A few months ago, my buddy Claire sent me this miso gravy recipe because, as she explained, it had changed her life.
When I texted her to ask a question about it tonight she didn’t know what I was talking about.
It was pretty tasty anyway, and the perfect thing to dress up a simple supper of roasted vegetables (I used yellow squash, green onions, and broccoli) and quinoa. Not that there’s anything nutritionally awry with that meal as-is, but the miso and nutritional yeast in the gravy really up the ante there, too.
The gravy recipe is a little weird in that it calls for you to cook the flour, yeast, and garlic in a dry pan rather than starting with a roux. It worked out just fine, but I think next time I’ll go the traditional roux route and see if I can’t deepen the flavors a little. Also, a squeeze of lemon at the end of the cooking time would be just perfect, I think.
My life seems to be basically the same so far, but I’ve got leftovers. Time will tell.
ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH QUINOA & MISO GRAVY
4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup sliced (1” lengths) green onion, white & light green bits only
2 cups broccoli florets & stems
Olive oil, as needed
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp minced green garlic (original recipe called for 1 tsp garlic powder, which I didn’t have, but I sure as heck have plenty of green garlic)
1 2/3 cup water
2 tsp mustard
1 tbsp miso
Salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste
Also, 4 servings of cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup dry).
Heat oven to 425. Toss squash & onions with olive oil and salt, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Give the broccoli the same treatment, but its own pan. Roast squash & onions for 15 minutes, then stir and return to the oven, along with the broccoli. Give it all another 15 minutes or so, until tender and browned in spots.
Meanwhile, combine flour, nutritional yeast, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Add water & bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Simmer until thickened (keeping in mind it will thicken further as it cools), then remove from heat & whisk in miso and mustard. Add salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste. Don’t forget that miso is super salty, lest you ruin your supper.
Serve vegetables & gravy over quinoa.
We spent the weekend basking in Spring, and are squeezing as much continued basking into the after-work hours as possible this week. Naturally, all that revelry isn’t really conducive to time-intensive meals, and it has us craving light, springlike fare anyway. This salad fit the bill perfectly, with tender lettuces, savory tempeh, and radishes for crunch. The miso-tahini dressing is a fancied-up version of this one from Post Punk Kitchen and makes the perfect creamy, tangy accompaniment to round the whole thing out. It’s wildly healthy, too—miso, like most fermented foods, is loaded with probiotics and tahini has lots of protein, minerals and healthy fats.
SPRING LETTUCE SALAD WITH TEMPEH & MISO-TAHINI DRESSING
Serves two (with extra dressing—I’m confident you’ll cope somehow)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 package tempeh, sliced into 12 thin slices
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup miso
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups lettuce
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/4 cup sliced scallions (green bits)
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Toss tempeh with soy sauce and add to skillet. Cook, turning to brown both sides.
Meanwhile, use an immersion blender to puree miso, tahini, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes until very smooth & creamy.
Distribute lettuce into 2 bowls. Top with tempeh slices & dressing, then sprinkle on radish & scallion slices to serve.
Spring rolls are really terrific, did you know? They take barely more time & effort than throwing together a salad, plus they’re stuffed with all kinds of wildly healthy fresh veggies, but they still manage to feel like a special treat and super fun dinner. I think it has something to do with the peanut sauce.
Traditionally, spring rolls contain rice noodles, but as those are pretty much a great big flavorless waste of calories, I skip them. I feel like the wraps provide all the processed rice starch we need in one meal. Tonight’s rolls were stuffed with lettuce, tofu, radishes, hakurei turnips, and scallions, but what you roll up inside your wrappers is very flexible—any raw veggies will do (avocado is awesome, or you can even go sweet with sliced mango).
As for a dipping sauce, I made my basic peanut sauce, which improves every meal it graces. Hard to go wrong.
FRESH SPRING ROLLS WITH PEANUT SAUCE
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 package tofu, drained, pressed*, and sliced into 8 long pieces
Salt & pepper to taste
8 rice paper spring roll wrappers
4 cups lettuce, roughly chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup thinly sliced hakurei turnips
1/4 cup sliced scallions, green bits only
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
3 tbsp water (or so)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the tofu slices. Salt & pepper to taste, and cook, turning until all sides are browned. Remove from pan.
In a bowl of water (large enough to submerge a rice paper wrapper), submerge a rice paper wrapper for about 60 seconds or until softened. Spread wrapper on a clean surface and place 1/2 cup lettuce in the center. Add one piece of tofu and a few slices each radish & turnip, and sprinkle with scallions. Bring the bottom half of the wrapper up over the filling, fold over the two sides, and roll tightly. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
For sauce: stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha with a fork. Thin with water to desired consistency.
*I just wrap it in a clean tea towel and gently squeeze to get out the excess liquid.
Once I read about a medical study asserting that people who used the language “fighting a cold” instead of “having a cold” shortened the severity and duration of said cold by some statistically significant amount. My first few years of teaching were basically one contiguous illness, usually colds but also various other small-child-borne diseases, and I would pretty much take any advice I could get.
I actually hardly get sick at all anymore, thanks to a few factors—namely borderline-obsessive hand-washing, zinc supplements*, middle schoolers (much less likely to be all up in your contagion zone, plus generally better hygiene), and probably just an immune system of steel, honed those first years to prime battle-ready status. However, alas, this weekend I succumbed. Sorry, no, I fought, and am still fighting, a cold, passed to me by Austin, who is also still fighting.
This soup was like a cold-battle nuclear warhead, dropping a load of garlic, ginger, vitamin-packed greens, probiotic-heavy miso, and steamy, spicy broth to bolster our immune systems and clear our clogged sinuses. Also, it was delicious. Pretty sure we’re both going to win this one.
MISO SOUP WITH GREENS & TOFU
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large bunch spring onions, chopped, white & green bits separate
8 cups greens (I used beet greens & rainbow chard), stems chopped & leaves torn to bite-sized, separated
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 package tofu, drained & cubed
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp miso paste (I used mild white miso; different types of miso have different flavor profiles)
Sesame oil, for drizzling
1 lime, sliced
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven, and add white parts of onions. Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add swiss chard stems. Allow to cook a few more minutes, then add garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper, stirring for 30 seconds. Add broth & soy sauce and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the tofu: heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add tofu, season with salt & pepper, and cook until all sides are lightly browned.
Begin adding greens in batches to the simmering broth, stirring until wilted. When all the greens are ready, stir in the cooked tofu & rice. Heat through, then remove pan from heat. Stir in cilantro, green parts of onions, and radishes. Mix miso with a few tablespoons of warm water, then add to the soup, stirring well to combine (adding miso at the end of the cooking time preserves the probiotics). Serve each bowl of soup drizzled with a little sesame oil and accompanied by a lime wedge to squeeze over top.
* About zinc, since I imagine this vegetarian blog has an audience that could perhaps benefit: I’ve found zinc supplements, taken as soon as I feel the slightest bit run-down or post-nasally, to be borderline miraculous. Zinc is largely found in red meat, so I imagine other vegetarians might see the same result.
No, those are not fish sticks.
Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk satay! So fun, right? Sometimes I make fun of Austin for his preschoolerish love of dipping sauces, but really, he and the preschoolers are onto something. Dipping food is fun, and this particular sauce is delicious. I baked my tempeh, which unfortunately dried it out a bit (nothing peanut sauce couldn’t cure), so I advise sauteing instead, as recommended in the recipe I used (which is for tofu, but works beautifully for tempeh, too).
When I removed the tempeh from the marinade, I made sure each piece was coated well and reserved the rest of the marinade to saute radishes and a mixture of greens in for a flavorful vegetable side, served over rice to round out the meal.
The peanut sauce is more complicated than my usual one, and a little too sweet for us, I think, but very tasty. Be warned (I guess) that the recipe makes a ton—way more than we needed, but I challenge you to show me a person who’s ever been inconvenienced by too much peanut sauce. I plan to thin it with coconut milk and use it in a stir-fry tomorrow, and I basically cannot wait.
The other day, I was driving home from work thinking about how I was totally lacking dinner inspiration. I thought I would just make yellow curry. I wasn’t all that excited about it.
I also unrelatedly mused about baking tofu, and how I don’t do it very often but should.
For some reason, all this pondering didn’t coalesce into a meal idea until I was sitting at home, poking around on Facebook, putting off cooking the meal I wasn’t all that excited about, when I came across this ginger baked tofu recipe, wondered where it had been all my life, and walked into the kitchen to make it.
My changes were slight:
- I didn’t use anywhere near 1/4 cup sesame oil—I dabbed a little on each tofu slice for the initial baking, then added about a teaspoon to the sauce.
- I spooned the sauce onto each tofu slice individually, rather than drowning the pan in it, and used the excess to flavor roasted kohlrabi & sauteed kohlrabi greens (3 heads’ worth).
These beet chips were an experiment. They wound up super tasty—sweet and salty and crunchy, a great accompaniment to egg salad pita sandwiches—but they also shrunk up to an entirely unimpressive size, and needed way more time in the oven than I thought they would. Worth it, though, and I’m brainstorming flavor options for the next batch already.
BAKED BEET CHIPS
2 cups very thinly sliced beets (if you haven’t invested in that mandolin yet, do that first, then make these.)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss beets with oil & salt and arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan. Bake 15 minutes, then flip each slice. Return to oven for 15 more minutes or until crispy around the edges (our centers seemed bendy still, but about 30 seconds out of the oven they crisped right up).
Enchiladas are very tasty, but very much a project, what with all the filling and rolling and tucking and cracking of tortillas and general mess. Totally not worth it, especially when you can slap your enchilada components into a baking dish in lasagna-like layers and get the same result with far less heartache. Canned beans and enchilada sauce make this even more convenient.
I topped ours with the leftover fake cheese from the macaroni, so our meal was fully vegan (check the label on your enchilada sauce and especially your refried beans, though). Naturally, you can top yours with actual cheese, or none at all, and use any combination of veggies and beans you like.
LAYERED VEGGIE ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced radishes
1/2 cup diced turnips
4 cups destemmed and torn to bite-sized greens
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
15 oz. can enchilada sauce
10 corn tortillas, quartered
15 oz. can refried beans
1 cup grated cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add onion. Cook until softened, then add garlic, radishes, and turnips. Cook until tender, and add greens in batches to wilt. Add spices, combine thoroughly, and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13” pan and pour enough enchilada sauce in the bottom to just coat. Arrange half of the tortilla quarters to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with refried beans (heating up makes them easier to spread). Add vegetable mixture, top with another layer of tortillas, and pour the remaining enchilada sauce over top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on top and bubbly around the edges. Serve with lightly salted avocado slices.
That title, I’m afraid, is selling this short. What this IS is the blue-ribbon, top-notch, best vegan macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had (and after the last few weeks, I assure you that I am, if not an expert, at least a seasoned professional). Its honorable mention came from a macaroni & cheese cook-off wherein every other dish was chock-full of actual, genuine cheese, not to mention bacon and sausage and butter and who really knows what else, and I personally think that’s a pretty good showing for a macaroni and cheese that’s missing one of its eponymous components.
The people have spoken.
The aforementioned mac & cheese cook-off is an annual event hosted by friends of ours, and the competition was formidable. For reasons that remain mysterious, Austin began trash-talking about my amazing vegan mac & cheese weeks before the contest and entirely before I’d ever made (or even agreed to try making) the first dish of vegan mac. So, without much choice if I was to defend the family honor, I Googled “ultimate vegan macaroni & cheese” and set to work making the first few recipes that turned up. My final recipe is a combination of previous tries, and one I pretty much made up on the fly day-of. It uses a mixture of Daiya and Follow Your Heart vegan “cheeses”—Daiya for the creamy, melty texture, and Follow Your Heart for the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cheddar* flavor. So we brought our fondue pot of fake cheese & macaroni to the table (I feared what would happen if the sauce were allowed to cool). I didn’t count, but I think there were maybe 20 entries of all sorts. Everyone ate as much as they could possibly, and then voted for one favorite, and enough people voted for fake cheese to earn us an honorable mention. Not a bad showing, as I say.
HONORABLE MENTION VEGAN MAC & CHEESE
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups destemmed and torn to bite-sized swiss chard
2 cups dried pasta (I used whole-wheat elbows)
3 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tbsp flour
3 cups almond milk
2 tbsp minced rosemary
2 cups Daiya cheddar-like shreds
2 cups grated Follow Your Heart cheddar analog
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat oil in a skillet and add onions & garlic. Cook until onions are softened, then add swiss chard. Cook until wilted.
Meanwhile, cook & drain your pasta.
Also meanwhile, melt Earth Balance in a saucepan. Whisk in flour, and cook until golden brown. Pour in almond milk & rosemary. Cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce begins to thicken (enough to coat a spoon). Add the cheeses and nutritional yeast, and whisk constantly until completely smooth, which took longer than I imagined it would. Salt & pepper to taste, then combine sauce, noodles, and swiss chard mixture, and serve.
*Uh, yes, I can. But, not bad, if you can get past the (completely vile) texture when it’s cold.
I based this warm winter salad on a Smitten Kitchen favorite of ours—butternut squash and chickpea salad. But I made ours with—you’ll never guess. No, no, I’ll just tell you!
TURNIPS, y’all! I made it with turnips. I know, I know, I am full of surprises. I didn’t change much else, so stick to her recipe and just know you can sub in turnips and it’ll be darn tasty. I also added wilted beet greens. If you have leftover tahini dressing (we did), I bet it’d be awesome over more turnip patties or tossed with julienned radishes for a kind of slaw, or as dipping sauce for raw or roasted veggies or even dressing for an arugula salad. In fact…just make double. I will, next time.