Quick and Tasty Vegan Buffalo Chickpeas

Yield: 2 servings

My go-to vegan lunch…

Perched on pretzels that I used as scoops, this super quick and easy–and let’s not forget tasty–chickpea salad recipe would also make a delicious filling for a wrap, especially with the shredded purple cabbage that I used as a base. I folded the cabbage into the last of the salad and loved that flavor combination and crunch.  It is perfect for a workday lunch…with a little mouthwash chaser.

Note: you may omit the butter, but it is a small amount, is included in the traditional recipe for Buffalo Sauce, and it mellows the vinegar, also a traditional ingredient.   Each ingredient is needed to create that addicting balance of hot and tangy buffalo goodness.

2 tablespoon softened vegan cream cheese

2 tablespoons Daiya brand vegan blue cheese dressing

1 tablespoon Frank’s hot sauce (or more if you like hot alot)

1 tablespoon melted vegan butter

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

4 celery hearts, finely diced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Shredded purple cabbage

In a medium bowl, whisk together first 7 ingredients. Fold in chickpeas, celery, and green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cover and chill until serving time.  Serve on a bed of the cabbage or fold the two up together in your favorite wrapper.

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Best Vegan “Tuna” Salad
that Actually Tastes of the Sea

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Let’s be honest: chickpeas do not taste like tuna. They simply don’t.

Maybe it’s been so long since we all tasted tuna that something vaguely the same color and texture mashed up in mayo will do the trick for some.

Not for this gal.

I have made chickpea tuna on several occasions before and been unimpressed with my efforts. But I had made an (exquisite!) aquafaba chocolate mousse on Saturday for a party that evening and had two cans of chickpeas left over.  I also had a craving. So I got to work. Though, in truth, this mock tuna salad is really no work.

In the process, I discovered 5 “secrets”:

Nori powder and soy sauce are critical for that briney hint of the sea. Dulce flakes simply don’t pack enough ocean punch.

Tartar sauce in place of mayo tricks the brain into thinking “sea.”  (I prefer tartar–with fresh dill, tarragon, sweet pickle relish and juice, and rice wine vinegar–made from my low calorie/ high flavor Blooming Platter Mayo, but a commercial brand of tartar, like Vegenaise–or commercial mayo made into tartar–would also be great in flavor)

Pickle relish lends that tuna sandwich-of-my-youth flavor.

Green onion provides a toned down reference to the diced white onion I loved in tuna salad as a kid.  And it also somehow hints at the ocean.

Well-mashed chickpeas are a must for a close texture approximation.

And there you have it.  As for serving, I haven’t eaten much bread in years, but if nothing other than a sandwich will do, go for it. I love the salad, instead, piled on a rice cake even though I am not gluten sensitive. I crave that low-calorie texture.

And, though I certainly didn’t eat tuna salad with fresh baby spinach as a child, I really love the color that the spinach leaves add to the whole presentation, as well as the flavor, texture, and nutrition.

For garnish, dill is a favorite flavor regardless, but it is especially delightful with tuna, so a little dab of additional mayo and a sprig of dill crowns this jewel. I just happened to have the baby tricolor pear tomatoes, so I popped a couple of those on the side for the most satisfying dinner on every level.

2-15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, very well drained but unrinsed, and coarsely mased with a fork

4 to 5 tablespoons vegan tartar sauce (you can use mayo, but tartar tricks the brain)

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (dill relish is fine if you don’t care for sweet)

2 large green onions, thinly sliced, both white and green parts

1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari

I teaspoon Nori powder (purchased or place 1 broken sheet Nori in spice or coffee grinder and pulverize)

Sea salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Tuna Salad
I Reveal My Secret Ingredient

Yield: approximately 4 cups

Growing up, I ate LOTS of canned tuna salad.  After I became a vegetarian and then vegan, chickpea tuna salad seemed to be the standard substitution.  But I didn’t quite get it.  Something was missing; something from the sea.  So I started adding Nori.  (But you can add kelp, dulse, or whatever seaweed-derived product you prefer and can easily acquire.)  Still, that wasn’t quite it.  But then I tried the Hearts of Palm “crabcakes” from Vedge, the eoponymous cookbook from the storied vegan restaurant in Philly.

Brilliant.  For some reason Hearts of Palm–my father’s favorite vegetable (we would put cans of them in his stocking at Christmas)–have a taste and texture close to seafood.  (But not too close for that “ick” factor.)  This recipe is what resulted this week when I tried combining Hearts of Palm with chickpeas, Nori, and other typical tuna salad ingredients.

The walnuts are my nod to the the Omega 3s found in very few foods, including fish and, yes, walnuts.  And, oddly enough, they taste delicious and very appropriate on top.

Please enjoy this super-simple and cooling recipe, perfect for summer.

Note: if you prefer the ingredients to be more homogenized, pulse in a food processor.

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-15.5 ounce can Hearts of Palm, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped [THE SECRET INGREDIENT]

3 celery hearts, diced

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon Nori powder (or 1 sheet Nori torn into pieces and ground to a powder in an electric spice or coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Garnish: walnut halves or pieces

Place chickpeas in a medium-large bowl and coarsely mash.  Add diced Hearts of Palm and celery hearts.l.  In a small-medium bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients, except walnut halves or pieces.  Pour over chickpea mixture, and toss to coat.  Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.  Serve on toasted whole grain bread with baby greens, a little more mayo, and walnut halves or pieces; on crackers; or old school-style, stuffed in a tomato with an “X” cut into the top and gently separated into 4 sections to make an edible “bowl”.

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Vegan Cajun Red Bean, Spiralized Squash, & Spicy Peanut Slaw
A July 4 Explosion of Flavor

Lately, I will spiralize most anything that isn’t quicker than me.

Actually, that’s not true.  A friend did give me a Spiralizer that I have yet to break out of the box.  But, so far, I have purchased a variety of colorful vegetables already cut into those long, luscious threads.

I’m not a “raw vegan,” but I do find that these thin, spiraling threads do not need cooked, not even the sweet potato, though you could certainly blanch them if you prefer.  I favor the flavor, texture, and color “as is.”

This slaw was inspired by my beloved NOLA.  It combines super heart-healthy dark red kidney beans with spicy peanuts, cajun seasoning, and a few other key ingredients with a blend of spiralized zucchini and yellow squash for a refreshing, luscious, and lovely–especially when served in a martini glass–heck of a zippy slaw.

Rice would be the more natural choice, i.e. red-beans-and-rice, but I just can’t find much to recommend calorie dense, carb rich, and nutrionally lacking white rice.  Hence the light colored spiralized squash which is such fun to eat.

It appears that Bob and I are going to a restaurant for July 4 with his family, as the family matriarch is recovering from a back injury and prefers not to entertain; but if we weren’t, I would certainly be taking this dish as my potluck contribution.

Note: the number of cups listed on the back of spiralized vegetable packages is usually less than my measurements as I very loosely pack it, while it appears that they must compress it a bit more.  This is, I always end up with significantly more than the package indicates.

3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (or to taste)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1 tablespoon cajun seasoning (I used one with lots of spices, but none of them with a lot of heat)

2 cups spiralized zucchini (loosely packed)

2 cups spiralized yellow squash (loosely packed)

1 cup diced celery (about 4 celery hearts, sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise)

2 green onions, thinly sliced, both the white and green parts (about 1/2 cup)

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsied and drained

1 cup spicy peanuts

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: thin lemon slices with a cut from outer edge to center

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, and cajun seasoning.  Add remaining ingredients and gently toss to evenly distribute dressing.  Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve in glasses with a slice of lemon “hung” on the rim.

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Vegan Flexy Sexy Asian Slaw
(with popcorn, my fave new slaw ingredient)

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

My brand new vegan slaw is “flexy” because you can use your favorite vegetables and mix it up differently every time; and “sexy” because it is so light and healthy that it looks good on everyone.  Plus, you’ll have to admit, the martini glass presentation is James Bond meets West Elm sexy.

Simply keep the proportions as provided and then have your way with this slaw which is perfect for a light lunch.  Serve it however you choose, but a clear stemmed glass and chopsticks make it so pretty and fun to nibble.

1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 medium lime or lemon

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 1 /2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1 /2 teaspoons granulated sugar (I like coconut sugar)

Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Sriracha)

2 cups sliced, diced, spiralized or julienne colorful, crunchy vegetables (I used a broccoli slaw mix that included purple cabbage and carrots)

2 cups prepared “skinny” popcorn (air popped and very lightly salted or seasoned)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I like tri-color cherry tomatoes)

1/4 cup raw cashews

1 teaspoon fresh minced basil (an Asian variety like Thai or Vietnamese is especially nice

1 teaspoon fresh minced or torn mint leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: fresh basil or mint sprigs, a few cashew halves

In a small bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients to make dressing.  In a medium-large bowl, gently toss together remaining ingredients except garnish.  Drizzle dressing over, toss again, Divide into serving dishes and garnish as desired.  Serve immediately.

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Vegan Indian Chickpea, Spiralized Zucchini, and Cashew Salad

Yield: 8 servings

This beautiful protein-packed Indian spice-infused vegan salad is  my new summer crush. I want us to be together day and night.  And when we do, it’s difficult to cool us off.

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 1/2 ounces prepared Indian seasoning for red lentil dal (I use Jaswant’s Kitchen brand from Whole Foods, but feel free to substitute)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon or lime (I used a lemon)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

4 cups spiralized zucchini (I purchase

2 cups raw cashews

1 can chipckpeas, rinsed and drained

6 celery hearts, diced

2 large green onions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced

 

Optional garnishes: halved tri-color cherry tomatoes, roasted and lightly salted cashew halves, fresh cilantro sprigs

In a small bowl, whisk together vegan mayo, spice mixtures (Jaswant’s come in two tiny pouches), lemon or lime juice, and cilantro.

In a large bowl, gently toss together remaining ingredients, spoon dressing over the top, and toos to combine.  Serve garnished as desired with tri-color cherry tomatoe halves, cashews, and/or fresh cilantro.

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Vegan Indian Channa Masala Chickpea Salad

Yield:  Serves 6 to 8

This favorite Indian chickpea dish just got chilled out.  Packed with layers of irresistible flavor and nutrition, it is my new summer crush.

Craving Indian food in the 95 degree recent heat wave, I wondered if I could get all of the flavor without the cooking process by stirring a prepared dry spice mix, meant to be simmered, into vegan mayo and using it as the dressing for a chickpea salad.

The answer is a resounding yes!

I chose Jaswant’s Kitchen brand from Whole Foods. It is tasty, vegan, gluten-free and, though rated only two chili peppers, it is still quite spicy.

In fact, that is how my chickpea salad came to include other ingredients and serve so many: I wanted to tame the spice.  In the end, it is perfectly balanced and all the better for the addition of spiralized veggies and raw cashews.

Note that most spice blends contain plenty of salt, so you won’t want to add any. And you will want to use raw unsalted cashews.

3/4 to1 cup vegan mayo
About 1 1/2 ounces Channa Masala seasoning or your favorite prepared Indian spice mix (be sure it is vegan; I use Jaswant’s Kitchen brand from Whole Foods, but use another flavor or brand if you prefer)
Optional: Juice of 1/2 large lime
2 cups roasted spiralized vegetables, cooled (I use a combination of butternut squash and turnip)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups raw cashew halves and pieces
6 celery hearts, finely diced
2 large green onions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped if desired
Garnishes: cherry tomatoes, shaved coconut, and/or cilantro sprigs

In a small bowl whisk together 3/4 cup mayo and seasoning mix. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients, add mayo mixture, and stir gently to combine. Incorporate remaining 1/4 cup mao if needed. Serve garnished as desired.

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Red-White-and-Blue Salad in Blue Corn Chip “Stars”
(red beans & white hominy with a blueberry garnish)

Red-White-and-Blue Salad 2Yield: 4 servings

When Joe was alive (that would be just last July 4), we weren’t much on traditonal July 4 celebrations.  Without either of our families here, the backyard family BBQ was not part of our repertoire, and we weren’t devoted “beach people,”–though I love to walk/hike on the beach–so Independence Day would not find us picnicing or out on “the boat” with patriotic fare.

But this year, Kelley, a young female attorney from Joe’s office–someone who he mentored and whose work he respected–is becoming a good friend and invited me to her family’s festivities at her father’s in-town lake house.  Wanting to contribute something to the feast, but not quite sure what since I don’t know her family’s likes and dislikes, I had to channel my late mother.  She loved theme food and theme attire for just about any holiday.

Being somewhat of a “lite and healthy” eater, I decided on a protein-rich salad of red beans and white hominy.  When I saw that, based on the photo on the bag, blue corn chip “cups” look like stars, I knew I would make little salad cups.  After I had made them, though, I felt the  “blue” component needed to be more “true blue,” as the chips are so earthy.  I had blueberries on hand, but I was a little skeptical, despite liking fruit in savory dishes.

There was no need to worry, as the berries provide a little burst of juicy freshness that compliments the lime-spiked sour cream-based dressing perfectly.  And if you want a little fireworks on your tastebuds, I think a hint of minced red jalapeno would be just the ticket.

Happy Independence Day!

Red-White-and-Blue Salad

(Best made at least 2 hours before serving.)
Red-White-and-Blue Salad 1

1-15.5 ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1-15.5 ounce can white hominy, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (or mayo)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or soy sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I use demerera)

1/2 teaspoon stone ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast and/or 1/4 teaspoon minced red jalapeno pepper (Seeds and membranes removed), or to taste

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: Fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

In a medium bowl, combine beans and hominy.  In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except blueberries, pour over beans and hominy, and toss gently to combine.  Chill for a couple of hours, if possible, to allow flavors to marry.  Serve in blue corn chip “cups” garnished with a fresh blueberry.

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Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers
(Delicious as a cracker topping or sandwich filling)

Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell PeppersYield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings

Summer is meant for grilling, right?  Yea, no.  At least not at my house.  I’ve never been an outdoor griller, but I do have a much beloved stovetop grill pan that I use year-round.

A craving for caramelized onions and peppers with a bit of protein from some plump little white beans was the inspiration for this salad.  But these ingredients needed something creamy to hold it all together.  A little while back, I had made a beet green pesto–though any flavored pesto, commercial or homemade would be delicious–and decided to fold it into “lite” vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise brand) in a 1:2 ratio for the dressing.  Yum!

The only drawback was aesthetic.  Despite the red bell pepper, the overall color of the salad was pretty brown. Not wanting to add a green vegetable, as its consistency and flavor was just right as it was, I simply chopped up a little cilantro–although other green herbs would work nicely as well–and sprinkled it over the top.

This salad is filling enough to eat on its own, perhaps atop a bed of greens, but I like it on cracker bread for crispy-crunch.  The salad also cries out to be tucked into a wrap or stuffed in a pita pocket.

Regardless, you’ll be crying for more.

Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers

1 can cannelini beans (white beans), rinsed and drained

1 onion, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and cut into pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and diced

2 tablespoons vegan pesto, any flavor (I used a homemade beet green pesto)

Approximately 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/4 teasoon garlic powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: finely chopped cilantro, chives, parsley, or other fresh green herb

In a medium bowl, gently combine beans, onion, and red bell pepper.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.  Spoon over vegetables.  Fold together until completely combined, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over greens, on crackers or toast, or in a pita or wrap.

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