Southwest-style Vegan Tacos

Tacos are a delicious, fun option for any get-together! Instead of worrying about serving guests something they dislike, let them choose what to put on their tacos! Plus it makes for a more interactive dinner, if that’s what you’re into.

This taco recipe is divided into a few different components. Feel free to substitute ingredients and try a bunch of different things, whatever you like!

Prep time: ~60 min
Serves: 4-6
Gluten-free (if using corn tortillas)

Ingredients:

  • Tortillas or tortilla chips.

Guacamole:

  • 2 ripe avocados, mashed.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced.
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lime juice

Mix everything together well.

Corn Salsa:

  • 2 cobs of corn, boiled and cooled, kernels cut off the cobs (defrosted frozen corn works fine too!).
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped.
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped.
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped.
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped.
  • salt
  • pepper

Mix everything together well.

Rice and beans:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed well.
  • 2 cups cooked rice.
  • 1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander, garlic, and chili powder.
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Fry the beans and rice lightly in the oil. Add in the spices and stir well, continuing to fry until just fragrant.

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Vegan Ma Po Tofu

A delicious, tremendously spicy dish from the Sichuan (or Szechuan, depending how you spell it) province of China, and a new go-to of mine! This is a rich, flavourful stew served on a bed of rice. Easy to prepare and quick to make. Not the most traditional version of the dish, to be fair, but it sure is delicious!

There are a couple of ingredients you might not be familiar with in this dish: Sichuan peppercorns and chili bean sauce. You can find both of these quite easily at a Chinese supermarket! Sichuan peppercorns are wonderfully spicy and leave an almost tingly feeling in your mouth – great for making your own spicy oil for various stir fry dishes. The chili bean sauce is made from fermented broad beans and chilies. It’s incredibly delicious and provides most of the seasoning for the dish, since it’s quite salty!

If you have a lower spice tolerance, feel free to omit the chilies or reduce the amount of peppercorns used.

Traditionally, this dish would use ground pork, but here I’ve replaced that with mushrooms, to make it vegan-friendly while still keeping that lovely umami flavour. Normally this would be cooked in a wok, but if you don’t have one, a deep frying pan will work just fine!

Prep time: ~30 minutes.
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns.
  • 2 red chilies, finely diced.
  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced.
  • 3 tbsp garlic, peeled and finely diced.
  • 200 g. button mushrooms, finely diced.
  • 1-2 tbsp chili bean sauce.
  • 1 tsp soy sauce.
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar.
  • 200 ml boiling water.
  • 400 g. tofu (anywhere from medium to firm is fine!), cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 2 tsp cornstarch.
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced.

Cooking Instructions:

Before you begin, start cooking some long-grain rice, about 1/4 cup per person. This will take about as long as the rest of the dish!

Start by grinding half of the peppercorns in a spice grinder or mortar or pestle, just until you get a coarse, crumb-like consistency.

Heat the oil in the wok over medium-high heat, and add in the peppercorns and chilies. Fry for a couple of minutes, until the oil takes on some of the colour, then add in the ginger and garlic.

Keep everything moving in the pan, and fry for a couple of minutes, until the ginger and garlic become fragrant. Add the mushrooms in, and once they become soft, stir in the chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and water.

Make a cornstarch slurry in a small dish by mixing the cornstarch with a couple teaspoons of water. Add that to the pan, and stir it through well until it begins to thicken into a lovely sauce.

Bring to a gentle bubble, then stir in the tofu, being careful not to break the pieces. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the tofu to heat through completely. Check

Spoon some rice into the bottom of a bowl, then top with the stew. Sprinkle a small handful of chopped scallions, and enjoy!

Vegan Rice Bowl

Kind of similar to the Quinoa Black Bean Bowl I posted several months ago, this is a relatively easy recipe that can be tailored to your personal tastes!

I’ve included two variations of this style of bowl – one with brown rice, fried tofu, and fresh vegetables, and the other with a brown-and-wild rice medley with roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, and beans.

This recipe can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free soy sauce and substitute the flour for another gluten-free flour (I’ve used brown rice flour for this, and it works quite well).

Serves 6
Prep time: ~30 minutes for the tofu bowl, ~45 minutes for the sweet potato bowl.

Ingredients:

For the tofu bowl:

  • 200 g extra firm tofu.
  • 2 tsp sesame oil.
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice.
  • 2 tsp soy sauce.
  • 1 tsp grated ginger.
  • 1/2 – 1 cup flour, for coating the tofu.
  • pinch of black pepper.
  • 2 cups brown rice, rinsed.
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated into thin strips.
  • 2 large beets, peeled and grated into thin strips.
  • 1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), sliced into very thin strips.
  • 6 large handfuls spinach (or other greens – bok choy would work nicely), washed.

For the sweet potato bowl:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 2 tsp Za’atar (Middle Eastern blend of herbs and sesame seeds), or other herbs.
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets.
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets.
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
  • 1.5 cups brown rice, rinsed.
  • 1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed.
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.

For the dressing (goes with both bowls):

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce.
  • 1/3 cup apple cider/balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 tbsp tahini.
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped.
  • splash of hot sauce.
  • pinch of black pepper.
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works well).

Cooking Instructions:

For the dressing:

Add the soy, vinegar, tahini, garlic, hot sauce, and vinegar to a blender/food processor. If you have an immersion blender, use the beaker that came with it. Blend the dressing, slowly dribbling in the oil.

Alternatively, mince the garlic very finely, and then just mix it all together in a bowl with a fork. Depends on how much effort you want to expend.

For the tofu bowl:

Cook your brown rice in a rice cooker, or in  a pot on the stove according to package directions. Add a splash of oil and a pinch of salt to the water. While it cooks, it’s time to press and marinate your tofu.

This is how I like to press my tofu – place it on a bed of paper towels on a large plate, then place another plate on top. Put something heavy on top of the plate (a couple of cans or a cookbook work well!), and allow it to press on the tofu for at least 10 minutes.

Once you’re done pressing the tofu, cut it into 1 cm cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl along with the sesame oil, soy sauce, five spice, and ginger, and mix well. Set aside to marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate your carrots and beets. You want them to be as long as possible, but nice and thin! If you don’t have a grater, you can sliced them into a very fine julienne. Slice your peppers up too.

When the tofu is done marinating, get a large frying pan on high heat, and add enough oil to generously cover to bottom of the pan.

Prep a large shallow bowl with the flour. Add a pinch of black pepper to the flour for seasoning. Roll the tofu in the flour, tapping off the excess, and then add it to the pan. Fry the tofu, flipping it so it cooks evenly on all sides. Once the tofu is browned and crispy all over, remove it from the pan and pat off excess oil on a paper towel. You could also deep-fry the tofu, if you feel like going to the effort of it.

Serve with the brown rice in the bottom, then the spinach, then the sliced vegetables, then the tofu. Add as much or as little dressing as you like!

For the sweet potato bowl:

Mix the rice all together and cook either in a rice cooker, or on the stove. This amount of rice should use about 4 cups of water and take about 45 minutes. Add a splash of oil and a pinch of salt to the water used to cook the rice. Now, time to prep everything else.

Toss your sweet potatoes with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and the Za’atar. Pop them in an oven at 400 F/190 C for approx 30 minutes, until they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

When the sweet potatoes have about 10 minutes left in the oven, heat a lidded frying pan over medium heat with a splash of oil in the bottom. When the oil is hot, add your broccoli and cauliflower. Cook, covered, for a couple minutes, then add your lemon juice. Stir every so often, keeping the lid on the pan, so that the vegetables steam in the lemon juice. When they become tender, season with salt and pepper, then take them off the heat.

Stir the black beans into the rice mixture, then serve with the rice on the bottom, then the broccoli and cauliflower, and top with the sweet potato. Add as much or as little dressing as you like!

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I love squash. And I love stuffing vegetables with things  (stuffed bell peppers and tomatoes are some of my favourites), so this is a great combination for me and all other squash lovers!

Squash have a very long shelf life, and tend to be fairly inexpensive. So if you, like me, are having trouble finding affordable produce because you live in Canada (where nothing grows between October and March), keeping a couple squash around can make planning dinner easier!

I chose acorn squash for this recipe mostly because they’re small and easy to handle, and because a couple of acorn squash can easily feed 4 people. Or 2 very hungry people.

Gluten-free
Serves 4
Prep time: ~60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 small acorn squash, sliced in half and de-seeded.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil of your choice (olive oil, butternut squash seed oil, you decide!).
  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced/crushed.
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed.
  • 2 cups vegetable stock.
  • 500 g mushrooms, finely sliced.
  • 1 handful walnuts, crushed.
  • 1 handful pecans, crushed.
  • 1 small handful dried fruit (raisins, currants, etc – optional).
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried).
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste).
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 F/185 C. Line a large baking tray with aluminium foil. See if your squash halves will rest hollow-side-up without falling over. If so, great! If not, slice a little bit off the back side to make sure it won’t topple over later.

Rub the inside of your squash generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place the halves hollow-side-down on your baking sheet. Bake for approx 30-45 minutes, until the squash is nice and tender. This will depend on how big your squash is.

Meanwhile, making the stuffing – start out by heating a large pot on medium heat with a tablespoon or so of oil in the bottom. when the oil is hot, add in your onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the mushrooms are nicely cooked, this should take 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the nuts, dried fruit, thyme, nutmeg, and cayenne. Next, add in the rice and vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid is all absorbed and the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes.

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and flip it hollow-side-up. If the cavity is smaller than you’d like, scoop out some of the squash and mix it in with your filling. Spoon your filling into the squash, being careful not to poke holes in the skin. If you do poke a hole, seal it up with a bit of tinfoil.

Cover the squash with tinfoil as best as you can, to keep it from burning, and pop it back into the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve piping hot!

 

Fasouliah b’zeit

Also called Loubyeh b’zeit, this is a Lebanese dish. It consists of stewed green beans in a deliciously garlicky tomato sauce, served over rice. This is a friend’s recipe, with his little tips and tricks to make it the way he likes.

This also includes a bonus recipe for Adha – garlic toasted in olive oil. Super yummy, and a staple in many Middle-Eastern (particularly Palestinian) dishes.

Prep time: ~40 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the stew:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced/crushed.
  • 500 grams green beans (fresh or frozen).
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes, sliced thinly, with the juice reserved.
  • 1 tsp Baharat (see recipe on this blog!)
  • hot sauce or dried chili flakes, if desired, to taste.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1 1/2 cups rice.

For the Adha:

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced fairly thinly.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil.

 

Cooking Instructions:

Place a large pot on medium heat with the olive oil in the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Add a generous pinch of salt – this will help draw the moisture out of the onion and allow it to caramelize slightly.

Cook, stirring often, until the onion has just started to caramelize, then add in the green beans and tomatoes. Stir well to combine, and bring to a bubble.

While the stew is cooking, make some rice, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup per person.

Once the stew is bubbling, add in the Baharat and hot sauce/chili flakes, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for as long as you like, but at least 20 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Taste just before serving, and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Just before serving, time to make the toasted garlic.

Make sure the garlic isn’t sliced too thinly, or it will burn, but also not too thickly, because then the middle won’t cook properly. Heat a small (very small) frying pan on medium-low heat with the olive oil in it. Add in the garlic slices.

Fry, stirring frequently, until the garlic turns yellow. Take it off the heat, and allow the residual heat to finish cooking the garlic, until it’s a nice golden colour.

Pour it into the stew (or the rice, if you prefer). If you’re feeling fancy, remove the garlic from the oil and use it as a garnish on top instead of mixing it in with the rest.

Scoop a nice amount of rice into the bottom of a bowl, then top with the stew. Enjoy!

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A simple dish that lends itself quite well to weeknights – most of the time it takes to cook this dish is in the oven, so there’s minimal time spent hovering around the stove waiting for it to cook!

You can also make the filling a few days in advance, then just hollow out the peppers, fill them, and pop them in the oven.

Prep time: ~60 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed/minced.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup rice, rinsed well to remove excess starch.
  • 2/3 cup lentils, rinsed well.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 1 handful fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried).
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 4 large bell peppers.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F (180C)

Cook your rice and lentils. I like to cook them together in the same pot, but you can cook them separately if you like.

Heat a large frying pan on medium-low heat with the olive oil in it. Once the oil is hot, add the onion along with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, and reduce the heat slightly. Continue cooking, stirring every so often, until they begin to caramelize.

While the onions and garlic cook, cut the tops off of your peppers and hollow them out, being careful not to poke holes in them. I like to chop up the excess pepper bits and add them to the filling. Wrap the bottoms of the peppers with tinfoil, and place them in a large roasting dish. Make sure they’re stable and won’t fall over!

Add the leftover pepper bits to the onion and garlic, if you like, and continue cooking. Once the onions are lovely and caramelized, go ahead and dump in the tomatoes and oregano. Stir well to combine, then bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

When the rice and lentils are done, add everything to a large bowl and mix well. Spoon the filling into the peppers, making sure to fill them right to the brim. Drizzle the peppers with a bit of olive oil, then pop them in the oven for approx. 40 minutes, until the peppers are soft.

Serve right away, and enjoy!

 

Molokhia

Another Middle-Eastern dish. Spelled many ways (Mulukhiya, molohiya, etc),  it’s basically the leaves of the Corchorus plant, also called Jute leaves. You can find it at Middle-Eastern markets, and possibly in the more adventurous supermarkets. Don’t count on it, though.

It tastes rather similar to spinach, so if you can’t find molokhia anywhere, frozen spinach can be a suitable substitute.

Prep time: ~25 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen molokhia (or spinach)
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, with half set aside.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 4 cups vegetable stock.
  • 2 cups long-grain rice (white or brown).

Cooking Instructions:

First, get your rice going. Rice cookers are amazing, but if you don’t have one, just follow the directions on your rice. Different varieties of rice need more or less water, after all.

Next, place the oil in a small frying pan and heat it on medium heat. We’re going to toast off half the garlic to make the dish very aromatic.

Place the rest of the garlic, the frozen molokhia, and the stock in a pot on the stove on medium heat as well. You want to thaw the molokhia in the stock, that way it takes on more flavor.

When the oil is hot, add your garlic. Be careful, the oil might splash you, so keep your fingers back! Stir it frequently, making sure it’s nicely toasted and golden brown on all sides. When it’s toasted, take it off the heat.

Once the molokhia is thawed and starting to boil, add the toasted garlic along with the oil in the pan. Stir well, and let bubble for a few minutes. Serve the molokhia on top of a bed of rice, and enjoy!

 

Quick and Easy Risotto

Risotto is incredible. It’s a super creamy, delicious rice dish that’s easy to customize. It has a reputation for being tricky to cook, but as long as you keep an eye on it and keep stirring it, you shouldn’t have any trouble! My dad taught me to make risotto when I was 14, and I’ve since adjusted his recipe to make it vegan.

I’ve included two different variations in this recipe, since they’re both very yummy, but very different! You can add all sorts of things to risotto to make it interesting. Celery, peas, mushrooms, carrots… the list goes on and on. If you don’t drink alcohol, go ahead and add an extra cup of stock and a splash of vinegar to imitate the effect the wine has on the dish.

Prep time: ~30 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup arborio rice.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 small onion, finely diced.
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced.
  • ~3 cups vegetable stock (may need more or less, depends on how the rice behaves).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

For the white wine and vegetable risotto:

  • 1 cup white wine.
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into quarter-moons.
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced.

For the red wine and mushroom risotto:

  • 1 cup red wine.
  • 1 small handful dried mushrooms (porcini are the best, but a mixed variety is nice too).
  • drizzle of truffle oil to garnish (optional!).

Cooking Instructions:

Both of these risottos start out the same way: place a large saucepan on medium heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the arborio rice and fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add the onions and garlic and fry for another two minutes, stirring often to prevent everything from sticking. Add the wine and mix it into the rice well. Cook until the wine is absorbed into the rice, stirring often to make sure no rice gets stuck to the bottom of the pot.

If you’re making the vegetable risotto, now’s the time to add the bell pepper.

Add the vegetable stock in half-cup increments, waiting each time for the stock to get absorbed. Keep on stirring.

Once two cups of stock has been absorbed properly, it’s time to add the zucchini, if you’re making the vegetable risotto, or the mushrooms, if you’re making the mushroom risotto.

Keep adding the stock and stirring it until the rice is plump and tender. How much stock you’ll need to use with depend on your rice. Some brands need a lot of liquid before they’re properly cooked.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve piping hot! If you made the mushroom risotto, drizzle a little bit of truffle oil (or olive oil) over the top to be fancy.

Curried Eggplant and Chickpeas

Not a traditional curry in the least, but it’s yummy! The chickpeas add a nice amount of protein to this dish. This is also quite a quick meal to make, so it’s good for a weekday!

Prep time: ~25 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed to remove excess starch.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, cut into half moons.
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder.
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water.
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, shredded.
  • Hot sauce, to taste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:
Place your rice in a rice cooker with the appropriate amount of water, a little bit of oil, and some salt, and turn it on.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, then place the rice in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water, a little bit of oil, and some salt, and bring to a boil.
Stir the rice once, then cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the water is absorbed, and then take the pot off the heat. Let it stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and fragrant.
Then stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes.
Next, add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and hot sauce (if you’re using it), and cook until they’re warmed through.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the basil. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve the vegetables on a bed of rice. Enjoy!

Vegetable Fried Rice

My very own recipe! Took some trial and error to get to a point that I liked, but pretty yummy. Fair warning: this is not at all authentic Asian cuisine. I won’t even pretend that it is. This is very much “fusion food”. And much like many of my other recipes, this one starts out with frying onion and garlic. You could also add some tofu if you like, for some extra protein.

Prep time: ~30-40 minutes
Gluten-free (if gluten-free soy sauce is used)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice, pre-cooked and cooled.
  • 2 tsp sesame oil.
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced.
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets.
  • 1 cup snow peas or green peas.
  • 4 heads of bok choy, leaves separated from the stems.
  • Dash soy sauce/gluten-free soy sauce.
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice.
  • Fresh ginger, grated, to taste.
  • Hot sauce, to taste.
  • Black pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium heat with the oil in the bottom. When hot, add the onion, cook for a few minutes. Then add the garlic, and, shortly afterwards, the carrots. Cook until carrots begin to soften.

Next add the broccoli, and cook until it begins to soften. Toss in the peas and the bok choy stems, and when warmed through, add the leaves as well. Allow them to cook for a minute, then stir in the rice, soy sauce, five spice, ginger, pepper, and hot sauce, and continue stirring until everything is coated properly and the rice is hot. Serve immediately.