Blue Plate Special #55: Cauliflower Steaks with Lentils & Mashed Potatoes


This is Blue Plate Special is the perfect Easter Sunday dinner: cauliflower steaks over lentils with sautéed shallots and carrots and very creamy mashed potatoes.

How many steaks will depend on the size of the cauliflower – a regulation size cauli usually yields only two – so you will have to buy enough cauliflowers to feed your crew. A handful of the leftover florets can go right into the mashed potatoes but if there is way too much left over, blanche, shock and freeze the rest. The rest of the measurements in this post feed one small person and two big people.

To make this easy, cook the lentils ahead of time. I made three cups and froze two of them. That makes putting this meal together super easy.

Cauliflower Steaks 
1 head of cauliflower
Sunflower oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the cauliflower down the middle, being careful to slice evenly. Then cut steaks from either side of the cauliflower. Florets may fall off and that is ok.

Lightly rush each side of the steaks with oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes and then use tongs to turn the steaks over. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the steaks are nice and brown.

Lentils with Shallots and Carrots 
1 cup cooked French (or other) lentils
2 big shallots
1 big carrot

Thinly slice the shallots and dice the carrots. Drop into a pan with sides and add 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add the lentils and heat through, about 5 minutes.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
3 big Russet potatoes (1 per person)
A small handful of cauliflower florets
Plain plant milk, 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Vegan butter, 1 or more tablespoons
Vegan cream cheese (I like Kite Hill), 1 or more tablespoons
Salt, to taste

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Place into a pot, along with the cauliflower florets, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft.

Pour off the potatoes and cauli over a colander and then put them right back into the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the mixture. Add a small amount of plant milk, butter and cream cheese and continue to mash. Season with a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust to your level of creaminess.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Blue Plate Special #54: Lemon Rosemary Tofu with Carrot-Lentil-Leek Quinoa and Steamed Spinach


Here how this happened. I opened the refrigerator in which I had cooked lentils and quinoa, tofu, rosemary, carrots, leeks and spinach. I figured a lentil quinoa pilaf would be nice with carrots and leeks topped with easy citrus tofu (with a little rosemary for a change of pace) and a side of greens. This could have easily happened with tempeh as the centerpiece, quinoa with zucchini and shallots or a beautiful rice pilaf. Therefore, this is not a recipe as much as it is a method. Be creative with what is in your refrigerator.

Serves 2

Lemon Rosemary Tofu
4 pieces of extra firm tofu (1/2 a regular package)
1 lemon
A sprig of rosemary

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for. Brush a nonstick skillet with oil so it is just lightly coated.

Pull the rosemary from the stem and chop it finely. Place the tofu into the pan and season the top side with a pinch of salt, a few turns of freshly ground pepper, and the rosemary.

After about 2 minutes, squeeze the lemon juice down over the tofu. Let it bubble up and start to caramelize, about another 2 minutes. Carefully turn the tofu over; tongs work best here. Cook until the edges start to brown, about another 2 minutes.

Carrot-Lentil-Leek Quinoa
1 leek
1 carrot
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Clean and slice the leek into rounds. Slice the carrots into rounds and place both a in nonstick pan with a few tablespoons of water. Sauté until softening. Add the lentils and quinoa and heat through.

Steamed Spinach
1 bunch spinach

Clean and steam.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Blue Plate Special #53: Meyer Lemon Dijon Grilled Tofu with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Shaved Brussels Sprouts


It took more time to type the name of this post than it did to make it. Just kidding but it is really fast. An easy meal, for lunch or dinner, made in less than 30 minutes.


Meyer lemons are like little orange flavored lemons. I love finding them in the market and use them mostly like I use lemons. I could have just used the Meyer lemons to make Easy Citrus Tofu but decided to make this Dijon mustard marinade just to shake it up a bit. The tofu could have easily been baked but I already had the potatoes going so I went with the grill pan. And ditto with the Brussel sprouts. They could have been roasted. This blue plat special is one versatile meal.

Notes: Always zest lemons (or any citrus) before juicing. Seems obvious but always a good reminder. When grilling tofu, it is important to let it grill for a while. When it is well on the way, it will be easy to turn over. Before that it will stick to the pan.

These measurements serve 3 to 4.

Meyer Lemon Dijon Grilled Tofu
2 Meyer lemons, zest and juice
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 sprig of rosemary
1 big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 box extra firm tofu
High heat oil, for grilling

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for.

Zest the lemons. Juice the lemons. Add the mustard. Finely chop the rosemary and add to the mixture. Add the red pepper flakes. Whisk together.

Slice the tofu into 8 rectangles. Place in a shallow dish and marinate for as long as you have time for.

Heat up a grill pan and brush with high heat oil. Grill the tofu until grill marks appear on the first side. Brush any leftover marinade on the top and flip the tofu over until grill marks appear on the second side.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
1 lb. fingerling potatoes
High heat oil, about 1 teaspoon
S and P, to taste

Cut the potatoes in half. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 oven for about 30 minutes or until nice and browned.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts
2 dozen Brussels sprouts
High heat oil, about 1 teaspoon
S and P, to taste

Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts and sauté in a nonstick skillet with the oil until bright green and browning. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Blue Plate Special #52: Breaded Tofu Cutlets with Roasted Romanesco & Mashed Yukon Golds

IMG_7197 I am having so much fun making bread and breadcrumbs every week. This week I dropped some fresh parsley into the mix. Along with easy roasted romanesco and mashed potatoes, a blue plate special is on the table in no time. And I used my new chickpea flour “egg replacer” for breading. Loving it! (Click to see a recipe for scrambled chickpea flour, my new go to brunch idea.)

Breaded Tofu Cutlets
2 tablespoons chickpea flour + 1/4 cup water
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 block extra firm tofu

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for and slice it into 4 rectangles. Whisk the chickpea flour and water together in a shallow bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl and then have a plate ready for the breaded tofu. Dredge the tofu cutlets in the chickpea flour mixture and then into the breadcrumbs.

Either bake the cutlets in a 350 oven for 20 minutes or fry up on the stovetop until crispy.

Roasted Romanesco
1 head of Romanesco
2 teaspoons of high heat oil
Pinch of salt

Break the Romanesco into florets and toss with oil and salt. Roast in 400 oven until browning and crispy, about 25 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes
3 to 4 yukon golds
Plant milk
Vegan butter
Pinch of salt

Peel and boil the potatoes. Drain and mash. Add milk and butter until the potatoes are smooth and mashed potato-y.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Blue Plate Special #47: “Grown in Brooklyn” Tempeh, Broccoli & Yellow Rice Pilaf


Once you go “Grown in Brooklyn” tempeh you never go back! Oh my gosh, have you had homemade tempeh? Barry Schwartz is the man, an artisan, who handcrafts his tempeh and is dedicated to the highest quality. Period. He sources local ingredients and makes the tempeh in small batches. It is unpasteurized unlike commercial tempeh so it has a fresher, softer texture.

From the Grown in Brooklyn website, “Barry’s Tempeh is committed to providing truly delicious, handcrafted, healthful, full-bodied, deeply satisfying tempeh products. Barry’s Tempeh is made from a unique combination of local, organic grains and beans with a culture (rhizopus oligosporus). The fermentation is similar to yogurt and fine cheese. The culture makes the beans easier to digest and adds probiotics (beneficial bacteria).”

It really doesn’t get better than that in vegan world. I ordered 8 lbs. of the classic soy tempeh and it was delivered all wrapped up in a refrigerator pack. (Delivery in NYC area only.) Half of one pack is perfect for the three of us, so I have tons in the freezer for whenever we want it.

This blue plate special dinner (or really good food in a bowl) is incredibly simple. Tempeh with yellow rice pilaf and broccoli.

8oz. soy tempeh
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 bunch of broccoli
2 shallots
1 small piece of fresh turmeric
1 cup uncooked basmati rice

Cut the tempeh into cubes. Separate the broccoli into bite size florets. Thinly slice the shallots. Use a microplane to grate the turmeric. 

Start with the rice pilaf. Heat a small pot and when it is hot, add the shallots and a tablespoon or two of water. Use a wooden spoon to stir them around and let them soften. Add the rice and toss to coat and toast for a minute. Add the right amount of water according to the package. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let it sit covered until ready to serve dinner.

Add the broccoli to a pot. Cover with water and bring to a quick boil. When it turns bright green and is just soft (or to your liking) take it off the flame and drain. Add back to the pot and cover to keep warm.

Heat a pan. Add the oil and when it is shimmering, add the tempeh. Cook until the tempeh starts browning. Toss it around a few times to get all sides. Add more oil if the tempeh is sticking. Drain on paper towel.

Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork. Place the rice in a big bowl and add the tempeh and broccoli. Serve plain or with sauce. Enjoy!