Olive Tapenade

This is always a big hit at parties. It seems a little exotic and unusual to most people, but it’s so easy to make! Serve with a really good, fresh Italian or French bread. Ciabatta or baguettes are great choices, since these smaller loaves hold together better for spreads. Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4-5 slices sun-dried tomato (reconstituted in water to soften)
1/2 teaspoon capers
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomato, pepper, and capers in a food processor. Blend until combined. Add olives and process until the olives are in small chunks (do not over process!)

Transfer tapenade from food processor into a bowl, add olive oil, stir and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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  • Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste for an olive tomato tapenade.
  • Use a mixture of different varieties of olives.
  • Serve with rice crackers for a gluten-free version.

More information for Olive Tapenade recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 0 min
  • Total time: 10 min

Tofu Rancheros

This is one of those all day meals that you can serve as easily for breakfast as you can for dinner. It also gets bonus points for being quick and easy to make. Makes 4 servings.

1 pound tofu (pre-packaged baked tofu or baked firm tofu)
1 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 15-ounce can vegetarian chili
1 cup salsa
2 cups lettuce
1 cup tomato
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
1/4 cup Mango Guacamole recipe
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Chop the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Put the chili in a pan on the stove. Add tofu and cook for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

Warm the beans and salsa in separate containers in the microwave or on the stove.

On each plate, spoon the beans into a small pile on one half of the plate and top with chili and salsa. On the other side, add lettuce, tomato, sour cream and guacamole.

Sprinkle the whole thing with chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla shells or tortilla chips.

Pictured with Cilantro Lime Black Beans and avocado.

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  • Use a can of refried beans or the Cilantro Lime Black Beans in place of the black beans.
  • Add grilled vegetables.
  • Replace the guacamole with sliced avocado.
  • Serve over a bed of Spanish rice.
  • Use 1 recipe of Baked Mexican Marinated Tofu and serve separately, instead of cooking in the chili.
  • You could make a low-sodium version with low salt chili and beans and going light on the sour cream.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Tofu Rancheros recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 5 min
  • Total time: 15 min

Quick and Simple Chili

The name already has everything you need to know. Nothing fancy, not too much work and still yummy. Makes 8 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans
2 14-ounce cans chopped tomatoes (including the juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
freshly ground pepper and additional chili powder to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for at least 20 minutes (you can also cook it a lot longer).

Serve hot in bowls with your favorite crackers or cornbread.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.


  • Add a pound of veggie ground beef, crumbled veggie burgers, textured vegetable protein (TVP), quinoa or similar grain for a “meaty” chili.
  • Replace some or all of the kidney beans with black beans for a black bean chili.
  • Use fire roasted crushed or diced tomatoes for a smoky flavor. Muir Glen sells cans of fire roasted tomato products.
  • Throw in a handful of sun-dried tomatoes because they make everything a little better.
  • Add chopped hot peppers for a spicier version.
  • You could also make this a vegetable chili by adding carrots, bell peppers, potatoes or other favorite veggies.
  • Naturally gluten-free.

More information for Quick and Simple Chili recipe:

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

Cilantro Lime Black Beans

How can you go wrong with cilantro and lime? These beans are great served alone, in tacos, with some tortilla chips for dipping, or along with some fajitas. Makes 4 as a servings as a small side dish.

2 cans black beans
1-2 tablespoons oil to taste
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the black beans. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for at least 5 minutes stirring occasionally or until heated through.

At this point, you can serve the beans, but I like to cook them over low heat for closer to 30 minutes or until the beans start to fall apart and become the consistency of refried beans.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.

More information for Cilantro Lime Black Beans recipe:

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


  • Add some tomato or onion.
  • Can be easily made low-sodium and gluten-free.

Bacon Avocado Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

This is another one of my favorite summer sandwiches, and it is really just a tomato sandwich on steroids. Makes 1 sandwich.

2 slices toasted whole-wheat bread
2 slices tempeh bacon
sliced tomato
sliced avocado
vegan mayonnaise to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Spray a non-stick frying pan with a little oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh bacon slices and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Spread each slice of toast with mayonnaise. Add tempeh bacon, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and pepper.

Pictured with yellow tomatoes and multi-colored leaf lettuce.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.


  • Replace the mayonnaise with Mango Guacamole or use guacamole, instead of avocado.
  • Use spicy mustard, hummus or other spreads instead of mayonnaise.
  • Add a few slices of pickles.

More information for Bacon Avocado Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich recipe:

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

Thai Coleslaw

This is an easy, but tasty addition to any 4th of July picnic or potluck, but I also make this at home as a side dish for any Asian meal. I’m probably violating some international cooking code of conduct, but the Thai Coleslaw goes particularly well with Korean Stir-Fried Noodles (or any other Asian noodle dish). Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Salad Ingredients

1 small shredded cabbage
1 small thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas
4 thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded
crushed peanuts


1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste.
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime

Combine cabbage, red bell pepper, snow peas, scallions and basil in a large mixing bowl. Toss to mix the vegetables.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small container and whisk for 1 minute to combine.

Drizzle sauce over veggies and toss to coat evenly. You might want to add a little more tamari and rice vinegar to taste depending the size of your cabbage.

Let stand at least 10 minutes or refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Toss again before serving and garnish with peanuts.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.


  • Use sesame seeds instead of peanuts or omit the nuts entirely for people with allergies.
  • Replace snow peas and red bell pepper with other colorful vegetables (carrots, yellow / orange peppers, etc.)
  • Use seedless cucumber or snap peas instead of the sliced snow peas.
  • To make a low-sodium version, use unsalted nuts and replace the tamari with a little extra rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Thai Coleslaw recipe:

  • Prep time: 20 min
  • Cook time: 0 min
  • Total time: 20 min

Buy The Cookbook Now!

What Dawn Eats: Vegan Food That Isn’t Weird is now available for purchase! The book is 140 pages and contains more than 90 recipes along with multiple variations with different ways to make most dishes, and it includes many of the recipes already found here on this blog.

It is currently available as a paperback for $12.99 or an electronic PDF download $9.99 and will be available on Amazon.com in late June.

As a special reward for those of you who have been following along on this blog, if you order before June 25, you can get a $2.00 discount on either the paperback or PDF format cookbook with the following discount code: 4V76EQLR

  • $10.99 Paperback: Enter the code 4V76EQLR in the Options and Discounts section and click Apply Discount.
  • $7.99 PDF: Enter the code 4V76EQLR into the Discount Code box and click Update Cart.

Buy a copy today, and I hope you enjoy it!

Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Grilling is a great way to spend a warm summer evening, since you move the cooking outside and get to enjoy some great summer weather. If you have a big enough grill, make a few extra veggies and keep them around for lunches or to add to other meals. Makes 4 servings.

1 14-ounce package of firm or extra firm tofu
2 batches of Italian Marinade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sliced medium eggplant
1 sliced red bell pepper
2 small sliced zucchini
1 onion cut into wedges
8 white button or crimini mushrooms

To make the tofu, follow the instructions for the Soy Marinated Tofu to press the tofu. Instead of the Soy Marinade, you will be marinating it in one of the 2 batches of Italian Marinade. Also eliminate the baking step, since you will be grilling the tofu in a later step instead of baking it.

Turn the grill on over medium high heat.

Put the mushrooms and onion onto skewers to keep pieces of them from falling through the grate. Place all of the vegetables on a tray and brush with olive oil and some Italian Marinade.

If your grill doesn’t have a warming grate above the main grate, you might want to place a plate in the oven and turn it on to 125 degrees to keep any veggies warm that cook more quickly than the others.

Place all of the veggies on the grill or cook in batches. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes turning the vegetables over after 5 to 7 minutes. Keep a close eye on the vegetables, since they can burn quickly and different grills vary widely in temperatures and cooking times.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.


  • Experiment with all kinds of different vegetables.
  • Simple Dipping Sauce: Instead of using the marinade, brush the vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Vietnamese Peanut Sauce, Thai Peanut Sauce, Tahini Sauce or Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce.
  • Balsamic: Instead of using the marinade, brush the vegetables with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Citrus: Instead of using the marinade, brush the vegetables with olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice on the veggies.
  • Replace the Italian Marinade with Asian Soy Marinade.
  • Can be easily made low-sodium and gluten-free.

More information for Grilled Vegetables and Tofu recipe:

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

Mushroom Stroganoff

Stroganoff was one of my favorite foods as a kid, but it was a traditional beef stroganoff made with a can of cream of mushroom soup that wasn’t easily made vegan. After much experimenting and a few pretty terrible failures, I finally came up with a recipe that I love. Finding a really good commercial vegan sour cream made a world of difference in this recipe. As a bonus, it’s even fairly quick and easy to make. Makes 2 servings.

2 cups cooked brown rice
12 ounces sliced mushrooms (10 to 15 mushrooms)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small chopped onion
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon basil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup non-dairy milk
3 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of cold water.
1/2 cup vegan sour cream

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until they are soft, translucent and starting to brown around the edges.

Add mushrooms, garlic and tamari and sauté about 4 minutes or until they are soft. Reduce heat to low.

Add non-dairy milk, basil, and pepper. Bring to a low simmer.

Add the cornstarch mixture a little at a time stirring quickly to dissolve. Add as much cornstarch as needed to thicken the sauce.

When sauce has thickened, add vegan sour cream and cook until it has heated through, but do not bring it back to a simmer. You might want to add a little more sour cream to taste.

Serve over rice.

Buy the What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird cookbook for more recipes like this one.


  • Serve over wide noodles, penne pasta or baked potatoes instead of rice.
  • Can be easily made gluten-free.

More information for Mushroom Stroganoff recipe:

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Total time: 25 min

Cornmeal Pizza

Cornmeal Pizza Crust

This is the basis for the Cornmeal Pizza below. A big thank you to Mara and Raven who gave me the original recipe for this crust. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

1/2 cup warm water (below 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast (heaping)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (fine grain if available)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a medium mixing bowl. Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes while you start gathering and measuring the other ingredients.

Add half of the flour and half of the cornmeal to the warm water and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add the salt, sugar and olive oil and stir until mixed. Add the remaining flour and stir until all of the flour has been incorporated.

Flour the counter and your hands. Knead for 3 minutes working in more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

Oil a second mixing bowl with a little olive oil all the way up the sides of the bowl to the top. Place the dough in the bowl turning once to coat with oil. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise for an hour until doubled in size.

Oil your hands and a spot on the counter. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a ball while squeezing all of the air out of the crust. Sit the ball of dough on the counter and let rest for 30 minutes.

Press the ball flat to squeeze out the excess air before rolling into pizza shape. See the Cornmeal Pizza recipe below for more details on making this crust into a pizza.


  • For a very thin crust, divide the dough in half and make 2 balls of dough before you let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Grilled Pizza Crust: Knead dough for 15 minutes – you’ll want it a little tough to stand up to grilling without falling apart.
  • You can make a low-sodium version by reducing the salt, but the dough gets really hard to work with.

More information for Cornmeal Pizza Crust recipe:

  • Prep time: 120 min
  • Total time: 120 min

Pictured above: Grilled cornmeal pizza crust.

Cornmeal Pizza

It’s gotten a little predictable with pizza every Sunday, but this is my favorite Sunday meal. It’s a great way to end the week. Makes 2 servings.

1/2 recipe Cornmeal Pizza Crust (see above) for a super thin crust
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted in water)
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/4 cup grilled veggies (broccoli, zucchini, eggplant)
1/4 cup chopped peppadew peppers or hot peppers
1 clove sliced or minced garlic
2/3 cup tomato-based pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups grated Follow Your Heart, Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella cheese (about half a brick)
10 – 15 fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 495 degrees (we also preheat our pizza stone at the same time).

For a crispy crust, cook the crust by itself for a couple of minutes without any sauce or toppings (2 minutes for a very thin crust on a hot pizza stone, longer for a thicker crust).

Top with sauce and veggies. Add cheese. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes at 495 degrees or until the cheese has melted.

Sprinkle with torn fresh basil after you’ve cooked the pizza, but before serving.


  • Grilled Pizza: Instead of cooking the crust for 2 minutes before adding the toppings, you can put the crust right on the grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. To get the crust on the grill, heavily flour a pizza peel, put the pizza on the peel, spray liberally with oil and flip in over onto the hot grill. After 1 to 2 minutes, use tongs to pull the crust back onto the peel, spray again with oil, flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, especially for thin crust pizzas.
  • Pesto Pizza: Replace the tomato sauce with Pesto.
  • Experiment with all kinds of different vegetables (artichokes, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, etc.)
  • Use a whole recipe of the Cornmeal Pizza Crust for a thicker crust.
  • For my non-vegan friends: this vegan cheese takes a long time to melt, so if you decide to use regular mozzarella, you’ll want to reduce the cooking time drastically. Also, other vegan cheeses melt at different temperatures, so keep a close eye on the pizza the first time you make it.

More information for Cornmeal Pizza recipe:

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

Vegan Food That Isn't Weird