Vegetable moo shu tacos with crispy tofu + toasted sunflower seeds (vegan, gluten-free)

Almost all American Chinese restaurants serve moo shu — a stir-fry typically with shredded cabbage and carrots and thin strips of green onion, mushroom, and pork with steamed flour wrappers and hoisin sauce alongside. In this version, you get chewy tofu and a variety of vegetables seasoned with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar wrapped in warm, soft corn tortillas and topped with sunflower seeds and pepitas (hot sauce and salsa optional).

  • crispy broiled tofu
  • olive oil
  • mushrooms of choice, sliced
  • green onions, white parts cut lengthwise into strips and green parts sliced
  • green and/or red cabbage, shredded
  • jalapeño chile, minced
  • sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • zucchini, cut into thin matchsticks
  • baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into thin strips with green and white parts separated
  • toasted sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • tamari, soy sauce, coconut aminos, or Bragg liquid aminos
  • fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • garlic, minced
  • corn tortillas
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • hot sauce and/or salsa
  1. Prepare the broiled tofu.  When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board and cut into small squares. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until the mushrooms brown a bit. Add the white parts of the green onions, cabbage, jalapeño, sweet pepper, zucchini and white parts of the bok choy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. Drizzle with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and tamari and stir to combine. Add the ginger, reserved tofu, green parts of the green onions, and green parts of the bok choy and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat, add the garlic, and cover the pan.
  3. Lightly toast the tortillas or wrap them in a kitchen towel and microwave for a few seconds.  Fill the tortillas with the moo shu, garnish with sunflower seeds and pepitas, and serve with hot sauce and/or salsa alongside.

Crispy broiled tofu (vegan, gluten-free)

Thinly sliced and then broiled — with no added fat or seasonings — your super-firm tofu of choice turns wonderfully chewy. Your sandwiches, tacos, salads, soups, and stews will benefit from its added texture. But that’s if you can stop yourself from eating it on its own straight from the broiler.

  • 1 block organic super-firm tofu (such as Wildwood or Trader Joe’s brands)
  1. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the tofu no thicker than ¼-inch thick. Place the tofu in one layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Broil the first side of the tofu slices until dry and starting to change color, checking that they don’t burn, about 30 minutes (but it depends on how close the heat is to the slices). Remove from the broiler and flip all of the slices. Return to the broiler until the second side of the slices is starting to dry, about 3 minutes. Remove and let cool a bit before using.

Grated beets cooked with dates + cardamom (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free)

Inspired by a dessert served in Indian cuisine, this sweet, chunky “jam” is great on toast, yogurt, ice cream — or on its own. You don’t have to peel the beets unless you want to. A variation: Replace the beets with beets and carrots or just carrots, and for tang, add lemon zest during cooking or a squeeze of lemon at the end.

  • olive oil or oil of choice
  • beets, scrubbed and grated
  • plant-based milk of choice (such as soy, rice, or almond)
  • chopped dates
  • raisins
  • kosher salt
  • ground cardamom
  • ground coriander
  • ground cinnamon
  • nuts of choice (such as cashews, pistachios, and/or slivered almonds)
  1. In a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the beets, milk, dates, raisins, and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, as the mixture reduces and the milk begins to evaporate. When the milk has evaporated, stir in the cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, nuts, and a few more raisins. Cook until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove from the heat.
  2. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold. Store airtight in the refrigerator.

Pinwheel sandwiches with avocado, olive tapenade + sun-dried tomatoes (vegan, dairy-free)

If you’ve seen pinwheel sandwiches (aka aram sandwiches), you know how attractive they are laid out on a serving platter. This recipe uses soft, spreadable vegan cheese, but you can use avocado mashed with hummus and/or olive tapenade instead. To make this recipe gluten-free, use brown-rice tortillas instead of the lavash. Leave enough time to chill the rolls for at least 2 hours to make slicing them easier.

  • spreadable vegan cheese, such as vegan cream cheese (see note above)
  • avocado
  • sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • olive tapenade or thinly sliced olives of choice
  • fresh basil leaves, rolled and very thinly sliced crosswise (chiffonade)
  • parsley, chopped
  • sweet peppers, diced
  • Roma or San Marzano sauce-type tomato, chopped
  • green onions, very thinly sliced
  • several whole-wheat lavash or large whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • fillings: lettuce strips, arugula, carrot matchsticks, cucumber matchsticks
  1. Add the cheese and avocado to a bowl and mash together. Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces and add to the bowl. Add the tapenade, basil, parsley, peppers, tomato, and green onions. Mix until well combined.
  2. Soften the lavash or tortillas by wrapping in a kitchen towel and microwaving for 30 seconds to prevent cracks when rolling. Evenly spread the cheese-avocado mixture on a lavash. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Along the longest edge of the lavash, place fillings of choice on top of each other in a narrow row. Fold the lavash or tortilla over the fillings and roll tightly to the opposite edge. Transfer the roll to a plate, seam side down. Repeat until you have made as many rolls as you need.
  3. Transfer the plate of rolls to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours to meld the flavors and make slicing the rolls easier. When chilled, transfer the rolls to a cutting board, slice into pieces about 1½ inch thick, and decoratively place on a serving platter. Serve immediately or allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Chunky fig-apple jam with dates + lemon (vegan, gluten-free)

A new crop of apples has arrived at local farmers’ markets, and ripe figs abound on local trees in Northern California, so why not cook up a simple refrigerator jam? Spread it on toast or however you enjoy a little sweet-tart goodness. If you can’t find fresh figs, how about trying persimmons (firm-ripe Fuyu or very soft Hachiya varieties)? Because this is a chunky jam, there’s no need to peel any of the fruit! You will need an airtight container for storing the jam in the fridge.

  • fresh soft-ripe figs, cut into small chunks
  • apples, seeded and cut into small chunks
  • date sugar or pitted dates, cut into small pieces
  • ground cinnamon
  • grated lemon zest
  • lemon juice
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the figs and apples. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until heated and sizzling. Sprinkle with date sugar or date pieces and cinnamon. Stir, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to soften and the sauce bubbles. Turn the heat to low, add lemon zest and juice, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally and adding more lemon juice to taste, until the fruit is mostly broken down. At any time if the pan becomes too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time just to moisten. Using a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the fruit into the sauce.
  2. When all the fruit is fully cooked into the sauce, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a kitchen towel then with the pan’s lid leaving some space for the mixture to breathe and thicken. When cool, transfer to the airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Scandinavian-inspired tofu salad (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

Feel free to add to this salad whatever says “Scandinavia” to you, but fresh dill, fennel bulb and/or fennel seeds, and caraway seeds seemed obvious. Great for summertime picnics or potlucks or to serve alfresco at home. No cooking required and just a couple of steps, plus you can make it ahead and let the flavors meld in the fridge.

  • super-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • cucumber
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • toasted slivered almonds
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • fennel bulb, chopped
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • olive oil
  • grated lemon zest
  • lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, place the tofu cubes.
  2. Cut the cucumber in quarters lengthwise then crosswise into quarter-moons and add to the bowl with the tofu. Add the green onions, almonds, dill, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds and toss together. Drizzle in some oil and add the lemon zest and juice. Toss again to combine. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve or let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Baked fritters with fresh corn + herbs (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

What is summertime without fresh corn added to everything you cook? These fritters are a crowd-pleaser, but if there are leftovers, you can warm them in the oven or toaster oven along with some corn tortillas — and you are on the road to tacos!

Inspired by a post on Healthier Steps.

  • oil, for greasing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • nutritional yeast
  • ground cumin
  • chipotle powder
  • turmeric powder
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh lime juice
  • garlic, minced
  • fresh corn kernels
  • jalapeño chile, minced
  • mixed fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano), minced
  • red onion, diced
  • for serving: plant-based yogurt, hot pepper sauce, salsa, avocado chunks, guacamole, halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and sliced green onions (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Oil the parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast, cumin, chipotle, turmeric, and salt and pepper. Add  ½ cup water, lime juice, garlic, corn, jalapeño, herbs, and red onion and stir well to form a thick batter. If too thick, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir to combine.
  3. Drop a spoonful of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat, placing the fritters next to each other because they don’t spread, until all of the batter is used. Bake until starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Using a spatula, turn each fritter. Broil the second side, watching so they don’t burn, until golden and crispy. Serve with accompaniments of choice.

Pasta with marinated tomatoes, roasted cauliflower + parsley (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Marinated tomatoes (recently posted on Veghead, Etc.) are easy to make, and if you already have a jar of them marinating in the fridge, here’s a simple way to use them. Or just mix together diced tomatoes with their juices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, minced garlic, and chopped fresh herbs of choice and let sit on the counter while you prepare the other ingredients.

  • cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • olive oil
  • brown-rice pasta or pasta of choice
  • marinated tomatoes (see note above)
  • parsley, chopped
  • salt, pitted and chopped Kalamata or green olives, or drained capers
  1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the cauliflower in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until tender and beginning to brown. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  4. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Immediately pour in marinated tomatoes with their juices and the roasted cauliflower and toss until well combined. Sprinkle with parsley and salt, olives, or capers and toss again. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve.

Fresh spring rolls (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

Making fresh spring rolls is a fun roll-it-yourself summer party or no-cook dinner on a hot summer evening. All you need is some rice-paper wrappers (find them at well-stocked grocers), your favorite fillings, and a homemade or store-bought dipping sauce (peanut or otherwise).

Fillings of choice
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • super-firm tofu, seasoned tofu, or a tofu burger, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh mint leaves
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • jicama, cut into matchsticks
  • daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
  • lettuce leaves, cut into strips
  • sweet pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • mung bean sprouts or sprouts of choice
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • fine rice vermicelli (bún giang tay), prepared according to the package directions
  • hot-pepper sauce
  • sriracha chili sauce
Wrappers and dipping sauce
  • hot water
  • large rice-paper wrappers (bánh tráng)
  • homemade or store-bought dipping sauce (such as peanut sauce; toasted sesame oil mixed with tamari or soy sauce; or a vinegary-sweet salad dressing of choice)
  1. Set out the fillings on platters and in bowls on the kitchen counter.
  2. Using a bowl large enough to fit the width of a rice-paper wrapper, fill halfway with hot water. Dip one wrapper at a time vertically into the hot water, twirl the wrapper to submerge it while counting to three, and remove promptly. Ignore the urge to dip the wrapper longer or the rice paper will cling to itself, making it impossible to fill and roll. Spread the wet wrapper out onto a plate or platter.
  3. Neatly lay your desired fillings along the center line of the wrapper. Fold one side of the wrapper over the fillings, fold in the sides, and roll to seal. Transfer the sealed rollup to your individual dinner plate. Repeat.
  4. Serve with individual bowls of your favorite homemade or store-bought dipping sauce.

Marinated tomatoes (vegan, gluten-free)

It’s summer here in Northern California, and the farmers’ markets are chock-full of gorgeous, colorful ripe tomatoes. Marinating them is a way to preserve the harvest a bit longer. Serve them strained or with the marinade. Below are some ideas for using them, but can you think of other ways?

  • ripe tomatoes, diced, reserving their juices
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • garlic, minced
  • fresh mixed herbs (such as basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and parsley)
  • jalapeño chile (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes with their juices. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the garlic, herbs, and jalapeño and toss until combined.
  2. Let marinate at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. Store airtight in the refrigerator between uses.
Ways to use the marinated tomatoes
  • For appetizers, place some strained tomato on each cracker.
  • Toast a slice of bread, spread with avocado, and top with the strained tomatoes.
  • In a baking dish, add a layer of the tomatoes and their marinade. Top with thinly sliced onion, olives, and raw seeds and nuts of choice or breadcrumbs. Bake until browned.
  • For lasagne, use the tomatoes and their marinade instead of canned tomatoes.
  • Make a salad of lettuce, chickpeas, olives, green onions, and parsley and toss with the tomatoes and their marinade, olive oil, and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
  • Stuff a warmed whole-wheat pita with hummus, tahini, the strained tomatoes, sliced cucumber, arugula or lettuce, and hot sauce.
  • Toss the tomatoes and their marinade with hot pasta and parsley.
  • Spread a whole-grain pizza dough with pesto, the strained tomatoes, and roasted red peppers and bake.
  • Top a bowl of lentils and rice or your favorite summer soup with the tomatoes and their marinade and parsley and/or cilantro.
  • Warm a corn tortilla and fill with the strained tomatoes, avocado slices, beans of choice, cilantro, and lettuce.