I’m all about fancy kitchen gear: a colorful cast-iron pot, vintage cutlery and artfully crumpled linen tea towels. I want all of the pretty things that I can’t afford. (Williams-Sonoma, you saucy minx.)
But sometimes kitchen tools can border on superfluous - keeping it simple and uncluttered is where I’m at these days.
I’ll admit, those spiralized zucchini noodles look pretty rad. (You know what I’m talking about right? The Spiralizer is a thing.) But for now, and probably forever, my vegetable peeler serves me just as well for similar results.
We’re going for simple here. Just you, the vegetable peeler and some zucchini with a super easy garlic-packed slow cooker tomato sauce.
I’m not joking about the garlic. I used a whole head of garlic, because that’s the kind of girl I am.
It’s cooked low and slow in the crock pot for maximum tomato-garlic goodness and minimal effort.
Because of my constant need to be independent and divergent in some way I almost always choose vegetable fajitas on a standard Mexican restaurant menu. Unless I’m at a fancy taco place. Then I just eat the fancy tacos and shut the hell up.
Anyway, those veggie fajitas usually come with a pan of sizzling spiced bell peppers and onions – plus an entire plate’s worth of add-ons like guac, salsa, iceberg lettuce and a stack of warm tortillas. I’m given lots of freedom to put together my own combinations or just dig in to a pile of vegetables with tons of guacamole. Writing my own rules. Just the way I like it.
And if I find myself at Chipotle…I opt for a burrito bowl and customize the crap out of it.
Here we find ourselves somewhere in the middle with some cauliflower rice thrown in for all those fake rice enthusiasts out there. I love regular rice and especially chewy, nutty brown rice, but sometimes I find myself with a whole head of cauliflower for the fourth week in a row and I’ve gotta mix it up. Plus it’s super light and fluffy and paleo-friendly.
Let’s make cauliflower rice fajita bowls!
Roasting brings out amazing qualities in vegetables – especially with squash and eggplant. High heat creates little cubes of excellence – caramelized and golden on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside.
This tahini miso dressing is vegan luxury. Savory and creamy, it’s a lovely way to tie together a salad of warm roasted vegetables and fresh green herbs. I used cilantro, but you can use parsley or a combination of the two.
This salad makes a great side dish or a whole meal when served over a bed of rice or quinoa with some toasted flaked almonds.
A smokey, hearty chili that lends itself to all kinds of vegetables. Feel free to replace the sweet potato with butternut squash, or add green pepper or zucchini. I like to top it with a grilled corn and cilantro salad or just slices of fresh avocado.
Having a good vegan chili in my arsenal is super important when I’m looking for something warm, bold and comforting. This recipe is a mix of a few recipes I’ve made over the years and what I default to when I have it in my mind to make chili. I like to pack it with at least two types of beans and a combination of vegetables, although I always favor something like sweet potato.
This can also be made in a slow cooker. See below for instructions.
A lot of what I eat day-to-day involves some sort of “Bowl”. When I’m looking to get a good hit of vegetables or just use up the bits and pieces in the fridge, a Bowl is the answer. More than a salad, but with a similar amount of a commitment, Bowls are thrown together easily and often amount to much more than their individual elements.
The most important component of a Bowl is a kickass sauce or dressing. Once you have a good sauce, you’ve got something worth eating.
I feel fairly at ease attempting the basics in the kitchen – sautéing, roasting, chopping, boiling, broiling. I’ve got those on lock.
And then there are other kitchen endeavors that I’ve learned to avoid. Pastry, for example, is not something I’m down with on a regular basis. Nor is deep-frying or preserving.
Normally something like making one’s own cheese seems like dicey territory, but yogurt cheese – or labneh – is where it’s at for us novices. All that’s involved is a little stirring and a bit of patience.
Labneh is almost like a Middle Eastern cream cheese, spreadable, creamy and a little tart. And super easy to make.
This recipe was inspired by Killer Poboys in New Orleans. I was reading their most recent menu (because that’s something I do in my spare time) and was instantly excited by their vegan option. Each individual ingredient was original and all together it sounded like a sandwich I could totally get on board with.
I think that’s what I love about vegan and vegetarian cooking so much – it encourages a different level of creativity, inevitably making vegetables taste more interesting and satisfying.
Now, a po’boy is really just a sandwich. But in New Orleans it’s a sandwich on a fresh pillowy baguette. It’s almost certainly one of those things that people claim cannot be replicated outside of the city due to the water – like bagels in New York or sourdough in San Francisco, I tend to believe these dough-related myths.