Seven easy, delicious vegan recipes. You’re welcome.

burger

Black bean burger wants in your tummy

If you’re not used to vegan cuisine, it may be hard knowing where to start.

I want to share the first formative recipes that sent off bells for me and made me realize how easy and tasty vegan meals are.

I’ll set it up for you. One week of good plant-based eating, with plenty for leftovers if you’re single or paired. Each of these dishes are so satisfying and won’t leave you feeling like you just ate a big heap of salad (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

1. Chickpea tacos

This was probably my first attempt at veganizing a formerly meaty dish for me. And the flavor is ridiculous.

It was also my gateway to Happy Herbivore, a transformative site that continues to be crucial to my new plant-based lifestyle. Its daily blog posts are encouraging and educational.

If you’re unfamiliar with tamari, as I was when I first saw this recipe, it’s basically gluten-free soy sauce. If you have soy sauce on hand, that will be perfect.

Also, if you don’t want to buy a packet of prepared taco seasoning every time you make these, multiply the Budget Bytes recipe for taco mix for continued use. So worth it.

2. Smitten Kitchen’s Ratatouille

No, I’ve never gotten my ratatouille to look as beautiful as it does on this site (have fun finding those veggies with the same circumference like that). But it is so tasty.

Just ignore the goat cheese part and serve over rice, orzo, couscous or quinoa. Perhaps top with soy yogurt with cracked black pepper and paprika folded in. (Ooh, good idea, me!)

3. Black bean burgers

My dear friend Sara introduced me to black bean burgers when she made them at her Baltimore apartment. I made her give me the recipe (though it wasn’t that hard to get out of her).

Here it is, with some additions that worked out well for me.

Ingredients:
1/2 onion, diced
1 can of black beans
1/2 cup of flour
2 slices of bread, crumbled (or about 1 cup bread crumbs)
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
To your liking: dashes of paprika, cayenne, hot sauce
Oil for frying (or veggie broth for a healthier take)

Sautee onions until soft (3-5 minutes). In a large bowl, mash beans until smooth. Add onions and other stuff (except oil). Add flour a few tablespoons at a time and mix until thick. If the mixture is dry, add glugs of water, veggie broth or the beer in your hand to make sure it is moldable, but not sticky. Form bean mixture into patties (about 1/2 inch thick) and fry patties in a small amount of oil or broth until slightly firm. This recipe makes about 6 bean burgers depending on size.

I like to go for a tex mex profile and top my burger with salsa, guacamole, tomato and cilantro. For another approach, a schmear of hummus on the bun is delicious, as well.

4. ‘Cheater’ pad thai

Adapted from the Happy Herbivore. I like to make more sauce to fully coat the noodles. (Also, I’m a sauce girl. Watch me sauce my pasta.) And I love adding more elements and toppings, but you can dress it up or down to your taste or pantry.

Ingredients:
About 14 oz. rice noodles
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp Asian red chili sauce (sweet, spicy, whatever)
1/2 tsp minced garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Chopped scallions
Sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes

Toppers:
Bean sprouts
Cilantro
Lime
Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
Crushed peanuts
Tofu, raw or pan-fried

Bring water to boil, submerge rice noodles, turn off heat and let cook for about eight minutes. Whisk non-topper ingredients together with 4 tbsp warm water, toss cooked and drained noodles in sauce. Top with your shit. NOM. You can make Thai food now. Did you know that?

5. Spaghetti squash

Roast, scrape, toss. You just made spaghetti without the carbs.

I dunno about you, but I had to roast the squash first, then cut and clean it. My cutlery can not take on a raw gourd like that.

6. Stir fry

Easy easy easy, and a fridge-cleaner if you have some extra veggies you don’t want to go bad.

Saute a teaspoon each of garlic and ginger in a pan of equal parts soy sauce, rice vinegar and Asian chili sauce. Whisk that up a bit. You might add a tablespoon of brown sugar if you want some sweetness, but I like a more salty, tangy stir fry. (And sometimes I pour in more chili sauce.) Throw in your favorite veggies, stir to coat them in sauce and saute on medium-high heat until veggies are tender.

My favorite veggies: Bell pepper slices, baby bok choy, bamboo shoots (you find those in a wee can), sugar snap or snow peas and onions. Others that would be rad: Baby corn, water chestnuts, tofu, edamame, broccoli, mushrooms and carrots.

7. Balsamic Portobello mushroom burgers

I improvised this burger when I was in a culinary rut. I used to hate all mushrooms ever until I met the marinated portobello burger. Portobellos are meaty and fantastic in burgers, sandwiches and even alone as steaks, served with a veggie and a grain.

So this burger.

Ingredients:
2 portobello mushrooms
Balsamic vinegar (glugs)
1 tsp garlic, fresh or paste
1 tsp ginger, fresh or paste
Extra virgin olive oil (glugs)
Salt, pepper and paprika, to taste

Remove the mushroom stems and clean the caps using a damp paper towel. Massage some olive oil into the caps on both sides. Place them into a container and cover them with splashes of balsamic vinegar on both sides, making sure to get them into the crevices on the bottom side so the vinegar can hang out and infuse the mushrooms. Smear the garlic and ginger on those caps, too, and add dashes of pepper and paprika. Better to add salt near the end of cooking so as not to dehydrate those mushrooms. Seal the container and let those bad boys marinate for at least an hour. Sear ’em up for five minutes each side on a grill pan or fry pan in a thin layer of olive oil or veggie broth. Top with whatever you want, but I like roasted red pepper, arugula and a layer of hummus.

You could probably try a more Asian version with soy instead of balsamic and by turning up the ginger volume, but that is untested in my kitchen. If you try that out, let me know how it goes.

There you have it. Even if you’re not plant-based, these are great, simple, light dishes that will fill you up and make you feel good. Boom.

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