Vegetarian Recipes

Asian Tofu for Stir-frys:

Tofu can definitely be intense to prepare but it is an excellent source of lean protein and you can buy extra firm tofu to make the process less laborious.  Throw the tofu into your favorite stir-fry or salad.  The recipe below has yielded the firmest/crispiest tofu for me.  This recipe has been modified from:



  • 1 container of extra firm tofu (available at Jewel, Mariano’s, and Trader Joe’s has a wonderful extra-firm sprout tofu).
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or rice vinegar if you’re on a budget (just add 2 more tbsp to the one already listed here).
  • 2 garlic cloves, to taste, minced.
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger.
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili oil.
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil.
  • Pan Frying Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp of olive oil
    • 2 tbsp of corn starch


  1. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and drain the tofu in a colander with two cans on top of it for at least 30 minutes, though this is on the low end – ideally it should be an hour but who has time to plan meals out?  I certainly don’t.
  2. Once the tofu is drained – cut it into 1/2 inch chunks – this is completely up to you though with respect to how you prefer your tofu to be.
  3. Whisk all of the ingredients together and add the tofu to the marinade.  It should at least marinate for 30 minutes but ideally for an hour.  As I previously said though, if you’re in a rush, then 30 minutes is fine.
  4. Once you are done marinating the tofu – you can bake it or pan fry it.  If you are in a rush, I would pan fry it – I am usually pressed for time so I tend to pan fry it.
  5. In a pan on medium heat – add 2 tbsp of olive oil and pan fry for about 10-15 minutes turning it over once halfway through.  I would add 2 tbsp of corn starch to give the tofu a crispy texture.
  6. If you’re adding this to a dish (I like to add this to my Vegetarian Red Thai curry) add it at the very end when the sauce is ready and done simmering so the tofu can maintain its crispiness.
  7. If you do bake it:
    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and when it’s ready, put the tofu on a baking sheet that was sprayed with canola oil, and bake for 40 minutes (see if the tofu is golden brown).  Flip over half way.
    • When it’s ready, throw it into your favorite stir-fry or salad!

Hosting or going to a dinner party?  Not sure what to make?  Want to bring something different from the usual cheese and crackers?  A beet tartare crostini will not only impress your guests, it will also please your gut.  While beets do take time to prepare, they are absolutely gorgeous and vibrant (oh and healthy) – I wanted to make a unique and fun appetizer for a dinner party I went to so I figured why not make a twist on a traditional beef tartare?  The beet tartare crostini was not only beautiful to the eye but also extremely pleasing for the palate.

I also wanted it to be something that people could hold and take small bites of so that’s where the crostini part came in. This could be a wonderful salad without the crostini but the bread absorbs the beet tartare perfectly.  The dish turned out flavorful and beautiful with a sea of colors and textures.

My recipe here is based off of: for the roasted beets part, the tartare part and for the crostini part.

Beet Tartare Crostini: Perfect for a Moody Dinner Party




  • 3 large red beets (raw – if you bought roasted beets, then you can skip the roasting part)
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of regular olive oil
  • 2 tsp of salt and pepper each
  • 2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp of red pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups of arugula or spinach
  • 1/4 cup of parsley
  • 2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup of dill
  • 2 cups of goat or feta cheese (I made some with goat and some with feta, it seemed like the feta ones were more popular because the saltiness of the feta brought out the beet tartare flavors more).


  • 1 baguette sliced and toasted
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of soy butter
  • 1 tsp of salt and butter each
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
Beet tartare


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Chop off the top and bottom of the beets and peel the beet skin off.  Cut the beets into 1/2 inch chunks (the smaller, the faster they become tender).
  2. Put the beets on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with the thyme, 3 tbsp of regular olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and pepper (eyeball it and see whether it intuitively feels like enough salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the beets in the oven for 40 minutes (might take longer depending on the oven size) – turning about halfway through the baking process.
  4. Let them cool so they are room temperature (about 20 minutes). Dice them into tiny cubes in a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Drizzle the diced beets with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, stir in all of the spices (salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cayenne, red pepper) so all of the beets are evenly coated.
  6. Chill it in the fridge while you prep everything else.
  7. Turn the oven temperature down to 375.  Slice the bread into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.  Put the bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet.
  8. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, softened soy butter, salt, pepper, and garlic together so it forms a paste.
  9. Brush the top of the bread slices with your garlic oil paste with a pastry brush or spoon if you don’t have a pastry brush.
  10. Bake the bread for about 10-15 minutes until the slices are golden.
  11. While the bread is baking toast your walnuts.  In a medium pan, toast your walnuts for about 4-5 minutes, then sprinkle about 1 tsp of cayenne pepper.  Let them cool for 1-2 minutes and chop them up into smaller bits.
  12. Let the bread cool off for about 10 minutes.
  13. Now it’s time to assemble it all!
  14. Put the arugula on top of the bread, then a small spoonful of the beet tartare, then the feta or goat cheese, then the toasted walnuts on top and voilà – your Beet Tartare Crostini is ready!
Goat cheese on the left, Feta on the right

Chickpea Couscous Salad:

Vegan and Vegetarian

This recipe emerged from necessity.  I was 19, broke, a vegan, and in college.  I needed something cheap, quick, healthy, and abundant.  This recipe has become a staple of mine and I still eat it throughout the week many times.  It has staying power.  It’s easy to make and yields a lot of food.  I usually like to make this on Sunday night in preparation for the week.

Servings: 4



  • 1 cup of Couscous (I like to get my couscous from the Skokie Pita Inn Store because it’s sold in bulk and much cheaper than getting it from Jewel)
  • 1 can of Garbanzo Beans – drained
  • 1/2 c of Olive Oil for the dressing
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil or soy butter for the couscous
  • 2 tbsp of soy or Tamari sauce
  • 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped depending on how much you like garlic (I am a big garlic lover so the more the merrier)
  • 1 chopped green onion
Dill is optional, I just happened to have dill when I made this.
  • 8 green olives or kalamata olives chopped up in half
  • Spices: I like to eyeball these and add in some more throughout the cooking process but here is an estimate of the spices I use:
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    Necessary spices: I usually like to add more than the amounts below, but it’s easiest to add more throughout the cooking process.  
    • 1 tsp of sea salt
    • 1.5 tsp of smoked paprika
    • t tsp of regular paprika
    • 1 tsp of red pepper
    • 1 tsp of cumin
    • 1 tsp of black pepper
    • 1.5 tsp of Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp of rosemary
Basic dressing


  • Follow the couscous recipe directions – typically it’s one cup of water with a little salt and 2 tbsp of olive oil or soy butter.  Then boil the water, add in a cup of couscous, stir it in, put a lid on it, and take it off the stove.  Keep it standing for 5 minutes, then stir it and fluff it up.
Moroccan couscous is the best kind
  • While the couscous is being made, drain the garbanzo beans in a strainer.
  • In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, spices, green onions, and garlic.  Mix until it is smooth and everything is distributed evenly.
  • Pour the garbanzo beans in the bowl and stir it in with the dressing mixture.



  • Add in the couscous slowly, gradually stir it in making sure it gets stirred into the dressing.  The couscous should be somewhat moistened by the dressing.  If it’s dry, then add in more olive oil and dijon.
  • Add in the kalamata olives and sprinkle a little paprika on top.
  • You can serve it immediately or chill it in the fridge.  Bon appetit!

Chinese Eggplant Garlic Stir-fry with Kimchi Fried Rice

Vegan and Vegetarian

I love Chinese food but unfortunately the more fast/convenient Chinese food places tend to be high in sodium without fresh vegetables.  This recipe is also based off of my mom’s Chinese food recipes.  What I love about this dish is that it is hearty, delicious, and affordable!  I am all about the sauces and I love this garlic sauce!

Servings: 4



Eggplant stir-fry


  • 1 eggplant chopped however you prefer but I like to chop them up in 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 bag of dried shiitake mushrooms (you can find these in the international aisle of Jewel or Mariano’s/Asian grocery stores) – soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes, drain the mushrooms, then chop them
  • 1 can of baby corn (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp of chopped ginger
  • 1 package of seitan (you can use tofu as well but it will be more laborious)- drain and then fry in a pan with a little olive oil, once it’s brown, add a little Tamari sauce to it (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 poblano pepper chopped – I think these are the crunchiest type of pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 c of Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 c of Mushroom oyster sauce (vegan version of oyster sauce)
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of red pepper paste (optional if you like spicy food)
  • 2 c of veggie stock
  • 1/2 c of water
  • 2 tbsp of corn starch
Necessary for the pan frying/sauce

Kimchi Fried Rice: Fried rice typically is made with eggs but you can just subtract the eggs.  This recipe was inspired by:  It soaks up the eggplant so well.


  • 1 cup of kimchi chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb of mushrooms (shiitake or straw) rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups of Jasmine rice (follow the directions on the rice package)
  • 1 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c of Kimchi juice
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of Tamari
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 2 tsp of Gojuchang – Korean chili paste
  • 3-4 eggs beaten for scrambled eggs


  1. In a separate frying pan, add in the cooking oil – on medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is warm, add in the ginger, garlic, mushrooms and kimchi, sauté for 1-2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium low.
  3. Add the Tamari, Gojuchang and the beaten eggs, continuously stir so the eggs don’t get too dry.
  4. Now you can add the rice and kimchi juice.  Mix the ingredients well so everything is blended together.  Then add the sesame oil and take off the heat.
  5. Drizzle with the green onions and serve with your favorite Chinese/Korean eggplant/tofu dish!

Savory, Filling Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Vegetarian – Serves 4-5 people

Who doesn’t love a hearty piece of breaded eggplant smothered in marinara sauce and cheese?!  Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite cozy dishes to make for a dinner party because it’s delicious, filling, and serves many people.  However, there are many components to it and it can get time consuming.  If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, you can definitely make the components at different times or make some shortcuts (e.g. sauce in a jar).  Here is the recipe I have developed and it combines various recipes from these lovely chefs:




Eggplant Parmesan:

    • 1 large eggplant
    • 3 cups of marinara sauce (see recipe below)
    • 2 tsp of kosher salt
    • 4 eggs beaten
    • 3 cups of Italian breadcrumbs
    • Cooking spray
    • 2 cups of grapeseed oil
    • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
    • 1 log of mozzarella cheese (the fresh/sliced mozzarella is the best)
  • 5 pieces of fresh basil for garnish
  • Optional sprig of green onion for garnish

Marinara Sauce:

    • 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
    • 1 medium onion peeled and chopped into two whole pieces
    • 3 large cloves of garlic peeled but left whole
    • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tsp of Italian seasoning (or oregano is fine by itself)
    • 1 tsp (I like more) of red pepper flake
  • 1-2 tsp of salt and pepper to taste



  1. In a medium pot with a wide bottom, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), onion, garlic, olive oil, Italian seasoning, red pepper, salt, and pepper together.  
  2. Bring the sauce to a rolling simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slower, gentler simmer for about 45 minutes on low.  Stir occasionally and after 15 minutes have passed use a spoon (wooden is ideal but other types work) to crush the tomatoes against the sides fo the pot.  (While it’s simmering you can start preparing the eggplant).
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and take out the onion. Smash the garlic cloves in the pan with a fork or spoon and continue to crush the tomatoes.
  4. Blend the sauce for a few seconds gently pulsing it till you achieve its desired consistency.  I like it smooth so 1-2 minutes works and I added in a bit more extra virgin olive oil while pulsing it.
  • Season to your liking but it should be well-seasoned at this point.  This can be added to the eggplant parmesan before it bakes.

Eggplant Parmesan:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Chop the eggplant so each slice is about 1/4 inch thick.  Think small-medium sized circles.
  1. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant and drain in a colander for 30 minutes (this step isn’t imperative but it gives the eggplant a nice creamy texture, if you don’t have time, don’t sweat it).  When it’s done draining, you can rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat it dry on paper towels.
  1. When the eggplant is dry, dip both sides of each slice in the egg (shake off excessive egg), then the breadcrumbs and put it on a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes, flip it, then bake for an additional 10 minutes.  I like to bake AND fry the eggplant because it makes it super crispy without it being too oily.
  1. Once the eggplant has been baked, remove it from the oven, and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees.
  1. In a large frying pan, heat the grapeseed oil (you’ll have to add more throughout the frying process) on medium heat and fry each eggplant slice on both sides.  You’ll know that the oil is ready by dropping a piece of bread crumb and seeing it sizzle.  About 4-5 pieces of eggplant will fit on the frying pan and you can flip it over in about 2 minutes when one side is golden brown. 
  1. Then fry the other side for 2 minutes (the speed increases the longer the heat has been on so it’s good to eyeball).
  2. Once the eggplant has been fried, remove from the pan and put it on a paper towel to dry. 
  3. Now it’s time to put your eggplant parmesan together!
  4. Put about 3/4 cup of your marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish (a 9 by 13 inch pan is ideal).  Then put the eggplant on top of the sauce (it’s okay for it to overlap a bit).
  5. Then spread 1 cup of the sauce over the eggplant.  Then put the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the eggplant pieces making sure there is enough for the next layer.
  6. Sprinkle the top with 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.
  7. For the last layer, add the sliced eggplant, then put the remaining marinara sauce on top (you’ll probably have a bit extra so use it for pasta later that week), the remaining mozzarella slices, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle half of the chopped basil on top.
  8. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Then increase the temperature to 375 degrees, remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is crispy on top.  Let it rest for 10 minutes and drizzle with the leftover basil slices and green onion for garnish.
  • Voilà, your Eggplant Parmesan is ready!



Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Portobello Mushrooms

  • 1 c of Jasmine rice (can be found at Jewel/Mariano’s, but can be bought in bulk at an Asian grocery store or Garden Fresh)
  • 2 c of water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of ginger chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/2 c of kimchi
  • 1/2 c of Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil


  1. Chop up all of your vegetables.
  2. In a wok or large frying pan, pour the olive oil into the pan on medium heat – add in one piece of eggplant and when it starts sizzling, add in the rest of the eggplant. It should sauté for about 5 minutes, be sure to turn it over halfway through cooking.
  3. In a separate frying pan while the eggplant is sautéing, sauté the seitan and once it’s brown you can add in a little Tamari or soy sauce.
  4. Add in the mushrooms and pepper to the frying pan.  It should sauté for about 3 minutes till tender.
  5. Add in the ginger, garlic, and about half of the green onion. After a minute of sautéing, stir in the tamari/soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and the mushroom oyster sauce.
  6. Everything should be sizzling loudly at this point, keep stirring the veggies, then add in 2 cups of veggie broth.  On the side,  put water in a little mug and stir in the corn starch till it forms a consistent paste – shouldn’t be too thick or too watery.
  7. Wait till vegetables and veggies broth come to a boil, then put the vegetables to one side of the pan, then stir in the cornstarch mix with a whisk at a lower heat.
  8. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes on extremely low heat and cover.  Stir occasionally and add in the red pepper paste, if needed.
  9. Once a nice thick brown sauce has formed, add in the seitan and the leftover green onions.
  10. While the eggplant stir-fry is simmering, start making the rice.  Boil 2 c of water with a little salt.  Once the water is boiling, add in the Jasmine rice, let it simmer for 20 minutes on low with a lid.
  11. In a separate frying pan, add in the olive oil – on medium heat.
  12. Once the oil is warm, add in the ginger, garlic, and kimchi, sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add in the soy sauce, then add in the rice.
  13. Once the rice is sautéed and stirred in, add the sesame oil and stir in.  Serve with the eggplant stir-fry and enjoy!

Do you love grilling but are a vegetarian or vegan?  While grilling in the Midwest tends to be meat-centric, you can go all out with delicious and satisfying plant-based options like Brussels sprouts and Portobello mushrooms.  Just marinate the vegetables like you would need to marinate the meat and plan ahead a tiny bit so it can marinate for at least 30 minutes.

I didn’t really grow up eating Brussels sprouts but have started to acquire an appreciation for it as I’ve tasted delicious versions of it and now I am a fan!  Just make sure you have some good balsamic for the marinade and heat it on the grill enough for it to get that charred grilled flavor.  Impress your guests at your next grill out and they won’t remember that you had a vegetarian barbecue!

Vegan and Vegetarian

My recipes here are based off of:

Brussels Sprouts:


  • 1 lb of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of dried or fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1/2 lemon for lemon juice



  1. Wash the Brussels sprouts and then chop them up into halves or quarters depending on how big they are.
  2. Prepare the marinade in a large bowl – combine the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and lemon juice.
  3. Let the Brussels sprouts marinade in the bowl for at least 30 minutes (the longer the better).
  4. Put your Brussels sprouts in a foil boat, make sure it’s tightly sealed with some of the marinade.
  5. Grill them for 10 minutes on one side and turn it over for an additional 15-20 minutes depending on what kind of grill you have and how hot it is.  Be sure to baste the Brussels sprouts with some olive oil a couple of times as you’re grilling.
  6. Serve it hot for your guests and they will be impressed at the char-grilled flavor.
Brussels sprouts

Portobello Mushrooms:


  • 2 large mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp of Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of lime juice
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of chili paste like Sambal (1 tsp of you’re not into spicy food)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika


  • Wash and wipe the mushrooms delicately.  You can leave them in whole mushroom form or slice them into long piece.
  • Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and gently whisk in the olive oil.
  • Put all of the ingredients in a ziplock bag and add in the mushrooms so it is coated with the marinade.
  • Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but the longer, the better!
  • If the mushrooms are sliced, it’s good to put them in a foil boat because the mushrooms can fall through the grill.
  • Grill each side for about 5 minutes until charred (you can baste it with olive oil if you like it moist).
  • Serve it hot for your guests and they will be impressed at the char-grilled flavor and thick texture.
Portobello Mushrooms

Holiday Tofu Stuffing Casserole

Vegan and Vegetarian

Thanksgiving can be a very meat-centric holiday, but it doesn’t have to be!  I have been making this Tofu Stuffing Casserole since graduate school and I bring it to every Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving.  It is always well-received and devoured by family and friends.  It’s a great source of protein and has soooo much flavor!


Servings: 6

Buffalo Tofu:

  • 1 pound of extra firm tofu – drained
  • Box of stuffing – Trader Joe’s has a decent vegetarian one
  • 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce
  • 2 tbsp of hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil


  • 1 golden onion: chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic: minced
  • 1 yellow or red pepper: chopped
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 container of Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp of fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp of paprika – smoked is preferable
  • 2 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of red pepper
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 container of vegetarian broth
  • 1/2 c of Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of dijon mustard – Grey Poupon
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 2 tbsp of unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 3/4 c – 1 c of smoked gouda or vegan cheese option
  • 1/4 c of goat cheese (optional)

Prepare the stuffing per the directions on the box.  Drain the tofu for at least 1 hour before.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  While the tofu is draining, chop the vegetables so they are ready to be sautéed later!

Once the tofu is properly drained, turn the stove on and use medium heat. Pour the olive oil in the pan, heat up the oil, and add in a small piece of tofu.  When the tofu is sizzling, add in the tofu, pan fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side, at the end of the sautéing process, sprinkle the hot sauce, then stir, then add in the buffalo sauce, and stir.  Sauté until the tofu is crispy and golden brown.

For the sauce, add the olive oil to a separate pan on medium heat.  Add in a small piece of the onion, once the onion piece is sizzling, you can add in the rest of the onions on medium heat and when they’re golden brown you can add in the peppers and mushrooms.  Stir fry the vegetables for about 3-4 minutes making sure that everything is golden brown.  Add in the garlic and dill, sauté for about 1 minute, then add all of the spices.  Pour in the Tamari/soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and dijon mustard, stir till it creates a paste.  Then add in the vegetable stock, once everything is boiling, whisk the almond milk and flour to thicken the sauce.  Stir the almond milk and flour and turn the heat on very low for about 15-20 minutes to simmer.

Taste the sauce, make sure it is flavorful, add in the green onions, and turn off the heat.  In an oven-proof casserole dish, pour in the tofu, spread it around the casserole dish so it covers the entire bottom of the dish.  Then add the sauce and stir it with the tofu so it is evenly distributed.  Then add the stuffing on top of the sauce and tofu, distribute evenly so it is covering the sauce and tofu.  Sprinkle the cheese on top evenly distributing it and sprinkle some smoked paprika on top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is golden and sizzling.

New Orleans Inspired Tofu Étouffée

My recent trip to New Orleans was quite inspiring when it came to trying and exploring new and dynamic flavors.  I was exposed to amazingly delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine (I learned that these are distinct from one another) and wanted to explore making a vegan version of a New Orleans classic, Crawfish Étouffée.  The étouffée sauce is traditionally made with butter and a meat or seafood stock, but I used soy butter and a veggie broth instead.  I also made it with pan fried tofu instead of crawfish.  I based my recipe off of Emeril’s recipe (because who is more of an expert than he is when it comes to classic New Orleans cuisine ?!).

I thought this rich, yet plant-based étouffée would go well with a nice garlic bread to soak up the sauce.  While the traditional étouffée is served with long grain white rice, I didn’t have that at home and I have Basmati rice, which serves a similar thickness and texture.  This is not an authentic étouffée recipe, but I thought it turned out to be very soothing and delicious while keeping its plant-based integrity.

Vegan and Vegetarian

Servings: 5-6




  • 2 cups of Basmati rice (I use Trader Joe’s – you can follow the directions that are provided)
  • 6 tbsp of soy butter (I prefer Earthly Balance)
  • 4 tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2.5 cups of vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 6 dashes of hot pepper sauce (my favorite is Cholula)
  • 2 small-medium sized finely chopped onions
  • 2 medium celery sticks chopped
  • 1 Banana Pepper or bell pepper (I prefer banana pepper because it’s tastier) chopped
  • 1/2 of a container of Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 1 handful of parsley for garnish
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 2 bay leaves for the sauce
  • 2 tsp of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp fo red pepper
  • 1.5 tsp of paprika
  • 1.5 tsp of cayenne
  • 2 tsp of “Slap Ya Mamma” cajun seasoning


  • 1lb of tofu (Trader Joe’s Sriracha tofu was really great for this and you don’t have to drain it or marinate it!)
  • 2 tsp of Tamari sauce
  • 2 tsp of liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp of olive oil



  1. Start to prepare the rice.
  2. Please see my other recipes for preparing tofu, make sure it is drained (if it’s not the Trader Joe’s Sriracha one) for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the olive oil to the pan and once it’s warm, put in the tofu.
  4. Saute on each side for about 5 minutes.
  5. Once you flip it over once, add the Tamari and Liquid Smoke sauce.
  6. Once the tofu is browned, take it off the stove, and keep it warm while you make the étouffée.




  1. In a large saucepan (that has a bit of depth to it since you’re making a thick sauce with a lot of veggies), melt 4 tbsp of soy butter and whisk in the flour – do this slowly and whisk the flour in tablespoon by tablespoon.  As Emeril suggested, your roux should have a color similar to peanut butter.
  2. Once your roux is made, add in the onions, celery, Banana or bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic, bay leaves, half of the parsley, and green onions and sauté for about 1 more minute.
  3. Now it’s time to make the sauce!  Add the stock, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and all of the spices/seasonings to the pan, stir, and bring to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, gently stir the top of the sauce, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for about 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  4. At the end, stir in the lemon juice, the rest of the green onions, and parsley.  You can simmer the sauce for an additional 10 minutes.  Add and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of soy butter.  Taste and see if you’d like to add the spices of your choice.
  5. Throw in the tofu at the very end so it doesn’t lose its crispiness.


Garlic Bread:

The garlic bread soaks up the étouffée perfectly even if you eat it with rice.  My garlic bread recipe is based off of this recipe:  I have always found it to be simple and flavorful.


  • 1 baguette or loaf of Italian bread
  • 4 cloves of garlic that are finely chopped or minced
  • 1/4 cup of soy butter
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Put the bottom of your loaf in foil and cut the bread into diagonal, horizontal slices, but not all the way through so it’s still a cohesive, attached loaf.
  3. As you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, melt the soy butter in a bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir in the oil, basil, garlic, and salt with the butter until it is smooth.  Then add in the parsley.
  4. Using a brush, dip the brush into the paste, and polish it on both sides of each of the garlic bread slices.  Then completely wrap the bread in the foil.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, open the foil and bake it for 5 more minutes so you get that crispiness.



Bon appetit!  Enjoy a New Orleans classic without as much of the ethical/health guilt!

Red Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu:

Vegan and Vegetarian

I love Thai food so much but I don’t live close to good Thai places.  If I want to eat high quality, authentic Thai cuisine, I have to venture out to the Northeast part of the city, which I am happy to do in warmer temperatures, but in the winter, I just want to eat delicious Thai food in the comfort of my own home.  The delivery options around here have been disappointing me with a watery, bland dish that they call Red Thai Curry.  This is why I make my own Red Thai Curry – it is much more flavorful, cheaper, and healthier than ordering it out!  I prefer a thicker Thai curry sauce and I think this recipe has given me the best results.  It has been modified from:


Servings: 4


  • Jasmine Rice to be served on the side.  I would follow the directions on the bag, but it’s typically 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice with a little salt for taste.
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil for frying.
  • Half of a diced yellow onion.
  • 1 lb of fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms.
  • 1 medium zucchini chopped.
  • 1 pepper – red or poblano are the most flavorful in my opinion.
  • 2 carrots chopped – optional.
  • 1 can of coconut milk – low fat is fine but it’ll be harder to get desired that thickness.
  • 2 tbsp of red curry paste.
  • 3 cloves of garlic.
  • 1 tbsp of ginger.
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch.
  • 1 tbsp of Thai sweet chili sauce or Chili oil – I was out of chili sauce but had Chili oil and loved it.
  • 2 tbsp of Tamari or low-sodium soy sauce.
  • 2 tbsp of vegan mushroom sauce or Thai Garlic Sauce.
  • 1-2 tbsp of lime juice depending on how much you like lime.
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar – adding this really helps decrease the acidity.
  • 1 bayleaf – optional because it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have it.
  • 1 tsp of fresh or dried basil.
  • 1 tsp of sea salt.
  • 1 tsp of pepper.
  • 2 green onions for garnish.
  • 1/4 of a cilantro bunch for garnish.


  1. In a large saucepan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  2. Add a piece of the chopped onion and when it sizzles, add the rest of the onions.  Fry for 2 minutes until they are translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and optional carrots.  Fry for about 3-4 minutes until they look sautéed. Then add the curry paste and stir until the veggies are coated in it.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger, sauté and stir for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add half of the coconut milk to the pan and stir.  Add the rest of the sauces/ingredients, add the rest of the coconut milk, cornstarch, and stir.  Once everything comes to a boil, simmer on very low heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Once it’s done simmering, add the green onions, basil, and cilantro for the garnish and tofu (see the recipe below) if you made that separately.
  7. Serve over rice with lime on the side and enjoy your delicious vegan, cruelty free meal!

Tofu Paprikash

Being half Hungarian, I grew up eating delicious and flavorful Hungarian food.  My Hungarian upbringing has influenced me to the extent of using Paprika in most of my dishes because I can’t live without the flavor.  Hungarian cuisine is not the most vegetarian-friendly cuisine though, nor is it very healthy.  When I became a vegetarian, I had a difficult time eating Hungarian food since I barely had any options.  For example, chicken paprikash is a staple of the Hungarian diet and it is a very remarkable, comforting dish but it has a lot of meat and dairy in it.  Just because you are vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you have to stop eating your Hungarian favorites.  Why not make this Hungarian staple vegetarian friendly with all the scrumptious tomato/paprika flavor?

Vegan and Vegetarian

Servings: 4



  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of Earthly Balance soy butter
  • 2 Hungarian peppers sliced thinly
  • 1 onion sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 container of Baby Bella mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp of Hungarian Hot Paprika
  • 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of Herbes de Provence seasoning (basically rosemary, thyme, and sage combined)
  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of red pepper
  • 1/2 c of freshly chopped dill
  • 2 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of Almond Milk
  • 2 tbsp of Tamari
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 2 c of veggie broth
  • Half a bag of egg noodles (I think egg noodles absorb the sauce very well and they are very fun to eat) but you can use Basmati Rice instead (which I do when I’m out of egg noodles and it’s my Indian heritage meeting my Hungarian heritage).
  • 1 container of extra firm tofu (see the tofu preparation in the Tofu Recipe, add in more paprika and red pepper to the marinade than you would for the Asian style tofu)
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • A handful of panko sprinkled on top of the tofu for baking
Marinate that tofu!










  1. Follow the directions for the egg noodles – boil the water first, add some salt, then add in the egg noodles.  When they are ready, strain the and add some cold water to them. Stir in some soy butter while you’re waiting.
  2. In a large frying pan, add in 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of soy butter, when it’s warm, add in the onions.  Sauté the onions for a couple of minutes till they are more translucent.
  3. Add the peppers to the frying pan and sauté for 5 minutes till they are browned.  Then add in the mushrooms for sautéing.
  4. Add in the garlic and half of the chopped dill.
  5. Add in all of the spices and stir them into the vegetable mixture.
  6. Stir in Tamari, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, tomato paste, then stir in the tomato sauce, and vegetable broth.
  7. Once the mixture is boiling, add in the almond milk and flour to thicken the sauce.  Simmer for 20 minutes while occasionally stirring the sauce.  Stir in the rest of the soy butter while it is simmering.
  8. Prepare the tofu as described in my Tofu Recipe.  Once the tofu has been baked, throw some panko bread crumbs on top and bake for an extra five minutes.
  9. Taste and add in more paprika if needed to the paprikash.  Stir in the rest of the dill and throw in the tofu.
  10. Enjoy Hungarian cuisine without the unnecessary animal fat!


Vegetarian Egg Scramble


I love making this on busy weekends when I have a bit more time to cook than on a weekday but not quite enough time to make a frittata or something more elaborate.  This is also great for a busy weeknight because all you really have to do is chop some vegetables, season them, and add in the eggs.  It’s probably one of the fastest dishes I make.  Depending on what I have, I love to mix up the vegetables, dill is quite inspirational for me as dill and eggs go together perfectly.

Serves: 4


Egg mixture:

  • 6 eggs (I like to get cage free brown eggs)
  • 2 tbsp of unsweetened almond milk for the eggs – it makes them creamier
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of red pepper
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper


Egg Scramble:

  •  1 tbsp of olive oil (might add more if it gets dry throughout cooking)
  • 1 onion (medium-sized)
  • 1 package of Bella mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of pesto (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of giardiniera
  • Handful of kale or spinach
  • Sprinkle of cheese of your choice (feta, brie – saltier cheeses tend to complement these flavors very well) – optional
  • Handful of freshly chopped dill

nokyud3hr2yq3lufkank2w.jpg264dxnrjquy49tthd5lia.jpgSpices for veggie scramble: I like to add a bit more than this since I love my spices.

  • 1.5 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of rosemary


  1. In a larger bowl, whisk 6 eggs, once they are whisked add in the almond milk and spices, whisk rigorously to make sure that it is all blended in and that nothing is chunky.  Let it sit as you’re chopping the vegetables.
  2. Chop the onion, pepper, mushrooms garlic, and green onion.
  3. Chop the cheese into small slices if you’re using cheese.
  4. In a medium frying pan on medium heat, pour the olive oil and warm up for a few seconds, test with a small piece of onion, once it starts sizzling, add the rest of the onions and sauté for a few minutes until it starts to get golden brown.  Then add the peppers and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until the red pepper starts to brown.
  5. Add in the garlic, half of the green onions, kale, and spices and sauté for about 3 more minutes.
  6. Then on low heat, start to whisk in the eggs to make sure  that they are being cooked but they aren’t drying up and sticking to the pan.  Whisk in the eggs for a few minutes making sure that it does not become an omelet.
  7. Add in the giardiniera, dill and the optional cheese and pesto at the very end.  I like to have it warmed up and slightly melted but not hot.
  8. Serve with your favorite sides (hashbrowns are my favorite as they absorb the eggs really well) and bon appetit!


Alternative: You could add seitan and/or green olives
Served with veggie bacon and hash browns for a filling, homemade weekend brunch