Easy Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Easy Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Easy Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It’s not quite summer yet, but it does not hurt to line up few new recipes to try when the vegetable gardens start to yield the wonderful, delicious produce. Of course, with modern day supermarkets, the produce in my Easy Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce is on hand any time of the year!

The recipe is easy, because you only need a handful of ingredients: eggplant, zucchini, garlic, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, and a bit of salt, dried basil and dried oregano. You also need an ingredient that you may have hard time finding – pomegranate molasses. I found mine in a local Indian grocery store, and started experimenting with it recently. This molasses is thick and sticky, like the more common molasses made as a byproduct of refining sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets, but it is not sweet – actually it is quite tart. That’s why you will not find this molasses in many desserts, but you will in savory dishes.

If you are now thinking to yourself “I’n not buying yet another ingredient that I’ll never use again”, no worries – just use balsamic vinegar, especially the one that’s rich, sweet and dark. That will work just as well to add a bit of acidity and sweetness to the sauce.



Easy Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

What you’ll need:

  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 28 oz (800 g) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or use balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


What you’ll do:

  1. Place a sturdy pot (I like my Dutch oven) over a medium high heat. Add olive oil and garlic. Sauté for a minute, to allow garlic to start releasing its aroma.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini, mix well and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are fully cooked.
  3. Mix in the molasses (or balsamic vinegar), and all the herbs (basil and oregano), then pour in the crushed tomatoes. Bring to simmer, cover with a lid, lower the heat down all the way, and let cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Using a stick blender or a regular kind, blend the sauce until rich and dense. Use on your favorite pasta, or spiraled vegetables, like zoodles, which are my personal favorite.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

White Bean and Spinach Soup

White Bean and Spinach Soup
White Bean and Spinach Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

From the very first time I tried a bite of this soup I was hooked! The texture is incredibly smooth and creamy, and the taste is amazing – this is real comfort food right there!!!

Plus: this soup is super easy and super affordable – and it is a perfect make-ahead or meal prep option since the flavor is even better the next day, or the day after, or the day after. The soup will hold well for 5-6 days if stored in a container with a tight lid in the fridge.

And if you are looking to throw an Italian-inspired party, this soup served with a tossed salad and fresh bread will do the trick! Vegan and non-vegan friends and family will just love it, especially those among them who seem alarmed by some of the less common vegan ingredients, like nutritional yeast, or unfamiliar add-ons. This soup is plain and simple – white beans (homemade or canned), tomatoes, baby spinach, olive oil, onion, garlic, oh and some pasta – THAT’S IT!

If you are wondering whether you have to use cannellini beans, the answer is no. Any small white bean will do – and you can definitely cook the beans yourself. About half a pound (225-250 g) of dried beans will probably be just about right for this soup. Quite frankly, the convenience of canned beans can’t be beat, ad that’s a fact – with a snap of a lid you are already there. And these days you can find most beans in “no salt added” version, in case you are monitoring your sodium intake. The same is true for crushed and diced tomatoes – in my grocery store you can find both in “no salt added” variety. Whether you prefer to skip salt or not, I should note that a little bit of salt goes a long way towards making this soup have a really exquisite flavor.

The pasta that I recommend for this soup is ditalini, small pasta that looks like very small and short macaroni. This type of pasta is commonly used in traditional Italian bean soup, Pasta e fagioli, which is really pasta and beans. Ditalini works well in bean dishes because it’s size is well matched to the size of the beans, so it harmonizes with the rest of the dish. If you can’t find ditalini, you can use any other short and tubular pasta, or even something like rotelle – the wheel shaped pasta which is kinda fun.

One huge trick for making this soup is to blend half of it and then add more chunkiness to it as it simmers. Blending part of the beans, sautéd onions and garlic, and crushed tomatoes makes for a perfect creamy base. You will think you are eating a soup made with a pile of butter and cream, or a heavy roux, or both – and none of this is true! one thing to be careful about is blending the hot mix – you can get burned so pay attention!!!


White Bean and Spinach Soup

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 15.5 oz (440 g) cans cannellini bean, divided
  • 1 28 oz (800 g) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz (411 g) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta (or other smaller pasta, like short macaroni
  • 1 lbs (454 g) baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


What you’ll do:

  1. Place the oil into a large pot and place it over the medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add 1 1/2 can of cannellini beans and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes, then turn the heat off. Add the crushed tomatoes and mix well.
  2. (TAKE EXTRA CARE) Pour the mix into a blender – take care as the soup will be very hot. Don’t use the blender unless the instructions state explicitly that it can be used with hot liquids. Make sure to use precaution to prevent burns. Blend the mix until smooth and silky. (You can also use a stick blender if you have one and blend the soup directly in the pot!)
  3. Pour the blended soup back into the pot, and use 1 to 2 cups of water to rinse out the blender. If you used a stick blender, do add 1-2 cups of water. Add diced tomatoes, and the rest of the beans. Bring to boil.
  4. Once the soup is boiling, add the spinach and wilt for 2 minutes or so. Finally, add the pasta (detalini), mix well and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the pasta finish cooking. Serve with fresh salad, a piece of bread, and some vegan parmesan.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019


Grilled Corn with Cilantro and Lime

Cilantro and Lime Grilled Corn, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Corn is amazing for many reasons. It’s incredibly sweet and delicious, it is easy to make, and it is super cheep during summer months while in season. Outside that window, fresh corn is still really affordable and you can enjoy it year round.

Corn requires minimal preparation, can be ready in no time and it’s naturally gluten-free. Moreover, if you can’t get fresh corn you can always youse frozen corn because it will work almost as good as fresh one.

Let me illustrate some of what I just said with a very simple corn side dish. I developed this recipe as a side for summer cook-outs and burgers (some of my favorite burgers that this corn goes really well with are Chickpea Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Walnut Meat – YUM!), but it can definitely be made year-round. Although you could steam your corn and then follow the steps below, for best results I recommend grilling. You can grill the corn on your outdoor grill, or using a grill pan – exact method does not matter. What matter are those lovely grill marks and getting some charring on the corn, which really adds a lot of flavor.

Other than getting those lovely grill marks, the rest of this recipe is super quick and easy. All you need to do is toss the chopped corn with couple of flavoring agents, lime juice for a bit of acidity, lime zest for a bit of crispness, some fresh cilantro for a bit of freshness, some fire roasted green chiles for some spiciness, and a bit of oil that helps all these flavors stick to the corn and each other better.

You can serve the corn immediately after tossing it with the rest of the ingredients, but I recommend that you stay patient and wait for 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to come together and infuse the corn. Then you can dig in!


Grilled Corn with Cilantro and Lime

What you’ll need:

4 ears of corn, grilled

1 lime, juice and zest

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fire roasted chile peppers (from the can)

¼ fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Salt, to taste (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Grill the corn using an outdoor grill. If none is available, you can cook your corn in the microwave oven, then add grill marks using a grill pan, or go directly to the grill pan. Usually, it takes 3-5 minutes per side, and you do need to stay close and keep an eye on the corn so that it doesn’t burn. Let the corn cool just slightly, so that you can handle it, then chop each ear of the grilled corn into 4 pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rest of ingredients (lime juice and zest, jalapeños, olive oil, and cilantro; you can also add salt to taste – I don’t use much salt, and I don’t think this corn needs any, but you can decide for yourself). Toss the corn with the mix and set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and mingle. Serve with burgers, salads (like this Coleslaw), ribs, beans, or other goodies!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019


High Protein Noodle Soup – the Best Thing for Colds Since the Chicken Noodle

High Protein Noodle Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Winter wonderland is all around us – at least for those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere somewhere above 30 to 40 degrees North. Unfortunately, in addition to all the fun stuff that winter brings, there are also the dreaded colds or even worse full on flus that get around. Just around the Christmas time as was waylaid by a serious cold – I call it a cold but it was more of a full body weakness and loss of energy with some minor runny nose and sore throat. I stayed in bed for a day, drank loads of fluids, and all was better in about 48 hours.

One things that really helped me power through is a soup I made, full of protein as well as mushrooms. It perked me right up, and kept me coming for more at a time when my appetite was not all that great. The main reason why I went for some soup at the time like this is thanks to the well-known, and scientifically slightly supported, power of the hot bowl of chicken noodle soup to make the cold go away.

The power of the soup resides to some extent to the fact that it is served hot – the steam helps with decongestion and is commonly recommended to get your nasal passages work again. Plus: soup, and other warm liquids, are easy to swallow and therefore usually gentle for the painful throat. And: when you are under weather, down with a cold, one of the best thing you can do is stay hydrated, something any soup will help you with.

But a soup like your old fashioned chicken noodle soup that you may have been chased around as a kid, have more hidden secrets. They are full of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals that come with those great vegetables hiding in there.

So, in my attempt to recreate the richness of flavors, level of protein, and intense apparent healing powers of the chicken noodle soup I went for, well, pure protein – pea protein powder and peanut butter powder, which is really almost all protein (but do check a label before buying to be sure and stay away from some of the products out there that add sugar!).

I also went for mushroom broth as it is deeper in flavor than a vegetable stock. I used store bought, but you can definitely make some on your own especially if you are looking for ways to use up all those mushroom scraps (this recipe is a great start). And to deepen the flavors further I recommend using soba noodles. These noodles are earthy, nutty and I simply love them!  I use them in stir fries and soups, and always have them on hand in my pantry.

By the time this soup is ready, which is very quick indeed, you will be holding in your hand something that will make you feel better and go “mmmmmmm…”.


High Protein Noodle Soup

What you’ll need:

32 FL oz (1 L) mushroom broth (or vegetable stock if mushroom broth unavailable; homemade broth also a great option)
32 FL oz (1L) water
1/4 cup pea protein powder
1/4 cup peanut butter powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 cups frozen or fresh broccoli florets
6.4 oz (180 g) soba noodles
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine mushroom broth, water, pea protein powder, peanut butter powder, ginger and curry powder in a large pot. Mix well to combine and remove any lumps that may form. You can also use a blender or a whisk.
  2. Place the pot over the medium high heat and bring to boil.
  3. Once the soup is boiling, add broccoli and the noodles, lower the heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. This should be enough time for noodles and broccoli to be cooked al dente – so soft but not mushy.
  4. Turn the heat off, mix in the fresh parsley, and some lime juice for a bit of acidity, and serve. You can always serve with lime wedges, and let people add lime to taste themselves.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives


Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Simple may not always be better, but it is absolutely true that when it comes to vegetable side dishes keeping things simple and letting the vegetables speak for themselves goes a very long way. For example, grilling is one of the best ways to add a lot of flavor without any extra ingredients of complicated prep procedures. And eggplant is probably one of the most grill-friendly vegetables out there!

But, before the eggplant hits the grill (or a pan) it is important to soften it and let some of the bitterness drain out. Very often that means salting the sliced eggplant and letting it sit in between paper towels to absorb the moister that the salted eggplant will release. Doing this removes some of the bitterness that eggplant can sometimes have as well as make the eggplant less like a sponge.

This recipe does have one important trick that really elevates the flavors – rubbing the grilled eggplant slices with a clove or garlic to add that great garlic flavor! This is a trick that you often see used for making garlic bread to infuse garlic aroma into toasted bread – it avoids having to deal with raw garlic pieces, and it is very effective.

Finally, what makes this simple side dish come together is the lemon juice and lemon zest. This small amount of acidity and the freshness that lemon zest contributes really bring the simplicity to a new level. You can serve this elegant vegetable dish warm, as a side, or cold as a salad. Either way, give this a try and see whether you are with me when I say that simple is the way to go!!!


Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives

What you’ll need:

2 large Italian eggplants, sliced into rounds

1 clove of garlic, peeled

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 cup black olives, sliced

2-3 teaspoons coarse salt

Cooking spray (or olive oil)

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the eggplant, and slice into round slices (about 1/4 in (5 mm) in thickness). Place on the two layers of paper or kitchen towel, sprinkle with salt, then cover with another layer of towels, and let stand for 20-30 minutes. The salt will draw out some of the extra moisture out of the eggplant, and with it some of natural bitterness that eggplant sometimes has. Remove the paper towels, and pat dry the eggplant slices.
  2. Put a large grill pan over the high heat to make the pan really hot. Reduce the heat to medium, then spray with some cooking spray or brush with some olive oil. Place eggplant slices on and grill on both sides in batches until all the eggplant is grilled. You can also use an outdoor grill or a regular pan. The point is to blacken and cook the eggplant through, which will take 3-5 minutes per side.
  3. Use the garlic clove and rub the eggplant slices, so that they are infused with garlic aroma. Place the garlic rubbed eggplant into a large mixing bowl, add lemon juice, lemon zest, and sliced black olives. Mix well and you are done! If you like to add a bit more flavors to this simple side dish, you can drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle fresh parsley, or add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes if you are open to turning on the heat!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Rich Risotto with Roasted Winter Squash

Rich Risotto with Roasted Winter Squash, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Winter squash – they come in what seems to be an endless number of varieties. If you ever find yourself wondering whether you have a summer or a winter squash, all you have to do is take a look at the seeds. All summer squash are picked before their seeds are fully formed and mature, while the winter squash is left on a vine to ripen until seeds are fully formed. So when you cut winer squash, you will find a bunch of seeds that you can often enjoy in their own right, usually roasted.

The types of squash that I can easily find in New England (USA) are acorn, butternut, buttercup, hubbard, and spaghetti squash, which makes lovely Pad Thai among other things. And, of course, pumpkin, which reigns supreme among others in terms of availability and easy of use given that I go straight for the can. Canned pumpkin purée (note: not the pie filling!), is a nice addition to many recipes, including meatloaf, as well as truffles. Actually, all winter squash are quite versatile and can be made into both savory dishes and main courses, as well as dessert.

Winter Squash, image via Pixabay

One of my favorite way to prepare winter squash is roasting. Roasted squash is delicious, and does not require much work to get the roasting going. After it cools, you can enjoy roasted squash as is, or cube it, or purée it for use in number of different recipes, including the risotto below.

The inspiration for this risotto came from my search for ultimate comfort food. It struck me that combining soft and creamy rice, like the one you get in a well-cooked risotto, with slightly sweet and earthy winter squash is likely to deliver. And: I was right! What helps this risotto come together is nutritional yeast, which I use quite liberally, and bay leaf and thyme, two herbs that infuse the risotto with flavor. Here, I used vegetable stock, but you could use water, or mushroom stock if you like. The texture will not change, but the flavors will. Also: the recipe below does not include salt, so use as much or as little as you like.

The most important thing you need when cooking the risotto is patience, and adding the cooking liquid gradually and in small increments to allow the rice to absorb all the liquid bit by bit. At the end, I always find that risotto uses more liquid then what I expect, so here I recommend having a quart (about 1 L) of stock ready, but add it in small increments. Another thing that a good risotto needs is lots of stirring, so get ready!


Rich Risotto with Roasted Winter Squash

What you’ll need:

1 onion, finely diced

4 stalks celery, diced

2 cups winter squash (or pumpkin) purée (see below)

1 cup medium or short grain rice (for example Arborio)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

up to 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock, divided

4 bay leaves

6-8 springs of thyme, laves only

1 tablespoon olive oil


What you’ll do:

  1. I recommend using homemade roasted winter squash for this and any other recipes. Which means that your first step would be to clean and roast the squash until soft and fully roasted. This usually takes about 45-60 minutes at 425F (220 C) oven. You only need 2 cups of puréed squash for this risotto, so you will have some leftover for other things, like soups, pies or even hummus. If you are short on time but still want to enjoy this risotto, go for canned pumpkin. One 15 oz (425g) can of plain pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!) will do the trick here.
  2. Place a large high-sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add oil, diced onion and celery and let sauté for 5-8 minutes until done. Add puréed squash, mix well and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the rice (without rinsing it, so that you retain all the sticky starch that will make the final risotto extra creamy), mix well and let the rice brown just a little bit on its own, for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, bay leaves and thyme leaves and mix well. Bring the risotto to boil then lower the heat down to simmer. Check every 3-5 minutes, mix again and add more stock in 1/2 cup intervals as needed.
  5. After about 15 minutes, mix in all the nutritional yeast, and continue to simmer. Continue to check every 3-5 minutes and add more stock gradually. Any risotto needs lots of attention, and adding the liquid in small increments. So, be patient! The rice should be fully cooked in about 25-30 minutes (fully cooked here means that the rice will not be completely mushy and give sort of al dente resistance when you bite into it.
  6. Serve your risotto warm and enjoy with a nice glass of wine, some olives, or perhaps some nice Giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables), which I love. That little bit of nice acidity complements the creaminess of this risotto really well.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Apple and Carrot Soup

Apple and Carrot Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Apple and Carrot Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Soups seem to be one of those things that have gone out the window together with long sit down dinners. I grew up in a family that had soup as a starter of a large meal, in our case lunch, almost every day. My mom still makes soups couple of times a week, and they are varied and delicious!

I vary my soups depending on the season, and gravitate towards lighter soups during summer, and rich and more decadent soups during winter. For example, about two years ago we had a major snow storm, and while my husband was out shoveling, I made a pot of New England Clam-less Chowder that hit the spot!

More recently, some of the soups that we enjoyed were rich in vegetables and can work really well to replace all those recipes that use tons of butter and cream, like Cream of Carrot Soup, and a perfect Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup. The secret weapon to a rich, creamy and totally vegan soup is an immersion (or stick) blender. This kitchen gadget goes directly into a pot and blends the contents with ease! Of course, you can also use your regular blender but that requires a transfer of a very hot liquid, which may lead to injury – so for things like making creamy soups and sauces a stick blender is the way to go.

For this soup, which combines carrots and apples, it is important to pick firm and tart apples like Granny Smith. Apples add a bit of tartness to the soup as well as a bit of a thickening agent as they are full of pectin, which is a complex carbohydrate that makes jams gel!

One last thing I want to mention before we dive into the recipe is the sodium. My recipe does not include salt because my husband is on a very low sodium/no sodium diet. But this soup, as indeed others as well, taste best with a bit of salt added to it. So, unless you do need to omit sodium from your diet I recommend you add salt to taste, to the pot as the soup simmers. One teaspoon ought to do it for most of us!

This is a great Thanksgiving or winter holiday soup and I hope you get to enjoy it with your family and friends!!!


Apple and Carrot Soup

What you’ll need:

1 onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

5 large carrots, cut into small chunks

3 apples, tart, cut into small chunks (peeled or not, up to you)

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

4 bay leaves, whole

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 teaspoons rubbed sage

4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 tablespoons pan toasted pumpkin seeds per serving

salt, pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large pot over medium-high heat, then add oil, celery and onion and let the vegetables sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and apples, and sauté for another 5-8 minutes, until carrots and apples start to soften and brown.
  3. Add the spices and mix well, then pour in the water, increase the heat to high, let the soup come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until apples and carrots are soft and fully cooked.
  4. Once the carrots and apples are fully cooked, turn the heat off, and let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes. Take all the bay leaves out, then using your immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. You can do this in the standard blender as well, but do be careful – the liquid will still be very hot and you can get seriously burned!!!
  5. Serve the soup with some toasted pumpkin seeds. You can toast the seeds in a toaster oven or in the non-stick pan. Place your pan over the high heat and let the surface get really hot. Next pour in the seeds, and let them toast with constant stirring for 1-2 minutes. This will be sufficient to get them lightly toasted. Sprinkle on top of the soup and serve!

Note on the salt: please note that the recipe does not use any salt as my husband is on a reduced-sodium/no-sodium diet. However, I do add salt to my own bowl as I do think it enhances the flavor. If you are in the household that consumes salt, please consider adding 1 teaspoon in the pot while cooking. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Zucchini and Summer Squash With Garlic and Basil – CSA Week 9

Zucchini and Summer Squash With Garlic and Basil, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

You know that you have been slacking when the post about CSA Week 9 recipe comes couple of weeks after the finish of the CSA program. How did all those weeks disappear? All I’m going to say is that summer vacation, start of school year, and crazy work schedule happens to the best of us! Wild, I know!!!

In Week 9, Upswing Farm share included some lovely zucchini and basil. So recipe here is a really easy and quick take on what to do when life gives you zucchini, summer squash (this one was from my garden), and lots of fresh basil.

The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, used only a handful of ingredients, and is light, fragrant and incredible for the long, hot, lazy days of summer, as well as these fall moments we are now enjoying.

As summer squash, zucchini and fresh basil are now available year round, you can actually serve this “summer sunshine in a bowl” even at the dead of the winter. When choosing your zucchini and squash pick those that have smooth surface with bright color and fresh look. Those will be fresher pieces that you can use without peeling after giving them a good wash.

This recipe requires grating, and the easiest way to do this is to run the zucchini and squash through a grater attachment that most food processors include. Traditional hand-held grater works too! I recommend that you squeeze some of the excess water out of the grated squash and zucchini before using. If you skip this step, the final dish will be quite water-y, although it will still taste good. So, it’s up to you to decide the amount of liquid you’d like your final result to have.

Lastly, when it comes to fresh basil you will not need to do much to prep it. You can use the entire bunch, after you wash it and trim it. The point is to have basil infuse the dish, and you can fish the large pieces of basil out before serving. Of course, basil is delicious in its own right and if you want to enjoy it just go for it!

This side dish is best served warm, with some toast or good hearty bread for dipping and mopping the bowl. Delicious!

Zucchini and Summer Squash with Garlic and Basil

What you’ll need:

2 zucchinis, washed, trimmed, and grated

2 summer squash, washed, trimmed, and grated

6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups basil leaves, whole

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the zucchini and summer squash, trim the ends, and grate either using a food processor or a manual grater.
  2. Peel and slice garlic thinly. You can adjust amount of garlic to taste but I don recommend going beyond your comfort zone here.
  3. In a large pan bring oil to medium heat, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and squash, mix well, and sauté for 5-8 minutes until fully cooked.
  5. Add the fresh basil and vinegar, mix well and let rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Escarole and Lentil Soup

Escarole and Lentil Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Soups are some of the easiest types of meals you can make. They can, of course, be light and serve to open your appetite and cleanse your palate – so if you are up for a five course meal don’t skip your soup! Having said that, that type of a soup is not what this post is about.

One-pot dinner wonders

Hearty soups are those wonder recipes that take only a handful ingredients and a single pot to make a huge amount of food to feed an army. Hearty soups, and, to be honest, soups in general, freeze well as well as taste even better the next day! This all means that if you have an hour of time, a chopping board, and a large pot you can make yourself a big batch that can see you through for a while.

How to make a hearty, yet meatless soup

Many may think that meat is the only way to boost the heartiness. This is a myth and simple to dispel. All you need is a nice selection of some soup basics, like onions, celery, garlic, carrots, parsnips, peppers – these types of ingredients will make a flavor base for your soup.

Another type of flavoring agents you may want to employ are vegetable stock, bouillon cubes or bouillon base. I use the stock fairly often – you do need to experiment a bit to find one you like. However, I find both the bouillon cubes and base to be too salty and full of stuff I don’t need/want. It’s up to you to decide whether these are the best way to enhance flavors of your soups and other dishes.

Additional key ingredients for a hearty plant-based soup are the legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), and starches (potatoes, noodles, and rice). You can use both legumes and starches together, of course, but in the recipe below I use lentils only.

Finally, you can really refresh your hearty soup by throwing in some nice green leafy vegetables. Things like kale, spinach, chard, and escarole are all an excellent addition. This kale soup is a good example from a while back!

Re-thinking escarole and bean soup

In this one pot hearty soup recipe, I decided to play around with a very traditional escarole and bean soup recipe. Instead of the beans, the recipe uses brown lentils. Moreover, it starts with a mix of scallions and diced red pepper, this completely abandoning the traditional onion and celery. The result is a thick soup, where richness of lentils is balanced out by the escarole. Overall, one head of escarole and one pound of lentils go a long way, making this a budget-friendly recipe. Lastly, since the recipe is wholesome and uses only main stream ingredients, this is something you can serve with vegans and non-vegans alike.

Escarole and Lentil Soup

What you’ll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced

1 sweet red pepper, finely diced

1 escarole, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces

1 lbs (454 g) brown lentils, rinsed and sorted

4 cups vegetable broth

2-4 cups water


What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large and heavy pot over the medium high heat – I recommend using a Dutch oven, but any heavy and large pot will do. Add oil and chopped scallions and brown for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the diced peppers, lower the heat to medium low, and sauté for 5-8 minutes.
  3. While the scallions and peppers are sautéing, wash and chop the escarole, and rinse and sort lentils. Add the escarole first, and let it wilt down. This will take 4-5 minutes. Then add the lentils, pour the stock in, and add 2 cups of water to begin with.
  4. Turn up the heat, bring the pot to boil, then lower the heat down to a gentle simmer. Let the soup simmer for 45 minutes or so, with occasional stirring. If you think the soup is getting too dense, add some more water in – but do go slow and only add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water at a time. After about 45 minutes of simmering the soup will be ready to enjoy. Taste test first to make sure it is salty enough for you (I don’t add extra salt since the vegetable stock I use is usually enough, but this is something you can easily adjust depending on your preferences), and that lentils are fully cooked – they should be soft by this point.
  5. Enjoy the soup with some bread, or with a salad. You can top it with a dollop of vegan sour cream, yogurt (my favorite brand is kite hill plain almond milk yogurt), or parmesan cheese, and sprinkle of fresh chives or fresh flat leaf parsley!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic

Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegetable soups are supposed to be healthy and good for you. But on a recent plane trip I realized that some of the cooking shows out there go out of their way to make absolutely everything in their reach as unhealthy as possible, or even worse – talk up these recipes as good for you, usually referring to them as “soul food”.

Of course, all of us have a soft spot for rich food, the one our mom or grandma used to make… Most people have warm memories associated with big family meals and joy that comes from being surrounded by the loved ones. And, yes, it is true that most of the food consumed in those occasions is not something that any nutritionist would approve off!

To be honest, I don’t disprove an occasional overindulgence, but what rubbed me the wrong way was that during the three hours of different cooking shows there was not a single recipe that would qualify as healthful, and even couple of soup and salad recipes included exuberant amounts of butter, cream, bacon…

As I was watching the continuous array of that heart-attack-in-the-making “soul food” recipes I could not stop thinking that there must be a better way. Actually, I started jotting down recipe ideas and ingredient lists while still on the plane, and this creamy vegetable soup is the first one that I have now fully developed.

I’ve made quite a few creamy soups in the past, like the Cream of Carrot Soup, Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, and the New England Clam-less Chowder, which are all rich in flavor and light in calories, or at least far lighter than the more conventional soups of their kind. The recipe below is super simple and cheap, so there’s no excuse not to try it.

The only slightly more time-consuming bit is the roasted garlic.  I am not even sure if you can get roasted garlic in the store, if you can you may try using the store bought stuff as a short cut. But roasting your own batch and then using it as needed is simple so you might just as well do it yourself, and here is a good recipe for you to follow (it’s basically putting a head of garlic in an hot oven for 30 minutes or so and you- there, I told you it was easy!)

To re-cap: angered by cooking shows that succeeded in making even soups and salads into a health hazard, I decided to roll my sleeves up and show the world that couple of simple ingredients, like a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, some starch and a carton of vegetable stock, when combined with flavor enhancing agents, like the roasted garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest, will make a wonderful, flavorful and rich-tasting soup without any butter, cream, bacon or cheese. Now that’s some real soul food!


Creamy Vegetable Soup with Roasted Garlic

What you’ll need:

1 bag (1 lbs, 454 g) bag mixed vegetables, frozen

2 tablespoons corn (or potato) starch

4 cups (960 mL) vegetable stock

2 cups water

4 cloves roasted garlic

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 tablespoon oil (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large post over the medium to medium-high heat, add the oil (if using), and all the vegetables. Let defrost and sauté with frequent stirring for 3-5 minutes.
  2. When the veggies have softened, add the starch. Make sure that vegetables are fully coated with a thin layer of starch. Sauté for another minute, just to let everything fully combine.
  3. Add the vegetable stock in a slow and steady stream, while mixing continuously. This vigorous mixing is essential to prevent lumps, so keep at it! You can use a large whisk for this if you like – the whisk works well for me.
  4. Next, add the water still mixing/whisking as you go, then let the soup come to a steady boil. Once you reach that point, lower the heat all the way down, add the chopped up roasted garlic, and allow the soup to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off, and mix in the juice of one lemon, and all the lemon zest. Serve warm and enjoy! (As you can see from a photo above I had mine for lunch with some buttered homemade bread. If you are into making your own bread via a bread machine, my recipe is here.)

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Cauliflower is the king of the vegetable world, and beloved by millions who follow the plant-based or vegan diet. It’s also loved by paleo diet eaters, and of course many, many others. What makes cauliflower versatile is the fact that it is mild enough on its own, which allows it to carry many different flavors. For example, you can make a lovely Cauliflower Buffalo Wings and Cauliflower Pizza Crust, as well as a great Cauliflower Basmati Rice or pasta shells stuffed with cauliflower ricotta. You must agree that this is quite a range for a single ingredient!

This dish is a simple yet delicious side dish or a quick lunch. It tastes great warm as well as cold, so you will be able to make the most out of your leftovers. The dish does take some time to make – roasting cauliflower can take up to 45 minutes. But, trust me: roasting is the way to go. Although you could boil the cauliflower the flavor will not be the same, so just don’t go there.

The rest of the ingredient list is simple and straightforward. Pine nuts add nice toastiness and crunch to the dish, garlic give it the aroma, and lemon juice and zest make this dish light and full of sunshine. Of course, a dash of basil never hurts!!!

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower

What you’ll need:

2 heads of cauliflower, florets only

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 oz (185 g) pine nuts

1 lemon, rind and juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons basil, dry (or 2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped)

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the cauliflower, and cut out the florets only (you can use the leftover cauliflower to make rice, or a creamy soup, so don’t throw it away!). Pat dry the cauliflower florets and set aside.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper, arrange the cauliflower florets so that there is some space around each one, and place in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes. The florets should be soft and nicely browned.
  4. Place the roasted florets into a large mixing bowl and let them cool slightly.
  5. Bring a large frying pan up to temperature over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast on high for 2-3 minutes. Stay with your pine nuts as they toast and stir frequently as they can quickly go from nicely toasted and fragrant to burnt! Add the toasted pine nuts to the roasted cauliflower.
  6. Add the oil to the pan and decrease the heat to medium low. Add the sliced garlic and cook it for 1-2 minutes. Pour the garlic and oil over the cauliflower and pine nuts mix.
  7. Next, add lemon juice, lemon rind, and basil and mix everything well. Let the cauliflower rest for 10 minutes or so, then serve and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad

Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Sometimes salads are complex, feel elaborate and deep, mature and intense. I’ve made couple of those in my life, like this incredible roasted beets and leeks salad with baby kale and the most amazing lemon vinaigrette. I also made salads that are just for fun, with a bit of this and a bit of that, by combining fruits, vegetables and nuts.

But during summer, I like my salads to be simple, yet out of the ordinary. Last summer I went nuts for a pasta salad that used only a handful of ingredients but which I could not stop making over and over again. I think we are at that point in summer when it’s time for another easy, yet amazing salad, with no greens allowed (I love the greens but there is sometimes scope to be just a bit different!).

This corn salad is it – and it’s absolutely a fabulous accompaniment to any grilled food feast. All you need are four simple ingredients and 10-15 minutes. If you have that – boom, boom, boom and you are done.

The corn I use most often is frozen sweet corn, but you could grill your corn and cut the kernels out and use that instead. I bet the grilled/charred corn flavor would be fantastic.


Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) frozen sweet corn

1/2 cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons steak spice (I recommend McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning)


What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large frying pan over medium high to high heat. Add olive oil and frozen corn. Let the corn brown as it defrosts. Mix frequently but do let the corn get some surface caramelization.
  2. While the corn is cooking, toast your sesame seeds. You can do this in a toaster oven or using a stove top. Keep a close eye on your sesame seeds as they toast because they do from nicely toasted to completely burned in a matter of seconds!
  3. Add the toasted sesame seeds to your corn, as well as the steak spice and mix well. The salad is best served room temperature, but you can serve it warm as well. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018