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Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Plant-Based

Plant-based cooking can be super challenging with recipes that call for a long list of ingredients and have many steps.  It doesn’t have to be though.  As long as you are willing to take a few simple short cuts and use a few canned/boxed ingredients, your life can still be easy and your food still delicious.  This Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is just that: easy AND delicious! This is a recipe for which you won’t even have to chop a single vegetable!

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

*Affiliate Links* – This post will contain Amazon Affiliate links.  This means that if you click on and purchase through one of these links, Veggie Fun Kitchen may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Shepherd’s pie was always one of my favorite comfort foods growing up.  I loved the creamy potatoes and savory vegetables but honestly – even back before my plant-eating days – I would pick the meat out and throw it in the trash when my parents weren’t looking. Shepherd’s pie has been around for centuries.  According to Jamie Oliver’s page, it should only be called shepherd’s pie if it contains lamb and cottage pie with any other meat. And meatless pie should be called ”Shepherdless Pie”…whatever.  I might have rather called it “Gardener’s Pie” or “Kindness Pie”; but then you might not have been able to find it when you googled!  Let’s just call this a really tasty easy shepherd’s pie with filled with good-for-you vegetables and lentils!

Easy Lentil Shepherd's PieStart with a few simple ingredients.  I like to buy my lentils already steamed. They can often be found in the produce section of the grocery store. If you aren’t able to find pre-cooked lentils, they are actually pretty easy to make on the stove-top.  Follow the package directions for a yield of 2 cups, cooked.

As promised, you won’t have to chop a single vegetable for this recipe!  That’s right, just use a 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables and dehydrated minced onions.  Line the sauté pan with a little vegetable broth to keep the vegetables from sticking.

Easy Lentil Shepherd's PieAdd the dried minced onion and stir around for a minute so that the onion begins to rehydrate.  Then add the vegetables on top and sauté for about 5 minutes in the vegetable broth so that the vegetables have mostly thawed. (You will want to watch your pan carefully and add more broth if the vegetables begin to stick.)  Add in the cooked lentils and the cup of vegetable broth, arrowroot starch (can sub corn starch) thyme and salt. Stir until well mixed and bubbly. The “gravy” should begin to thicken as well.

Pour into a 7″x11″ baking pan and set aside.  This is really the best size pan for the recipe.  If you don’t have that though, a 9″x9″ deep pan will probably work. Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

 

Some people would shudder at the idea of using potato flakes to make the mashed potatoes.  Others would shudder at the thought of actually boiling the potatoes and mashing them.  On days when I don’t have a lot of time or patience, I definitely go with the boxed potato flakes.  By adding nutritional yeast to the potato flakes, you get an almost cheesy flavor.  

Do follow this recipe but look on the back of the package directions for four servings. They should be the same. This should be 1 1/3 cups flakes. 

Sub in vegetable broth for the water and unsweetened plant milk for the dairy milk. The directions call for butter.  I use my favorite vegan buttery spread.  If you are trying to eat oil-free, then leave out the vegan butter; but add in the salt.

When I cook this recipe for Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, I do not add salt to the potatoes.  The nutritional yeast and buttery spread make it plenty salty for my family.  Do taste though, and add salt if desired.

After you mix your potatoes, carefully spread them on top of the vegetable/lentil mixture.  Sprinkle a little paprika on top and cook in a preheated 375° oven for about 20 minutes or until the casserole is heated through and the potatoes are slightly browned on top.

This Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie works great for meal prep.  It only makes four though, so double it and cook in a larger baking pan if you will want more. Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Great for meal prep!

These are some items I found helpful in making this recipe.  Amazon Affiliate Links:

Pin now to save for later:Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Easy Lentil Shepherd's Pie

The Easy Lentil Shepherd's pie is plant-based and uses frozen and boxed ingredients for a quick delicious recipe. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 276kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

Vegetable/ Lentil Mixture

  • 2 Tablespoons Dehydrated Onion Flakes
  • 1 16 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked lentils brown or green
  • 1 cup vegetable broth plus extra for sautéing
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch can sub cornstarch

Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons vegan butter leave out if trying to eat oil-free
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 1/3 cup potato flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Instructions

Vegetable/Lentil Mixture

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Line a sauté pan with vegetable broth.  Add the dehydrated onion flakes and stir around will rehydrate. 
  • Add frozen vegetables and continue stirring until vegetables are mostly thawed.
  • Add cooked lentils, seasonings, starch, and vegetable broth.  Stir until heated through and bubbly.  The sauce should begin to thicken.
  • Turn into a small (7"x11") baking dish.  Set aside while preparing potatoes. 

Mashed Potatoes

  • Bring vegetable broth and vegan butter to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Add potato flakes, nutritional yeast, and plant milk.  Stir until well mixed.  Taste and add salt if desired.
  • Gently spoon mashed potatoes onto the vegetable/lentil layer and spread evenly with a spoon.  Sprinkle a little paprika on top and bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until heated through and potatoes have firmed up and slightly browned on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1310mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 14.2% | Vitamin C: 21.4% | Calcium: 7.9% | Iron: 24.3%

Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Cashew Cream

This vegan pumpkin pie is creamy, smooth, and bursting with the traditional pumpkin pie flavor.  It’s easy to make because you can use a prepared (vegan compliant) pie crust and canned pumpkin.  This pie has a fancy addition though: a second layer made of  cinnamon cashew cream.

Discloser:  This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on these links and purchasing may earn Veggie Fun Kitchen compensation at no additional cost to you. 

I remember my first vegan Thanksgiving.  I made it my goal to make all the yummy  traditional sides and desserts my way – the vegan way. (Aren’t the sides and desserts the best part anyway?!?) I was so excited to prove that we could still have a traditional seasonal meal and still eat vegan. Most were a success – except for the Watergate Salad (still working on that one), and the pumpkin pie. In fact, I remember my disappointment when I excitedly cut into my soupy goopy vegan pumpkin pie mess- because some things just NEED eggs to help set up! Or do they?I tried the flax “egg” and the aquafaba “egg”; but both were abject failures.

Enter cashews!  That’s right – raw, soaked, and ground cashews (affiliate link) can be a great thickener and stabilizer for many dishes in which eggs are traditionally used.  I first discovered this when developing my Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel.  As it turns out, cashews work great for thickening vegan pumpkin pie too!  I took it a step further and topped my pie with with  thick vegan cinnamon cashew cream.  Yes, there is vegan whipped topping somewhere out there on the market.  Unfortunately though, vegan whipped topping is usually full of oil; and may not available to those of us living in a small one-grocery-store town…

The cinnamon cashew cream used in this recipe is not a “light and fluffy” type of topping but more of a second layer to the pie.  It adds a subtle nutty flavor and is the perfect topping for this pie.

PLEASE! YOU MUST DISCLOSE TO ANYONE EATING THIS PIE THAT IT CONTAINS NUTS!  Nuts are not a common ingredient found in pumpkin pie. A person with allergies might not be aware if you do not fully disclose. Never try to pass vegan cooking off as non-vegan  – especially if the item contains potential allergens. 

Start by preheating your oven to 375° and soaking the raw cashews (affiliate link) for about 30 minutes.  If you can only find roasted cashews then you will need to add hours to your soaking time and rinse well to remove the added salt.

I use a prepared pie crust.  Feel free to make your own. There are many recipes for a more “plant-based” crust – but for a special seasonal meal, I prefer the traditional type of crust.  Just read the vegan pumpkin pieingredients to ensure the crust fits in with your way of eating.

Set the crust, if frozen,  on the counter to thaw while you are preparing the filling.

One trick I learned from my mamma to make your store bought crust appear more homemade, is to pinch or flute the thawed edges like you would if you made the crust yourself. Tricky tricky.

vegan pumpkin pie
Gently pinch to give a fluted edge.

vegan pumpkin pieMake sure to drain the water off from the soaked cashews.  Add to a high speed blender  (affiliate link) along with the other pie ingredients and mix on high for 3-5 minutes or until cashews are thoroughly blended and mixture is smooth.  Make sure to buy SOLID pumpkin NOT the pumpkin pie mix.  That has other ingredients in it and your recipe will not turn out the same.

vegan pumpkin pie
Brown sugar and real maple syrup are used for the sweeteners.

 

Pour and scrape the pumpkin pie mixture into two prepared unbaked crusts. Spread evenly with a spatula.  I used an eight inch deep dish shell for my pies.  Depending on the size of the pie shell, the pie mixture may not come to the top.  Remember, you will put a second layer of cinnamon cashew cream on top after it’s baked and cooled.

vegan pumpkin pie

While the pies are baking, begin making the cashew cream.  Start, of course, by soaking the cashews for about 30 minutes.  While they are soaking you can wash your high speed blender. You know the trick for that right? If not, then enjoy this quick little video from Raw Blend.

Drain the cashews and add to your clean blender along with the other ingredients.  Pour into a jar or container and put in the refrigerator or just set aside while the pies are finishing cooking and cooling.

After 50-55 minutes the pies should be done.  The traditional “knife test” is not going to work for this vegan pumpkin pierecipe.  The top will be darker and there might be some cracks on top. When you give it a gentle wiggle, it will be mostly firm-ish. The pies will firm a little more as they are cooling. Set on a cooling rack to cool. When you can handle touching the pans, you can put into the refrigerator.

vegan pumpkin pie

Should these pies be served cold or warm?  I’m a cold-pie gal so for me there is no question.  I did a little survey on my Facebook page and was surprised to learn that more people than I would have guessed liked pumpkin pie warm. Eww. Especially as these pies do set up better when they are cold, I suggest serving cold. If you are a die-hard warm pie person, then go ahead and serve warm but be aware the pies will not be as firm.  I would not, however reheat the pies with the cashew cream on top.  Personal preference I guess…

Once the pies have cooled sufficiently, pour the cashew cream on top and carefully spread.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sparkly sugar if desired.

vegan pumpkin pie          vegan pumpkin pie

vegan pumpkin pie
If you cover with plastic, use toothpicks to keep the plastic off of the cashew cream.

These are some items I used when making this recipe (affiliate links):

vegan pumpkin pie

Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Cashew Cream

This vegan pumpkin pie is made smooth and creamy using raw cashews. It is topped with a cinnamon cashew cream layer for a seasonal, slightly nutty, pumpkin pie flavor
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cashew cream, vegan pumpkin pie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
cashew soak time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16
Calories: 311kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 pie shells prepared
  • 3/4 cup cashews raw
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk can sub another plant milk
  • 1 29 ounce can pumpkin use solid pack
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup use real syrup only
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder can sub cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cinnamon Cashew Cream

  • 1 1/2 cup cashews raw
  • 1 cup cashew milk can sub another plant milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed

Instructions

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Soak raw cashews for about 30 minutes.  Discard water after soaking. If you use roasted cashews, you will need to add hours onto the soaking time and then throughly rinse salt off before using in recipe.
  • After cashews are soaked and drained, put into a high speed blender along with all other pie ingredients: cashew milk, spices, brown sugar and real maple syrup, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), vanilla, salt, and solid pumpkin. (Do not use pumpkin pie mix in a can which will already have seasonings mixed in.  Your recipe will not turn out the same.)

Blend in a high speed blender until smooth.

  • Pour/scrape into two uncooked pie shells.  Smooth the tops.
  • Cook in a 375° oven for 50-55 minutes or until crusts are browned, top of pies are darker, and cracks may appear.  The clean knife test will not work for this recipe. 
  • Take out of oven and set on a cooking rack to cool.

Cinnamon Cashew Cream

  • While pies are cooking and cooling, soak raw cashews for about 30 minutes.  If you use roasted cashews, your soak time will increase by hours and you must rinse thoroughly to remove salt. 
  • After cashews are soaked, drain water off.
  • Place soaked and drained cashews into clean high speed blender along with cashew milk (or other plant milk), lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.  Blend at high speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Set aside until pies are cooled -or if you have finished extra early, pour into a jar and refrigerate. 
  • Once pies have cooled, pour evenly on top.  Top with additional cinnamon and perhaps some sparkly gold sugar. 
  • In my humble opinion, this is best served cold. The cashew cream will firm up with refrigeration.  If you like your pie warm though...to each his own.

Notes

You must disclose to anyone who may eat  this pie that the recipe contains nuts.  Pumpkin pie typically does not contain nuts so this is especially important. 

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 339mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 0.1% | Vitamin C: 0.5% | Calcium: 3.4% | Iron: 11.2%

Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

This rustic Apple Cranberry Strudel is vegan, easy and delicious! It is filled with apples, cranberries, pecans, and a secret ingredient: a homemade cashew cream! Once you make the apple-cranberry filling and cashew creme, it’s easy to throw together using purchased frozen puff pastry sheets.

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Clicking on those links and making a purchase may provide Veggie Fun Kitchen with compensation at no additional cost to you. 

Tip and Tricks to Make the Puff Pastry Apple Strudel Recipe:

  • Start with a box of frozen puff pastry sheets.  This recipe will make two long strudels, but you can eat one now and freeze the second one for later!
  • Set the pastry sheets out to thaw according to package directions.  These puff pastry sheets take about 40 minutes to thaw on the counter.  This should be plenty of time to prepare the apple-cranberry mixture as well as the cashew cream
  • Put the raw cashews in water to soak for about 30 minutes.  If you don’t have raw cashews, you will need to start soaking hours before. (Note – if you only have roasted and salted cashews then rinse well and taste before adding salt.
  • This recipe calls for three apples.  Using three different types of apples gives it an interesting, undefined, apple flavor. Peel, core, and slice your apples.

 

  • Honestly, this apple peeler (affiliate link) is the way to go.  It’s so easy that even kids can do it (with supervision of course)

  • After I peel core and slice with the peeler, I can easily cut the apples again into quarters and get just the right size.
  • Add the apples to a deep sauté pan along with the sugar,  seasonings, and arrowroot powder.  I also add orange juice concentrate for an added flavor zip.  I always keep a jar of frozen orange juice concentrate in the freezer so that I can dig in and get a little orange flavor whenever I need it.  Stirring constantly so that the sugar doesn’t stick, cook for about 3-5 minutes until the apples have softened.  Turn off heat and add cranberries and chopped pecans.Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel
  • Next, start working on the cashew creme. Make sure you drain the cashews.  Add to a high-speed blender (affiliate line) along with the other ingredients and blend for several minutes until smooth.
  • This is just about the right time for the puff pastry to be thawed.  On a floured surface, gently open one and then roll out into a 10×12 rectangle.  Make sure the folds are going horizontally.  This way when you complete your strudel and fold over, there will be less chance of breakage.
Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel
Roll your rectangle out so that the folds are horizontal.

Pour half of the cashew creme down the center and then carefully place half of the apple cranberry mixture on top.

Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel
Center the Cashew Cream and apple cranberry mix right down the middle.

Fold over one third, covering the mixture, and then the fold over the other side so that you have a long tube.  Gently tuck each end under.  Carefully place onto parchment paper and then cut diagonal slices through the top of each strudel – about one inch apart.Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

  • Brush the tops with some sugared cashew milk. Bake on the center rack at 375° for 15 minutes.  Take out of the oven and sprinkle each with cinnamon sugar. Return to the oven and continue baking for about 15 more minutes or until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned.
Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel
Brush with a plant milk/sugar mixture.
  • Allow to cool slightly before carefully slicing.  Serve warm or cooled with your favorite hot beverage.  You can wrap one of the strudels up and freeze until you are ready to eat.

Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

Pin Now to Save for Later:Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

  • If you freeze one and want to eat it later, wrap it tightly in foil.  Later you can reheat – still in the foil – at 350° for about 30 minutes.

Items I Found Helpful:

These are some items I found helpful in making this Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel.  All are Amazon Affiliate links.  Clicking on and purchasing may earn Veggie Fun Kitchen compensation at no additional cost to you.

Foodie Extravaganza Party Links:

This post is part of the Foodie Extravaganza Party!  Every month a group of food bloggers gets together to bring you theme-related food from around the WWW.  They may not all be vegan dishes, but perhaps can be modified.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this group – I think it helps to get the message out that vegan food can be fabulous!  Please see below for links and please visit the recipes that might interest you.

Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel

This puff pastry apple cranberry strudel is vegan, easy to make and perfect for a cool crisp afternoon.  It uses a homemade cashew cream, apples, and dried cranberries.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Thaw Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10
Calories: 512kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Puff Pastry (2 sheets)

Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk or other plant milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder can sub cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Apple Cranberry Mixture

  • 3 apples peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder can sub cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries such as Craisons
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Finishing Touches

  • 1/2 cup cashew milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon sugar

Instructions

  • Set pastry sheets on counter to thaw.  Thaw according to package directions.  My package directs 40 minutes.

Cashew Cream

  • Set raw cashews into water to soak for about 30 minutes. While cashews are soaking, you may make the apple cranberry mixture. (If you are using roasted cashews, you will need to soak for hours/overnight to soften.)
  • Drain all water from cashews.  Add to a high speed blender along with cashew milk, lemon, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), salt, and brown sugar.
  • Blend on high speed till smooth. About 5 minutes.

Apple Cranberry Mixture

  • While cashews are soaking, you can make your apple cranberry mixture.
  • Peel, core, and slice three apples.  I like to use different varieties. 
  • Put prepared apples into a sauté pan along with brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, cinnamon, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), and salt.
  • Cook, stirring constantly to keep sugar from sticking,  till apples have softened - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries and chopped pecans.

Putting It All Together

  • Working with one pastry sheet at a time, gently unfold pastry onto a floured surface and with a floured rolling pin, gently cool into a a rectangle - about 10x12.  Make sure the "folds" are going across horizontally (the short way).
  • Pour 1/2 the cashew mixture down the center of the pastry sheet, being careful to leave 1 1/2 inches on the top and bottom of the rectangle. 
  • Carefully spoon 1/2 apple cranberry mixture on top of the cashew cream.
  • Carefully fold one side of the pastry sheet over, covering the mixture and then the opposite side. Tuck under the edges on the top and bottom to fully close the "tube".
  • Carefully transfer to a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Cut diagonal slits about 1 inch apart across the top. 
  • Repeat with other pastry sheet.  When you place the second filled tube  onto the pastry sheet, make sure you space a couple of inches apart.
  • Make a little sugar milk and brush on the top of each pastry tube.
  • Bake at 375° for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the tops of each.
  • Return to oven and continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed. Let cool slightly before cutting.
  • To freeze unused portions, wrap tightly in foil.  Allow to thaw naturally and then warm in a low oven (about 300°) for 15 minutes to reheat.

Notes

You must disclose this recipe contains nuts if you serve to others.

Nutrition

Calories: 512kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 261mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 0.7% | Vitamin C: 5.8% | Calcium: 3.7% | Iron: 14%

Vegan Chili with Walnuts (The Prize Winner!)

This vegan chili is the bomb!  It is oil-free  and uses diced walnuts – not as a meat replacement – but for texture…and a little protein (because “where do we get our protein?” haha)  It’s super easy because it uses  canned beans and tomatoes.  It also has a few secret ingredients. Read on for more info. Give this Vegan Chili a try. You won’t be sorry!

First things first…this chili DOES contain nuts! Chili normally does not contain nuts.  If you ever serve this to others (and believe me, you’ll want to), don’t try to “pass” it off as non-vegan chili.  Nuts normally aren’t in chili and you are responsible to make others aware.Chili in white bowl with corn chips and bell peppers

Now that that important little detail is out of the way…Would it be presumptuous to call this the BEST DAMN Vegan Chili around?  You might wonder…  But yes, I have won a contest with this chili!  It’s always a big hit when I make it for family or friends too.  You could top it with the fake vegan cheese if you like. To keep it truly plant-based though, try my Chili Cheese Sauce and/or my Jalapeño Ranch Dressing.  Both are awesome toppings – just use one or go for both!

Start with diced onion and minced garlic. Years ago I discovered minced garlic in a jar and will never go back! Ever!  When a recipe calls for 1 clove of garlic, I just kinda eyeball it and pull out a rough teaspoon for each clove.  Garlic cloves are often different sizes anyway; so I’ve always gone with the theory of “close enough” on this one.vegan chili

Sauté the diced onion and garlic with vegetable broth.  That’s right; you don’t need oil!  Cover the bottom of your pan with the broth and then watch to make sure it isn’t burning.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and while that’s about right, always check to make sure the bottom of the pan isn’t drying up, and add more if necessary.

Chop the red and a green bell peppers and add to the onion-garlic mixture.  Continue to sauté until the onion is translucent and the peppers are soft.

vegan chili
Isn’t this platter of peppers and onions beautiful?!

Add the seasonings, beer, diced walnuts, and canned items.  Make sure the beans you get are “chili” style. They already have some seasoning in them and so you can just open and dump without draining. In fact, the only canned item you’ll need to drain is the corn.

vegan chlli
This chili pulls together quickly because you use canned goods. Shhhh…no one has to know!

Wait! Did I say beer?  That’s right:) One 12 ounce can of beer adds just a little something-something to make this chili fabulous! The fact that this chili contains alcohol is another important disclosure you must make if serving to others.  Not everybody is a fan (as in: not everybody can drink alcohol for various reasons) and it does not necessarily “cookout” in the amount of time this recipe will be on the stove.  If you choose to not use beer in your chili, no problem.  Just sub in 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) vegetable broth.  It will still be fabulous.

I use a small can of mild green chilis when I’m making this vegan chili for my family because they don’t enjoy their food too spicey. If you enjoy a little extra heat, you should use a can of jalapeños instead.  You can also add more or drop in a little hot sauce on top.

While you are bringing the chili to a boil, mix together the cornstarch with water, cocoa powder, and a little agave nectar or (real) maple syrup.

What? Chocolate?  Yes indeed! This is the final secret ingredient.  I always just said I was giving my chili a little extra love when in fact I was giving it chocolate.  Cocoa powder along with the tiniest amount of sweetener cuts through the acidic tomato and gives your chili a little extra special richness.

vegan chili
The “secret ingredient” I’ve been adding to my chili for years!

Bring to a boil and then simmer on the stove for two hours so that all the flavors have a chance to meld together.  Add a little extra salt to taste, some hot sauce, chips, hot peppers,  and toppings of choice.  I like to top with my awesome Vegan Chili Cheese Sauce and Jalapeño Ranch.Vegan Chili

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Chili
Pin this fabulous vegan chili NOW so you don’t lose it!

 

Chili in white bowl with corn chips and bell peppers

Vegan Chili with Walnuts (The Prize Winner!)

This Vegan Chili is plant-based and oil-free.  It uses diced walnuts, canned beans and tomatoes.  
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 9 people
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth Add more to keep from scorching
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 10 ounces walnuts diced
  • 12 ounces beer Sub vegetable broth if desired
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt add more at the end for taste
  • 1 15 oz can pinto chili beans undrained
  • 1 15 oz can black chili beans undrained
  • 1 15 oz can kidney chili beans undrained
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes undrained
  • 1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 8 oz can corn drained
  • 1 4 oz can green chilis sub jalapeños for more heat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar can sub real maple syrup

Instructions

  • Dice vegetables and set aside.
  • Line a large stew pot with vegetable broth - about 1/2 cup. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic.  Sauté till onions are translucent.  Watch bottom of pan and add more broth if necessary so that it doesn't run dry and scorch. 
  • Add seasoning, diced walnuts, beer, and all canned ingredients including beans, tomatoes, corn, and diced chilis. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  • While chili mixture is coming to a boil, stir together water, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and agave.  Stir into pot.
  • Bring to a boil for a few minutes then reduce heat and simmer for the next two hours, covered.

Notes

You MUST disclose to anyone you are serving this chili to that it contains nuts and alcohol.  Not disclosing the nuts could have serious health consequences.  Nuts normally wouldn't be found in chili so it is especially important that you disclose. 

Nutrition

Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 505mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 32.1% | Vitamin C: 35.3% | Calcium: 5.5% | Iron: 11%

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Bundt Cake is all about fall! Spicy, sweet, filled with apples, pecans,  and dripping with a Medjool date caramel topping.  This recipe is plant-based, and dairy and egg free. Enjoy this pumpkin bundt cake for breakfast or on a lazy afternoon with a cup of coffee. This seasonal cake is perfect to take and share. Trust me, it’s that good!

Raise your hand if you sometimes like a little something sweet for breakfast! (Raising my hand…) Notice, I said a *little* something sweet.  Because this pumpkin bundt cake is not overly sweet, it’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or to enjoy with your afternoon coffee. Bursting with pumpkin, apple, and caramel goodness; it hits the spot.

For some other great seasonal breakfast or brunch ideas, try my Puff Pastry Apple Cranberry Strudel or Pumpkin Spice Cressent Rolls.

And for the traditional taste of pumpkin pie, try my Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Cashew Creme. So good!

Slice of Pumpkin Bundt Cake on a green plate
Serve up a warm slice of Pumpkin Bundt Cake. Not too sweet for breakfast or brunch.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce Recipe

Please read through this section for some helpful tips and tricks so that your pumpkin bundt cake will turn out as tasty as mine!

  • Have the apples peeled, chopped, and ready to go. This recipe calls for two apples and I always use two different kinds for flavor variety – usually a Granny Smith and then a sweeter red or yellow apple.  Peel and chop the apples into small bite-sized pieces.

    yellow and green chopped apples on cutting board
    Use two different variety of apples for depth of flavor.  I used a Granny Smith and Golden Delicious in this recipe.

The Medjool Date Caramel Sauce

While the cake is cooking, you will have time to make the Medjool date caramel sauce. Medjool dates make a thick plant-based caramel sauce. Try my Coconut Date Syrup poured on top of a thick stack of Banana Nut Pancakes.

Not familiar with Medjool dates yet?  You are in for a yummy surprise!  Read 13 Surprising Facts About Medjool Dates )and How to Cook with Them).

  • Use 18 pitted Medjool dates.  Soak the pitted dates in hot water for about 30 minutes while the cake is cooking.   Simply drain and blend in a high-speed blender along with almond milk, vanilla, and a little salt.
  •  Here is a trick I use to get the caramel sauce to look “drizzled” and not glopped on: I put it in a pastry bag and simply squeeze it out where I want it to go.
    pumpkin bundt cake with caramel sauce drizzled on top with a pastry bag
    Use a pastry bag to drizzle the caramel date sauce on top.

     

  • Top with chopped pecans and some golden sugar sprinkles for fun and this cake is ready to go!  This pumpkin bundt cake is best warmed up and delicious served with a cup of coffee or hot tea.

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE OIL:

Many of my recipes are oil-free, yet this pumpkin bundt cake recipe does contain oil.  Honestly, the taste and texture of this cake are better when made with a little oil.  When I make this cake to take and share with others, I want it to be the tastiest it can be. Vegan food can already feel like foreign territory to people who don’t eat this way.  I want my friends talking about how awesome my plant-based food is and asking for the recipe.

Some Items  I found helpful when making this recipe:

(Affiliate links)

Pin now to save for later:bundt cake with caramel sauce and pecans on top

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with coffee, pumpkins, apples, and candle in background

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Chopped Apples

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Chopped Apples is egg-free and dairy-free.  It has all the flavors of fall with chopped apples, pumpkin, maple syrup, pecans, and topped with a date-caramel sauce made with Medjool dates.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pumpkin Bundt Cake, Vegan Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 18
Calories: 253kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce can solid pumpkin NOT premixed pumpkin pie filling
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Other Cake Ingredients

  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped I use 2 different kinds for variety
  • 1/2 cup pecans

Date- Caramel Sauce

  • 18 Medjool dates pitted and soaked in hot water
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

Bundt Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour bundt pan.  Set aside.
  • Peel and chop apples into small pieces and fold into cake along with pecans.
  • Mix all wet and dry ingredients together in separate bowls
  • Add dry ingredients at once to wet ingredients and mix together using a mixer for about 4 minutes or until smooth.
  • Put in 350° oven for about an hour or until sides are pulling away.  
  • Take out of oven and allow to cool slightly before turning onto serving plate.

Date-Caramel Sauce

  • While the cake is cooking you can prepare the date-caramel sauce.  Pit 18 Medjool dates and soak in very hot water for about 30 minutes or until very soft and almost mushy.
  • Drain water and put into a high-speed blender along with almond milk, vanilla, and sea salt.
  • Blend on high for about 3 minutes until all in smooth and fully incorporated into a "caramel sauce".
  • Put caramel sauce in a pastry bag to artfully drizzle on top of cake.  Add pecans to garnish and a chunky sugar if desired. I found a pretty gold sugar by Wilton.
  • Best served warm.

Notes

Please see special note about the oil in the post at the end.  For a truly whole food plant-based recipe, one doesn't use oil.  You can leave it out and it will still be moist and delicious.  It honestly is better with the oil though so as this is a "make and take" type of recipe, I included it this time.  The choice is yours.

Nutrition

Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 1% | Vitamin C: 1.2% | Calcium: 8.4% | Iron: 5.9%

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with coffee, pumpkins, apples, and candle in backgroundpumpkin bundt cake

If you are looking for more great pumpkin recipes, click on any of the following links!  This recipe post was part of the online Foodie Extravaganza Party. Every month we share seasonally appropriate recipes across the web from other food bloggers. This month most are vegan or adaptable – some not.  I’m thrilled to have been invited to participate this month!

Easy Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

These Easy Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers are kid-friendly and easy to make.  You can make them up to a couple of days before, keep in the fridge and pull out for an after school snack, or throw in a lunch box.  Eat the pizza dippers now, or save to later.  Warm them up or eat them cold.  These easy mini calzone pizza dippers are vegan; but if you are not vegan, you can substitute non-vegan food items.  Hey though, give the vegan version a try because you might find you like it!Easy Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

If you are looking for other kid-friendly recipes, try my Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers or Vegan Street Tacos. They are a hit with the entire family!

 

The easy Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers are simple to make because the recipe makes use of already prepared store-bought items.  You will need a 7.5 ounce small can of biscuits – 10 to a can.  The small size biscuit is the perfect size for the easy mini calzone pizza dippers.  Also, buy vegan cheese, vegan pepperoni, and your favorite pizza or pasta sauce.Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

 

Carefully take a biscuit round out of the can and gently press onto a flat working surface, being careful not to tear the biscuit.Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

 

mini calzones on cookie sheet
These Mini Calzones can be tricky to handle. Don’t overfill or you will have a mess!

Place 1 teaspoon of sauce in the center of the biscuit along with a few shreds of vegan cheese.  Set 1 piece of pepperoni on top of the cheese and sauce an fold over into a half-circle.  Place all ten on a cookie sheet.

Look, they are almost all perfect little half circles! Do you notice though, that not all of the mini calzones are quite perfect? This is a result of me either tearing the dough, accidentally letting the sauce spread out to the edges (can’t get a good seal), or filling the circle too full before folding over. The thing about vegan cheese versus dairy cheese is that a little goes a long way so you won’t be tempted to fill your calzone too full.  Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers And this disaster is what you will get if you fill it too full…

Cook the mini calzones in a 400° oven for 10-13 minutes or until nicely browned.  Eat right away, or store the pizza dippers to snack on later.  Wait till they are mostly cooled before putting in an airtight container.  Consume within 5 days.  Serve with a vegan ranch dipping sauce, or with with pizza/marinara sauce.  If you want an oil-free pasta sauce, you can make mine.

Easy Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

Mini Calzone Pizza Dippers

These vegan mini calzone pizza dippers are quick and easy to make and are kid friendly. Eat for an after school snack or use in lunch boxes.  They will be just fine eaten cold. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: school lunch box, Snack
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Easy Mini Calzone Pizza
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 111kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 7.5 ounce can biscuits 10 biscuits per can
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds
  • 10 pieces vegan pepperoni rounds

Instructions

  • Working one at a time, carefully press each biscuit into a round, being careful not to tear.
  • Place 1 teaspoon pizza sauce in the middle, top till 1 teaspoon cheese, and 1 pepperoni piece.
  • Carefully fold over into a half circle and press the edges together with a fork.
  • Place on a sheet pan.
  • Bake at 400° for 10-13 minutes.
  • Eat now or save to later.  Wait until cooled before placing in an airtight container. Store for five days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 333mg | Potassium: 85mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 0.5% | Vitamin C: 0.5% | Calcium: 1.5% | Iron: 5.6%

Black Bean Brownie Batter Hummus

You might think you are eating brownie batter – but surprise, you are really eating hummus – made with black beans! This black bean brownie batter hummus is vegan, oil-free, and plant-based.  This dessert hummus is made with black beans  (of course!)  peanut butter, agave, tahini, and cocoa powder.

black beansBlack beans are incredibly good for you because they are full of fiber and protein; but here is the best part: you won’t even know there are beans in the black bean brownie batter hummus…and neither will your kids!

Use a high speed blender or food processor to make the hummus.  If you have a food processor it’s probably best to use that.  It is doable in a high speed blender, however,  you will need to scrape and stir part way through.  Under no circumstances should you try to make this black bean brownie batter hummus in a regular blender as your hummus might be chunky and there is a risk you might burn your blender out.

Drain and rinse the black beans and put them into your blender or food processor.  Add the peanut butter, agave, cocoa powder, tahini, salt, vanilla,  and plant milk of your choice.  The recipe calls for 2-3 Tablespoons of plant milk.  Start with the lower number and add more as necessary; however, if you need to add more plant milk then add by the teaspoon.

If you have a peanut butter allergy, feel free to substitute sunflower butter.

Tahini is sesame paste and is used in traditional hummus for a deep rich flavor.  I also use it in my dessert hummus recipes to give a deep flavor and to give a “mouth feel” that one might miss when the recipe is oil-free.  If you don’t have hummus then this will still taste super yummy!

If you are using a high-speed blender, you might need to pause to scrape the side and mix it up a little.

black bean brownie batter hummus in blender

This hummus is so rich, you only need a little bit – a little really does go a long way!  Dip crackers or fruit.  Spread on a waffle or toast.  If you like cookie dough, you should try my Cookie Dough Hummus too:)

Cookie Dough HummusBrownie Batter Black Bean Hummus

Brownie Batter Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean Brownie Batter Hummus

This black bean brownie batter hummus is vegan, oil- free, and plant-based.  A little of this rich dessert hummus goes a long way!  Use it as a dip for fruit, cookies or crackers. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, school lunch box
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Black Bean Brownie Batter Hummus
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 57kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce can black beans drain and rinse
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar use more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons plant milk of choice start with 2 T and add more

Instructions

  • Drain and rinse black beans and add to a high speed blender or food processor.
  • Add all other ingredients.  (See instruction about plant milk below.)
  • Start with 2 T of plant milk and add more if necessary.  If your hummus is especially thick and you need to add more than the 2-3 Tablespoons then add by teaspoon.
  • If you are using a high speed blender, you will probably need to stop part way through to scrape the batter down. 
  • Serve with fruit, crackers, or cookies.  Remember that this is very rich and a little goes a long ways.

Nutrition

Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 127mg | Potassium: 62mg | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 0.9% | Iron: 2%

Cookie Dough Hummus

What?  Cookie dough for lunch?  This cookie dough hummus is made with garbanzo beans, is vegan, oil free, and plant based – so yes, it’s actually somewhat good for you!  In fact, you don’t even have to “sneak” it into your kids’ lunch boxes in order to get them to eat their beans!

This dessert hummus is made with chickpeas – or garbanzo beans. Chickpeas are actually a legume and considered a highly nutrient-rich food.  They are high in protein, fiber, and several important vitamins and minerals.

This recipe calls for a 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans. Some cooks like to cook their own garbanzo beans.  I usually find I don’t have time for that.  I do not pinch the skins off – but some people swear by it, saying their hummus is smoother.  Personally, I  don’t have the patience for that – plus, I would think that you’d be giving up some of that important fiber if you lose the skins.  If you want to, pinch away (eye roll – really/not really).garbanzo beans

When you drain the chickpeas, make sure to save the liquid from the can.  We will be using this when making the cookie dough hummus.  The liquid is called aquafaba and is  used in serval capacities by vegan cooks – including as an egg and oil replacer.

I make my cookie dough hummus  in a high-speed blender.  It probably (unfortunately) works better in a food processor (which is on my wish list!) Do NOT attempt to make hummus in a regular blender!  It’s challenging enough to make in a high-speed blender, but is doable.

Add the chickpeas, peanut butter, a little brown sugar, vanilla and salt.  If you are allergic to peanut butter, then try sun butter.  You are mainly adding the peanut butter for the texture and sun butter will do just as well.

Tahini PasteTahini is an important ingredient to have on hand in a plant-based kitchen.  It adds a depth of flavor and a “mouth feel” that you might miss out on when not using oil.  If you do not have it on hand, just use a little extra aquafaba instead.  So this aquafaba….what if you didn’t read through the directions and threw out the liquid when you drained the chickpeas?  Don’t stress – you can replace with a plant milk of your choice.  It will be fine:)

Another interesting ingredient I use is baking soda.  This is purely for the raw cookie dough taste sensation.  Really and truly.  Now tell the truth, don’t you remember those happy days before we knew any better?

Blend it all (except the chocolate chips) together until you have a smooth cookie dough texture.  If you are making in the food processor, it will be smooth sailing for you.  Just process till done.  If you are making in a high speed blender, you might need to take a pause and with a spatula, shift the sweet hummus around in the blender some.Cookie Dough Hummus in the Blender

When it’s finished add the chocolate chips.  Also, add a pinch or two of salt to taste.  I didn’t include salt in the ingredient list since we are using the liquid (aquafaba) from the can, some is saltier than  others and nobody likes a salty cookie dough. Right?

Dip cookies, pretzels or fruit.  Spread on toast or waffles. Or just eat with a spoon…Cookie Dough Hummus

 

 

 

 

 

If you like this Cookie Dough Hummus, You should try my Black Bean Brownie Batter HummusBrownie Batter Black Bean Hummus

Cookie Dough Hummus

Cookie Dough Hummus

This Cookie Dough Hummus is vegan, oil-free, and plant based.  It's kid approved and healthy enough to put in their lunch box.  Dip crackers, cookies, fruit, or just eat with a spoon.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, school lunch box, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cookie dough hummus
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans drained - save the liquid
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from bean can) more if necessary
  • 1/2 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips vegan
  • pinch of salt to taste

Instructions

  • Drain garbanzo beans and reserve liquid.
  • Put all ingredients except chocolate chips in a high speed blender or food processor. 
  • Blend or process till smooth, adding more of the aquafaba liquid if necessary, teaspoon by teaspoon.
  • Remove from blender and put into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Taste and add a pinch of salt if desired. 

Nutrition

Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 54mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 0.2% | Calcium: 1.5% | Iron: 1.5%

Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese

When I first started eating plant-based, I thought I was going to have to say good-bye to some of my favorites… like “cheesy” pastas.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Tofu, eggplant, and nutritional yeast make for a  convincing creamy ricotta “cheese”.  These Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese are of course vegan, oil free, plant-based, and can be gluten-free if you are able to source gluten-free shells.

Ricotta and Shells in Pan

I first tried these stuffed shells when a (non-vegan) work friend was so excited to have found this recipe that she made it and brought it in to work for me to try out!  I’m sure you can understand how touched I was by her thoughtfulness.  When we are vegan, it is easy to feel like we are missing out on so many of the food-sharing social activities at work and with friends.  It really meant a lot that she cared enough to want to share a dish with me that I could enjoy.  She was inspired by this recipe on Minimalist Baker.  If you haven’t checked out their website you really should as a great recipe resource!  My friend massaged that recipe and gave it to me and then I massaged it further.

This is a recipe that I consider a little crazy complicated with multiple steps.  I’ve made it so many times though that I think I’ve perfected how to do it from start to finish.  Follow the steps in the recipe card and (hopefully) it will go easy enough for you too!

Eggplant ScoredStart with your eggplant.  I’ve never been a fan of eggplant because I never really understood how to cook it correctly.  It was always a little slimy-textured to me.  If you salt it well and then squeeze out the extra moisture before cooking, you won’t have the texture problem.  You can see that I’ve scored  and salted it well.  Let sit salted for about 30 minutes and squeeze out the extra moisture before cooking it face down on a silicone baking sheet.

After it’s cooked in a 400° oven for 40 minutes it will be done. The eggplant will be a little shriveled and softened enough so that you can easily scoop out the creamy insides.  Toss the skin, you won’t be using it in this recipe.Eggplant Cooked

 

 

While all that is going on, drain and press your tofu.  I use a tofu press.

Tofu in the Press

You will also need to soak your cashews. Make sure to drain water before using in the recipe. Use raw cashews because you will get a creamier texture than if you used dry roasted cashews.  Cashew Nuts SoakingRaw Cashews in Package

 

You normally can’t find raw cashews in the grocery store unless it is a health or specialty store.  I usually source mine online.

 

After the tofu is pressed, roughly break it into chunks and reserve 1/2 cup.  You’ll be stirring that in later to give your ricotta “cheese” a little texture.

Tofu in Half Cup

This is also a good time to cook your baby kale. Just put in a sauté  pan along the with the garlic. Line your pan with vegetable broth to prevent the kale from sticking. It’s done when it’s wilted and about 1/3 of the size. Crazy huh?!?

Baby Arugula         Baby Arugula Cooked

 

If you are unable to find baby kale then substitute with baby arugula or baby spinach.

Sometime during all this, you’ll need to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the jumbo shells until just al dente as they will be cooking longer in the oven once stuffed and covered in sauce.  If you overcook then they will be mushy and fall apart when stuffing. Make sure you use the jumbo shells.  Here’s a photo next to a dime for size comparison.Jumbo Shells with Dime

When they are cooked, drain and set aside.  The shells will need to be mostly dried of the extra bits of water or your dish will be runny – but not too dried or they won’t be flexible enough to stuff.  This cooking thing can be  a bit of a dance!

Make your creamy “cheese” sauce by putting the tofu (except for the 1/2 cup reserved), drained cashews, and plant milk in a high speed blender.  You can use any type of plant milk you like (soy, almond, cashew, etc.) BUT make sure it is unsweetened.Vegan Ricotta in Blender Close Up

 

 

 

Process till smooth then scrape into a large bowl along with the cooked and skinned eggplant, cooked kale, and seasonings.

Vegan Ricotta in Bowl Ready for Mixing

Nutritional yeast is an important ingredient that can’t be left out or it won’t have that cheesy flavor. Nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast.  It really is a staple of a vegan kitchen.  It’s not always easy to find in the grocery store but sometimes can be found near the “health food” section, or area near gluten-free foods, or the section with the specialty grains. I usually just order mine online.

Take a mixer – I like an immersion blender – and throughly blend together. You’ll know it’s done when the kale is in little pieces and is  well incorporated.Vegan Ricotta Immersion Blender

 

 

 

It is at this point that you add in the reserved tofu. Only mix enough  so that it’s a little chunky and the texture somewhat resembles ricotta cheese.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER! Finally!

Line a large baking dish with a pasta sauce of your choice.  For this I usually find a large jar of sauce that makes me happy because honestly, this recipe is hella work already without having to make your own sauce.  If you want to be ambitious and make your own, try my Pasta Sauce.  It’s oil-free, plant-based, and vegan. I make it with canned crushed tomatoes so the the process does go a little more quickly.

Vegan Ricotta Shells Lined up in PanCarefully stuff each shell with the ricotta mixture and set in the dish.  You will get 18-20 shells – probably depending on the size of your eggplant and how fully you stuff them.  Spoon more sauce over of each shell and then sprinkle some  vegan parmesan cheese on top.  If you use mine, I make it with cashews.  You MUST disclose to anyone you serve that it contains nuts as people won’t be expecting  nuts in a cheese sprinkle.

Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. I always sprinkle more vegan cashew cheese on top because  honestly, it’s the bomb!

Stuffed Shells with Vegan Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta and Shells in Pan

Stuffed Shells with (Vegan) Ricotta Cheese

These stuffed shells are vegan, oil-free, and plant-based.  Tofu, raw cashews, and eggplant give the ricotta "cheese" a creamy texture.  
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
resting time (eggplant): 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 219kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant sliced in half and scored
  • 1 16 ounce block tofu extra firm
  • 20 jumbo shells
  • 3/4 cup cashews, raw soaked
  • 5 ounces baby kale
  • 2 cloves mined garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or more to keep pan from sticking
  • 1/2 cup plant milk of choice unsweetened
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 25 ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 1 recipe vegan cashew parmasean cheese optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°. 
  • Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, score the flesh side and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.  When finished, squeeze out excess moisture. Place cut-side down on a silicone lined baking pan and cook for 40 minutes.  
  • After you take the eggplant out, turn oven down to 350°.  Let the eggplant cool enough to handle and then scrape out the insides into a dish. Set aside. You can discard skins.
  • While the eggplant is sitting and cooking do the following:
    1. Drain and press Tofu,
    2. Soak cashews,
    3. Boil water for shells,
    4. Sauté baby kale.
    5. Blend/process pressed tofu (except 1/2 cup), soaked cashews, and  plant milk. 
    (Specific directions are in steps below.)
  • Drain and press Tofu until most moisture is squeezed out. After tofu is drained and presses, break into small chunks and divide - setting aside 1/2 cup in a separate bowl.
  • Cook jumbo shells according to package direction for al dente.  Drain and set aside to cook.
  • Soak raw cashews in water for 30 minutes. After cashews have soaked for 30 minutes, drain water and toss it out.  Set aside cashews to blend later.
  • Line a large sauté  pan with vegetable broth. Sauté baby kale along with garlic until wilted and tender.  Set aside. 
  • Put soaked drained cashews, unsweetened plant milk, and all but 1/2 cup of pressed tofu into a high-speed blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  Pour/scrape into a large mixing bowl . 
  • Add the cooked baby kale, cooked and scooped eggplant and all other seasonings and ingredients (except for pasta sauce, shells, and vegan parmesan cheese) to the bowl with the ricotta mixture.  With an immersion blender, agressively  blend until smooth.  
  • At the last minute, add the reserved 1/2 cup tofu.  Continue to lightly blend until mixture resembles  the consistency of a ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Line the bottom of a large lasagna-type of pan with a thin layer of pasta sauce.  
  • Carefully stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and place in a single layer on top of the pasta sauce.
  • Spoon remaining pasta sauce on the top of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle generously with vegan parmesan cheese. 
  • Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes until heated through. 

Notes

If you serve this recipe to others you MUST disclose that this recipe contains nuts.  One normally wouldn't expect to find nuts in thy type of recipe so it is especially important.
Recipe for Vegan Cashew Parmesan Cheese
Recipe for Homemade Pasta Sauce

Nutrition

Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 467mg | Potassium: 356mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 47.6% | Vitamin C: 34.4% | Calcium: 7.5% | Iron: 11.4%

 

 

Pasta Sauce – Homemade (Plant-Based)

This home-made pasta sauce is not challenging to throw together.  It is plant-based, oil free, and vegan. Because I use canned tomatoes and (mostly) dried herbs, it’s a snap to assemble the ingredients, simmer for a bit and just like that, you have  homemade pasta sauce you can be proud of.

Pasta Sauce of Spoon

Hey, I’m all for taking a short-cut or two with some food items – and pasta sauce would be one of those short-cuts I often take!  I always keep a few jars of store-bought pasta sauce on in the cupboard. But sometimes you just need the aesthetics of making your food from scratch. It can also be a challenge when trying to eat a whole-food plant-based diet to find a pasta sauce that is oil free and sugar free. Making your own can solve this challenge.

 

Onions Cooking

The first step in making this oil-free pasta sauce is to sauté your onions and garlic using a little vegetable broth.  You don’t, I repeat: you do not need the oil to sauté vegetables. It helps to start with a non-stick pan. In this picture you can see that I’m not using a non-stick pan;  but that just means I need to closely attend to the pan so that my vegetables don’t stick.  I start with 1/2 cup vegetable broth but watch the pan carefully and add a little extra if needed.

 

Another trick I have is to used garlic that is already minced and comes in a jar. Really, I do.  I’ve tried it both ways – fresh and jarred – and my palate cannot tell the difference.  Using bottled garlic saves me the trouble of peeling, chopping, and dealing with stinky hands.  If using fresh garlic appeals to you, then more power! Garlic in Jar

After the onions have sufficiently softened, I just add the other ingredients, including a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and canned tomato paste, some seasonings, cover and simmer for about an hour.

This recipe uses dried herbs except for the basil. Taste aside, using chunks of fresh basil in your sauce really shows that it is homemade and adds to the aesthetics.Chopped Basil

 

Basil PlantWhen I use fresh, I like to use “living herbs”.  They make me feel (almost) as if I grew them myself. Yes, I’ve tried…and failed.

 

Another trick is using tahini paste.  Tahini does have fat in it but not added processed oils (check your label to make sure). The only reason we need to cook with oil is for a full “mouth-feel”.  Using tahini still gives us the mouth-feel but doesn’t add processed oil. As an added bonus, tahini also lends a full robust taste to our sauce.Tahini

 

Jarred pasta sauce usually has added sugars (at least the ones that taste good).  When you make your own pasta sauce, you still need to add a little sweet.  Adding sugar cuts down on the acidic taste you often get with a tomato sauce.  Do read the label of the canned tomatoes you use though and make sure they don’t already have added sugar in them.  If they do, then skip this step or you’ll get an overly sweet ketchup-y tasting sauce.  If you want a truly plant-based sauce then don’t add sugar but make a date paste.

Dates in ProcessorUse Medjool dates. Remove the seeds and soak in hot water for about 20-30 minutes (depending on how fresh they are.)  Put in a food processor and pulse until you have a paste.  You might need to scrape the sides and re-direct the dates to the blade.

Using four dates will yield almost 1/4 cup of date paste.  That’s perfect for this recipe.Date Paste in Cup

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta Sauce on Spaghetti

Pasta Sauce - Homemade (Plant-Based)

This pasta sauce is oil-free, vegan, and plant-based.  It's easy to throw together because of a few short-cuts.  Use canned tomatoes, jarred garlic, and (mostly) dried herbs.  Pair this pasta sauce with any Italian dish for a homemade, fresh look and taste. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Plant-based, vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 84kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 Medjool dates de-seeded and soaked
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or use more as needed
  • 2 onions diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with no added sugars or oils
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons tahini paste
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce low sodium
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  • Take the seeds out of the dates and put into very hot water.  Let sit for about 20 minutes.  They should be softened and almost falling apart at the end of this time.  If you started with drier dates then you will need a little extra time.  
  • (You can begin sautéing your onions and garlic and chopping the fresh basil while the dates are soaking . Directions for this will be in a step below.)
  • After dates have soaked and are softened, put into a food processor till  they form a smooth paste. If you don't have a food processor then you could use a high-speed blender along with a little water. You will need to cook the extra water out of your sauce for a few minutes with the lid off. Your yield from the dates alone will be a scant 1/4 cup.
  • Chop the onions, garlic and fresh basil.  I use pre-chopped bottled garlic to save time. 
  • Line a non-stick medium sized sauce pan with vegetable broth. Add your chopped onions and garlic and sauté for 7-10 minutes.  Watch your pan carefully and add a little more vegetable broth if necessary to keep from sticking.
  • Once the onions have softened, add the other ingredients. Cover and let simmer for about an hour to nicely blend the flavors together. Make sure to fetch out the bay leaf!
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

If you don't have dates but still want to make this recipe , use up to 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Using dates will make it a truly plant-based recipe.
Tahini paste can be tricky to find in the grocery store.  Try by the ethnic foods or by kosher foods.  I've also found in the in organic/health section. I using just source mine online. If you don't have tahini paste but still want to make this recipe, it will still taste good - but not the same.  A plant-based kitchen will do well with jar of tahini in the cupboard. 

Nutrition

Calories: 84kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 867mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 4.8% | Vitamin C: 6.4% | Calcium: 3.5% | Iron: 5.4%