December 19, 2022

My Family's Favorite Vegan Recipes

Considering I really need to go grocery shopping and I have limited ingredients to cook a new recipe right now, I thought I would do something a little different than a vegan recipe review. I've been vegan for about 11 months now and I've tried a ton of different food--new ingredients, new recipes, new cooking techniques, etc.

Jerry and the boys have been fantastic; they've been great sports at trying new food--even the stuff with "weird" ingredients. Jerry even started eating a vegan diet himself in August, and Noah eats vegan about 80% of the time. Over the last 11 months, we've discovered certain recipes that we keep going back to over and over because we just love them!

So, here are our top five favorite vegan recipes (Eli is up in the air about vegan food in general, so these are favorites of Jerry and mine).

1. Vegan Truffle Mac & Cheese


This is actually one of the first "weird" vegan recipe I tried--I had to make cashew cream, and I had no idea what cashew cream was or that it was even a thing! I was also still not quite on board with nutritional yeast; it was the thought of it that grossed me out. What the heck was white miso paste? And truffle oil? Never tried it!

When I made this recipe, I was in love at first bite. I couldn't believe the ingredients I'd put together in a blender could make something so delicious and creamy! The truffle flavor was unlike anything I'd tried before, but I really liked it. And the best part? This pasta dish tastes just as good (if not better) when reheated. I always double the recipe for my family so we can eat leftovers the next day.

If you're new to vegan food and want to venture into making cashew cream, this is a great recipe to try! It's nearly impossible to mess up. And you will be shocked that it's vegan.


2. Lentil Tortilla Soup


I made this recipe when I was hoping to find something without "weird" ingredients so that Eli would like it. Eli is iffy about things like tofu, nutritional yeast, soy curls, and other stuff we'd never eaten until this past year. When I found this recipe for lentil tortilla soup, I thought it sounded like something Eli could get on board with--because he could load the top with tortilla chips and other toppings, haha.

It *does* call for cashew cream, but once you realize how easy it is to make, the cashew cream is no big deal. It's literally just raw cashews and water blended together until it's completely smooth. (If you don't have a high powered blender (read: expensive as hell), you'll have to soak the cashews first. I speed it up by putting the cashews in a bowl of water and microwaving them for 10 minutes, adding more water about halfway through so the cashews stay covered.)

Other than the cashew cream, though, this recipe is made with everyday ingredients you probably have in your pantry already (plus a fresh bell pepper and jalapeño pepper). I've made this when the kids have had friends over because it's definitely a recipe that meat-eaters and veg-eaters alike will enjoy!


3. Cozy Vegan Chicken(less) Stew


This is 100% comfort food--so creamy and thick and loaded with vegetables. It's perfect for a cold day, and it tastes like the inside of a chicken pot pie. This recipe called for a new-to-me ingredient called soy curls. I mistakenly thought these were the same as TVP (textured vegetable protein, a faux-meat product made from soy beans). The soy curls are similar in the sense that they are made with soy beans, but they are processed differently and they are much "meatier"--they resemble strips of chicken. The only brand to sell them is Butler Foods. I was skeptical that they could be much different from TVP, but I gave them a try and was totally sold! I use them a lot when making Asian dishes where I would have used chicken in the past.

This recipe does take more work than some would like, but you can prep a lot of it ahead of time. There is cashew cream to make. You can use store-bought vegan bouillon powder, but I *love* the bouillon powder recipe that is referenced in the stew recipe (you can find it here). I make a huge jar of it and keep it in the pantry to use in all recipes that call for bouillon, so this can be made ahead of time as well. The recipe also calls for nutritional yeast, which I know can be an awkward ingredient for people who aren't used to vegan food. (I like the Anthony's brand found on Amazon.) There are veggies to chop--cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and onions--but again, that can be prepped ahead of time. (I realize I'm not selling this recipe very well--it's not bad to prep, honest!)

So, it's not the simplest of recipes, but we really love it. Noah specifically requests it sometimes. When you want a cozy meal on a cold day, this is the perfect comfort food.


4. Lemon Pepper Tofu Cutlets

This is a cutlet that I cut into bite-sized pieces for a salad

This recipe is from the same site as the stew above. It was this recipe that I used the first time I made tofu--and I'm SO glad that it's the one I chose, because it turned me into a total tofu-lover! Jerry is absolutely obsessed with this Lemon Pepper Tofu and I always know that when I make it, it'll be gone in minutes.

The recipe is for tofu "cutlets" (slices), but I've cut it into strips and Jerry calls them "tofu snackers", haha. If you've never tried tofu before, I highly recommend this recipe! It doesn't have a very strong lemon-pepper flavor, so I use it in lots of other recipes where I would add tofu (in bowls with grains and veggies, for example).

What makes this recipe unique is that it's marinated in an oil-based marinade rather than water-based. The tofu absorbs the oil (and the few other ingredients) so when you bake it, it gets very crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside. It's definitely higher in calories than the water-based marinades, but the texture makes it worth it. And if you're new to tofu, texture is everything!

You can cook tofu on the stove, but I have found that our favorite way of cooking it is baking it in the oven on a sheet lined with parchment paper. I bake these at 350 F for about 45 minutes, turning them halfway through. I tend to bake tofu a little longer than most recipes call for because I like the texture to be a little firmer. For these cutlets, I use extra-firm tofu and I press it in a tofu press (usually overnight) to get out as much water as possible. Then I marinate the tofu cutlets overnight as well. So, it's something to plan ahead for, but I almost always have tofu marinating in the fridge!

These cutlets can be used anywhere you'd use grilled chicken breasts--in a wrap, on a salad, as a main dish, or even as "snackers" (which is what Jerry would suggest). I've even cut the tofu into cubes before marinating and then used them in dishes with grains, veggies, and sauce.


5. Copy Cat Panera Black Bean Soup (this is vegan with one small swap, which I've written below)


I used to work at a steakhouse called Lonestar, and we served black bean soup. I'd never seen black bean soup until I started working there, and I was horrified that people would actually order it--it looked so gross! One day, I gave it a try and then I understood completely. SO GOOD. When I discovered that Panera had black bean soup, it became my favorite thing to order there.

When I saw this recipe and how simple it was, I decided to give it a try. And it was amazing! For such a simple recipe, it has so much flavor and the texture is perfect. There are no odd ingredients at all and very little prep. It's super fast and easy to make. This recipe as written calls for two chicken bouillon cubes, which obviously are not vegan--so I replace these with two tablespoons of my favorite bouillon powder. It also calls for 1/4 of a large red bell pepper, but I just use a whole pepper (because why waste 3/4 of a pepper?). 

The first time I made it, the recipe definitely wasn't enough for four servings as a main dish. Since my whole family loves it, I now double the recipe and we get four good-sized bowls from it. I like it as-is, but it's extra good when topped with some crushed tortilla chips ;) 



And there you have it! This was SO HARD to narrow down to our favorites, because there are lots that we love. Maybe I'll do another post someday with more favorites. I'm hoping that by sharing the recipes we love most, some people might be encouraged to give "weird" vegan food a try ;)  Eating vegan hasn't been the slightest bit difficult for me because I've discovered so many foods that I love! I would choose the Vegan Truffle Mac over regular homemade macaroni and cheese any day (and my homemade mac and cheese was KILLER). And tofu? The food I was most surprised to discover that I absolutely can't live without. I literally crave tofu--that's how much I love it!

4 comments:

  1. I'm just surprised at how "brown" all the food is. I eat vegetarian a few times a week, and my food is filled with bright fresh healthy vegetables. Some of those recipes seem like they'd be high in calories?

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  2. Thanks for this! I keep wanting to try some of your recipes since you make it look good (not vegan, but open to trying some vegan foods). This helps as a place to start, and these look like things my kids might try. Merry Christmas!

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  3. YUMMMY!! Thank you always for sharing your world with us.

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  4. My husband and I have been vegan for a Iittle over 4 years and our only regret is that we didn't do it sooner!! Every time you share a recipe we put it on the "let's try this!" list! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    ReplyDelete

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