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Meatless Mondays

Black Bean Soup yum

Black bean soup

Meatless Monday! Here’s today’s rainy Fall season recipe.

Black Bean Soup


2 15 oz. cans black beans

4 cups veggie stock (Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, eg.)

1 yellow onion

3 cloves garlic

1 piece of ginger root (about the size of a C battery)

3 carrots

3 stalks celery

1 leek

2 red bell peppers

1/2 bunch parsley

Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 cup red cooking wine (2 Buck Chuck will do)

2 tablespoons cumin

1 cinnamon stick




Roast the peppers over an open stove top flame, turning occassionally until they’re charred and black all over.

Meanwhile, dice the onion. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium high heat. Sautée the onions, stirring frequently. Chop garlic; peel the carrots and cut them finely; chop celery; skin and dice garlic; chop leeks into fine slices. When onions are translucent, add the other vegetables. Keep stirring frequently.

When peppers are done, remove them from the flame and set them aside to cool.

After about five minutes of sautéing vegetables and herbs in the stock pot, add the wine and vegetable stock, and turn flame down to simmer. Add cumin and cinnamon stick. Dice a couple chipotle peppers, and toss them into the pot with about two tablespoons of adobo sauce. Add two cans of beans, with juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Let the soup cook for another ten minutes or so, then serve. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Meatless Monday recipes: Braised Fennel with Roasted Grape Tomatoes. Kale Chips and Hummus.

Braised fennel

Here’s a couple of vegan dishes that can be served as snacks. starters or sides.

Braised Fennel with Roasted Grape Tomatoes


One bulb fennel

Two cloves garlic

12-15 grape tomatoes

3/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp dried fennel seeds

1 tsp Harissa (optional)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil into a cast iron skillet and heat. Chop the fennel into bite size pieces (somewhere between a slice and a dice). When the oil is hot, toss the fennel into the skillet on medium high heat.

As the fennel cooks, cut the grape tomatoes into halves. Sprinkle fennel seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper on the tomatoes and toss in olive oil. Place on a cookie tray and put it in the oven when fully heated. Let the tomatoes roast for about 30 minutes.

Dice garlic.

Do not stir the fennel until it starts to develop a caramelized glaze. When it does, stir once in order to brown on both sides. Once it is browned on both sides, add garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper and pour in the wine. Keep cooking until wine has fully evaporated. Fennel should become soft and not too chewy.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and toss with the fennel. If you have Harissa, you can add a small dollop and mix it into the dish.

Serve immediately as a warm dish, or refrigerate and serve cool.

Kale Chips and Hummus

Kale Chips:


One bunch kale

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Chop kale into bite size pieces. Remove stems. Toss in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake in oven about 20 minutes, or until crisp.



One can (~15 oz.) chick peas (garbanzo beans)

Tahini (see instructions for measurements)

Two cloves garlic

One wedge lemon (1/4 of the whole fruit)

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper


There’s really no reason in the world to buy pre-made hummus at the grocery store. It almost always tastes worse than what you can make on your own and has the wrong consistency, it often has chemical preservatives added, and it’s ridiculously overpriced for what’s in it. Once you learn to make hummus at home, it’ll take you 5-10 minutes to make a batch that will last you a week.

Pour the can of chick peas into a food processor, dumping most, but not all, of the juice. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the mix.

Making good hummus requires a lot of tasting and adjusting, especially with the tahini and olive oil. Recipes diverge dramatically in terms of the proportion of tahini, and the amount of olive oil you use really depends upon how thick and creamy you like your hummus. Start with a couple tablespoons of tahini and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the mixture, but be prepared to add more (I often use as much as 1/4 cup of each).

Turn on the food processor and blend the mixture until smooth. Taste the hummus. Is it not creamy enough, or too thick? Add olive oil. Is it bland? Add more tahini and salt. Too thin? More tahini. Keep adjusting, a little bit at a time, until you have it right to your taste.

Serve with kale chips.

Meatless Monday recipe: Mushroom and fennel risotto



1 1/4 cup arborio rice

3/4 lb assorted mushrooms (crimini, shitake, oyster, or whatever you prefer)

1/2 large bulb fennel

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Two cloves garlic

One sprig rosemary

1/2 cup white wine

Large saucepan full of vegetable broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup grated parmesan, romano or pecorino cheese (optional)


Bring your vegetable stock to a boil, then simmer. While you wait for the stock to heat, slice your mushrooms, chop your parsley, dice your garlic, and remove your rosemary from its stem. Slice your fennel into thin strips. Set it all aside.

Once your stock is simmering, drizzle some olive oil into a large saucepan and heat it up. Add the dry arborio rice and let it toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it’s slightly browned, pour two ladlefuls of stock into the saucepan with the rice. It should be enough submerge all of the rice, but just barely. Turn the heat down to low.

In a separate skillet, drizzle plenty of olive oil, heat it, then add the fennel. Sauté the fennel until it’s browned and slightly caramelized on both sides. Then add 1/4 cup of white wine and cover.

While cooking the fennel, keep your eye on the rice. Whenever the rice has absorbed most of the stock in the pan, add a couple more ladlefuls. The rice should never be without stock, but you should add only enough at a time to keep it barely submerged, then wait until most of it has been absorbed before adding more. This slow and methodical method of cooking the rice is what makes risotto creamy. It requires constant attention. (If you start to run low on stock, be sure to heat another small saucepanful before you run out.)

Once the white wine has boiled off the fennel, add the fennel to the rice, along with the mushrooms, garlic and rosemary. Keep cooking the rice as before.

Once the rice has been cooking for about 20 minutes, start tasting it for softness. Look for a pleasantly creamy consistency, somewhere between regular rice and porridge. (Don’t let it become so creamy that it’s mushy, however.) Once it begins to approach the right consistency, stop adding stock, add 1/4 cup white wine, and wait for the wine and the remaining stock to boil off.

Turn off the heat, add the chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cheese if you’d like, or leave it out to keep it vegan. Stir and serve.

Meatless Monday recipe: Vietnamese caramelized tofu


Vietnamese Caramelized Tofu

I borrowed this recipe from Herbivoracious. You have to buy the cookbook to get the exact recipe, but there’s a helpful video on the site that tells you everything except for precise proportions. So below is what was my best guess at a recipe (the mushrooms were my own addition). I can’t tell you it’s really Vietnamese, but I can tell you it’s tasty. The recipe below should serve two.


One box of firm tofu

Two stalks green onions

1/2 white onion

1 cup white rice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp rice wine, regular white wine or mirin

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

Two cloves garlic

2 tbsp chopped ginger

Five dried chili peppers

6-8 crimini mushrooms


Start the rice in a cooker. Take the tofu out of its packaging and place on a cutting board.  Put a little bit of weight on top of it to drain some of its moisture (if it comes in a box that you can fill with water; that will do as a weight).  Leave it for five minutes.

Dice the ginger and garlic. Slice the white onion into strips.  Chop the green onion finely. Slice the mushrooms.

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (you may need two pans for space). While you wait for the oil to heat, put the sugar in a bowl, then add the rice wine (or regular white wine or mirin), the rice wine vinegar, the sesame oil, the soy sauce, the ginger and the garlic. Whisk it together.

Take the weight off the tofu, toss out the water that’s drained from it, and slice the tofu into flat squares (maybe twelve or so out of a 12 oz. package). When the oil is hot, place the tofu in the skillet in one layer.  Once the tofu is brown on one side, pour the sauce on top. Toss the white onion in the skillet with it, as well as the mushrooms and the chili peppers (the peppers are to flavor the sauce and for presentation; don’t eat them).

Let the ingredients cook for a few minutes until the sugar caramelizes and the sauce becomes a glaze.

When the rice is ready, serve it in two bowls.  Place the tofu on top of the rice, and pour the sauce that remains in the skillet over it. Sprinkle each bowl with the chopped green onions and serve.

Meatless Monday recipes: Avocado Tahini, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Sautéed Shishito Peppers


All three of these are quick, easy and simple vegan dishes that can be served individually as appetizers or tapas, or together as a light meal for two.

Avocado Tahini

This is a recipe borrowed (stolen) from Elf Cafe, which, despite its terrible website, is the greatest vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles.


One avocado

One lemon wedge

2 1/2 tablespoons tahini

Olive oil

Two cloves garlic

Pinch of turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste


Scoop the avocado out of its skin and put it into a food processor.  Add the garlic and tahini.  Squeeze the juice out of the lemon wedge into the mix.  Add a pinch of turmeric, a dash of salt (to taste) and some ground pepper.  Add about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Blend the ingredients in the food processor, adding salt, pepper and tahini to taste if necessary.  Drizzle more olive oil as you blend until you achieve a smooth, silky consistency (should not be too sticky or dense), then serve.

Warm some pita and serve it alongside the avocado tahini.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes


Three tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons dried fennel seeds


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Chop the tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Grease a cookie sheet with a dollop of olive oil.  Season the cut sides of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place them face down on the cookie sheet.  Lather the round sides of the tomatoes with a little bit of olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper as well.  When the oven is heated, put the tomatoes in and let them roast for about 40 minutes.  Then flip the tomatoes cut side up and add a pinch of fennel seeds to each.  Put them back in the oven for another ten minutes, then serve.  If you have olives, they’ll go nicely on the side.

Sautéed Shishito Peppers


1/2 lb shishito peppers

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tspn lemon juice


Heat the sesame oil in a skillet until it is very hot.  Place the shishitos in the skillet.  Sauté them for about a minute, then add the soy sauce and lemon juice.  Let them cook for another minute until the peppers are crispy and not chewy, with some of the edges blackened.  Serve.

Meatless Monday recipe: Panzanella and Kale Caesar’s Salad



As with Gazpacho, the most important ingredient in Panzanella – or Tuscan Bread Salad – is fresh tomatoes.  So this is a dish best made in the summer, when tomatoes are their most flavorful.


Two large tomatoes or three small-to-medium ones (vine-ripened or heirloom are great)

10-15 cherry tomatoes (optional)

Half a large red onion

10-15 large basil leaves

2 tablespoons capers

2 cloves garlic

A large chunk of old bread

Butter or Earth Balance

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Manchego or Iberico cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the onion into wafer thin slices, and put them into a bowl of water at room temperature so that all of the onion slices are submerged.  Chop the tomatoes into thick slices, about 6-8 slices per tomato (if you’re using cherry tomatoes as well, chop each in half).  Dice the garlic.  Tear the bread into large crouton-sized chunks.  Heat butter in a skillet (olive oil or Earth Balance to keep it vegan).  Toss the bread into the skillet on medium high heat (keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn), and stir it around occasionally until it’s golden brown on two or three sides.  Drain the water from the onion in a colander.  Throw the tomatoes, onion, garlic and capers into a large mixing bowl.  Tear the basil leaves by hand and toss them into the bowl.  Add the bread, and if you’re using the cheese, slice some pieces into it with a cheese plane.  Dress it with olive oil and vinegar, with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the salad and serve it.

Kale Caesar’s Salad

When it comes to salad dressings, there is nothing exact about the measurements in any recipe.  So take the proportions below as very rough guidelines; you really have to judge it by taste.  If you mix up a batch of dressing and toss it and the salad tastes underdressed, then just mix up a little bit more.


One bunch of kale

Two cloves garlic

2 tablespoons mustard

1 tablespoon Veganaise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Manchego or Iberico cheese (optional)

Note: DO NOT use Worcestershire sauce in your Caesar’s dressing; it contains anchovies.


Dice the garlic.  Put the mustard, Veganaise, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic into a small bowl, and whip it into a creamy dressing with a fork.  Add salt and pepper.  Adjust to taste.  This is your dressing.

Chop the kale into very thin slices, about the width of linguini.  Once you have the taste of the dressing right, put the kale in a large mixing bowl and pour the dressing on top.  Toss the salad thoroughly, so that all of the kale is evenly dressed.  If you’re using cheese, grate it on top.

Serve and enjoy.

Meatless Monday recipe: Gazpacho


“Gazpacho” is a fairly loose moniker for a cool tomato soup dish that can include a wide range of ingredients, meaning that you can get away with using a lot of your own discretion in picking and choosing what goes in it.  So take liberties with this recipe.  The most important thing is that the tomatoes are fresh and flavorful.  In fact, since this is a dish entirely composed of raw vegetables (it’s liquified salad, essentially), the ingredients’ flavors will speak for themselves and if they’re not great, there’s not a lot you can do to disguise them, so the same should really be said for all of your produce.

This is a cool and refreshing dish, strictly for tomato season, meaning the summer, especially late summer.


Four medium tomatoes, or three tomatoes and a large handful of cherry or grape tomatoes

One red onion

One cucumber

1/2 fennel bulb (can substitute with two stalks celery)

1/2 cup chopped basil or parsley

Three cloves garlic

One avocado (optional)

One jalapeño pepper (optional)

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Roughly dice the tomatoes, red onion, fennel and garlic, as well as the jalapeño if you want it spicy.  Peel, seed and chop the cucumber.  Along with basil or parsley, throw it all into a blender, or into a food processor in batches.  Between spurts of blending, drizzle the olive oil and vinegar to taste.  Do the same with the white wine, if you choose to use it.  Season to taste.  Optional: toss a few slices of avocado on top of each serving.  Serve cool.

If you have ten minutes to spare, make some croutons by tearing up some old bread and sautéing it in butter (or Earth Balance spread to keep it vegan) until it’s golden brown on both sides.  Add to the soup as a garnish.

Gazpacho is great with cool pesto pasta on a hot day.  If the white wine you used to cook with is decent, drink the rest of the bottle with the meal.