinach. You can use it to control the temperature that the soup is served at. If you are like me and you like to eat soup that is medium-warm, the frozen spinach may put the soup at the perfect temperature for you without any additional heating.

Spinach Bean Soup
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) vegetable broth, such as Imagine No-Chicken broth or Pacific Vegetable Broth
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch (or 1/4 cup flour)
  • 1/4 cup canola and/or olive oil
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans or other beans, drained and rinsed
  • optional: 3-4 tablespoons miso
Instructions
  1. Put the potato starch (or flour) and oil into a soup pot. Stir them together.
  2. If you are using flour, heat and stir the mixture over medium heat until it gets thoroughly bubbly. If you are using potato starch, skip this step.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot, except the spinach and miso.
  4. Heat to boiling.
  5. If you are using miso: Scoop a few tablespoons of the soup into a coffee mug or bowl and stir in the miso. Turn off the heat under the soup pot. Pour the miso mixture back into the pot.
  6. Add spinach (still frozen is okay) to the pot. Heat to the desired temperature. Serve with bread, or Chebe breadsticks, and your favorite buttery spread, such as vegan Earth Balance spread. This soup is really yummy with bread or breadsticks dipped into it. See the recipe below for Chebe breadsticks.

 

Here is the recipe for Chebe Breadsticks:

Chebe Breadsticks
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread.
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 16 long breadsticks, or 32 short ones
Ingredients
  • 3 packages of all-purpose Chebe Mix, or 4 1/2 cups if you buy it in bulk
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil, olive oil, or a combination of the two
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Either place all ingredients in a food processor with the dough-kneading blade, or place them in a bowl.
  3. Knead until a smooth dough is formed.
  4. Roll the dough into a long log. Break it in half and keep rolling and dividing it in half, until you end up with sticks of dough that are about half an inch thick. I usually make them about 9 inches long, but you can make them whatever length you like.
  5. Place the sticks of dough on a cookie sheet, with a little space around each one so that they have room to expand as they bake. They will end up two to three times wider.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with your favorite butter-like spread.

 

Here is the recipe for the version of Spinach Bean Soup that does not use pre-made broth:

Spinach Bean Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day. This version is also soy-free and broth-free.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-sized potato, about 3 inches wide
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 1 stalk celery (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon each dried: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, blend the potato, carrots, celery, and rosemary.
  2. Add the potato starch and blend.
  3. Add the oil and a little of the water and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a soup pot.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the food processor and pour that into the soup pot.
  6. Add the herbs.
  7. Heat and stir until the mixture is warm and thickened.
  8. Add the spinach (still frozen is fine), cannellini beans, and salt.
  9. Stir, and heat to desired temperature.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and serve.
  11. This soup is really good with warm bread, or breadsticks (see recipe above for gluten-free Chebe breadsticks), with your choice of buttery-spread on the bread. We like to dip the bread in the soup -- yum!