Vegan Ricecake Stack with Hummus, Pesto, Baby Greens, Fresh Figs, and Smoked Almonds

Ricecake with Hummus, Pesto, Baby Kale Salad and Fresh Figs

Yield: 4 servings

As many of you know, since July 30, I have not been cooking or eating much, though the urge is slowly coming back.

In terms of cooking, a bounty of vegan food gifts over the last two weeks made any food preparation I might do redundant.

And, in terms of eating, though I may not want much, when I do eat, I want my small meal to be beautiful, delicious, nutritious, and relatively quick and easy.  So, this simple stack gets a check in all of those boxes.

Granted, we all know, that ricecakes can be topped with darn near anything, but this is an especially good combination.  Very seasonal and satisfying.

4 ricecakes

1/2 cup hummus, homemade or prepared

1/4 cup vegan pesto, homemade or prepared

8 figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise

1/4 cup lightly dressed baby kale or spinach (I use a simple homemade vinaigrette)

4 smoked almonds

Sea salt

Spread each ricecake with 2 tablespoons hummus.  Top each with 1 tablespoon pesto and spread, leaving a border.  Divide greens among the ricecakes, and top eachwith 4 fig halves, 1 smoked almond, and a few grains of sea salt.  Serve immediately.

 

 

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Vegan “Tuna” Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Apple, Capers, and Dill

Nutty TunaYield: approximately 4 cups “tuna” salad

On Mother’s Day, my phenomenal weekend yoga instructor, Angela Philips, mentioned after our morning class that she had prepared her “Nutty Tuna,” made with sunflower seeeds, for her Mother’s Day brunch.  She had given me that recipe years ago and at the mere mention, I began craving it.

So I made a batch on Monday, but it wasn’t quite right.  I hadn’t consulted the recipe, choosing to make it from memory instead, and, among other things, I went overboard on my substitution of Nori powder for dulce flakes and used an inferior mayo I had on hand that had been given to me.  Honestly, it was kind of a dud.  I ate a fair amount of it during the week so as not to be wasteful, but it was off the mark, and I discarded the remainder today with little remorse.

But, this past Saturday, I purchased the ingredients I needed, tried it again yesterday afternoon, and I am happy to report that it is delicious.  This time, I consulted the recipe just to see if I needed to adhere more closely and decided that I didn’t because, for example, I didn’t want to include the parsley it called for and I knew I wanted mayonnaise to adhere all of the ingredients together, while the original recipe relies only on the moistness of the celery, onion, parsley, soaked sunflower seeds and a tiny bit of lemon juice.

From the original recipe, I did decide to use the capers called for instead of the pickle relish I had added last week.   When I was a pre-vegan kid, we always added pickle relish to our tuna salad, but it didn’t work so well with this vegan version.  And I added fresh dill, which Angela has started doing too.  Though I associate dill more with “chicken” salad, it is widely known to be compatible with seafood, and it is really nice in this recipe.  In addition, I included some dried apple, as we often chopped up fresh apple in our childhood tuna salad.  Since it is not apple season here and I had some moist and plump dried ones in the pantry, I opted for them and am so glad I did, as they lend just a hint of sweetness.

In the end, this recipe is a little down-home with all the mayo and a little upscale with the addition of capers.  As such, I think it is the best of both worlds and hope you agree.

Be sure to begin soaking sunflower seeds the day before you plan to serve the salad.

 

14 ounces roasted sunflower seeds (salted or not, but the salt will be drained away after soaking)

1 Nori sheet torn in pieces (or 1 teaspoon Nori powder or dulce flakes)

2 cups warm water

4 celery hearts, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons drained fresh capers

1 cup lightly packed fresh dill fronds, stemmed and broken in half

Optional but very good: 1/3 cup dried apple pieces (be sure they are moist and plump)

1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

8 to 10 tablespoons Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise (my favorite brand for this, but use the mayo of your choice)

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Place sunflower seeds and Nori sheet pieces in medium bowl and cover with warm water.  Cover and let stand 8 hours or over night.  Drain, pressing gently, to remove as much water as possible.  Place celery, green onions, capers, fresh dill, optional dried apple, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in bowl of food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Add drained and pressed sunflower seeds and continue pulsing until sunflower seeds are also finely minced.  Add mayonnaise, submerge into mixture with a spatula, and pulse until well combined.  I prefer almost a spread consistency, but still with lots of texture.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional teaspoon of lemon juice, if desired.  Pulse just to distribute.  Serve immediately or chilled on a sandwich, toasted bagel, stuffed in a tomato, or on crackers.  Note: if you desire a more pronounced flavor of the sea and a darker color, use Nori powder or dulce flakes and add them to the mixture in the food processor rather than to the soaking water.

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Vegan St. Patrick’s Day: A Roasted Asparagus Sammie and a Grasshopper Pie!

It finally feels like spring though, don’t get me wrong, I adore winter with its bare bones and harsh beauty, but it is nice to step outsdie without my body tensing up.  Actually, it does in a kind of conditioned response, but then relaxes again immediately.

So, with spring veg like asparagus on my mind and St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d re-post a Vegan Puff Pastry Sandwich Filled with Roasted Asparagus, Green Pea Hummus and Vegan Orange-Chipotle Mayonnaise that I created one year especially for the occasion, and a delish mint-chocolate Vegan Grasshopper Pie, kindly posted by Tofutti, that I created another year, also for this greenest of holidays.

Yes, with its layers, the sammie is a little more effort than the typical BUT it is worth it.  And you can whip up the humms and mayo in a flash while the asparagus roasts and the puff pastry bakes.

Get your leprechaun on!

 

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Vegan Waldorf Panini

Waldorf PaniniA favorite cold, creamy, and crunchy salad from childhood made into a warm, toasted, grown-up sandwich, popular with all ages.  
Why?  Yesterday was National Sandwich Day and Tofutti Brands requested a new sandwich recipe made with one of their tasty ingredients.  You can see my guest post HERE.  Note that I use the Tofutti products made without transfat; be sure to read the labels.
Waldorf Panini
Yield: 1 sandwich
3 tablespoons Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (toast for even more flavor)
1 celery heart, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and finely chopped
1 date, finely chopped
Pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch no salt all-purpose seasoning
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons minced fennel fronds
1/4 apple, cored and sliced very thin
1 bagel or sandwich roll, halved, or 2 slices whole grain bread
Preheat panini grill.  In a small bowl, using a fork, combine all ingredients except apple and bread.  Spread on bottom slice of bagel, roll or bread.  Stack evenly with apple slices and top with remaining slice of bagel, roll, or bread.  Grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.  Halve and serve immediately.  Note:  if you have no panini maker, just prepare as a grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet using  a little vegan butter or oil in the pan.
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Vegan “Go Bean” Burgers with Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping–A Tofutti Exclusive

Green-Go Bean Burger 3Yield: 4 burgers

I love developing recipes, like these “Go Bean” green-themed burgers, exclusively for Tofutti Brands, Inc! 

These simple, delicious and nutritious Mexican-spiced patties hold together beautifully and their pleasantly chewy texture is the perfect counterpoint to their spicy-tart Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping made with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese.

Lima beans may sound odd for a bean burger–though you can use whatever bean you prefer–but I had some fresh ones on hand from our farmer’s market; and they are, in fact, what spawned the whole “green” approach: butter lettuce instead of a bun, a thick slice of green tomato, the Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping with lime zest, and a garnish of fresh lime.

And about that topping:  it’s delicious on these burgers, but it would be fabulous on an old shoe…it’s that good!  Your beef burger-eating friends will be green with envy!

Note that Tofutti makes two types of Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream, one with transfat and one without, each in its own color carton.  So read the nutrition information to make sure you purchase the one you prefer. 

1 3/4 cup fresh cooked lima beans (or 1-15.5 ounce can of your favorite bean, rinsed and drained)

1/3 cup walnuts (or your favorite nut)

1/3 cup uncooked oatmeal

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or soy sauce

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

Optional: 1 tablespoon water

4 toasted hamburger buns or 4 butter lettuce leaves

4 slices green tomato

Green Chili-“Cream Cheese” Topping (recipe follows)

Optional Garnish: lime zest and/or thin slices of lime

 

Place all ingredients, except tomato, topping, and bun–using only 1 of the tablespoons olive oil and optional water–in a food processor and pulse until mixture is well combined.  Then run motor for a few seconds until mixture holds together; avoid over processing.  Shape mixture into 4 patties about 3/4-inch thick.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high in a large cast iron skillet.  Add patties and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, adding another tablespoon of oil and swirling around pan if needed halfway through.  Flip, add remaining tablespoon of oil, swirl, and cook another 5 minutes to brown remaining side.  Place each patty on a bun or lettuce leaf, top with a slice of tomato and 1/4 of the sauce, and serve immediately.  Garnish, if desired, with lime zest and/or thin slices of lime.

 

Green Chili-“Cream Cheese” Topping

8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

1 can chopped green chilies, drained

Zest of 1 small lime

In a small bowl, heat cream cheese for about a minute in the microwave or until very soft and stir-able.  Add green chilies, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

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Veganized!: Diane’s Dad’s Sandwich, a Winner in NPR’s “Taste of Summer” Contest (in Honor of August, National Sandwich Month)

Diane's Dad's Sandwich--stackedYield: 1 sandwich (easily mulitplies)

Visits to my family’s home in MS always involve food adventures.  Last week, one of them came in the form of a mere description of a sandwich by my good friend since childhood, Margaret Deavours, who had heard about it on, of all places, NPR.  This sandwich  has become her go-to and I now see why!

Called *Diane’s Dad’s Sandwich, it consists, in part, of summer garden favorites: thinly sliced vidalia or red onion, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  These fresh ingredients are “sandwiched” between a top layer of (vegan) cheese ( white cheddar is used in the original recipe) and, believe it or not, a bottom layer of crunchy peanut butter.  Stacked high between 2 slices of whole grain bread–untoasted for ease of eating–this sandwich is a winner in more ways than one!!  *Be sure to read all about the sandwich by following the link.  Recipes entered into the contest had to be accompanied by a story; it is NPR after all!

Margaret made the sandwich sound so intriguing that I created a special Vegan Sharp Cheddar Cheese just so I could partake because, apparently, the magic of this sandwich is attributed not only to it’s fresh and unusual combination of ingredients–unusual, at least, for a sandwich–but the precise order in which each and every one of them hits one’s palate.  That being the case, be sure not to flip the sandwich as you lift it from plate to face!

Margaret’s only addition is, to me, essential because I tried it with and without:  fresh basil or cilantro in keeping with the Thai flavor profile (not pictured below, as I added it later and LOVED it).   To stay even more true to that profile, I chose Thai basil with it’s hint of anise, and will never make it any other way–wowza!   Because fresh herbs are an add-on, I wasn’t sure where to place them in the all-important stacking order, but I chose the middle, between the cucumber and tomato.    Other than swapping out the cheese for my delicious vegan version and adding a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, the only other change I made to the directions was to soak the red onion in unsweetened soymilk for a few hours to temper some of that peppery bite and strong aroma.

Don’t be put off by the peanut butter!  Besides the synergistic effect of all the ingredients, it is probably the peanut butter that makes this simple sandwich so extra-special!

2 slices whole grain bread, untoasted

1-2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

1 thin slice of vidalia or red onion (to rtemper strong flavor and aroma, soak in soymilk for a few hours, covered in refrigerator)

4 thin slices cucumber

Several fresh Thai basil leaves (you may substitute Italian basil or cilantro)

2 thin slices tomato

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons Vegan Sharp Cheddar Spread (recipe follows)

Spread 1 piece of bread with peanut butter and then layer on ingredients in the order given.  A note to you sandwich flippers: be sure to eat the sandwich with the peanut butter on the bottom!

 

Vegan Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread

2 cups raw cashews, covered in 2 cups water and soaked overnight

1/2 cup white miso (which is actually golden; this amount is needed for that “sharpness” unique to cheddar)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon turmeric (for color; I decided to go for a yellow cheddar for more color)

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/3 cup dry champagne, prosecco, white wine or beer (a non-alcoholic wine or beer may be substituted)

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process several minutes or until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Diane's Dad's Sandwich--open

 

 

 

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Simple Vegan Smoked “Ham” Salad (a childhood favorite veganized for Easter)

Ham Salad in Celery 2Yield: approximately 3 to 4 cups

This super-easy salad was a pre-vegan childhood favorite.  I remember consuming way too much of it when I was home sick from school one day.  The mere thought of it brings back feelings of nurturing and nostalgia…even more so now that I’ve replaced the ham with extra-firm tofu and finely chopped smoked almonds.  To recreate the total flavor profile that I longed for, I added a few additional spices like fennel, sage, thyme, etc., and then stirred in the requisite vegan mayo, pickle relish and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

This recipe goes together in a flash, so when the craving strikes, satisfaction is only minutes away!  Enjoy for breakfast on a toasted bagel half, in a sandwich or wrap for a brown bag or even company-ready lunch, or spread on crackers or raw veggie slices as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup for a light–and lightening fast–supper.

14 ounces extra-firm tofu (not Silken), lightly pressed and blotted with paper towels

1 cup smoked almonds, finely chopped (I use a food processor)

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (lightly crush with a mortar and pestle if desired, but not necessary)

1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional, but I think it is nice)

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

5 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/2 of a large vegetable bouillon cube

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I am quite generous with it in this recipe)

Crumble tofu into a medium bowl.  Add almonds, fennel, sage, nutritional yeast, thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder, and toss with fingers to combine well.  Mash bouillon cube with fingers and whisk into mayo.  Add mayo to tofu-almond mixture along with remaining ingredients.  Stir together gently until completely combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.  Delicious stuffed in celery sticks, mounded onto cucumber slices, or crackers, piled onto a sandwich, rolled in wrap, or heaped on a toasted bagel.

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Vegan Thai Sloppy Joes on Toasted Rice Cakes

Thai Sloppy Joes 1Yield: 4 servings

Like our dreams, sometimes the origins of cravings can be traced right to their source, and other times, they seem to have emerged out of nowhere.  The latter is the case with these Vegan Thai Sloppy Joes.

I know not from whence the idea came, but I had to struggle during my Saturday morning yoga class to suppress visions of pungent red curry paste, creamy coconut milk, and crumbly-chewy tempeh so that I could follow my teacher’s directive to “focus on your breath.”

I whipped into the grocery store on the way home for lite coconut milk and nuts, but everything else was at the ready in our pantry and fridge, following last week’s trip to the farm stand and Trader Joe’s, speaking of Joes.

Sloppy Joes would not be considered a balanced meal by anyone’s standards, even when built around tempeh. And I wanted this to be a one dish wonder.  So a quick mental review of veggies found in Thai dishes resulted in the addition of finely chopped carrot and farm stand-fresh kale (in place of the more typical spinach).  The color, taste and texture that these ingredients added, not to mention the moisture, was exactly right.

You can certainly serve this addicting mixture on toasted buns, but trying to keep the finished dish more true to it’s Asian inspiration, I like it best served over lightly toasted rice cakes.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped carrot (I use a food processor for this task)

Sea salt

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 cups, stemmed, and finely chopped kale, Swiss chard or spinach (I use a food processor for this too)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

8 ounces tempeh (any variety, unseasoned)

1 tablespoon red curry paste, or more to taste (available on the international foods aisle of most grocery stores and at Asian markets)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (you can substitute catchup in a pinch)

1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use lite or low sodium)

1/2 teaspoon natural sugar

1 can light coconut milk (you can use regular if you don’t mind the calories, as it does have more intense flavor)

1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as Vegetarian Fish Sauce in Asian markets; you can omit, but it adds a distinctive Thai flavor)

Zest of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Accompaniment: plain unsalted or lightly salted rice cakes (use small rice cakes if serving this dish as an appetizer), toasted quickly on each side in a skillet lightly coated with nonstick spray

Garnishes: lime wedges, lightly salted peanuts or cashews, fresh cilantro sprigs

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add carrot and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.  Add the onion, another pinch of salt, and saute another 2 minutes.  Then add the kale and the garlic, another pinch of salt and the water, and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the tempeh and saute 2 minutes more.  Add curry paste, tomato paste, soy sauce, sugar, coconut milk and fish sauce, and saute, still stirring frequently, for a final 10 minutes or until mixture thickens, slightly reduces, and all flavors combine.  Stir in lime zest and chopped cilantro, and serve immediately over toasted rice cakes garnished as desired.

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Vegan Pimento Cheese Spread–From School Lunch to Weekend Brunch

DSCN1953The theme of school lunches continues with my nifty Vegan Pimento Cheese Spread that packs up beautifully as a sandwich or celery stick filling.  I love it on a toasted everything bagel, including for a weekend brunch–half is plenty!–but it is so tasty, that I’ve been known to enjoy it right off the spoon!

1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup raw cashews

3 to 4 ounces extra firm tofu (I used 1/4 of a 14 ounce box)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon light miso

1 tablespoon beer

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

optional: 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like a neutral tasting one like Vegenaise)

4 ounce jar diced pimentos, well-drained

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse chickpeas and cashews until coarsely chopped.  Add tofu, nutritional yeast, miso, beer, soy sauce, smoked paprika, onion powder, and optional garlic powder, and continue pulsing until a coarse-creamy mixture results.  Transfer to a medium bowl, and fold in mayonnaise and pimentos until evenly distributed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  I like to chill it before serving, while also allowing flavors to marry.  Serve in a sandwich or spread on a bagel, crackers, or celery sticks.

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