Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

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September 6, 2015 By

Sometimes, I find myself in a pasta rut. During this time, I’ll rely too much on pasta to get by. How can I not? Just add vegetables to sauce and you have yourself a solid dinner and a filling lunch for the next day.

Well, the truth about pasta is that it can get repetitive. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch it up. That’s why I’ve created this recipe in the style of a sandwich. It’s a fun way to eat eggplant Parmesan, vegan style. You can eat it as a sandwich, burger, or even a sub!

This recipe can be a hybrid of other recipes and my own combined. For the “Parmesan” cheese, you have two options. If you have Chao cheese at your grocery store, using a slice on your sandwich is easy and delicious! If Chao cheese isn’t sold at your local grocery store of if you’d prefer to create something homemade, I have attached a moxarella cheese recipe, as seen by My Wife Makes and inspired by Vedged Out.

 

Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Click here for a picture-free print out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Yield: 4 patties for 4 sandwiches

 

Ingredients

For the eggplant patty:

  • one large eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, gluten-free and vegan (I use the brand Gillian’s Breadcrumbs)
  • 4 pieces of rice paper
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the lemon pesto:

  • 1 juice of a small lemon, squeezed (3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pinches of salt

Other ingredients:

  • grape seed oil, as needed
  • bread of your choice (sandwich bread, sub rolls, buns)
  • Chao cheese slices (or homemade Moxarella cheese recipe, seen here)
  • your favorite marinara sauce
  • any other sandwich add-ons (onion, tomato, spinach, etc.)

 

Step 1: Slice the eggplant and decide what you are doing with it.

Cut your eggplant into thick slices. When cooked, eggplant loses its volume a bit, so cutting it a bit thicker will work out nicely in the final product. I suggest cutting up to 6 inch/15 centimeter slices.

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After that, you have a big choice to make. Are you going to fry your eggplant or bake it? DECIDE NOW.

If you are going to fry your eggplant, see STEP 2.

If you are going to bake your eggplant, go down to STEP 3.

 

Step 2: Precook the eggplant in the oven.

Ah, so you’ve chosen to fry your eggplant. A fine choice for the taste buds. While taking photos of this entry, I chose to fry my eggplant as well.

You’ll want to precook your eggplant in the oven to make it softer before frying it. Preheat the oven to 350º F / 176º C. Coat your baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the eggplant slices to cool before Step 3.

 

Step 3: Wrap and bread your eggplant.

Without egg, it can be difficult to keep breadcrumbs on whatever you’re trying to cook. My favorite solution is to first wrap it in sticky rice paper, which will hold breadcrumbs beautifully. Plus, rice paper has a fantastic texture that can hold any flavor.

Speaking of flavor, on the list of ingredients, I put “salt and pepper, to taste”. The breadcrumbs are where you really get that flavor in. Your breadcrumbs might already have an amazing flavor; in this case, you don’t need to add anything to it. In my case, the breadcrumbs I buy don’t have any flavor, so I need to add salt and pepper on my own. Feel free to get creative here. You can amp up your breadcrumbs by also adding garlic powder and/or Italian herbs.

Set up an assembly line for your work station: a large, flat dish filled with warm water, a plate to wrap the eggplant, a dish with the breadcrumbs, and a dish to place your finished patties on. To assemble, first submerge one piece of rice paper into the warm water for around 10 seconds. Next, transfer the softened rice paper onto the wrapping plate. Strategically fold the wrapping paper so all sides of the eggplant are equally covered. Lastly, take the patty onto the breadcrumb plate and cover the rice paper with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until all patties are complete.

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Step 4: Cook your patties.

If you are baking your eggplant: Cook your patties at 450º F / 232º C for 20 minutes, flipping the patties about halfway through.

If you are pan-frying your eggplant: In a deep skillet, coat the bottom with 4 tablespoons of grape seed oil at medium heat. Once the oil is heated, use a spatula to gently place the patties in the skillet. You may have to turn the heat down to medium low, depending on your stove. Flip patties over when they have cooked to golden brown (5-10 minutes). Cook the other side of the patty for 5 minutes. When both sides are golden brown, place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

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If you created the homemade moxarella cheese, the patties taste delicious if the moxarella cheese is browned. After the patties are done cooking, add the moxarella cheese into the oven on broil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, keeping your eye on it to prevent burning.

 

Step 5: Prepare other toppings, including the lemon pesto.

If you haven’t done so by now, begin to heat up your marinara sauce in a saucepan on the stove. Cover and stir occasionally.

If your bread is gluten-free and vegan, you probably need to thaw and toast. This bread by Food for Life is expensive, but so delicious!

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If you are adding any vegetables to your sandwich (such as onion, tomato, or spinach), prepare.

To make the lemon pesto, put all lemon pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender. Spread it on your bread when ready.

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Step 6: Assemble and enjoy!

Put it all together, and you have delicious sandwiches!

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If you tried it and liked it, tag me on social media. Also, add me!


 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Tomato Moxarella Melts

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February 26, 2015 By

I used to make a non-vegan version of this back in college. My old roommate, Petito, introduced it to me. He was one of those people who didn’t cook often, but when he did, it was surprisingly magical. By the way, we call him by his last name, for those of you who are curious. Doesn’t this sound like a recipe that a guy named Petito would show you?

After veganism, I thought I had said goodbye to the delicious Petito tomato recipe. But then, out of the woodworks of Pinterest, I saw something I had never seen before: Vegan Pizza Margherita from the incredibly talented duo over at My Wife Makes. I saw clumps of ooey gooey mozzarella, and I needed to find out what in all the heck it was about. It turns out that they modified the cheese recipe from Vedged Out’s Vegan Margherita Pizzas with Homemade Moxarella Cheese. Thank you to all the gifted chefs who taught me how to make mozzarella cheese happen in my life again.  (Click the pictures below to see the original recipe.)

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I modified the moxarella cheese, too. I’m a nutritional yeast freak. Picture Tony Montana surrounded by cocaine, except replace it with nutritional yeast. That’s me. Therefore, I added a few more tablespoons of it than My Wife Makes did.

Enjoy this beautiful side item, vegheads!

 

Tomato Moxarella Melts

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: side item for 2-4 people

 

Ingredients

For the Moxarella Cheese:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for several hours and then drained IF you don’t have a high powered blender)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4  teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

All Other Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 “globe” tomatoes, each sliced into 4 pieces (firm, yet slight give when squeezed)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic salt
  • coconut sugar
  • grape seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced (garnish)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (garnish)

 

Step 1: Prepare tomato slices for the oven.

Cut each tomato into 4 vertical slices. If you want to pile on the moxarella cheese, use 3 tomatoes (shown in pictures). However, if you’re making this dish for 4 people, I suggest using 4 tomatoes, using less moxarella cheese per slice.

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Spread the tomatoes on a greased baking sheet and begin to decorate with vinegar, garlic salt, coconut sugar, and grape seed oil.

You’ll notice that I didn’t measure out amounts for the balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, coconut sugar, and grape seed oil. Drizzle the grape seed oil on all slices. If you must know an exact amount of balsamic vinegar, I suggest 1/4 teaspoon per slice. As far as the garlic salt and coconut sugar go, just grab a pinch and conservatively sprinkle a bit of it on each individual slice. Set aside.

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Step 2: Create moxarella cheese.

The moxarella cheese is high maintenance and needy, so it requires your full attention. That’s why the tomatoes must sit and be patient during this process.

Start by placing cashews in a blender. I have a 600-watt blender (NutriBullet), and it can grind the cashews to a pulp. If you have this kind of power or more, skip the soaking process and just grind the cashews alone first. After that, throw all the other ingredients in the blender and mix.

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Place the liquid in a small saucepan on the stove at medium high heat. Stir constantly for about 4 minutes. Once you see clumps start to form, reduce your heat to medium and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes. Once your liquid transforms into a solid, stringy clump, remove from heat.

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Now, take a tablespoon and spoon out clumps of cheese onto your tomatoes. If there are any mistakes (maybe cheese dripping off the side of a tomato), no need to worry! You can fix mistakes by simply picking up the cheese and placing it back onto the tomato. It’s fool proof!

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Step 3: Bake and prep.

With your oven set to 350ºF / 176ºC, place your tomatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. You’ll notice that this is mostly for your tomatoes to roast, as the cheese doesn’t go through many changes during this period.

When the 20 minutes are up, crank up the oven to 500ºF / 260ºC and put a timer on for 3 minutes. This will help your cheese brown juuuust a little. Keep in mind that I live in Florida, where 3 minutes is perfect for my subtropical sea-level climate. If you live in a different climate, I suggest you keep an eye on it. Three minutes might be too long for someone, say, in the mountains.

 

Step 4: Garnish and serve.

When the tomatoes are fresh out of the oven, place them on a serving dish and sprinkle the oregano on top. As far as the basil leaves go, I like to put several smaller leaves on top of each tomato. For larger leaves, you may have to cut them into quarters with your fingers.

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If you have balsamic glaze, feel free to drizzle that shit all over these babies. I’m regretting that I didn’t do that for my pictures. Damn. Maybe later.

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

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January 29, 2015 By

The idea for these tacos came in bits and pieces. I guess it started a few weeks ago  when my soon-to-be brother-in-law was telling me how mushrooms are the umami, or savory part, of vegan dishes. He’s right! Mushrooms have volume, can easily absorb flavors, and ooze juices when cooked just right.

Fast forward to that special time of month when my stomach becomes a dumping ground from all the crap I stuff my face with. Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad, but the cravings were a bit out of control this month. I was obsessed with this Dairy-Free Dorito Popcorn recipe from Whole New Mom.

I thought about that perfect spice blend nonstop that week. Then, it came to me: “This would be a delicious taco seasoning.” That thought, plus the thought of the savoriness of mushrooms, led me conceive this dreamy meal. The “meat” here is full of flavor and has a great consistency!

Don’t get me wrong; I looove black bean tacos. However, it’s difficult to incorporate taco seasoning in black beans. They’re just not the absorbent type.

Try this recipe and you will not be disappointed. In fact, you might be obsessed like I am.

 

Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

Yield: 8 tacos

 

Ingredients

For the Mushroom-Walnut Meat:

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed (but not minced)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

For the Queso:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled in the blender or food processor
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup grape seed oil

Additional Ingredients/Toppings:

  • Taco shells/tortillas (I used mini corn tortillas to keep it gluten-free)
  • tomatoes
  • red onion
  • spinach
  • avocado

 

Step 1: Prepare the toppings.

I’m trying to get more organized in the kitchen by chopping the little stuff first.

I got an EXTREMELY rare, beautiful picture of my cockatiel Fleegle here. I was taking pictures of my chopped fruits and veggies, and Fleegle flew over to see what was going on. As soon as I snapped this picture, he flew away, leaving me with a lovely picture of his wingspan! I’ve never seen the details of his underwing, and it’s so beautiful!

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Step 2: Blend/mix/cook the meat.

I like to start with the spices. Since nutritional yeast is made with flakes, I like to put all the spices in the blender together at once. That way, all the spices are evenly distributed and fused together.

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After that, throw the mushrooms in the food processor until the mushrooms are in tiny pieces.

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Are your walnuts crushed yet? If so, do that now. Make sure your walnuts are decent chunks. I lightly crushed mine with the handle of my cutting knife.

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Mix the spices, mushrooms, and walnuts together in a bowl. There’s your meat!

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Throw the meat on a skillet set at medium heat. Stir/flip the meat every minute or so for about 10-12 minutes. You’ll start to see the meat become more crumbly; this is jackpot, people.

No, you're not looking at poop in a ramekin. It's deliciousness in a ramekin.

No, you’re not looking at poop in a ramekin. It’s deliciousness in a ramekin.

Step 3: Blend your queso.

The queso can be made in 5 minutes while the taco meat is cooking (as long as you keep stirring the meat every minute or so).

Start by placing only the cashews in the blender/food processor. Blend until the cashews are in tiny bits or like cashew meal.

 

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After that, toss or pour the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients in the blender/food processor and blend until all ingredients turn into liquid gold.

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Step 4: Prepare your taco shells.

If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, you’re going to need to fry them on the pan on medium heat. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil for every tortilla I used. The tortillas fried for about 2 minutes on each side.

For those of you that are baking your tortillas in the oven, follow the packaged directions to do that.

For those of you eating soft flour tortillas, you may happily be on your merry way to Step #5… asshole. What? I didn’t say anything. Okay, I’m just super jealous, alright? Sorry.

 

Step 5: Assemble your tacos.

Oh yay! This is the fun part! Will you put on the leafy greens first, or the meat? Who cares? It’s up to you!

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If you like what you see, you might want to do the following:

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl. I post my day-to-day meals there. If you try one of my recipes, I love when you post a picture and tag me!
  • Like me on Facebook for quick updates on new recipes.
  • Follow my board on Pinterest to see what’s pinspiring me.
  • Comment below!

 

¡Olé!

thisvegangirllogo

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Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta

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January 27, 2015 By

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I do my best to support local family-owned restaurants. However, most of the restaurants I go to are vegan; therefore, when it comes to eating out with omnivorous family and friends, sometimes the easiest decision is to go to a chain restaurant. I have been impressed the past few times I’ve been to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

For those of you who have been to Carrabba’s, have you ever had to consciously tell yourself to put down the bread and step away from the dipping oil full of herbs? I swear I could make that dipping oil my entire meal.

This pasta is inspired by the dipping oil at Carrabba’s. I basically made my own dipping oil with tons of herbs, added some tomatoes, olives, spinach, and homemade cream cheese, and mixed in some pasta. It’s so, so good and has lots of health benefits:

  • Oregano – has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties that make it effective against some forms of food-borne illnesses and even some antibiotic resistant infections
  • Thyme – full of antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage that can boost overall health and help prevent cancer, inflammation, signs of aging and more
  • Parsley – contains chlorophyll, myricetin,  and vitamin K, which can help prevent cancer  and diabetes, as well as improve bone health
  • Basil – reduces inflammation and swelling, contains anti-aging properties, and is rich in antioxidants
  • Garlic chives – helps prevent prostate, esophageal, and stomach cancer, as well as regulating sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory; folate, found in chives, also helps prevent excess homocysteine, which helps with depression and production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

 

Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic chives, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Must-haves:

  • 1 pound of pasta (I used GF Ancient Harvest quinoa rotelle)

Optional add-ins (all highly recommended!):

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons of 5-minute cream cheese (recipe here)

 

Step 1: Chop the dressing ingredients.

I picked all the herbs straight from my herb garden. Here in Florida, all these herbs are easy to maintain as long as they are watered a few times per week.

Place all the herbs, and other dressing ingredients, in a large boil with the olive oil, mix, and let it sit and relax in there. The idea is to mildly infuse the flavors into the oil.

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Step 2: Start boiling the noodles.

Boil your noodles of choice according to packaged directions. When the pasta is finished boiling and it’s time for straining, I like to spray cold water on the noodles for a lukewarm pasta salad experience.

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Step 3: Chop/add optional ingredients.

While the noodles are boiling, chop/add the optional ingredients you would like to add to your dish. This might be the perfect time to make your 5-minute homemade cream cheese. I love adding this stuff to pasta!

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Step 4: Mix and serve!

Once all ingredients are in finished, add all ingredients to the large bowl, mix, and serve!

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If you love what you see, you might want to:

  • Check out my Instagram @thisvegangirl to see what I eat every day. I love to see you guys making my recipes, posting it to IG, and tagging me in the picture!
  • Add me on Facebook to see when new recipes are posted
  • Follow my board on Pinterest
  • Comment below!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Greek Cucumber Noodles

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December 25, 2014 By

I love eating raw food! Raw food never drags me down or changes its mind on how it wants to behave that day. Raw is fresh, bold, and gives me a healthy energy boost.

Cucumber noodles are an excellent alternative for anti-pasta people. It’s a lighter choice that packs a ton of that cool, crisp cucumber flavor that you know you love.

I love eating this recipe for dinner, as it doesn’t make me feel like a heavy sack of shit when I’m lying in bed.

You can serve this recipe on top of toast, with corn chips, or simply by itself. It doesn’t matter. It would probably be good if eaten off the sidewalk, for Christ’s sake. Try it for yourself!

 

Greek Cucumber Noodles

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Other ingredients:

  • 2 large cucumbers, spiraled
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 2/3 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 avocados, pitted and diced
  • 2 cups of spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of Cream Cheese with Chives (click for recipe), optional

 

Step 1: Spiral your cucumber noodles.

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To turn your cucumber into noodles, you will need a device or appliance. I bought the Vegetti, available at Bed Bath and Beyond for a good price. This is one of those items that actually is as easy as it looks. It takes only a minute to transform the cucumber into those healthy, raw noodles. You can also use one of those spiral peelers used for apples or potatoes, too, but you’ll spend more and it’ll take up more space.

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Once your noodles are made, take some kitchen scissors and cut the noodles into smaller pieces. You might think it’s cool that they’re long, but trust me, there’s no reason to have a 6ft-long noodle. Place your noodles in a large bowl and set aside.

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Step 2: Mix dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.

Start with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Whisk those ingredients together quickly for 30 seconds until contents aren’t separating from each other. (This step can also be done in the food processor.) Add the minced garlic, oregano, and salt to the dressing.

Let the dressing sit for a few minutes, letting all the flavors fuse together. You may want to return to the bowl at least once to whisk the ingredients together.

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Step 3: Chop up all veggies.

Do this step while the dressing is sitting. When finished, place all ingredients, including the dressing, in the large bowl with the noodles. Mix and serve!

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If you like what you see here, why don’t you try doing one/some/all of the following?:

  • follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl, where I post my day-to-day meals. I love when readers try my recipe, take a picture of it, and tag me or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. It’s so exciting!
  • like me on Facebook to get updates on new recipes posted
  • follow my board on Pinterest to see what’s inspiring me
  • comment below!

 

Thanks for your love and support. Happy Holidays!

 

Love,

thisvegangirllogo

 

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Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

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November 21, 2014 By

As a vegan, you sometimes have to take a deep breath and go to a normal restaurant. I met up with my sister at a local restaurant in Stuart, FL at a restaurant in the downtown area called Eighteen Seminole Street Italian Bistro. Italian restaurants are almost completely safe for vegans, as you can always settle for spaghetti and veggies if they don’t have much to offer.

They had a dish called Linguini Puttanesca, which was the only menu option I could eat. I’ve never had it before. Linguini alla Puttanesca is literally “linguini of the whore” in Italian. Well, smack my ass and call me a whore, because this dish was fantastic. It was salty and tangy, which was a fun change from the plain ol’ spaghetti sauce I’ve been eating for 25 years.

Here is my version, “fattened up” with some lentils to give it a meaty texture. This one is A+ husband/boyfriend approved. It’s so easy to make: in fact, this recipe is only broken up into 3 steps! Enjoy!

 

Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the food processor:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 oz, or 1/2 cup, tomato paste
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs, or 1 sprig, fresh oregano
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Other ingredients:

  • 1 pound of pasta (I use Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Quinoa Linguini)
  • 1 15oz can of lentils, drained
  • 1 cup of Castelvetrano olives, pitted and cut into thirds
  • 2 tsp capers
  • basil, for garnish (optional)

 

 Step 1: Make the tomato sauce.

Throw in all the food processor ingredients into your food processor. Mix until fully incorporated.

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Traditional Italian cuisine dictates that Puttanesca is made with olive oil. However, since Puttanesca is a salty dish, I decided to use coconut oil instead of olive oil. The coconut oil has a subtle sweetness that can help offset the tang a bit, so it complements the sauce well. Not only that, but apparently, olive oil doesn’t do well in high heat, but coconut oil does. I’ve been trying to mix up my recipes to only use olive oil in raw dishes.

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Once your sauce has been mixed, pour the sauce into a sauce pan set at medium heat. When the sauce starts bubbling, set heat to low.

 

Step 2: Cook your pasta.

In a separate pot, boil your pasta until cooked. Strain and rinse your noodles when finished. Set aside, if necessary. Normally, my everything seems to be finished by the time the noodles are finished cooking, so I jump right in and serve!

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Step 3: Add the olives, capers, and lentils to your sauce.

I’m an olive snob; I only buy my olives from Whole Foods’s olive bar. These were the olives that turned me on to liking olives in the first place, so it’s been hard to endure low-quality olives when I’ve already had the best. Therefore, I refuse to buy my olives anywhere else. Their Castelvetrano olives are out of this world!

I also buy my lentils canned. It sounds sketchy as f, but it’s actually not that bad! The lentils are organic and come in a non-BPA lining can, so I trust the source. A sad amount of attempts were made (years of trying) to try and transform dried lentils into that texturally-perfect plump consistency, but it never, ever worked for me. Ever since I’ve found organic canned lentils in my local grocery store, it has changed my life. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and perfect for a perpetual lentil failure like me.

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Anyway, add in the olives, capers, and lentils. Mix. Cover the sauce and let it sit until your pasta is ready.

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Step 4: Serve!

Pour some sauce on top of the pasta, garnish, and serve!

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Before you go…

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Quiche Bites

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September 26, 2014 By

When it comes to my own recipes, sometimes I need to get Pinspired. I follow a lot of vegan recipe boards on Pinterest, which allow me to step out of my comfort zone and make something I’ve never made before. These recipes aren’t for my blog, though. It’s just for me to enjoy.

However, there are the rarest of occasions when I step out of the vegan realm, put on my big girl pants, and reluctantly creep into a scary world: the vague search option Food & Drink. Anyone who is vegan knows that just looking at the Food & Drink option on Pinterest without anything in the search bar is very, very difficult. The worst, even. Recipes oozing with cheese and countless amounts of other options I can’t indulge in flood my feed.

But there’s a method to my madness: the Barney Stinson in me is bored and wants to challenge himself by looking for something to veganize.

Sure enough, a few days ago, I came across this famous pin from The Kitchen is My Playground:

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They’re called Individual Veggie Quiche Cups To-Go. Woah! That’s cool! My Gluten-Free Pancake Bites have probably been my most popular recipe to-date, so I am a huge fan of the cute little to-go breakfast treats! Unfortunately, the quiche recipe above has egg and cheese in it.

Challenge accepted, I told myself.

My first attempt at the recipe you are about to see was a huge success. Don’t you love it when that happens? Who knows… maybe I’m just getting better at this stuff!

Anyway, I’m very impressed with the taste and texture of these Quiche Bites. I can picture them as being an awesome hors d’oeuvre. I just relocated to a new Florida city, so I’m thinking about making these when I attend my first vegan potluck!

 

Quiche Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes (depending on which oil you use)

Yield: 24+ mini quiches

 

Ingredients

For the food processor:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs grape seed oil or coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 12oz package of extra firm tofu, cubed

To (finely) chop:

  • 1 cup spinach (or any dark leafy green)
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup mushroom
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup green onion

 

Step 1: Blend the food processor ingredients.

You want to start out with the cashews. Just the cashews. My food processor is pretty weak, so here are the results it yielded:

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DSC_0005As you can see, the cashews aren’t ground into a fine pulp. Rather, it’s broken down to tiny little bits. It’s good for the texture we’re looking for.

After that, add all the other food processor ingredients (oil, milk, nutritional yeast, salt, smoked paprika) but the tofu. We’ll save the tofu for last.

As far as oil preference, I’ve found that different oils produced a different quiche. If you’re looking for a light, airy quiche, use  grape seed oil. The batch containing coconut oil was more moist and hearty, so if that’s what you’re all about, use coconut oil. The ones photographed here contained coconut oil, but I’ll admit that I prefer the taste/texture/results of grape seed oil in this recipe.

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Now, what I like to do with the tofu is plop in the cubes while the food processor is turning. I don’t know if it does anything special, but I like to think that it’s less overwhelming for my appliance.

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Once all the tofu is mixed in, you’re going to be left with a strange concoction: the base! Pour/gloop the base into a big bowl. Set aside.

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Step 2: Place chopped veggies in the bowl.

If you haven’t chopped your veggies yet, now is the time to do so.

I’m proud to share that my green onions are doing very well! I’m using them for today’s recipe. All of these have grown just by placing the white bulbs in soil… that’s it!

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Just to let you all know, you don’t have to do use these particular vegetables. You might want to take this opportunity to clear out the refrigerator by using veggies you have on-hand. In my previous batch, I used arugula instead of spinach, white onion instead of green, and didn’t use any mushrooms at all. It still tasted marvelous. Use whatever you’ve got, and I’m sure it’ll be yummy.

Once your vegetables are chopped, place them in the same bowl as your base. Mix.

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DSC_0053I know, it doesn’t look beautiful. Trust me, though; it really is.

 

Step 3: Pour and bake.

I need you all to know that I used a mini muffin pan for these Quiche Bites. Using a regular muffin pan will not yield the same fantastic results; it’s too heavy and thick, causing the quiche to fall apart. However, if you have a round pie dish lying around, you could probably yield some nice results from that.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Get out your mini muffin pan. I didn’t use muffin cups for this recipe, but hey, that’s up to you. Also, I didn’t grease my muffin pan, as the mixture has enough oil in it to moisturize the pan with minimal stickiness.

Take a tablespoon and try to neatly spoon your mixture inside the divots. Here was my best attempt at cleanliness:

DSC_0062Lol, I know. Horrible.

I really, really wanted to only do only one batch of these, so I stuffed and stacked them high. If you have enough patience to do another batch, by all means, do that. You’ll get to see my results in a few seconds, anyway.

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If you used olive oil or grape seed oil, your bites should be ready in 40 minutes.

If you used coconut oil, bake them for 45.

Take them out and let them cool down for 5 minutes. They’ll seem a little moist when you first take them out, but the cooling process will help them harden a bit.

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It's easy to see which quiches were overstuffed… oops!

It’s easy to see which quiches were overstuffed… oops!

 

Step 4: Spoon out quiche bites and enjoy!

Actually, I “forked out” my quiches (with a fork). It won’t be perfect, but that’s the glamorous life of someone who doesn’t like to buy cupcake cups!

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These little babies are SO GOOD! They’re the perfect breakfast treat for those of us who miss omelets!

If you decide to make the best decision of your life and try these out, make sure you let me know how your dish turned out! You can comment below, tell me on Facebook, or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl on Instagram. I update the blog once a week, but I post on Instagram several times a day. Also, you can follow my board on Pinterest. I post my own recipes there, but I also post other recipes that tickle my fancy.

 

Happy baking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

 

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Balsamic Basil Chickun Wrap with Cashew Cheese

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September 7, 2014 By

Recently, I’ve been seeing a trend of food blogs taking a “less is more” approach with their ingredient lists. The idea behind it is the less ingredients a passerby sees, the more likely they’re going to say, “Hey! I can do this.” I suppose a long list of ingredients can seem a bit daunting to, say, a busy mom who wants to whip up something fast and yummy on a hectic Thursday night. It’s a cool concept.

I don’t know why, but these blogs made me feel a little down about my own work. I was noticing that some of my entries had the daunting long list of ingredients, and it made me feel like my blog, and its content, wasn’t good enough. I began to try and simplify my ingredients in order to compete.

A few weeks ago, I saw that cooking movie The Hundred Foot Journey. You know, the one about the Indian restaurant that moved across the street from a snooty French restaurant. I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying that movie. Aside from the love story and giggly scenes, I was relieved to see how much they emphasized bold flavor, lots of spices, and a variety of ingredients. The chef in the movie was first criticized by the amount of flavor he used, but was then adored for it once he was given the chance.

As silly as it sounds, I don’t feel so bad about my own creations after seeing that movie. In fact, I’m proud of my flavors, regardless of how many ingredients are involved. Good taste isn’t always simple; sometimes, something complex is what makes someone say, “Mmmm! Wow, what’s in this?” I encourage you all to not be intimidated by ingredient lists, but be inspired to try something you’ve never tried before.

Anyway, back to the recipe at hand: this wrap is amazing and you need to make it today.

 

Balsamic Basil Chickun Wrap with Cashew Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during prep time)

Yield: 4-6 wraps

Ingredients

Ingredients for Cashew Cheese:

  • 3 handfuls (almost 1 cup) of raw cashews
  • 3 tbs tahini sauce OR hummus
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

Ingredients for Tofu Viniagrette:

  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 15oz container super firm tofu, pressed and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Other ingredients:

  • spinach
  • wrap or bread

 

Step 1: Chop and cook the tofu.

We’re aiming for a chicken-like texture here, so we’re going to pan fry the tofu. I have a green nonstick pan, so I didn’t add any oil to my tofu. However, if you’re afraid of a sticky disaster, use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or grapeseed oil onto the pan.

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My green Organix pan!

My green Organix pan!

I set my temperature a little higher than medium heat, tossing the tofu every couple of minutes. Your tofu will be complete when it’s golden brown, as seen below.

Golden brown goodness. These are ready to go.

Golden brown goodness. These are ready to go.

Step 2: Prepare the vinaigrette.

While your tofu is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Chop the basil until it’s minced. Place the basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and salt in a bowl. With a whisk, whip it up quickly for about 10-15 seconds. The idea is you want the oil and vinegar to blend, so it has to be fast.

Beauty

Beautiful basil

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Step 3: Combine the tofu and tomatoes in the vinaigrette.

Toss. Smell. Swoon. Set aside.

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Step 4: Create cashew cheese.

It’s really easy. With a food processor, you’ll want to pulse your cashews to be chunky. Not whole, not milled, but a little in-between, like this:

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After that, toss in the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients, and stir until contents are fully mixed together. Use the back of your spoon to press down on the mixture to truly blend the ingredients.

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You might have some questions about the tahini sauce. It’s not your regular tahini. I get it from Trader Joe’s, and it looks like this:

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DSC_0031I like its paste-y texture, unlike traditional tahini, which is more liquefied. I totally understand if you have never heard of tahini sauce, let alone have it available at your local grocer. If it’s not available, hummus works exactly the same. I’ve tried both, and I enjoyed them equally.

Step 5: That’s a wrap!

Assemble the wrap. This is the order I did mine:

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First, cashew cheese.

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Then, spinach.

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Finally, topped with the tofu vinaigrette.

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For those eating a gluten-free diet, you may or may not have a yummy wrap you can rely on. For those who don’t, you can always go the open-faced sandwich route, which Matt did for this particular meal.

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I hope you can use this recipe to spruce up your lunch routine a bit. Enjoy!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Tomato Basil Soup

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August 18, 2014 By

I’ll admit that I never cared about making this soup until I had an intense craving of grilled cheese sandwiches, which I made here (vegan and gluten-free, y’all!). With my mind now on grilled cheese sandwiches, my next thought was, “How am I going to pull off making my own tomato soup?” Honestly, HOW on EARTH can you make grilled cheese sandwiches without the tomato soup?

The tomato soup is the elegant hero here. Without it, what would we have? Just cheese and bread? Horrible. Homemade tomato soup gives class and nourishment to an otherwise disgustingly boring, nutrition-lacking meal.

Oh, this soup makes my heart sing. The basil really gives the soup a superior taste. Dipping my grilled cheese into this soup and placing it in my mouth might have been the highlight of my week. The best part is that most of these ingredients are ones you probably already have in your kitchen! Woo hoo!

 

Tomato Basil Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups of soup

 

Ingredients:

For the oven:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp coconut sugar

For the stove:

  • 1 heaping cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Garnish

  • 2 heaping tablespoons basil, minced

 

Step 1: Prepare the tomatoes for the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400º. Slice the tomatoes, leaving the stem part out. I cut mine out, as shown below:

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Grease your baking sheet and place the tomatoes on the sheet. Pour/season the tomatoes with the grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and coconut sugar.

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Place the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes. They’ll be nice and roasted by the time they’re done, and your house will smell AMAZING.

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Roasted and robust!

 

Step 2: Cook your stove-top ingredients.

Start off your frying pan with coconut oil with your chopped onion and grape tomatoes on medium heat. There’s no need to cut your grape tomatoes, as they will burst with flavor as soon as they food processed. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, when the onions are sweating and the tomatoes are slightly browned. Throw in the minced garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute. YUM!

After that, pour in the vegetable stock*, stir with a ladle, and let it sit on medium-low heat until the roasted tomatoes are done.

*NOTE: For those of you who use bouillon instead of stock (as I did), I used 4 cups of water for 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon. In a separate pot, I mixed the two ingredients and brought the mixture to a boil. After that, I poured the broth into the frying pan with the tomatoes and onions. Done!

before

before

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after

 

Step 3: Combine the roasted tomatoes and stove-top ingredients in a food processor.

When the roasted tomatoes are finished, it’s time to turn all these ingredients into soup!

Dump the stove top ingredients and the roasted tomatoes in the food processor and mix it up! My food processor isn’t the greatest, so my soup was slightly chunky. You know what, though? I ended up liking it that way.

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Once all the ingredients are mixed, place the soup back on the stove on low heat and take a deep breath: the hard part is over!

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Step 4: Add fresh basil and serve.

Cooked basil sucks, which is why the last-minute addition is the way basil needs to be served.

Mince your basil as much as possible, making sure you can gather two heaping tablespoons of the yummy stuff. Do not skip this crucial ingredient! Put the tablespoons of basil in the big pot, give it a big mix, and serve!

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Remember, don’t forget to pair the soup with my gluten-free vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I’m telling you, these two make the perfect pair.

If you try making this soup, don’t forget to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. I’d love to see how you present your grilled cheese and tomato soup. Speaking of Instagram, follow me! I post my day-to-day meals, if anyone gives a crap. I’m also on Facebook, too. Thanks for all your support!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Fiesta Potatoes

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August 1, 2014 By

In Florida, it’s unfortunate, and a little surprising, that vegan and/or raw food restaurants are hard to come by. Cities give you more options, but finding a vegan restaurant in a little town? Fa getta bout it.

When I go to visit my parents in South Florida, it’s a miracle that we have Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s a raw vegan restaurant with modern cuisine that my whole family loves. My sister and I always order the Iron Man smoothie, which inspired me to start adding cinnamon to my smoothies with yellow & orange fruit in it! (Seriously, try it.) Matt has a wide selection of gluten-free options, too. It’s just a fantastic restaurant.

When I bought my Prius back in March, we decided to try Christopher’s to celebrate and/or gorge ourselves afterward. For anyone who has bought a car from a dealership before, it’s a guarantee that you’re starving by the time you leave. Thus, we went a little crazy when we went to the restaurant.

We ordered an appetizer called the Fiesta Potatoes, and we fell in love. With Matt being gluten-free and me being vegan, he’s oddly obsessed with potatoes, and I’m oddly obsessed with avocados, so this side dish satisfies both weaknesses. We’ve been copying the recipe ever since!

 

Fiesta Potatoes

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during cook time)

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 sides

 

Ingredients:

  • Petite red potatoes, quartered into 3 cups
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 ripe avocados, mashed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce (optional)

 

Step 1: Wash, cut, and bake your potatoes.

Use the olive oil on the baking pan, put the cut pieces of potato on top, and move the potatoes around the dish with your fingers until every potato is coated with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

Potatoes before cooking

Potatoes before cooking

Potatoes after cooking

Potatoes after cooking

 

Step 2: Make the guacamole.

You have plenty of time to make the guacamole AND clean up the kitchen afterward!

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Once the fruits and veggies are cut, put all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I love chunky avocados in guacamole on any given day, but for this side dish, you’ll want keep your guacamole mashed and on the creamier side. It’ll help your guacamole bind to the potatoes. Therefore, I’ll use my potato masher if I have to.

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When completed, set aside or put in the fridge until potatoes are finished.

 

Step 3: Mix potatoes in with guacamole.

Once the potatoes have finished cooking, dump the potatoes in your guacamole bowl, mix, and serve!

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Only three steps for a recipe?! That might be a This Vegan Girl record low!

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I love to pair this side dish with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese! Click here to see the recipe.

If you make any of my dishes, take a picture and tag me on Instagram using #thisvegangirl to let me know how it went!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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