Vegan Orzo Salad

On yet another super toasty day in July, I was left pondering this afternoon what to make for dinner. Remembering that there was orzo in the pantry, I surfed the web looking for recipes. I came across many recipes for orzo salads, but most were not vegan friendly, and many had ingredients that I didn’t have in the house. So, after I got home from work, I gathered things that seemed like they would go well and put together this dish. It was a hit with the people in the house who aren’t completely pasta picky (i.e. only like spaghetti and mac n cheese). I loved it and am looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

Easy Vegan Orzo Salad

1 lb orzo
1 can cannellini (white kidney) beans
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch basil chopped
4-5 scallions chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large tomato diced (or 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions, al dente, and then rinse with cold water. I add some olive oil to the pasta water, but that’s optional. While the pasta is cooking, juice your lemons, chop the basil, scallions, and tomatoes, and prep your beans. Combine lemon juice and olive oil and wisk. Place pine nuts in a skillet and toast gently. Mix all ingredients and serve at room temp or chill.

Yum!

Tofu Not-Jerky

A low-carb vegan snack, salad topping, or sandwich fixin’.

Let me start by saying clearly, this is not jerky. I know there are tofu jerky recipes out there, and this isn’t one of them.  But, it is a chewy tofu recipe that makes a good vegan snack, or sandwich filling item, or salad topper. And, it’s easy. Once you make a batch or two, it can be stuck in the fridge for quite a few days (I don’t know how many, to be honest, because it never lasts long here), and it’s very convenient to grab when you are in a rush.

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (companies should start paying me)
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil, sesame oil, or hot chili oil (you can skip or reduce this if looking for lower fat, I often do)
  • 1/2 t liquid smoke (if you don’t have any, or don’t like it, remove and add a bit more soy or water)
  • Some combination of: 1 t minced ginger, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 t red pepper flakes

Process

Open tofu and drain. Place block on a cutting board, with the widest side down. Slice into thin slices. I aim for somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4″.  Lay out slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking stone (preferred). In a blender or food processor, mix the soy sauce, oil, liquid smoke, and spices to distribute the flavor of the spices throughout. Brush or sprinkle marinade over slices. Place in oven at 300* and cook until it reaches the texture you like. If you want it to be even chewier, reduce temp down to 250* and cook longer. Cool to room temp or chill and enjoy in whatever form strikes your fancy!

Vegan Breakfast Casserole

Photo: Dave Irving

For a Meatless Monday Morning.

We love breakfast casserole around the VeganAsana house. The omnis sometimes like theirs with some meat products, but are usually just as happy with a vegetarian version. For the rest of us, vegan is the way to go. We rarely get to have this for breakfast, due to the time needed for cooking, but it is a favorite dinner dish (and it pops up for special breakfasts, like on Christmas day). The “recipe” is pretty easy.

What follows is the amount that I make to fit in a large Pampered Chef casserole, so about the size that you would need for a 9×13 pan. This is enough for 4 of us to have a meal and have leftovers (that I hide in the fridge so that I can take them to school for lunch). Halve the recipe for a smaller group.

Breakfast Casserole

2 blocks extra firm tofu, drained
1 “roll” lightlife faux sausage (optional)
1 package frozen hash browns or tater tots
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t sea salt (ground fine)
olive oil
daiya or other cheese

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and add onion. Saute until soft. Add faux sausage and brown, chopping into small bits while cooking.

Place tofu in food processor or blender. Pulse until fully broken up and starting to get mushy, but not until liquified. Gently fold in nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, and salt. If you over blend, don’t worry about it. It will take longer for the tofu to firm up, but eventually it will.  If your tofu seems overly dry, you may want to add a little soy milk when you fold in the spices. This will help make the potatoes nice and tender.

Cover the bottom of a casserole pan with parchment paper. Add hash browns or tater tots (yep, tots). Sprinkle fauxsage evenly across surface. Add tofu mixture and spread evenly.

Cover with foil and cook at 350* until heated through and the tofu has begun to firm back up. Add Daiya (optional) and continue to bake until tofu is firm and Daiya is melted.

Remove from oven and allow to settle (covered) for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

YUMMY!