Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Raw Vegan)

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Raw Vegan)

Lemon-tahini dressing is nothing new under the plant-based sun- it’s been something of a vegan food cliche for years. It’s my all-time favorite salad dressing, but I really don’t like a lot of recipes for it that are on the internet. You have to get a very specific balance of flavors here.

If you use a recipe with the right ingredient proportions, this dressing is super creamy but also savory and sharp in all the right ways. It’s great to make salads full-flavored and satisfying without dairy or eggs.

This dressing is based off of tahina sauce, which comes from Arabic culinary traditions. Tahina sauce is a little thinner, has some ingredient differences and can be served warm, and it’s delicious if you need a sauce to cook a hearty entree in (for a good tahina sauce recipe, check out the incredible Gaza Kitchen cookbook by Leila El-Haddad.) This dressing, on the other hand, can’t be served warm (though unfortunately I’ve seen restaurants try), but is better for fresh salads. Like traditional tahina sauce, you can absolutely serve this on falafel.

Yield: roughly 1 cup of dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste- found most affordably at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (roughly one large lemon)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 5 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 tsp red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp agave or sweetener of choice (but for the love of god not stevia)
  • 1 Tbsp water

1. Blend all ingredients

Note that you may need to add more water after refrigerating this or after letting it sit out, as it tends to thicken.

 

My favorite salad combo to serve this with, besides falafel salad:

  • Mixed greens (plus some arugula if you have it)
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Kidney beans and/or roasted chickpeas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Sliced carrot
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sprouts (if you have them)

 

Photo by Zion Adventure Photog

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Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

A lot of people have heard me talk about this stew. This was the first dish I made when I went vegan, and it helped me go from “I’m probably not going to stick with this life choice, realistically” to “Wow, maybe I can do this.” I wasn’t a chef yet- I was a music teacher and had no idea what I was doing in terms of vegan food.

Since that first time I made this nearly seven years ago, I’ve served it to all kinds of people. I made it to impress the parents of various partners (shoutout if you’re one of those parents or ex-partners) and I made it in my interview with the chef who ended up giving me the prep cook job that lead to be become a chef myself.  It’s always been a crowd pleaser, including among folks with very limited exposure to international foods (let alone West African foods.) It’s just so hearty and soulful and fresh, and it covers all your major food groups (except the tequila food group and the french fry food group), so it feels really filling and nourishing.

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or water + bouillon)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1.5 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced (aprox. two medium sweet potatoes or one huge one)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, washed and torn
  1. Place the rice in a small , covered pot on high heat with one cup of the broth.  Once it’s boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice is about two thirds of the way done (about 25 minutes)
  2. Sauté your onions in a large pot on medium-high heat until they are deeply golden-brown and caramelized. Once the onions are about a minute from being done, add garlic and saute until just beginning to brown
  3. Add the remaining broth, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and par-cooked rice. Cover and cook on medium heat until the rice is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft. It will take a while- about 20 minutes or longer- but this allows everything to really soak in the flavors.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce and peanut butter. Add it into the pot and add the kale in as well. You may need to add a bit more broth/water.
  5. Taste and adjust the levels of lemon juice, peanut butter and soy sauce to your liking
  6. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the kale is wilted

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This super-easy weeknight meal is healthy, cheap and filling. Cabbage leaves are boiled until soft and pliable, stuffed with a simple lentil-walnut “ground beef” and rice filling (though there’s a paleo variation, a nut-free variation and an even cheaper variation listed below), rolled up and smothered in tomato sauce, then baked. I ate these all the time while training for the Colfax Marathon because I needed hella nutrients but didn’t have as much time to cook for myself.

Yield: About 8 Servings

  • 1 medium/large head green cabbage, rinsed
  • 1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce (for this recipe I like Simple Truth, which is Kroger’s generic organic brand*)
  • Roughly 3 cups cooked brown rice (can be leftover)
  • 1 1/4 cup green or brown lentils (or you can use 3 cups leftover cooked lentils)
  • 1 bouillon cube or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon
  • Roughly 1.5 cups walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the Kroger generic brand is vegan**)
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional: cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste

Note: If you don’t have one or a couple of the seasoning ingredients, it’s not the end of the world. Just season the filling with what you have until it’s nice and savory and you’re happy with it. If you want to use oregano and basil instead of cumin and coriander, it’s your world.

  1. In a small, covered pot, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil with the lentils and bouillon. Lower heat to medium and cook, covered, until lentils are soft but not mushy (about 20 minutes.) Remove lentils from pot and allow to cool
  2. In a large pot on high heat, boil roughly two quarts of water (or enough to cover the cabbage) with a teaspoon of salt. Cut around the core of the cabbage. You don’t have to cut the core out, but cut around it so that you can easily detach the leaves once they’re soft
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the whole cabbage. As the outer leaves cook and soften, gently detach them so that the leaves underneath can cook too. Once each leaf is soft and pliable, remove it from the water and drain in a colander
  4. Drain and thoroughly rinse the walnuts, then pulse in a food processor until broken into small crumbles. Add the cooled lentils and pulse until crumbly as well
  5. Empty the lentils, walnuts and rice into a large mixing bowl and mix together with all of the seasoning ingredients (chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, pepper and optional hot sauce/red pepper.) Taste and adjust to your liking
  6. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread a large cabbage leaf out on a cutting board and cut out a triangle of the thick, stem-like piece at the bottom so that it’s easier to roll up. Spoon about three spoonfuls of filling into the middle of the leaf and roll up like a burrito or summer roll, tucking in the sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Repeat with each cabbage leaf until your filling is used up
  7. Spread about half the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Place each cabbage roll into the pan- it’s fine to get them really crowded. Once your cabbage rolls are all packed into the pan, spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top
  8. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are wrinkly

Paleo Version: 

Use cauliflower rice and substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the lentils. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

Nut-Free Version:

Substitute soaked sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts

Cheaper Version:

Omit the walnuts and just use all lentils

 

 

 

*if you want to make your tomato sauce from scratch, knock yourself out

**I’m not in any way affiliated with or compensated by Kroger or any affiliated brand, I just recommend some of their products because they’re on the affordable end of the spectrum and fairly widespread across the US.