May 24, 2016
Everyone knows that feeling of not being able to think of anything to make for dinner — or lunch or breakfast, whatever. People who are afraid to become vegan or vegetarian often cite it as an excuse, as in, "WHAT WILL I EAT?" Though naysayers like to hold it up as a vegan problem, really, it's just as much a problem for omnivores. Did you never have cereal for supper? Or ice cream, for that matter? Not every meal can be an exotic five-course affair, for heavens sake. Fancy dinners are probably the exception rather than the rule in most homes, though good eating doesn't have to be fancy. We vegans have to start showing more of the simple, odd, basic things we eat, in addition to the more elaborate cooking we do, so everyone feels more comfortable with typical everyday fare. Who has the time or energy to create elaborate meals every night? Not me.
When we can't think of anything to cook at our house, we often make broccoli bowls from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Mari Newman. In fact, when I open the book, it opens right to the grossly stained page where the recipe lies. About five years ago I tested recipes for the book, and we've been making broccoli bowls ever since. It's our go-to meal when there's 'nothing to eat.' It's meant to contain seitan as a substitute for beef, but we use whatever we have on hand — tofu, soy curls, chickpeas. Sometimes we fill the bowls with rice and sometimes quinoa. The simple-to-make sweet and tangy sauce turns everything into premier comfort food.
Miso soup is another fast 'there's nothing to eat' meal. It can be made with whatever veggies are in the fridge and augmented with any grain or noodle. We especially like it with mung bean noodles. Miso soup hits the spot when we're feeling cranky and under the weather, or just plain tired.
Sautéing tofu and mushrooms and serving with raw greens makes a fast and tasty lunch. You can create a quick coating for the tofu with coconut, tamari and spices to give it extra flavor. Sprinkle it with your favorite herbs or spices.
One day I was throwing together tofu and rice noodle leftovers with a few ingredients that would be found in a fresh spring roll, when I was suddenly seized with the need to EAT a spring roll. Lucky for me we had a package of rice paper spring roll wrappers in the cupboard. I quickly soaked and wrapped two huge rolls and we feasted on them for lunch. They weren't the prettiest spring rolls on the block, but they were delicious. Unfortunately, the photos didn't capture their inner beauty so I'm showing you the plate of ingredients I would have eaten — affectionately known as 'spring bowl' — had I not decided to make actual spring rolls.
Stir-frys are another unglamorous but excellent way to quickly turn assorted ingredients into a tasty and nourishing meal. (It looks like all we eat around here is broccoli, but that's not true. In fact, last night we had asparagus, roasted potatoes and barbecued tempeh. I swear.) A stir-fty can be made with nearly anything. This one contains white beans and peanuts along with the veggies and was served over quinoa.
Today I was faced with the third day of leftover stir-fry (see above), and although it was tasty, I just couldn't eat it again. I buzzed it briefly in the food processor with hemp seeds, brown rice flour and a little ketchup to moisten the mixture, and turned it into burgers. The burgers were lightly dredged in more brown rice flour, and cooked in a little oil on a cast iron griddle.They were crispy on the outside, tasted great, and I had a terrific lunch without having to eat the darn stir-fry again — or waste it.
None of these meals were time consuming or fancy — I might not serve them to impress guests — but they were all delicious, easy and satisfying.
Labels: easy vegan meals