Faux Tuna Pasta Salad

The main ingredients

Easy to prepare cold dishes are my favorite during the hot summer days!  Although this one does involve a pot of boiling water for the pasta, you don’t need to slave all day in the kitchen to whip this satisfying recipe up.  The multicolored veggies and pasta make this dish a lovely add to any picnic and it is also very versatile– eat it as is,  on a bed of greens, or put it in a sandwich.  It is also a great source of zinc, folate, and protein, thanks to the chickpeas we use to make “tuna”.

This is a slightly modified version of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe from her amazing cookbook, The Vegan Table They have very kindly given me permission to re-post this recipe.  I highly recommend this book– the recipes are interesting and the book is filled with colorful photos as well as tips for a great dinner party and delicious menu ideas.  I also love the way she discusses veganism for the people who have chosen this lifestyle and those who are a part of their lives.  You can learn more about Colleen and check out her other books and work over at Compassionate Cook.

Here is the recipe, try it out and let me know how you like it!

Faux Vegan Tuna Pasta Salad

Faux Tuna Pasta Salad

Reprinted with permission from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

You will need a food processor for this recipe.  (I love my Ninja blender set!)

Feel free to substitute out any of the ingredients or add more of what you like!

– 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 3 cups of fresh beans soaked and cooked from scratch
– 1/2 – 1 cup of cooked multi colored shell pasta
– 1/2 cup eggless mayonnaise (I love Follow Your Heart’s Veganaise, it’s yummy and even better than the real thing because you don’t have to feel weird about eating raw eggs now!)
– 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
– 1/2 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
– 1 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
– 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
– 2 TBSP fresh or dried parsley, finely chopped
– 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
– 1 TBSP relish
– 1 – 2 TBSP of Herbs de Provence
– Salt and pepper to taste

Prep the chickpeas.  Grind chickpeas in a food processor or blender down to small flaky pieces.  (It only took me a few pulses to get it to this texture.)

Mix it up.  In a large bowl mix the chickpeas with the veggies, condiments, and seasonings.  Add the pasta.  Mix well so that the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Taste test, add more seasoning if desired.  Enjoy!

Shitake Mushroom + Tofu Dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year was actually on Feb. 10th this year, but it’s still going strong since it lasts for 15 days!  Food is definitely a huge part of the Chinese culture and New Year’s is no exception.  It’s also very easy to make it vegan- friendly so everyone can enjoy it!  Last year I made wontons and Chinese sticky rice cake called Nian Gao.  This year, my family and I made some delicious veggie-filled dumplings.

They are easy to make and similar to wontons, but different in shape.  It’s fun to get everyone together to get involved in preparing this dish and of course eating it together!

Shitake Mushroom + Tofu Dumplings

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of the recipe only (no images).

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

This recipe makes about 20 to 30 dumplings depending on how full you stuff them.  The amount of ingredients should be fairly even, if some of your veggies look like they will yield more than another, adjust accordingly.

– 1 package of dumpling skins
– 2 to 3 blocks of baked tofu
– 8 to 10 shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
– 1 to 2 medium carrots, shredded
– 2 to 3 cups of green cabbage, shredded
– 1/2 a yellow onion, roughly chopped
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
– soy sauce
– white pepper (black pepper will also work)
– oil for cooking
– a thick slice of ginger for cooking (optional)
– water for cooking

The first step is to cook the filling.  In a wok or large frying pan, heat up some oil.  Add the onions and garlic.  Cook until onions become translucent.  Add the shitake mushrooms, carrots, and cabbage, stir-fry for a few minutes.  Add a few spoonfuls of water and cover, let it cook for a few minutes.  Remove lid, and continue to stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender.  Remove from heat.  Add soy sauce and pepper.  Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Let cool.  While the cooked filling is cooling, roughly chop the baked tofu blocks and place in a food processor.

When the filling is warm and not hot, place in the food processor and blend until the bits are tiny and crumbly.  You don’t want it to liquefy but the pieces should be small and be able to hold some shape if you  pinch with your fingers.

Now you are ready to make the dumplings!  Prepare a work space with a small bowl of water, the bowl of filling, the dumpling skins, a cutting board or plate to work on, and a dry empty plate to put the finished dumplings on.

You can work with each dumpling skin on a working surface or you can just hold it in one hand.  Place a spoonful of filling in the center.  Dab the edges with water and fold in half.  Make sure the seal is tight.  You can leave it as is or you can pinch and fold the edges, which is what I did and shown in the photos.

Repeat until you have used up all your filling or you are hungry and want to eat some =)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the ginger to the water if you are using.  Add the dumplings. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until the dumplings are floating and skin is translucent.  Scoop out of water with a slotted spoon.  Serve with soy sauce and enjoy!

Olive, Spinach, Tomato Pasta with Chunky Meatless Marinara

This might not be the fanciest dish or the most unique, but that is kind of what makes it so great!  You can easily find or get these ingredients, none of which are very expensive, and make a delicious, healthy, and easy meal that can feed you, a friend or a two, or a whole brood.  All you need to know is how to boil a pot of water!  Sometimes I forget about these simple recipes when I am trying to figure out what to eat and this one is a great staple that you can make over and over again, add different ingredients to change it up, and be satisfied at the end of your meal.  It’s also a great way to get greens into your diet, which is always an on-going goal of mine!

The ingredients provide pretty colors and great texture which makes it that much more appealing!  Lately when I am cooking, I have found myself asking, what color does this dish need or what texture can I add to it?  I feel like it has definitely helped me make dishes more complete and healthy, and given me ingredient ideas I may not have come up with.

Here is an ingredient breakdown for this dish:

– Whole wheat pasta is the staple and provides carbohydrates which fuels your body as well as fiber
– Spinach gives bright pops of green to the dish and also contains many nutrients such as vitamin K, A, C, iron, calcium, and even a bit of protein
– Tomatoes lend some sweetness and lots of flavor to the dish, and is also a source of vitamin C and rich in the antioxident lycopene
– Meatless soy grounds give this dish a protein boost
– The green olives adds some zest to the pasta the high monounsaturated fat content of olives has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

Ready to make it? Let’s get started…

Olive, Spinach, Tomato Pasta with Chunky Meatless Marinara

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this recipe only.

This recipe serves about 2 generous servings and 4 moderate servings.

- 8 oz (about 1/2 a bag as they usually come in 16 oz bags) of whole wheat fusilli pasta (you can use any kind)
– 1/2 a bag of pre-packed baby spinach, rinsed
– 3 large tomatoes, diced
– 1/2 cup of green olives, sliced (you can use more or less depending on your taste, I try to make sure the ingredients are proportional to one another)
- 16 or 18 oz jar of organic marinara sauce
– 1 pkg (which is usually about 1 lb.) of meatless grounds which you can find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add pasta.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Cook as directed on the package, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, in a small saucepan, heat up the marinara sauce with the meatless ground.  Use a wooden spoon to break the meatless ground into smaller pieces.  Stir the sauce and let it simmer until it is heated through.

At around the 8 minute mark I will taste test and stop cooking when it is just about done, so still a little hard when biting.  Turn off the heat.

With the pasta water still in the pot, add the spinach.  Stir until spinach is wilted.  During this time the pasta should have had time to finish cooking, you can taste a piece to check.  If it is still hard, cover the pot for a few minutes to finish cooking the pasta.


Add the olives and tomatoes, toss to mix.  Serve with sauce and a side of olives.

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

These rolls smell and taste amazing right out of the oven!  They are also very easy to make and you can get it done without getting your hands dirty!  If you are looking for something to bring to a holiday dinner, you can make these in the morning/early afternoon and you are good to go.  This recipe also works as a great base, and you can experiment by adding different herbs and seasonings for extra flavor.

Please note before you get started that you will need about 2 hours of rising time.  There is also an option for you to make the day before– just follow the steps and look for the ***.

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

The original recipe is from MarthaStewart.com, this is a vegan version of it.

The recipe below yields about 12 rolls.

– 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees, should feel slightly warmer than your finger when you touch it)
– 1 pkg of active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
– 1/8 cup of sugar
– 4 TBS vegan butter, melted
– 1 egg replacer
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 3 cups of flour (I used a combo of whole wheat and white)
– dried or fresh herbs of your choice, optional

Sprinkle yeast into the cup of warm water.  Give it a few stirs and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, make your egg replacer.  To it, add the sugar, melted butter, salt, and herbs (if using).  With a wooden spoon, mix well.

Add the flour.  Stir until a sticky dough forms.  (Ok, I know you said you don’t have to get your hands dirty, but I did put one hand in the bowl to knead in the remaining dry ingredients stuck at the bottom of the bowl.)  Brush top of dough with a light coat of vegan butter.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in a nice warm place so the dough can rise (I usually put it somewhere by the stove).  Let it rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, you can portion it two different ways (flour your hands and sprinkle addition flour on dough as needed):
– If you are good at eyeing things, you can just small handfuls of dough and shape them into smooth balls by bringing the edges underneath and tucking them in.  (I used this method which may be why I have an extra 13th roll since the sizes of my rolls vary.)
– If you are more precise, turn the dough on a well-floured work surface.  Roll the dough into a thick even log.  Cut into 12 equal pieces (cut the dough in half, then cut the halves into halves, then cut those pieces into thirds).

Brush your baking pan with vegan butter (you can use a 9″ x 13″ dish or round/rectangle/square baking pans– just make sure they provide enough room for your rolls to double in size).

Place each ball of dough into the pan, only touching slightly at the edges.  If you have room, you can leave a little space between the rolls.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise again in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.  ***You can also refrigerate the dough at this point, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove plastic wrap and brush the rolls with vegan butter.  Bake until tops are golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Pull rolls apart and serve warm.

Tofu Salad

I swear I have the worst memory ever, it’s like years of my life never even happened! Birth to five years of age?  Have no clue what being a baby or toddler was like.  Freshman year of high school? Didn’t happen. What did I wear yesterday? I have no idea.  But if there’s one thing I do remember, it’s delicious food!

So what I do remember, is going over to my friend Kristen’s house back in middle school…6th grade I believe.  Her mom wasn’t home when we got there but had left a ready made tofu salad for us to eat.  The only thing we had to do was pour the dressing on top.  This was actually the first time I ate tofu without cooking it– I didn’t even know you could do that! It ended up being a great snack, refreshing and tasty.

Fast forward like, 10+ years and I still remember how good it was but kept forgetting to ask Kristen for the recipe!  Not too long ago she had us over for lunch, made it again, and I finally remembered to ask her for it.

The cilantro, tomatoes, and onions not only lend color but lots of flavor to the tofu. This cold salad is the perfect appetizer or side for a warm summer day!  Serve with soba noodles like Kristen did, as well as some other sides like sunomo (recipe coming next!)

I’m going to make it all the time now :)

Tofu Salad

Thank you Kristen + Mrs. Ueda for sharing their family recipe!

The amount below serves 4.

For the salad:
– 1 package of firm tofu, cubed
– 2 medium tomatoes, diced
– 1/4 of a brown onion, sliced paper-thin
–  a handful of cilantro leaves

For the dressing:
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 1/8 cup peanut or corn oil
– 1/8 cup sugar (you can start with half the amount then add more if you’d like)
–  1/4 TBS sesame oil

Layer the ingredients in a serving dish in order listed, starting with the tofu which will make the bottom layer.

In a small bowl mix together all ingredients for the dressing.

Refrigerate both until cold.  Pour dressing onto salad before serving.


Eggplant Two Ways

I only recently started cooking with eggplant– I just wasn’t sure what to make and how to make it before!  It’s such an interesting vegetable though, the only purple one I can think of right now, with a funny spongy texture before it is cooked.  The first recipe I ever tried was ratatouille, and since then I have been hooked!

Eggplant is not only pretty, but very good for you:

  • 1 cup provides 9 grams of carbs which is our body’s number source of fuel
  • 1 cup provides 2 grams of fiber
  • it is low in calories, 35/cup, and contains no fat while the high fiber content can help you feel full
  • the skin of the eggplant contains nasunin, which is an antioxident and free-radical scavenger
  • it is also a good source of B1, B6, and potassium

Eggplant is in season this month and here are two ways to add this beneficial vegetable to your BBQ or picnic basket:  grilled in a ratatouille inspired open face sandwich and sauteed in a caponata, spooned onto slices of a ciabatta loaf.

Grilled Ratatouille Open Face Sandwich

I love ratatouille and wanted to take elements of it to make a fun and easy finger food that can be made on a grill.  I stayed indoors and used Emeril’s grill & panini maker for this recipe which worked out great.

The bread:
– 1 loaf of good artisan bread or baguette, I used Trader Joe’s flax seed ciabatta, sliced lengthwise

The veggies for the grill:
– 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces
– 1 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I sliced them in half after cutting lengthwise as well)
– 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I didn’t use in my recipe)

To brush onto the veggies:
– 3 to 4 TBS of olive oil
– rosemary, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– thyme, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– coriander seeds or ground
– salt and pepper, to taste

Other veggies you  will need:
– 2 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil, for cooking
– a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Start by combining all the ingredients to be used to brush onto the grilled veggies: olive oil, rosemary, thyme, coriander, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat up the grill.  Once it’s ready, lightly brush the eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini with the olive oil mixture.  Grill each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  When done, remove from grill and place on a plate.

While you are working the grill, heat up a small saucepan with some olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions.  Cook until edges are browned and onions are translucent.

Once most of the vegetables are grilled, toast the lengthwise pieces of bread for a few minutes until bread is warm and tops are starting to get crispy.

Assemble the sandwich:  spoon the cooked garlic and onion onto the bread and spread evenly.  Start with a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of squash, and then the zucchini.  Top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle on the cut basil and some salt and pepper. Cut into slices and serve.

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad with a sweet and sour taste.  This dish can be made a day or two before needed and stored in the refrigerator until ready to be eaten.

I found this recipe on Epicurious but I think the original recipe is from Bon Apetit.

– 1 small eggplant, cut int 1/2″ cubes
– 1/2 to 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 3 to 4 medium tomatoes, diced
– red wine vinegar
– 2 TBS capers, drained
– a handful of fresh basil, chopped
– pine nuts, toasted
– olive oil, for cooking
– slices of bread or crackers

Heat up oil in a medium frying pan.  Add eggplant, onion, and garlic.  Saute for about 15 minutes, until eggplant is soft and brown.  If the mixture looks too dry, add a few TBS of water while cooking.

Add the tomatoes.  Drizzle some red wine vinegar on top and add the capers.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat until eggplant and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste test, and add more vinegar, salt, and pepper if desired.

Stir in fresh basil and transfer into a serving bowl or container.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.  This dish can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Spoon onto slices of bread or crackers.