asparagus “cream” soup

asparagus "cream" soup
Asparagus is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It has been cultivated around the world for centuries, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. What’s the secret to tender asparagus? Using a paring knife, cut a half-inch off the bottom of the stalk. If it cuts easily, it will be tender. If it resists cutting, try again a half-inch higher until you find the place where it can be sliced easily.

This soup is light, healthy and tasty. It’s great for a spring lunch or light supper. Try topping it with spicy croutons, and maybe a dollop of soy sour cream.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans vegetable broth
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 bunches of medium-size asparagus (about 7 cups, when chopped into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
6 to 8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk

1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is transparent (about 5 minutes). Add broth, carrots, celery, and asparagus. Reduce heat. Simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.

2. Add spinach, mushrooms, parsley, and salt. Simmer another 30 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and add soy milk; stir. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with croutons and a dollop of soy sour cream (if desired).

mushroom salad

Fresh herbs and exotic mushrooms combine to make a memorable salad.

1 lb. of fresh mixed mushrooms (such as shitake, oyster, or chanterelle), trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup white wine (if you prefer, substitute vegetable broth or apple juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, or parsley
12-oz. package fancy salad mix

1. Heat oven to 325°. Place sliced mushrooms on a large piece of foil. Top mushrooms with wine; drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and rosemary. Fold foil to create a packet; bake in oven until mushrooms are tender (about 20 minutes).

2. Mix fancy salad greens with fresh herbs. Arrange on plates. Top with warm mushroom mixture. Serves 4.

mushroom gravy

Mmmmm…savory gravy, perfect with mashed potatoes and so much more.

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced or diced
1 1/2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup tamari
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. sage
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the canola oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook for another five minutes.

2. Stir in tamari and vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Whisk rice flour and spices into gravy mixture until well blended. Serve immediately.

mushroom barley soup

My mother usually made a crockpot of barley soup when the weather was especially frigid (and in Upstate New York, that was often). This vegan barley soup, which uses dried shitakes for an extra flavor dimension, will warm you up right down to your toes.

4-5 dried shitake mushrooms
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 large carrot, diced
12 oz. white mushrooms
8 cups water
1 cup pearl barley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
Pinch of Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped

1. Place the shitake mushrooms in a bowl; pour boiling water over them. Cover the bowl and let the mushrooms soften for about 45 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and pour the soaking water through a cone coffee filter to remove any sediment. Reserve the strained liquid. Dice the shitakes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large stewpot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, celery, onion, and carrot until the onions are translucent. Add the white mushrooms and shitakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

3. Add 8 cups of water, the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, barley, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Partially cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add remaining spices; cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley softens (about another 30 minutes).

5. Stir in chopped parsley right before serving.

mediterranean stew

This stew has a good blend of flavors and textures. Serve over polenta, rice, or couscous.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cups green pepper, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 medium eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 Tbs. rosemary, chopped
1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Sauté onion and pepper until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, and eggplant. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is softened but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, olives, garbanzo beans, and rosemary. Simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. Makes

great grilled veggies

Summer vegetables are wonderful on the grill. Pick your favorites, chop and skewer them, marinade them in your favorite sauce, and grill them to perfection. Served over a bed of rice, veggies are always tasty — and healthy — summer dinner fare.

Choose your favorite vegetables. Some ideas:

Zucchini
Bell peppers: red, green, yellow, orange
Yellow summer squash
Sweet yellow onions
Mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes

Brush on a marinade of oil-and-vinegar dressing, such as Newman’s Own (the original), or use a bottled spicy Thai peanut sauce. Or mix pineapple juice, agave nectar, vinegar, and a bit of vegetable oil for a sweet/sour Hawaiian-style flavor. Whatever your marinade, set aside a little extra for pouring over the grilled veggies and rice. Yum!

better-than-chicken cacciatore

Tomatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a savory oven-baked sauce are perfect on a chilly night. Serve with a green salad, some crusty peasant bread, and perhaps your favorite wine.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
8-oz. package fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 16-oz. package of your favorite chicken substitute (defrosted if frozen)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbs. tomato paste

rice or pasta

1. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Sauté onions for about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers; continue to sauté until onions and peppers are softened.

2. Add remaining ingredients to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

3. While cacciatore is simmering, preheat oven to 350°. Transfer cacciatore to an oven-safe baking dish and cover with a lid or foil. Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta.

24-hour salad

This recipe can be served as a vegetable salad or as a pasta salad. It’s called 24-hour salad because the ingredients can be marinated in an oil-and-vinegar or Italian salad dressing for 24 hours. Or skip the marinade, toss all the ingredients with fresh-cooked pasta, and serve as a pasta salad. Either way, it’s delicious!

12 to 15 fresh mushrooms, halved
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 14-oz. can whole pitted black olives, drained
3/4 cup Italian salad dressing

As a vegetable salad: In a large, deep, glass bowl, layer the first seven ingredients in the order given. Add 1/2 tsp. salt to the dressing, pour over veggies, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Toss and serve.

As a pasta salad: Boil 2 cups of your favorite pasta shapes until done. Drain and add to large bowl with all of the above ingredients. Mix and serve.

wisconsin summer veggie salad

Sue named this salad in honor of her Wisconsin garden, which produced not only a healthy crop of mosquitoes, but also red and green peppers and yellow squash.

1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 small zucchini, sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, halved
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

dressing:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup raspberry or balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients and apply to combined chopped vegetables, or use your favorite bottled dressing (Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette is a good one to try).

black bean enchilada bake

Save this dish for a chilly winter evening—it’s the ideal comfort food. Serve with Spanish rice and a spinach salad.

1 28-oz. can black beans
1 10-oz. bag frozen corn
6 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
Olive oil for greasing baking dish
1 15-oz. can enchilada sauce
4 extra-large whole wheat tortillas (or 6-8 regular size)
Vegan cheese (optional)
Vegan sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine first seven ingredients. Heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Continue cooking until mixture is heated through.

2. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13 x 9 (or similar size) baking dish. Pour about ½ cup of the enchilada sauce in the baking dish and spread evenly. Heat tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds until they are soft and pliable.

3. Scoop about a cup of the enchilada filling into the middle of a tortilla. Roll your tortilla, fold ends under, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue until the filling is used up. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolled up tortillas. Sprinkle with vegan soy cheese if you like. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Serve with vegan sour cream and a side of salsa.

flamin’ garden fajitas

The combination of jalapeño, cayenne, and paprika gives these fajitas a pleasant heat. If you prefer a milder taste, omit the cayenne and reduce the amount of minced jalapeño. You can find flavored baked tofu in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets. (We used a tomato-basil flavored tofu.)

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 jalapeño, minced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. baked tofu, sliced
8 tortillas
Vegan sour cream (try Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)
1 avocado, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 Tbs. cilantro, minced for garnish

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Sautè the onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add bell peppers and jalapeño; stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup water, and cover skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove cover and add spices, mushrooms, and baked tofu. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and the tofu is heated through (about 5 minutes). If desired, begin warming the tortillas (either wrapped in foil in the oven or wrapped in paper towels in the microwave).

3. Transfer fajita mixture to a large bowl. Allow guests to top their tortillas with the fajita mixture, vegan sour cream, sliced avocado, diced tomatoes, and cilantro. Olè!

brown rice pilaf

Sue and I were curious as to where rice pilaf originated, and a quick Web search revealed a long, complex history for this dish. (The short answer: the Middle East and Central and South Asia.) Prepare our brown rice pilaf with pine nuts (and a creamy sauce) and think about how many people before you have enjoyed a similar dish throughout history.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice
1 14-oz. can vegetable broth plus water to equal 2 cups
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is golden (about 5 minutes). Add rice and sautè for 1 minute.

2. Add broth, water, wine, mushrooms, thyme, and salt. Simmer until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (about 50-55 minutes). Check rice occasionally and add water if necessary.

3. Let stand for 5 minutes. Mix in pine nuts immediately before serving.

vegan moussaka II

vegan moussaka

vegan moussaka II


There are as many versions of moussaka recipes as there are vegetables to add to this hearty dish (see another version here). Some versions of this dish are made with potatoes instead of eggplant, and some add zucchini. In England, sometimes a layer of mashed potatoes is used on top instead of cheese. This vegan version is filling and delicious, especially when served with a chunk of crusty bread. It’s great for an early fall supper when the nights start getting cooler.

1/2 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf
Olive oil
1 large eggplant
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 14-oz can garbanzo beans
1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated non-dairy cheese (optional)
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

1. Place lentils, stock, and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. While lentils are cooking, oil an 8″ x 8″ baking pan; set aside. Drain lentils and set aside.

2. Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a large saucepan. Slice the eggplant into 3/8-inch slices. Cook the slices until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set slices aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. In the same saucepan, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and sautè for about 5 minutes. Add lentils, mushrooms, garbanzos, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 1/4 cup water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper.

4. Place half of the eggplant slices in the baking dish. Spoon half the lentil mixture over the slices. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices and lentil mixture. Bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is bubbling. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Variation: If you’re not a fan of non-dairy cheese, try the English version of moussaka and add a top layer of mashed potatoes before popping in the oven.

“chicken” mushroom enchilada casserole

My corn tortillas weren’t cooperating. I had envisioned a beautiful pan of tightly rolled enchiladas smothered in sauce, but despite being dipped in sauce and allowed to soften, my tortillas were cracking and slowly unfolding. I changed course and sliced the tortillas, layered the ingredients, and then smothered with the sauce. The resulting casserole was much quicker than rolling enchiladas, and it tasted great.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 10-oz. package of your favorite chicken substitute, thawed and chopped
1 8-oz. package baby Portobello or button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8-oz. can green chilies
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
2 15-oz. cans enchilada sauce
1 dozen corn tortillas, sliced in half
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
Vegan cheese and salsa for topping (optional)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spread 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce over the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sautè the onion until translucent. Add garlic, chicken substitute, mushrooms, and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. (Add some vegetable broth or water if the pan becomes too dry.) Stir in green chilies and sour cream. Remove from heat.

3. Empty remaining enchilada sauce into a large bowl. Dip half the tortilla slices into sauce, coating thoroughly. Line bottom of pan with tortilla slices. Spoon “chicken” and mushroom mixture over tortilla slices. Cover with remaining tortilla slices, and spoon remaining enchilada sauce over slices. Top with vegan cheese if using. Cover pan with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 5 minutes. Top casserole wedges with salsa and fresh cilantro, if desired. Side dish idea: fiesta beans and rice.

vegetable grain soup

Before you prepare this soup, check your cupboards for tiny leftover amounts of grains, barley, lentils, etc. and feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand for the ingredients listed below.

2 quarts vegetable broth
1 quart water
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup split peas
1/2 oz. dried mushrooms
1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, bring the broth, water, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the barley, lentils, split peas, and dried mushrooms. Continue to simmer for an additional 45 minutes.

2. Add the potato, zucchini, tomatoes, and spices and simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Serve hot with a rustic bread.