If, like me, you find yourself in need of an appetizer to take to a party–or just want to treat yourself or your family–but have little time and want to avoid a trip to the grocery store, this simple, speedy, and flavorful dip may be the answer. Plus, it sports holiday colors–though it is tasty all year–and is carnivore approved!
1 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (or 3/4 cup Better Than Sour Cream + 1/4 cup Better Than Ricotta 1/4 cup plant-based pesto 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup finely sliced or snipped green onions (approximately 1 large or 2 medium) Garnish: a couple teaspoons thick balsamic vinegar (fig flavored is nice), a couple tablespoons finely sliced or snipped green onion, pinenuts, etc. I like to finish with a “flower” made from the trimmed end of a red bell pepper, as in photo. Accompaniments: red bell pepper strips, cucumber slices crackers, bagel chips, etc.
Stir all dip ingredients together with a fork in a small-medium bowl. Transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with balsamic, sprinkle with green onion and pinenuts if using, and add optional bell pepper flower. Serve immediately with desired accompaniments, or cover and refrigerate until serving time.
As part of my tasty work with Tofutti, we create the occasional not-to-be missed FREE eCookbooks, a curated collection of favorite recipes, all with photos, in keeping with a theme. As mentioned previously, life and work prevented me from staying current on my beloved The Blooming Platter website, but I’m back!
And I am proud to share our Simple, Sizzling Summer Salads before summer is over. Where I live in Coastal Virginia, we definitely have a few more weeks of summer-like weather ahead of us…and it’s been a hot one until Mother Nature decided to grant us some reprieve just this weekend. (To access and download simply click on the linked title.)
But, let’s be honest: we are fortunate to have at our fingertips a wealth of summer season ingredients year-round and these salads will certainly satisfy 12 months of the year. So, beat the heat with this selection of simple-salads-with-a-twist…or just enjoy whenever the mood strikes. A colleague at the school where I teach taste-tested the entire set–she teaches in the summer and I started a tradition three years ago when I was hired to bring her lunch–and received a hardy and “hearty” thumbs-up.
Released for July 4, each salad honors one of the immigrant cultures that has helped make America what it is:
Chinese Chili Crisp Slaw
German Roasted Potato & Sauerkraut Salad with Maple Caraway Dressing
Creamy Greek Salad
Indian Broccoli, Cauliflower & Eggplant Salad with Creamy Chutney Dressing
Italian White bean, Peach & Mint Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
These easy recipes are all prepared with Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Tofutti makes my favorite non-dairy sour cream (not to mention cream cheese, ricotta, and ice cream), but feel free to substitute, though non-dairy products batched by different companies all vary in taste and texture and my recipes have only been tested with Tofutti. If you would like to purchase Tofutti products online so you always have them at the ready, visit Plantx.
Today I offer a perfect late summer vegan/plant-based recipe and an apology…for being “gone” for so long.
First the recipe:
Tomato-Peach Caprese is perfect for a light summertime snack, lunch, or dinner. Made with Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese, fresh peaches and tomatoes, and chopped pistachios, it is especially light and refreshing served with cucumber slices, but serve it with crostini for a treat that is a little more substantial. We love the ricotta, but if you can’t find it locally, feel free to substitute Better Than Cream Cheese. But, good news: all Tofutti products are available at PlantX.
At least 30 minutes before preparing, combine garlic and olive oil in a small container and let steep at room temperature.
In a small bowl, stir together Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese, red wine or balsamic vinegar, chives, and pepper until completely combined. Spread onto serving plate or board.
In another small bowl, gently toss together tomatoes and peaches with 1 tablespoon garlic oil and spoon on top of ricotta. Drizzle with remaining garlic oil and sprinkle with reserved chives, pistachios, and sea salt to taste.
Serve immediately with crackers and/or cucumber slices.
*Created exclusively for Tofutti Brands, Inc. by Betsy DiJulio of The Blooming Platter.
As some of you may know, over a year ago, much to my delight, Tofutti Brands hired me as a recipe developer and food photographer. But, since fall 2020, I have also been a full-time teaching artist in the Upper School at Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, VA, where I concurrently–and gratefully–serve as the curator of Perrel Gallery. This rich new path follows a 16-year career as a public high school art teacher. And Tofutti isn’t my only side hustle, as I manage a busy magazine and newspaper freelance writing business.
I share this not as an excuse, but an explanation for my too-long neglect of my beloved website, The Blooming Platter.
Initially, I planned to post a recipe every time Tofutti did, but that plan got sidetracked by life and by my obsessive weekly recipe creation and testing. However, with this post, I am recommitting to that plan. I sometimes create other recipes which I will also share here. But for the most part, I am so consumed–see what I did there?–by my tasty work for Tofutti that virtually all my new recipes include Better Than Cream Cheese, Better Than Sour Cream, or Better Than Ricotta.
You can certainly try substituting other brands BUT be advised that, not only are Tofutti my favorite plant-based cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta, but the recipes have only been tested with these products.
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To make sure you don’t miss a single recipe, visit Tofutti here and sign up for our mailing list where your privacy will be respected and you will not be inundated. But you will receive all our recipes and eCookbooks, with the next featuring recipes for busy school and work mornings, afternoons, and evenings, as we gear back up for another school year.
I think I have perfected the lightest, tastiest, and most lovely textured gnocchi with only 1/4 cup flour and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. All the rest is pureed cauli and spices.
8 ounces riced, cooked cauliflower, pureed in food processor, and chilled until cold (I steam in bag in microwave), about 3/4 cup
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional: 1 tablespoon olive oil
Bring a medium saucepan filled with salted water to a simmer. Meanwhile, blend all ingredients together with a fork in medium bowl. On cutting board, roll one-fourth of dough at a time into a rope, 3/4-inch in diameter. Slice into 1-inch pieces for a total of 12 to 14. Add to simmering water and cook until gnocchi float. While gnocchi cook, heat olive oil or nonstick spray in skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon to skillet and cook a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Serve as desired, 6 to 7 per person. I like to place the gnocchi over a bed of lightly sauteed baby spinach with dabs of fruit chutney, foraged blackberries, pistachios or pine nuts, and a few grates of vegan mozzarella, or with sauteed fresh green peas, diced shallot, sliced garlic, white wine, and lemon zest.
Yield: 2 appetizer servings or 1 main dish serving (easily multiplies)
To say I am obsessed with no soya brand wonton wrappers would be an understatement. I love them for fried ravioli, fried wontons, and now baked ravioli.
But as much as I love them, I may love my miso butter sauce even better!
6 wonton wrappers
3 tablespoons cooked filling (I used a mixture of mashed butternut squash, caramelized onion, sliced green onions, shredded mozzarella, and minced garlic)
2 tablespoons vegan butter
2 tablespoons yellow miso
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
1/2 cup vegan dry white wine
8 small leaves fresh sage
Garnish: Fresh sprigs sage
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a small baking sheet, lay out the wonton wrappers. One at a time, wet edges by dipping your finger in a cup of water and running around the edge. Place one and a half teaspoons filling in the center, full dough over, and seal edges. Repeat with remaining filling and wonton wrappers. Sprit slightly with non-stick spray or oil and fake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
While ravioli bakes, make sauce. In a skillet over medium heat, whisk together all ingredients. Simmer to heat through. When wontons are baked, remove from oven, plate, and pour sauce over. Garnish and serve immediately.
Yield: serves four as a side dish, two as a main dish
I love anything creamy, particularly if it also has a little bit of texture and layers of flavor. But I am quite a calorie counter and avid exerciser, so the wide availability of riced cauliflower and the fairly new availability in our area of Silk brand half-and-half inspired this dish. That and a powerful appetite on this Father’s Day Sunday at midday. This dish is filling, but light and bright, quick, easy, and so pretty,. Just perfection.
2 cups water, divided
1 small onion finely chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon vegetable base
1 bulb roasted garlic or two to three cloves raw garlic, minced
10 ounces riced cauliflower
Zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup Silk brand vegan unsweetened half-and-half (Ripple brand is nice too, but if you can’t find either or another brand of unsweetened vegan half and half, use coconut milk)
1/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella
2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan
Garnishes: minced parsley, slivered almonds, toasted or not, a few nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan shreds, fresh lemon slices, wedges, or more zest (in the photo, I used nutritional yeast flakes, parsley, and toasted slivered almonds)
In a large iron skillet over medium-high, bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer, add onion, and sauté/simmer until virtually all water is evaporated. Add remaining water, bouillon cube, garlic, and cauliflower, and simmer, stirring frequently, until virtually all of water is once again evaporated. Add remaining ingredients, lower heat if necessary, and stir until cheeses are melted and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve immediately topped with the garnishes of your choice.
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons flax seed meal or ground chia seed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray baking stone very well with nonstick baking spray. Process ingredients in a food processor until the consistency of slightly course cookie dough. Press into a disk 1/2-inch thick (no thinner) on pizza stone. It should be about 8 inches in diameter. Bake 20 minutes. Carefully flip and bake 5-6 minutes more. Top as desired–but avoid thick heavy toppings if you plan to lift the pizza slices by hand–and bake another 5 minutes. Cool 3-5 minutes, slice and serve.
Note about flipping: I used one of those plastic cookie flipping devices that slides under a batch of cookies, as it will slide under the whole crust. They are inexpensive, but if you don’t have one and don’t want to purchase one, perhaps bake the crust on oiled foil over a baking sheet and then carefully flip onto oiled baking sheet.
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year to be vegan. Though I am thankful every day that I chose many years ago to live more compassionately, it is during this season that I celebrate my favorite tastes and textures…and share them with you.
The mouthwatering menu I have selected for you features two entrée-like dishes, both meals in themselves because of the balance of ingredients: greens, grains, veggies and more. So delightfully pretty, filling, and creamy are these dishes that the only side dish I recommend is a fresh bright salad that sounds some special autumnal notes in the form of dried fruits and smoked nuts. All that remains to round out this bountiful fall feast is my late mother’s Double Cornfingers which I recommend serving in place of stuffing. For dessert, I offer a recipe I developed for Tofutti a few years back that is a perennial favorite. These pumpkin cheesecake bars with their streusel topping are super quick and easy but doesn’t look like it, especially when sliced and served on frilly paper doilies.
Each item listed in the menu below is linked to its recipe, and following the menu are captioned photos that will help you envision how your beautiful table will look as everyone gathers around with gratitude.
Speaking of gratitude, I am so grateful for all of you who make my platter bloom throughout the year. With nurturing wishes to you and yours during this holiday season and always.
I just can’t stop. This is Chex Mix # 6 of 2017 and it is only February.
I gifted it to a couple who took me to dinner last night, as Bob had had to work late on a major project. Dear friends and gourmet vegan cooks, Juan and Barbara Gelpi, wanted to introduce me to Ethiopian food at a small, charming cafe in VA Beach called Mesob. (A mesob is a a large colorful woven basket with a tall pointed lid and hole in the center; people sit around a mesob at mealtime with the food on a gebeta or large platter in the center.)
The Gelpis were veterans, but it was a new experience for me. I discovered that I would eat just about anything scooped up in Injeri–so unbelievably bubbly and spongy–and will go back many times.
In the meantime, I will keep making one delicious batch of Chex Mix after another and sharing it with you, though warm weather is coming and I will probably curtail my experiments for the spring and summer.
After last night’s Ethiopian immersion experience, you can expect a berbere spiced batch. For now, please enjoy my Chex Mix Italiano.
3/4 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan basil pesto
1/4 cup vegan artichoike tapenade or pesto
5 cups wheat Chex Mix
4 cups Cheerios
1 1/2 cups Marcona almonds
1 1/2 cups veggie sticks
1 cup small rosemary and sea salt crackers (use any brand you love; mine came from Whole Foods)
1/3 cup pine nuts
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: red pepper flakes to taste (for a little bit of heat)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place butter in large roasting pan, slide into oven, and allow butter to melt. Stir in both pestos or pesto and tapenade. Then stir in remaining ingredients, one at a time, in order, to coat evenly with butter mixture. Roast for 1 hour, stirring well up from the bottom every 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, allow to cool, and package mix in airtight containers.