Recipes



Classic Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce


This is the classic hippie-perfected tried and true "crust dust" cheese sauce. Perfect for macaroni and cheese, nachos, in Mexican-inspired casseroles and enchiladas, etc etc... I add more cayenne and paprika and sometimes I throw in powdered Hatch green chiles if I am using it for nachos or enchiladas. 

Ingredients: 

*3/4 cup unsweetened "milk" (I use almond most often, but soy or whatever works as well, just NO vanilla or other flavored ones and make sure it is unsweetened). You can substitute water or vegetable stock here if you want, it will come out fine, just tasting a little less creamy.

*6 tablespoon nutritional yeast, I always add more later as it thickens or to make it thicken. 

*2 tablespoons Earth Balance. You can use oil or a different vegan margarine, but EB is the best in my opinion.

*1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, or for a gluten-free version, it works OK with chickpea flour. 

*one small teaspoon dijon mustard (too much overpowers the flavor) 

*as much turmeric as you think necessary, I like a lot because it is delicious, has some potential health benefits, and it turns the sauce a beautiful warm golden yellow

*black pepper, onion powder, garlic granules and braggs or soy sauce to taste (again, I use lots of black pepper and garlic, Braggs or soy sauce until it is salty "enough", and I often omit the onion powder)

Procedure: 

1. In a sauce pan, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.

2. Whisk the flour into the melting "butter" to make a roux. 

3. Add the "milk", water or stock, whichever you are using and whisk boisterously until all clumps are gone.

3. Add nutritional yeast to pan when the roux and liquid start to really thicken up and whisk well. Reduce heat to low-medium.

4. Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens up, for about 5 minutes. If it’s still too thin you can add more flour to achieve the thickness you desire. If it's too thick, slowly add more of the liquid you used (water, stock or "milk"). To reheat on the stove-top add a splash of milk and whisk well. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5-7 days.


Cashew Cheese


This cheese alternative has become all the rage and for good reason. I have personally replaced the tofu "ricotta" recipe I used for years on pizza, lasagna and stuffed manicotti shells with this cheese and it is amazing. You can use this cheese on just about anything that calls for a wet kind of cheese texture and it's flavor is unbeatable.

Ingredients:

*1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 1 hour or more, overnight is great if you can plan it)
(optional money saver since raw cashews are expensive and this WILL NOT WORK WITH ROASTED CASHEWS, try doing 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup cashews when you do the soak)

*1/4 cup water

*1/4 cup nutritional yeast

*2 tablespoon lemon juice

*2 cloves garlic (or more if you are like me and you love spicy raw garlic!!)

*2 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

*1 teaspoon dijon mustard

*sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional Add-ins for various differing flavors, use any or all of these:

*1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

*1/3 cup green and kalamata olives, chopped

*1/2 cup capers and a little of their brine in place of some of the liquid from the recipe

*handful of fresh basil

*1/2 chipotle or hatch chiles

Procedure:

Just throw all of this in a Vitamix, food processor or high speed blender and blend until thick and creamy, it should be the consistency of cream cheese. This will further harden after it's been chilled and for super nerds, you can experiment with aging cheeses by using a rejuvelac instead of the water but I haven't done this yet.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.


Tofu "Ricotta" (aka Notta-Ricotta)


If you've eaten at Lane Splitters in Oakland or many a pizza place before the big Daiya take-over and the failure of the first era of Vegan-Rella from Follow Your Heart, you know this recipe. It is classic and even though I usually use the cashew recipe now, I made and ate this on pizza, lasagna and stuffed pasta shells for YEARS!!! This recipe is basically from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's "Vegan With A Vengeance"/Post-Punk Kitchen.

Ingredients:

*1 package 14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled

*1/4 cup fresh basil or pesto

*2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or more haha)

*1 tablespoon olive oil

*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*2 cloves of raw garlic (or roasted for a different flavor)

*feel free to experiment and add some oregano or Italian herbs to liven it up if you wish.

Procedure:

Either throw all of this in your Vitamix (or any high powered food processor or blender) and mash it up until it is creamy but still clumpy like ricotta cheese, or you can use a medium mixing bowl and mash the tofu with your hands or an avocado masher, until it resembles ricotta cheese and then mix in everything else.

Stores for a few days in refrigerator just fine if covered.    




Caesar Dressing


So this recipe was stumbled upon kind of by accident when I had too much of the "ricotta" from above. It is one of my favorite dressings to make when we have any kind of Italian-inspired dinner. 
Other times we make a really simple balsamic vinaigrette, a pesto vinaigrette or a creamy tahini miso dressing when we are trying to feel more "healthy". But salads don't have to be "healthy" and we can add rich fatty delicious textures to them if we wanna! BRING ON THE AVOCADO. 

Ingredients: 

*1 package 14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
OR
*1 cup raw cashews (soaked a minimum of an hour)

*1/4 cup unsweetened almond "milk" (again, substitutions are fine, just no vanilla or sweetened, I've made this mistake and it RUINS it, vanilla caesar? Ew, no thanks)

*1/4 cup fresh basil or pesto

*1/4 cup raw almonds (soaking not necessary, they just add a rad texture and taste)

*2 heaping tablespoons capers and a dash of the brine they are in

*2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or more haha)

*1 tablespoon olive oil

*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*3 or 4 cloves of raw garlic

OPTIONAL: add a sheet or two of crushed nori seaweed if you really want it to be "fishy" like true anchovy caesar.
Another delicious add-in would be avocado for a greenish color and a little bit of rich and delicious avocado fat in there.

Procedure:

Throw on some black metal and GRIND this all up in your Vitamix or high-powered food processor or blender. I do not recommend mixing by hand as you want to really pulverize this until it is a thick creamy liquid, add more "milk" or lemon juice if it's too thick.

For the salad part, you can go many directions.
A "classic" Caesar salad will have chopped romaine lettuce, croutons, maybe some kind of protein (blackened tempeh is always my favorite) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
I also buck tradition and make this dressing then throw whatever I want in the salad, some favorites being arugula and mixed baby lettuces in place of romaine; croutons or crunchy seeds or nuts or even some crispy "chow mein" noodles for that crispy texture; sliced grape or cherry tomatoes; avocado slices; etc etc etc... 



Simple Pesto 


Every year since we've started gardening, basil has been one of our favorite things to grow. It is easy to grow in most climates and it smells so good when you are working with it or even just simply walk by. When it gets fully mature and close to "shooting" out it's flowers and dying we always make tons of pesto with the abundance of big leaves we have. This pesto is great for pizza, tossed in with al dente pasta, lasagna, bruschetta, spread on toast, mixed in with hummus for a dip, on sandwiches, or even turned into a vinaigrette salad dressing by adding some more olive oil and apple cider or balsamic vinegar. 

Ingredients: 

*2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

*1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts (I have also used almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds... they all add subtle differences of texture and flavor) 

*2 to 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (always a garlic lover, I tend to put 4 or more in there)

*1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

*Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

*1 tablespoon lemon juice

*3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Optional add-ins for delicious variations:
*1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
*1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
*substitute arugula or kale for the basil for an entirely different flavor of pesto!

Procedure: 

First, preheat the oven to 400 fahrenheit and when it is ready, toast the walnuts or whatever nuts/seeds you are using for 8-10 minutes until they are toasty but not burnt. Set them aside to cool.

Place the basil and garlic in your Vitamix, food processor or high-speed blender and pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Turn the motor on and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.


Polenta & Zucchini Lasagne 


For this dish, I was just trying to use up some store-bought polenta we had before it went bad and being late summer, our garden zucchini plant was keeping us overstocked with zucchini. This recipe would be great with either all polenta or all zucchini for the "pasta", but either way, it ends up being gluten-free too. I am not gluten-free by any means, but sometimes it is fun to try and make something really great without resorting to the traditional wheat-heavy starches Western cuisine is so reliant on. Another DIY option is make your polenta from scratch which is super easy, affordable and rewarding and can yield many other fun experiments. Also, for the filling vegetables the sky is really the limit. I will be posting the vegetables I used in this recipe but please do experiment at your own discretion.

Ingredients: 

*One package of polenta (or one 11x17" sheet of polenta if making from scratch) 
(if you are using polenta and no zucchini, double the amount of polenta here)

*One large or two small zucchini

*1 1/2 cups of cashew cheese (recipe above) 

*1 cup basil pesto (recipe also above) 

*1 12-14oz jar vegan marinara sauce (or homemade tomato sauce if you are really feeling DIY) 

*1 1/2 cups sliced crimini/baby bella/portobello mushrooms 

*1 or 2 roasted red peppers, peeled and diced 

*several heaping handfuls of coarsely chopped kale, collard greens or spinach, or All of them together is great too

*enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and toss the zucchini and polenta in

*salt and pepper to taste

*several dashes of nutritional yeast over the top of the casserole when it is put together and before cooking

Procedure: 

Preheat oven to 400 fahrenheit. 

Slice the zucchini and polenta lengthwise into 1/4-1/2 inch long ovals (or if you made polenta from scratch, it should be a thin cake in the pan anyway so it just needs to be sliced into squares and used as the lasagna pasta). The zucchini and polenta are your "pasta" so visualize lasagna pasta when slicing these. 
In an 11x17" (or comparable) casserole pan (I have Anchor and Pyrex tempered glass ones that I love), coat the bottom in enough olive oil to prevent sticking and quickly toss the polenta and zucchini in a little bit of that olive oil in the pan. 

For the first layer of lasagna, I placed the polenta strips lengthwise until they were basically covering the bottom of the pan as a base "pasta" layer. Then spoon out enough marinara to lightly coat and cover the polenta. 

Next, quickly saute the sliced mushrooms in a little bit of high heat oil with a few dashes of salt and pepper, just enough to lightly toast them and smell their cooking fragrance. When they are ready, spread the mushrooms across the sauce-covered polenta. Next add the raw bunches of greens and the diced roasted red pepper evenly across that to form a nice center layer of rich colorful veggies. 

Spoon out about half of the cashew cheese (you could use the nutritional yeast cheese sauce (recipe above) for a more Mexican influenced and wetter version of this dish, or the tofu "ricotta" (recipe above) if you don't have cashews or are allergic to them) evenly coating the top of the vegetables you just layered in there. Spread 1/2 of the pesto and pour the rest of the marinara evenly over the cashew cheese layer.

Place the slices of zucchini "pasta" (or more polenta if you are using only polenta) across the top of the last layer until the zucchini covers everything. You may need to slice the zucchini a bit and move it around until it creates a solid layer of "pasta" covering the layers below. Spread the remaining cashew cheese and pesto evenly over the top of the zucchini, dash some nutritional yeast over that to taste and maybe some fresh chopped oregano, rosemary or whatever herbs you like to taste. 

Place in the oven (which should be at 400 by this point) and roast for 35-45 minutes (it is a dense casserole so it should take a while to really cook through and get all roasty and good). At the end, I like to put the oven on Broil and flame roast the top for just 3 or 4 minutes, not quite letting it blacken or burn. 

Take it out of the oven when it is all cooked through to cool off. When it is not so scalding hot, cut into servable squares and dish it out and ENJOY! 


Green Chile Enchiladas


Mmmmm green chile. I find myself buying the Hatch canned green chiles almost every time I pass them in the grocery store. They are great in SO many things; burritos, homemade beans, rice dishes, tacos, enchiladas, tofu scrambles, tossed into wet cornbread batter before baking, etc etc etc...
On the rare occasions that I have been able to buy freshly roasted green chiles in Portland, I use those with great excitement but canned ones work great and taste really great as well. 

Enchiladas are basically the Mexican equivalent of lasagne or a casserole and I feel like you can really put an astounding array of "fillings" in them. You can also decide to scrap the rolled corn tortillas tradition and create a layered concoction similar to lasagna. I prefer the rolled tortilla style myself, the casserole-layered version reminds me too much of crappy school lunches when I was a kid in Arizona haha. 

Ingredients: 

*1 package of corn tortillas (I love soft white corn tortillas, but you can use any, even slightly stale ones will come back to life in this recipe)

*1 jar or can of your favorite VEGAN enchilada sauce (you can make your own too if you wish, but make sure anything store-bought doesn't have secret chicken fat or something in it, as that is pretty common) 

*Either one small can of fire roasted green chiles or fresh roasted green chiles if you are so lucky, diced.

*The nutritional yeast cheese from the recipe up above to taste (and when making it, feel free to spice it up with more diced green chiles, chipotles or jalapeƱos if you like it hot!) 

*Fillings which can include: corn kernels, black beans, diced zucchini, diced tomato (try roasted tomatoes), diced mushrooms, diced nopales cactus, soyrizo or sauted and seasoned soycurls, fresh or pickled jalapeƱos, etc etc... A note of warning, you want a medium bowl of ingredients here and it is far too easy to end up with WAY TOO MANY ingredients and then have a bunch of extra fillings. Of course, that just means you can save them and make enchiladas again within the week or you can throw the remainders in scrambles, chilaquiles, or burritos... you name it. 

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 375-400 fahrenheit.

Coat the bottom of a casserole pan (I use my trusty 11x17" pyrex) with a thin layer or enchilada sauce. 

Quickly warm up the tortillas, just enough so that they are soft and easily roll without tearing. A quick toasting over the burner if you have a gas stove or a quick roast in the over works.

Making the enchiladas, I spoon out a little bit of the cheese sauce lengthwise in the middle of the tortilla and then a spoonful of the filling veggies/beans/protein mix you've decided to go with over that. Make sure not to use too much filling, roll the tortilla over the fillings and place in the casserole dish.

Continue rolling each enchilada and placing side-by side and then creating new rows until you've run out of room to add anymore in the pan.

Coat the enchiladas in the rest of the enchilada sauce, throw the chiles evenly over the top and then more nutritional yeast cheese sauce and a dusting of nutritional yeast across the top of that.

Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until they are nice and cook through, the tortillas should not get too crispy, if they do, it was either over-cooked or there was not enough sauce covering them, so keep an eye on it when it's nearing completion.

Serve up and enjoy, preferably with some fresh lime slices and maybe even some vegan sour cream and additional hot sauce or salsa if you so desire.

  

Coconut Rice 


Super easy recipe that yields DELICIOUS results. Goes great with any Asian meal, as it's own stand-alone dish, with barbeque, or Caribbean dishes (mmmm plantains and this!!).

Ingredients:

*1 cup rice (I use jasmine brown rice)

*1 can coconut milk

*1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock (I like using stock as it gives it a richer flavor)

*a teaspoon of turmeric or paprika is great in there though not necessary. I add both!

Procedure:

Pour the rice and liquids into a saucepan and bring to a roiling boil. Stir and then cover with the pan's lid and lower the heat to simmer or just above low. Let simmer for 25-30 minutes. It should be nice and fluffy when you remove the lid. Fluff it out with a fork and serve!

Sprinkle a little toasted coconut on top for extra texture and flair.
Keeps really well for a week or so if refrigerated.



Spanish Rice


Classic Mexican/Spanish rice. I am not sure whose it was first, colonialism has a way of obscuring things that way but this rice is amazing... I used it for burritos, as a side dish, etc etc etc... I first learned how to make it from my good friend Nick Gomez when we lived together years ago in some decrepit punk house in Flagstaff, AZ.

Ingredients:

*1 can of El Pato Mexican tomato salsa (you can use another type, but this is my go to, loyal to El Pato)

*1 cup rice (again, I love jasmine brown rice and I get it in big 5 lb bags at the Asian market)

*1 can of diced tomatoes and chiles or the equivalent amount of them fresh and diced.

*1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock/broth

*1 tablespoon high-heat oil


Procedure:

Heat a cast iron skillet (or comparable small frying pan) and toss the rice in the oil and toast it briefly until it "cracks", basically, it should coat the rice in a little of the oil and they should start to look slightly browned and you will smell a hint of toasted rice fragrance.

Pour the lightly toasted rice into a saucepan and pour the El Pato, stock, diced tomatos and chiles into the pan with the rice. Stir and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low or simmer, stir one last time and then cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and cooked through. Enjoy.


Vegan Hollandaise Sauce 


The first time I made this it was just an alteration of the nutritional yeast cheese sauce but it came out soooo good. I've tried making this with the cashew recipe instead but I haven't had the success I have with this so this one still reigns supreme. Pour this over a benedict with asparagus and spinach and toast with tofu "eggs", or biscuits, or a tofu scramble, or you know, whatever you want hahaha. Cooking is your own personal anarchy. 

Ingredients:

*1 1/2-2 cups unsweetened "milk" (I use almond most often, but soy or whatever works as well, just NO vanilla or other flavored ones and make sure it is unsweetened).

*6 tablespoon nutritional yeast, I always add more later as it thickens or to make it thicken. 

*3-4 tablespoons Earth Balance. Yes, hollandaise is rich and fatty hahaha.

*1/4 cup all-purpose flour, or for a gluten-free version, it works OK with chickpea flour. 

*one small teaspoon dijon mustard (too much overpowers the flavor) 

*as much turmeric as you think necessary, I like a lot because it is delicious, has some potential health benefits, and it turns the sauce a beautiful warm golden yellow

*black pepper, onion powder, garlic granules and braggs or soy sauce to taste (again, I use lots of black pepper and garlic, Braggs or soy sauce until it is salty "enough", and I often omit the onion powder)

Procedure: 

In a sauce pan, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.
Whisk the flour into the melting "butter" to make a roux. 
Add the "milk" and whisk until it is thickening and all clumps are gone. 
Add nutritional yeast to pan when the roux and liquid start to really thicken up and whisk well. Reduce heat to low-medium.
Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens up, for about 5 minutes. If it’s still too thin you can add more flour to achieve the thickness you desire. If it's too thick, slowly add more of the "milk".
To reheat on the stove-top add a splash of milk and whisk well.
Store in an air-tight container for up to 5-7 days.



Breakfast Burritos 


This is my hangover go-to, and also just an all-around easy thing to make so oftentimes if I am cooking just for myself, I will make this because I usually don't want to cook anything too complicated if I am just going to eat it by myself. It's more fun to really go down the culinary wormhole when you have other palates to impress. 

Basically, make a tofu scramble with a package of tofu drained and crumbled. I saute the tofu with lots of diced garlic, braggs, black pepper and turmeric. My favorite things to add into the scramble are sliced crimini mushrooms, par-boiled potato cubes, soyrizo, chopped kale, diced sweet yellow onions, etc but add whatever you like. Make sure to drain off the liquids if the tofu still has enough water after you have pressed/drained it to make this get too wet.

Once the scramble is done, spread a few spoonfuls on a toasted burrito-sized flour tortilla (either over a gas burner until it is soft, in a cast iron or in the oven) with black or pinto beans (homemade are the best but canned beans work just fine, I prefer whole beans to refrieds but if you like refried beans they work too), Mexican rice (recipe above), maybe some of either the cashew or nutritional yeast cheeses from above, salsa and lots of avocado. If you really wanna get fancy, throw the rolled burrito on a panini or in a cast iron skillet with a little cooking spray or high-heat oil and toast it until the outside if browned... you can also smoother the whole thing in enchilada sauce or vegan mole "mojado style". Perfect hang-over breakfast with coffee and maybe a mimosa.


Thee Mighty Reuben 

While I love a good Bahn Mi, I feel that the reuben is a level of sandwich perfection unsurpassed, so I've included yet another meal that I am apt to make when I am dining alone. My partner isn't such a fan of them anyhow so I never make them for both of us anyhow.

You'll need: rye bread, sliced tempeh or seitan (field roast seitan slices work great), pickles, sauerkraut, vegan Russian dressing (mix vegenaise with a little ketchup and pickle relish). 
You can add some kind of vegan cheese but I don't bother with it. 

Saute the tempeh or seitan in a skillet with some caraway and fennel seeds if you have them. When it is good and browned throw a handful of sauerkraut in the pan and turn the heat off so the kraut can warm up a little bit. 

Spread Russian dressing on the inside of two pieces of rye bread, layer the tempeh or seitan with sauerkraut and pickles and then toast the sandwich either in a panini press or on a skillet. Eat. Go ahead and have another one if you want. 



Indispensable Kitchen Tools for the DIY vegan cook

Here's a list of things that I think will make your culinary adventures smoother and more satisfying and efficient:

*Vitamix Blender.
 Yes they are expensive. We bought ours refurbished and it was still $400. IT IS SO WORTH IT. We don't have a food processor or another blender and we sold our juicer. This does it all. I swear. Once you have one you will never regret it. You will have joined the "kvlt ov thee Vitamix". 

*Cast Iron Skillets. 
I have two, a 16" and 20" and they are amazing. The original non-stick pan, super easy to clean- just wipe it out with a paper towel or if stuff got stuck inside, a quick scrub with hot water and NO SOAP and then dry it and re-oil the inside with a paper towel and a dab of oil. They are so awesome and they last forever. I have to force myself not to buy them at thrift stores and vintage stores when I see them because two are enough haha. 

*A sharp high-quality vegetable knife. 
You can find a decent one for $20. A sharp knife is less dangerous than a dull one, for real. And if your knife is sharp enough it will cut tomatoes without crushing them, it will make dicing and slicing fun, and you want cooking to be fun because you like to eat and eating out all of the time is expensive. 

*A solid wooden cutting board.
I used to be all about the bamboo but honestly, the try of wood doesn't matter. Just get a medium to large wooden cutting board. Why wood? It is forgiving to your knives and won't dull them as fast and since we don't eat meat or eggs there won't be any gross blood or e-coli getting absorbed into the wood. Glass and plastic cutting boards suck and are ugly. Just my opinion though. You can make awesome food with glass or plastic ones too haha. 

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