adventures in veganland
May 11, 2008 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Cheap, easy, quick and tasty vegan food ideas and/or recipes needed!

Bored vegans in a food rut. We'e been trying to cook more to save money, but our repertoire is limited.

We eat the same thing(s) every day, and mostly out of cans and boxes. Beans and rice, veggie burgers, sloppy joes, tacos, chili, soup, noodles, cereal, PB&J sandwiches, stir-fry, rice, the occasional curry...

We're up for cooking and adventure, but we're pressed for time and money. Can you help us come up with new ideas for things we can make and eat?
posted by streetdreams to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Postpunk Kitchen and Hot Knives should give you some ideas, although HK is a bit on the snooty side.
posted by zamboni at 4:40 PM on May 11, 2008

I've just discovered the Fat Free Vegan website and blog, which sounds extremely boring but is actually very good. In the past week I've made the cumin rice with eggplant and the quinoa paella and both were very successful.
posted by carolr at 4:48 PM on May 11, 2008

Banh mi chay. OMG yes.

I make it in whole-wheat pita pockets and chuck a little brown rice in there too. It takes a few minutes to prep and marinate the tofu and carrots, admittedly, but you can do it at the start of the week and eat it for a while. It's delish. Make extra marinade on the tofu, you'll want it.
posted by fuzzbean at 4:55 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is a recipe adapted from the restaurant Fresh in Toronto -- very tasty. The tofu and peanut sauce both keep, so you can eat this for several meals.

4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
16 Marinated Tofu Cubes (see recipe, below)
1 1/2 cups peanut sauce, heated (see recipe, below)
2 cups bean sprouts
1 tomato, cut into wedges
8 slices cucumber, halved
1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
2 lemon wedges

1) Divide cooked rice between 2 large bowls
2) Top with tofu cubes
3) Pour peanut sauce on top of tofu
4) Arrange sprouts, tomato, and cucumber on top
5) Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges and serve


Marinated Tofu Cubes

Cut a regular size block of tofu into 64 cubes

Mix in large bowl:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil

Pour over tofu cubes and marinate for at least 15 minutes

(Tofu will keep for up to 3 days.)

Peanut sauce

5 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled, minced
1-1/2 cups natural smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups water + more if needed
Cayenne pepper to taste

In bowl, combine garlic, ginger, peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, 2 cups water and cayenne. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to burn. If sauce becomes too thick or separates, whisk in a little more water until it's the right consistency. Serve hot. Refrigerate, covered, up to 1 week.

Makes about 4 cups.
posted by cider at 4:57 PM on May 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Do you eat soy products? There are a lot of really great tofu recipes. Do a google search, and don't be afraid to experiment. :)

Also, here's what I had for dinner tonight: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

What you'll need:
-Couscous (I buy in bulk so I can make as much or as little as I want)
-Broth (I use veggie broth)
-Chopped veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, and onions
-Red, yellow, or orange peppers (I *hate* green peppers myself)
-Shredded cheese (you could use soy cheese I think)

Prepare the couscous using the broth instead of water. Mix in the chopped veggies.

Cut off the tops of the peppers and clean out the insides.

Stuff the peppers with the couscous and veggies. Top with cheese (you can also mix some of the cheese in with the couscous before stuffing the peppers if you like). Wrap and cover the peppers in foil and bake until done - which is probably something like an hour at 350F - I never do it the same more than once.
posted by at 5:08 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

my favorite couscous salad:

couscous cooked in veggie broth for more flavor
diced peppers, tomato, red onion, and cucumber to your liking
cooked or canned chickpeas or fava beans, to your liking
salt and pepper (SO important)
chopped parsley and mint
olive oil, lemon zest, and red wine vinegar

i usually top with feta--if there is an acceptable vegan version of it, go for it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:18 PM on May 11, 2008

I'm not vegan, but I mostly eat vegan and vegetarian dishes. The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home book is fabulous. Favorite vegan dishes in there are the coconut rice, curried chickpeas, red lentil soup, black bean soup.... The book is positioned for vegetarians and there are a handful of fish recipes, but there's a section in the back that lists all of the vegan-friendly recipes, and it pretty much looks like the entire book.

Highly recommended. Mine was a family gift a few years ago and it's dog-eared now.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:34 PM on May 11, 2008

Best answer: It sounds like you are really looking for some quick and simple recipes that will let you get dinner on the table fast. (boy oh boy do we know about the food rut).

Roast artichokes, or squash, or sweet potatoes for an easy main dish.

Cook any variety of spring vegetables (carrots, leeks, beets) in broth and puree 'em for some tasty, rich soup.

Braise cabbage and onions and serve with mashed potatoes.

Hummus - or any variation with any bean - is easy if you have a food processor, and super cheap. And lasts forever. You can also make guacamole and have a "dip night".

Salads are great when you fill them with exciting stuff: novelty sprouts, nuts, tofu, corn, avocado, beans, peppers, etc. (Homemade croutons are easy too and can be spiced to order: toss bread cubes with olive oil, bake at 375 for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.) My salads are generally only about 30% lettuce. -grin-

TLTs are good: Tempeh lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Especially on good French bread.

Pasta is so versatile and quick. You can toss angel hair with some sauteed peas and mushrooms and a garlic olive oil dressing, or stir raw chopped broccoli, olives, and peppers into orzo with some balsamic viniagrette, or just make a great, easy spaghetti marinara with tomato sauce, peppers, onions, lotsa garlic, and oregano (add a teaspoonful of sugar and a bit of lemon juice, and the longer you simmer it the better it will be).
posted by GardenGal at 5:58 PM on May 11, 2008

in the same vein of what you've been doing, but can of prepared soup (i've been using lentil soup), 1/4 of a bag of veggie crumbles (i think morningstar sausage is the best) or fake chicken breast (quorn is the chick'n of choice here), and some couscous is incredible.

cook up the crumbles/tvp/chick'n (small tip, most meat marinades don't include meat so you get some super tasty spices - brisket sauce has been rocking my goddamn socks off) - cook them a little dry, put the soup on while you're doing this with 1/4 to 1/2 a can of water, add the "meat" to the soup, cook for a couple more minutes while the "meat" plumps back up, take off the heat and add couscous, let set for 5-10.

all amounts are based on taste - do you want more of a soup? add more water/less couscous - do you want more of a stew or even a couscous texture - less water/more couscous.

it takes 20 minutes, making a double batch is really easy, and it keeps for a few days.
posted by nadawi at 5:59 PM on May 11, 2008

Tempeh is a nice texture alternative in the soy family to tofu. Try it in gado gado (you don't have to include the boiled eggs).
posted by gimonca at 6:00 PM on May 11, 2008

i occurs to me directly after posting that sausage crumbles and i think quorn chicken are vegetarian, not vegan - but tvp does a great job too (you know, reconstitute it with water and spices, add some oil to a pan with more spices or marinade)
posted by nadawi at 6:01 PM on May 11, 2008

Seconding Moosewood, in all incarnations, as well as pretty much anything by Mollie Katzen, especially The New Moosewood Cookbook. She also has a website. There is also Appetite for China. One other 'social' recipe site you may enjoy is Group Recipes.

Martha Stewart's Zucchini Pie is delicious, if a bit 'gassy'. You'd have to work around the dairy products if you don't indulge, but I suppose you know how to do that. Or, you know, you're always welcome over here on the dark side.
posted by dawson at 6:10 PM on May 11, 2008

Make Pad Thai with tofu. Go to this site and follow the recipe there using the recipe for tofu and using the substitution for fish sauce suggested there. Bit of a long-winded recipe, but the results are absolutely worth it. Even if you don't follow the recipe exactly, the suggestions she makes are worth reading -- making sure the wok is absolutely smoking hot, making the sauce beforehand so you don't waste time during the crucial stir frying step opening bottles etc.
posted by peacheater at 6:11 PM on May 11, 2008


In a food processor or blender
1 14 oz can chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough water to make it a smooth consistency - add as you go along
This is more lemony and less garlic-y than a typical American hummus... but that's the way I like it (uh huh, uh huh.)

Serve with pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:47 PM on May 11, 2008

Veganomicon is full of excellent stuff. Lots of creative recipes -- I'm not at home right now, so I can't give specific recommendations. Flip through the book at your local store?

I also recommend some of the recipes at The strawberry shortcake recipe is incredible.
posted by peeet at 6:53 PM on May 11, 2008

I eat a ton of seitan, which is fantastic in all kinds of Indian and Thai curries. Plus, no draining/pressing/prep required, so it's perfect for a weeknight. Here's my standard recipe:

~1 T Veg oil
~ 1/2 to 1 Onion
~1 T minced garlic (I buy the pre-minced stuff in the jars, which saves a step)
~ 2 t minced ginger (see above)
1 package seitan
4-6 servings of frozen or fresh veggies, your choice.
~1 T rice vinegar
~1 T soy sauce or Bragg's or tamari

Heat large pan, add oil, then add each of the above ingredients in order. Serve over some rice or rice noodles or soba/udon noodles.

You might also like one of my similar tofu recipes, which could also be made with seitan:
Ginger Garlic Lime Tofu Veggie Stir-fry
Tofu-Veggie Stir Fry w/ Peanut Sauce and Chow Mein Noodles

For a different type of curry, how about Sweet Potato Curry With Spinach & Chickpeas. Recipezaar is nice because there are tons and tons of vegetarian/vegan recipes and the search functions are awesome.

The key to avoiding a rut, I have found, is to look East. There are so many amazing Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Indian, and Korean dishes that are vegan or can be easily veganized, and they're quick, healthy, and exciting.
posted by acridrabbit at 6:57 PM on May 11, 2008

Best answer: This thread might be helpful
posted by saturn25 at 7:00 PM on May 11, 2008

Seitan is great...and it's really good with Jerk seasonings and barbequed!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:20 PM on May 11, 2008

Try the Wegmans recipe for spicy red lentil chili soup - one of the best recipes I have ever tasted. I increase the chili pepper content to make it a little spicier, reduce the salt, and make several batches at once to put in the freezer. Makes an excellent supper after work - surprisingly refreshing even in summer.
posted by Susurration at 9:06 PM on May 11, 2008

I like Sarah Kramer's cookbooks - consistently tasty and consistently on the easy side.
posted by serazin at 10:08 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seitan is actually pretty easy to make yourself. It takes time and a lot of whole wheat flour, but you'll end up with some seitan that's completely unflavored, which means that you can do whatever you want with it and aren't limited by the flavor of packaged seitan.

It's only recently (last 50+ years or so) that people have had the kind of money and that meat has been cheap enough relative to income that it can be included in regular meals. So if you go back to older traditional recipes, you'll find plenty of dishes that are vegetarian (and even a sizeable number that are vegan).

I'm a huge fan of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, which puts a huge emphasis on eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, rice, and beans. Egyptian street food--fuul, tamiyya, and koshary are all vegan. Similarly, a decent amount of street food elsewhere is vegan or can easily be modified to be so. Most people are familiar with traditional Italian fare like pasta, but bread soup and bread salad are great ways to use old bread and the recipes are generally 100% vegan.

You say most of your food is out of boxes or cans. That can get pretty boring quick. Now that spring has arrived it's time to hit your grocer's and grab fresh vegetables. Greens will be in season now. The easiest way to cook them is basically just throw them in some water with some smashed cloves of garlic. Cook until just soft (depending on the green; collards should be ravished) then season with salt and pepper (but go light on the salt) and then finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of vinegar (I like rice vinegar for this).

Asparagus is also in season and soooo easy to cook that it's a travesty that it's even sold prepared at all. Just snap off the ends and chuck the asparagus in pot. Cook them in hot water until just tender. Give them a whisper of salt and nothing else.

I think radishes will also be in season now (not 100% sure) and one secret of radishes is that you can cook them. They lose a lot of their spiciness but can add a nice flavor to soups or stir fries and they're dirt cheap even when organic.

Bananas have rebounded from some price scare a couple of weeks ago and are cheap again, so use them. You can make a delicious shake by blending bananas, apple juice, peanut butter, and tofu or soy milk. You can also make fried banana sandwiches with white bread and peanut butter, also delicious, and "banana sandwiches" of bananas cut in half and smothered with pb. I also saw a Mr. Rogers episode where he wrapped a piece of cheese around the banana (this was a recipe sent in by one of his viewers, apparently). I tried it myself and it's tasty, but I'm not sure whether vegan cheese would make an acceptable substitute.

Speaking of cheese substitutes, I'm not sure whether you guys are the types who like to eat things that taste like dairy/meat or not. If you do like cheesy things but don't want to get them from animals, nutritional yeast is a good ingredient to have on hand all the time. You can make a really tasty cheesy sauce by mixing melted margerine with a few heaping spoons of nutritional yeast (basically, add the yeast to the melted margerine until it's the consistency of mustard). This sauce can become the base of a remarkably delicious mac n' cheese.

Also nthing Moosewood Cookbook. I grew up on a lot of those recipes. A lot of them are vegetarian, not vegan though. At least, I definiteliy remember the enchanted broccoli forest as having its fair share of melted cheese.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:27 PM on May 11, 2008

Best answer: In order to have vegan recipes at my fingertips, I subscribe to several RSS feeds in Google Reader, put them in a folder called "Recipes," and then search within the folder whenever I have a particular ingredient I want ideas for. Here are some of the blogs/sites I subscribe to (not all are vegan):
posted by univac at 10:44 PM on May 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Another Moosewood fan here. The 'Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant' (also dog-eared) has a 'Hopping John' recipe that's dead simple and fast:

Prepare brown rice.
Boil black-eyed peas/beans in salted water until just tender, strain (reserving juice).
Oil, Onions, Allspice, Paprika, Soy sauce blended over a low heat in a large frying pan (skillet).
Mix in cooked black-eyed peas and some of the reserved juice to taste.
Serve on the rice topped with chopped fresh tomatoes, curly parsley and sliced scallions.

Tip: Make a big batch, it's even better the next day.
posted by tellurian at 12:11 AM on May 12, 2008

Summer is coming: cook some pasta, grill or saute in a pan cubed peppers, or fresh tomatoes, or courgettes, or aubergines, or artichokes, or (...), add half a clove of fresh, finely minced garlic and an herb of your choice between basil, oregano, persil, mint, marjoram, thyme, and a dash of extravirgin olive oil, dress the pasta with the vegetable seasoning, groud some black pepper and voila! Vegan, refreshing and quick, not to mention easy on your digestion. Should you get tired of pasta, you might try couscous or bulghur as easy alternatives. Permutations are countless.

Also: I am really missing the point of adopting a vegan diet and then eating processed foods out of boxes
posted by _dario at 4:56 AM on May 12, 2008

Second on the "nooch" (nutritional yeast). If you want to spice up your ordinary dishes having some nooch and some chickpea (garbanzo) flour can help. I put the nooch in anything I want a little cheesy or a little creamy. Chickpea flour also lends a little creaminess that regular flour does not. Vegan with a Vengeance has french toast recipe that uses chickpea flour (and no tofu, thank goodness). You can also make a tasty gravy with it, vegan butter, and some broth. Sure to please.
posted by justnathan at 7:35 AM on May 12, 2008

Response by poster: Also: I am really missing the point of adopting a vegan diet and then eating processed foods out of boxes

Small children and long hours. What can I say?

These are great, y'all! Thanks so much!
posted by streetdreams at 12:05 PM on May 12, 2008

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