Quinoa & Veggies with a Tahini-Miso Dressing

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganQuinoa is such a fantastic lunch option. It’s packed with protein and it can be made so many different ways, that it’s pretty hard to get bored with it. I wanted a light dressing for this and came up with this tangy tahini-miso goodness. I also love adding nuts for a bit of crunch to these types of dishes, so I threw in some toasted almond slivers. Delish!

Alter Eco Rainbow Quinoa, Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

1 C quinoa (I like this Rainbow Quinoa from Alter Eco)
2 C vegetable broth or water
1-1/2 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp tahini
1 Tbs yellow miso
1/8 C almond milk
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

Rinse the quinoa in fine mesh strainer with cold water. Combine it with the broth (or water) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until there is just a little bit of water left, about 12-15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and green onions, but don’t combine—cover and let the veggies steam 3-4 minutes. For the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth.

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganOnce the mushrooms have softened, stir them into the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, nuts and dressing. I recommend adding a little dressing at a time in case you don’t want it all. I had a little left over.

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean VeganGently fold and combine everything. Enjoy!

Quinoa and Veggies with a Tahini Miso Dressing -- Epicurean Vegan

Papaya Trail Mix

Papaya Trail Mix -- Epicurean VeganThe Seventh Grader is on a school hiking trip this week, so it gave me an opportunity to make some homemade trail mix that has everything he likes; nothing gets picked over. I also used butter-flavored olive oil that a friend gave me (it’s dairy-free) and works perfectly for trail mix. The subtle buttery taste is amazing. (It works great on pasta, too). Mine is from Rocky Mountain Olive Oil Company in Fort Collins. After the family had some of the mix, I got, “This is all you made?” I’ll be making another batch today.

Papaya Trail Mix -- Epicurean Vegan

3/4 C almonds, raw and unsalted
3/4 C walnuts, raw and unsalted
1/2 C pumpkin seeds (with the shell), unsalted
1/2 C dried papaya, cut into chunks
1/4 C chocolate chips
Butter-flavored olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with a little cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the nuts. Drizzle with the olive oil—just enough to lightly coat the nuts. Do the same with the salt. Mix well. Layer onto the baking sheet.

Papaya Trail Mix -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. Since most ovens tend to run different, check often—don’t let the nuts burn.

Papaya Trail Mix -- Epicurean Vegan

Let cool for just a minute or two and combine the nuts and papaya in a bowl.

Papaya Trail Mix -- Epicurean Vegan

Once the mix has cooled completely, stir in the chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean VeganThe Seventh-Grader was nice enough to share his cold with me. I can’t remember the last time I was out of commission with a cold, and I don’t plan to let this one win. So far, I’ve kept it somewhat at bay with lots of juiced veggies and kale. Never under estimate the healing powers of vegetables. That may be why I was drawn to making these. Bell peppers, particularly orange and yellow ones, are packed with vitamins C, A, and B6. (Although the heating process will deplete them a bit). But I’m certain they still retain many of their healthy benefits. These also have mushrooms which are a great source of B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D, and potassium. Now on to the zucchini…these guys have tons of vitamin C and A which are actually anti-inflammatory agents. Zucchinis are also high in fiber—an added bonus! And let’s not forget that quinoa is an ideal source of protein, too! Let the healing begin!

Oh, and remember Operation Save Basil from October?

I’m happy to report that it has bounced back beautifully. It looks like there’s room to add another basil plant, but for now, I’m thrilled the basil’s back, baby!


3 large bell peppers (preferably orange, red, or yellow) sliced in half and innards cleaned out
1 C quinoa
1-15oz can mandarin oranges (look for no sugar added), juice reserved
1 C water
1 tsp tamari
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 C slivered almonds
1 C mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced then quartered
1/2 C fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste


1 C almond milk
2 Tbs arrowroot
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs yellow miso
dash of nutmeg
dash of garlic salt


Begin with the quinoa: Combine the quinoa, reserved Mandarin orange juice, water, and tamari in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Let simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Add the slivered almonds and cook them for 5-7 minutes, stirring often.

Add the zucchini, mushrooms, salt, and pepper; cook another 6-8 minutes on medium heat.

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Once the veggies are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the oranges and basil.

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Stir in the cooked quinoa and evenly fill the pepper halves.

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Sometimes I pour about 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan before covering with foil. This will help soften the peppers without overcooking the filling. I think this is especially important when using cheese or fake meats in the filling. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients over high heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Don’t worry about getting the sauce thickened; it’s meant to seep and ooze into the filling. :-)

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Ladle the sauce over the peppers and enjoy!

Vegan & Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean VeganI am so excited to share this recipe with all of you! Having to give up soy is a little less traumatic now that I’ve come up with a delicious soy-free ricotta cheese. After I made the switch from no wheat and no soy, The Seventh Grader wanted stuffed shells. Of course. And . . . like the power of suggestion, I wanted stuffed shells in the worst way. So I couldn’t use my go-to riotta cheese, nor use regular jumbo shells. Thankfully, I found these “Grand Shells” from Tinkyada.

The ingredients are simple: brown rice, rice bran, and water. They’re a little smaller than the typical flour-based jumbo shells . . .

. . . but it’s not a big deal. They also don’t fold over like regular shells do either. Again, no biggie. Also, cooking these are a bit different. Bring water to a boil, add the shells and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the shells sit for 20 minutes. The shells definitely aren’t mushy like some brown rice pasta can be. In fact, they’re pretty al dente—almost too much. If you want them a little softer, I’d leave them for 25-30 minutes. Overall, very impressive! I thought they were delicious.

So onto the ricotta. This recipe makes quite a bit—great for a big pan of lasagna. Feel free to half it for a small portion, otherwise, it makes almost 4 cups.

1 C blanched almonds
1 C cashews
1 C cold water
1/8 C olive oil
3-4 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 C fresh basil
1 Tbs fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 C Daiya cheese,  Mozzarella flavored

I threw the cashews in a bowl of water while I blanched the almonds. Soaking the nuts are not necessary, unless you have the time and want a really smooth ricotta. Add them to the food processor.

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Add the water, oil, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. This may take a few minutes to get it real smooth, especially if you opt not to soak the nuts overnight, which I did not. It just depends on your preference. I happen to like the nutty texture.

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Next, add the basil, rosemary, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Blend until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

I had some jumbo shells as well as tofu-ricotta in the freezer, so for the guys, I made them regular stuffed shells. Since I don’t have celiac disease and not concerned with cross-contamination, I combined both in the pan.

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Layer on some sauce and Daiya cheese and you’re good to go. Bake covered for 25 minutes at 375.

Vegan and Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan


Three-Nut Cheese

Three-Nut Cheese -- Epicurean VeganI have been both fascinated and mystified by nut cheese. It wasn’t until I went vegan two years ago that I even learned you could make cheese from nuts. No, it doesn’t necessarily taste much like milk cheese, but it’s still delicious and of course, much healthier for you than the moo-ey version. This recipe is also from Big Vegan, and is actually for quesadillas topped with a mango salsa. I plan on giving that a try, but I think this cheese tastes phenomenal on crackers and apples. I melted some on a tortilla and the flavor really comes out. This recipe is a process, so allow a couple of days for it to magically turn into cheese.

1/3 C macadamia nuts
1/3 C raw cashews
1/3 C almonds, slivered or flaked
1 acidophilus capsule
1 Tbs cold-press corn oil (I didn’t have any, so I used olive oil)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Three-Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Place the nuts in a bowl and cover with cold water; refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the nuts and puree them in a food processor with 1/2 C water. Add the contents of the acidophilus capsule and puree.

Transfer to a glass bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.

Three-Nut Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

It will then give off a very cottage-cheesy smell. Stir in the lemon juice, oil, and salt. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Orange-Almond Cheese Log

Orange-Almond Cheese Log -- Epicurean VeganI saw a recipe in the December issue of Vegetarian Times for Date-Cheese Ball, but it’s made with goat cheese. I decided to make my own version using the almond cheeze I’ve made before. It has a similar taste and texture to goat cheese and figured it’d be a perfect substitute. It was. Plus, the orange zest gave it such a unique flavor. I brought this to a holiday party and it was gone pretty quick. Keep in mind that this recipe takes up to two days to prepare. You could make it in a day if you blanch and soak the almonds in the morning and serve it in the evening.

2 C blanched almonds
1/2 C lemon juice
5 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 C cold water
8-oz Tofutti cream cheese
1-2 Tbs orange zest
2 tsp dried thyme
1 C sliced almonds, toasted

To the make the almond cheese, soak the blanched almonds for about 24 hours in water. Next, dry them off and transfer to a food processor. Puree them with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, water and salt. Layer a fine mesh strainer with a thin cotton napkin (works way better than cheesecloth), and place over a bowl. Pour half of the mixture into the lined strainer and wrap up tightly, then squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Wrap up and secure with a rubber band. Do the same with the rest of the cheese. Transfer to a plate and chill for 8 hours or over night.

Orange-Almond Cheese Log -- Epicurean Vegan

(you’ll end up with twice this much almond cheese)

To make the cheese log, cream the cream cheese the food processor or mixer. I used a food processor; either would work fine—I just find that the cream cheese gets blended much better this way. You can then transfer to a bowl and stir in everything else, or continue using the food processor.  Squeeze out any more liquid from the almond cheese and add them to the cream cheese along with the orange zest and thyme.

Orange-Almond Cheese Log -- Epicurean Vegan

Pulse several times to combine. Layout a long piece of plastic wrap and spread the toasted almond slices on it. Scoop out the cheese onto the plastic, then wrap up the sides to create a log. This will take some finessing, so just go with how you feel most comfortable doing it.

Orange-Almond Cheese Log -- Epicurean Vegan

Chill for a few hours and serve with crackers. As we were putting the food out for the party, someone had some blackberries and put them around the cheese—brilliant! Fresh fruit is ideal to accompany this cheese log. I know there’s some time involved in making this, but the steps are very easy and worth the effort. Enjoy!

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars -- Epicurean VeganI came across these all natural energy bars on Oh She Glows. I made a couple of alterations like using almonds and sunflower seeds instead of walnuts, and using brown rice flour instead of kamut flour. They are chewy, crunchy, a little bit sweet, and ideal for on-the-go. They’re also great for munching on while you’re hiking. The only thing I found was that they didn’t hold together very well for cutting them up. I think part of it, is that I used too small of a pan even though I went with the size recommended in the original recipe. I suggest using a shallow baking sheet, not a 8″ baking dish.

1/3 C brown rice flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C brown sugar
1 C almonds, toasted
1/2 C sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 C dried cherries or craisins
12 dates (about a cup), pitted and chopped
1 C apricots, chopped
1 flax egg: 1 Tbs flax meal + 3 Tbs warm water
1 Tbs almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9″x13″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Toast the almonds and sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often until golden brown. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the nuts and fruit.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars -- Epicurean Vegan

Combine the flax mixture with the vanilla and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add the flax meal and almond milk to the dry mix and combine well. Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan. You can press down pretty hard—I would say until the mixture is about a 1/2″ thick.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 33-35 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool for 10 minutes.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars -- Epicurean Vegan

Return it back into the pan and place in the freezer for another 10 minutes. Remove from the freezer, cool for 10 minutes and then cut into squares. I’m not sure what the rationale behind this cooling process is, especially since they still fell apart a little when I cut them, but that’s just what the recipe says to do . . .

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars -- Epicurean Vegan

No matter how they’re cut, they’re delicious. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

The Ultimate Veggie Burger -- Epicurean VeganThis truly is the ultimate veggie burger! The recipe comes from Oh She Glows and is nutritious, healthy, and all-natural! They’re simple to make and the flavors mesh really well together. I also liked the crunch that the nuts provide; not a mushy burger at all. The original recipe makes 8 burgers, but I halved it, so below are for 4 burgers.

1/4 C onion, diced (I used red onion)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1-1/4 Tbs flax meal + 1/4 C warm water
1/2 C oats, ground into flour
3/4 C breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1/2 C grated carrot (This, I would grate pretty small-I shredded it and I think next time I’d chop them up more)
1/2 C black beans, mashed (but still a little chunky)
1/8 C fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 C almonds, chopped
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/2 Tbs olive oil (I used 1/4 tsp)
1/2 Tbs tamari
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 hamburger buns

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine the flax meal and warm water. I’m sure you could also use egg-replacer powder if you don’t have any flax meal. Set it aside for 10 minutes. This is a good recipe to have all the ingredients chopped and ready to go before proceeding. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onion and cook until tender. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, flax mixture, oat flour, bread crumbs, carrot, black beans, parsley, almonds, sunflower seeds, and tarmari. Stir in the seasonings.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger -- Epicurean Vegan

With slightly wet hands, shape the mixture into patties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 16 minutes, flip them over, then bake another 16 minutes.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger -- Epicurean Vegan

The guys had theirs on buns with ketchup, tomato and avocado slices. I had mine sans the hamburger bun.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger -- Epicurean Vegan


Asian Veggie Salad with Almonds

Asian Veggie Salad with Almonds -- Epicurean VeganThis is a simple summer salad that is ideal for parties and picnics. It’s also easy to throw together and I love the Asian dressing, too—gives it a yummy, peanutty-flavor.

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 C corn kernels, thawed (if frozen)
1-1/2 C cabbage, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 C edamame, thawed (if frozen)
1/2 a cucumber, sliced, then halved
1 C slivered almonds
1/3 C Light Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (from Kraft)


In a small, dry skillet, toast the almonds for a few minutes, until they begin to brown.

In a large bowl, combine all the veggies. Add the dressing and coat thoroughly. Note: if you are making this ahead of time, stir in the nuts just before serving, as they can get mushy if they sit too long in the dressing. Enjoy!

Herbed Almond Cheeze

Herbed Almond Cheeze -- Epicurean VeganIt’s amazing what you can make with almonds! This recipe is the same as the Almond Cheeze Log, but this time, I added herbs to it. This cheeze is light and fluffy and the herbs are subtle. Feel free to add more than I did, but I think you’ll like this mild version.

1 C blanched almonds
1/4 C lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled (I used minced)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 C cold water
Cheesecloth (a thin cotton napkin works great, too)

First, to blanch the almonds, add them to a small sauce pan and fill with water, just to cover the almonds. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pinch the skins between your finger and the skins will slide right off. Dry them off well.

Herbed Almond Cheeze -- Epicurean Vegan

Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover with 3″ of water; soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse twice with running water. Next, puree the almonds with the chives and parsley.

Herbed Almond Cheeze -- Epicurean Vegan

Then, add the dill, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and water in a food processor until smooth. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon mixture into cheesecloth or cloth napkin.

Herbed Almond Cheeze -- Epicurean Vegan

Bring the corners and sides of the cheesecloth together and twist around the cheese, squeezing out any excess moisture. Secure with a rubber band and refrigerate for several hours. Enjoy!