Category Archives: Recipes

Jackfruit and Biscuits

jackfruit and biscuits

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodSo what the heck is jackfruit? It’s a large (up to 80 lbs!), somewhat-obscure Asian fruit that shows up in Thai cooking. When green and unripe, it has a firm, stringy, chicken-like texture, earning it the nickname “vegetable meat”. It’s not fruit-like at all, and definitely not sweet. It’s what I would call “neutral”. In its ripened state, it does become sweet, and can be used in custards and cakes.

We’re going to use the green, unripe variety, which is available in cans at some Asian grocery stores. We’re lucky enough to have quite a few of them around Champaign-Urbana. My favorite is World Harvest Foods.

young green jackfruit in brineIf you’re looking for a whole, natural food with a (disturbingly?) chicken-like texture… this is it. I first encountered jackfruit in a recipe for BBQ pulled jackfruit on the Chow Vegan blog. I was intrigued, since not many veggies or vegetarian meats lend themselves to being “pulled”. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to try some jackfruit at a Seventh-day Adventist Vegetarian Food Fair, where it was included in a dish with french lentils. The cubes of jackfruit brought to mind a pot pie, but a simple biscuit topping was easier to make on a weeknight.

The biscuits are once again from the Veganomicon Leek and Bean Cassoulet, and remain the easiest and best biscuits EVER. You could use any combination of vegetables in this dish, but I think carrots, celery, and onions are essential. The purple cauliflower is just something I had in my fridge, and it looks beautiful in the dish. I love purple, and purple foods.


Jackfruit and Biscuits

Serves 4-6.

1 10-oz can unripe green jackfruit in brine (NOT in syrup) – chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup water
3 tsp Better Than Bouillon, No-Chicken Flavor
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup purple cauliflower, chopped
3 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
4 tbsp flour
2 cups unsweetened soy milk or rice milk
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
salt, to taste

For biscuits:
3/4 cup plain soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat, my favorite)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan shortening (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small cup, mix plain soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle while you saute the vegetable mixture.

In a deep skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion and saute briefly, then add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add celery, carrots, cauliflower, and jackfruit. Season with salt and a little freshly-ground black pepper. Stir in 1 cup water, Better Than Bouillon, and thyme. Add bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, mix up the biscuits. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then stir soymilk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix gently with a fork until blended. Add a little more flour over the dough so it doesn’t stick to your hands, and knead briefly right in the bowl, folding the dough over about ten times. Set aside.

After carrots and celery become tender, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the peas. Pour into a 9 x 9  baking dish, which you will later use to bake the whole thing. Fewer dishes to wash!

Now you can use the skillet to make the gravy. Heat the skillet up again and add 3 tbsp Earth Balance spread. When it’s melted, whisk in the flour. Let the mixture bubble for about 3 minutes, until the flour is no longer raw. Be careful not the burn it.

Whisk in the soy or rice milk and nutritional yeast. Simmer gently until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.

Pour thickened gravy into baking dish, over vegetables. Stir carefully to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Divide biscuit dough into about 8-9 equal pieces. Arrange biscuits on top of gravy mixture. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until biscuits are lightly golden brown.


Coconut Almond Date Truffles

coconut almond date truffles

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodThese little truffles are inspired by Vegan Linda’s energy balls that she made for the last Vegan Meetup.

This is a highly-accurate and precise recipe which involves a lot of planning and perfect proportions. Just kidding! I hauled out the food processor, dropped in some dates, chopped them to a paste, added almonds, processed some more, then added the rest of the ingredients until the mixture tasted good. Then I rolled them in more unsweetened, finely-flaked coconut. Pretty! I’m going to make these in different varieties and give them as holiday gifts.


Coconut Almond Date Truffles

Makes about 12-14 truffles

24 dates, pitted – check them for pits before adding to the food processor!
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp unsweetened coconut, plus more for rolling
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp water

Add dates to food processor bowl. Pulse until finely minced. Add remaining ingredients and process until a smooth paste forms.

To make a truffle, place about 2 tbsp coconut in a small bowl. With a measuring tablespoon, scoop up about a tablespoon of date mixture and shape into a small ball. Roll in coconut. Repeat until all mixture is rolled into balls, or until truffles have all been eaten by your children. Yum!

Teri’s Cucumber Pasta

Teri's Cucumber Pasta

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodThis cool summer pasta salad could not be simpler. It is great for a potluck, where I was introduced to it by a colleague. Thanks for the recipe, Teri!

Any small pasta shape would work, but wagon wheels and rotini hold onto the sauce. Teri’s recipe calls for sugar, but I prefer to use agave nectar. Pasta has a high glycemic index already.

Teri’s Cucumber Pasta

Makes 8 servings.

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 lb pasta, such as wagon wheels or rotini, cooked
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes

In a large bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add cooked pasta and cucumber, and stir to combine. Chill, and serve.


Sweet Potato Breakfast Pancakes

Sweet Potato Breakfast Pancakes

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodSweet potato lends subtle flavor and a nutrition boost to these simple pancakes. Lance loved them, and he’s not a big sweet potato fan. They pair well with Herbed Breakfast Sausage patties from Vegan Diner, our favorite vegan breakfast meat.

I cook the sweet potato in the microwave to save time. Scrub it well, pierce the skin a few times with a fork, and microwave on high power for about 4 minutes, until fork-tender. When the potato is cool enough to handle, slice it in half, scoop out the tender insides, and it’s practically mashed already.


Sweet Potato Breakfast Pancakes

Makes about 12 3-inch pancakes.

1/2 cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about one medium sweet potato)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I use SoDelicious coconut beverage)
canola oil, for oiling griddle or pan (optional)

Start heating a nonstick griddle or well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Blend well with a fork. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine mashed sweet potato, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Blend well. Whisk in non-dairy milk with a fork until well-blended.

Add sweet potato mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just blended. The mixture may puff up as the baking powder starts leavening it.

When the griddle is hot (a drop of water should sizzle when it hits the surface), spoon on the batter onto the griddle in circles to form 3-inch pancakes. When pancakes look dry around the edges, they are ready to flip. Turn then over and cook for about 3 minutes on the second side, until lightly browned.

Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Peanut Tamarind Noodles

I picked up an immersion blender last weekend, and it’s handy for making sauces. The measuring cup included with the blender allowed me to measure the cup of broth, then spoon in the peanut butter until the liquid level reached 1 1/2 cups. It is a lot easier than scraping peanut butter out of a measuring cup.

This is the first recipe I’ve made with tamarind. I used a very thick wet-pack tamarind paste, pictured at the end of the recipe.


peanut tamarind noodles

Peanut Tamarind Noodles

Makes 4 servings.

Sauce ingredients:
1 cup no-chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tbsp wet tamarind chunks, minced
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 jalapeño pepper (seeded if you like it less spicy)
1 garlic clove
few dashes white pepper, to taste

Stir-fry ingredients:
6 oz Chinese noodles
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 lb french green beans, cleaned and cut in half
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin strips
1/2 lb firm tofu, dry-fried
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Combine sauce ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Or, use an immersion blender.

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Heat a wok or wide pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp canola oil and heat until nearly smoking.

Stir fry green beans, stirring frequently. Add carrots a few minutes later, and stir fry until just about tender-crisp. Add tofu, noodles, and sauce. Stir and cook a few minutes longer.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts to serve.

peanut tamarind noodles ingredients

Illini Salad

Illini Salad

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodI look back on my college days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign quite fondly. I lived in Allen Hall, a cool living-learning dorm with classes right in the building, and plenty of weird and interesting people. A great number of these interesting people remain good friends, and I married one of the weird ones. Maybe someday our interesting kid will live in Allen Hall, too.

What I don’t remember fondly was Allen Hall food. But there was better food across campus, like Field of Greens, the weekday all-vegetarian “specialty restaurant” in neighboring Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall. I frequently trekked back from the Quad to eat lunch there, where I experienced new foods like falafel, hummus, and soy milk. (I grew up in a small midwestern town!)

I remember a lot of junk food. Pizza, breadsticks, french fries, waffles, and Edy’s ice cream. Hello freshman (on in my case, junior) fifteen.

Fast forward to modern dorm times, and we have a brand-new state-of-the-art cafeteria right down the street from where I now work on campus. The dining hall at Ikenberry Commons is amazing. The selections for students are so much better than the tiny hot food line and salad bar from my student days. Ikenberry has multiple food lines with themes, like Prairie Fire (hearth-baked pizza), Gregory Street Diner (burgers, fries, and shakes), Hortensia’s (international cuisine, usually featuring at least one vegan dish), and Soy-Tainly which features all vegan food, for every meal. There is always a fresh salad bar with plenty of veggies, some of them grown locally on the Student Sustainable Farm at the U of I. Some soups are vegan. There’s cereal of all types, dried fruits and nuts, and an impressive non-dairy milk selection. You can usually make a hearty vegan meal from these selections. Their non-dairy milk selections are also impressive for those times when you just want cereal for dinner.

University Housing has taken steps to make ingredient and nutrition information available to students by putting it on their web site. It’s not the easiest-to-use interface I’ve seen, but you can drill down to individual dishes served each day and see all the ingredients, and usually the nutrition information per serving. There is also a “vegan” filter that can be applied to view all available vegan food selections on any day. Handy!

When Ikenberry Commons opened (before I was vegan) University Housing held an open house and served several dishes for the public to sample. One of my favorites was called Illini Salad. The original salad also contained goat cheese. I’ve substituted avocado, which offering a similar creamy contrast to the crunchy apples and soynuts.

Illini Salad

Make about 4 servings.

Salad ingredients:
1/2 lb baby spinach leaves
1/2 lb mixed greens (or butter lettuce, torn)
1 green apple, chopped
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1/2 cup corn kernels; fresh, or thawed from frozen
1 medium avocado, diced
1/4 cup roasted soynuts

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 garlic clove, pressed or grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine all salad ingredients except avocado and soynuts in a large bowl. Set aside.

Dressing note: I like to make my dressing in a pint-sized glass canning jar (great for storage!), but you can use a small bowl and a whisk.

Combine vinegar, lime juice, agave syrup, and garlic. Shake or whisk to combine. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk or shake vigorously to combine.

Pour dressing over salad, and toss to combine. Top with roasted diced avocado and soynuts before serving.

Seitan Gyros Recipe

seitan gyros recipe

A lot of vegan gyros recipes on the web use plain seitan. I think they’re missing the things that make a gyro so great: the delicious things happening in the meat. This gyros loaf is spiced, herbed, and baked seitan. It’s sliced thinly and grilled until it has deliciously crispy edges.

For the tzatziki sauce, you can’t do much better than the recipe on, which uses Tofutti sour cream instead of yogurt (my preference).

Seitan Gyros

Vegan Seitan Gyros

One loaf; enough for about 6 sandwiches.

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, and oregano. Grate in lemon zest. Stir until evenly blended.

In a small bowl, combine liquid ingredients: water, soy sauce, sesame oil, liquid smoke, and ketchup. Mix well. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Knead until combined.

Shape into a loaf approximately 8 inches long. Wrap in foil. Bake for one hour.

To serve (single gyro):
Let loaf cool completely for best results. Slice seitan thinly. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry seitan strips until lightly browned.

Serve strips in a pita. Top with cucumber, tomato, and onion slices, and tzatziki sauce.

Smoky Mexican Chickpeas and Cranberry Chimichurri Grilled Tofu

smoky mexican chickpeas and cranberry chimichurri tofu

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodSometimes I’m in the mood for channa masala, but I’m out of canned (and fresh) plain tomatoes. So I grab whatever tomatoes I have – in this case, Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Adobo flavor. They said “NEW” on the label, yet were on clearance at the grocery store. Go figure, but I stocked up. I’m glad I did, because I think they have been discontinued. Boo! If you can’t find them, you could probably use their regular fire-roasted tomatoes, and add two or three tablespoons of adobo sauce.

For the tofu marinade, I had some cilantro and jalapeños that needed to be used. The immersion blender was already out from blending the tomatoes (nobody around here likes tomato chunks except me). So I decided to throw some fresh cranberries in the blending cup with the cilantro and jalapeño and make a tart and spicy chimichurri sauce to marinate the tofu. I left the seeds and ribs in the jalapeño, and the resulting sauce was quite spicy. You can de-seed your pepper if you want less heat.

I love how this marinade worked. Some parts of the tofu immediately took on a pink color from the cranberries, and other parts were dyed green with cilantro. Pretty tofu!


Smoky Mexican Chickpeas

Serves 4.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Adobo flavor
1 15 oz can chickpeas, or your own fresh-cooked chickpeas
1 cup water
salt and pepper (to taste)

In a heavy pan, heat olive oil and saute onions until translucent. Add oregano, cumin, and garlic. Saute until fragrant.

Add paprika, tomatoes, chickpeas, and water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or longer, until chickpeas are tender. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over hot basmati rice.


cranberry chimichurri tofu

Cranberry Chimichurri Grilled Tofu

Serves 4.

1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced into squares or triangles
3/4 cup cilantro, leaves and stems, packed tightly
1/2 jalapeño pepper, chopped (de-seeded if you want it less spicy)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except tofu in a blender, food processor, or cup for an immersion blender. Blend thoroughly until smooth.

Pour sauce over tofu and marinate for at least a half hour.

Grill tofu on a oiled indoor grill or outdoor grill until browned on each side.


Baked Peach Pecan Oatmeal

peach pecan baked oatmeal

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodI like oatmeal for breakfast, but sometimes I need a change of texture. This baked oatmeal can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week. It can be eaten hot or cold, but I think it’s best served warm, with a drizzle of agave nectar.

If you’re not familiar with agave nectar, it is a sweet syrup extracted from the succulent agave plant, the same plant used to produce tequila. The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unpleasant “sugar rush” and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars. Amber agave nectar is darkly colored and adds a subtle maple flavor in addition to sweetness. If you would like to substitute agave for other sweeteners, refer to this guide.

This oatmeal could be made with whatever combination of fruit and nuts you desire. I would try blueberries and slivered almonds, dried cranberries and walnuts, or apples and raisins.

This recipe was adapted from the Fooducate blog. It’s not a vegan blog, but has a lot of interesting articles on whole foods and nutrition.

baked oatmeal in a pan

Baked Peach Pecan Oatmeal

Serves 8.

2 tbsp flax meal
6 tbsp cold water
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup non-dairy milk
3 tbsp amber agave nectar
2 1/2 cups chopped fruit (I used frozen thawed peaches)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine ground flax and water with a whisk until well combined. Set aside. Mixture will thicken.

Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish or round casserole. In a large bowl, combine oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add remaining ingredients and flax mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Spoon into pan and cover with foil or lid. Bake for 20 minutes, remove foil or cover, and bake for another 25 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy hot, cold, or room temperature. If well covered, this will keep in the fridge for one week.

German Fruit Salad with Walnuts (Fruchtsalat Mit Walnussen)

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodThis month has been branded “Rocktober” by Lance, for reasons unknown to me. I like it, so I’m going with it; October certainly rocks. The weather cools down, the trees turn beautiful colors, you get to dress up like whoever or whatever on Halloween, and it’s Vegan MoFo time! It’s also time for Oktoberfest. Yesterday’s Vegan Meetup Group Oktoberfest potluck was a lot of fun, and featured some fancy German fare and hearty fall dishes. Thanks to Linda and Rob for hosting. I managed to snap a few photos as we descended upon the bounty, and I’ll share them tomorrow.

I was in the mood for fruit salad, so this German(ish?) version was my contribution.

fruchtsalat mit walnussen - fruit salad with walnuts

German Fruit Salad with Walnuts (Fruchtsalat Mit Walnussen)

Makes 8 servings.

For the salad:
4 medium red apples, cored and diced (gala or braeburn are good)
2 oranges, peeled and diced
2 cups red or black seedless grapes, halved
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

For the dressing:
8 ounces vanilla soy yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tsp agave nectar

Combine apples, oranges, and grapes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp lemon juice to prevent apples from browning. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla, ketchup, and agave nectar until combined.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Sprinkle with walnuts before serving.

Dressing recipe adapted from: