Three Bean Salad

   This classic American Three Bean Salad is lighter than many of the recipes out there, but it’s the best one I’ve had.  Filling and tangy, with plenty of protein, this salad travels well.  The fresh, raw crunch of the celery and shallot are a great contrast with the silky beans.  Three Bean Salads have supposedly been around since the 1800’s, and possibly became so popular because they needed little refrigeration, and hence were often brought to picnics and outings.  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain off most of the marinade.


Makes about 8 to 10 servings?

15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed,  reserve 3 Tablespoons of bean liquid
15 oz. can green beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can yellow wax beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium-to-large stalk celery, diced fine
1 large shallot  chopped fine,  or 1/3 of a medium white onion
1/3 Cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch cayenne  (a pinch = 1/16th teaspoon)

Take three Tablespoons of bean liquid from the can of kidney beans, and set aside.  In a large non-metal bowl and with a wooden spoon, gently mix the green beans, wax beans, celery and onion.  In a separate small bowl or glass, whisk together the bean liquid, vinegar, oil, sugar, and seasonings.  Add the rinsed-and-drained kidney beans and the vinegar dressing to the green-bean mixture.  Fold this salad gently with a wooden spoon to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.  Stir gently with wooden spoon before serving (we are trying not to mash the kidney beans).  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain most of the marinade off and back into the serving bowl.

Notes:  This would also be good in a salad-in-a-jar situation.  For more salad ideas, check out the Salad category on this site.

Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread

IMG_1668     Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread is one of those recipes that’s almost too good to be true.  Quick, easy, elegant and especially delicious.  The earliest origin of roasted grapes I could find online was around 2004.  Here, we’re using vegan cheese, because nobody has to die so we can have really good food.  Having a sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy appetizer is wonderful, but knowing it’s also good for your body and the planet and the animals is priceless!


Makes enough for 2 to 4 people, for appetizers

1 lb. seedless red grapes
2 ciabatta loaves, or a baguette
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
spreadable vegan cheese, such as Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread.  Or, Miyoko’s CreameryTreeline, etc.   Or even just Tofutti Cream Cheese (non-hydrogenated).  Any of them should work.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 Celsius).  Line baking dish with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, place grapes, olive oil, sea salt and thyme, and fold gently with a wooden spoon to coat the grapes.  Tip ingredients into prepared baking dish and roast for 15 minutes or so, until grapes are a bit shriveled but still juicy.  Set aside.  Also set out your vegan cheese so it can warm up a bit while you prepare the toasts.

Slice ciabatta loaves in half the long way so you wind up with two wide/flat paddles, or if using a baguette, slice into rounds.  If grilling, brush bread with olive oil on both sides.  If baking in oven, brush oil on just the cut sides.  Grill bread 1 to 2 minutes per side–do not walk away, as it can burn quickly.  If baking bread, have oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) and bake for about 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it.  Smear bread with vegan cheese and garnish with thyme-roasted grapes.  Serve.

Notes:  If using a good nut cheese, this can easily be a main meal, especially if served with a salad.  I used the Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread (made from almond milk) in the Chive flavor.

Grilled Broccolini with Pistachio, Cured Olive, and Preserved Lemon – from the Vedge cookbook

IMG_0374     This Grilled Broccolini with Pistachio, Cured Olive and Preserved Lemon is yet another simple-but-superb dish from the Vedge cookbook.  This dish looks gorgeous and tastes even better.  The slightly-bitter and slightly-crunchy broccolini, bright lemon, salty olives and toothsome, creamy toasted nuts are an amazing combination.  I always have a jar of Preserved Lemons on hand for dishes like this.  I cut the oil in half, and also cut down on the salt, and this dish was still extremely flavorful and luscious.  I just used Trader Joe’s Kalamata olives packed in olive oil, and I found organic Broccolini at Whole Foods in Annapolis.   Whole Foods was also calling it Baby Broccoli, which it is not.  The Broccolini seed was developed in Japan, around 1993, and it’s a vegetable similar to broccoli, and is also called different things in different countries–such as broccolette, broccoletti, bimi, and tenderstem broccoli, among other names.  This was my first time cooking broccolini, but now I can say I prefer it to regular broccoli.  In future, I will slice any thick stems down the middle (the long way), while leaving the florets/head intact, to help the thicker stems cook to the same level as the thinner stems and delicate florets.   This recipe is a bit time-consuming if you prepare it all at once–maybe about 45 minutes.  However, you can prepare any or all of the individual components a day ahead, and then it’s quick to throw together.  I used my Calphalon 12-inch round, nonstick grill pan on top of my electric stove and had great results, but this can also be prepared on the outdoor grill.  You can substitute broccoli rabe if you cannot find the broccolini.    p.s.  Leftovers of this dish are fabulous chopped up and tossed with hot pasta!

Quick and Easy Homemade Gochujang Paste


IMG_0270    I found this quick and easy recipe for Gochujang paste here, and simply reduced the amounts, and converted them into Tablespoon and Cup measurements too.  I don’t use a lot of Gochuchang, and this will supposedly last for 6 months in the refrigerator, as long as all your ingredients have that long of a shelf life.  Most authentic recipes call for letting the Kochujang ferment at room temperature for 30 days, or covering and uncovering the paste outdoors on a daily basis, which involves a lot of salt to prevent spoilage, etc.  I looked at buying some Gochujang paste, but was put off by added ingredients like corn syrup, calcium phosphate, etc.  Some store-bought pastes also contain wheat starch in the form of  isomaltooligosaccharide, which may not be good for those who are gluten free (not sure).  By making it at home, we can also use organic miso, and organic sugar.  Use Gochujang in stir-fries, sauces, dressings and marinades–anywhere you want a little spice!  On to the brilliant little 5-minute recipe.


4 oz. mild white miso  (1/2 Cup)
1.75 oz. sugar  (3 Tablespoons)
2 oz. Tamari  (2 Tablespoons)
.88 oz. Korean red pepper powder  (1/4 Cup)
2 to 3 Tablespoons water

Dry whisk the sugar into the pepper powder.  Add miso and stir until moist and blended.  Add Tamari and stir again.  In smallest saucepan, heat mixture over medium-low to melt the sugar a bit.  Add water by the Tablespoon, and stir with a wooden spoon to blend.  Cool and put in clean glass container with lid.  Supposedly will keep in fridge for up to 6 months.  This makes enough Gochujang paste for one or two recipes, but you can double or triple the first 4 ingredients and then add a little water as needed.
A nice big bag of Korean red pepper powder was $4.99.

Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks

IMG_2133    This vegan Teriyaki is great for the grill, or you can fry it up in a pan.  You can use this Teriyaki Sauce on tofu steaks, or tempeh or vegan meats, such as a vegan burger served with a ring of grilled pineapple on top, etc.  We like the leftovers in sandwich wraps for lunch, tucked in with shredded kale or lettuce, pickled onions, Vegenaise, and grated carrots.  This is my Dad’s teriyaki sauce that we grew up with.  As a young military man, he would go to this little mom-and-pop place in Monterey, California.  He loved their teriyaki and asked the nice Japanese lady there for the recipe.  She revealed the recipe to him (he was exceedingly handsome) and luckily for us, he wrote it down all those decades ago.  To grill tofu, make sure your grill grate is clean and smooth–I rub it with a wire brush, or a steel wool pad and then rinse it clean with the hose. Once the grill is hot, take tongs and dip a wad of folded paper towel into a dish of cooking oil, and swab the grill grate before adding the tofu, and repeat when turning the tofu.  You also want to make sure there’s a little oil in your marinade.  Soak your skewers for hours, and use two skewers per piece of tofu (for stability).


Serves:  3 to 4

16 oz. block of Extra-Firm tofu,  pressed and drained
 for Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 Cup soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/2 Cup sugar  (not brown sugar)
1/2 -inch piece ginger root grated
1 jigger sake or gin or whiskey  (a jigger = a shot, or 1.5 oz. or 44.3 ml)
     (I use a mini bottle from the liquor store = 50 ml)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic pressed, or crushed and chopped
1 Tablespoon cooking oil  (not canola)  (I used peanut oil this time)

Soak slender wooden skewers in water overnight, or for several hours.  Press and drain tofu.  Stir all sauce ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Slice tofu thickness in half.  Then cut each piece into two equal rectangles.  Soak tofu steaks in marinade over night, or for several hours, turning them over at least 2 or 3 times.  Before grilling, skewer each piece of tofu using two skewers, so the tips of the skewers protrude out the other end just a bit.  Make sure grill is very clean and smooth, and oil the hot grill before adding the tofu.  Grill each side.  Or, pan fry in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, until a nice caramelized sear is achieved.

Notes:  You can also marinate sliced tempeh.  I use organic Tamari sauce, but in Hawaii, Kikkoman soy sauce is the favorite, and many locals use the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, which is good, and my Dad is a Kikkoman man, of course.  Since the original recipe did call for “a jigger” of any of the three alcohols, I used gin this time for that juniper-berry flavor, but I think my Dad usually used sake or whiskey.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon MSG, which I eliminated.

McCormick Grill Mates – Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

This might seem like an odd thing to recommend on a vegan food blog, but keep reading.   McCormick Grill Mates give seitan and other vegan foods a seasoning flavor reminiscent of traditional “meaty” dishes.  I have to give credit to our friend Tim for turning me onto the Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Shortly after I went vegan, Tim and Josie invited us over to barbecue, and Tim grilled up some portobello mushrooms with the Montreal Steak Seasoning.   The grill smoke and the traditional steak seasonings on the meaty portabella mushroom reminded me of the flavors I grew up with.   Since then, I’ve used the Smokehouse Maple Seasoning when cooking Smart Bacon, and it gives it that extra little bacon flavor that’s good in BLT’s, on tofu McMuffins, etc.   I have not tried the chicken flavored one yet, but plan to try it on some vegan cutlets for sandwiches and things.  Please note that not all these seasonings are vegan.  For example, the Molasses Bacon Seasoning has actual pig fat in it.  One last note is that there are various videos for grilling portabella mushrooms on youtube.  Some say the gills are slightly bitter, and so they scoop them out.  Some leave the gills in.  Some score the tops of the mushrooms with a knife, so they get a nice pattern on them and flatten out a bit for a burger.  Either way, these take just minutes to prepare and are delicious.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

2 to 4 Portobello mushrooms
olive oil
McCormick Grill Mates, Montreal Steak seasoning

Twist off mushroom stems.
Gently scrape out gills with a teaspoon (optional)
Quickly but gently wash mushrooms with a soft cloth or brush, under cool water, and set immediately to drain.
Brush mushrooms top and bottom with olive oil.
Sprinkle both sides with McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning.
In the refrigerator, let mushrooms marinate for one hour or less, in a Ziplock bag into which you’ve sprinkled another Tablespoon of oil.
Do not marinate too long.
Grill 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Note:  If leaving the gills in, make sure to rinse well, so as to dislodge any grit or soil that may be in the folds.  Make sure to buy impeccably fresh portobellos and use them soon, because they can get funky if they get older.

Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Seitan Barbecue Ribs

I saw this easy recipe on Everyday Dish, and had to try it.  It originates from the popular FatFree Vegan Kitchen site, but it’s worth watching the Everyday Dish video because Julie Hasson eliminates the kneading, saving time and effort.  You could use your own barbecue sauce, but I simply opened a bottle of accidentally-vegan Kraft Original barbecue sauce and it saved a lot of time and really stuck to the ribs well.  I  don’t have a cast-iron grill pan, so I just used a cast iron skillet on the stove, with great results.  The ribs came out really delicious and I can’t wait to make them on the grill this summer.  If you don’t cut them all the way through, they hold together enough so that you can flip them in racks (see video), which would make outdoor grilling a lot easier.  I served them with my baked stuffed potatoes and steamed, chopped kale sprinkled with umeboshi vinegar.  Lars said these would make great vegan McRib sandwiches, so that’s what I made with the leftovers, and they were even better than just the plain ribs.  I never had a McRib but they can’t be as good as this.  I unthinkingly cut my ribs into only 10 pieces so they might look a little wider than those on the video.  Finally, this is a “man pleaser” as they’re very meaty in texture and really smell like classic BBQ while you’re cooking them.  They taste like good barbecue too, because what we really want is the sweet, spicy, smoky flavor, and you get that here.
Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Susan V’s Barbecued Seitan Ribs

Makes 10-16 pieces

1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (I only had regular paprika)
2 Tablespoons “nooch” (Nutritional Yeast)
2 teaspoons onion powder or granulated onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

3/4 Cup water
2 Tablespoons peanut butter, or other nut butter, or tahini, etc.
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I like Wright’s All Natural Hickory Seasoning)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer Tamari)
about 1 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used 3/4 Cup at most)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with canola oil.
Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, mix the water with the nut butter, Liquid Smoke and Tamari, until blended.  I used a Caffe Latte Frother for complete emulsion.
Add water mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir to mix well.
Put dough into prepared baking dish and flatten it so it evenly fills the pan.
Take a sharp knife and cut into 8 strips, but do not cut all the way through.
Then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces (in 2 racks).
Bake for 25 minutes.
While it’s cooking, prepare your grill pan, or grill or cast-iron skillet; spray with oil, etc.  I just used a little Earth Balance vegan butter.
When it’s done baking, carefully cut down that main center line to break it into two racks of ribz.
Generously brush the top of one rack with barbecue sauce.
Invert onto hot pan or grill, sauce-side down.
While it’s starting to cook, brush the top with more sauce.
Watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.
When it’s sufficiently caramelized and brown on one side, flip it over and cook the other side, adding more sauce if necessary.
You may want to brush and flip a few times.
When done, remove to a platter and finish cutting apart the riblets.

Notes:  I did the baking part and then put the whole pan in the fridge so I could throw it all together quickly on the stove top at dinner time.  The liquid smoke is a key ingredient, don’t skip it.

Vegan Macaroni Pasta Salad

This is a good, creamy Pasta Salad that would be great for a picnic or BBQ.  It’s easy and doesn’t take too long to make.  You can put any spin on this recipe that you like, and you can double it for a crowd.  p.s.  I think I grated my carrot a little too finely, because it’s not showing up well in this photo.


Serves:  at least 8, am not really sure yet

2 Cups uncooked macaroni noodles  (I like Field Day organic pastas)
1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise with the yellow lid)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (yes, it does make a difference)
2 Tablespoons Dijon smooth mustard
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
1 level teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (not brewer’s yeast)
1 stalk celery, very finely diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, very finely diced
1/2 of a small red onion, very finely diced (I used my pickled onion)
1/2 of a medium to large carrot, very finely grated
Optional additions could include a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning or celery salt, and a finish dusting of paprika.

Bring the pasta water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt and the macaroni and cook according to package directions, for about 7 minutes or until al dente.  Rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the vegan mayo, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, sweet relish and any other spices.  Add celery, carrot, red bell pepper and onion to the bowl, and mix.

Add the drained macaroni and combine gently but fully.  This is best chilled in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Can be made the day before!

Note:  If you want this to taste like a Pennsylvania Amish macaroni salad, double the sugar.  Double this recipe to serve “a large crowd.”

Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

This vegan seitan bulgogi (Korean barbecue) tastes authentic; very good.  I’ve seen a version of this recipe in several places, so it’s hard to know who started it.  The oldest posting I found is from a now-defunct vegan blog, but the new “hot” recipe is from a blog called Get Sconed!, and it’s a tribute to one of her favorite TV shows, Lost.  I’m thinking I’ll make this for my Dad the next time he comes to visit.  Lars and I really liked this and I’ll be using it again on the grill  this summer.  I served it over short-grain brown rice flavored with coconut milk and dried (unsweetened coconut).  I used seitan sausage I made myself, sliced on a slant.
Vegan Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

Serves 6

1/4 Cup vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce (no Bragg’s, please)
2 Tablespoons sherry
2 Tablespoons dark agave nectar (light colored agave works fine too)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed or minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions chopped (1/4 cup)
2 lbs. plain seitan, sliced on the bias

Whisk together broth, Tamari (or soy sauce), sherry, agave nectar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a shallow dish.
Stir in green onions.
Add seitan, marinate two hours.
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat (or cook it in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, as I did).
Drain seitan, and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned and firm.

Note:  If using a cast-iron skillet, you must watch it so it doesn’t stick, maybe scoop it with a spatula and add a touch of oil.   A non-stick pan might be useful here, not sure.  I only had time to marinate mine for an hour but it still tasted wonderful. 

Morning Star Grillers

Ok, here’s the first official product review.  MorningStar Farms Grillers Vegan Veggie Burgers.  We have tried Boca burgers and thought they tasted like cardboard.  Then I bought some other veggie burger only to get it home and find egg whites or whey in it.   So then I began making my own veggie burgers which are very good, but aren’t sturdy enough for the grill.  Then I stumbled upon these in the market, read the label carefully and thought it would be worth getting them to throw on the grill when everyone else was eating the flesh of some poor, tortured cow.  So tonight I was pressed for time and it is insufferably hot and humid outside, too hot to grill.   After reading the label, I just sprayed a bit of olive oil in a non-stick pan and cooked over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning often.  We had these on ultra-thin hamburger buns, and doctored them up with mayo, heirloom tomatoes, pickles, etc.   Lo and behold, they really taste very much like a beef burger.  It’s pretty amazing.  At 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, zero cholesterol and 12 grams of protein, I’d say these are a winner.  Next time, I’ll throw on some sweet onion and some Daiya cheese.   We had these with some local corn on the cob and homemade iced tea (oolong).  Here is an updated link (June 2011) for the rest of MorningStar vegan products.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I went on youtube and found this link for how to grill corn in the husk.  However, I should have looked at the youtube link BEFORE i grilled the corn, ha ha.  Although it was just about the best corn we’ve ever made, I would follow this guy’s technique for peeling back the husk next time.  Whereas I was peeling back the husk a leaf at a time, this guy smartly just ripped the husk in half and down the cob, but did not remove it.  Much easier to fold the husk back up his way.  After reading a few recipes, here’s what I did:

Snip off the gritty/dirty end of any silk protruding from the husk.  Grip corn husk with one hand on each side and pull down to end of cob, but do not separate husk totally from cob.  Pull out any silk and discard.  Rinse corn and fold husk back up in its original position.  Tear a long leaf of husk in half the long way, and use as a tie to secure husk back in place (this is optional–the guy in the video doesn’t bother with this step).  Soak these prepared ears of corn in a sink full of water, for about an hour.  Use a heavy pot or something to weight the corn down under the water.  When ready to grill, place ears of corn in the dish drainer for a minute, then place on hot grill.  If your grill has an upper rack, that would be ideal, but it’s not critical.  Close grill lid and let the corn steam for a few minutes.  Turn the corn every five minutes, just until 20 minutes go by.  Then you’re done!  A little Earth Balance vegan butter and a little sea salt, and you’re in heaven.  Grilling in the husk really does give the corn a subtle, unique flavor that just screams mid-summer.  We’re sold.