Daily Vegan Lunch for 24 December, 2013: Tofu Cucumber Mint Chutney Cold Pita Pizza

vegan cucumber chutney pesto flatbread with tofu IMG_3882INGREDIENTS:

1 pita round
1.5 cups cucumber, sliced very thinly
1 tablespoon prepared mint chutney or prepared pesto

1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about one clove)
Salt to taste

3/4 cup firm tofu, drained

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine minced garlic, tahini, and salt.  Toast one pita round — I used my broiler on 400 for a minute — and spread it with mint chutney or pesto.  Add a layer of sliced cucumber and tomatoes.  Crumble the tofu and sprinkle on top, then drizzle with garlic tahini sauce.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 20 November, 2013: Grilled Pepper, Spinach, and Cashew Cheez Sandwich

grilled pepper and spinach cheez sandwich IMG_3705
INGREDIENTS:

Per sandwich

2 slices bread (I used sourdough)
1.5 cups roasted red bell pepper (I used Italian ones from a can) or fresh tomato slices
2 cups fresh spinach leaves

3/4 cup cashew cheez

Oil for frying

CASHEW CHEEZ INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cups cashew pieces
1/4 cup raw onion
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 a lemon’s juice
1 cup oats
2 cups water
1 roasted red bell pepper (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons miso

DIRECTIONS:

Combine cheez ingredients in a high speed blender OR if you don’t have a high speed blender, use cashew butter instead of cashew pieces and pre-cook oats in water in microwave for 2 minutes, then combine and blend in normal blender.

This makes enough cheez for 4 servings.

Put spinach in a bowl and microwave 30 seconds.  Alternately, wilt it in a small pan on medium heat with a teaspoon of water for 3 minutes.

Spread both slices of sandwich bread with about 1/4 cup or so of cheez.  Add slices of bell pepper and wilted spinach.

Oil a griddle on medium heat and fry the sandwich for about 2 minutes on one side or until golden brown and toasty.  Then flip and fry for 1 more minute.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 9 October, 2013: Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

This was so rich I could not eat the whole thing. Supposedly it was Elvis Presley’s favorite.

peanut butter and banana sandwich

INGREDIENTS FOR ONE SANDWICH:

1 banana, sliced thinly
2 pieces of white bread
2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

Spread both slices of bread with 1 tablespoon each peanut butter. Make into a sandwich with the sliced banana. Heat a teaspoon of oil to medium-high heat in a fry-pan. Once the oil is hot enough to spread when pan is tilted, make sure the pan is coated evenly. Fry the sandwich on each side for about 1 minute per side.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 8 October, 2013: Curried Tempeh Salad Sandwich

curry vegan tempeh salad sandwich

INGREDIENTS:

1 package tempeh, cut into cubes
3 cups water for simmering

1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup sweet bell pepper, chopped
1.5 cups celery, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar or 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste/butter) or hummus

DIRECTIONS:

Bring water to a simmer on medium-high heat. Add the cubed tempeh and allow it to sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. You don’t actually need this step but I find the tempeh is much yummier when I simmer it in water first. Drain the tempeh cubes and let them air dry in the strainer or colander.

Add drained tempeh to chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper in a medium sized bowl. Add all spices and agave nectar or sugar. Add vegan mayonnaise and tahini or hummus and mix well. Taste test and add salt if needed. Chill for about 3 hours before serving on toast.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 7 October, 2013: Tempeh Bacon and Cream Cheese Sandwich

vegan tempeh bacon cream cheese sandwich

TEMPEH BACON INGREDIENTS:

1 package of tempeh, sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
5 drops liquid smoke

Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

Mix soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke in a bowl. Soak each piece of tempeh in the liquid for a few seconds and turn over, soaking for a few more seconds. Fry the tempeh bacon slices in a little oil on medium heat. Turn over after they brown, about 2 minutes each side.

I used homemade vegan cream cheese made of cashews and almond yogurt to assemble this sandwich with a little chopped onion. There are also good store brands of vegan cream cheese like Tofutti’s one.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 8 September, 2013: Portabella Mushroom Burger

portabella burger with chipotle mayonnaise IMG_3390

INGREDIENTS:

1 bun (I used a bagel)
1 portabella mushroom, washed and stem cut off
1 teaspoon oil

Sliced tomato
Sliced onion
1 tablespoon chipotle sauce from can of chipotles plus 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
Lettuce

Slices of buffalo mozzarella, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Cook mushroom by frying it in one teaspoon oil on medium heat for about 3 – 5 minutes. Flip and fry for a minute more: mushroom will shrink and give off a little juice.

Mix chipotle mayo (mayo plus chipotle can sauce) in a small bowl. Assemble burger with bun, mushroom, chipotle mayonnaise, tomato, and onion. If I made this again I might grill the onion.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 5 September, 2013: Smoky Cream Cheese, Avocado, & Cucumber Sandwich

vegan smoky cream cheese and cucumber sandwich
This cream cheese is so realistic, if I had not made it myself, I would swear it was made with cow’s milk.  I learned the secret from Miyoko Schinner and her Artisan Vegan Life recipes and Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook.  Just blending soaked cashews with a little water, lemon juice, and salt makes a very convincing cream cheese to begin with, however, if you add Miyoko’s stroke of genius a.k.a. almond milk yogurt and allow the cream cheese to culture/ferment over the course of a day, the results are a dead ringer for dairy cream cheese.

This is a godsend for the lactose intolerant as well as vegans.  I recently wrote Panera Bread about carrying more vegan options — imagine if Panera provided vegan cream cheese!

Which begs the question, why does anyone ever need to torture a cow and take away her babies for cream cheese when you can just make an exact replica cholesterol-free out of cashews and vegan yogurt?

cow and calf
CREAM CHEESE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup cashews soaked in water 9 – 24 hours
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 drops liquid smoke
1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy yogurt, plain flavor
1/4 cup water
Salt, to taste

1 green onion, minced

SANDWICH INGREDIENTS (FOR ONE):

1-2 tablespoons vegan smoky onion cream cheese
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 a small avocado, sliced thinly or smashed
4 slices of cucumber, peeled and seeded

DIRECTIONS:

Soak cashews and drain.  I have noticed that with my Vitamix blender, it is far easier to blend cashews in large batches of 2 cups or more.   A good strategy is to make this cream cheese in bulk by doubling the recipe and then freezing the excess.  I used the cream cheese without onions as a base for Mozzarella Basil Caprese Salad from Artisan Vegan Life.

Combine cashews, lemon juice, liquid smoke, water,salt, and yogurt in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.  Alternately, save the blending altogether by replacing the cashews with cashew butter.  Blending soaked cashews into a smooth paste will take longer in a non-high speed blender, however, it can be done.  No matter what kind of blender you have, the sides will have to be repeatedly scraped down.  I use a rubber spatula.    Add water by the tablespoon to get the consistency you want, keeping in mind it will thicken dramatically once it sits out for a day.  Add the minced green onions to the blender and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated.

Transfer the cream cheese to a container and allow it to sit on the counter for anywhere from 12 – 36 hours.  The yogurt will help the mixture to ferment/culture.  The mixture will thicken as it sits.  The longer you leave it to sit, the more tangy your cream cheese will be.

Chill the cream cheese.  Toast the bread and assemble the sandwich!