Vegan Lasagna

Mmmm, Vegan Lasagna

I'm a fan of the vegan brownies and vegan banana nut chip muffin recipes in The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  So when we found out that she had a new cookbook out,  The Vegan Table, I rushed right out to get a copy.  (Okay, I ran to the computer and ordered it... but isn't that the same thing?)

The first recipe we tried was the less than successful Matzoh Ball Soup recipe I wrote about in my last post.  But I know this author has some excellent recipes in her repertoire... so I begged Jane to make the Vegan Lasagna.  She's got a few other things earmarked to try.  But since she likes to "surprise" me, I couldn't tell you what she's got planned.

Back to the lasagna.  YUM!!!!  We've already had it twice, and we haven't had the cookbook for a month!  We get three dinners out of this.  We wound up using  a slightly smaller pyrex dish, so Jane used a tad less pasta, but didn't cut down on the sauce and filling.  We've found the first serving is a little wet.  The second meal has the perfect level of moisture, and we tend to need a bit more sauce for our third dinner.

Having grown up in New York, on Sicilian-style Italian cooking... lasagna, ravioli, baked ziti, we tend to shy away from the veganized versions of these foods.  Cheese is just something that doesn't usually work.  But I can heartily recommend this recipe for even a cheese-loving omnivore.

Hearty Quinoa Recipe for Breakfast

Unfortunately for our guests, it's been "winter" here. By that I mean, the weather is not cooperating, and it's been rainy and unseasonably cold here. The high yesterday was only 64°F. That's actually cold for Los Angeles! And while we welcome the respite from the hot summer weather we know is imminent, our company would prefer something a bit more balmy.

Since it's been so wintry, we made a hearty breakfast this morning. We tried a new version of a quinoa porridge we've been making on and off since we've been vegan... Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa, which we found at 101 Cookbooks (my picture isn't nearly as attractive as Heidi's, but I'm sure it tasted just as good!).

Actually the recipe is in John La Puma, MD,s new cookbook -- ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine. It's not a vegan cookbook, but it does provide a wealth of healthy eating information, including what foods to eat for specific medical conditions, and what to stock in your pantry. With only 60 of nearly 300 pages devoted to recipes, cookbook is probably a misnomer; the nutritional information is the real reason to pick it up. Again, La Puma writes for omnivores, but there is a lot of good information here for anyone.

But back to our breakfast... We've made a few different versions of Quinoa "porridge" for breakfast, and while they've been good, we've still been hoping for something a little more remarkable. This was it. We used the organic quinoa found at Trader Joe's, and of course, we subbed the cup of milk for a cup of almond milk. It was delicious. For sweeteners, we tried agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and honey*. The honey and brown rice syrup were the winners in this particular dish. We all thought the maple syrup a little too over-powering and the agave nectar just wasn't right.

Jane's thinking of making this again and refrigerating it overnight. It might make a good cold breakfast too, or a nutritious dessert.

* Honey is one of those things that divides the vegan community, this post touches on our philosophy on the subject of honey and sugar.

Top 10 Vegan Recipes

top-10At the beginning of the month put together a list of of his favorite vegan cookbook recipes for the year. I must have been sleeping, somehow I missed it. But I also read the Vegan Planet blog, and Robin posted about it today.

Having reviewed the recipes with Jane earlier, we feel compelled to share this with our readers who might not visit these sites. Some of these recipes look very interesting. And since they rate as "top 10" they're probably very worthy of a test drive.

The recipes that make the cut are:

  1. Plantain Omelet - From Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi’s Vegan Fusion World Cuisine
  2. Thai Coconut Corn Soup - From Nava Atlas’ Vegan Express
  3. Indonesian Coconut Rice - From Robin Robertson’s Vegan Fire & Spice
  4. Baked Ziti - From Beverly Lynn Bennett’s Vegan Bites
  5. Moroccan Phyllo Rolls - From Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
  6. Italian Stuffed Crepes - From Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Nonna's Italian Kitchen
  7. Chickpea Curry - From Hema Parekh’s The Asian Vegan Kitchen
  8. Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding - From Isa Chandra Moskowtiz and Terry Hope Romano’s Veganomicon
  9. Root Beer Float Cupcakes - From Hannah Kaminsky’s My Sweet Vegan
  10. Fresh Mango Cobler - From Ani Phyo’s Ani's Raw Food Kitchen

Make sure to visit for the actual recipes, if you don't already own these cookbooks. We'll let you know what we think after we've tried them, but Jane wants me to put a caveat here: We have amassed a ton of "must try" recipes. So it isn't likely that we'll get through this list in the immediate future. Be sure to let us know what you think!


Grr. Some of you may have heard about yesterday's disaster on the 405 (Los Angeles freeway near LAX airport). A truck overturned and traffic was absolutely abominable in the area ALL day!!!! Needless to say, my commute was unpleasant, in both directions. Alhtough certainly not as unpleasant as the poor truck driver who perished in the accident.

I don't really deal all that well with traffic issues. I've been driving this same route for a long time and know exactly how long (to the minute) it is supposed to take me, and when my commute goes long, I start getting antsy. Jane is always threatening to take the clock out of my car so I'll be less frustrated. I'm not sure if that would be a larger benefit to me or to her!

At any rate, I love my wife. Since this is not a blog about marriage, I won't be writing about the times I don't totally love my wife or how difficult marriage can be... Not that ours is a bad marriage, but every marriage can be trying at times. On the positive side, there are moments that make you never want to be single again. Last night was one of them.

I finally arrived home after 1 hour and 16 minutes to find Jane hard at work in the kitchen. Apparently, after seeing the traffic report, she realized I wouldn't be getting home at a reasonable hour. So she made one of my favorites, the spanikopita recipe from Real Food Daily Cookbook. It was just as good as last time. But Jane made a few minor alterations. Mainly, she forgot the leeks, so she used maui onions instead. Personally, I couldn't tell the difference and it was just as yummy as last time! And what a treat to come home to!

And for dessert, because I was so cranky, Jane whipped up a quick batch of muffins. This time she put in wheatberries for added crunch and the fruit was gooseberries. (Huh?) So, the muffins are crunchy and tart. I think they are very good, but Jane doesn't care for them that much. Also, she's still working on perfecting the basic muffin recipe... When she's happy with it, she's promised to post it for you all.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Looks Like Something the Cat Coughed Up

Our new vegan lifestyle has led to a huge increase in our tofu consumption. Looking to replace meat with some kind of protein, tofu has been the easiest choice. Of course, there is conflicting information out there about just how much tofu you should be consuming. Admittedly, I have done only the most cursory of online searches to solve this newest (to us) nutritional mystery. Since the new vegan thing is different enough, I'm not going to do any further research for now. Suffice it to say, there are other ways to get your protein. Jane usually makes a tofu stir-fry once a week. And there's always a bean based dish or three. We've also had a few things with store-bought chicken seitan. And we've discovered that some grains have protein too! (Couscous and quinoa, for example.)

Looking for alternative sources of protein, Jane decided to try and make seitan at home. We've had seitan, or "wheat meat" as it is also known, in a few of the vegan restaurants we've tried and it's been mostly good. Time for an adventure in the kitchen.

We really both love the Real Food Daily Cookbook cookbook by Ann Gentry (as we've said many times already). However, her recipe for basic seitan was far more work than Jane felt like undertaking for her first venture into the world of home-made seitan. We did have a recipe in The Accidental Vegan by Devra Gartenstein that looked simple.

Basically, you take some wheat gluten (Jane used Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten) and water to form the dough. That's the attractive picture at the top of this post. We've both made bread before and adding the water to the wheat gluten is pretty much like the beginning stages of making a loaf of bread. However, it really looks like cat puke, as any of you who live with the furry beasts can attest to! Then you boil it in water with soy sauce and ginger. Pretty simple. And pretty tasty.

For our dinner last night, Jane then made a gravy based on nutritional yeast and flour and which was rather good. She also roasted butternut squash with olive oil and brown sugar, salt and pepper. The picture does not do it justice. Dinner was yummy. Hearty winter fare. As usual, our entree was accompanied by a salad of mixed field greens with onion, apple, cranberries and a balsamic dressing.


We've been vegans for a little over three months now. Since we're old dogs (in our 40s), it's been a bit of a challenge to change our way of thinking about what a meal should be, and that's been harder on Jane than on me, since she prepares most of what we eat.

To date, most of the recipes Jane has tried have been more than reasonable and there have even been a few that have been outright delicious. But nothing has come close to what she made for dinner last night. We had spanakopita, greek spinach pie, and it was restaurant quality food. And I don't mean Denny's! The recipe was out of Ann Gentry's Real Food Daily Cookbook, with a slight modification, Jane didn't bother making triangles, she just layered everything in a pyrex dish and made a pie. I cannot recommend that cookbook highly enough (link below). The recipe in the book is called "Phyllo Triangles with Spinach and Tofu Cheese."

This will be the dish Jane prepares for non-vegan company. You have to get this cookbook!

Hearty Winter Fare

So, we went from brutal summer heat to winter overnight. We even had over an inch of rain (that's slightly less rain than we had all of last year!), which is highly unusual in that we normally don't have rain between April and October.

It's been like winter here. That was enough for us to break out the flannel house-pants and hearty winter recipes. Jane made a recipe called Lebanese Style Lentils with Pasta for dinner the other night. It's from the Dr. Neal Barnard Book on being a vegan. The pasta seems a little weird to me, but it all tasted yummy. It's got lentils and spinach and onions, etc. Next time, Jane said she'll skip the pasta and have a loaf of some crusty whole grain bread along with the dish.

Palak Tofu

In the past, Jane and I have truly enjoyed Indian cuisine. However, being vegan, we are a little reluctant to even try our favorite restaurants. Chicken Tikka Masala is not a vegan dish! And most of the dishes we most enjoy, even though they could be adapted with tofu, contain ghee and/or cream. Alas.

Jane recently bought The Accidental Vegan by Devra Gartenstein, and made our first vegan Indian dish, Palak Tofu.  Yum! I knew I was in for a treat when I smelled the aromatic spices as I stepped out of my car tonight.

This is another one for our rotation.

What’s Cooking?

Jane is the head of this household. So with her decision to become vegan, she took on the monumental task of re-learning how to cook. So far, she's doing pretty well. In the month that we've been "doin' the vegan thing" as she calls it, there's only been one "let's not do this again" meal. I don't recall what that was, and she tore up the recipe.

Last night we had Turkish Lentil Stew, a great big green salad, and a hunk of whole wheat french brad from Ralph's. For those not familiar with the store, Ralph's is a Southern California supermarket chain. Yeah, I know.... Ralph, food... not the best of connotations, but the market is close by, good, and surprisingly, stocks a large variety of vegan items.

Because it's just the two of us, we often have the same meal two or more nights in a row. Hey, I'm not cooking, and I'm not complaining! Besides, I often say, when it comes to food, I could be a cat, as I'm willing to eat the same meal over and over and over again.

The Turkish Lentil Stew is from Ann Gentry's Real Food Daily Cookbook. Apparently, the are a couple of Real Food Daily restaurants in and around Los Angeles. The restaurants are our list to try, but they're a little further than we normally travel. However, if the cookbook is any indication, the trip will be well worth it. When we go, I'll let you know our impressions.