Scrumptious maple-mustard vinaigrette: a recipe

This is probably my favorite salad dressing—and I don’t even eat that much salad!

It’s inspired by the Love & Magic dressing at SweetArt, an incredible vegan restaurant and bakery in St. Louis. I went to college in St. Louis and whenever I needed a pick-me-up treat, I biked to SweetArt and got myself a cupcake (only $2 on Wednesdays!). When I wanted to be a bit more nutritionally responsible, I indulged in their burger—still the best veggie burger I’ve had to date—and a side of the kale salad with Love & Magic dressing.

I was obsessed with figuring out the secret to their dressing, and I never did, until a couple years ago when a Thanksgiving recipe called on me to make a marinade with maple syrup and Dijon mustard. I tasted it and it was delicious…and it reminded me of that elusive, magical dressing. Since then I’ve honed in on a recipe that may not contain all the same Love & Magic as SweetArt’s, but it’s still pretty damn great.

Tl;dr: Make this dressing, and whenever you’re in St. Louis, get a burger, a salad, and a cupcake from SweetArt—you’ll be glad you did.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a jar, combine all ingredients. Screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Taste the dressing and if desired, add a bit more maple syrup for sweetness, vinegar for acidity, mustard for tang, or soy sauce for saltiness/depth of flavor. Enjoy!

Note: Recipe adapted from this one from the Food Network.

Spring ephemerals (ramps!) and hearty pantry staples: a recipe

In the gentle slopes of the Appalachian mountains, spring is synonymous with ramp season. Or at least a small sliver of it, anyway—these cheery yellow-green leaves spring up from the forest floor for just about a month. Their impermanence makes them feel special. But due to overharvesting, slow-growing ramps may become elusive in a more permanent way. It’s important to treat these special plants like the special treat that they are. Here is a great resource for ramp identification and sustainable harvesting. Enjoy responsibly.

A friend clued me in to a patch of ramps growing by a nearby pond, and I made the trek to grab a few leaves. I’ve made ramp pesto before, which is delicious, but this year I decided to blend them into a creamy sauce with some white beans I had in the pantry. The light, savory ramp flavor shines through here, with just a few other ingredients to round out the sauce.

RAMPS! just the leaves, of course.

I used sweet potato “noodles” for no reason other than that I was out of pasta and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store, but I’m sure regular wheat pasta would be just as delicious, if not more so (shh, don’t tell sweet potatoes, one of my great loves, that they just don’t hold a candle in this form to the original). Kale was the green veg I had on hand, but if I made this again, I would probably roast up some broccoli instead. Basically, the star of this recipe is the ramp sauce, and the supporting elements are pretty much interchangeable.

Please let me know if you make this recipe, and I hope you enjoy. Happy ramping!

Sweet potato noodles with creamy ramp sauce and crispy kale (vegan)

  • Serves: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (~1.25 lb.)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch red kale, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 pack Field Roast apple sage vegan sausages

For the ramp sauce:

  • 1 handful sustainably foraged ramp leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Spiralize sweet potatoes. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a regular vegetable peeler to create fettuccine-like strips.
  2. Wash and roughly chop the ramp leaves and peel and crush the garlic clove. Sauté the ramps and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil on low-medium heat until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the ramps and garlic to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding more water if you want a thinner sauce.
  4. If needed, add another tsp olive oil to the same pan. Cook chopped veggie sausage (if using) for ~3 min. on each side until browned. Then, add kale, salt, & pepper and cook for several more minutes until kale is wilted and crispy in places. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. In the same pan, sauté the sweet potato noodles (swoodles? let’s go with it) on medium heat, adding a bit more oil or water as needed to keep them from sticking to the pan. After 3 minutes or so, cover the pan to steam the swoodles until al dente, about 6-7 minutes total.
  6. Add sauce, kale, and veggie sausage to the swoodles and cook on low heat until sauce is heated through. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • The sweet potato noodles can get soggy if they are left saucy for too long, so if you’re saving some of this recipe for later, keep the uncooked sweet potato noodles separate from the sauce and saute+ combine them immediately before eating.
  • Recipe somewhat inspired by this one from Minimalist Baker.

Quarantine pasta lunch: a recipe

Hello! Hope you are well in these strange times. I just made this dish for lunch by throwing together some bits and bobs that I had lying around from other recipes, and I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. Pasta is my favorite comfort food, and it’s always fun to find a new and quick way to prepare it. This one utilizes tofu feta, for which I just posted a recipe that you should also check out. 🙂

Vegan tomato-basil-feta pasta

  • Serves: 2
  • Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. fusilli or other pasta of choice
  • 1 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste*
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few handfuls spinach
  • 3 Tbsp tofu feta
  • several leaves fresh basil
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • Optional: cooked chickpeas or veggie sausage (I love Field Roast)

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, mince garlic and roughly chop or tear spinach and basil.
  3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add vegan butter.
  4. Once the butter is melted, add tomato paste and garlic to the skillet. Fry for a couple minutes or until fragrant.
  5. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. If using red pepper, chickpeas, or veggie sausage, add ’em at this point and saute for a couple more minutes.
  6. Add spinach and pasta water (starting with 2/3 cup and adding more if needed) to the skillet. Stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the pasta water until a smooth sauce forms.
  7. Add cooked, drained pasta to the sauce (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  8. Divide pasta into two servings and top each with fresh basil and tofu feta. Enjoy!

Notes

*This pasta is also great with a chopped fresh tomato instead of tomato paste and just a splash of pasta water, which forms less of a sauce and more of a juicy, fresh tomato-y delight. Try it both ways!

The best tofu feta: a recipe

I should maybe stop adding “: a recipe” to the end of my recipe posts, huh? Maybe there’s a better system?

Anyway, this is the best (in my humble opinion) tofu feta recipe! I’ve shared it quite a few times on my Instagram stories, but now I’m immortalizing it on my blog. The texture of tofu is not quite the same as that of feta, but the flavor is perfect: creamy, cheesy, tangy, salty, herby. What’s not to love?

This feta is super quick to prepare, but it does require chilling in the fridge for 24 hours. That wait time is not optional—it makes the feta immeasurably more delicious once all the flavors have had ample time to mingle and infuse into the tofu. Patience is a virtue!

Use this recipe to top pastas, salads, roasted vegetables…it makes pretty much anything more delicious.

Again…I’m really not a photographer. But trust me, this stuff is delicious!

My best tofu feta

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 25 hours (but only 15 minutes active prep)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1 lemon (~2 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Optional: fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Press your tofu: drain the excess liquid from the tofu package, then wrap the block in a clean kitchen towel. Sandwich it between two cutting boards/baking pans/other flat kitchen tools and place several heavy cans or cookbooks on top to squeeze out excess moisture. This improves the tofu’s ability to absorb the feta flavors. Press for 20 minutes.
  2. Once pressed, use your fingers or a fork to crumble the tofu into smallish chunks in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the tofu and mix well to combine. Then, sample it. The flavors will develop while it’s chilling, but at this point you can add more of whatever you feel might be lacking: nutritional yeast for cheesiness, lemon juice or ACV for tanginess, etc.
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  5. Enjoy! Some optional add-ins to make it even more delicious: Fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes.

My best vegan mac & cheese: a recipe!

I’m comin’ at ya with another recipe post! This is the vegan mac & cheese that I make at least once a month. Is there any more quintessential comfort food than mac & cheese? I DON’T THINK SO. Anyway, I’m writing this post late at night from my self-isolation and if I keep writing I’m going to get pretty loopy, so I’m just going to move on to the recipe. (Bonus: You should have most, if not all, of these ingredients in your pantry right now! :)) (Another bonus: This mac & cheese is whole-heartedly omnivore approved. Though it doesn’t taste exactly like traditional mac, it’s very delicious in its own way.)

Important note: This recipe was very much inspired by/based on the VegNews Best Ever Vegan Macaroni & Cheese, but I’ve adapted it enough that I feel OK with claiming it as my own. Still, I would be nowhere without this OG inspiration! (And by “nowhere” I mean eating subpar vegan mac & cheese. No thank you.)

Let’s be honest: my food photography skills are not great. I assure you, this mac & cheese tastes better than it looks!

My best vegan mac & cheese

  • Serves: 4-6 (depending on how much you eat……)
  • Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. small pasta (I suggest macaroni, obvi, but you do you)
  • 2 cups potatoes, chopped (~ 1 medium or 2 small potatoes)
  • 1 scant cup onion, chopped (~ half an onion)
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped (~ 1-2 carrots)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (I use canola or coconut)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of ~ 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Smoked paprika (a few shakes, for smoky flavor)
  • Optional: Turmeric (a pinch, just for color)
  • Optional: 3 cups broccoli, chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add your pasta and cook according to package directions.
    • If using broccoli: Add the chopped broccoli to the boiling pasta when you have ~ 4 minutes left to cook it.
  2. While pasta water is boiling, chop your vegetables and add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic to a medium pot with 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are fork-tender.
  3. While the vegetables and pasta are boiling, add the remaining ingredients (cashews, vegan butter, oil, mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and optional spices) to a high-speed blender.
  4. When the vegetables are tender, add them + the water they cooked in to the other ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Sample the cheesy sauce and adjust, adding more salt, pepper, etc. to taste, then blend again. (You can also add cayenne, red pepper flake, or other spices at this stage, but I figured if you’re going to do that, I don’t need to tell you to do it. Ya know?)
  6. Combine your luscious sauce with the drained pasta (and broccoli, if using) until it’s evenly coated. Serve with a protein, like Field Roast sausages or smoky tempeh. Bon appetit!

Recipe notes

This recipe is pretty forgiving and tastes delicious in every iteration! With that said, here are a few substitutions you can make as needed.

  • If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you should soften the cashews (soak them in hot water for a few hours or boil them for 20 minutes) before adding them to the regular blender. If you only have a small, smoothie-sized blender, you can make the sauce in batches (with some of the vegetables & water in each) and stir them together at the end.
  • The vegan butter & oil can be swapped for other fats in whatever proportions you have on hand. My happy medium is half-solid at room temp (butter) and half-liquid (oil), but feel free to switch it up.
  • Also, if you’d like to lower the oil content in this dish, you can reduce the oil and butter to 1/4 cup each and/or swap some of them for more cashews. The sauce just won’t be quiiiite as creamy. Add a splash of water if needed to thin out the sauce.
  • If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, you can use apple cider vinegar instead. I prefer the lemon, but ACV will do the trick as well to add a cheesy tang.
  • I haven’t tried this, but it occurs to me that you could substitute cauliflower for the potato for a lower-carb option. I might have to test this substitution next time…stay tuned!

Please let me know if you make this recipe or if you have any questions about it. Hope you enjoy!

Winter comfort(ing) food: a recipe

This is the first of (hopefully) many recipe posts on my blog. I’ve been cooking for myself regularly since I went vegan, three and a half years ago, because my college did not have a wealth of options in that category. I’ve discovered a lot of amazing recipes along the way, and also started to get more confident improvising in the kitchen.

I made the following dish last week while visiting a friend’s house. She had a lot of root veggies and a block of tofu to use up, so we made this hearty meal for dinner: Deep, roasty flavors, a filling grain, and a green element adding some much-need vitamins. I wouldn’t call it comfort food per se because it’s not, like, mac and cheese (stay tuned for that recipe!), but it’s definitely comforting. I don’t have much else to say other than, I hope you enjoy!

Oh, one more thing: This recipe isn’t an exact set of steps to follow as much as it is a template to use or adapt to your own needs (and current pantry contents). It’s pretty flexible, so I wrote it as such.

Roasted root vegetables, balsamic tofu, and warm kale salad with couscous

  • Serves: 4
  • Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 block (~16 oz.) firm or extra-firm tofu
  • Grain of choice (we used ~1 cup dried couscous)
  • Assorted root vegetables—we used:
    • 1 large potato (sweet potatoes would also be great!)
    • 2 turnips
    • 4 small beets
  • 1 bunch kale, or other dark leafy green
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Pat tofu dry and gently squeeze out any excess water. Cut the tofu into small cubes.
  2. Combine the balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, and salt + pepper (we used about a teaspoon each of the latter two) in a container with a lid. Add the tofu to the marinade and shake it around until it’s all covered. Let the tofu marinate for at least 30 minutes.*
  3. In the meantime, prepare your root vegetables: Wash and chop them into small pieces, roughly the same size as the tofu. Spread across one and a half baking sheets lined with silicone mats (or parchment paper). Lightly drizzle the veggies with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then use your hands to toss and coat all the pieces.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. When the tofu is marinated, add it to the other half of the baking sheet. Save the leftover marinade.
  6. Bake the veggies and tofu at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
  7. While the veggies and tofu are roasting, prepare your grain according to package directions.
  8. Also while they’re in the oven, prepare the kale: Remove large stems and tear the kale into bite-sized pieces. Massage for 30 seconds, then add to a large skillet with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Cover the skillet and steam the kale for a couple minutes.
  9. Mix the remaining olive oil with the leftover marinade and pour it over the kale, stirring until it begins to wilt and get brown in a few places. Turn off and remove from heat.
  10. Serve the grain, kale, roasted veggies, and balsamic tofu while warm. (I didn’t do this, but I think they’d be delicious topped with a drizzle of tahini sauce). Enjoy!

Recipe notes

*The balsamic tofu component was adapted from Bites of Wellness.