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Chana Masala

A relatively simple Indian dish for when you don’t have a lot of time to spend making dinner. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
2 15 ounce cans of rinsed and drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 28 ounce can tomato puree
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegan margarine
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Sauté onions for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent over medium heat. Add garlic and spices. Stir and cook 30 seconds stirring constantly.

Add tomato puree, vegetable broth, chickpeas, lemon juice, and margarine. Mix well. Cover and cook for at least 15 minutes stirring occasionally. You can also cook it a little longer to get better blending of flavors.

Serve over rice.

Pictured: Chana Masala (left) and Creamy Red Lentil Dal (right) with naan.


  • Use fresh tomatoes, instead of tomato puree (you’ll need to increase the cooking time to thicken).
  • Serve with naan, instead of (or in addition to) the rice.
  • Experiment with adding a few additional vegetables.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free and low-sodium

More information for Chana Masala recipe:

  • Prep time: 15 min
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Total time: 35 min

Creamy Red Lentil Dal

This is a creamy variation of a more traditional red lentil dal that is great comfort food on a cold evening. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cardamom
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
cayenne pepper or chopped hot peppers to taste

Pick through the lentils to make sure that there aren’t any lentil shaped stones that crept in during harvesting. Rinse the lentils in cold water and set aside in a strainer.

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent to golden and soft. Add garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin. Sauté for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils and remaining ingredients, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Serve over rice.

Pictured: Red Lentil Dal (center) with Chana Masala (upper left) and Indian Spiced Cauliflower (upper right)


  • Serve with naan instead of (or in addition to) the rice.
  • You can use an immersion blender to make this even creamier.
  • Can be easily made low-sodium and gluten-free.

More information for Creamy Red Lentil Dal recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 50 min
  • Total time: 60 min

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This is one of my favorite potluck foods to bring when I know I won’t have many vegan choices, since it seems more like a real meal than a salad. Makes 8-10 servings.

Quinoa Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups water

Vegetable Ingredients

2/3 cup finely chopped sun dried tomato
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced
3/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Marinade Ingredients

1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
1 – 2 cloves minced garlic
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly ground coriander, to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaf
1/3 of a minced medium red onion

Rinse the quinoa, then dry roast until you smell a nutty aroma while you boil the water in another pot. Add the boiling water to the quinoa, turn the flame down to a low simmer and place the lid on the pot. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for an additional 5 minutes with the lid on. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Combine ingredients for the marinade, pour over cooled quinoa and stir to mix. Add sun dried tomatoes, olives and pine nuts. Stir again. Cover and refrigerate 2-6 hours or more.

Before serving, cover the top with sliced cherry tomatoes.


  • Add other chopped vegetables for variety.
  • Use half white and half red quinoa for a more colorful salad.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.
  • Omit the olives for a low-sodium version.

More information for Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe:

  • Prep time: 15 min
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Total time: 45 min

Pasta with Fresh Veggies

This is a great summer meal when the fresh veggies are plentiful and the tomatoes are ripe and delicious. The only caveat is that this really isn’t a traditional “sauce”, but more of a vegetable topping for pasta, so you might want to encourage people add a little olive oil to taste at the table. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

1/2 pound cooked pasta (any variety)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
8 sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon wine
1 small sliced zucchini
1 sliced summer squash
1 chopped roma tomato
1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
salt, freshly ground black pepper or other spices to taste

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and wine. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until mushrooms start to soften.

Add zucchini and summer squash. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until vegetables have softened.

Add tomato, spinach, basil, salt and pepper. Add water, vegetable broth or a little more oil if it seems too dry. Cook for at least 3 to 4 minutes, but you can cook a little longer if needed.


  • Add sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, pine nuts and / or artichoke hearts.
  • Experiment with other vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and bell pepper.
  • Make a smoky version with grilled zucchini and summer squash, but reduce the sautéing step to 1 minute, since they are already cooked
  • Add 1 8 ounce can tomato paste for more tomato flavor.
  • Can be easily made low-sodium.
  • Make a gluten-free version by serving over another grain.

More information for Pasta with Fresh Veggies recipe:

  • Prep time: 15 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Total time: 30 min

Nacho Salad

Nacho salads make a great and flexible quick meal that you can make based on what you have lying around unused in the refrigerator. This is one of our standby meals for when we have an extra avocado and not much time to spend on dinner. Makes 2 servings.

1 can vegan chili
2 -3 cups lettuce (not spinach*)
20 tortilla chips
10 cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
1/2 cup Mango Guacamole recipe
2 tablespoons vegan sour cream
2 tablespoons salsa

Heat the chili in a pan on the stove or in the microwave.

Get 2 salad bowls. Split the lettuce between the two bowls. Layer 10 tortilla chips on top of the lettuce in each bowl. Pour half of the chili (more or less to taste) over the chips. Add cherry tomatoes. Top with a dollop of salsa, guacamole and sour cream.


  • Add a handful of grilled vegetables or grilled tofu.
  • Add some hominy.
  • Replace the chili with refried beans or black beans
  • Use sliced avocado, instead of guacamole.
  • For a low-sodium version, you could use black beans instead of chili and go light on the salsa and sour cream.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

* Note: I avoid using spinach in this recipe. When you pour the chili on the salad, the spinach starts to cook and you end up with slightly slimy spinach instead of a crisp salad. Romaine is a good choice, but most lettuce will work just fine.

More information for Nacho Salad recipe:

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 5 min
  • Total time: 10 min

Mango Guacamole

Serve with tortilla chips and salsa or as a topping for many salads. I even use it in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches, and it’s great on BLTs. This makes a great side dish for parties or as an appetizer or snack. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

2 avocados
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped mango
1/2 lime (squeezed for lime juice)
cayenne pepper and salt to taste
4 sprigs of fresh cilantro (chopped)

Scoop the avocados out of the shells, but save the pits. Lightly mash with a fork in a small mixing bowl. Add onion, mango, salt, pepper and lime. Stir to combine. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

If you are keeping the guacamole for a while, throw the pits on top of the guacamole to slow the browning process.


  • Omit the mango for a more traditional guacamole.
  • Add some extra cilantro just for fun.
  • Someone here in this house likes to replace the onion with garlic, but the garlic always seems a little overpowering to me.
  • Can be easily made low-sodium and gluten-free.

More information for Mango Guacamole recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Total time: 10 min

Pasta Marinara

This is great served with garlic bread or bruchetta. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 pound pasta (cooked according to package directions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini)
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add vegetables. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add a small amount of water of vegetable broth if they get too dry.

Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over pasta.


  • Experiment with different combinations of vegetables.
  • Used grilled vegetables and skip the step where you sauté the vegetables.
  • A can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes instead of regular crushed tomatoes is a great substitution.
  • Throw in a handful of sundried tomatoes.
  • Use fresh roma tomatoes or a can of low salt tomatoes for the low-sodium version.
  • Serve over gluten-free pasta or another grain for a gluten-free meal.

More information for Pasta Marinara recipe:

  • Prep time: 20 min
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Total time: 50 min

Portland Fig and Hazelnut Salad

This is a great late summer salad in Portland when the many fig trees spread throughout the city are covered in figs. Serves 2 as a main salad or 4 as a small side salad.

4 cups baby lettuce mix
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup hazelnuts
6 figs
balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Toss the lettuce and carrots to combine.

Slice the figs and arrange on the salad.

Lightly crush or chop the hazelnuts and sprinkle on top of the salad.

Serve with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar that people can drizzle on their salad to taste.


  • Use black figs if you can find them to add a nice color contrast.
  • Experiment with different vegetables in place of or with the carrots.
  • Portland is known for our abundant fig and hazelnut trees, but you can use almost any other fruit and nut combinations. Apple or pear and walnut, would be a good choice, too.
  • Naturally low-sodium and gluten-free.

More information for Portland Fig and Hazelnut Salad recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Total time: 10 min

Green Beans and Tofu in a Tangy Garlic Sauce

Green Beans and Tofu in Tangy Garlic SauceThis is a simple Chinese dinner inspired by a meal at Fujin, our local Portland Hawthorne neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Serves 4 people.


2 cups cooked brown rice
1 recipe Soy Marinated Tofu sliced into cubes
4 cups green beans
2 cups sliced carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Sauce Ingredients

1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup cold water
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon dark mushroom soy sauce
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. Note that the cornstarch will tend to settle in the bottom, so you’ll want to stir again before you add to the stir-fry.

Heat oil over high heat in a wok or large pan. Add green beans and carrots with about half of the sauce. Stir-fry for 4 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, but still crisp. Add the remaining sauce and tofu. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Serve over rice.


  • Experiment with other vegetables. Onions or red bell pepper would be good additions in place of or in addition to the carrots.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Green Beans and Tofu in a Tangy Garlic Sauce recipe:

  • Prep time: 30 min
  • Cook time: 10 min
  • Total time: 40 min

Soy Marinated Tofu

Soy Marinade

This is my standard marinade for tofu that will be baked or grilled and is probably the one that I use most often. Makes 1/3 cup or enough for 14 ounces of tofu

1/4 cup tamari
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
dash of chili flakes to taste
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Combine all ingredients and stir or whisk to combine.


  • Experiment with some different spices.
  • You can also make a very simple version with just tamari and a little chili paste.
  • This marinade can be a little strong for some people. If so, you can add 1/8 cup of water or vegetable broth to tone it down a bit.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Soy Marinade recipe:

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Total time: 5 min

Baked Soy Marinated Tofu

Perfect for most Asian meals. Makes 2 to 4 servings

1 14 ounce package of firm or extra firm tofu
1 batch Soy Marinade recipe (see above)
vegetable oil

Slice the tofu into 4 or 5 even pieces. Press the tofu to reduce excess moisture by placing a towel on the counter and wrapping the tofu in the towel*. Place a cutting board on top of the tofu and place something heavy on top (cast iron skillet, a couple of cans of beans, etc.) Let sit for 5 minutes. Rearrange the tofu to a dry part of the towel or on a new towel, and press again for about 5 minutes.

Place the tofu in a plastic zipper bag or shallow container. Pour the Soy Marinade over the tofu and make sure all of the tofu is covered. Marinade for 1 to 3 hours turning the tofu a few times to make sure that all sides are evenly marinated.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray or brush a little oil on a cookie sheet. Place the tofu on the oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes turning once after the first 10 minutes.


  • Experiment with other marinades.
  • If you like your tofu less soft in the middle, bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, again turning them over at the halfway mark.
  • This is also excellent when cooked on the grill.
  • Pan Fried Tofu: spray or brush a large, heavy skillet with a small amount of oil. Over medium heat, add the tofu and cook for 5 to 10 minutes on each side.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Baked Soy Marinated Tofu recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Total time: 30 min

* Note: If you have fuzzy kitchen towels, you’ll probably want to wrap it in a paper towel first to avoid getting fuzzy lint all over your tofu.