Category Archives: quick meals

Summer Succotash with Okra

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen corn making its way into the grocery stores and farmers market, and have caught a few glimpses of okra as well.  The okra is a little early as it usually comes into peak season around August or early September, but seeing it alongside corn inspired me to take advantage of this colliding of the seasons.

Succotash isn’t something I regularly eat these days, but I hold a fondness of it from childhood.

If you’ve never had or heard of succotash, it is a traditional Native American dish typically made with corn and lima beans or other shell beans, and may be combined with a variety of other summer ingredients like peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. The name is derived from the indigenous people from Narragansett (now Rhode Island) who referred to m’sickquatash, meaning “boiled whole ear of corn”, or something along those lines.

succotash_basil

Naturally vegan and gluten free, Succotash is typically a side dish, but may be transformed into a hearty entree with beans.

When making succotash with okra, I find the best flavor and texture comes from pan searing the okra first. This okra cooking technique helps to cut down on the slime you may get if you stir your okra too much or allow it to be exposed to too much moisture while sautéing.

okra

Summer Succotash with Okra

Serves 2 – 4.
Ingredients
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound okra, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 or 2 ears corn, kernels cut off and cobs
8 ounces fresh beans (baby lima beans,
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 pint), halved
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a wide pan over medium heat. Pan sear okra until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Heat remaining olive oil in pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in corn, jalapeno, fresh beans, and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.

3. Return okra to pan stir in vinegar. Remove from heat, add basil, salt, and pepper, and adjust seasonings, to taste. Serve.

okra_succotash

Easy Weeknight Meals: Curried Chickpea Salad

vegan_curried_chickpea_salad

Chickpeas are most commonly known as the Hummus Bean, but they are so much more versatile than that. I love using chickpeas for everything from breakfast scrambles to tacos, to burgers, to crispy roasted snack alternatives, and in soups. I’ve yet to try them for dessert as Blondies, or a grain free cookie dough dip, though I’ve seen many of those around the internet. More recently, their liquid has even been used as an egg replacer to make meringue.

The versatile legume is high in protein, fiber, iron, folate and manganese. It supports digestion, cardiovascular health and helps regulate blood sugar. Chickpeas are dense and hearty, but at the same time light enough in flavor to absorb whatever seasonings you add to them.

For this Easy Weeknight Meal, I’ve used chickpeas to create a high protein, vegan curried chickpea salad. It is packed with flavor and crunch from fresh vegetables. Lots of color in the chickpea salad means you are eating the rainbow and covering a full scale of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

The vegan chickpea salad can be enjoyed with nothing more than a spoon, or use it to top leafy greens, stuff between slices of sandwich bread or roll in a wrap, lettuce, collard or otherwise. However you eat it, have fun with it!

Curried Chickpea Salad
Makes 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients
1/4 Cup diced red onion (optional, soaked in apple cider vinegar and water)
1 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas (one can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1 Tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons coconut milk, or vegan mayo
1/2 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced small
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: bread, collard wrap, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, or other favorite accompaniments

Directions
1. Optional: In a small bowl, submerge diced red onion in 2 parts apple cider vinegar and 1 part water. Let sit for at least half hour; drain and rinse.
2. Using a food processor fitted with the S-blade, grind chickpeas until flaky. Transfer to a bowl. You may also use a hand masher instead of food processor for chunkier texture.
2. Add remaining ingredients a mix well with a fork to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

vegan_curried_chickpea_sandwich

 

What’s your favorite way to eat chickpeas?  Leave a comment below!

Easy Weeknight Meals: Flatbread Pizza

slice-of-pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. Growing up in New York, it was probably one of the first solid foods I ate. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if “pizza” was my first word. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but I certainly do love pizza. When I first went vegan, it was at the top of my list of foods that I miss eating the most.

Then I realized that all I had to do was redefine a little bit what pizza means to me. It doesn’t have to be a chewy, doughy piece of bread smothered in marinara sauce and cholesterol laden, greasy cheese. In fact, cheese is not really necessary at all to make a pizza delicious. It’s really just about having a good sauce spread over a tasty crust and topped with lots of veggies.

The best part, it doesn’t have to be difficult to make or time consuming. Once I realized that a simple pizza can be incredibly satisfying, it became one of my go to easy weeknight meals.  It’s even something that I teach to clients who want to eat healthy but not feel like they are eating healthy. Recently, I received an email from a client who is transitioning to a vegan diet telling me that he’d recreated the pizza we made during a cooking lesson. I was so proud of him because during our cooking lesson, he made it very clear that he generally does not cook for himself. If my client who doesn’t cook and doesn’t have time to cook can make this pizza, you can too!

Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

The crust

I recommend flatbread, lavash, pita or wrap size (burrito style) tortillas. Or, if you want to get really unfancy, opt for pizza English Muffins like my mama used to make us as kids!

flatbread

The sauce

Select your favorite marinara, store bought pesto (or make a quick one yourself with basil, garlic, olive oil and walnuts or pine nuts), or, get a little out of the box and use hummus.

crust-with-spinach

The toppings

Following the tips laid out in the first post for my Easy Weeknight Meals series, feel free to utilize your favorite pre-prepped veggies. It’s up to you if you want to add vegan cheese, but if you load up on veggies, it’s really not necessary. If you want a cheesy taste without the added fat and processing of vegan cheese, sprinkle your pizza with nutritional yeast after baking.

flatbread-pizza
Flatbread pizza with cheese

Recommendations

2 whole-wheat tortillas or flatbread

1 small ripe tomato, sliced

1/2 onion,finely sliced

handful sliced mushrooms

small handful spinach leaves, or basil (or both)

2 Tablespoons hummus, pesto or marinara

1 Tablespoon chopped olives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tortillas on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread sauce smoothly over the tortilla and arrange veggies on top. Bake for 10 minutes, or until tortilla is crisp. Top with fresh basil, if using.

Easy Vegan meals
Flatbread pizza without cheese

Upcoming giveaway

In March, Stephanie of veegmama.com will be guest posting and sharing a recipe for one of her favorite easy week night meals. You won’t want to miss that post because I’ll be doing a giveaway of her new ebook, which offers tips for transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle, along with lots of yummy recipes. Be sure to subscribe to my blog and newsletter for updates.

Easy Weeknight Meals: Curry Bowl

At lunch the other day, I was having a discussion with Jacques and his coworker about eating vegan and eating healthy.

As he put down his fork, the coworker said very eagerly “if I could eat like this at home all the time, it would be so much easier to maintain a healthy vegan diet.”  We were eating at Native Foods and he had just finished his Bangkok Curry bowl – “Seared tofu steak atop steamed veggies, kale, brown rice, with lemongrass-ginger-infused coconut milk curry. Topped with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.”

Of course, I jumped immediately into educator mode and assured him “you can eat like this all the time! It’s really easy. All that bowl is when you break it down is steamed vegetables, brown rice and sauce.”

He thought for a second, then admitted that, yes, this was true, but he and his wife are terrible about actually taking the time to pre-plan their meals, or cook in bulk for the week.

Does this sound familiar?

While I am a big fan of recommending that people batch cook, I acknowledge that in reality this may not be possible for most people.  If you don’t LOOOOOVE cooking, the idea of hanging in the kitchen for half a day so that you don’t have to do it every night of the week, may not sound very appealing. Even if you do love cooking, trying to set aside an entire afternoon to do it, often just isn’t going to happen when the rest of life gets in the way.  Something tells me not everyone is as focused as I am on what they are going to eat at their next meal immediately after they just finished their last one.

In an effort to help you discover ways to easily prepare healthy meals at home, I’m beginning a series of posts entitled “Easy Weeknight Meals” where I’ll feature different simple recipes you can throw together in a matter of minutes.

How will you prepare delicious, easy and healthy meals in a matter of minutes you ask?

The answer is to take advantage of all the prep work that has already been done for you.  One of the best resources for prepped veggies is Trader Joe’s, especially since their produce section is ever expanding to offer a wider variety of vegetables, and more organic options as well.  The broccoli and cauliflower are already in florets, the kale is already chopped, the onions are diced, and the carrots are wee babies.  Nothing needs to be washed, de-stemmed or peeled. They even have pre-cooked rice and quinoa, and rice that has been parboiled to cut down cooking time. All the time consuming prep work has already been taken care of so all you have to do is steam and choose a sauce.

I use Trader Joe’s as an example, but just about every grocery store, including Costco, have recognized our growing desire to eat fewer pre-packaged meals and more freshly prepared ones, with the same convenience factor, and are now offering pre-cut vegetables.  You can also find some great “done for you” sauces, or whip up a favorite on your own.

Lately, I have been on a curry making kick, which is probably why I got so excited about coworker enjoying his Bangkok Bowl.  While I do take extra steps when I make my curries, you can just as easily recreate a simple version in 15 minutes on a busy work night. I present to you the first recipe in the Easy Weeknight Meals series.

Quick and Easy Weeknight Curry Bowl

What you Need:

Pre-made curry sauce, or curry paste, soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and a can of coconut milk (do not shake!)

coconut-milk

Pre-chopped vegetables of choice (I recommend broccoli, carrots, zucchini, kale and cauliflower)

chopped-veggies

Brown rice or quinoa (this can be a frozen package, or something you pre-cooked)

bowl-of-rice

Marinated tofu or seitan, optional

Sesame seeds and cilantro, optional for garnish

What you Do:

Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket and put steamer basket in the pot, making sure the vegetables are not submerged in water. If they are, dump out some of the water. Turn on heat to medium, cover and steam for 5-8 minutes until vegetables have reached your desired tenderness.

steamed-veggies

Cook or re-heat rice or quinoa according to package directions.

Heat or make your sauce.  If you are using curry paste, add a couple tablespoons to a small pot over medium heat and cook for a minute or two, until it is very fragrant.  (I like to sauté a little garlic, ginger and onion with my curry paste, but we’re keeping it simple right now. Save that for a night when you have more time to cook.) Scoop out just the white part of the coconut milk and whisk into the pot, along with a teaspoon of soy sauce/Bragg’s/tamari. Simmer over low heat until it is warm.  Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more curry paste or soy sauce as needed.

Get out a big bowl. Scoop half cup to a cup of rice/quinoa into the bowl, top with a cup or two of steamed vegetables, pour about a quarter cup of sauce over everything, top with seitan or tofu, if using.  Devour!  Save the leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow.

veggie-bowl-with-sauce

Mediterranean Farro Salad

It’s that perfect time of year when the seasonal veggies overlap and there are seemingly endless combinations of veggies you can put together to create sensational flavors. I’ve been having so much fun in the kitchen taking advantage of this over lap.  I’ve topped roasted autumn veggies with juicy heirloom tomatoes; enjoyed a combination of eggplant and butternut squash; and paired crisp Asian pears with sweet red strawberries.

I just love the way summer meets fall in this delicious Mediterranean farro salad. It takes a little bit of prep, but most of it is down time while the veggies are roasting. Roasting is key to making this salad perfection, bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetables through a gentle caramelization.

 

Mediterranean Farro

 

Mediterranean Farro Salad

Ingredients

1 cup farro

5 cups water

1 red bell pepper

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided

2 medium shallots, quartered

1 cup brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and sliced (reserve soaking water)

4 artichokes, quartered (packed in water)

handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

handful of fresh parsley, minced

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add farro and water to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until farro is tender.

2. Place bell pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toss shallots and brussels sprouts in in half a tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet next to the pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip all the vegetables, then return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, until browned.

3. Place the pepper in a small bowl and cover until cool enough to handle, then peel, remove seeds and dice.  Chop shallots into smaller pieces.

4. In a large pan, saute the artichokes and sundried tomatoes in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, until artichokes are lightly browned. Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. When farro is done cooking, drain and rinse under cold water. Add to bowl along with roasted vegetables. Stir in basil and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

What are your favorite cross seasonal pairings?  Share in the comments below.

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal and Green Festival Recap

oatmeal banana
Caramelized Banana and Almond Oatmeal

What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been!  On the wedding planning front, everything is moving along smoothly. We’re starting to work out a lot of the details and feeling good about the progress. We have a few little fun surprises planned and hope our guests will be as excited as we are about some of the details!

Green Festival Los Angeles was this past weekend. A big thank you goes out to all those who were there to show their support, especially my lovely assistant Kristin of kristineline.com. The presentation at the Good Food Stage was very well received by an amazing and enthused audience of over 75 people. It felt great to be dropping some veggie burger knowledge on the fabulous attendees. One couple even came up to me at the end to tell me I help inspired them to adopt a plant based diet. Score!

 

Full House at Green Festival
Full House at the Good Food Stage (don’t mind the sign conveniently located above the men’s restroom)

With all the running around I’ve been doing, a hearty and filling breakfast has been just as important as ever to fuel me for the day. I was inspired one day looking at the bananas sitting in my fruit basket. I thought about how fantastic those babies would be caramelized, and a stroke of genius came to me to combine them with almond butter and oats for a sweet and creamy breakfast.

There’s no need for any added sugar because the caramelization releases the natural sugars from the bananas, providing the perfect amount of sweetness. A swirl of almond butter adds depth to the oatmeal, as well as an extra boost of protein and good fat (can we say yay to vitamin E for healthy skin and hair, and antioxidants to keep our heart, muscles and bones in tip top shape!)

If you’re in a rush or want to lower the sugar, you can skip the caramelizing, but I highly recommend taking the time to get those bananas nice and browned. It’s a whole new level of breakfast awesomeness.

Caramelized banana
Caramelized bananas

 

Caramelized Banana and Almond Oatmeal

Ingredients
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 medium banana, sliced
1/2 Cup water
3/4 Cup non dairy milk
1 Cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon Almond Butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Directions
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat coconut oil and add banana to the pan in a single layer. Cook over medium heat until browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side, about 3 to 4 minutes each side.

2. Add milk, water and oats and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed, adding a little more milk or water, if needed, to reach preferred consistency.

3. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon and almond butter, until well incorporated. Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of almond butter and chopped walnuts, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

caramelized banana oatmeal
Garnished with a drizzle of almond butter and chopped walnuts

 

How do you like your oatmeal? Creamy, thick, runny? What are your favorite oatmeal additions?

Food for Life

In all the heart of wedding planning and running from kitchen to kitchen to teach or cook, my time to sit down in front of the computer to do some writing has been limited in the last couple weeks. I also haven’t had much time in my own kitchen to create new recipes.  A lot of my non-client cooking time has been dedicated to run throughs of Food for Life recipes.

Have I told you about Food for Life yet?  If you don’t subscribe to my newsletter, you may not have heard much about the new and exciting certification I’ve recently received through the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The Physician’s Committee was founded as a nonprofit organization of doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion. It promotes preventive medicine through innovative programs and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

I am a huge fan of Dr. Neal Barnard’s work as a pioneer researcher of the beneficial effects of a plant-based diet for health. He is the creator of the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart that I’ve shared with you in the past. It is an honor to be accepted into this highly competitive program and I am looking forward teaching his renowned curriculum.

Power Plate by PCRM.org

 

The Food for Life nutrition and cooking program is meant to equip individuals, their friends, and family members with practical cooking skills and tips that turn every meal into a delicious dose of healthful nutrition.

The program was launched in 2001 to help cancer survivors and those interested in cancer prevention, take advantage of the healing power of foods. Since then, it has expanded to include a curriculum on diabetes prevention and treatment as well as one focused on general health and weight management, and another on children’s health, The program is currently taught in more than 150 cities across the country.

With that being said, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite simple recipes from the Food for Life Program. I’ve been so hooked on making quick and easy veggie wraps because they are great for throwing together whatever leftover veggies you have in the fridge, or for a healthy meal or snack to grab on the go for yourself or the kids.

veggie wrap by Christine Oppenheim

Veggies in a Blanket

Ingredients:

1 cup hummus or bean dip

8 whole-wheat tortillas

4 carrots, grated

1 cup baby spinach

Option: thinly sliced cucumber or red bell pepper

Directions:

1. Shred carrots, or use pre-shredded carrots. Spread hummus or bean spread thinly on tortillas, and then add carrots and lettuce, spinach, or sprouts.

2. Roll up each tortilla, secure with 5 evenly placed toothpicks, and slice into 5 individual rolls per tortilla (one toothpick per roll) if serving snacks. For a meal, cut each tortilla in half.

 

If you think your company or community organization may be interested in presentations on the life saving effects of healthful eating, please contact me to discuss how we can work together.

 

Forbidden Fried Rice

In honor of Father’s Day, this post goes out to my dad, the first person responsible for building within me a love of cooking.

Having grown up in the Chinatown district of New York City, my dad does not mess around when it comes to stir fry. He still uses the same wok that he’s probably owned since he was young; I know it is definitely older than I am.

Fried rice was one of the first dishes I ever learned to make. Instead of calling it Chinese Food, we affectionally called it “Stevie Food” in my house, seeing as none of us was actually of Chinese decent.

Over the years, I have continued to cook the fried rice my dad taught me, with a far inferior wok, I assure you. It is something that is constantly evolving and a dish that can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

making fried rice by Christine Oppenheim

Fried rice is one of the key dishes I teach clients to make because it touches upon so many important elements of cooking – how to make perfect rice; knife skills (so many veggies getting chopped!); getting creative with flavor profile and balance; method for evenly cooking vegetables.

It makes a great quick and easy weeknight meal, but flavors are still intense enough to impress guests for a weekend dinner party. For extra flare, I’ve more recently started using forbidden rice for its beautiful purple color and beneficial antioxidants.

Forbidden Fried Rice

¾ Cup forbidden rice

1 ¼ cups water.

Toast rice for a few minutes in a dry pan until it smells toasty. Be careful not to burn. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Check rice after 20 minutes. You may need to add more water. Alternately use 2 cups of day old rice.

Veggies

Select a mix of your favorite veggies. Chop into equal sized pieces.  (Suggestions: snap pea, peas, carrot, asparagus, pepper, broccoli, mushroom.)

Seasoning

minced ginger, minced garlic, sesame oil, coconut aminos or tamari, rice vinegar

Use from one teaspoon to a couple tablespoons of garlic and ginger depending on your tastes. Season with aminos or tamari and vinegar to taste.

1. Heat sesame oil in a wok. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. As you cook each vegetable, push aside the previous and add to center of wok. Add carrots, pepper and mushroom and cook until mushrooms start to brown.  Add remaining vegetables and seasoning, mix all veggies together, add rice, and cook through.

Forbidden Rice Fried Rice by Christine Oppenheim

How to Create the Perfect Vegan Taco

In honor of today being Cinco de Mayo, and Meatless Monday, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to do a post on one of my favorite quick meals – Tacos!

Cinco de Mayo, literally translated to 5th of May, is a Mexican American celebration of heritage and pride. It originated as a way to commemorate freedom and democracy in the first years of the American Civil War.

Tacos are believed to originate in the 18th Century by silver miners in Mexico. According to Jeffrey M. Pilcher, professor of history at the University of Minnesota, “the word “taco” referred to the little charges they would use to excavate the ore.” (To learn more check out his Smithsonian interview.)

How to Create the Perfect Vegan Taco in Five Easy Steps

1. Choose your tortilla.

Crunchy or soft, rice or corn, flour or a big ol’ lettuce leaf for a low carb version, handmade or store bought.

Raw Taco from SunCafe in Studio City
Raw Taco from SunCafe in Studio City

2. Decide on your filling.

This could be beans, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds or a combination. I almost never make the exact same taco twice.

A. Pick your “Meat”: Black beans and lentils are my go to hearty base sources. I’ll add smoky, spicy seasoning to my lentils, whereas my black beans I keep pretty basic. Jackfruit carnitas filling is also delicious. If you’re not avoiding soy or gluten, you may choose to use a meat replacement like seitan, tofu, tempeh.

B. Choose your Veggies: onion, pepper, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus. The possibilities are truly endless. I’ll saute some veggies and mix them in with my beans for the ultimate taco deliciousness.

handmade blue corn soft tortilla, crunchy taco shell
Handmade blue corn soft tortilla, crunchy taco shell

3. Create a killer spice blend.

Sure you could buy a pre-made taco seasoning, but many of them have additives or preservatives for “freshness”, and you have no flexibility over which spices are used or how much of each is in the blend. Mixing your own, you can use your favorite herbs and spices. Keep a jar of your personalized blend in your spice rack and you’re always ready to get cooking!

Here’s my favorite blend (the measurements are for a single recipe of 4 servings of taco filling):

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Jackfruit taco with mango salsa and pickled onion
Jackfruit taco with mango salsa and pickled onion

4. Pick your toppings.

A. Avocado: Slice a ripe avocado, mash it into guacamole, blend it with lime to create an avocado sauce.

B. Salsa: Fresh Pico de Gallo, roasted tomato, pureed, tomatillo, mango, pineapple, or just straight up hot pepper sauce. The salsa possibilities are far reaching and delicious. I always try to include some form of salsa on my taco, usually tomato based for convenience.

B. Non-Dairy Cheese: Rarely do a put any form of “cheese” on my tacos. They just don’t need it. On the rare occasions I do, I opt for spread, either homemade or bought. If you must have a shredded cheese product on your tacos for nostalgia sake, I recommend Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds in Cheddar or Fiesta Blend.

C. Sour Cream: This is another one I rarely opt for, but that’s just personal preference. When I do choose to add sour cream, I make my own from cashews.

Cashew Sour Cream
Ingredients
½ Cup cashews, soaked at least one hour
¼ Cup non-dairy milk, plus more to adjust consistency
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
lemon juice, optional to taste
salt, to taste

Directions
Combine milk with apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes. Drain cashews and put  in a blender. Add milk mixture, and a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add more milk until desired consistency is reached. Taste, then adjust flavor by adding lemon for tartness and salt to bring out the flavors.  Can be stored for up to one week.

D. Additional toppings:

This is all up to you and what you like. Get creative. Some suggestions are shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced onion, pickled onion, sauerkraut or curtido, cilantro, radish, lime.

Cauliflower Taco with guacamole
Cauliflower and Seitan Chorizo Taco with guacamole

5. Assemble.

A. Heat your vehicle (aka your tortilla).

B. Pile on your fillings.

C. Load up on toppings.

D. Devour and repeat.

 

Vegan Lentil Taco
Vegan Lentil and Veggie Taco with Roasted Tomato Salsa

 

What are some of your favorite taco fillings and toppings? Let us know in the comments below.

vegan gnocchi cashew basil

Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Sauce

Happy Meatless Monday!  Do you know what you’re making for dinner yet tonight?

I don’t know about you, but I always find Mondays to be a little slow going and when I’m feeling a little low on energy, complicated cooking is not at the top of my agenda. Instead, I tend to stick to really simply prepared meals.

One night I decided to do a little fridge cleaning and found frozen gnocchi, cashews, basil and an assortment of veggies and created a delicious dish of Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Cream.  The veggies are just what I had in the fridge, but you can use anything that is available to you.

Of course, if you don’t randomly have frozen gnocchi in your freezer like I did (and why not, might I ask!) this dish is great with any favorite pasta you have on hand.  The yumminess of the dish really comes from the decadent, yet ridiculously simple, vegan cream sauce.
Bon Appetit!

vegan gnocchi cashew basil

Vegetable Gnocchi with Basil Cashew Cream
Author: 
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • Your favorite prepared gnocchi or pasta, cooked according to packaged directions. Keep warm.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded or thinly sliced
  • a couple large handfuls spinach, chopped
  • For the basil cashew cream
  • ½ Cup cashews, soaked for minimum 1 hour
  • 1 small jalapeno, optional
  • 10 leaves basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients for basil cashew sauce in a blender. If using jalapeno, adjust to your desired spice level; leave the seeds for a spicier sauce, remove for milder. Add just enough water to barely cover cashews. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin out the sauce. Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil, broth, or water, then add onions and bell pepper and cook until translucent and lightly browned. You may need to add more water/broth if you are doing this oil free. Try not to move the veggies around too much so that they can create a nice caramelized sear.
  3. Add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant.
  4. Add zucchini and cook until desired tenderness, then add spinach and allow to wilt.
  5. Toss some of the sauce with the warm gnocchi until well coated, adding more if you like it saucier or creamier.
  6. Divide into bowls and top with veggies.