saturday cooking banner
Homemade Vegan Flour TortillasBig Colourful Salad with Grilled Sweet Potato and Asian DressingMaking Panini for VegansSpicy Tofu-Mushroom StirfryVegan Blueberry SconesChana Burrito: A Spicy Handheld MealGrilled Tempeh in a Spicy Vegan Manchurian SauceVegan Bean Burritos Packed Full of Veggies

Latest Posts

Vegan Chinese Green Onion Buns

If you've ever even gone past the doorway of a decent Chinese bakery, I think you are already familiar with the intoxicating aromas of slightly sweet dough combined with rich, savory fillings. I have a horrible addiction to these smells and flavours, left over from my student days living in downtown Toronto. As always, the challenge is to find a way to replicate the experience with vegan ingredients. I'm happy to say that smart people have already tackled this question and come up with some great ideas. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: Chinese, bun, onion, bread, aquafaba

Vegan Sausage that Fills a Hot Dog Bun Nicely

As I write this, I'm munching on one of these homemade vegan sausages with dijon mustard and fresh onions on a soft bun and feeling thoroughly content. What I like most about this recipe is that you get a whole lot of lunches out of a relatively modest amount of work. And the hard work is done by the food processor anyway. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: sausage, mushroom, nutritional_yeast, lentil, sandwich, aquafaba

Vegan Blueberry Scones

I have an ongoing need for vegan baked goods of all varieties. The working day is long and there is so much coffee to drink! Who doesn't love something flaky and sweet with their caffeine? Although Toronto is currently enjoying an explosion of vegan bakeries, there are none around my office, so I find myself looking for ways to make my own. Watch this space for more ideas in the future. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: dessert, scone, blueberry, coconut_milk, comfort_food

Vegan No-Meat-Ball Sandwich

This no-meat-ball sub has been on my to-do list for a while now. It's pure comfort food for me -- how could it not be with the combination of Italian spices, tomato sauce and bread. The meatballs add substance, protein, fibre and no small amount of flavour. I'm impressed with how well they stay together after cooking, which I chalk up mostly to aquafaba. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: lentil, soy, mushroom, meatball, marinara, tomato_sauce, sandwich, aquafaba, sauce

Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu with Veggies

It's impossible to be vegan without planning. In fact, the intense planning requirements make it pretty easy to fall into a high-carb rut, just because our favourite carbs are easy -- pasta, rice, bread, potatoes -- these all take very little planning and they fill you up. For the sake of my long-term waistline health, I'm always interested in low-carb vegan meal ideas. When someone on one of the many excellent vegan Facebook groups suggested pan-frying slices of tofu in nutritional yeast and cornstarch, my ears perked up. I decided to combine that with a big plate of stir fried veggies and some grilled mushrooms to make a satisfying meal that doesn't depend on simple carbs in any way. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: tofu, kala_namak, nutritional_yeast, black_salt, stirfry, bean_sprout

Chana Burrito: A Spicy Handheld Meal

One of my earliest memories of living on my own in Toronto is of visiting Flying Monkey Natural Foods, near Kensington Market. As a naive student with limited cooking skills and time, I made heavy use of their prepared meals. I particularly enjoyed a small but filling burrito filled with the well-loved Indian chickpea curry known as chana (or chole) masala. It was thicker than the chana you get in a restaurant, which was a good thing because a burrito made with a thin curry would go everywhere and likely stain your clothes. If ever there was a quick meal designed for life on the go, this is it. The spices are rich and the chickpeas are filling, but the burrito travels well and waits for you until you're ready for it. The Flying Monkey doesn't exist on College St. anymore, and I've been unable to find this burrito anywhere else, so I set about making my own. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: chickpea, spicy, burrito, tortilla, Indian, chana

Six-Ingredient Vegan Butterscotch Pudding with Mango and Blueberry

My side-project to fill my recipe file with satisfying vegan desserts continues today with a reasonable facsimile of butterscotch pudding, topped with fresh mango and blueberries. Anybody who's been vegan for a while knows that we're not the least bit deprived -- we have access to a rich variety of foods with vibrant, spicy flavours and pleasant textures. But there's nothing like following up a curry or other spicy dish with a sweet, cool dessert that caps off the meal and refreshes your tingling mouth. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: butterscotch, soy, dessert, pudding

Baked Tofu and Veggies in a Balsamic Marinade

When I was a young omnivore I used to take the train a lot, so much that I got addicted to business class. (It's way too easy to rationalize the extra ticket cost when you're looking at spending half a day sitting in an uncomfortable seat with a bunch of strangers -- at least this way you'd get a couple of glasses of wine and a hot meal.) Serving meals on mass transportation is a bit of a lost art, but like me you might be old enough to remember (and get nostalgic for) a time when it was routine everywhere. I was always amazed by the flavour they were able to pack into those little convection-heated, single-serving dishes, which when paired with a little wine, some fresh bread, coffee and dessert, left you feeling completely satisfied and well taken care of. Unless you were vegan. Vegans in those days got spaghetti in a watery tomato sauce or a salad with some fruit and pecans strewn on top. Vegan meals were definitely an afterthought, or so it seemed. I was thinking about this the other day, and I wondered if there was a way to make a single-pan meal with a vegan protein and all the veggies and herbs that the omnivores used to get on the train. This recipe is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: tofu, mushroom, balsamic_vinegar, potato, marinade, comfort_food

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: soup, healthy, lentil, lima_bean, 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: spicy, Chinese, Indian, Hakka, tempeh, ginger, cilantro, sauce

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, comfort_food, mushroom, cashew, 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, bean

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

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, 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: 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, healthy, hummus, portobello, mushroom, 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, mushroom, tomato_sauce, sandwich, Italian, marinara, sauce

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: tofu, stirfry, mushroom, shiitake, spicy, Chinese, sauce

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, chickpea, healthy, 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: maple_syrup, coconut, comfort_food, coconut_butter, coconut_oil, chocolate

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: lentil, Turkish, 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, 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, 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

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: Chinese, tofu, maple_syrup, ginger, spicy, sauce