Categories
Vegetarian

Delicious Zucchini No-Meat Meatballs

Sometimes I feel a hankering for meatballs, but I don’t want to eat actual meat or even a meat substitute. I just want to eat my pasta topped with something filling, delicious, and veggie-based. I mean, I like a big bowl of pasta topped with sauce and veggies as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something a little more substantial that doesn’t include meat. Are you feeling me?

These zucchini no-meat meatballs are just the right fit to satisfy those cravings. I would describe these as similar to really good falafel, but bathed in marinara sauce and dotted with Parmesan. These are meatless, yes, but every bit as enjoyable and tasty as regular meatballs. Put this recipe in your “too much zucchini is growing in the garden” file for summer. You’ll surely be making this on a regular basis. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

2 c. shredded zucchini, liquid pressed out through a strainer

3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp. oregano

1 egg, beaten

1 c. Italian breadcrumbs

¼ c. Parmesan, grated

Salt and pepper

For serving:

2 c. marinara, prepared or homemade

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the shredded zucchini and cook it for 5 minutes, or until most of the water has cooked off. Drain the mixture in a strainer and press again to release any excess water. 

Place the zucchini mixture in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan, basil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and mix together thoroughly. Using your hands, form the mixture into 12-16 “meatballs.” Place on a greased baking sheet and bake until firm and browned (25 minutes or so). 

Remove the “meatballs” from the oven and place into a skillet with 2 cups of marinara sauce. Allow them to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and coats the “meatballs.”

Serve with pasta or simply alone, topped with Parmesan cheese.

Categories
Vegetarian

Perfect Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better than air-fryer cauliflower smothered in buffalo sauce and dipped in ranch or blue cheese dressing, these tacos came into my life. A few days ago, I had some extra cauliflower florets in the fridge and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. 

My first thought was to make an appetizer-sized bowl of buffalo cauliflower and serve it with a salad for a quick dinner. But then I had a much more fun idea: I could make buffalo cauliflower tacos topped with ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and jalapenos. Yeahhhh . . . now we’re talking. They were amazing. Try them for yourself, and I almost guarantee they will make you smile. 

Ingredients:

1 batch of Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

8 flour tortillas, warmed 

1 c. shredded carrots

½ c. cilantro, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

Ranch or blue cheese dressing

Blue cheese crumbles, optional

Jalapenos, optional 

Prepare the buffalo cauliflower in the air fryer. Place an even amount of cauliflower in warm tortillas. Top with carrots, cilantro, onions, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Serve hot! 

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Cabbage and Chana Dal Curry

It doesn’t get much healthier and cleaner than a huge bowl of warm and comforting cabbage curry. This meal is simple to prepare and is packed with flavor, but not packed with fat and calories. Every time I eat this meal, I truly enjoy every bite and feel completely satisfied after eating it. 

Cabbage and chana dal curry is proof that a meal can be both delicious and nutritious. Thanks to the aromatic garlic, ginger, onions, and spices, a simple pile of chopped veggies becomes a decadent and memorable dish. I like to serve this curry with a side of basmati rice as a vegan entree, but it can also be served as a healthy side dish alongside other Indian dishes. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

¼ c. chana dal or yellow split peas, cooked

3-4 c. cabbage, chopped

Salt to taste

Chopped cilantro, for topping

Basmati rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat ½ c. water over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 3-4 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside on a plate. Dry the skillet quickly.

Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and chana dal and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage back into the skillet and cook until the cabbage is tender (but not mushy). Season with salt. Serve with basmati rice. 

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Lahpet Thoke (Burmese Fermented Tea Leaf Salad)

Several years ago, I ate a salad while on vacation in northern California that was life changing. This lahpet thoke salad was so divinely different than anything I had ever eaten. It was a tastebud-altering experience, to say the least. My mind was boggled by the combination of the complex flavors and the simplicity of the ingredients. 

While I was still sitting in the unassuming Burmese strip-mall restaurant in which this salad first graced my palate, I vowed that I would learn to make this incredible salad on my own so that I could eat it as often as possible. I went home and got to work on replicating this salad. As it turns out, it wasn’t quite as simple as I thought to create a truly wonderful lahpet thoke. 

After many attempts and a few years of not quite “getting it,” I think I have finally found the right balance of ingredients. I have discovered that the true secret ingredient in a good lahpet thoke is a good quality sencha tea.  If you decide to make this, don’t get the cheapest sencha available. Spend a little more to get big, leafy tea without sticks. I promise it’ll be worth it. You may never eat a “normal American” salad again. 

Ingredients:

Fermented Tea Leaves:

¼ c. sencha tea leaves, loose

1 c. water

1 c. vinegar

¼ c. sesame oil

¼ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. maggi seasoning or dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. fish sauce or vegan fish sauce

Juice from one lemon

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt to taste

Salad:

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped 

2 roma tomatoes, diced

½ c. peanuts

½ c. sunflower seeds, shelled

¼ c. toasted sesame seeds (I prefer black and white)

½ c. fried chana dal or yellow split peas (see instructions below) 

¼ c. fried garlic, prepared or homemade

Lemon wedges, for serving

The fermented tea leaves will need to be prepared 2-3 days before the salad is served. To prepare the tea leaves, you should first remove any twigs that may be mixed in with the leaves. This is important because you don’t want to bite down on a hard twig when you’re enjoying your divine salad. 

Next, boil the vinegar and water. Remove from the heat and steep tea leaves in the liquid for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Then, steep the tea leaves in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out any extra liquid by pushing the leaves against the strainer. 

Place the tea leaves in a food processor, along with the sesame oil, olive oil, maggi seasoning, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Process until the leaves are finely minced. Season with salt and process quickly again. Place the tea leaves in an airtight glass container and set in a cool dark place. Allow the leaves to ferment for 2-3 days.

To make the chana dal, soak 1 c. of chana dal for 4 hours and then drain. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chana dal to the pan and stir until cooked. Place the cooked chana dal on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with a small dash of turmeric, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 

To make the salad, place the ingredients in separate piles around two plates (dividing ingredients equally). Make sure to include a big scoop of the tea leaves in the center. Squeeze lemon on top, if desired, mix together all of the ingredients, and enjoy!

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Chinese Mushroom and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Mushrooms are one of the best foods in the world, in my humble opinion. They come in all shapes, sizes and textures and always taste so earthy, meaty and satisfying. Mushrooms are simple to prepare and never complicated in taste. When cooking mushrooms, my belief is that they should not be overpowered by too many ingredients because they are amazing by nature. 

While the star of the show in this quick and amazing Chinese mushroom and bok choy stir fry is definitely the complex and earthy shimeji and beech mushrooms, this dish is further enhanced by the fresh and clean taste of the tender, but crunchy bok choy. These lovely vegetables are lightly coated in a simple sauce so that their beautifully natural flavors shine though – just like nature intended. 

Ingredients:

½ lb. Shanghai bok choy or very small baby bok choy, cleaned and halved lengthwise 

1 package of seafood  (white beech) mushrooms, hard ends removed 

1 package of shimeji mushrooms (enoki would work too), hard ends removed

4 green onions, sliced

2 tsp. sesame oil 

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ Tbsp. oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce 

1 tsp. dark soy sauce

Black pepper to taste

Heat the sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the boy choy and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add a bit of water (2 Tbsp. or so) and cook until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and toss together for about 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms, oyster sauce, and soy sauces and cook, tossing, for about 2 minutes (or until the liquid evaporates). Season with black pepper to taste. 

Serve hot as a side dish or a main course with steamed rice. 

Categories
Soups Vegan Vegetarian

Thick and Hearty Vegan Chili

If you think you need to put meat in chili to make it rib-stickingly delicious and hearty, I hate to break it to you . . . but you’re wrong. Really, really wrong. This vegan version of chili is full of beautifully-colorful and nutritious veggies and protein-packed beans, making it an ideal choice for a meatless dinner that your whole family will love. 

On top of being healthy, this thick and hearty vegan chili is (gasp!) actually even more tasty than traditional, meaty chili, in my humble opinion. Serve this with a thick chunk of cornbread, a side salad, on top of nachos, or all alone. Whatever way you choose to serve and enjoy this chili, I’m guessing you will want to make it a staple at your house from here on out.  

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1 4 oz. can of green chiles

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can of kidney beans

1 15 oz. can of corn

1 c. vegetable broth

2-3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

2 tsp oregano 

1 tsp. paprika

Salt and pepper

Serve with:

Shredded cheese (or vegan cheese)

Sour cream (or vegan sour cream)

Green onions

Cilantro

Lime

Tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, red bell pepper, sweet potato and green chiles and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the spices, except for salt and pepper, and mix with the cooking vegetables for one minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes so that the flavors have time to infuse. Feel free to add more broth, if necessary, during the cooking process. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite toppings!

Categories
Appetizers Vegetarian

Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

Have you ever had the pleasure of eating fried buffalo cauliflower? If not, you are seriously missing out. If you have never tried it, you probably should because FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing. See what I did there? Peer pressure. Besides, I can actually say that I have never heard anyone who has tried buffalo cauliflower say that they genuinely don’t like it. 

Perhaps you think that there is no place for buffalo sauce on anything but wings. I get it. I really do. But sometimes you have to take a risk and expand your horizons. This much healthier, and dare-I-say even more delicious, version of a fried thing covered in buffalo sauce will definitely make you think differently about this little white veggie. And because it’s cooked in the air fryer, you get all of the fried flavor without the grease. Win!

Ingredients: 

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into uniform bite-sized pieces

½ c. flour

½ c. water

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Quick and Tasty Buffalo Sauce

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees. Prepare the buffalo sauce and set aside.

Whisk together the water, flour, paprika, and garlic powder in a bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat evenly with the batter. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the battered cauliflower to the air fryer in a single layer and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turning or shaking at the five minute mark, or until the cauliflower is crispy. 

Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with a light coating of buffalo sauce until it is evenly coated. Return the cauliflower to the air fryer and cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Drizzle with additional buffalo sauce, if desired, and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing, garnished with green onions and cilantro, and a side of carrot and celery sticks. Enjoy hot!

Categories
Vegetarian

Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Most people who enjoy Indian cuisine have tried saag or palak paneer and thus have had the pleasure of sampling paneer, the wonderfully mild, delicious Indian cottage cheese that takes the greens in those popular dishes to a new level of yumminess. But unfortunately for so many people who love saag paneer, they haven’t branched out and tried other paneer dishes. Paneer isn’t only an amazing addition to pureed and spiced greens, it makes just about anything it touches much more tasty.

This restaurant-style matar paneer envelops the milky-flavored cheese in a complex sauce made of spices, tomatoes, onions, and garlic; and then adds to the flavor profile by incorporating green peas and fresh, clean cilantro. This dish allows the paneer to shine in a much different way than it does in saag paneer, making it an excellent vegetarian option for those who love gravy-based Indian sauces. Serve this with steamed rice and naan for a super-satisfying and warm meal that is sure to please everyone. 

Ingredients:

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 tomatoes, diced

¼ c. cashews

¼ c. plain yogurt

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. coriander

1 c. water

1 serrano pepper, chopped or red chili flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Matar Paneer:

8 oz. package of paneer, cubed

1 c. frozen peas

¼ c. cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute, stirring. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until soft. Add the tomatoes and cashews and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. 

Place the tomato/onion mixture in a food processor and process until smooth. Add yogurt and process again until fully combined. Set aside. 

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add all of the spices and the bay leaf and cook quickly until fragrant, about one minute. Add the pureed tomato/onion sauce to the skillet, along with 1 cup of water, and heat through, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add serrano peppers (if using) and frozen peas and cook until the peas are cooked through. Add the paneer and heat through quickly. Remove the bay leaf. 

Top with chopped cilantro and serve with rice and naan.

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Crispy Baked Gojuchang Tofu

It seems that all things Korean are ruling the planet right now, and gojuchang is no exception. This wonderful fermented chili paste condiment has crept into the popularity level that sriracha has long enjoyed, and for good reason. It’s spicy, sweet, savory, and spicy all at once, and seems to make everything it touches turn delicious.

This recipe for crispy baked gojuchang tofu combines two of my very favorite things: crispy tofu and a complex spicy, sweet, savory sauce that features gochujang as its base flavor. While tofu certainly tastes awesome fried, this baked version is significantly healthier. When the crispy baked tofu is mixed with the gojuchang sauce right before serving, it actually tastes like it has been fried. Isn’t it funny how you can trick yourself into believing something is much naughtier than it actually is, even if you cooked it? I love when that happens.

Ingredients:

Tofu:

1 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. cornstarch 

Salt and pepper

Gochujang sauce:

¼ c. gojuchang

2 Tbsp. ketchup

2 Tbsp. honey or agave

2 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

Serve with: Steamed broccoli, rice or brown rice, green onions, sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. About 30 minutes before cooking, drain the tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and press it. You can do this by placing a plate on top of the tofu, and then a heavy item, like a stock pot, on top of the plate for about 10 minutes. This will help remove excess water from the tofu. 

In a large bowl, mix the tofu with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add cornstarch. Mix together carefully, coating the tofu evenly with the cornstarch. Spread out the tofu on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip over, and bake for 15 more minutes or until tofu is lightly browned and crispy. 

While the tofu is cooking, combine the ingredients for the gojuchang sauce in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

When the tofu is finished cooking, place it in a large bowl. Add the gojuchang sauce and coat to your preference. I don’t use all of it, so pour and stir until the tofu is “sauced” the way you like it. 

Top with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Half-and-Half Pasta Zucchini Noodle Mozzarella Bake

Do you ever want a huge serving of pasta, but not the whole serving of guilt that comes with it? Yeah, me too. While I like zucchini noodles, they just don’t have the same charisma that pasta does. That’s why sometimes I make a compromise and make a bit of both, thus tricking my brain into believing that I’m eating all straight-up pasta. And you know what? It actually works! 

This half-and-half pasta zucchini noodle mozzarella bake tastes so great because it showcases the wonderful saucy, cheesy pasta that makes pasta bakes so craveable, but it also has the added color and texture of veggies. Perfect combo, and way less guilt.  

Ingredients:

8 oz. pasta

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2-3 zucchini, spiralized

1 ½ c. marinara sauce

1 ½ c. mozzarella, shredded

¼ c. Parmesan, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Heat the zucchini noodles quickly in a skillet over medium high heat with a little olive oil. Allow the noodles to cook until tender, but not soggy. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the pasta and zucchini noodles in a large baking dish. Add the marinara sauce and ½ cup mozzarella and stir to combine completely. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. 

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden.