Vegan Johnny Marzetti!


This is Vegan Johnny Marzetti. It is inspired by an article I read in the Wall Street Journal. I never heard of it or even had it but I really like what I made! And I love baked pasta, don’t you?

It’s sautéed scallions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and tomato paste tossed with homemade cashew cheeze sauce made with raw cashews, a roasted yellow pepper, nooch and miso. All of that is tossed with lentils and macaronis and baked to perfection with breadcrumbs and a little extra cheeze sauce on top.

I like making this in individual serving size bake bowls. They are perfect for this and other baked noodle dishes. If you want to make more, double the recipe for an 8×8 casserole dish. It should work!

Makes 2 individual bowls

1 cup dry macaroni (it’s about 1/2 cup dry per person)
1/2 cup cooked lentils
4 scallions
2 cloves of garlic
6 fresh small vine ripened tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup cheeze sauce + more for topping (see below)
Pasta water, enough to thin out the sauce
Olive oil or water, for sautéing
Bread crumbs, for topping

Get the macaronis going. Cook until just al dente. Preheat the oven to 350.

Oil or water sauté the scallions and garlic until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook until the tomatoes burst. Add some pasta water if it seems like it needs a little moisture.

Add the lentils and cheeze sauce. Mix around to coat the lentils. Add some pasta water if it seems too thick.

Drain the macaronis and mix with the sauce. Portion out into bowls or add to the casserole dish. Drizzle with more cheeze sauce and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 20 or so minutes until the top is browning. Enjoy!

Cheeze sauce
1/4 cup cashews
1 roasted yellow pepper
3/4 cup filtered water
1 heaping teaspoon chickpea miso

Process the cashews, pepper, water and miso in the Vitamix until smooth. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak the cashews for a few hours or if you don’t have time, you can pour boiling water over them and let them sit for a few minutes.

Party Salads: Three Bean Salad with Arugula, Cabbage-Carrot-Corn Slaw & Greek Style Orzo Salad


Three Bean Salad with Arugula, Cabbage-Carrot-Corn Slaw, Greek Style Orzo Salad

When ever I have parties, I make big bowls of salad. They vary from party to party but I wanted to show you how easy it is to make healthy and delicious dishes that go with anything. I’ll make apps like guacamole and chips or hummus. And something baked like spinach pie or pizza.

My three bean salad is an oldie but goodie. While I generally like to make my own beans from scratch, when I am in party mode, I am all about the cans. For a crowd of 12 to 14 people, I use 2 cans each of kidney beans, cannellini beans and garbanzo beans, 1/2 of a red onion, diced and a big bunch of arugula. It’s all tossed with 1/2 cup olive oil whisked with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper.


Cabbage-Carrot-Corn Slaw

Slaw is a great party salad and can be made so many ways. I happen to love this combo in the summer because of all of the fresh corn on the cob at the markets. Shred a head of purple cabbage along with 3 or 4  big carrots. Cut the corn off 4 or 5 cobs and toss it all with lots of fresh parsley and chives. (We have tons in my garden!) For a slaw, I like a mayo style dressing. While I love my cashew mayo, party time calls for extra help, and I go for Fabanaise.


Greek Style Orzo Salad

Pasta salad is a fun addition to the table. You can toss pasta with pesto or veggies. Or even just sauce. For this one, I went with a Greek theme. The key to this salad is tossing the orzo in the dressing right after you drain it so the hot pasta absorbs the flavors. The dressing is made with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup ume plum vinegar. Use 4 – 6 scallions, depending the size, 3 – 4 Kirby cucumbers, depending on the size, a lot of fresh dill and parsley and diced red onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make your salads in the morning. Cover and let them sit in the refrigerator so that the flavors have time to combine. Enjoy your guests and then take the salads out a half hour before you are ready to call for dinner. Party on!

Baked Alaska!


Do you know Baked Alaska? My family used to go on cruises when we were growing up and the parade of the flaming Baked Alaskas in the dining room on the last night of the trip was always very exciting. It’s cake and ice cream covered in meringue that is lit on fire!

In my version, cake and ice cream are covered in aquafaba meringue and torched with my kitchen torch which makes it taste like marshmallows! If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember my sad, naked Baked Alaska from last July 4th. It was an awesome chocolate cake topped with strawberry ice cream! Sadly, I had an aquafaba fail because it wasn’t viscous enough. Lesson learned. You can either use the bean water from a can of chickpeas which tends to be more viscous than homemade or reduce your own aquafaba down a bit.


But we ate that bad boy anyway! Now, this is what whipped aquafaba should look like!


For individual Baked Alaskas, crumble up a cake (or cupcakes or brownies) and press them lightly into small dishes. Add a layer of ice cream and top with aquafaba. Torch and eat.


For one big cake, make ice cream the way you normally do or let a 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream soften. Pour it into a bowl lined with plastic wrap and wrap the whole thing up. Freeze until solid.

Make a 9″ round cake.

When ready to serve, place the cake on a serving dish. Turn the ice cream over so the dome is on top and take the plastic wrap off.

Top with fluffy meringue and torch. Serve and eat!

Onion Rings v2 (Baked)


This is an update to my original recipe for onion rings. Easier + baked = fun + healthy!

I like to soak the onions for an hour in just plain water in order to minimize the sharp bite of the onions. It isn’t totally necessary but the onions tenderize and end up being extra delicious.

1 big yellow or white onion
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup water
More chickpea flour, about 1/4 cup
1 cup dried breadcrumbs, seasoned with a few shsakes of any or all of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried parsley, nooch, salt

Preheat the oven to 450.

Cut off both ends of the onion and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Separate into rings.

Drop the onions into a bowl and cover with water. Let sit for an hour. Drain and dry off as best as you can.

Set up a breading station:
1. 1/4 cup chickpea flour
2. 2 chickpea flour eggs (2 tablespoons chickpea flour + 6 tablespoons water)
3. breadcrumbs

Dip the onion ring into the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the ring into the chickpea flour egg. Shake off any excess and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place on baking tray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until crispy.

Enjoy with homemade ketchup and veggie burgers!

Blue Plate Special #62: Marinated Tempeh over Parsnip Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Broccolini & Vine Tomatoes

mustard tempeh tomoato.JPG

I’m loving all of the beautiful tomatoes I am seeing in the markets. But sadly, my husband doesn’t like tomatoes (what?!?) but I do. So when I make a dish like this, which I think is better with a velvety roasted tomato on top, I make mine with and his without. You can do whatever you want!

And honestly you can turn this Blue Plate Special into anything you want – whatever grain or greens you like. How about a nice rice pilaf? Or plain mashed potatoes? Or even pasta! How about spinach or kale? For me, this is about the tempeh. Marinate it ahead of time – in the morning before you leave the house or the night before. I love this flavors this marinade imparts with the nutty tempeh.

Makes 2 or 3 servings

Tempeh Marinade
8 oz. tempeh
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon mustard (homemade is best!)
1 teaspoon paprika *
2 small cloves of garlic, pressed
2 shallots, small dice **
The juice of 1 lemon
Sunflower oil, a few turns of the pan, for pan frying

*You can add sweet paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder and/or chipotle powder. Whatever you are into will work! Or you can leave it out all together.

** Note: you can put the marinade into a food processor but only if you have a really small one like a mini prep. Otherwise there won’t be enough volume for a big processor bowl.

Cut the tempeh into 8 squares. Arrange the tempeh in a shallow pan/baking sheet with a cover ready to go. Whisk together the marinade and pour over tempeh. Use tongs to turn the tempeh over and rub the marinade all over each piece. It’s not a saucy marinade so do your best.

To prepare, heat oil in a non stick skillet and add the tempeh. When the first side is nicely browned, turn and cook on the other side.

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes
2 russet potoates
1 big or 2 little parsnips
Plant milk, as much as needed
Butter, as much as needed
Salt, to taste

Peel the potatoes and parsnips. Place in a pot and cover with water. Boil until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water and add back to the pot. Add plant milk and butter and mash until creamy enough for your liking!

Roasted Broccolini & Roasted Vine Tomatoes
1 bunch broccolini
Vine tomatoes, 2 or 3 or 4!
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt, a pinch

Toss the broccolini and tomatoes in olive oil and salt. Gently place on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 oven for 10 minutes or until the broccolini is getting crispy and the tomatoes are starting to split.

Plate it up and serve. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits


OMG! Let me say that these are one of the best things I make. Hands down. They are literally perfect and I can’t stop eating them which is why I make small batches!

I started making biscuits because during my Vegan Desserts course I had to make biscuits but I didn’t like that recipe. So I googled around and found an oldie but goodie from Cook’s Country that I veganized with a lot of success. The flavor is perfectly biscuity and delicious. The texture is perfectly flaky and crumbly.


Funny, I recently got the new America’s Test Kitchen Vegan for Everybody cookbook (same people as Cook’s Country) which veganized the same recipe I veganized (ha, anyone can veganize anything!) I am not crazy about that one because they use coconut milk and lemon juice to make the buttermilk. I am not a fan of using coconut milk in baking. I much prefer homemade plant milk, in this case cashew milk. And I like to use apple cider vinegar to curdle the milk. Lemon juice works just fine too.

Makes 6 biscuits

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar + 1/2 cup plant milk (I prefer homemade cashew milk))
6 tablespoons sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 475. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Double it up on top of another baking sheet to be sure the bottoms don’t burn.

Make the buttermilk by adding the vinegar into the plant milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together.

Whisk the oil into the buttermilk. Pour into the flour mixture and mix well until a nice ball of dough forms.

Using a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoon) ice cream scooper and drop scoops of batter about one inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake until the tops are starting to turn golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

We usually can’t wait to eat these but it is a good idea to wait a few minutes for them to cool. Enjoy with homemade butter and jam!




Book Report: The China Study Family Cookbook + Interview with Del Stroufe + Bonus Recipe!

TheChinaStudyFamilyCookbook_FrontCover (2) copy.jpg

I am a huge fan of all things The China Study and this book is no different. It’s a plant-based family cookbook written by Del Stroufe, an accomplished, chef and recipe creator.

This book is a little different than most of the books I talk about on this blog because this is not “vegan” per se, even though it is. Rather, it is “whole foods, plant-based” which is essentially the same thing but different. Here’s why.

Veganism is an ethical stance based on abstaining from eating animals and using animal based products whereas a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet is based purely on health reasons. There is evidence, ahem, see The China Study, that shows that eating a WFPB diet can reduce and/or eliminate many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

What does this mean? It isn’t just semantics, it’s ingredients. The recipes in this book are different than perhaps you are used to because they are free from oil and sugar and use little to no salt. You may be thinking, oh no, but will the food taste good? It will!

The recipes are super simple, call for not a lot of ingredients, and use interesting substitutions like tofu in salad dressing, potatoes in cheese sauce, and beans in brownies and “nutella” style spread. Everything is incredibly healthy and nourishing and you will soon realize you don’t need as much oil, sugar and salt as you may think you do.

Ever since I did my month-long oil-free experiment back in September of 2013, I have significantly reduced my oil intake. I am about 80% oil free now, maybe even 90%. I water sauté vegetables and make most of my salad dressings with cashews or tahini. If I am using oil, it is usually to pan fry tofu or tempeh for a quick dinner or to butter my homemade bread. But the butter is homemade too so at least I am controlling the ingredients. As for sugar, I don’t use cane sugar unless I am making cake or cupcakes and that is just for parties, so I take a pass there. If I am making cookies or other baked goods, I try to used coconut or beet sugar. And salt? Well, a few pinches make everything taste better! So I guess you could say, I am a whole foods, plant-based vegan (WFPBV!)

Anyway, let’s get to the recipes. There are over 100 including plenty of family classics that will be familiar to you like Mac & Cheese, Sloppy Joes, Creamed Corn Casserole and Biscuits and Gravy.

My favorite is a chorizo made with millet. Millet! I never ate chorizo in my pre-vegan days but all of a sudden these plant-based versions are really talking to me! And the really exciting news is that I got permission to reprint the recipe below. Others among my favorites are the the MLT, a portobello mushroom bacon BLT, the Portobello Reuben, the Thai-style Peanut Noodles, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Tofu Yung, and the plant-based Cobb salad with easy stovetop mushroom bacon.


Chorizo Hash




Cobb Salad

The only thing I am not crazy about in this book are the salad dressings made out of tofu. I am not a fan of using tofu in that way; I prefer to use nuts or tahini to make my oil-free salad dressings.

In addition to the recipes, there are “At Home with the Plant-Based Family” callouts, super inspiring stories and interviews with people who advocate a plant-based diet, who have transitioned to a plant-based diet along with tips for transitioning to a WFPB way of life and for getting kids involved in cooking.

Speaking of interviews, I had the opportunity to interview Del. I love the way he thinks about food. And remember to check out the Chorizo recipe below and follow me on Instagram (@lisasprojectvegan) to see what else I am making from this book!

LPV: Del! Thank you for talking to me. I have a few of your cookbooks and what I love about them is how easy the recipes are. And this book too! Especially for kids. You make cooking easy. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy?

DS: My philosophy of cooking has evolved to become about whole foods that are tasty and simple to prepare with ingredients that are easily accessible for most consumers. Let’s face it, most people don’t cook as much as our parents used to, and eating out is not healthy. I also believe that if you are going to get people to make changes in their diet, you should make the food familiar to them, and we do that in this cookbook with recipes like Grilled Cheese or Mac and Cheese—familiar foods made with healthy ingredients—that also taste familiar, and good.

LPV: One way I know I am going to like a book is if there are recipes that I have already made myself. And there are some in here. But, the millet chorizo, brilliant. The MLT, also brilliant! How do you constantly come up with new ideas?

DS: I feel as if I am just getting started with creating new recipes. Everywhere I look I see ideas; my goal is to make them healthy.

LPV: I notice a lot of recipes call for silken tofu. I am not a fan of tofu being used that way. What is your recommendation for the dressings or other recipes? Any possible subs?

DS: One of my favorite substitutes for silken tofu is pureed cauliflower. It is versatile like tofu and takes on the flavor of whatever you do with it. I use it to make everything from mayonnaise to cream sauces.

LPV: I love the interviews with different plant based folks. They all give such great advice. What is your favorite piece of advice?

DS: If you are just starting out on this new way of eating, take it one recipe at a time. Don’t feel like you have to have a whole cookbook’s worth of ideas. Most people cook the same 8 to 10 recipes over and over again.

LPV: What is your favorite recipe in the book?

The cheese sauce. I like how it can be used in a variety of dishes to make different things—mac and cheese, grilled cheese, pizza, etc. If I can pick a second favorite, it is the Mediterranean Meatballs. They too can be used in a variety of dishes

LPV: And lastly, what is your favorite recipe ever?

DS: I make an oven fried tofu that is crispy and garlicky without oil. It makes me very happy.

LPV: Maybe one day you will share that one with me!

Chorizo Hash_RGB copy.jpg

Official Chorizo Hash photo from the book!

Chorizo Hash

I never liked sweet potatoes growing up unless they were in a casserole covered with marshmallows. And I had never had chorizo until a friend invited me over for brunch one Sunday and served a version of this dish. It was a favorite of her children, who eagerly gobbled it down and asked for more. I asked for more, too. This dish is a good one to let the family help with chopping and measuring, preferably on a lazy weekend morning.

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen corn (about 11/2 cups)
1 recipe Chorizo (recipe below), coarsely crumbled
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and black pepper

Sauté the onion and red bell pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add water 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan.

Add the garlic, chile powder, cinnamon, cumin, and allspice and cook for another minute.

Add the sweet potato and corn and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the crumbled chorizo, lime zest, and lime juice to the pan, season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Makes 14 to 16 patties

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups millet
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground allspice

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 425°F if you plan to serve these as patties).

Combine the water and millet in a 2-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook the millet until tender, about 20 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Using a 1/4-cup measure or small ice cream scoop, shape the millet mixture into patties and place them on a nonstick baking sheet or a regular baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (If you will not be using all the patties right away, stack them between sheets of waxed paper and pack them into a ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.)

If you will be using the chorizo to make hash or tacos, bake the patties at 350°F until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Turn the patties over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. If you will be serving these as patties, bake for 10 minutes at 425°F, turn them over, and then bake another 10 minutes.


For the millet to work as a binder in this dish (to hold everything together in a patty), you almost need to overcook it. If it seems crumbly when you first make it, add 2 to 3 tablespoons more water to the pan, cover tightly, and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The millet should hold together when pinched between your fingers or pressed against the side of the pan.

Cauliflower Cutlet Parmesan & Spaghetti


I got the idea for this meal from the cookbook “But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan.” I wasn’t crazy about the method in the book so I decided to take the concept – cauli parm – and make it my own. It’s easy, fast, fun and really, really good!

Note: you are going to cut cauliflower cutlets out of a head of cauliflower. Usually I can only get two, maybe three, if you are lucky. And even if what you cut out is not huge, you can can still use the cauliflower pieces in the same way.  Start by taking the leaves off the head of cauliflower, and if there is a long stem, cut it down so you can rest the cauliflower evenly on the cutting board.  Slice it right down the center. Then slice a 1/4″ thick piece from the long side of each half.

Makes 2 servings

2 cauliflower cutlets
1 chickpea flour egg (1 tablespoon chickpea flour + 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of oil
1/2 lb. spaghetti (or enough for everyone you are serving)
1 cup tomato sauce
A drizzle of cashew cream (recipe follows)
A sprikle of nutty parm

Get the pasta going. Heat up the sauce.

Set up a breading station. In one dish, whisk together the chickpea flour and water to make the chickpea flour egg. Add the breadcrumbs to another tray.

Dredge the cauliflower in the chickpea flour egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Handle the cauliflower gently so the breadcrumbs stick.

Heat the in a big nonstick skillet. When it is hot, add the cauliflower cutlets. Cook the cauliflower on the first side for a good 5 minutes before gently turning. Cook the other side. The cauliflower should be al dente.

To serve, toss the spaghetti with sauce. Top with a cauliflower cutlet. Drizzle with cashew cream and a sprinkle of nutty parm. Enjoy!

Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews (soaked if you don’t have a Vitamix)
1/2 to 3/4 cup filtered water
Salt, a pinch

Place the cashews in the Vitamix or blender with 1/2 cup water.  Let it rip until creamy. If too thick, add a bit more water. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Taco Tuesday: The Raw Edition


It’s summer time and what better way to celebrate Taco Tuesday than with a cool, easy-to-make, raw taco. It’s walnut meat, which I have posted about before, but I never thought to wrap it in lettuce until I did the raw challenge a while back. I love it for lunch or dinner or any day of the week!

Walnut Meat (makes enough for 4 tacos)
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place all ingredients into the food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together. Set aside.

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews *
1 cup water
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt

*Soak if you don’t have a Vitamix. Drain water and use new water.

Place all ingredients into the blender and let it go until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust lemon if you want it more tart and salt.

4 big pieces of Boston lettuce
Thinly sliced scallions
Diced tomatoes
Shredded purple cabbage

Drop the walnut meat into the lettuce wrap and top it with everything. Enjoy!

My Big Fat Greek Salad


When I was growing up, and well into my 20’s, my family frequented two local Greek restaurants. I have a love of all things Greek from those days, including one of the very first things I ever veganized, spinach pie. I think it is the dill and the freshness of it all. I have veganized other favorites too including tzatziki sauce and spinach and rice.

Anyway, to this salad. I love every single ingredient – the radishes, scallions, cucumbers, dill and tofu croutons. And now that I am growing radishes in my garden, I think this will be making a very regular appearance on our table this summer!

This makes enough for 2 or 3 people depending on how hungry everyone is. You can always double the dressing and save whatever you don’t use for another time.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
A few shakes of oregano
A shake of garlic powder
A shake of onion powder
A shake of mustard powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of coconut sugar

Add all of the ingredients to a little jar. Seal and shake it up.

1 head of romaine
3 scallions
Big bunch of dill
4 radishes
2 Kirby cucumbers

I like a chopped style salad but cut everything up any way you like to!

Tofu Croutons
1/4 block of tofu
A shake of oregano
A shake of garlic powder
A tiny bit of oil

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for. Dice it up into little squares. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan and add the tofu. Shake the pan to coat the tofu with the oil. Add the oregano and garlic powder and stir around to coat the tofu. Cook until the tofu is starting to get just done, a little crispy and brown.

Toss everything together. Enjoy!