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How to Make Thick Tahini SauceHomemade Vegan Flour TortillasFour Ingredient Vegan Chocolate TrufflesDoubledecker Vegan Tostadas with Refried Black BeansSpicy Tofu-Mushroom StirfryReally Simple Vegan Black Bean Chili from ScratchMessy Delicious Italian Veggie SandwichMaking Panini for Vegans

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Vegan Lima Bean Lentil Soup Satisfies for Hours

It's generally fair to say that most vegans use the plant-based palette available to them to keep their nutrient levels appropriately topped up. But it's also fair to say that it's pretty easy to fall into a menu rut, sticking with the standard tried-and-true recipes week after week, just because life is hectic and being vegan demands a great deal of time in the kitchen as it is. The risk that the dietary rut represents, besides boredom, is that over time we will unknowingly become deficient in important nutrients. I'm an engineer by training, and I have no right to offer advice about nutrition. But I do like visiting the websites of people who are qualified to comment on vegan nutrition and seeing if their advice can help me choose better varieties of plant-based foods to keep my menu interesting and nutritious. This soup recipe came out of one such visit. More

Filed under: Recipes > Soups

Tags: vegan, soup, healthy, lentils, lima_beans, spinach, tomato

Grilled Tempeh in a Spicy Vegan Manchurian Sauce

Hakka cuisine occupies a unique culinary space somewhere between Chinese and Indian. My local Hakka restaurant serves astonishingly flavourful dishes with lots of chilies, garlic and ginger (another reason to love Toronto restaurants). One of my favourites is Manchurian sauce. The vegan option with Manchurian sauce is plate full of little fritters like pakoras, made with cabbage and carrot, served over rice. It's tasty, but I was hoping for something with a little more protein to make a complete lunch. As I committed to duplicating the sauce at home, I mentally jettisoned the fritters and settled on grilled tempeh as the protein. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, spicy, Chinese, Indian, Hakka, tempeh, ginger, cilantro

Rich Vegan Mushroom Linguine with Basil

After last week's burrito adventure, I wanted to do something a lot simpler. But I also wanted a dish in the same comfort food vein as the burrito, something that leaves you completely satisfied while staying within the boundaries of a vegan diet. Let's just say I ate pasta all week. I wanted a basil pesto flavour overall, but I also wanted a ton of mushrooms. It took a little while to get it right. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: pasta, vegan, comfort_food, mushrooms, cashews, nutritional_yeast, basil

Vegan Bean Burritos Packed Full of Veggies

I've been working on the individual ingredients for this vegan bean burrito for the past few blog posts. Today, we finally get to put it all together and chow down. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: Mexican, burrito, tortilla, comfort_food, vegan

Homemade Vegan Flour Tortillas

My experiences with store-bought tortillas made from corn have been pretty positive for the most part, probably because I get them very close to where they're made. Not so for flour tortillas. I can't say that I've gotten a big hit of enjoyment from any package of flour tortillas that I've bought at a store. There's something faintly acrid about the flavour and something about the texture that screams "factory." So, I've been wanting to learn how to make flour tortillas from scratch for quite some time. More

Filed under: Recipes > Bread

Tags: Mexican, tortilla, comfort_food, vegan

Simple, Tasty, Vegan Spanish Rice for Burritos

Last week's vegan chipotle sauce was the the first step of a larger project to learn how to make my favourite rice and bean burrito at home. Spanish rice is another essential ingredient of this magical burrito (which also includes black beans and lots of fresh veggies like purple onion, corn, red pepper, lettuce and tomato, along with a generous dollop of mashed avocado and some fresh cilantro). As I'm writing this, I've started craving this burrito of course, but getting all the ingredients together in the same place is a bit of a project. Having done it a couple of times, I have huge respect for the people doing it on a daily basis (conveniently located at the end of my street). Maybe I'll pay them a visit tonight. They're lovely. For now though, I'm going to focus on Spanish rice. More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: rice, vegan, tomato_sauce, burrito, Mexican, tex-mex

Spicy Vegan Chipotle Mayo Sauce

I love vegan burritos, and naturally I want to be able to make them at home. But for a homemade burrito to be satisfying, it has to have some kind of spicy sauce that really clings to the other ingredients. Think mayo or sour cream, but obviously vegan and obviously much hotter, preferably with the smoky beauty of chipotle. More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: vegan, sauce, spicy, chipotle, nutritional_yeast

Making Panini for Vegans

I never thought I'd live to see the day that Toronto's sandwich shops acknowledge that vegans exist, let alone offer them a choice of delicious, fresh sandwich ingredients. The protein options are still somewhat limited, but it's possible to put together a perfectly delicious lunch using the ingredients behind many big counters, especially downtown. On one recent visit, I even saw grilled tofu as an option. I opted for hummus and mushroom instead, but it's great to see them making an effort. This is my attempt to replicate the experience at home. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: sandwich, vegan, healthy, hummus, portobello, mushrooms, avocado

Messy Delicious Italian Veggie Sandwich

One of the local Italian sandwich shops does a vegan version of their typical breaded meat on a kaiser with cheese and tomato sauce. I ordered it because someone had suggested this place for a catered lunch at work, and I was blown away. As I devoured it, I was of course also analyzing it to try to duplicate it at home. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomato_sauce, vegan, sandwich, Italian

Spicy Tofu-Mushroom Stirfry

Every month or two, I get the urge to try a totally new vegan stirfry combination. These often involve tofu in some way, and as you know, tofu is a bit of a blank canvas that readily absorbs whatever it's cooked in. This time, I decided to try shiitake mushroom and pickled hot red chilies. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, tofu, stirfry, mushrooms, shiitake, spicy, Chinese

Making Better Hummus at Home

So, I guess the first question to deal with is why. Why make your own hummus at home when there are so many options at the grocery store that just require the effort of opening a lid? Two reasons mainly: cost and freshness. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: hummus, chickpeas, healthy, vegan, tahini

Four Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Lately, I've been trying to be more deliberate about having something sweet on hand after meals. It doesn't need to be huge or elaborate, it just needs to offer some contrast to the meal. Because the meal is often spicy, the dessert offers a little relief too. Like I say, nothing over-the-top. When I used to take the train a lot, they would bring around small, very chocolatey truffles at the end. It was a highlight. I want the same, but vegan. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: vegan, maple_syrup, coconut, comfort_food, coconut_butter, coconut_oil

Vegan Turkish Red Lentil Kofte

Vegans have a an ongoing need to find new ways to make lentils fun and interesting. By themselves, these little nutritional powerhouses of protein and fibre can be a tad bland, but fortunately lentils have an ability to blend in beautifully with their surroundings. In the case of the Turkish finger-food known as "mercimek koftesi" the lentils are surrounded by a simple but delightful combination of flavours -- tomato, onion, lemon, cumin and parsley. Bulgur provides some cohesion and a lovely contrast in texture. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: lentils, Turkish, vegan, bulgur

Szechuan Eggplant from Scratch (No Sauce from a Jar)

Like I've said before, one of the perks of living in a big city like Toronto is the exposure to all different kinds of food. If it wasn't for Asian food in particular, I would have left this city a long time ago. I've been in love with szechuan eggplant since the first time I had it at a restaurant. I'm not going to lie, this is a spicy one, and it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea. But the aromas and flavours of the szechuan spices go much deeper than just "hot". Of course I've tried to duplicate it at home using szechuan sauce from a jar, but of course it never even came close. For this recipe, I decided to try to use the internet to unlock the secret and make a passable szechuan eggplant from scratch. More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: szechuan, Chinese, vegan, healthy, spicy

Big Colourful Salad with Grilled Sweet Potato and Asian Dressing

Salad and a protein smoothie for lunch? You bet, especially if the flavours complement eachother. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: salad, vegan, sweet_potato, healthy

Vegan Blueberry Protein Smoothie

I have a recurring need for a protein smoothie that I can combine with a big plate of salad to make a complete lunch. To make the smoothie vegan, the choices are basically rice or soy. I decided to give rice protein a try. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: blueberry, smoothie, healthy, vegan

Spicy Maple-Ginger Tofu with Veggies

This sweet-and-sour tofu dish has become one of my favourite vegan Chinese recipes. The sweet comes from (real) maple syrup, which can be obtained almost anywhere these days in large bottles. Rice vinegar provides the sour flavour, and if you like a little spice, a couple of Thai red hot peppers fit the bill nicely. But I have to say the star of the show here is the fresh ginger. It's the aroma that you notice first and the dominant flavour absorbed by the tofu. Serve it as part of a larger Chinese-style feast, or by itself on some steaming jasmine rice. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, Chinese, tofu, maple_syrup, ginger, spicy

Roasted Cabbage with Vegan Dijon Sauce

A lot of the recipes I like that use cabbage call for a half head (e.g., Chinese noodle dishes). I was looking for something to do with the other half. I've also been on a bit of a lentil kick lately, using small green lentils as a low-carb, high-protein base for a lot of my meals. (You really can use them the same way you would use rice, you get a fair bit more in the way of nutritional goodies.) The only problem is the lentils need some contrasting flavours to keep the dish interesting. Why not roasted cabbage in a zesty mustard sauce? More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: cabbage, vegan, salad, mustard

Surprisingly Zesty Vegan Queso Dip

Nachos with cheese sauce has become a ubiquitous fixture at sporting events, movie theaters and basement rec rooms. It's not altogether clear how much actual cheese goes into the sauce, but as omnivore comfort foods go, it's a surefire crowd pleaser. Let's try to make a vegan version, shall we? More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: comfort_food, queso, dip, appetizer, vegan, nutritional_yeast

Greek Almond Cookies (Kourabiedes)

Kourabiedes are popular Greek cookies, served at major holidays. They normally use a fair bit of butter and sometimes egg yolk, but veganizing them is not terribly difficult. The real magic is the ground nuts, in this case almonds, and a little touch of spirits, in this case, cognac, and those ingredients are all good for vegans. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: vegan, cookies, almond, Greek, kourabiedes

Curl Up with a Vegan Quinoa Bowl Topped with Rich Tahini Sauce

The meal-in-a-bowl has become a mainstay of vegan restaurants. A successful bowl achieves a harmonious balance between a grain, a protein, vegetables and a flavourful sauce. Last week's tahini sauce adventure left me with a fierce desire to mingle all that lemon-sesame goodness with quinoa and cubes of firm tofu. So that's what I did this week. I added roasted broccoli for colour and almond slivers for some extra crunch. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, healthy, tofu, quinoa, tahini, broccoli

How to Make Thick Tahini Sauce

Toronto's falafel shops vary widely in quality. The tahini sauce is one of the ways to tell if you're dealing with the real thing or a cheap imitator. Watery tahini that pools in the bottom of the pita without sticking to anything on the way down is a sure sign of an inferior establishment. And tahini sauce isn't just important for falafels. With its balance of tangy lemon, salt and sesame, it makes a great salad dressing, and it's fantastic in pretty much any vegan meal-in-a-bowl that includes quinoa. So you can imagine my disappointment when tried to make it for myself and got low-quality, tahini-flavoured water. I obviously had something to learn about technique. Turns out that tahini needs to be handled in a certain way if you want the sauce to be thick and rich. You can't just throw the ingredients in a blender and press start, as the cookbook I was using had suggested. Fortunately, the fix is really simple and it also provides vegans with a new use for their underused whisks. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: tahini, sauce, vegan, Lebanese, falafel

Really Simple Vegan Black Bean Chili from Scratch

Although comfort food takes many forms, safe to say that most comfort food is not the kind of thing you'd want to put in your body on a daily basis. Even vegan comfort food has its bad actors. Happy to say that this vegan black bean chili gives me all the "mmmm" with none of the guilt. More

Filed under: Recipes > Soups

Tags: healthy, vegan, beans, slowcooker, chili

Vegan Mushroom Pate with Lentils and Cashews

I have to admit that when I started working on this recipe, I wasn't expecting much. Vegan alternatives to traditional meat dishes don't usually get me excited. Happy to say that I was wrong, and this mushroom-lentil spread is really tasty. It makes a good party food on water crackers and it goes really nicely with slices of raw sweet pepper. The key to the pate's flavour is the way the mushrooms interact with the thyme. The key to its texture is a good food processor. You want the lentil-cashew mixture that forms the base to be completely smooth. That way, the little mushroom pieces distributed throughout provide little flavour bombs and a nicely contrasting texture. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: mushrooms, lentils, cashews, vegan, healthy

Doubledecker Vegan Tostadas with Refried Black Beans

I struggled a bit with what I should call this. It's something like a quesadilla, but with spicy refried black beans instead of cheese. It also resembles a tostada because it features corn tortillas deliciously pan-fried in oil. But unlike tostadas, it has a second tortilla on top. So it's a doubledecker vegan tostada for want of a better name. What is not in doubt is my love for them. When corn tortillas get a few days old, their texture becomes a little rubbery. The solution is to fry them up. And it's a very good solution. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: vegan, comfort_food, beans, Mexican, spicy, tortilla, peppers