Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vegan Sweet and Sour Cabbage Rolls

 This was fun. I thought it was quite flavorful, and a good use of frugal, healthy ingredients.

Vegan Cabbage Rolls with Sauce

Vegan Sweet and Sour Cabbage Rolls


1 head of cabbage

1 cup dry lentils
1 cup dry brown rice
½ large onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt, pepper, and lemon pepper to taste
¼-1/2 cup small dried fruit such as currants, raisin or dried cranberries

¾ of a 14 oz can cranberry sauce
1 6 oz can tomato sauce
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp soy sauce

Core the head of cabbage, and boil for approximately 6 minutes. Remove cabbage from water and let cool.

Cook lentils and brown rice according to your preferred method (I usually go with 20 minutes of simmering for the lentils and 30-35 minutes for the brown rice), using the cabbage water if you like (it has flavor and nutrients). Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic with the curry powder and cinnamon.

Sauteing the vegetables

 Peal off leaves of cabbage and set aside for stuffing.  Chop up the inner leaves that are too small for rolls as well as any that are hopelessly broken, and add them to the frying pan with the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes.

Mash about ¼ of the lentils (this will act as a binder). Mix in the rest of the lentils, the brown rice, the onion mixture, and the rest of the filling ingredients.  Adjust the flavoring, particularly salt, to taste.

Stuffing the cabbage

Stuff the leaves. Lay a cabbage leaf out flat, and place 1-3 tablespoons of filling, depending on leaf size, near the stem end. Fold in sides and roll up, starting with stem. Place finished rolls seam-side down in slow cooker, piling up in multiple layers. Sprinkle any remaining chunks of cabbage over the top.

In the slow cooker
Mix together sauce ingredients. Pour over rolls in slow cooker.  Add 1-3 cups of water (the cabbage water works fine) until the liquid covers rolls.
Set slow cooker on high and cook for 2-3 hours.

Makes 12-18 rolls (depending on size). Serve with a steak knife, the cabbage remains a little toothsome.

Variation:  For a richer, sweeter sauce, add an extra can of cranberry sauce and omit water.

First Layer of Cabbage Rolls

My Favorite Vegan Tofu Omelet

This recipe is a combination of three different vegan omelet recipes I’ve tried, each one contributing one key ingredient: silken tofu, cornmeal, and garbanzo flour. Silken tofu is much easier to blend totally smooth than regular tofu, the cornmeal provides essential flavor and texture, and the garbanzo flour helps with browning.

Vegan omelette filled with caramelized onions, potatoes and mushrooms
Favorite Vegan Tofu Omelet

2  12 oz boxes of silken tofu
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup water or soymilk
1 heaping Tbsp garbanzo flour (optional)
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt (or less)
½ tsp lemon pepper

oil or cooking spray for pan

Fillings (arguably the most important part!):  I used a combination of mushrooms sautéed with garlic and parsley, potatoes, and caramelized red onions. Other options include salsa, cooked greens, beans, faux meats or cheeses, or various sautéed, roasted or grilled vegetables.

Fillings, warm and waiting


Puree all ingredients (except oil and fillings) in a blender until completely smooth. It may be helpful to pre-mash the tofu a little before blending.

Put oil in a (preferably nonstick) frying pan and heat to medium heat. (make sure the pan is one with a lid). Pour ¼ of your blender batter into the hot pan and spread it out into a circle with a spatula. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Have your fillings warm.

Not quite ready
When the five minutes are up, lift the lid.  The top of the omelet should look mostly dry; if it’s very wet give it another minute of cooking. Place the filling of your choice in a strip across the middle third of the omelet. Using a spatula, carefully loosen and fold each side across the middle, burrito- style. Cover the pan again and cook for 1 more minute.

Remove to a plate and cook the other three omelets using the remaining batter, re-oiling the pan as necessary. If you’re a skilled multi-tasker, you could use two or more pans and have multiple omelets going at the same time.

Can be topped with ketchup, salsa, or guacamole.

Serves 4

Variations: There are various ways to fold an omelet.  In addition to the burrito style above, there is the classic half-moon shape in which the omelet is simply folded in half over the filling. The omelet can also be rolled around the filling like a cigar. I think the burrito style is the easiest to do successfully with the tofu batter, which has somewhat less natural structural integrity than a traditional egg batter.

The batter can be also be cooked without any filling, and then be chopped up and added to fried rice or Pad Thai.

Half-moon style

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Unbelievably Easy Vegan Peanut Butter Pie

I’ve made quite a few tofu cream pies in my day. There’s a fairly wide variety of recipes, with various degrees of difficulty and quality. I’ve made very impressive ones that took hours of layering and had long lists of ingredients, and I’ve tried really quick ones that sometimes skimped too much. This one has the best labor-to-reward ratio: the least amount of work producing the best result for your time. I make this pie whenever I need a recipe that only takes five or ten minutes to assemble and can be made hours ahead of time.  It always gets raves for its rich flavor and light, creamy texture. The carob version is particularly nice; peanut butter always makes the best of carob.

Peanut Butter Pie (Carob version)

Quick Vegan Peanut Butter Pie

2  12 oz packages firm silken tofu
¾ cup peanut butter
¾ cup sugar or sugar-free sweetener
1/3 cup cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant coffee or caffeine-free coffee substitute (optional)

a handful of chocolate or carob chips for garnish (or other garnish such as toasted nuts or coconut))

9 inch pie crust (crumb preferred)


Prepare your pie crust, pre-baking if necessary (the filling is no-bake).

In the food processor

Place tofu, peanut butter, sweetener, cocoa or carob, vanilla, and coffee into a food processor or strong blender. Puree until absolutely smooth with no lumps whatsoever, scraping down the sides once or twice if necessary.


Pour filling into your pie shell. Sprinkle chocolate or carob chips artfully over the top.

Chill for several hours before slicing if you want it to look pretty. It’ll still taste good if you can’t wait though. : )

A slice of pie

This recipe works very well sugar-free.  I believe it would also work fine using alternative nut butters, although it would be a little expensive in this amount.

Vegan Gravy Supper

There’s something very soothing about gravy.  It’s warm and thick and familiar, and it’s compatible with almost anything savory. A good gravy can not only jazz up the classic potatoes and biscuits and make the most of various mock meats, but it well known for its ability to rescue recipes gone slightly awry. A dish that turns out a bit bland or homely can be well disguised with a puddle of gravy.

This particular gravy recipe was inspired by a gravy recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. I liked the idea of using mashed beans to thicken and add texture as well as protein.  However, I wanted to use a different mix of herbs and incorporate some mushrooms that were in my fridge. Also, the recipe in the book seemed to my eye to be slightly off in its dry-to-wet ingredient ratio, as well as a little overly generous with the soy sauce and nutritional yeast, so I decided to take the gravy filling from my Seitan Pot Pie and combine the two recipes. The result was very nice (and southerner-approved!).

Gravy simmering away
Golden Mushroom Gravy

8 oz sliced mushrooms
½ of a large onion, diced
2-3 tsp garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dried rosemary (crunched in hand)
1/8 tsp dried savory
1/8 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp ground cumin (optional)
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups veggie broth or water (I used water + 3 tsp broth powder)
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained, and mashed
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast. (optional)
Salt, pepper or lemon pepper to taste

Sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic using a little bit of the oil (save the rest for the roux). Add the herbs and spices. When the veggies look done (cooked through and lightly browned), push them over to one side of your pan. Make a roux in the space you’ve cleared by mixing the remaining oil with the flour in your pan and browning very lightly.

Add water or broth to your pan and stir everything together.  Simmer the mixture for three minutes.

Add mashed beans, cornstarch slurry, and remaining ingredients. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, or until thickened, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.

Mashed potatoes, a split biscuit, and vegan meatballs all drenched in gravy.

I served this warm over biscuits, store-bought vegan meatballs, and mashed potatoes with some white beans mixed in. It would also be good over vegan meatloaf, hash browns or fries, toast, rice, cooked vegetables, grits/polenta, or a tofurkey-style roast.


 Creamy: Replace some or all of the water or broth with non-dairy milk for a creamy southern-style gravy—particularly traditional with biscuits.

Smooth:  Puree the mixture using a standard or immersion blender before serving.

Using different beans could change the color and flavor in interesting ways.  Black beans would make it darker, navy lighter.