Friday, September 16, 2011

10 Easy Vegan Meal Ideas

Today I wanted to interrupt the flow of my schooling posts to offer 10 easy vegan meal ideas made with few ingredients and minimal effort.  Since I'm living away from home for a month, and I have access to a kitchen (happily!), I don't have any spices or seasonings or any of that good stuff like I do in my kitchen back home.  Obviously I'm not about to go buy a big stock of pantry staples, so my meals have been very simple, made from only a handful of ingredients, most of them garden-fresh.

Oh, and I have no measuring tools, so everything is done "wing-it" style.  Woo hoo!

First of all, let's look at the few pantry items I did purchase, which should last me the month:

Must-have Mains:

-Bread (frozen because I go through it so slow)
-Almond butter
-Brown rice (from Vida Vegan Con)
-Noodles
-Nori (seaweed for sushi)
-Almonds
-Sunflower seeds


Condiments:

-Tamari/soy sauce
-Rice vinegar
-Asian chili sauce
-Hummus
-Miso
-Ketchup
-Sweetener
-Kimchi (Korean sauerkraut)
-Olive oil
-Celtic sea salt


It's fairly clear that my ingredients have some semblance of a theme - I stuck to simple Asian seasonings (tamari, miso, rice vinegar, etc) because it would be impossible to obtain enough seasonings to make Mexican food one day, Indian the next, and so on.  So I picked Asian and rolled with it.

Ketchup doesn't really fit the theme, but I love the stuff so I got it anyway.  And I have all of the ingredients to make up some veggie burgers, which ketchup shall go nicely with.  Also potatoes.  Ketchup and potatoes are BFF.

I also want to mention that while my kitchen is not stocked, it does have a few handy appliances - namely, a stove and a cheap blender.  So if you have those two things, then you'll be good to go.

Now with all that in mind, along with some fresh goodies from the farmers market (and vegan sausages...I wanted a treat), here are some easy meals I threw together.

#1: Sausage and Avocado Sandwiches


What do you do when you have bread, vegan sausage and perfectly ripe avocados?  Make toasted sandwiches, of course.  Hummus and ketchup found their way into this, and it was quite heavenly.  It would have been nice with mustard, but there's no way I could get through a whole jar of it in a month.  

#2: Vegetable Broth


Veggie broth is so, so easy to make from scratch, but I always forget that.  When you're low on ingredients, it's as easy as buying onions, carrots, celery and herbs from the farmers market, roughly chopping them and throwing them in a pot with water to cover.  After letting it simmer a good hour, strain the veggie goodness and chuck the pulp, or compost it if you're cool.  Then salt it up to your taste!

Mmm, I could drink this stuff straight-up, but it was also good with some kimchi stirred in.  So much more nutritious than bouillon cubes, and so much more nourishing.

#3: Sausage Soup


When you have vegan sausage and vegetable broth in your kitchen, the natural thing to do is to pair the two.  I made a single-serving portion by frying up some sausage, softening some kale (more on that below), and heating up some of that awesome broth.

#4: Veggie Soup, Kale Salad and Bread with Hummus


A meal fit for kings and queens!  With all of that extra broth, I whipped up a batch of soup which used random veggies like sweet potato, broccoli and red bell pepper, along with some red lentils to add yumminess and thicken the broth.  Of course I had to toss some sausage in there, too!  And over on the right hand side of the plate is kimchi, hanging out and adding a nice tangy bite when I wanted it.

#5: Miso Soup, Kale Salad and More Hummus


I like having miso in the fridge, because I like drinking it as soup and also using it as a condiment for other things, since it has such a nice sweet-salty flavor.  And some more hummus bread, this time with fresh tomato slices - I could eat that by itself!

For the kale salad, it's really as simple as shredding some kale and tossing it with some salt, lemon juice, a pinch of sweetener and some avocado.  What made it amazing for me was the addition of the Asian chili sauce that I purchased (and will never get through in a month, despite my efforts).  Get your hands in there and massage it so that the leaves soften and it gets all delicious.  I could eat kale salad every day, for real.

#6: Swiss Chard


Kale's not the only green in my life, however.  How can I resist a gorgeous, organic, full-bodied bundle of swiss chard?  After eating some heavier food samples during the day in school, all I really wanted was a big bowl of something green and this hit the spot.  Sauteed with garlic, I completed the dish with some lemon juice and a pinch of salt and sweetener.

#7: Sushi


I couldn't buy all that nori and then not make sushi.  In fact, sushi was what I was craving as soon as I arrived in Fort Bragg, and was the first thing I made.  I filled my first batch with brown rice and veggies, and this second batch was made with sprouts and shredded kale.  Dunked in a little tamari and with a side of ginger, it made a yummy meal the first time, second time, and third time.  I have about 1 more batch worth of nori left - maybe I'll make it happen this weekend.

#8: Stir-Fry


I love me a stir-fry, and I made sure I had all the ingredients for a good Asian sauce - almond butter, tamari, lemon juice, sweetener, garlic and chili sauce - and lots of veggies to go on top.  And noodles, of course.  There's even some tofu cubes in there, which were just marinated and then tossed with all of the veggies in the fry pan.  What makes it beautiful is the sunflower sprouts, which I found at the farmers market.  P.S. The farmers market here rocks.

#9: Pesto Pasta



Pesto!  Seriously, pesto!  Finding nice basil in Saskatchewan is a mission in itself, but here in California, it's everywhere and it's cheap.  So I had to make pesto.  And it's really as simple as blending a bunch of basil with olive oil, salt, garlic and lemon juice.  With fresh heirloom tomatoes served with the pasta, it was a perfect supper.

#10 - Pesto Toast


I had a bunch of leftover pesto, so I decided to use it like a condiment and enjoyed it on toast.  This was breakfast one morning, and was totally satisfying.  The school feeds us hearty smoothies every morning, but that day I just felt like something extra.

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All the meals I mentioned are so easy that you can make them with a bare fridge and no measuring spoons.  As long as you have a fairly good idea of what tastes good and what doesn't (be careful when adding fresh garlic to pesto, for example), this is all pretty foolproof.

Toward the end of the month, I plan on doing another post like this, since there are many more simple meals in my future.

What simple meals can you whip up from your head, with minimal effort?

4 comments:

  1. I love making Vegan Alfredo pasta. It takes minutes to blend up the sauce and then I just toss it with hot pasta on the stove for a minute or two and presto - one of my favourite meals is ready in no time!

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  2. Ahh, that sounds like an awesome idea! For some strange reason, I don't think I've ever attempted to make a vegan alfredo, which is kind of weird because I loved alfredo as a kid. When I get back to my kitchen I'll be playing with that!

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  3. Chickpeas + whatever. Best meal of all time; can't remember if we made it while you were here, though? Crush chickpeas with a fork to make a paste, stir in minced veggies (whatever's available) and a bit of some kind of dressing, or just olive oil and some salt & pepper, then serve on toast. Winning.

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  4. We DEFINITELY ate that when we were there - it's not something I would easily forget. I'm glad you mentioned that, I have a bunch of chickpeas at home waiting for my return...

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