Countdown to Thanksgiving 2014–The Main Dish!: Vegan Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

This creamy fall casserole is special enough for a Thanksgiving feast but easy enough for a weeknight meal.  The sweet potato chip topping is an updated nod to the vintage “church cookbook” casserole genre.

Though it is a balanced one-dish wonder–full of delicious, colorful and nutritious vegetables and tempeh–I will share a sweet potato side to round out this year’s three course Thanksgiving repast.  Be sure not to miss dessert which I served up first: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Espresso Spice Ganache!


1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

4 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and then finely diced

Sea salt

8 ounces tempeh, cubed

10 ounces fresh chopped kale

1 cup roasted, cooked fresh pumpkin

1 cup sliced, sauteed mushrooms

1 cup (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1-4 ounce jar pimentos, drained

1 tablespoon salt-free multi-purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces sweet potato chips (*I use Terra brand Beets and Sweets), crushed (I roll a sturdy glass across them right in the bag)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a large casserole dish.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion, celery, and a pinch of salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until beginning to soften.  Add tempeh and saute about 3 minutes more.  Add kale and cook, lowering heat if necessary and stirring fairly frequently, until tempeh is softened and partially wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes more.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add pumpkin and mushrooms, and toss gently to combine.  In a small bowl, fold together sour cream, mayonnaise, flour, pimentos, multi-purpose seasoning, sage, and pepper. Spoon over vegetables and tempeh mixture, gently fold together until well-combined, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly mound into into casserole dish. Sprinkle evenly with crushed sweet potato chips, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, covering if edges begin to brown too quickly.  Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

 *Note: the first time I made this dish, I only had a half a bag of chips, so I combined 3 ounces chips with the same amount of panko bread crumbs, sprinkled the mixture over the casserole, and sprayed lightly with non-stick spray before baking.  It is delicious with either topping.

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Vegan Tempeh Salad with Grapes and Smoked Almonds

Tempeh-Salad-as-Soft-TacoThis salad from The Blooming Platter Cookbook is a personal favorite and drew raves at a recent cooking demonstration I was invited to give for a group of women fairly new to veganism  who wanted to know more about cooking with some of the vegan proteins, like tempeh and seitan.  I knew you will love it too!

Grapes add color, moisture, and natural sweetness to this hearty salad, while nuts add depth of flavor, crunch, and nutrition. In addition to being terrific in a whole grain sandwich, the filling is also great with crackers, celery sticks, or in a lettuce wrap. Some people prefer to steam their tempeh before using in recipes to mellow the flavor – this recipe allows for that option.

And as you can see in the top photo, this salad also makes a delectable soft taco or, at bottom, a scoop of deliciousness on a bed of super-greens.
Yield: 4 servings
16 ounces tempeh
Sea salt
1 cup green seedless grapes, quartered
1/2 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced dill
6 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices whole grain bread

1. Preheat the broiler. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes, if desired. Season both sides of the tempeh with salt and broil 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes, almonds, celery, dill, mayo, maple syrup, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the tempeh and add it to the bowl and combine gently with a fork to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings,
if needed.
3. To serve, divide the mixture onto four slices of the bread, top each with another slice of bread, cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Variation:  Make the recipe above with these substitutions: red grapes for green grapes; toasted walnuts for smoked almonds; orange bell pepper for celery; tarragon for dill.




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Tempting Vegan Tempeh and Kale Taco & Quesadillas Filling

DSCN2075Yield:  2 healthy servings (easily doubles)

Sundays always have me thinking about school lunches for the work week ahead.  Wait.  Who am I kidding?  Sundays are hardly the only day I am thinking about nutritious and delicious school lunches that will fuel me throughout some long (but gratifying) days at the high school where I teach art, but not over-fill me.  Our new breathless schedule this year leaves no time for being sluggish!

Last year, we had alot (alot!) more planning time, so I was able to walk down to the cafeteria and purchase lunch on a daily basis: hummus, raw vegetables, cooked greens and baked sweet potatoes being some of my favorites.  But this year, due to district cost saving measures (larger and more classes taught by fewer teachers = less dollars), I had to figure out a different system because I literally don’t have time.  (The common refrain from teachers is that we never see each other anymore.)  So far, I have been packing my little “bento box” storage containers with a half a bagel spread with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for my morning snack, some kind of vitamin-packed leftover for mid-day–sometimes two kinds–and an apple, and it is working out just fine.  Oh, and I start my day (at  5:30a.m.) with a glass of diet cranberry juice at home and a glass of unsweetened soymilk in a travel cup.  I also keep a carton in the fridge at school.

One week’s leftoves included this Tempeh and Kale Filling which was “tempting” hot in a taco and a quesadilla.  But I can also attest to it being quite scrumptious cold right out of the carton!  So I hope you might find uses for it in your busy week!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small or half of a large onion, diced

1 package tempeh (any flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Chipotle for a spicier flavor; Ancho for a milder one)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt and pepper to taste

8 ounces kale, rinsed *thick stems removed, and torn into bite size pieces (I add it to the skillet slightly damp to provide more moisture to the mixture)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon light miso

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

4 ounces Roma tomatoes, diced

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Crumble tempeh into the skillet, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, and pepper, and saute, stirring almost continually, until tempeh is nicely browned in places.  Add kale and garlic and saute, stirring, until kale is slightly wilted, but still bright green.  In a small cup or bowl, whisk together light miso, Liquid Aminos, nutritional yeast, and vegan sour cream, and stir into tempeh mixture until completely incorporated.  Stir in tomato, remove from heat and use immediately as a filling in warm, soft taco shells or in a pan-griddled quesadilla.  Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.


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Vegan Tarragon-Tempeh Salad with Pecans–My Back-to-School Lunch Solution

As a teacher, figuring out what to do for a healthy, quick, and satisfying, but not heavy, lunch is always a bit of an issue.  Believe it or not, I often get a little something in our school cafeteria because I can almost always count on some kind of dark leafy greens, not to mention a hot meal that doesn’t involve a microwave.  And the cafeteria workers are so solicitous of my vegan diet.

I created this salad a week ago on Labor Day, as school started the day after, thinking that I would start the week with my own greens–I had some leftover from a restaurant spinach salad–in this really tasty and beautifully textured Tarragon-Tempeh Salad made into a sandwich.  In addition to the spinach, I happened to have a package of tempeh that needed to be used, some leftover pre-diced onion and orange bell pepper from some nachos, and chopped pecans leftover from some mini apple bundt cakes. 

I enjoyed it all week, never tiring of it on Nature’s Own whole grain 100 calorie sandwich bread with some fresh Romaine hearts.  For the photo, I piled a bit of it on a Wasa cracker.  Served that way, it still delicious and a little fancier.  You could serve it to comapany as an appetizer without them ever knowing it’s a lunch box standard!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-8 ounce package tempeh, any flavor (mine was a flax variety from Trader Joe’s)

sea salt

1/2 of a medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 of an orange pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh baby spinach

2 stalks of celery, finely diced

5-6 tablespoons of vegan mayo

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted if desired

freshly ground black pepper

In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Crumble tempeh into the skillet, add a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.  Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, onion, and bell pepper and continue sauteeing and stirring for another 3 minutes.   Adjust seasoning with salt.  Remove mixture to a shallow bowl to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients, except pepper, in a medium bowl (I mix it right in a lidded storage container).  Stir in tempeh mixture just until well combined, and season to taste with more salt and pepper.  Store covered in the refrigerator.  To make into a sandwich that won’t be eaten for a few hours, consider transporting the filling and bread separately, and make the sandwich just before enjoying.  Or if you prefer to go ahead and make it, spread a tiny bit of additional vegan mayo on one side of both slices of bread–or inside a pita pocket–before filling, as the mayo will create a barrier that will help prevent the bread from getting soggy.   This salad is also delicious stuffed into a fresh tomato or eaten with celery sticks and/or crackers or toasts.

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Vegan Green Chilies Casserole

Yield: 4-6 servings

What is the largest section of the local church cookbook?  Probably casseroles, the ultimate comfort food, at least for those of a certain persuasion.

When I was a kid, my mom, Sallie Gough, made one that I have not seen anywhere before or since:  Green Chilies Casserole.  It was a fairly creamy and nicely spiced amalgamation of ground beef, onion, sauteed tortillas, diced green tomatoes, and green chilies all held together with, yep, condensed cream-of-something soup.  And surely there was some melted cheese in the mix too.

While I don’t cook or eat like that any longer,  I do have fond memories of that casserole, including making it.  It was super-satisfying to eat, fun to assemble, and created an intoxicating aroma in the kitchen.  So, when I was at the farmer’s market a couple of days ago, the green tomatoes were firm and beautiful.  I instantly thought of mom’s signature casserole and the tempeh at home in my fridge that would substitute nicely for the ground beef.  To stand in for the canned soup and cheese, I decided to make a simple creamy vegan cheese sauce.   And I substituted green salsa with green chilies for the can of green chilies for extra moisture and flavor without an overwhelming green chili taste.

It’s been a lot of years since I last had this casserole, but to the best of my recollection, my vegan version comes close and is a LOT lighter yet it still has that creamy-comfort factor.  I hope it beomes a staple at your house.

Cheese Sauce:

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew halves or pieces

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup total unsweetened soymilk and beer or nonalcoholic beer (I like about 5-6 tablespoons of soymilk and 2-3 tablespoons beer)

pinch garlic powder

pinch onion powder

pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.


2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, divided

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

sea salt to taste

1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1-8 ounce package tempeh (any flavor)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup green salsa (salsa verde), homemade or prepared (these salsas typically contain tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro)

1 large green tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

Freshly ground black pepper

about 7 small dollops vegan sour cream

Garnish: sprigs of fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a small round baking dish and set aside.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil to shimmering.  Add tortilla pieces and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently until they soften and start to develop some color, approximately 3 minutes.  Transfer tortillas to a small bowl and set aside.  Add remaining oil to the skillet, heat, and saute onion until softened, approximately 3 minutes.   Crumble tempeh into the pan, add garlic and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, until tempeh is heated through and just begins to develop some color, again about 3 minutes.  As the mixture starts to dry out, add 1/4 cup of the green salsa and stir well.  Add green tomato, cumin, and smoked paprika, and saute, still stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup green salsa during the cooking process.  Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and tortilla pieces, and season to taste with salt and pepper.   Then stir in half of the cheese sauce and spoon into prepared casserole dish.  Drizzle remaining cheese sauce over the surface of the casserole dish and dollop with sour cream (I place 6 dollops in a circle and one in the center).  Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through and top appears creamy, but slightly set.  Serve hot garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs and a dusting of smoked paprika.

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Vegan Spicy Spiked Skillet Chili

Yield: 4-6 servings

If you live in a part of the world where temperatures have dipped–or never rose to begin with–this ultra-simple, ultra-satisfying chili will warm you from the inside out.  However, if you live in warmer climes, a bowl of this spicy soup  just might get a little perspiration going and cool you down–nature’s own air conditioning.

The most difficult part of making this dish is waiting while the chili simmers for 25 minutes  to allow the flavors to marry.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, but into 1/4-inch dice

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

8 ounces tempeh

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon smoked, sweet or spicy paprika

1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1-15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice

12 ounces light beer or non-alcoholic beer (see note below)

1 tablespoon miso paste (any kind)

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or agave nectar

(Note: you may substitute 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for the miso paste and the brown rice syrup.)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup frozen corn

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Optional garnishes: dollops of my Vegan Cheddar “Cheese,” dollops of vegan sour cream, and cilantro sprigs

Optional accompaniment: Frito Scoops for “Frito Chili Pie”

Heat oil to shimmering in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Crumble tempeh into the pa, add all spices and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or just until tempeh starts to brown.  Add all remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until all flavors have married.  Serve hot garnished as desired.

Note:  According to Ali Tadayon in “Beware the Beer: Is Yours Vegan,” found in the Vegan Mainstream e-newsletter, not all beer is vegan, as it may include albium (derived from animal blood), isinglass (derived from the swim bladders of fish), gelatin, charcoal, pepsin, lactose, and even insects.  She recommends the following vegan-approved beers: Amstel, Corona, Heineken, New Belgium Brewery, Pabst Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Tecate over these non-vegan ones:  Castle Rock Brewery, Guinness, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Red Stripe.

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Vegan Creamy Spiked Spinach, Mushroom and Tempeh Marinara

Yield: 4-6 servings

I can’t think of a time when we’ve visited my husband’s family in Philadelphia that his mother or big sister, Tina, didn’t make Creamed Chipped Beef for breakfast on the Sunday morning of our departure (fondly  known by some as S*** on a Shingle).  I’ve never partaken of it, of course, usually choosing something like a bagel, soymilk and juice instead.

But a couple of weekends ago, I decided to create a vitamin- and protein-packed dish of a similar texture–if not flavor–to enjoy over the communal toast or hashed brown potatoes.  Joe’s family is incredibly solicitous when it comes to my diet, so there was tempeh aplenty, courtesy of Joe’s little sister, Terri Ann, and homemade marinara sauce or “gravy” with no meat or cheese, courtesy of Tina.  Since both had gone to some trouble, I wanted to be sure that their efforts weren’t wasted.

The recipe that follows is what resulted and it is delicious for a hardy brunch or dinner.  I like it served over grilled ciabatta or something similar, though you could certainly serve it over pasta or polenta.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 large cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces tempeh, any flavor

2 tablespoons steak or grill seasoning (I used steak seasoning with a lot of cardamom seeds and ground it in my spice grinder)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried oregano

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

12 ounces lite beer or non-alcoholic beer (see note below)

1 cup homemade or prepared marinara sauce

1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon brown rice syrup or agave nectar

8 cups lightly packed baby spinach (no need to stem or chop)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy creamer

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Heat oil to shimmering in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and saute, stirring, for one minute.  Season with salt and pepper, and add garlic and continue to saute, stirring, for 2 more minutes.   Crumble tempeh into the pan and sprinkle with steak or grill seasoning, basil, marjoram, and oregano.  Continue sauteeing for about 5 minutes or until tempeh just barely starts to brown.  Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, until they release their moisture and it begins to evaporate, about 3 minutes.  Add the beer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.  Add the marinara sauce, Liquid Aminos, and brown rice syrup, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 more minutes.  Stir in spinach just until uniformly wilted, but still bright green.  Stir in 1/4 cup soy creamer and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.  Whisk together flour and remaining 2 tablespoons of soy creamer to make a paste, and stir into the tempeh mixture.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, just to make sure that the flour no longer tastes raw.  Serve hot over grilled ciabatta, pasta or polenta.

Note:  According to Ali Tadayon in “Beware the Beer: Is Yours Vegan,” found in the Vegan Mainstream e-newsletter, not all beer is vegan, as it may include albium (derived from animal blood), isinglass (derived from the swim bladders of fish), gelatin, charcoal, pepsin, lactose, and even insects.  She recommends the following vegan-approved beers: Amstel, Corona, Heineken, New Belgium Brewery, Pabst Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Tecate over these non-vegan ones:  Castle Rock Brewery, Guinness, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Red Stripe.

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Vegan Fresh Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Tempeh "Bacon" and Cashews in a Light Vegan Asian Dressing

I love those vegetable side dish recipes that, with the addition of a tasty protein, become a full meal, though, in this case, a very light summery one.

Essentially I added cooked tempeh “bacon” pieces and lightly salted and roasted cashews to my Vegan Fresh Green Bean and Peach Salad with Light Vegan Asian Dressing.

I’m a little embarrassed, but I ate an entire half recipe for lunch. The slightly chewy green beans and smokey tempeh bacon, the sweet juicy peaches, and the crunchy cashews made for quite a texture and taste sensation. And the tempeh wasn’t entirely cool when I added it to the salad, so I found the temperature contrast very appealing.





For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Tempeh in Creamy Dijon-Mushroom Sauce

Yield: 4 servings (or 8 with a hearty side and/or salad)

This is from my “higher protein” series of recipes, great for weeknights, but special enough for company. The sauce is creamy, tangy, delicious and satisfying–a perfect foil for the crisp-coated tempeh–but it doesn’t contain greens, so be sure to serve a side or salad of something dark and leafy.

1/3 cup all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat for a nuttier coating)
pinch coarse sea or kosher salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-8 ounce packages tempeh, each “slab,” cut into 4 equal pieces (I used the kind with wild rice because rice and mushrooms are so good together, but use whatever protein–including seitan or tofu–that you like
1 + 1 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup white wine or sherry
3/4 cup plain soy creamer
Garnish: paprika and parsley, minced or left as sprigs

Preheat oven to warm. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a shallow bowl and dredge tempeh in the mixture. Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon vegan butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to shimmering. Saute tempeh for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Remove to a serving platter or individual plates and keep warm in the oven. Add remaining tablespoon of vegan butter and olive oil in skillet and, again, heat until shimmering. Add shallot and mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes or until both begin to soften, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned flour from the bottom. Add mustard and whisk in until smooth. Do the same with the wine, followed by the creamer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until sauce is reduced by about half. Turn off heat and ladle sauce over tempeh. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and a little parsley. Serve immediately.

Source: Unknown (this is an old chicken recipe in my files from many many years ago before I was vegetarian that I have since veganized)

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