In my last post about our plant based lifestyle, I mentioned I would write about the health benefits we’ve experienced being plant based, things to watch out for, my favorite cookbooks and a few easy recipes if you’re just starting out or want a quick meal.
Once I dug in, I realized that is too much info to tackle in one post. Since I get a lot of questions about what I eat and my favorite recipes, I decided to focus on that first and picked out a lunch dish and a dinner dish to share.
Really what I’ve done with these recipes is take dishes I have made for decades and veganized them. So if you want to try a PB lifestyle and you struggle with what to make, you believe you can’t have your favorite meals anymore, or you’re worried it’s going to be complicated, I am here to help because I have been there!
No-fish tuna salad is quite popular among both those eating plant based and people trying to avoid the mercury found in most tuna.
You can find hundreds of variations of tu-no salad recipes on the Internet and in cookbooks. The first few times I made mine, I simply subbed canned chickpeas for the tuna then made it the way I have always made tuna salad with chopped celery, red onion, mayo and celery salt (using vegan mayo).
That version was pretty good but it needed more oomph. I played with it until I found the recipe that works for me and Bill.
Keep in mind that this won’t taste like the tuna salad you may be familiar with. There is no fish taste, no flakiness but you can use it the same ways you use tuna salad – in a sandwich, wrap, bagel or pita, on crackers, in lettuce wraps, or put a big scoop on top of a green salad. You can also just eat it by itself.
Tu-No-Fish Salad, Adrienne’s Version
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
Chopped dill pickles, to your taste. Omit if you don’t like them. These are my favorite!
About 1/2 cup Vegan Mayonnaise. I prefer any of the Follow Your Heart brands. Look for them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. If your store doesn’t carry it, look for Best Foods Vegan Dressing and Spread in the mayo aisle. It’s also pretty good.
2 tablespoon yellow mustard
Tabasco, as many shakes as you like. I like mine spicy. Omit if you don’t like it.
A dash of celery salt (the pickles have salt so I usually go easy on celery salt)
A dash of pepper
What to do:
Put the drained and rinsed chickpeas in a big bowl and grab your potato masher or fork. It’s time for a workout! Smash all the beans but not to a paste. You want a chunky salad, not a dip.
Once that’s done, add your onion, celery and pickles and mix. Now it’s time to add your mayo and mustard. I like to start with a little mayo and mustard, then add as needed. Stir it all up then start adding your seasonings. Again, add a little at first then adjust to your taste.
That’s it! It keeps for at least 5 days in the fridge. We usually eat it all before then.
Spaghetti with “Meat” Sauce
I had some spaghetti squash and mushrooms I needed to use. So last night, I made the spaghetti sauce I make regularly. It is so easy to make and delicious too.
Easy Plant Based Spaghetti with “Meat” Sauce
One medium to large yellow onion, chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces of chopped mushrooms, white or brown. I like my pieces on the chunky side but if you like it smaller, do that.
Two 15.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
One 15.5 ounce can of tomato sauce
Dried oregano, basil and parsley – about a teaspoon each
1 Bay leaf
Red pepper flakes, if you like it a little spicy
1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Oil spray (I used avocado oil)
Your choice of spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or pasta
What to do:
Using a dutch oven or large pot, spray the bottom with some oil spray and heat on medium to medium high. Sauté the chopped onion until it starts to become fragrant and a little translucent. Stir in the garlic. Make sure the heat is not too high or it will burn – medium to medium low. Once the garlic starts to smell wonderful, add your chopped mushrooms.
Cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms start to wilt and darken then add your spices and stir it all up. Next it’s tomato time. Add your 3 cans of tomato – 2 diced, one sauce. Stir well then turn up the heat and let it cook. I don’t bring it to a full boil it but I do like to see some bubbling around the edges.
I let that cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, before turning the heat down to low. I let it simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes. It will thicken up a little and smell fantastic.
Towards the end, add a heaping cup of TVP. It does not have to be cooked so you can just stir it in. If you’re not familiar with TVP, it’s made from soy flour and it’s texture is crumbly, similar to finely ground beef. I use it in chili and tacos too. This is my favorite brand.
If you’re making a spaghetti squash and you’re roasting it, start that at least 90 minutes before dinnertime. It took me 10 minutes just to cut the darn thing, another 45 minutes to cook, and about 30 minutes to cool. Then I needed to shred it. So I got the squash business into the oven before I started the sauce. I roasted it cut side down on parchment paper for 45 minutes on 375, middle rack. I lightly oiled the insides first.
Once the sauce has simmered, you’re ready to serve.
I topped ours with some plant based shredded mozzarella and heated in the microwave to melt. You can also add plant based parmesan.
This recipes makes enough to serve four people generously. So we will be having this meal again soon. Gotta love leftovers! You can also freeze it.
What Could You Veganize?
If you’re looking for approachable plant based recipes, or just starting to cook plant based, start by looking at your favorite go-to dishes. I bet you’ve got one you’ve been making for decades that could easily be veganized. If you do, I would love to hear about it.