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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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Red Pepper and Soy Sausage Jambalaya

With some of Lightlife’s soy sausage in the fridge and several bell peppers that needed to be used, I went through all the ways in my mind that I could use these two ingredients together…Ok, so maybe not all the ways because then I’d be thinking for longer than my stomach could handle. But after much indecision, I finally settled on whipping up some jambalaya.

My mind was envisioning a jumbo pot full of jambalaya cooking outside, its contents being stirred with a large wooden spoon. A summer breeze wafting the mouth-watering aromas through the air…Only one problem with this picture…there’s sausage in my jambalaya. Yikes.

All too many times have I passed an alluring scene like this in real life. Too many times where a huge pot of jambalaya rest waiting to be eaten, but I’ve kept on strolling because of the sausage circulating through it. For this reason, I’ve only tasted jambalaya once or twice in my life—a vegetarian version that was lacking some flavor, and a solely seafood version that was pretty darn good.

So it was a delight to make a velvety vegan version of jambalaya, considering that the flavorful dish is certainly a rarity in my diet. Using brown rice and veggies for the bulk of the dish, this jambalya recipe upshot not just a delicious result, but a rather healthy one too. Now I just need one of those huge pots and an outdoor flame set-up so I can recreate my ideal vision of jammin’ to jambalaya.

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Tempeh Bacon Sandwich

Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of dining out at some of Philadelphia’s best vegan restaurants. At a couple of these places in particular, I have yet to ever find myself disappointed with the food. Fresh, meat-free ingredients are cooked up in a way that makes vegan gourmet, creating dishes that are palatable to even the pickiest of eaters. It’s restaurants like Horizons, turning seitan into the most juicy, succulent, meaty form of meatless protein possible, that are capable of changing the minds of those that lament vegetarian food. One of Philadelphia’s newest, Blackbird Pizzeria, also does a mighty fine job at creating vegan comfort food, enabling those who would normally turn their nose up at tofu to go home raving about their meatless meal. The chefs in restaurants such as these have inspired me in my own cooking, leading me to occasionally whip up my own epicurean vegan food. And with that, I leave you with my latest kitchen creation, a gourmet vegan, tempeh-based sandwich that really hits the spot.

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A Simple Twist on Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Ask the average college student their go-to home-cooked meal, and you’re more than likely to hear spaghetti.  In fact, many people of all ages turn to pasta when it comes to cooking up a quick, cheap meal.  It’s certainly no wonder why spaghetti has become such a favorite comfort food.  In less than ten minutes, pasta with pre-made sauce can be on your plate, and it doesn’t take much to get full off of those carb-loaded noodles.

While pairing pasta with jarred sauce is one of the easiest combos and undoubtedly a college classic, this can quickly get boring.  However, by adding just a few extra ingredients, you can jazz up this standard dish in no time, creating an extra hearty, healthy meal.  The following recipe gives pre-made tomato sauce a twist by adding chewy mushrooms and protein-packed soy crumbles, creating a healthy, vegan-friendly sauce, requiring no more time than what it takes to cook the pasta.

Note:  Choose any brand of tomato sauce of your choice, or make your own.  If I go with a jarred sauce, I usually choose Classico’s Tomato and Basil, which keeps its list of ingredients short, and contains no dairy or sugar.  Also, select the variety of pasta of your preference, but stick to whole wheat to boost fiber and protein.

Pasta with “Meaty” Mushroom Tomato Sauce

-12 oz. whole wheat pasta
-8 oz. button or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
-1 heaping cup Morning Star soy crumbles
-2 cup favorite pre-made tomato sauce
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-Nutritional yeast, optional

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.  Add mushrooms, and saute until tender, about 6 minutes.  Stir in sauce and soy crumbles.  Cook another 3-5 minutes, or until sauce is heated all the way through.  Remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over pasta.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast, to taste, on top.

Meatless Meaty Tacos

How about  bringing in the New Year with a cruelty-free, “meaty” meal?

Meaty and meatless is an interesting dichotomy in the world of vegetarian food.  Some veg. chefs strive to stay as far away as possible from creating anything resembling the texture or flavor of meat, while others play numerous trial and errors until nearly exact replications of meat-filled dishes are achieved.  Me?  I very rarely ever crave meat anymore, but I do sometimes miss that chewy, dense texture.  Needless to say, that does occasionally lead me to using meat substitutes, and I frequently go heavy on the mushrooms.

With the following recipe, I replaced the beans in my traditional vegetarian tacos with soy crumbles (made out of TVP-Textured Vegetarian Protein).  While you could certainly keep the refried beans too, I decided to lean slightly towards a lighter fajita-styled taco, instead adding sauteed onions, peppers, and of course, mushrooms.  Add the usual toppings— salsa, avocados, lettuce—and you really can’t go wrong with tacos, meatless or not.

Meatless Meaty Tacos

(Serves 3-4)

-1 large onion, sliced
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-2 medium bell peppers, sliced
-1-2 chili peppers, depending on personal taste, minced
-2 cups baby portobellos, sliced
-3 cups soy crumble (I usually use Morning Star)
-3 tsp. chili powder
-3 slices of lime
-Avocado, diced
-Shredded lettuce
-Whole wheat tortillas
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-1 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute garlic, onions, and both peppers for two minutes.  Add mushrooms, chili powder, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Saute 6-8 minutes, or until onions and peppers are tender but still hold a slight crisp.  Stir in soy crumbles.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place small handful of shredded lettuce on a tortilla shell.  Top with soy crumble mixture, spoonful of salsa, and diced avocado.  Squeeze slice of lime on top.  Roll, and serve.