Category Archives: entree

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: A Very Non-Vegan Dish Goes Vegan

According to Wikipedia, spaghetti alla carbonara is an Italian dish based on eggs, cheese and bacon (usually cooked in lard). Ha! That just describes everything I won’t eat. And therefore, it must be made. Vegan style. Because—“anything you can eat, I can eat vegan!”.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

Perhaps it was the very non-vegan-ness of this dish that I was drawn to. That and I was also looking for a way to use up my Vegg sample. I’d already used it for a fried egg and for french toast and I was looking for something non-breakfasty.

Having never made this before, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a wonderfully savory spaghetti with a lush and slightly creamy “eggy” sauce that clung to every pasta strand. Sweet and spicy, slightly crunchy coconut bacon took it to that eat-it-in-sweatpants-and-slippers cozy level. While fresh parsley adds a touch of brightness and freshness to it.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

If I didn’t have the Vegg, I think subbing in a mix of vegan parmesan and plain nutritional yeast would work nicely too. And if was really craving a little of that “eggy” aroma, I would even throw in a little black salt (kala namak).

Vegan Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Adapted from Bitter Sweet Blog and Windy City Vegan.

serves 2, print recipe here

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup vegan stock
  • 2 tsp of powdered Vegg
  • 1/2 cup of soy milk (or any nondairy milk)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup of coconut bacon pieces (or vegan bacon of choice)
  • salt and pepper

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

 Directions

Cook and drain the pasta according to the package and set aside. In a small blender or food processor, blend the vegan stock, Vegg powder and soy milk together. Salt and pepper to taste and blend again. Set aside.

Now in a large pan heat the garlic in olive oil on medium heat until the garlic starts releasing a little aroma. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the blended sauce to the pan. Heat the sauce for about 4 minutes. It will get a little bubbly. Then add the pasta to the pan. Add the vegan butter and parsley and mix well making sure each noodle is coated with sauce and the butter is completely melted. Salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- Luminous Vegans

You can either mix in the vegan bacon or top each serving with some. I like doing it both ways. Mixing it in infuses that smoky bacon taste into every bite. And topping it with some vegan bacon gives a nice subtle crunch to some bites.

What’s your favorite vegan “eggy” dish?

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Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash

I’ve always wondered about the first person who decided that squash were edible. I’m talking about any kind of squash. Most are hard on the outside and could probably be used as a zombie head-bashing weapon if needed. They come in all sorts of shapes and various colors. Some have bumps. Some have squash butts. Some are as smooth as porcelain. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

But for each various type of squash out there, just think….someone said— yeah, this is probably something I can eat. How did they know? Did they try to just bite into it, skin and all? Or did they hack it in half first? Maybe it was all just some pleasant accident.

In any case, I’m thankful to whoever ate the first squash. Because of them I’ve enjoyed butternut, delicata (or sweet potato squash), acorn squash and kabocha. The most recent squash in my I’m-gonna-eat-all-the-different-squash-out-there phase is spaghetti squash.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti squash is named for exactly the reason you think. It looks like spaghetti on the inside. You know how most squash have some stringy-ness involved? Well this squash’s stringy-ness is pasta-like. Even though I looked at like every single spaghetti squash picture online. It wasn’t until I actually scraped out the insides of my first spaghetti squash that I kinda gasped and was like — whoa…so that’s why you’re called spaghetti squash. 

I was inspired by Allyson Kramer to pair the light and delicate strands of spaghetti squash with a heartier, creamy mushroom sauce. Creating a surprisingly rich comfort food. The base of the sauce is nearly identical to the one I used for this “cheesy” vegan alfredo.  It’s an easy meal to put together as the sauce can be made while the spaghetti squash is in the oven.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti Squash with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

serves 2, print recipe here

Ingredients

Squash:

  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unroasted cashews (soaked for a couple of hours or overnight if not using a high speed blender)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbs chicken-free broth concentrate (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped chives + extra for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out seeds. Coat it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes until you can pierce the inside of the squash easily with a fork. 

While the squash roasts, make the sauce by blending together the almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and chicken-free broth. Set aside. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about another 4 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add the chives and parsley and cook for another minute. Then add the set aside sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper it to taste. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous VegansWhen the squash is done, scrape out the inside “noodles” into serving bowls, top with mushroom sauce and garnish with extra chives. 

I’ve roasted spaghetti squash whole and by cutting it in half before sticking it into the oven. Hands down, I prefer cutting it in half first before roasting. This results in squash strands that are moist, but not soggy. Which is perfect for this creamy not-pasta dish. 

Do you like spaghetti squash? What is your favorite squash during squash season?

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Have you heard that phrase–anything you can eat, I can eat vegan–? I can’t remember where I saw it. On a t-shirt maybe. Perhaps on someone’s blog or instagram photo. But it really resonated with me because it’s true. There are so many tasty vegan dishes and recipes out there that do an excellent job of replicating non-vegan flavors. So much so, that I wonder why animals are even still used for food.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Take these twice baked butternut squash for example. It’s a beautifully creamy butternut squash topped with a smokey “bacon”. But no cows or pigs were harmed to create it. Cashew cheese was used for the creaminess. And coconut flakes baked with liquid smoke were used for the bacon.

Vegan Coconut Bacon

The coconut bacon I used is Cobi’s from Veggietorials. This is the first coconut bacon that I’ve ever made. And it will probably be the only recipe I ever use because it is the perfect combination of smokey, sweet, salty and spicy. Since the first time I made it (mentioned in my “picture an hour” post), I have made it several times.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon

adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 4 butternut squash (about 4.5-5 pounds)
  • 5 large kale leaves washed, tough cores removed and torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup cashew cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbs chopped chives
  • 3-4 tbs panko crumbs
  • olive oil
  • garlic and onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  • enough coconut bacon (or any vegan bacon) to top each squash half to your liking.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash the butternut squash and microwave them for about 3 minutes to make them easier to cut. Halve all the squash and sprinkle each half with a little salt and pepper. Place the squash halves (open sides up) in a pan (I ended up using two pans) with about 1/4 inch of water and bake covered for about 25-35 minutes (squash should be tender when pierced with a fork). While the squash is baking, steam or saute the kale leaves with the garlic and set aside.

Take the squash out when done baking and turn oven down to 425 F. When the squash are cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl leaving a small border of butternut squash in each half to help it keep its shape. Mash up the flesh with a fork. Then thoroughly mix in the cashew cheese, chives, kale and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the emptied butternut squash halves with this mixture. In a small bowl, mix the panko crumbs with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper. I used my hands to mix everything well to make sure all the panko was seasoned.

Sprinkle the panko mixture on the stuffed butternut squash and bake uncovered at 425F for about 20-25 minutes until warmed through. Finally, top with as much coconut bacon as you desire!

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

This dish is a combination of so many flavors that I love. Subtle sweet squashiness from the butternut squash. A slight cheesiness from the cashew cheese. And a touch of smokey saltiness from the “bacon”. It also has wonderful contrasty textures. From the creaminess of the butternut squash filling to the crispy panko and chewy coconut bacon.

This is one of those meals that I try really hard to eat slowly otherwise I might inhale it all at once. So with each bite, I close my eyes and let all the contrasting flavors and textures mingle awhile before I dive in for another. I may or may not make audible moans of pleasure while eating this dish.

What are some ways you like to cook/eat butternut squash?

Asian Noodle Soup with Mushroom Balls and Yam POWER

Easy Asian Noodle Soup - Luminous Vegans

Have you taken the time to explore your local Asian market yet? We have several that we frequent. I love to go when we have time to explore each aisle thoroughly. It’s during these times that I find gems like this.

Mushroom Balls- Luminous Vegans

Vegetarian Imitation of Mushroom Balls! So let me get this straight. They’re imitating mushrooms in this veggie ball with the POWER of yam. Hey, that’s cool! I’m all about having different veggies imitate other veggies. However there’s still mushroom up in there. Something lost in translation maybe? Either way, I love that it also includes exotic ingredients like white and black PAPPER*.

I am inspired by visuals, so the picture on the package of the mushroom balls made me think to use this in a soup.

Rice Noodles - Luminous Vegans

Lately, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and easy hands-off, throw-together meals are my jam.  This tasty and warming Asian noodle soup comes together easily. It simply involves making some noodles, simmering a broth with chopped veggies, and pouring the broth over the noodles. There’s also some optional accompaniments.

Easy Asian Noodle Soup - Luminous Vegans

The following is a rough estimate of what I did. It doesn’t have precise measurements but soups are forgiving like that. And it’s adaptable to your preferences. That’s what makes it so much fun!

Easy Asian Noodle Soup - Luminous Vegans

Easy Asian Noodle Soup (with optional Mushroom Balls)

Ingredients (estimates)

Soup ingredients

  • handful of rice noodles
  • 5-6 cups vegan broth (I used the vegan no-beef broth pictured above)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder (this is a mix of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, white pepper and licorice root)
  • 2-3 cups of roughly chopped veggies of your choice (I used a combo of the mushroom balls and oyster mushrooms)

Accompaniments

  • bean sprouts
  • cilantro
  • lime slices
  • Sriracha

Directions

Prepare the noodles according to the package and set aside. Making the noodles usually involves soaking it in hot or boiling water. Next pour the vegan broth in a big pot and mix in the Chinese Five Spice. Bring it to a boil. Add the veggies. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes or so, until mushrooms are tender. Taste the broth and stir in more Chinese Five Spice and/or add salt and pepper if desired. The broth I used is very flavorful, so I didn’t add any more spices. Portion out some noodles in a bowl and pour the broth with veggies over it. Squeeze in a little lime juice and top with the other accompaniments.

Easy Asian Noodle Soup - Luminous Vegans

A couple of notes. If you’re using a lot of different veggies, the simmer time might vary. For example, carrots might require longer to get tender. Also, you may have to throw in the veggies at different times depending on what veggies you’re using and how much time it takes for each to cook. I didn’t have to worry too much about that because the mushroom balls were already cooked and just needed to heat. Oyster mushrooms also get tender quickly.

Easy Asian Noodle Soup - Luminous Vegans

Change this up to meet your preferences. Like it less soupy? Use less broth. Want it more chunky? Add more veggies. Don’t like noodles? Leave ’em out. Throw in some cubed tofu or shredded seaweed at the end. Get creative and use what ya got!

What’s the wackiest thing you’ve found at an Asian market?

 *Just in case it isn’t clear, I get that yam power is yam powder. And that black and white papper are not “exotic” ingredients. It’s just pepper. Regular pepper.  
 
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce

This dish was inspired by a few butternut squash recipes that we’ve made in the past (butternut squash lasagna and cheesy butternut squash stuffed shells). But I succumbed to internet peer pressure and used pumpkin in place of the butternut squash. The result was a comforting pumpkin lasagna with creamy basil sauce.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

I used canned pumpkin in this because (insert myriad of reasons here: I was lazy, I’m scared of hacking into pumpkins, I didn’t have a pumpkin on hand but I had cans of it, me and canned pumpkin go way back…). But by using canned pumpkin along with pre-made tofu ricotta and cashew cheese and no-boil lasagna sheets, we had an amazingly rich and comforting meal with very little effort. And those are the kind of meals I love.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

Creamy Pumpkin Basil Lasagna

Ingredients

Pumpkin Filling

  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 15oz cans of pureed organic pumpkin
  • 2 tbs vegan broth concentrate (I used this stuff)
  • 1/4 cup cashew cheese (recipe here)

Pumpkin-Basil Sauce

  • 2 tbs vegan margarine
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 tbs pumpkin leftover in can
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of basil leaves

Other stuffs

  • 2-2 1/2 cups of tofu ricotta (I used Isa’s recipe in Veganomicon. Don’t have Veganomicon? Just google “tofu ricotta” and pick a recipe that looks good!)
  • 5 square sheets of no-boil lasagna (I can’t remember which I used but it came with its own little baking tin)
  • oil, salt and pepper

Directions

For the pumpkin filling, saute the garlic in a little oil until the garlic just softens over medium heat. Add in the pumpkin, broth concentrate and cashew cheese and stir to incorporate everything. Taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat.

For the pumpkin-basil sauce, melt the margarine in a pot over medium heat. Then mix in the flour to make a roux to help thicken the sauce. Once the margarine and flour are incorporated (it’s okay if it’s a little clumpy), slowly whisk or stir in the non-dairy milk. The sauce should thicken (see this post for pics). Next, incorporate the pumpkin and salt and pepper to taste. Take about 1/2 of the sauce and blend it with the basil leaves. Pour this back into the pot with the portion without basil. Sauce is done.

Now just assemble everything. Make the layers however you wish. I think I did sauce, noodles, pumpkin, tofu ricotta, sauce. Just make sure to save enough sauce to pour on top, otherwise some of the no-boil lasagna edges might come out a little chewy.  I also crumbled more tofu ricotta on top. Then follow the cooking directions on the no-boil lasagna. I think we baked ours at 400F for about 40 minutes mostly covered with foil until the end.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

Layers upon layers of creamified pumpkin with sweet basil!

What’s been your favorite way to use pumpkin this fall so far? Are you sick of pumpkin or do you want it all day err’day?

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Cheesy Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Kale

I’ve never met a creamy, cheesy vegan sauce that I didn’t like. My predilection for “creamy, cheesy” dishes is even mentioned on my “recipes” page . If I ever become allergic to nutritional yeast (i.e. the cheesy part of vegan cheese sauces and cheeses), I think I would die. I kid.

Mostly.

Nutritional yeast – or “nooch”, has some seriously magical transforming powers. With a little vegan cooking science magic, this stuff can go from dry yellow flakes to rich, creamy-cheesy sauce.

cheesy vegan alfredo with peas and kale - Luminous Vegans

It also kicks-ass on it’s own. I may or may not be known to eat nutritional yeast straight from the container. A more um, “proper” way to eat it straight up is  to sprinkle some on freshly popped popcorn for a cheesy vegan snack. I buy our nutritional yeast in bulk at Sevenanda or in little tubs from our local farmer’s market.

For this dish, I mixed quite a bit of nutritional yeast with cashews and almond milk (and other stuff) and the result was a creamy-cheesy vegan alfredo-like sauce. It’s an easy sauce to blend up any night of the week and requires just a little heat to thicken it up. We had it with pasta and sautéed peas and kale because those are things we typically have on hand. There’s probably other delicious ways to use it though—drizzled over roasted veggies, just mixed with cooked spinach or kale…

cheesy vegan alfredo with peas and kale - Luminous Vegans

Cheesy Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Kale

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of pasta
  • 1/2 cup of peas (I used frozen)
  • kale leaves from 4 large stalks (torn into smaller pieces)
  • 2 cloves of garlic clove (one should be minced, the other can be whole)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews *
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbs of chicken-free broth concentrate (I used Better Than Bouillon)
  • salt and pepper

* I used a high speed blender to blend the sauce so I didn’t soak the cashews for this dish. Depending on the strength of your blender/food processor, you may need to soak the cashews in water for a couple of hours to help break them down and get them creamy.

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package. Now on to the peas and kale mixture. In a lightly oiled pan with a lid, sauté the minced garlic clove until soft on medium heat. Then add the kale leaves and stir in a couple of tablespoons of water or stock so that about a 1/4 inch of liquid sits in the pan. Add the frozen peas. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and then put the lid on and turn to medium-low until the liquid mostly evaporates. I let it simmer with the lid while I make the sauce. It’s good to check on it and give it a good stir adding more liquid if needed. You don’t want the kale sitting in the pan without liquid while it’s actively cooking.

cheesy vegan alfredo with peas and kale - Luminous Vegans

For the sauce put the almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, whole garlic clove, lemon juice, onion powder, chicken-free broth concentrate in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the sauce in a pot large enough to hold everything (sauce, pasta, peas and kale) over medium-high heat. Make sure to stir/whisk the sauce constantly while heating. It should thicken up pretty quickly (~3 minutes). Remove from heat. Add the pasta, peas and kale. If there is extra liquid in the peas/kale mixture, make sure to drain it out before adding it to the pot. Salt and pepper everything to taste and then dig in!

What are some of your favorite ways to cook with or eat nutritional yeast?

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage - Luminous Vegans

I’m ready for fall. Yet Atlanta still seems to be desperately clinging onto the remnants of summer. That doesn’t stop me from wearing hoodies even when it’s still in the 80s (F) outside. Of course, I’m inside most of the time so it’s not like I’m actually sweatin’ up some pit stains. But that’s beside the point.

The point is I am not going to let something like the weather dictate what should be fall. Bring on the cozy slippers, hoodies, warm apple cider and cinnamon. And I WILL eat all the orange foods. I’m looking at you sweet potato and pumpkin.

This no-recipe sweet and savory soup is easy to make and customizable. Mine was full of roasted sweet potatoes, onions and pumpkin puree. To add a little sumpin’ special, I topped it with sautéed apples and sage leaves and a sprinkling of vegan bacon bits. This no-recipe was inspired by a pumpkin soup from FoodNetwork.

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage - Luminous Vegans

So the first step is to roast chopped veggies coated with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted three sweet potatoes with one onion at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. You could also use butternut squash, acorn squash or whatever roasty veggies you have on hand.

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage - Luminous Vegans

The next step is to soupify the veggies in a blender. I put 1/2 – 2/3 of the roasted veggies in the Vitamix (I didn’t use all of it because it was too much) and added ~1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree. Then I turned the blender on and slowly added vegan chikin broth until I got a consistency that I liked. I used about 3-4 cups of broth. I wanted this soup on the thicker side.

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage - Luminous Vegans

Now it’s time to heat the soup while adding in some seasoning. Heating is important for dried herbs as it releases flavor. The blender I use heats as it blends so I did this directly in the blender (because dishes). Stirring herbs into the soup over the stove top is just as good.

I used dried tarragon, a pinch of nutmeg, maple syrup, salt and pepper all to taste. Thyme, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and cloves are just a few other spices that would work well. Not sure how much of each spice to use? Start with small amounts, blend (or stir) and taste. Keep adding in small amounts until your tastebuds are happy.

For the soup topper I sautéed a cubed apple and ribbons of fresh sage leaves (about 3)  with vegan butter and sugar until the apples were soft. I used a Granny Smith apple because that’s what we had but I think a sweeter apple would work even better.

Easy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Sage - Luminous Vegans

To recap: roast veggies, blend with broth and pumpkin puree, heat and season and top with stuff. Pretty simple right? I also topped my apple topper with vegan bacon bits. The soup topper is totally optional but adds a nice fruity, crunchy and salty bite to everything that complements the sweetness of the soup.

So it may not be fall outside just yet but at least it is where it counts. My belly.

What are your favorite fall flavors?