Main & Hearty Meals

Veggie Chili

Prep Time: 25 minutes / Cook Time: 1 hour 20 Minutes / Total Time: 2 hours

2 medium zucchini

2 medium red onions

4 cloves garlic

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 jalapenos

¾ cup olive oil

1 ½ lbs fresh plum tomatoes

1 35 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 15.5 ounce can kidney beans

1 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans

2 Tbs chili powder

2 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 Tbs cumin seed (optional)

1 Tbs salt

Juice of one lemon

Tabasco to taste

Chop garlic, peppers, and onions. Preheat a heavy pot and add olive oil and chopped veggies and salt. Soften on medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes. While softening, add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder. Stirring occasionally. Chop zucchini and plum tomatoes and add in. Stir to mix while continuing on medium high heat for another 5-7 minutes. Open your cans of beans, drain using a fine mesh strainer, and lightly rinse. Add the beans and stir well to combine while maintaining heat. Add crushed tomatoes. Boost heat and bring to a soft boil.

Then lower heat to a slow, bubbling simmer – probably medium low heat. Simmer uncovered for 60 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice and a few shakes of Tabasco to finish before serving.

Serve extra chopped cilantro, fresh lime, avocado, chopped green onions, and sour cream for add-ins.


Beyond Chili

Prep Time: 45 mins / Cook Time: 1 hour 15 min / Total Time: 2 hours

4 or 5 dried ancho chile pods

5 ½ cups of boiling water

1 lb Beyond Beef (preferred – other vegan crumbles can substitute)

¼ cup olive oil

1 15.5 ounce can pink beans (or pinto beans)

1 15.5 ounce can black beans

1 fresh poblano chile

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

2 medium/large fresh plum tomatoes

2 medium red onions

4 cloves garlic

½ fresh squeezed lime

2 Tbs salt

2 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs cumin seed (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Be careful or wear gloves and rinse dried chiles. Strip off the hard stem, empty most of the seeds, and remove any fibrous veins. Place cleaned pods into a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Bring 5 ½ cups of water to a boil and pour over cleaned dried chile pods. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. After they rest, pour all into a blender or food processor and liquify. I use a high-speed blender, but any blender will do. Set aside.

In a heavy pot, add oil and one chopped red onion and 1 Tbs of salt. Soften the chopped onion for a couple minutes on medium high heat. Then add the Beyond Beef and break it up with a wooden spoon continuing on medium high heat until slightly browned and firm. About 5-7 minutes. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Chop garlic, peppers, and remaining onion and add to pot and soften on medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and cayenne. Stirring occasionally. Chop the plum tomatoes and add in. Continue on medium high for a couple more minutes. Open your cans of beans, drain using a fine mesh strainer, and lightly rinse. Add the beans and stir well to combine while maintaining heat.

Pour in blended chile liquid and stir. Turn up heat and bring just to a boil. Add in pre-prepped Beyond Beef and lower heat to a slow, bubbling simmer – probably medium low heat. Simmer uncovered for at least 1 hour. Stirring occasionally. Squeeze ½ lime into chili and before serving.

Don’t rush the simmer time – the chile sauce needs this cook time to deepen and mellow.

Note: If you’re not using Beyond Beef, add your pre-prepped crumbles later in simmer time. These alternatives tend to break down. For instance, if using Boca or Morning Star, add in with about 10 minutes of simmer time left to go.

Chopped cilantro, fresh lime, grated cheddar, avocado, and sour cream for add-ins.


Green & White Chili

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 45 Minutes / Total Time: 1 hour

1 ½ lbs fresh tomatillos

2 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans

1 green bell pepper

1 fresh poblano chile

2 jalapenos

1 medium red onion

3 cloves garlic

¼ olive oil

1 small can of green chiles

½ cup frozen corn

½ cup frozen shelled edamame (can substitute lima beans)

2 cups vegetable stock

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs cumin

1 tsp cumin seeds (optional)

1 tsp garlic powder

Juice of 1 fresh lime

3 Tbs of fresh chopped cilantro

Chop garlic, peppers, and onion. Preheat a heavy pot and add olive oil and chopped veggies and salt. Soften on medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes. While softening, add cumin, garlic powder, and the entire contents of your little green chile can. Stirring occasionally.

Peel off the husks, wash, and chop the tomatillos and add in. Stir to mix while continuing on medium high heat. Open your cans of beans, drain using a fine mesh strainer, and lightly rinse. Add the beans, corn, and edamame and stir well to combine while maintaining heat.

Pour in vegetable stock and stir. Turn up heat and bring just to a boil. Then lower heat to a slow, bubbling simmer – probably medium low heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally. The tomatillos will break down toward the end of the simmer time and the chili will thicken. Stir in lime juice and chopped cilantro to finish before serving.

Serve extra chopped cilantro, fresh lime, avocado, and sour cream for add-ins.


Butter Bean & Potato Stew

This hearty, warm bowl of lovin’ will get you through the coldest night. It’s like if a baked potato was soup and it had the sweetness of red bell peppers bursting through with every bite. Dollop some sour cream on top and sprinkle with chopped fresh green onions and you’ll make it magical.

I’m not very good at rehydrating large beans. Well, that’s not true, I can do it, but I choose not to…I end up with a bunch of bean skin. If your end product is going to be lima bean hummus or something, go ahead and rehydrate from dry, but for something like this, I use canned…meaty beans, less fuss.

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 35-45 Minutes / Total Time: 1 hour

1 large can (1lb 3oz) or 2 small cans butter beans, drained well

2 large red bell peppers

2 medium russet potatoes (not the big baking ones – the cheap ones in the 5lb bag)

2 stalks celery

1 red onion

3 cloves garlic

2 cups vegetable stock
3 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp tarragon

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

Plant-based sour cream, fresh green onion or chives, cheddar shreds, for serving

Chop the peppers, onion, and celery a common size…about butter bean size. In a large pot or Dutch oven soften the veggies on medium heat with the olive oil and about half the salt. Mince the garlic and add to the pot along with the red pepper flakes, tarragon, and black pepper. Stir. About 5 minutes

In the meantime, clean and peel the potatoes, cut these into about a ¾” square dice. The easiest way to do this is to slice them in half lengthwise, slice those halves into thirds then into ¾” squares. Boost the heat under the pot to medium high and add the potatoes – stir to mix.

You’re going to pay attention to this pot now because you want the potatoes to get nicely coated and well heated on the surface, so you’re going to stand over it and flip it around every once in a while, to avoid too much sticking. If the liquid from the sweating veggies begins to dissipate too rapidly, lower the heat a little. About 10 minutes.

Now add the vegetable stock, stir and scrape any of the goodness off the bottom of the pot. Things should be moving fairly freely now. Keep your flame on medium high and let this come just to a boil.

Add the drained butter beans and the rest of the salt and stir. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and let this gently simmer for about 15 minutes. The potatoes should be fork tender and it should be a stew or thick soup consistency. If it’s too thin, keep simmering uncovered…too thick? Add a little more stock.

Serve with a spoonful of plant-based sour cream, cheddar shreds, some chopped fresh chives or green onion, and maybe a big slice of crusty bread.


Farro Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Pecans

Prep time: 30 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes / Total Time: 1.5 hours

Dressing (prep in a mason jar, cover and shake, let sit for a while while you chop):

1/3 cup Olive Oil

2/3 cup Sherry Vinegar (I’m not a huge fan of oily vinaigrettes)

1 teaspoon each – Tarragon, Thyme, Basil, Ground White Pepper, dry mustard

2 tablespoons Kosher Salt and a couple twists of black pepper

Juice from 1/2 a lemon


1 cup of cooked Farro, cooled & drained well

1 lb of cleaned Brussels sprouts, shaved into a thin slaw

5 carrots, small dice or grated

1 lb of cherry/grape tomatoes – slice half, keep half whole

3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

Make the dressing and cook the farro.

Chop your onion and peeled carrots, slice your Brussels sprouts in half first, then slice thin vertically but at a slight angle. Toast some chopped pecans in a small pan on medium heat – watching carefully and tossing frequently – probs about 4-5 minutes. Be careful!! Pecans burn in an instant and remember to take them off a little earlier than you think because they’ll continue cooking with the residual heat. Chop the pecan and mix all these dry veggies together and let them hang out for a while in a big bowl.

Is your farro drained and cool? Add and mix that in and halve half of your tomatoes and toss. Is it all nicely mixed? Add the dressing and toss again lightly. Serve at room temperature.


Sloppy Vegan Joes

As a meat eater I used to make Sloppy Joes from scratch…it’s pretty easy, cheap, and delicious. I’ve been known to buy some frozen ‘crumbles’ and a can of Manwich (it’s vegan) but this is real food made with love, not grocery store convenience, and it’s noticeable in taste and nutrition!

A few years back I was working from home and watching “The Chew” and Michael Symon (his wife mostly eats plant-based) shared this recipe and I scratched it down on an index card. Now cancelled, the show’s website is also gone too so I had to work off my scanty notes, but here’s a pretty good recreation.

2 medium eggplant

2 10oz packages of Cremini/Baby Bella (or button if you must) mushrooms

1 medium onion

4 cloves garlic

1 green bell pepper

1 28oz can chunky tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

¼ cup grape seed oil

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

2 Tbs tomato paste

2 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tbs each Kosher salt, chili powder, sweet paprika

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs vegan Worchester

2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes

Dash of liquid smoke


Chop and prep all veggies in a sugar cube sized dice. In a large heavy pot preheated to medium high, sauté the onion and garlic with the grapeseed oil until translucent. Add half the diced eggplant and stir to coat, then add half the mushrooms. Brown on medium high heat, stirring regularly for about 3-4 minutes. Add the other half eggplant, stir to mix. Then add the rest of the chopped mushrooms. Brown all on medium high heat, stirring regularly for about 3-4 minutes. This step is all about moisture and texture management. (Eggplant is like a sponge and mushrooms are about 90% water…I find they marry well with this little culinary dance)

Add the bell pepper and spices, mix and brown – about another 3-4 minutes

Turn up the heat and add the tomato paste, brown sugar, Worchester, and vinegar – stir and brown – about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the dash of liquid smoke (be careful! It’s potent stuff) and stir well. Bring to a heavy simmer and turn the heat back down to a slow simmer for 25 minutes covered – stirring often. Uncover, add the maple syrup, and simmer for another 15-30 minutes, stirring from the bottom often until you reach your desired Sloppy Joe consistency. Taste, adjust, and serve.

Invite friends over! This make a ton! About 12-18 sandwiches


Vegan Risotto

Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook time: about 45 minutes/Total Time: 1 hour

I’ve been making risotto for almost 30 years and my first attempt was a crunchy miserable mess. Then I found Craig Claiborne’s simple basic recipe in the New York Times. It’s great because no matter what “kind” of risotto you want to make you can use this as your base and fold in the other ingredients at the end of the rice’s cook time.

Note: Please use a decent quality short-grain Arborio rice. Even in full-fat dairy versions, the creaminess of risotto comes from the starch of a perfectly cooked grain, not from the butter, cream, or cheese.

Veganization: Instead of butter I use olive oil at the beginning and Earth Balance to finish. I choose to not replace the Parmesan cheese, but you can add ¾ cup of plant-based parm at the end…fold it in with the Earth Balance. Of course, vegetable stock replaces chicken stock.

(Recipe based on The New York Times Cookbook, Revised Edition; Harper & Row, 1990; pps 536-7)


2 cups short-grain Arborio rice

5 cups Vegetable stock (I usually use a 4 cup box and add a cup of water)

4 Tbs Olive Oil

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

½ cup dry white wine

1Tbs Kosher Salt

1 tsp dried thyme

½ tsp white pepper

to finish:

1 pinch saffron treads

4 Tbs Earth Balance or other vegan butter


In a medium sauce pan heat the stock to just below simmering. Keep hot and close at very low heat.

In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook until soft. Add the rice, thyme, and pepper. Stir well to coat and mix and continue cooking for about a minute or two to toast the aromatics and brown the rice bran. Boost the heat and pour in the wine – stir quickly to release any stuck bits on the bottom of the pot and lower the heat to medium to medium low. At this point the wine should be about gone.

Next, ladle 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice (Fun Fact: Most kitchen ladles are ½ cup), and stir to combine. Adjust the heat to a slow simmer. The rice should be absorbing the stock slowly and you should be stirring it gently. The 1st cup of stock should absorb pretty quick and you’ll see the starches thicken up. This is when you add another cup (2 ladles) of hot stock and stir to mix. This time the stock should absorb a little slower. You do not need to stir constantly, but I wouldn’t leave the kitchen. Make yourself a cocktail or empty the dishwasher. It’s important to remember that you’re cooking rice, but slowly, a little bit of liquid at a time, and with the lid off. Repeat adding the warm broth when needed, gently stirring, waiting a little and stirring a little.

About 30 minutes after you added your first cup of stock, you should be adding your last. (Slow cook time, plus the heated stock, plus the upfront toasting, helps break down the bran of Arborio rice into creamy starchy goodness.)

Once you add the last of your stock, keep the flame steady at medium heat, and stir well. Add the vegan butter and crush and add the saffron threads and fold in. Turn heat off and cover. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adding in ingredients like mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, vegan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, herbs, or any combination should be cooked separately and folded in at the end or served on top or at the side.

In the summer, I’ll lighten this recipe up with fresh lemon juice, herbs, and seasonal steamed or grilled veggies…in the winter I’ll keep it warm and rich with mushrooms, nuts, hearty greens, and finish it with port.


Makes 4-6 servings



Basic Tomato Sauce

Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook time: 90 minutes/Total Time: 2 hours

One of the reasons I started this blog was for my kids. As daring, industrious young adults (mostly vegan and nearly vegan), they wanted a lot of my recipes of the food they grew up on to cook for themselves. They always loved my tomato sauce and I’ve always given them a quick, “Oh, it’s easy, take this and this and cook it together for a while.” When visiting me though, they claimed that it never quite tasted the same, so we cooked this Basic Tomato Sauce together. What I discovered is that “basic” is a qualifier for the sauce, not the skills and timing needed to produce a hearty and rich tomato sauce.

My kids were pretty much looking at the list, dumping the ingredients in a pot, and simmering it for about 30 minutes. While I’m a big believer in “If you use good ingredients, you’ll get a good product,” any recipe is a little more than simply the sum of its parts – I needed to refine my kid’s technique a little bit. See the notes below for hints!

2 28 oz cans of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (see notes below)

1 28 oz can of tomato puree

¼ cup of high-heat and olive oil mix

1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed, large pieces

1 ½ cups red wine (or white wine or beer – see notes)

1 ½ Tbs of Italian Seasoning (mixed herbs only, no salt),


(1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp dried basil)

2 Tbs Kosher salt

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbs fennel seed

1 Tbs Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

4 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar – split

Handful of chopped fresh basil, oregano, and parsley (optional)

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Start with a hot pot. Preheat a 5-7 quart Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot on the stovetop. Add the high-heat oil and olive oil mix and then add the garlic and onions and sauté on medium heat until they get translucent. Toward the end of the sauté time, add all the herbs and 2 Tbs of the balsamic vinegar, cook with the o & g the last couple minutes.

When the onions, garlic, and herbs are soft, boost the heat and stir. As soon as it’s starting to get nice and hot, hit it with the wine and then lower the heat back down to medium and stir from the bottom to release any caramelization from the pan. This is when I open my cans…so let this simmer down for a couple minutes.

Add the tomato sauces first and stir until mixed. Then turn up the heat to medium high to get this simmering again. Once combined, stir in the puree, keep the heat on medium high and stir and bring back up to a simmer. This is when I usually add a little wine to each of the empty cans and swirl them around a bit, pour that into the pot too.

Adjust the heat and bring the sauce up to a slow bubbly simmer while stirring occasionally. At this point, everything should be smoothly combined, nothing stuck on the sides or bottom of the pot…kinda scrape the sides down and tuck it in by partially covering the pot.

Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour.

Turn off heat.

Stir in the rest of the balsamic and 2 Tbs of olive oil and the optional chopped fresh herbs. Cover completely and let rest for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust before serving.

Makes about  10 cups (2 batches)

Recipe notes:

Tomato Sauces – I use mid-quality/priced tomato sauces for this recipe, you can go more expensive, but I wouldn’t go cheaper. You can also adjust the texture of this sauce by substituting your tomato mix, smooth v chunky tomato sauce, the crushed tomatoes option will make the final product a little thinner and lighter, etc.

Wine – Be flexible, generally, I like a cheap Italian red wine for this, but something drinkable. If I’m making a lighter sauce I’ll use white wine, if I’m making something like ‘beef’-a-roni, I’ll even use a beer. If you want to eliminate the alcohol altogether, double the vinegar. You still want that acid.

Good luck and enjoy!

Kidney Bean Meatballs

OK. So I’m probably getting an eye roll from my grandmother from her heavenly kitchen in the sky, but when I started eating vegan I missed my homemade spaghetti and meatballs! Sure, you can buy frozen plant-based balls from your grocery’s deep freeze, but those are made to taste like frozen store-bought ground meat meatballs … kinda weird with an odd rubbery texture. One of the joys I take away from cooking and experimenting with plant-based recipes is avoiding highly-processed foods, and nothing screams “processed” more than a store-bought frozen vegan meatball. So make ’em yourself! They’re cheap and easy, they hold up nicely in a sandwich or on top of a big bowl of pasta, and are packed with protein, flavor, and texture.

Vegan eggs. This recipe calls for a couple vegan eggs. In it I use a flax egg…pretty simple…add a little warm water to ground flax seeds and let that protein firm up. You’ll also see i’m keeping in a little of the “Aquafaba” (bean water) from the canned beans. You’re welcome to use other egg substitutes such as “Just Egg”, chia seed, “VeganEgg”, but this one worked right for this application. Essentially you’re looking for some binding properties.

Marinated cashews. I roughly hand crush some raw cashews and marinate them in a 2018-10-14 11.52.46couple teaspoons of high-heat oil (like grape seed) with a dash of rice vinegar, liquid smoke, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper. Let it sit for a couple hours at room temperature. I used these for the texture and for something to carry the smokey flavor rather than just mixing it throughout.

Kidney Bean Meatballs

½ cup chopped raw cashews, marinate (see above)

2 15 oz cans dark red kidney beans, partially drained, lightly rinsed, and slightly fork-mashed

2 cups of whole wheat dairy-free bread crumbs

1/3 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1 or 2 small cherry (or other hot) peppers

2 Flax eggs (1 Tbs finely ground flax seed and 2.5 Tbs of warm water, stir and let sit 5 mins before adding to recipe)

1/2 cup vegan parmesan

Chopped fresh parsley and basil – about 1/4 each

Dried spices – fennel seed, oregano, garlic, and onion powder

2018-10-14 12.57.27Roll into balls. Place about 2” apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake on 400 degrees for about 30 mins. Makes about 12 large balls.

Make sure they have a little crust on the outside and are cooked & warm throughout…just taste one! You’ll have plenty for pasta, sandwiches and, my favorite, pizza topping!

Buon Appetito!