Vegan Tortilla Casserole

 

Vegan Tortilla Casserole

Confession – I don’t only read vegan blogs. I’m often inspired looking at blogs that feature food I wouldn’t eat. One of my favorite non-vegan blogs is Pinch of Yum. It is beautifully written and photographed by Lindsay Ostrom. Her food looks delicious and the recipes include plenty of spices to get my creative juices flowing. She recently published a recipe for a vegetarian tortilla casserole. She actually uses tofu in her filling, so you can see why I like her! I set out to make a vegan tortilla casserole after seeing her post. Mine is made with black beans, green chiles, homemade enchilada sauce and vegan cheese.

Vegan Tortilla Casserole

The homemade enchilada sauce recipe is simple and can be made in just a few minutes in the blender. The recipe makes 4 cups and you will only use 2-3 cups in your casserole. I’ll be showing you a recipe for vegan beef and cheese burritos soon where you can use any leftover sauce. This recipe is delicious with homemade enchilada sauce, but I have also made it with canned sauce. I like the Hatch brand and the Frontera brand.

Vegan Tortilla Casserole

One thing I did not change from Lindsay’s original recipe was to cover it with her Magic Green Sauce. This sauce is everything I love – spicy and tangy with a bit of texture. We have used it in falafel bowls and sandwiches, as well as on tofu. If you like herby sauces with a kick be sure to try this sauce drizzled over the casserole. It is magic!

Vegan Tortilla Casserole

The casserole is great to make ahead and doubles really well for a large group. The leftovers are also delicious.

What are your favorite food blogs? I’m always looking for new recipes and inspiration.

Vegan Tortilla Casserole
 
Spicy, soul soothing black bean vegan tortilla casserole. Delicious right out of the oven and equally tasty for lunch the next day.
Ingredients
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 TB garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 15.5 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz vegan cheese shreds
  • 3 cups enchilada sauce - homemade or store-bought
  • Black olives (optional - for topping)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add chili powder, cumin, salt and diced green chilis. Stir to combine and then add in black beans. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  4. In greased casserole dish spread ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer pan with 4 tortillas. Take half of the bean mixture and spread over the tortillas. Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese over beans. Pour 1 cup of enchilada sauce over the cheese. Now repeat process - layer 4 tortillas, top with remaining bean mixture, ½ cup cheese and 1 cup of enchilada sauce.
  5. For final layer top with remaining 4 tortillas. Pour the remaining cup of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with black olives if desired.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before serving.

Enchilada Sauce
 
Easy, spicy enchilada sauce made in your blender.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups tomato sauce - make sure no salt is added
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TB garlic
  • 3 TB chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional - leave out for a milder sauce)
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded if you want the sauce less spicy)
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 TB tamari
  • 1 TB agave
Instructions
  1. Add everything to your blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Meatless Monday – Vegan Pesto

Years ago I made the mistake of telling Harrison I thought basil “smelled like summer”. I have no idea where that line came from, but it was so lame and so unlike me that he has never let me live it down. If he smells basil anywhere in his vicinity he stops, smells the air and says “Wait a minute. Is it just me or does it smell like summer?”. So bad. Pesto is the ultimate way to use up summertime basil. I like to make batches all summer long and freeze the extras in ice cube trays. My go to vegan pesto recipe uses cashews and lots of lemon. I like to make it very thick and then thin it out as needed depending on how I’m using the pesto. Having pesto on hand makes Meatless Monday meals a snap.

Vegan Pesto Pintrest

The idea to use cashews in pesto instead of traditional pinenuts comes from Dreena Burton. She has a delicious Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Once I started using cashews in my pesto I never went back. Cashews make the pesto very rich so I don’t end up needing as much oil. Cashews are also considerably less expensive than pinenuts.

Vegan Pesto

Trey loves pesto in any dish. Recently I have been adding it to his grilled cheese (made with Follow Your Heart slices). He can’t get enough. His favorite way to use pesto is definitely in pasta. The kid loves his pasta! When I use the pesto in pasta I always take out 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. Then when I mix the cooked pasta with the pesto I add the water in small amounts to thin the sauce to the right consistency. The starch from the pasta water helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

Vegan Pesto

 

 

Other favorite vegan pesto uses:

  • Top a lackluster store-bought vegan pizza with pesto to add creaminess and a punch of flavor
  • Use pesto as the base of vegan pizza – works especially well if using a cornmeal crust
  • Add more oil and vinegar for a unique salad dressing or to drizzle over sliced tomatoes
  • Use pesto as a base spread for bruschetta appetizers
  • Use as a spread for vegetable sandwiches
  • Add to soup (either store bought or homemade) – my favorite is to stir pesto into minestrone

What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

Vegan Pesto
 
Versatile vegan pesto that can be used on top of pasta, on pizza, as a sandwich spread or in bruschetta. The possibilities are endless.
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch Basil
  • ½ cup Cashews
  • 2 small or 1 large clove(s) garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. Pick basil leaves off the stems. Place in the food processor with cashews. Pulse until cashews and basil are finely chopped.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and run food processor for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The pesto should be fairly smooth. Add more water or olive oil if needed. Taste for salt.

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Meatless Monday: Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu can be a very confusing ingredient for people who are new to eating without meat. Most people are curious about how to use tofu, but they also usually have a horror story of some awful dish they ate in the past with tofu that still haunts them. The key with tofu is to understand the different types of tofu and use them in the correct dish. I’ll break down the different tofu options and their best uses. I also have a new recipe using tofu to make a vegan fried rice. My tofu fried rice is a complete meal, full of veggies and protein. When you use leftover rice it is a quick and easy Meatless Monday meal to add to your rotation.

Tofu Fried Rice Blog Labeled

Tofu Types:

One of the confusing things about tofu is all of the texture and packaging options. There are many great guides that focus on the different textures (Super Firm, Firm, Soft, Silken) of tofu. While the labeled texture is important, I think the biggest differentiator is how the tofu is packaged.

ASEPTIC SILKEN TOFU

Tofu that is stored on the shelf in the grocery store, normally in the Asian food aisle, is packaged in an aseptic box. This tofu has a silken texture and is very soft. I use this type of tofu when I make dessert. It blends into dishes really well, but won’t hold up to stirfrying etc. Many people also use tofu stored in aseptic containers if they are using tofu as an egg replacer in baking.

Tofu Fried Rice - Mori-Nu

photo credit Mori-Nu

WATER PACKED TOFU

This is the tofu you see in the refrigerated case at most grocery stores. The tofu sits in a small tub of water. Regardless of the labeled texture, this type of tofu is going to be full of moisture. Many people like water packed tofu for scrambles, since the additional moisture keeps it from drying out. I rarely use this type of tofu because I find the texture way too mushy for my liking. If this is all you can find in your area be sure to press the tofu to remove the excess water before adding it to your dishes. Here is a quick overview on how to press tofu.

Tofu Fried Rice - Water Tofu

photo credit Wildwood Organics

VACUUM PACKED TOFU

Vacuum packed tofu is my favorite variety for making stir fries, scrambles, curries etc. This tofu is vacuum sealed with a very small amount of water. I find this tofu to have the best, most firm texture. I never need to press this kind. The brand I normally see is Wildwood Organics. It is sold at both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Tofu Fried Rice - Vacuum

photo credit Wildwood Organics

To make my Tofu Fried Rice I advise using the Vacuum Packed Tofu if you can. In my dish I quickly pan fry crumbled tofu before cooking any of the veggies. By adding a little turmeric the tofu looks like the egg it is replacing in traditional fried rice.

Tofu Fried Rice - Tofu

Once the tofu is cooked and removed from the pan you can work with any veggies you like. Make sure they are cut small so they cook quickly. This Tofu Fried Rice is a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends in your refrigerator.

Tofu Fried Rice - Veggies

I like to top my rice bowl with Sriracha for a hit of spice. Skip the Sriracha and consider a sweet chili sauce if you are looking for a milder dish. The leftovers are fantastic for lunch the next day.

Tofu Fried Rice 2

Tofu Fried Rice
 
Tofu fried rice is a complete meal in one bowl. A Meatless Monday favorite packed with veggies and protein.
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil, divided
  • 8 oz Tofu
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ½ cups Broccoli Florets, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Carrots, peeled and shredded
  • ½ cup Zuchinni, shredded
  • ½ cup Scallions, sliced thin
  • 4 cups Rice, cooked
  • 3 Tablespoons Tamari
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, minced
  • Sririacha, optional
Instructions
  1. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Crumble in tofu. Add in turmeric and salt. Mix until turmeric is completely combined in tofu. Saute for 10 minutes over medium low heat. Add splashes of water if needed to prevent sticking. Once tofu has cooked for 10 minutes take tofu out of the skillet and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Add remaining teaspoon of sesame oil to same skillet over medium heat. Add in ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add in broccoli and 2 Tablespoons of water. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in carrots, zucchini and scallions. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing frequently.
  3. Add rice and Tamari to the vegetable mixture. Stir until well combined. Add in tofu. Cook over Medium hit, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Serve warm, topped with cilantro and Sriracha.

 

Meatless Monday: Quick Curried Chickpeas

Chana Masala is my favorite meal to order when I go to a new Indian restaurant. I love the spicy, complex flavors and how each restaurant’s is slightly different. I wanted to create something similar to chana masala that I could make quickly at home. The result is this 30 minute meal that is an ideal Meatless Monday option. In my version I don’t include tomatoes, because Trey does not like chunks of tomatoes. I also include coconut milk to add some healthy fat and creamy texture to the dish. I looked at many curried chickpea recipes in books and online as I created this dish. I was inspired by recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Richa Hingle and Ree Drummond. Above all I wanted this dish to be fast and flavorful. It turned out to be just that and I am thrilled to have another 30 minute meal in my repertoire.
 Quick Curried Chickpeas Labeled

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Vegan Taco Salad for Breakfast?

Do you ever eat salad for breakfast? I know some people love to eat a fresh salad for breakfast, but what about leftover salad from the night before? This is one of my Mom’s favorite breakfasts, especially leftover taco salad. She loves it cold out of the frig with her coffee. While I can’t say I would ever eat this for breakfast I do love my Mom’s taco salad. It is the perfect mix of healthy green salad and tasty crushed chips. It has taken me many iterations to get a vegan version of this taco salad that tastes as good as my Mom’s. My version is made with Beyond Meat Crumbles, romaine hearts, tomatoes, chips, Daiya cheese, diced red onions, cilantro, chips and sliced green olives tossed in a salsa vinaigrette.  We top the vegan taco salad with avocado and sometimes Tofutti sour cream. It is delicious and still has that mix of fresh greens with crunchy chips.

Vegan Taco Salad Blog Pintrest

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Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese and I had a tenuous relationship growing up.  When I was about 5 a babysitter served me boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner.  Later that night I got sick and from that point on I could not stand mac and cheese.  I wouldn’t go anywhere near it for 15+ years.  That included telling people I babysat for that I was happy to make their children dinner, but never macaroni and cheese.  Fast forward to college where one of my close friend’s Mom made us homemade, baked macaroni and cheese and I saw the light. Turns out I love baked macaroni and cheese.  When I went vegan I was actually concerned about missing mac and cheese…ah the irony.  Fortunately I have a few recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese that I love.  Recently I made a Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese.  Spiced with green chilis, cheesy sauce and crunchy tortilla chips this is a fantastic variation.

Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese 1

I used canned chilis and the Hatch Valley Salsa from Trader Joe’s.  Obviously if you make your own green chilis or green chili sauce feel free to use that in its place.  My best friend’s husband is from New Mexico and I know his homemade green chili sauce would taste incredible here. Make sure you are using a green chili sauce and not salsa verde.  Salsa verde is usually made with tomatillos and does not have the flavor of green chilis.  If you can’t find green chili sauce just add an extra can of diced chilis.  The canned chilis come in mild or medium so choose which spice level your family will enjoy.

Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese Whole

You can vary the amount of green chili sauce and diced green chilis depending on how much green chili flavor you like.  Originally I used a 4 oz can of diced green chilis with 1/4 cup of green chili sauce.  In my second batch I used a 7 oz can of diced green chilis and 1/2 cup of green chili sauce.  Trey didn’t love the extra green chili chunks in the second batch, so next time I will use a 4oz can of diced chilis and 1/2 cup of sauce.

Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese Close

For the topping I originally combined Daiya cheese and crushed tortilla chips.  Unfortunately this created a strange texture.  In my second batch I just topped the vegan green chili mac and cheese with crushed tortilla chips.  I lightly sprayed them with canola oil.  This was much more successful.  You could use a traditional bread crumb topping here, but the flavor of corn tortilla chips with the green chili works really well.

Any foods you hated as a child that you love now?

Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese
 
Vegan green chili mac and cheese packed with green chili flavor and topped with crunchy tortilla chips. A great addition to your mac & cheese repertoire.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb macaroni, cooked
  • ½ cup Raw Cashews
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1.5 teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Granules
  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic Granules
  • ¼ - ½ cup Hatch Valley Salsa or Green Chili Sauce (depending on spice preference)
  • 4oz - 7 oz can Mild Green Chilis, diced (depending on spice preference)
  • 2 cups crushed Tortilla Chips
  • Canola Oil Spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 9x12 pan lightly with oil. Set aside.
  2. Add cashews, water, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, cornstarch, salt, onion granules, and garlic granules to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add mixture from the blender into a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk sauce continuously until it becomes thick. This normally takes 5-7 minutes.
  4. Once sauce is thickened stir in the green chili sauce and diced chilis.
  5. Stir the thickened sauce with pasta until combined. Pour mixture into the greased pan.
  6. Top with crushed tortilla chips. Lightly spray with canola oil.
  7. Place uncovered pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

 

The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Burrito

“This would be good in a burrito” is one of my husband, Harrison’s, ultimate compliments.  The guy LOVES his burritos.  For years he took Trey to San Francisco for “Dadurday”.  Every Saturday they took BART to the Mission and had burritos at his favorite spot, Pancho Villa.  Sometimes he gets 2 burritos – one for lunch and one for dinner. A friend of his asked me once, “Doesn’t he ever get tired of burritos?”.  The answer is most definitely, “No!”. To say Harrison was excited when he saw we were having burritos for dinner last week is an understatement.  He hasn’t been to San Francisco in awhile and needed a burrito fix. These Vegan Breakfast Burritos hit the spot.

Vegan Breakfast Burritos 2

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Penne with Creamy Vegan Vodka Sauce

What do you do when your 8 year-old son’s favorite meal title includes the word vodka?  You rename the dish. That is how Orange Sauce Pasta was born.  Don’t worry for my son, or any children you might cook this for. The vodka and tomatoes roast in the oven for 90 minutes, burning off all of the alcohol.  However, I didn’t want Trey running to school and saying his favorite dish was Vegan Vodka Sauce Pasta so we changed the name to the more child-friendly Orange Sauce Pasta.  This dish is not only Trey’s favorite dish, but a huge hit with ALL of the vegans and omnivores I have made it for. The sauce is richly flavored and the addition of cashew cream gives it a luscious texture. If you have any omnivores coming over for dinner who are a bit suspicious of vegan food this is what you make them. It has familiar ingredients and outstanding flavor.

Vegan Vodka Sauce

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Vegan Quesadillas to save your meal plan

The vegan quesadilla has been saving my meal planning lately. I grew up with my mom planning out a week’s worth of meals and she made those meals each night as planned.  No food wasted, no questions asked.  I plan out my meals just the way she did, but inevitably something comes up 1-2 nights a week that throws the whole thing off.  I need at least one meal that is fast, easy and the whole family will eat.  The vegan quesadilla has become my savior.  I keep all of the ingredients on hand.  I add 1 “free” night to my meal plan where I don’t plan anything.  I know that I can make these if needed.  It is easy to customize to everyone’s preferences and is ready in less than 20 minutes.  I can also make them ahead if Trey has a game or a late practice.  He can inhale them in the car either before or after.

Vegan Quesadilla Group

Last night was definitely a vegan quesadilla night.  I was exhausted and everyone was starving.  The first thing I did was cook a package of Beyond Meat Feisty Crumble.  It adds a lot of flavor to the quesadillas and makes them hearty enough for Harrison.  While that was cooking I made black beans using the method for my Black Bean Tostadas. Last week I used the Pacific Foods Refried Black Beans I bought at Target for the quesadillas.  That is definitely the way to go since the whole idea is to make this meal easy and streamlined.  I’ll be stocking up on those for my pantry!

Vegan Quesadilla

Once the “beef” (or “meatish” as Trey calls Beyond Meat) was cooked and the beans were ready I started to assemble and cook.  I take flour tortillas from Trader Joe’s and spread each one with Earth Balance while I heat up my cast iron skillet.  Each of us likes different fillings.  Harrison’s started with a layer of black beans, then Papalote Salsa (available at Whole Foods), then Daiya cheddar shreds, the Beyond Meat and finally sliced avocado.  I cooked the quesadilla on the first side for 4-5 minutes and then flipped it over and cooked it for another 3 minutes until crisp.  Harrison likes his quesadillas topped with Tofutti sour cream and pickled jalapeños.

Vegan Quesadilla 2

I cooked Trey’s, decidedly more plain, quesadilla at the same time Harrison’s was cooking.  All Trey wanted in his quesadilla was black beans, salsa and cheese.  He did top his with sour cream and pickled jalapeños after we sat down.  The kid loves his spice!  He also loves to take these quesadillas to school for lunch.  I am a big fan of cooking lunch and dinner at the same time.

Vegan Quesadilla 3

I made my quesadilla on the panini press to save time.  That let all 3 of our quesadillas cook at the same time.  This panini move was a mistake though.  It makes the quesadillas too flat and gives them a weird texture.  I filled mine with beans, salsa, cheese and  sliced sweet potato that I had left over from earlier in the week.  Aside from my panini error the flavors were good.  Next time I’ll be adding the Beyond Meat to mine as well.

These quesadillas would be awesome for Cinco de Mayo next week…with margaritas of course!

Vegan Lasagna in a heat wave

My husband, Harrison, is baffled by the fact that I don’t check the weather regularly. He loves looking at the weather on his phone, watching storms come in on the doppler radar and even watching the Weather Channel.  I like to wake up, look outside and move on with the day.  I blame this on the fact that I grew up in Northern California and Harrison grew up in Seattle.  Our Bay Area weather just isn’t that exciting.  To me it is either raining or it’s not, no more data needed.  Every now in then my lack of interest in the weather comes back to bite me.  Wearing flip flops when it starts to rain an hour after I leave the house is a key problem.  The other issue is my decision to cook the wrong food for the weather.  Yesterday I planned to make a lasagna using my bolognese sauce.  Too bad it was 88 degrees out!  I ignored the weather and made a tasty vegan lasagna, but it was a sweaty endeavor that I wouldn’t choose to repeat.  Assuming it is below 80 degrees where you live try this vegan lasagna before the summertime weather kicks in!

Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna was very easy to put together as I used the “No Boil” lasagna noodles from Whole Foods, Vegan Bolognese I had in the freezer and an easy Truffled Cashew Cheese.   To start I sprayed a large 13×9 inch pan with canola oil.  (I used this lasagna pan)  I spread a cup of bolognese in the bottom of the pan and layered it with 4 of the No Boil noodles.

Vegan Lasagna Noodles

The only thing I had to make yesterday was the truffled cashew cheese from Dreena Burton.  Her recipe is fantastic and can be used for stuffed pastas like this or served as a spread for crackers and crudite.  I often bring it as a spread to parties and it always receives rave reviews.  I prepared the cheese quickly in my food processor and spread half of it on the first layer of noodles.

Vegan Lasagna with Truffled Cashew Cheese

On top of the cashew cheese I layered 1.5 cups of the bolognese.  Then I repeated the layers (noodles, remaining cashew cheese and another 1.5 cups of bolognese).  I added a final layer of noodles, the remaining sauce and topped the whole thing with 1.5 cups of Daiya mozzarella cheese.  I cooked the lasagna, covered in foil, in a 385 degree oven for 40 minutes.  After the initial cooking I took the foil off and bake it uncovered for another 10 minutes.  At that point I removed the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Vegan Lasagna in pan

I served the lasagna topped with minced parsley and a green salad.  The dinner was a hit with both Harrison and Trey.  It will also make great leftovers during the week.  The actual baking took awhile, but it was very quick and simple to assemble on a weeknight.  If you make my vegan bolognese be sure to double the recipe and freeze half.  It is fabulous in this lasagna…just check the weather before you put it on your weekly meal plan!

Vegan Lasagna

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