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 #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 #44: Grilled Tofu & Squash with Summer Corn


There is nothing like fresh summer Long Island corn. I like to cut it off the cobs and sauté it with a little olive oil. Tonight I served it with grilled tofu and the green patty pan squash from the CSA. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

Grilled Tofu
1 package extra firm tofu
Olive oil
S and P

Press the tofu for as long as you have. Cut the tofu into triangles (cut it half, half again, then triangles.) Brush the top side with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tofu, seasoned side down, onto a hot grill pan and do not move it for a few minutes. Lift up the tofu and check for grill marks. Flip and cook the other side.


Grilled Squash
1 green Patty Pan squash *
Olive oil
S and P

Cut the squash in half and then slice it. Brush the top side with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash, seasoned side down, onto the hot grill pan and do not move it for a few minutes. Flip and cook the other side.

Summer Corn
3 ears of fresh corn on the cob (1 per person)
Olive oil
Salt, dash

Cut the corn off the cobs. Add a very small amount of olive oil to a pan and heat. Add the corn with a dash of salt. Cook until the corn is bright.

Serve tofu and squash with corn. Enjoy!

* CSA 2013 Week #9

How to Make a Complete Vegan Dinner in 30 Minutes


I get asked all the time how I get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Well, I have learned through experience to keep certain ingredients on hand – tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), apple juice, panko, flour, vegan milk, and the best kept secret in the world, organic potato flakes – in order to pull together dinner in the middle of a hectic week with the same effort it would take any other mom in the kitchen.

Tonight, I made breaded tempeh with vegetables. I could have easily made tofu the same way, without the pre-steam. Beans are also another good centerpiece, if you have them on hand. I used the vegetables that I had in the refrigerator and my two-minute-perfectly-smooth-mashed-potatoes! Now, how easy is that?

Breaded Tempeh
1 package soy tempeh
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons tamari
Vegan milk (I used oat)
Panko breadcrumbs
S and P

Carrots, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, spinach

Mashed Potatoes
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup oat milk
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 1/4 cups organic potato flakes
S and P

Cut tempeh in half, half again, and then into 8 cutlets. Steam in apple juice and tamari for 10 minutes. Let cool.

If using tofu, press it and then bread it. The rest is the same. If using beans, just heat up.

While the tempeh is steaming, cut the vegetables and prepare the breading station by pouring each element into a bowl. I have no measurements, just use your judgement!

1 – flour
2 – vegan milk
3 – panko + salt + pepper
4 – plate for breaded tempeh

Dredge the tempeh in the flour, then the milk and then the panko.

Get the vegetables into the pan with olive oil, starting with the hardest ones first. In this case, I added the carrots first to let them soften up a bit, then added the Brussels sprouts. Next the zucchini and finally the spinach, letting it wilt. Season with salt as you throw in each vegetable.

Heat up sunflower oil in a non-stick skillet and cook until tempeh is crispy on the first side. Using tongs, turn and cook on the other side.

Boil the water, oat milk and Earth Balance. Take off the stove and add the potato flakes. Mix well.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Friday Night Bites: Black Beans, Rice & Tortilla Chips

This is the perfect Friday night dinner. Almost no effort but really delicious and healthy   I always keep a box of black beans in the back of the cupboard for exactly this kind of meal. I just have to add an avocado, fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro. My son likes to help me make my homemade tortilla chips but you can just as easily buy them or skip them all together.

Black beans
Fresh cilantro

Make the rice. Heat up the beans. Slice up the avocado. Chop the cilantro.

Make a plate: rice, beans and avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro and hit each plate with juice of half of a lime. Then season the plate with salt.

Serve with chips. Enjoy!