Vegan, fully plant-based meatballs are one of the easiest thing in the world to make. I like putting meat-free “meatballs” together because they are fun – fun always comes first of course – and they are versatile, you can stick them into a sandwich, over pasta, serve with mashed potatoes, with rice and beans, and the list goes on and on…
Plus: unlike dealing with meat, especially poultry, all the ingredients in these meatballs are safe to eat as is, which means that even young kids can get involved and roll some meatballs. I told you – these can be fun for everyone!
What makes these meatballs Asian is the combination of scallions (green onions), Sriracha (hot red chili sauce), fresh ginger, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and peanut butter that get mixed with chopped, not ground, soya chunks. The idea is to retain some of the soya chunks structure rather than grind them to the consistency of ground beef. Think chicken salad, rather than taco meat.
To complete the meal you will need to do some spiralizing, which is one of my favorite things to do with zucchini, summer squash, and even potatoes. Here, I combined carrots and zucchini which gives the salad a nice contrast of crunch versus softness, plus a colorful appearance. The spiralized vegetables are mixed with some slivered almonds, lime juice and zest, and tossed to combine. Top them with a meatball or three, and you got yourself a dinner!
Asian Meatballs with Spiralized Zucchini and Carrot Salad
What you’ll need:
FOR THE SALAD
3 zucchinis, spiralized
3 fat carrots, spiralized
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 lime, juice and zest
FOR THE MEATBALLS
200 g soya chunks
1 1/2 cup panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free
3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
1 tablespoon peanut butter, natural and unsalted
3 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium
1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce (sriracha)
What you’ll do:
Prepare soya chunks according to the instructions on the box. They usually need about 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water.
Drain and rinse your soya chunks under some cold water, then chop or grind them into small chunks, similar to chicken chunks commonly used in Asian Dumplings recipes. Place them in a large bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything well and let stand for 5-10 minutes before making the meatballs.
Heat a large skillet or a cast iron pan over the medium high heat. Spray with some cooking spray and brown the meatballs on all sides until golden brown. Brown the meatballs in batches and make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.
While the meatballs are browning, prepare the salad. You can either buy a box of spiralized carrots and spiralized zucchini and toss them with some lime juice, lime zest, and toasted slivered almonds, or you can spiralize your own if you have the spiralizer. Let the salad rest while the meatballs finish browning.
To plate, place a good amount of salad in the middle of the plate, and top with 2-3 meatballs. Enjoy!
Imagine the smell of freshly baked bread spreading throughout your kitchen, and beyond… Cozy, sweet, homey, friendly and welcoming – the smell of freshly baked bread sends all those signals to our senses and more.
But, bread making and baking has always seemed too complicated and too impractical to me, especially since you can get an almost-freshly-baked loaf at any large supermarket these days. And if you live in Europe, small, local bakeries are likely on every street corner, offering really delightful breads made in small batches and very often available right out the oven.
Now, freshly baked gluten-free breads are far less widely available. And if you are looking for gluten-free and vegan breads, freshly baked or otherwise, you may be completely out of store-bought options because almost all gluten-free breads use either eggs or egg whites to give the bread structure in absence of gluten.
I’ve been tinkering with gluten-free baking a bit, and it’s generally forgiving if you are going for cookies, muffins, brownies, or pizza. But, making anything that needs to rise, and stay up, has been a challenge.
Enter bread machine! I recently purchased a basic bread machine model that offers couple of bread settings and loaf size and crust options, and have now used it to get very close to achieving the impossible, a loaf of 100% gluten-free vegan bread.
I’m not there yet but I think I’m getting closer. My most recent experiment used sprouted kamut (khorasan) flour, which is a wheat variety and therefore not gluten-free. But, khorasan flour seems to be easier to digest, especially when sprouted, and therefore better for people who are trying to avoid and/or minimize gluten for reasons other than allergy, celiac or intolerance. I’ve combined khorasan flour with chickpea flour, which is a gluten-free option, a mix of starches (corn and tapioca), and some flax meal. I also added some xantham gum into my dry ingredients as well as some baking powder. This baking powder is in addition to yeast and it helps the bread rise – gluten-free and low-gluten breads need all the help they can get! I meant mixed all the dry ingredients together before adding them to the bread machine.
Regarding the order of the ingredients, you must follow your bread machine instructions. Mine start with the liquids and end with instant rise yeast that is not supposed to touch the liquids directly, so it always added last into the dry ingredients.
If you have an option to select gluten-free setting, I recommend you use it. If not, you may want to play around with the timing a bit. Gluten-free breads tend to work best when they are allowed to rise only once, so you may want pick an express cycle or do a more manual prep if your machine does not have a gluten-free program. Here, I used French bread setting, 2 lbs (1 kg) loaf size, and medium crust on the basic Oster model.
The result is a very hearty loaf, with a good amount of chew, and a very nice nutty earthiness to it. You can enjoy it as is, with a salad, or with a quick jam, or homemade Nutella. The crunch and the aroma of freshly baked bread can’t be beat!!!
Vegan Kamut and Chickpea Flour Bread Loaf
What you’ll need:
1/4 cup oil, canola
1 3/8 cup (300 ml) water
2 cups khorasan flour, sprouted
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons quick-rise active yeast
What you’ll do:
Add water and oil into your bread machine pan.
In a separate mixing bowl mix all dry ingredients except the yeast. Add the dry ingredients to the wet.
Using your finger make a small hole in your dry ingredients and add yeast to it.
Close your bread machine, pick the appropriate cycle keeping in mind that this amount of ingredients is supposed to yield a 2 lbs (1 kg) loaf, and that you should preferably go with a gluten-free bread setting. If unavailable, you can use Express setting if the baking step is at least 40-50 minutes long. If none of this is what your bread machine offers in terms of options, go with the most basic program. You may need to re-adjust so approach this with an open and experimental mind. Remember: your perfect loaf is within your reach!
Plantains are those weird looking, giant bananas that look either too green or way past their prime, and usually not very appetizing. But, they are a staple of certain cuisines and I’ve had them while I lived in Ghana, almost exclusively deep fried. Unfortunately, deep fried plantains were not quite to my taste and I stayed away from them until very recently.
I was inspired by a Puerto Rican “lasagna” recipe that used plantains instead of noodles and was happy with the results. Here, I wanted to do something slightly different. I started from really ripe plantains and roasted them without peeling. Then, I made mashed plantains and combined them with plain, white beans (navy beans), and a handful of spices to create a rich and dense chili. Why does this chili work? First of all, plantains are full of starch and relatively sweet, adding lots of great flavor almost as if you were adding molasses. The spices and flavor agents, tomato paste, Chile Lime seasoning bland, and paprika helped the taste along. Lastly, the navy beans worked well here because they added smoothness and creaminess. Sprinkling some fresh cilantro complements the ensemble, and you could also spoon some dairy-free sour cream on top or some plant-based yogurt.
Plantains and Beans Chili, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Plantain and Bean Chili
What you’ll need:
4 very ripe plantains, roasted
1/2 lbs (225 g) white beans, cooked or from the can
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Chile Lime seasoning bland (this is a product from Trader Joe’s but you can make your own with some chili powder, salt, and lime zest)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cups fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
What you’ll do:
Get ripe plantains – those that have quite a few black areas on them – wash them and place them on a baking sheet without peeling. Roast the plantains at 425 F (220 C) for an hour. Their skins will turn black and they should soften inside.
Let the plantains cool then peel them and mash with a potato masher. You could also put them into a food processor and pulse until fine.
Heat a cast iron pan over the medium high heat. Add the cooking spray, spices, tomato paste, and the diced onion and let everything caramelize well, which could take up to 15 minutes.
Add the plantains and let the bottom start to brown. Mix well and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the cooked beans – I cook mine in a pressure cooker after soaking them overnight – and let the dish simmer for 10 minutes or so.
Serve with a dash of fresh cilantro, or other types of topping you prefer to use on your chili.
In Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia, where I grew up, there is only one type of pancakes people make – palačinke. They are huge in Central Europe and on the Balkans, and if you are wondering how to pronanounce their name before you munch on them, you would pronounce “č” the same way you do the digraph “ch”. They are thin, they roll and fold easily, they can handle any type of topping, and they are super easy to make. They are also pretty much the same thing as crêpes, so I am sticking with that better known name for the rest of the post. It’s probably one of the first recipes my mom taught me, and knowing how to make crêpes was a bit of a teenage rite of passage for my friends and me. If you knew how to make them you were definitely a part of the in-crowd!!!
And while crêpes are considered very much a French thing (and now you probably appreciate that they are also huge on the Balkans), scallion (or green onion) pancakes hail from a totally different culture – they are a staple of Chinese cooking. Some of the Scallion Pancake recipes use chicken fat (!), but the one by Ming Tsai, a TV chef known for his East-West fusion cuisine, is vegan-friendly, and you may want to give it a try. But, these pancakes do require kneading, and a bit more hands on than I am prepared to do.
So, channeling my inner Ming Tsai and his East-meets-West fusion style, I now give you Scallion Crêpes with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Ginger Dipping Sauce. The crêpes take about an hour to make, from start to finish, and the sauce comes together in five minutes or so.
If you have never made crêpes before, relax – they don’t take much time or much effort. All you need is a large bowl and a large whisk, or a large blender. Your goal is to mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth and very runny batter forms. Crêpes come out best when you use a large frying pan with a very flat bottom, when you keep your pan hot, but not too hot, and when you drizzle a drop or two of fresh oil before pouring in a new batch of batter in. If you have a really fantastic non-stick pan, you may be able to skip the oil but crêpes can be sticky, so proceed with caution.
One of my mom’s tricks is to use a teaspoon of oil and a really hot pan for the first crêpe. That crêpe is too oily and is usually discarded, but cooking it seasons the pan so that you only a drop or two of oil for the rest of the crêpes that should slide right out there when done.
There’s a bit of technique to flipping the crêpes over. First of all, you will need to figure out how much batter you need to pour in to make a thin, yet not too flimsy crêpe. For a regular size frying pan (8 in; 20 cm) I’d say start with 3/4 cup of batter. Pour the batter in the middle of the pan and then move your pan around quickly to help the batter spread around all the way to the edges, making one smooth, thin layer.
Second thing that you will need to know is when to flip, and the answer to that is when the uncooked side starts to look dry, which should not take more than couple of minutes. Once you see that it’s time to take hold of the pan’s handle and give it a shake. If everything is working according to the plan your crêpe should be sliding around the pan freely. If not, you will need to use a thin spatula to slide it under the crêpe and ensure all the sticking points are unstuck. The best spatulas to use for this are the metal ones you would normally use to frost a cake.
With your crêpe’s surface looking dry and your crêpe moving freely around the pan you are ready to flip. I flip my crêpes either by tossing them in the air – that’s my signature move and a crowd pleaser, and it took quite a few mistakes to perfect – or by using my fingers. I grab the edge of a pancake with both hands and flip it over, taking good care not to touch the pan. This only works if the edges of your crêpe are curling up and away from the sides of the frying pan.
Now that you know what I typically do, let me tell you what I think you should do. The best thing to try first is to use a thin, long and wide spatula that can go under the crêpe and in one swift move flip the crêpe over.
Once the epic flipping of the crêpe has been accomplished the crêpe will need only a minute to finish cooking on the other side. Normally, you would add a spread or a filling just after you slide the crêpe out while it’s still hot. In this case I actually don’t think the spread is needed as all the scallions make the flavor pretty rich to begin with. Add to that the dipping sauce full of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, squeez of lime, and freshly grated ginger – mmmmm… – and you’ll get plenty of flavor.
Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce
What you’ll need:
For the Crêpes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 3/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1 cup almond milk, plain and unsweetened
1 cup scallions (spring onions), white and green parts, chopped
Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; skip if you don’t enjoy spicy food)
What you’ll do:
Place all the crêpes’ ingredients except scallions in a blender and mix well. You can also mix everything up with a regular mixer or by hand. The resulting batter should be smooth and clumps-free.
Add the chopped scallions, mix them in and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
While the batter is resting, mix together the dipping sauce. For best results use fresh ingredients, and toast the sesame seeds yourself – they need only 2-3 minutes in a toaster oven or in a frying pan on the stove top. Cool the seeds a bit before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a large frying pan with a flat bottom until hot. Add a teaspoon of oil and 3/4 cup of batter. Spread the batter around until it covers the entire surface of the pan.
Lower the heat to medium to medium high, and cook until the upper side starts to look dry. Flip the crêpe and continue cooking on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
Slide the crêpe out, fold twice, making a sort of triangle, and keep the crêpes warm either by covering them, or by putting them in a warm oven.
When all the crêpes are done, arrange them on a platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce (or without!).
Believe it or not, you can now make your own Nutella-like spread in less than a minute. Yes, you read that right – and it is not a question of gimmicky gadgets or anything like that. It’s really all about having three ingredients at hand and readily available. The trifecta in this case consists of peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia.
Peanut butter powder is my newest discovery so let me rave about it for few minutes. I believe that you can now get peanut butter powder in any US-based grocery store. Even the peanut butter behemoth, Jif, has its own version of this product, which I have not tried yet so can’t really comment on whether that specific brand is any good and how it compares to others.
Peanut butter powder is mostly protein left over after you remove most of the fat (and thus lots of calories), so it is an ideal addition to smoothies, oatmeal, baking, even desserts like Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (as a substitute for almond butter), and even Pad Thai or other dishes that ask for peanut butter. The powder adds creaminess and packs all of that peanut flavor so a little usually goes quite a long way.
Plus, as a bonus, it transforms into a peanut butter-like spread when mixed with some water!
There are couple of different peanut butter powder “formulations” out there so check the ingredients list first in order to make an informed decision. My first excursion into the peanut butter powder land involved a product that contained added sugar, and that was not what I was looking for. So, I currently use peanut butter powder that lists only one ingredient: peanuts! Needless to say, if you do have a peanut allergy, this is not for you!!!
The recipe below is my new go-to, quick fix bread spread which has less calories, is low-fat and low-sugar so completely vegan, paleo-friendly, and done in a minute. I call it Homemade Peanut Butter Nutella because it combines that rich darkness of cocoa with the peanut aromas into a creamy spread. The recipe below makes one serving – I’ve no clue whether this would store well because I make one single serving at a time, so I recommend you start off using it in this way as well.
Homemade 1-minute Peanut Butter Nutella, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Homemade 1-Minute Peanut Butter Nutella
What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons peanut butter powder (no sugar added)
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 packet stevia powder (or your sweetener of choice)
2-3 tablespoons hot water
What you’ll do:
Combine the dry ingredients (peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia) in a mixing bowl.
Add hot water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix well with a spoon until you get the smooth and spreadable consistency.
Enjoy on toast, fruit, or in any other way you would normally use a spread like Nutella for!!!
Savory tarts are a great source of comfort during long, and cold, winter months, so fall seems like a perfect time to stock pile great savory tart recipes. One of the favorite topping combinations for this type of tart is onions and bacon. There can be little mystery about why this is so. Caramelized onions are sweet and juicy, and browned bacon is crispy and salty. Putting those two together makes for a sweet, salty, juicy yet crispy topping. Add to that a thin tart crust – and you get the picture!
In this recipe I wanted to recreate a bit of that onion-bacon dichotomy, by combining thinly sliced onions caramelized to perfection with marinated, thinly sliced, tempeh that has been browned until crispy on the outside. The trick with onions is to slice them into thin strips and then let them caramelize for a long time over medium heat. If you are counting calories and trying to stay as oil-free as possible, you can use just a bit of cooking spray to get your onions going – I did it, and it works just fine! But if you regularly use oil, starting with a tablespoon of olive oil will work well here. I recommend using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet here – not only will it help caramelize the onions and brown the tempeh bacon, it will also go straight from the cooktop to the oven, making this a one pot dish.
To prep the tempeh, first boil it for couple of minutes, pat dry it, cut into thin strips, and let it marinate for couple of hours. I used the same basic marinade that The Buddhist Chef used for his Tofu Bacon. It’s made of oil, maple syrup (I did skip maple syrup in this case since caramelized onions are plenty sweet), soy sauce, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast. I prepped the tempeh ahead of the onions, so when the onions were done I could remove them from the skillet and cook the “bacon” immediately afterwards.
My version of the tart is crustless, so there is no fancy pastry making required. What holds the tart together is the mix of almond milk and corn starch that comes in last, as the veggies are finishing cooking. And speaking of veggies, one other ingredient here is jackfruit. I use canned jackfruit and for this tart you will want to rinse it out well, drain it, then shred with your fingers, and remove any tough core bits. I can’t comment on using raw jackfruit since I’ve never done it, but I am guessing that it would be better since canned food does come with a bit of that canned taste/flavor.
The tart will spend some time in the oven, and to finish it off I recommend turning on the broiler at the end for five minutes or so to crisp up and brown the top. Let the tart cool for about ten to fifteen minutes before serving, and enjoy as is, or with some yogurt – I used a drizzle of cashew yogurt and a sprinkle of thyme. The tart is rich, fragrant and fantastic!
Vegan Onion and “Bacon” Tart
What you’ll need:
2 large onions
8 oz (225 g) tempeh
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more, depending on your taste)
2 20 oz (570 g) can young green jackfruit in brine
3/4 cup almond milk (plain, unsweetened)
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon dry thyme
What you’ll do:
Bring 2 cups of water to gentle boil in a pan that’s large enough to hold the entire piece of tempeh flat without cutting. Lower the tempeh into the boiling water and let it boil for couple of minutes.
While the tempeh is boiling mix together the marinade by combining oil, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast.
Take the tempeh out and pat dry. Let it cool for a moment, until it feels ok to handle. My heat tolerance is pretty high so I usually wait only a few minutes, but depending on your comfort zone when it comes to handling hot things you may want to wait longer before slicing the tempeh into relatively thin slices. Lower the slices down into the marinade and let it stand for an hour or two.
While tempeh is marinating, prepare the jackfruit. Rinse the canned jackfruit well and let the excess water drain. Using a fork or fingers, pull the jackfruit into shreds. Discard the hard core, if present. Set aside.
Slice the onions thinly into fine strips.
Turn the oven to 400 F (200 C).
Heat a heavy skillet, like a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray (or add a tablespoon of olive oil if using), and add the onions. After about 5 minutes at medium high heat, reduce the heat to medium to medium low and cook for another 10 minutes, until onions are soft and golden brown. Transfer the onions into a separate dish.
Increase the heat to high and add tempeh “bacon” strips. Let the side brown then turn over and brown on the other side.
Add back the onions, and jackfruit, mix the “bacon”, onions and jackfruit well, and continue to brown.
In a small mixing bowl combine almond milk and corn starch. Whisk them together so that there are no clumps. Pour over the rest of the ingredients and let it start to bubble.
Sprinkle the thyme and nutmeg, mix again and place the skillet into the oven for 20 minutes.
To brown the top, turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes, until the top is browned and crispy.
Take the tart out of the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a side of salad, or drizzle some yogurt over the top for a delicious meal.
Ever since I’ve decided to transition into 100% plant-based eating, I’ve been going easy on pasta mostly because it is yummy and enjoyable, yet not really all that great for you given the calories and starch. I’ve tried some replacements, like spaghetti squash, which made a great Pad Thai, and black bean pasta, which made an awful base for my “Clam” Sauce.
Of all the things I’ve tried, zucchini noodles are simply the best! They work really well with meatballs or even lighter veggie toppings that I’m thinking of ditching spaghetti all together.
But, there are some dishes that are hard to imagine without pasta, like a very simple yet incredibly delicious pasta salad I made at the height of summer season, and these stuffed jumbo shells right here.
The shells are stuffed with cauliflower “ricotta” and spinach mirroring a very traditional ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed shell recipe. The shells I use here are the “jumbo” kind, and their name is well-deserved. Two or three of these makes a solid serving size, so the recipe below ought to serve four people easy.
The main departure I took from the traditional recipe, which is vegetarian, is to skip the tomato sauce, usually a simple marinara, and to use my own creation, a cauliflower “ricotta” cheese, which makes this recipe dairy-free, vegan, and plant-based.
The cauliflower “ricotta” is inspired by cashew ricotta that I’ve made in the past. I was very curious about whether cauliflower can help the basic cashew ricotta recipe (some great examples here and here), and retain all the creaminess while cutting down the cost (frozen cauliflower is cheaper than raw cashews), and the calories and fat (cauliflower has far less calories than cashews and no fat!).
The cauliflower “ricotta” works well here, and it’s a useful cheese alternative to have for other pasta dishes, or a lasagna. Amazingly, what puts this entire dish over the edge is actually a tiny bit of nutmeg. Just a pinch goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it.
Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
What you’ll need:
16 jumbo shells, boiled
1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen chopped spinach
1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen cauliflower
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
What you’ll do:
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the shells and let them boil for 8-10 minutes. Take the shells out, rinse with cold water, and place them aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Cook the cauliflower and spinach according to the instructions on the bag. You can use a microwave or a stove top method and you don’t need to thaw the vegetables but I recommend that you squeeze the access water out before using. Keep the cauliflower and the spinach in separate bowls. Cauliflower should take about 10-15 minutes to cook, and spinach about 5 minutes.
Place the cooked cauliflower, soaked cashews, and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process until you reach the consistency of ricotta cheese.
Spray the bottom of 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) with cooking spray and pour in 1/2 cup of cauliflower “ricotta” and spread around to cover the bottom.
Using a tablespoon, spoon some cauliflower cheese into a shell, then some spinach, and place into the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the ingredients until all the shells have been filled.
Spread any leftover spinach and/or cauliflower ricotta over the top, spray with a bit more cooking spray, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the top is golden and sides are slightly browned.
Let the stuffed shells rest for 5 minutes before serving then enjoy!
Fruitcake has a bad reputation. Nobody loves it, yet puts up with it because of the tradition and whatnot. And although some of you may find it hard to believe, fruitcake can be really delicious!
In this veganized version of the milenia-old (oh, yes – fruitcake dates back to Ancient Rome) tradition, I skip the butter, extra sugar, and eggs and go really wild with dried fruits. I combined everything I could get my hands on – figs, dates, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and pineapple – with a nice selection of spices featuring orange and lime zest, as well as almond extract, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I also used some finely grated, almost sauced, zucchini as a binder, and roughly chopped walnuts and red maraschino cherries for some added texture.
The key to this cake is soaking the fruit and although you could soak the fruit in rum, as is the custom, I soaked mine in water to avoid being too over the top with the flavors and the kick to the system this cake delivers. Although most of the alcohol would evaporate as the cake bakes, I wanted to keep this one rated G so that both kids and adults can enjoy as much of it as they like and decided to skip the rum altogether. At the end, the most important thing is to let the fruit soak in liquid (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) because that will help keep the cake moist and soft.
This fruitcake is pretty rich and filling. It makes for a lovely treat, as well as an excellent breakfast choice. It is definitely one more thing to add to your list of vegan Holiday treats and traditions, like the Peppermint Bark and the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes. If you are wondering whether this cake can be made gluten-free, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour and go for it.
Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini
What you’ll need:
1 zucchini, small (1 1/2 cup grated)
5 medjool dates
15 dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup dried pineapple
5 dried figs
1/3 cup prunes
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lime
What you’ll do:
Combine all the dried fruits in a large bowl, cover with warm to hot water, and let soak for 30-60 minutes. Drain the fruit, pat dry to remove excess water, and chop to bits and pieces of different size. Place into a large mixing bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Grate the zucchini using a fine grater or a food processor. The finer the grating the better!
Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients to the chopped fruit and mix well until everything is combined.
Line the bread pan, or any other baking pan (I used a spring form pan because it makes getting the cake out a breeze), with some parchment paper. Pour in the fruitcake batter and spread around to form a 1.5 in (3-4 cm) thick layer. The cake will not rise much, and it will be quite moist, so don’t make it too thick as your surface will burn while you wait for your center to bake.
Bake for 35 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake stand for at least 15 minutes, ideally an hour, before cutting and serving. Serve with some vegan whip cream, ice cream, or with a glass of eggnog, and enjoy the season!
One thing that sweet potatoes have going for them is their amazing natural sweetness. Another thing they have going for them is their price – they are super affordable. And, for those of you keeping a nutritional score, sweet potatoes are an amazing source of vitamins, fiber and even protein.
Speaking from a recipe developer’s perspective, sweet potatoes are a versatile ingredient that lends itself to a range of recipes, from main dishes to desserts. The very first recipe I shared on this blog was the Sweet Potato Butter. More recently, I used sweet potatoes as a key ingredient in a red curry. And now it’s time to introduce Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes.
The key ingredient for the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes are the roasted sweet potatoes. Roasting sweet potatoes brings out their sweetness and adds nice caramelized overtones. Plus it makes the otherwise hard potatoes easy to mash. You could boil the sweet potatoes as well, or put them in the microwave for ten minutes to soften them up, but none of these methods will help the sweetness fully develop. So, unless you are in a super huge rush do take the time to roast your spuds. What I do is roast the whole pile of sweet potatoes at the same time and stash them into the refrigerator. Then I have a roasted sweet potato on hand to use for all sort of different applications, like these pancakes.
The pancake recipe asks for two large sweet potatoes, and I mean large. They should yield anywhere between cup and a half to two cups of sweet potato purée, so find some good, big specimens for this one. Roasting sweet potatoes could not be easier. You will need to wash the potatoes, pat them dry and place them on a baking sheet – I like to line mine with either parchment paper or aluminum foil to easy cleanup more than anything else. Put the baking sheet into a hot oven – I recommend 425 F (220 C) and roast the potatoes for about thirty to forty five minutes. Take them out and let them cool completely before handling. And thats’ why is handy to have a stockpile of roasted sweet potatoes in your fridge!
One note on the flour. This recipe is gluten-free and uses a combination of white rice flour and corn starch, but if you are not looking to restrict your gluten intake feel free to use all-purpose flour. In that case you can skip corn starch and you don’t need to replace it with anything else. Two cups of all-purpose flour should work well enough.
Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes
What you’ll need:
2 large sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
2 cups rice flour
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons imitation maple syrup flavor (or vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
Cooking spray (optional)
Topping suggestions: fresh fruit, powdered sugar, jam, maple syrup, vegan butter or cream cheese, nut butter, melted vegan chocolate…
What you’ll do:
Place all the ingredients in a large blender or a food processor. Blend untill a smooth, lump-free batter forms. Pour the batter into a large bowl – this will make it easier fo you to ladle out the pancakes. If you don’t a blender or a food processor, all this can be done by hand in an old fashioned, whisk-based sort of way. If you are doing everything by hand, do spend some time on mashing the sweet potatoes – the smoother you get them the better the pancakes. Let the batter rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Place a large frying pan over high heat. You can also use a griddle if you have one. In both cases make sure your surface is nice and hot before using. You could spray with some cooking spray if needed – some pans have a lovely non-stick surface and you can definitely skip the oil.
Pour out half a cup worth of the pancake batter per pancake. This should make 5 inch (12 cm) pancakes, and the amount of batter will be enough to serve 4 to 6 people. After the first 1-2 minutes lower the heat to medium-high and let the pancakes brown. You will know that it is time to flip them when the top surface becomes nice and bubbly and almost dry. Flip the pancakes, let them brown on the other side, which will take just a minute or two, them slide them to a serving plate. To keep the pancakes warm as you work you can keep the done batch in a warm oven or under some foil or a kitchen towel. To get the pan ready for a new batch increase the heat to high, let the pan come up to temperature again and repeat…
Serve warm with any topping you like, fruit, maple syrup, powdered sugar, chocolate syrup… I used sliced banana and a drizzle of softened almond butter. Yummy!!!
Note: These pancakes freeze well, so if you do end up with leftovers, let them cool than place them into a freezer safe bag or container, and you’ll have great pancakes to enjoy on another day. One trick to prevent frozen pancakes for sticking to each other is to use wax paper to separate the pancakes. You can separate them one by one, two by two, three by three, whatever is you preferred serving size. Then, when you are in a need for a quick breakfast, snack or even dessert you can take the batch out with ease. I usually zap mine in a microwave for a minute or so and they are ready. You can also use a toaster oven to heat them up, just remember that the toaster oven will dry them out a bit, so they will come out a bit less soft.
Hooray – a plant-based cheese success story!!! Believe me, the three exclamation points are not for nothing as I’ve had my fair share of plant-based cheese disasters. But, let us not dwell on failure and talk about this latest, greatest treasure I discovered. Like my vegan fresh mozzarella experiment that was out of this world delicious, this Baked Sunflower Cheese is fully based on a lovely recipe created by another person. Credit for today’s recipe goes to Sweet Potato Soul, a lovely and so bright and cheerful vegan food blog by Jenné (you can also follow her on Twitter @SweetPotatoSoul).
I was looking for something to do with sunflower seeds and this recipe popped up. The recipe is simple and follows the same logic of plant-based cheese making – you soak in this case the seeds but more often the nuts overnight, and then you process them with flavor and umami agents of your choice. Jenné’s recipe uses a nice combination of ingredients that all play well together with the raw sunflower seeds, so other than adjusting the amount of lemon juice and miso paste, I increased both, and dialing down the nutritional yeast, I followed all the rest.
My main point of departure was at the end. Once I’ve chopped and blended everything in the food processor I used my muffin tin to form small individual cheeses. I sprayed the muffin tins with some olive oil cooking spray, and packed the cheese mix into the molds tightly. I let it firm up in the fridge overnight and the next day I inverted the individual cheeses out, topped them with couple of different toppings (capers, slivered almonds, sun dried tomatoes, and hot sauce), placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and baked them at 350 F (175 C) for 10-15 minutes, just enough for the individual cheeses to warm up and the topping to caramelize.
I served the cheeses at a party, with some crackers (and couple of other goodies), and it was amazing!!! Pictures here tell only half a story, so make thus cheese and see for yourself how the story ends.
Note: I stored the leftover cheese in the fridge and used it the next day to make wonderful sandwiches with roasted red pepper hummus and the cold Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese. Yummy!
Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese on a cutting board, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Cream of carrot? How can that be? Well, it can, and it is, and you will not believe how great this soup is. Carrots are the star, to be sure, but what gives the soup its rich creaminess (without any cream) are the white potatoes, and you want to pick nice, starchy potato variety, like the Russets. The starchier the potato, the creamier the final soup. Usually, the really starchy potatoes don’t hold well to boiling and tend to fall apart. In this case that really does not matter because everything will go into a blender at the end. I do recommend you chop your carrots and potatoes into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process, but they don’t need to be finely diced.
The potatoes and the carrots cook together with flavor agents, like soy sauce and the Worcestershire sauce, and the spices, like smoked paprika or smoked paprika flakes, garlic powder and ground mustard. I also suggest you use vegetable stock and not water, because a really great stock will extend the richness of your flavors, while water will dilute them out. In terms of what stock to use exactly, you’ll have to try it out and see what you like. Reduced sodium options are probably the best starting point, and you can always taste a bit of the stock before dumping it into the pot. If the stock is not pleasant to drink, it will probably not make for a pleasant soup to eat. I would stay away from roasted garlic infused or very heavy on spices stocks and go with mild almost bland stocks that you can build on and that will not interfere with all the other ingredients you are using.
This soup is in many ways an extension of me using carrots for as many things as possible, including the summer hit – carrot dogs – and some of my baking, like cookies and muffins.
What helps put this soup over the top is just a sprinkle of fresh dill at the end, and a handful of freshly toasted croutons. With all that in place all that’s left to do is grab a spoon and dig in!
Cream of Carrot Soup
What you’ll need:
6 large carrots
2 potatoes, Russet or white
2 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
1 teaspoon steak sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika flakes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons dill, fresh
What you’ll do:
Wash, peel and cube carrots and potatoes. Place in a pot, cover with water and boil for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are just soft but not falling apart.
Drain the vegetables, pat dry to absorb as much of the access water as you can, and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add the oil, spices and sauces and mix well. Let marinade for 30-60 minutes.
Place all the vegetables and the marinade into a blender and add the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth and silky. You can do this step in the mixing bowl with an immersion blender but I think the regular upright blender produces smoother consistency.
Pour back into the pot and bring to simmer. Let the soup simmer gently for 10 to 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering you can toast some bread, or make some croutons.
Serve the soup with a sprinkle of fresh dill, and some toast, croutons, bread or even tortilla chips on the side. Mmmmm… good!!!
Like a fabulous supporting actor in a movie, the perfect side dish for a rich, holiday meal is subtle and complementary to the lead actors laid out on the festive table, yet able to make a lasting impression of its own.
This Holiday Quinoa with Cranberries and Pistachios is just that – visually pleasing, with layers of complexity in terms of texture and flavors, yet not overwhelming. Additionally, for anyone putting together a vegan, fully plant-based feast this side dish will add lots of protein to your plate.
Quinoa, just in case you are not familiar with it, is a grain, not a cereal, like wheat, but more like rice, and you would cook it like rice as well. When cooked it actually looks like couscous, and you will need to fork it up the same way. Although quinoa is fine served by itself, given that we are in the midst of fall/winter holiday season I decided to add just a bit to it, by adding some chopped pistachios and some oven-roasted cranberries.
One note on cranberries: fresh cranberries are very tart, and almost impossible to eat without adding a huge amount of sugar to them. I decided to try roasting and that worked to a point. Roasted cranberries are still tart, but a bit of tartness in this dish is actually a nice thing. If you prefer something with less bite, toss your cranberries with some sugar or a sweetener of choice, or simply chop some dried cranberries up – those are most certainly sweet.
Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios
What you’ll need:
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock
1 shallot, finely diced
1 cup pistachios, chopped
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries – this will yield about 3/4 cup roasted
What you’ll do:
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
Wash and sort the cranberries. Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast them for 20-25 minutes. Once soft and slightly browned, take the cranberries out the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.
While cranberries are roasting, cook your quinoa. Mix 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, decrease the heat to a gentle simmer and let quinoa cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let quinoa stand for another 10 minutes. Use the fork to fluff up quinoa before using in the next step.
Spray the bottom of a skillet with some cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots and let them sauté for 5-8 minutes.
Once shallots are done, add chopped pistachios and let them toast just slightly, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the fluffed up quinoa, mix well, and sauté for 5 more minutes or so.
Turn the heat off and mix in the roasted cranberries. Go gently as they will be very soft and falling apart.