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Italian Soy Sausage Hoagies

Here in Philadelphia, we’re serious about our bread. It’s what helps make Pat’s and Geno’s the legendary joints that they are. And the subtle differences between the rolls of the two South Philly fames only fuels the fire heating up the rivalry among these two. While I’m not one to dive into Philly’s mainstream cheesesteak scene, you can catch me in another part of South Philly chowing down on the occasional vegan cheesesteak at Blackbird. Even this joint knows its bread.

If you have quality ingredients on your hands, dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. And for these vegan, Italian-inspired babies, it’s all about the bread. A crisp, crusty exterior hiding a soft, airy core is what you’re aiming for. That yeasty smell should still linger on the outside with an aroma* that deepens when you cut into the heart of the bread.

To achieve this optimal, chewy goodness, you have to go with the standard white flour roll. Obviously, I’m generally a whole wheat kind of gal, and have enjoyed some pretty impressive WW loaves. But when it comes to that light, chewy consistency needed for the perfect Italian Hoagie, it’s worth the occasional whole wheat sacrifice.

My search for the perfect hoagie roll led me to Philly’s Italian market, where I was able to snatch two of these rolls for less than a dollar! From there, the rest of this meal was effortless. I went with my favorite soy sausage, sauteed up some fresh veggies, and served it with a colorful side of red cabbage and spinach salad. Stick with fresh, veggie-loaded sides to offset the whole wheat swap, and you’re golden.

*(If you want to take the aroma-factor to the next level, bake your own bread, and you’ll concurrently fill your house with that heavenly, breadalicious fragrance…but the process might also add a little of that difficulty factor back into the kitchen that we were trying to avoid, so save it for a lazy-but-not-so-lazy Sunday.)

Click here for recipe…

Vegan Bean and Sausage Chili

Whew. Just got back from a 9-hour photoshoot with a great crew of people. The only downside to the day was an icy bike ride over and a finger-numbing ride home.  I’ve gotten so used to the light jacket-friendly days of January that this below-freezing weather nonsense in February feels preposterous.

I’ll gladly admit I’m a winter-hater, but it does provide a pretty good excuse to cook up some chili. Nothing feels better than coming home on a frigid evening to a hot bowl of chili, accompanied by a side of corn bread if I’m lucky.

The following recipe creates a hearty dish showcasing several meat-free, protein-packed ingredients. Here, kidney beans team up with vegan sausage to provide around 13 grams of protein per serving.  Served atop a 1/4 cup of bulgur (one serving), and you tack another 5 grams on to the meal.  Who says protein has to mean meat?

This dish is also brimming with flavor.  The beans and sausage simmer their juices with those of tomatoes, while being infused with the flavors of chili powder and smoked paprika.  Portobellos add that “meatiness” you’d expect from a protein-filled meal, and cilantro tops it off with a vivacious bang of freshness.  This is  F-F-F chili, vegan style.

Click here for recipe…

Vegetable Pot Pie

A little late on this holiday post…but this is definitely a meal worthy of any time of the year, especially during the cold winter months when you need a hearty meal to warm you up. For me, I’m generally entirely satisfied at holiday meals as a vegetarian. Turkey, and especially ham, were never personal stars of the meal, even for the few years I did dabble in the meat department. With stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and apple and pumpkin pie, it’s impossible to say I’ve ever gone home remotely hungry. It’s always quite the opposite, and even though I’m not cracked out on tryptophan like the rest of my turkey-induce fam., I’m still always ready for a long crash on the couch.

So for me, a special vegetarian main is never a mandatory component to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. However, if I had it my way, the entire meal would be vegetarian-based, with all the traditional holiday dishes alongside some more innovative counterparts. Kale and garlic mashed potatoes? Yes please. These kinds of deviations don’t always fly in my family though, which is understandable because there’s something special about the standard annual traditions.

However, with all the cooks in my family, the basics always get covered, leaving me to put on my thinking toque and allowing me to put my experimental cooking skills to work. Plus, I’m always jumping on the opportunity to cook for a crowd and make crowd-worthy dishes like this pot pie. Vegetarian pot pie might just be my all-time favorite comfort food. So even if I don’t have to have a vegetarian main dish at a holiday meal, a veg-friendly pot pie like this is always more than welcomed!

Dare I say this is one of the best meals I’ve ever made? It takes a couple steps, but every step of the way is entirely worth it. Feel free to substitute the butter to make this irresistible comfort meal entirely vegan.

Click here for recipe…

Vegetarian Sausage Roll with Avocado and Roasted Beets

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a fan of vegetarian sausage.  (Rather than insert a joke here, sausage recipe inserted instead).  Seriously though, it’s the one faux meat product that, in general, is consistently tasty.  It must be all the herbs/spices they pump in there, which renders it free of too many needed adjustments.  All you really have to do is finish it off with a few quality toppings, and vegetarian sausage suffices as a rather satisfying and easy meal.  And that’s without nearly the grease content of the meat-filled links.

For this meal, I called on roasted beets and avocado to spruce up the veg. links I had.  Beets are in full throttle at my CSA job, and I figured if I’m going to get my hands all red for the customers, I might as well continue tie-dying them for my own dinner.  The red roots make great sandwich toppers.  They add a soft, yet steaky component to the bread, with a sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the savory sausage.  And I can never get enough avocado.  It’s a creamy addition that lends itself well to almost everything.  For an extra hit of flavor, whip up some cilantro guacamole to spread on the bread.  Serve with a side of salsa or hot sauce, and enjoy!

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Cheddar Chorizo Baguette Melts (Vegetarian)

The other day, my roommate picked up some Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo, which turned out to exceedingly surpass my expectations.  The meat-free chorizo came in a casing, a plastic one that is (as opposed to pig intestines), that held a spicy blend of deeply flavored soy crumbles.

Luckily my roommate went home for the summer and mistakenly left the remnants of her chorizo in the fridge for me to use.  Free food = win.  Free food that’s vegan and tastes awesome = WIN.

Since the chorizo is already infused with a spice blend, it doesn’t need much dressing up.  For this recipe, I simply paired it with a crusty baguette and a little cheddar cheese.  Melted in the oven and topped with a hint of fresh parsley, these turned out to be a huge hit.

The baguette rounds make great finger food, and thus are perfect for parties or potlucks.  AKA, looking for a Memorial Day recipe? Then try this. The appearance might just dupe your meat-lovin’ friends, and if you’re still hooked on meat, these will enthrall your own taste buds as well.  If you don’t live near a Trader Joes, I’m sure another soy chorizo brand would work, just be sure to look for one that has a crumbly texture and a pre-spiced flavor.

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