Our Go-To Easy Vegan Meals

Simple Red Lentil Zucchini SoupI like red lentils because they are much gentler on my stomach than beans + they cook in mere minutes (20-30 to be exact). They make a great lunchtime soup as they leave me feeling energized.

Note: Red lentils pair well with any bean, vegetable, or grain if you desire to add any bulk to the recipe. Tofu cubes + red lentils, cooked chickpeas + red lentils, red lentils + cauliflower, or red lentils + cooked rice (or even oats) are just a few examples. Extra broth will be needed if using a third ingredient.

These lentils are sold whole or split. The whole red lentils cook faster if soaked about 30 minutes ir longer. Split red lentils (like the ones at Trader Joes) do not require soaking. 

Now for the recipe:

Measure out 1 cup of red lentils and pour in a mixing bowl, sifting through your fingers as you pour to look for any small rocks or debris. Then rinse the lentils through several changes of water.Chop 1/2 red onion, dice 2 zucchini squash, and mince 2 garlic cloves. Saute on medium heat in a soup pot for 8-10 minutes. I saute my veg in water or veggie broth (about 2-4 TBS). Next add 4 cups of vegetable broth + the washed red lentils. I reserve an extra 2 cups of boiling water to add at the end to thin the soup out. Bring the broth to boil then turn down to low for 20-30 minutes until the lentils have broken down and are nice and soft.   Skim any froth off that appears on top of the soup.

Serve over rice or with a roll or simply dish up as is, adding an optional squirt of lemon or lime juice + salt & pepper to taste. There you have it, a simple red lentil soup!🌞🍵

Garlic Black Bean, Spinach & Rice Bowl with Pumpkin Seeds, Tomato Relish, & Tofu Sour CreamBowls of beans, greens and a grain are a favorite at our home. Easy to whip up if there are leftovers on hand such as cooked rice, toasted pumpkin seeds and tofu sour cream.

In a skillet, saute a few cloves of minced garlic in a skillet with 2-3 TBS veggie broth or water on medium heat for about 2 minutes then add 1 15-oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach + salt and pepper to taste. Stir until spinach is just wilted, cover and turn heat to low until beans have warmed through then remove from heat.

Toppings can include
…Cooked brown or white rice or quinoa…Store-bought or homemade tofu sour cream: Blend 1 box of silken tofu with salt + juice of a lemon…Toasted pumpkin seeds: I buy raw and toast them stovetop in a skillet for about 5 minutes on medium heat and add salt to taste…Homemade tomato relish or store-bought salsa. For a quick relish, chop 2-4 tomatoes, 1/4 jalapeno, 1/4 red onion + 1-2 cloves garlic. Stir together in a bowl with some freshly squeezed lime juice (optional) and salt to taste. Leave uncooked or give it a quick saute in a skillet for 5 minutes adding lime juice after). Lasts in fridge about 5 days.

Roasted Tomato Soup topped with Crunchy Chickpeas & served with Grilled Vegan Cheese SandwichesI roast a bunch (maybe 8-10) of chopped tomatoes, a head of garlic with the end chopped + 1 chopped sweet onion all together for 45 minutes at 450F. For a tangy taste, I use 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cut in 1/2, face down. I take the garlic out after 20-25 minutes and use 4-6 cloves for the soup. While the tomatoes roast, soak 1 cup of sundried tomatoes in 2 cups boiling water. Reserve the water.To a blender, add the above ingredients: Roasted tomatoes, garlic cloves, onion, bell pepper if using, sundried tomatoes, the soaking tomato water + 2 heaping TBS tomato paste and a pinch or 2  of dried oregano & thyme then blend. Taste the soup and either leave it like this or add 1 can (15 oz) of white beans, drained and rinsed. This will give a very thick & creamy soup plus add protein. I then pour everything into a soup pot and turn on low heat to warm through, adding about 2 cups of vegetable broth or water. 

Top with roasted chickpeas…1 can drained, rinsed and pat dry then spread on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 375-425 for about 20 minutes (time & temp vary with each oven).

Serve with vegan grilled cheese sandwiches…We use Field Roast “Chao” cheese on bakery-bought whole grain bread. Appetizer: Store-bought bean & rice tortilla chips (Beanfields) with guacamole (mashed avocado, salsa, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt & pepper).

Pizza! Amy’s vegan pizzas are great as a once-a-month meal in our home. If I see them on sale at the market I’ll stock up. We add extra toppings, usually pre-baked tempeh cubes and garlic + whatever veg we have on hand like red bell pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms and jalapenos, or broccoli florets.The pizza pictured above has garlic, spinach, and sundried tomatoes pre-soaked in boiling water. I marinate tofu cubes in that tomato water with onion flakes and garlic powder then a quick pre-bake for 20 minutes before topping on the pizza to continue baking on the pizza. On top of the pizza are pistachio crumbles ground in our spice grinder (aka, cheap coffee grinder used only for spices and seeds) to make a nutty parmesan. Yum!

One-Pan Roasted Veggies, Beans & GreensRoasted veggies are such an easy meal. Ingredients can all be roughly chopped and thrown together on a sheet pan and into a high-heat oven for 40 minutes or so, depending on what is roasting.

Some ideas: Red onions, potatoes, carrots & peppers (bell & hot) are roasted at 425 until potatoes are cooked through. I like topping this mix over a black bean soup.

Broccoli, chickpeas (1 can drained and rinsed then pat dry), red onion & meyer lemon (intro photo). If I roast garlic, I usually roast a whole head, chop the end off, for 25 minutes, setting it face-down on the baking sheet. This roasted mix is great served over a grain with tamari or a miso-tahini-garlic dressing, or in a hummus pita sandwich.
Beets, carrots and red onion roasted at 400-425 (all oven temps are different) for about 30 minutes if chopped small then transfer to a bowl and add kale & white beans to roast for about 5 minutes. Served over rice with guacamole and crunchy pumpkin seeds makes an incredibly tasty dinner.

Meaty Tempeh Chili and more tempeh recipe ideas can be found here Tempeh Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Take a square of pre-baked tempeh, cut in half to make a thin, square-sized piece. Add a slice or 2 of vegan cheese on top and fry in a pan until cheese melts. At the same time fry 2 buttered slices of bread and allow them to brown + saute a clove of minced garlic. Lastly, add a small handful of spinach to the pan to wilt then build your sandwich, spreading on dijon mustard and/or ketchup if desired.

Burgers of all veg variety can be found in my “freezer-friendly recipes” articleSummer Salad recipes can be found hereSummer Zucchini Noodle Bowls“Zoodles” are a fancy name for zucchini noodles. A spiralizer is a great kitchen tool for making noodles from veggies like zucchini and carrots. A potato peeler or a juilenne peeler can also be used. Zoodles can be eaten uncooked with a pre-made sauce but I prefer the cooked recipes that follow…Saute shallots, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and cooked white beans then mix in spiralized zucchini noodles to warm through and top with kalamata olives. Crushed pistachios would add a nice crunch.

Recipe for title photo: Use a store-bought jar of marinara or prepare a quick sauce by mixing 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, 1 6-oz can tomato paste + 2 TBS red wine vinegar. 
Saute minced garlic cloves and chopped kale in a skillet, then stir in zoodles and marinara sauce. Top with nutritional yeast flakes

Curries…

Southern Thai Tempeh Coconut CurryPeas, Carrot, & Tofu Panang Curry Using the Thai & True panang curry paste (found at Whole Foods), I whipped this dinner up in 20 min. I sauteed a shallot, 2 carrots, fresh ginger, tofu cubes, 3 garlic cloves–eyeballing the measurements to suit our taste–then added about 1.5 cups water + a splash of tamari & let it cook until carrots were just tender. Then added 3/4 cup peas + 2 tsp of paste (it’s spicy!) and turned heat up to let peas cook for a minute before adding 1/2 can lite coconut milk. Turned heat down to simmer until warmed through. Served over quinoa but rice is better I think.Isa’s Caribbean Curry Black Eyed Peas with Plantains… I make this dish every spring when asparagus is in season.🌷

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