Spanakorizo with white beans (4 servings)

If you're trying to cook plant-based meals more often, Robin Robertson's One-Dish Vegan is an excellent resource. Filled with easy, creative, and filling recipes, it provides a variety of animal-free ideas that won't bust your budget or use up an entire evening in the kitchen. The recipe below comes from the book, and I already can't wait to make it again. The starchy rice and creamy beans work together to make a surprisingly silky, substantial dish, and the flavors of lemon, dill, and oregano brighten things up. Enjoy this Greek-inspired recipe tonight!

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups dry long-grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (use a gluten-free broth to make this Celiac-friendly)
  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach (thick stems removed)
  • 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill

Steps: 

  1. Add the oil, rice, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper, nutmeg, and broth to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high until the mixture boils; reduce to low, cover, and simmer 25 minutes.
  2. After 25 minutes, stir in the spinach and beans; continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Fold in the mint, lemon zest, and dill; allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Savory slow-cooked beans (8+ servings)

Happy Easter, readers! I've risen from obscurity to bring you another delicious vegetarian recipe.

If you have a slow cooker, you know it's a magical thing. You just load in the ingredients, set the time and temperature, and go about your day, returning to find a delicious, flavorful meal hours later. Although I tend to immediately think of soups and chilis when I want to use my slow cooker, I've found that beans are another easy go-to option for my Crockpot. This recipe can be customized in infinite ways, and the tender, savory beans can then be used in many different recipes or served as is. These beans freeze beautifully and reheat nicely, too.

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

Basic requirements

  • 1 lb dry black beans, pinto beans, or other similarly-sized beans, picked through for debris
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 jar (15-16 oz) salsa, any variety
  • 1 tsp salt

Optional flavor boosters:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • a palmful of dried herbs and/or spices: oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, chipotle powder, paprika, etc.
  • liquid smoke
  • hot sauce
  • chopped onion, carrot, celery, and/or potato
  • minced garlic
  • halved olives
  • tomato paste
  • olive oil

Secret final ingredient (after beans are cooked):

  • a splash of lime juice

Steps:

  1. Place the four basic ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Add in as many ingredients as you like from the "optional flavor boosters" above, customizing add-ins to your own taste. (I love smoky beans, so I almost always add smoked paprika and liquid smoke. I love the richness a glug of olive oil adds, and if I use an onion, I usually keep it in big pieces to avoid overpowering the beans' flavor.)
  3. Give everything a stir and set the slow cooker for 9 hours on low.
  4. At the end of the cooking time, add in the lime juice. If you want to add a handful of chopped fresh herbs (cilantro is especially nice), do that now, too.
  5. Serve the beans in any way you like! (See some options below.) If you're serving them as-is, you might want to add some more salt. If you're using the beans as part of another recipe, you probably don't need more salt.

These beans can be used in a huge variety of ways. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make burrito bowls (as in the last picture above) by serving the beans on top of brown rice with roasted corn, chopped avocado, and any toppings you like (sour cream, cheese, green onions, cilantro, etc.).
  • Serve them alongside scrambled eggs, more salsa, and tortillas for a savory breakfast or brunch dish.
  • Blend them into soup for a light and quick meal.
  • Fold them into enchiladas.
  • Add them to your favorite chili recipe.
  • Use them in a potluck salad.
  • Make a spicy casserole.
  • Turn them into tacos.

If you don't like spicy heat, you could make these with a mild salsa or even substitute a can of crushed tomatoes for the salsa. At less than $1.00 a serving, you can't beat the ease and convenience of this recipe.

Cranpearry sauced punch

Just in time for the holidays -- here's a delicious cocktail! Our guests enjoyed these on Thanksgiving, but they're perfect for any festive gathering this time of year. (And thanks again to Chris for the name! I owe you one of these!)

For each serving, you will need:

Steps:

  1. Add the vodka, brandy, and cranberry juice cocktail to a shaker and mix.
  2. Pour over ice, top with ginger ale if desired, and add an orange wedge and cloves.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving side dishes roundup

Thanksgiving is only a week away, and if you're still looking for some tasty, meat-free side dishes, I've got you covered, friends. Below is a collection of some of my favorite side dishes, just in time for the holidays. It just so happens that all are gluten-free, unless otherwise noted!

Vegan

Vegetarian

Won't you give thanks by liking the MainlyVeggie Facebook page?

Spanakopita stuffed potatoes (4 servings)

Spanakopita, much like my last name, isn't as difficult to pronounce as it would seem at first glance. Pronounced "span-uh-co-pih-tuh," this flaky Greek pastry is stuffed with cheese, onions, and spinach, a heavenly combination. In this Eating Well remix, the pastry's stuffing gets cozy with the fluffy insides of a crisply-baked potato. Melty feta and creamy potatoes? This girl couldn't get much happier.

I halved the original recipe since I needed only four servings, and I swapped onion powder for the chopped onion to mollify my drama-bent insides. I also didn't reduce the oven temperature for the second round of baking, since I like my feta extra golden, but if your oven runs hot, you might want to. The only drawback of this recipe is budgeting enough time to bake the potatoes, allow them to cool, and then bake them again. When this girl wants potatoes, she wants them NOW!

I like to imagine Tina Belcher pronouncing it "spanakopit-uhhhhhh."

Click here for a printable recipe!

You will need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (8-10 oz each), scrubbed
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups chopped spinach or other greens (thawed and drained thoroughly if frozen)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder (preferably toasted onion powder, if you can find it)
  • 3 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat over to 400°F.
  2. Use a fork to pierce each potato several times. When oven is up to temperature, place the potatoes directly on the center rack and bake until tender. (This could be anywhere from 50-75 minutes. Spuds can be unpredictable.)
  3. While the potatoes bake, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach/greens and garlic to the pan. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the greens cook down and get soft. Add in the oregano and onion powder and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  4. Once the potatoes can be easily pieced with a knife, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Keep the oven on.
  5. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle with an oven mitt, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop the insides out into a bowl, leaving a bit of flesh on the skins so they hold their shape. Place the empty skins in a baking dish and set aside for now.
  6. To the bowl of fluffy potato insides, add the ricotta, the feta, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and mash until the potatoes are relatively smooth. (I did fine with a wooden spoon.) Fold in the cooked greens.
  7. Stuff each potato half with a quarter of the spinach-potato-feta filling. (Don't be surprised when your potatoes are stuffed full enough to threaten toppling over!) Return the stuffed potato halves to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the feta is golden brown on top.

Pair these with a crisped-up Field Roast sausage or a side of meatless meatballs and you're good to go!

Quinoa, kale, and parsley salad with lentils, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts (4 servings)

Wait. Wait a second. Was the Vegan Month of Food (affectionately known as Vegan MoFo) always in September? I thought it was October! I swear it was always October. It doesn't matter much either way, seeing as I totally forgot about it until a couple days ago. Two out-of-state weddings plus a new job have made the last six weeks very, very busy for this humble food blogger. But it's great to be back, whether this is the vegans' month for celebrating or not!

I'm not vegan myself, but I do cook vegan meals anywhere from two to five times a week and I'm always searching for new recipes to test out. When I saw this audaciously-hued salad on Kale Me Maybe last week, I knew I had to have it. The ruby red and emerald green colors sold me first, but then I read the list of show-stopping superfoods and was absolutely convinced I had to prioritize this one. What's not to like?

I kept all of Carina's original ingredients but doubled the recipe, although I changed up some of the ingredients' proportions. I tend to like my salads dressed lightly, so I used a lot less dressing than the original recipe suggested. Of course, it's all up to personal preference! If you're a fan of tangy-sweet flavor combinations and chewy-crunchy texture pairings, you will not be disappointed by this one -- I promise!

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dry brown lentils
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon

Steps:

  1. In separate saucepans, cook the quinoa and lentils in broth or water, according to package directions. Be sure to not overcook either. Once they're each just tender (my quinoa took about 20 minutes and the lentils took 40), set them aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, rinse, de-stem, and dry the kale and parsley. Measure out 2 cups of kale and 1 cup of parsley leaves and place them in a large serving bowl. Use a pair of kitchen shears to finely mince both the kale and parsley. 
  3. Once the quinoa has cooled, toss it with the kale and parsley. Then, add in the lentils, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, oil, and lemon juice, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature as a main dish or side.

Spotted Dog-style vegan BBQ sandwich with vegan coleslaw (3-4 servings)

Today's recipe is a special reader request! Joe, this one is for you and your daughter!

The Spotted Dog is one of my favorite places in Carrboro. With a menu chock-full of both plant-based and meat-based dishes, there's something for everyone. However, it's probably most famous for its creative vegetarian dishes (plus the fact that it's housed inside a funky, triangle-shaped building!) that range from spicy, Mexican-themed favorites like flautas and pozole verde to "veggified" versions of American classics like a crabcake sandwich and chili dog. But my favorite Spotted Dog dish falls into the latter category: the veggie BBQ sandwich. The soy-based "meat" is smothered in vinegary sauce, giving it the perfect balance of smoky and sweet, and topped with a generous heap of rich, deliciously messy coleslaw. 

I've been eating this sandwich on a fairly regular basis for a couple years now but never really thought to try to replicate it until a local reader emailed me to ask if I had ever tried. Now I'll admit: I am neither a native Southerner nor a meat-eater, so I have no idea how close this comes to authentic Eastern Carolina barbecue. But I can tell you it's damn delicious, and it's very close to the restaurant's version. The chewy, tangy, sticky-sweet barbecue has just enough of a kick to grab your attention, while the creamy, crunchy (and totally dairy-free) coleslaw takes the flavor to the next level. Put it all on a soft, sesame-laden bun, and what's not to love?

This time around, I didn't make my own barbecue sauce. If you're lucky enough to be able to find a vegan sauce, go for it! (Here's a list!) However, if you have a homemade sauce you love, go ahead and use that too! This one is pretty flexible.

Click here for a printable version.

You will need:

Barbecue

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) cubes or granules (which can be found in most health food stores, in well-stocked grocery stores, or online)
  • Liquid smoke flavoring (optional but recommended)
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup vegan barbecue sauce (Trader Joe's Carolina Gold BBQ sauce contains no dairy or meat flavorings)
  • Dairy-free rolls

Coleslaw

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free, egg-free mayo (Check out a list of brands here; some low-fat mainstream varieties are vegan even though the label might not advertise it! Just read the ingredients list carefully.)
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups shredded coleslaw mix (green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots)

Steps:

  1. Mix all coleslaw ingredients (except for the cabbage/carrots) in a medium bowl until smooth.
  2. Next, toss the shredded cabbage and carrots in the mayo mixture until everything is evenly mixed.
  3. Cover and chill the coleslaw for at least 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, place the TVP in another bowl. Mix a few drops of liquid smoke into the broth; pour the hot broth over the TVP and stir gently to combine. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes or so, or until the broth is absorbed.
  5. While the TVP is setting up, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the broth is absorbed into the TVP, take about a third of the mixture (no need to measure exactly) and add it to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the TVP are golden brown and slightly caramelized. This will give the barbecue mixture a bit of texture and added depth of flavor.
  6. Once that portion of TVP is crisped up, add it back to the rest of the mixture. Starting with just 1/3 of a cup, pour the barbecue sauce over the TVP and stir to combine. Add more sauce if needed, but don't add so much that it drowns in the TVP. Different brands of sauce are different thicknesses, so you could need as much as a 1/2 cup to coat the mixture.
  7. Retrieve the coleslaw from the fridge. Place about 1/2 cup of the barbecue on a roll, topped with a generous scoop of the coleslaw. Repeat for remaining servings. Serve immediately.

If you love the Spotted Dog as much as I do, vote for it as your favorite place for vegetarians on Chapelboro.com! Voting closes August 26th. 

Moroccan four-bean salad (6-7 servings as a main dish)

Can we just  get a #Sundaysalads trend going already? I'm sure I can't be the only one who preps a make-ahead recipe on Sunday afternoon to eat throughout the week.

Today's offering comes from the May/June issue of Eating Well with a few changes to make this dish even easier. I added a pop of color by throwing in a handful of thawed green beans from the freezer, and I saved myself the hassle of chopping carrots by using shredded carrots from the grocery store's salad bar. I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and rather than chopping up the fresh herbs, I blended them with the oil and lemon juice to make a velvety, viridescent-speckled vinaigrette. (Plus, doing this keeps the mint leaves from turning brown.) I also decreased the oil, as I've found most bean salad recipes too greasy for my taste. Some of the Moroccan-inspired ingredients may seem a bit strange, but they all work together to make an intriguing, exotic flavor combination that will make eaters think, "Oooh, what is that?" And I can imagine that once the flavors have a chance to get to know each other in the fridge overnight, they'll taste even better than they did just after meeting!

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

Salad

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 2 15-oz cans beans (I used dark red kidney beans and black eyed peas), rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 1 cup chopped green beans (feel free to thaw them from a freezer-aisle bag)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot

Vinaigrette 

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (If you can find roasted garlic powder, it really pumps up the flavor)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cumin

Steps:

  1. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Starting with the parsley and mint leaves, place all vinaigrette ingredients in a wide-mouthed mason jar or the bowl of a food processor. If using a jar, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients until smooth; otherwise, blend the vinaigrette in a food processor. Once the vinaigrette is smooth, pour it over the salad ingredients and toss gently. Taste to see if more salt is needed. (I needed more because all three cans of beans were sodium-free.) Serve cold or at room temperature.

So to sum up, this recipe doesn't require any heat for cooking, it's super quick to make, it's vegan, and it's gluten-free. I can't think of a better #Sundaysalad or potluck dish!