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Doubledecker Vegan Tostadas with Refried Black BeansEasy Vegan Pad ThaiNothing Beats Bagels Fresh from the OvenVegan Apple Banana Bread will Fill your Kitchen with the Sweet Aroma of HomeMaking Maki at HomeVegan Mushroom Pate with Lentils and CashewsMarinating and Grilling Portobello MushroomsBig Soft Pitas for Wraps

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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

Nothing Beats Bagels Fresh from the Oven

Ah November. Your bad reputation is undeserved. Heavy sweaters, fireplaces and baking are some of our favourite things. Like all bread-baking projects, making bagels at home will make your house smell fantastic. That's a given. But there is something inexplicably wholesome about fresh sesame seed bagels. The first time you slice one of these and toast it, I don't think it's an exaggeration at all to say that you won't think of bagels the same way again. The freshness is almost overwhelming. A little margarine and hummus or sliced tomato or peanut butter is pretty much all you need for a relaxing, satisfying lunch. Try to stare out a big window while eating slowly and sipping something hot. More

Filed under: Recipes > Bread

Tags: bagels, sesame, vegan, bread

Making Maki at Home

The temptation to make maki sushi rolls at home springs mostly from the lack of food for vegetarians at most Japanese restaurants. Most have vegetarian bento boxes with some avocado rolls, but those usually leave me feeling a little ripped-off. When you're making everything yourself, you can skip the things you don't like (never been a fan of deep-fried tofu) and emphasize the things you love (e.g., broccoli tempura). This idea has led to lots of experimenting in my kitchen lately. Maki sushi is an absolute necessity for any of these imaginary Japanese feasts, so I thought I would nail it down first. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: sushi, maki, Japanese, rice, nori, vegan, cucumber, daikon

Vegan Apple Banana Bread will Fill your Kitchen with the Sweet Aroma of Home

I'm always a little bit surprised how easy it is to veganize most baked goods. This one was particularly enjoyable. The tartness of the grated apple mingles beautifully with the sweetness of the banana and brown sugar. But what you'll notice most about the finished product is a tender, moist texture, which I think we can chalk up to the apples and flax egg. The whole-wheat flour melts into the background, providing healthy fibre without hitting you over the head with heaviness. Legit desserts for vegans are pretty few and far between. This one feels light and happy and it provides a beautiful contrasting finish to most meals. It's also a delightful accompaniment for a coffee. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: vegan, apple, banana, coconut, flax, dessert

Vegan Cheesy Garlic Pasta

I'm not sure I have the words for the way this cheesy, garlicky pasta makes me feel. I usually have it on a weekend evening after a day spent running around, accompanied by some kind of adult beverage. It feels like a mini-celebration of whatever little accomplishment the day produced. Or if there was no accomplishment, it feels like the perfect way to top off a day spent exploring the city, reading and recharging. Fettuccine, garlic and olive oil were meant for eachother. The cheesy flavour is supplied by nutritional yeast. Dried basil adds a faint hint of pesto. This is one of those dishes where the vegan version tastes better than the dairy version. The combination is way more than the sum of its parts. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, comfort_food, nutritional_yeast, pasta, noodles

Falafels from Scratch

A vegetarian newly arrived in any major city quickly sniffs out the decent falafel shops. It's really one of the only meals you can pick up and enjoy on the go with little advance planning. And I do mean enjoy. It's not about the chickpeas -- it's about the onion, lemon, parsley and spices. Of course, the chickpeas are the vehicle that delivers all that flavour to your mouth, and there would be no falafels without them, but the other ingredients are what make you go mmmmmmm. The chickpeas also contribute some good, quality vegan protein, which is never a bad thing. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: falafel, vegan, salad, tahini, chickpeas, comfort_food

Building Dinner around Grilled Portobellos

As much as I love grilled portobello mushrooms, I have to admit that there isn't a whole lot going on nutritionally, aside from some niacin and minerals. Don't get me wrong, I'm crazy about niacin and minerals, but one mushroom has 2 or 3 grams of protein, and the recommended daily intake is somewhere between 50 and 90 grams depending on your weight and gender. To make a complete vegan meal featuring these juicy flavour bombs requires some nutritional gap-filling, which is not all that tough to do with a little advance planning. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, mushrooms, beans, sweet_potato, sandwich

Easy Vegan Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a delicious noodle dish, but it's almost impossible to find a vegan version in the real world. Even if you can get it without the scrambled egg mixed in, it is usually full of fish sauce. Still, there is something magical about the combination of sweet, tangy, salty and spicy flavours that makes me want to try my own version. With tofu for protein, broccoli for colour and beansprouts for their unique earthy flavour, you've got a complete meal in one dish. I add the peanuts, sriracha sauce and lime after the noodles are on the plate so that everything stays fresh and vibrant. This is clearly comfort food, a once-in-a-while treat, especially suited to cold nights after a long day of outdoor activity. In other words, October. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, pad_thai, noodles, tofu, comfort_food

Ribsticking Vegan Baked Beans for Cold Nights

I've been wanting to do a proper vegan slowcooker beans recipe for a while now. Except for repeated viewings of Blazing Saddles, my only real experience with baked beans as a side dish has been the occasional camping trip, and the canned beans were definitely not a highlight. We're talking unappetizing, mushy beans in a sauce that somehow tastes both weak and excessively sweet at the same time. We have to be able to do something better from scratch -- the bar is not very high. More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: beans, vegan, maple_syrup, slow_cooker

Marinating and Grilling Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are the steak of the vegetarian world. They respond very nicely to a BBQ grill, and their juicy flavour and tender texture are extremely steakish. It's unusual for something so delicious to be so easy to prepare. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: portobellos, marinating, vegan, mushrooms, balsamic, grill

Chana Masala is About the Most Fun You Can Have with Chickpeas

Like many Toronto people, my introduction to chana masala came from one of the many outstanding Indian buffet restaurants that I was addicted to in my 20s. When you think about it, these restaurants are unique in big cities for the proportion of their menus that are devoted to vegetarian offerings, and their dedication to spiciness, two very important qualities when looking for a place to eat out, IMHO. Chana masala was always a big part of the magnetic pull toward these restaurants, a pull that I found pretty much impossible to resist. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, healthy, Indian, chickpeas, curry, spicy

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

Save Room for Vegan Apple Crisp

Of course, apple crisp is a classic. Tangy apples on the bottom are set off against a sweet, crumbly oatmeal topping. Butter is usually a big part of that topping. As an experiment, I wanted to see whether I could use a combination of plant-based oils to produce the crumbly-but-substantial texture that gave this dessert its name. More

Filed under: Recipes > Desserts

Tags: vegan, comfort_food, apples, dessert, coconut

Aloo Gobi will Make your Mouth Happy

Cauliflower is one of the in-vogue vegetables right now. It seems like you can't start up a browser without seeing a cauliflower used as some kind of stand-in for carbs: a rice substitute, a bread ingredient or even the base of a pizza crust. As tempting as these nutritious replacements are, you can never go wrong with the classics. And aloo gobi is definitely a classic cauliflower dish. The magic is in the spice -- a perfect blend of spicy, tangy and salty. It's a popular North Indian accompaniment and a delicious way to get your cauliflower. More

Filed under: Recipes > Side Dishes

Tags: vegan, comfort_food, cauliflower, potatoes, Indian, spicy

Grilled Tofu in Garlic Lemon Sauce

Tofu is an acquired taste for sure, and it's a rare person who is a fan on first tasting. Common complaints include blandness and a gelatinous texture. I felt the same way at first, but I'm glad I stuck with tofu past these early impressions. (Who really liked beer the first time they tasted it?) Over time I developed a taste for tofu. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, tofu, garlic, lemon, healthy, grilling

Grilled Tempeh Bowl with Vegan Mushroom Gravy

In many North American meat-eating households, family celebrations almost always feature turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies. A lot of us grew up participating in these celebrations and the memories are deep-seated. KFC taps into these memories quite effectively by marketing a bowl consisting of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken and gravy. What if we could make a vegan version of that bowl with a good source of protein and a vegan gravy that actually tastes good? More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, comfort_food, tempeh, gravy, potatoes, mushrooms

East Meets West Black Bean Burrito

Vegan burritos deserve to have daring and exotic ingredients that complement eachother and leave you satisfied. I was at a local burrito place not too long ago with just such a vegan offering, one that actually seemed more appetizing to me than anything else on their menu. It was chock full of interesting flavours and textures to the point that every bite was different than the one before. I left pleasantly full with my mouth slightly burning and my mind percolating ideas about concocting something similar at home. Toronto's vast cultural mosaic inspires me yet again. More

Filed under: Recipes > Main Dishes

Tags: vegan, burrito, Mexican, Chinese, noodles, beans

Homemade 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

Hummus Wrap with Homemade Pita Bread

I work in a hospital during the week and I (very) occasionally have to avail myself of the trucked-in meals. The one thing in this factory-supplied, mini-cafe nightmare that I can count on for flavour, freshness and even nutrition is a pita wrap with hummus, romaine lettuce and shredded carrot. Inexplicably, the pita is always soft and fresh, the hummus tastes homemade and the raw veggies are crisp and abundant. Rather than tempt fate by becoming dependent on this pita-wrapped oasis in the desert of institutionally outsourced "food," I decided to try to duplicate it at home. Last week, I bought one and took it apart to reverse engineer it. More

Filed under: Recipes > Light Meals & Snacks

Tags: vegan, healthy, hummus, pita, wrap, carrot

Big Soft Pitas for Wraps

I have a recurring need for big, soft pita bread that I can use for wraps. We're talking twelve inches in diameter, thin enough to wrap around the wrap's goodies, and strong enough to do so without falling apart. As usual, I turned to the internet for inspiration and then started experimenting. More

Filed under: Recipes > Bread

Tags: pita, bread, vegan, healthy