Serve these fellows piled on top of spaghetti, or smother them in homemade marinara and make a classic ‘meatball’ sub.
Tip: Do a little extra prep work for a really special dinner: Make a quick batch of cashew Parmesan cheese (super easy, and needed for this recipe anyway!), prepare a classic marinara, and/or bake a loaf of rustic bread.
Great Aunt Mary's Eggplant Meatballs
- 2 pounds eggplant, cubed (skin left on)
- Olive oil (a few spritzes to lightly coat eggplant)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup panko (plus ½ cup more if needed)
- 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh basil)
- 2 tablespoons cashew Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, spritz eggplant cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to fully coat.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spread eggplant cubes on baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the eggplant are tender, remove from oven, transfer to a large bowl (do not discard parchment paper), and allow to cool for five minutes or so. Mash the eggplant with a potato masher or pulse a few times in a food processor.
- Add diced onion and minced garlic to the eggplant mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon. Stir in 1 cup of panko, Italian seasoning, basil, and cashew Parmesan cheese. Taste mixture and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Mixture should be moist enough to roll into a ball but not overly wet -- if it's too wet, add some or all of the remaining ½ cup panko.
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons or so of the mixture into your hand and shape into ball (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Place on the same parchment-paper-lined baking sheet you used for the eggplant cubes. Repeat until all the mixture is used.
- Bake for 30 minutes, turning at the halfway point so that sides are evenly browned.
- Remove eggplant meatballs from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving over pasta with marinara or in an eggplant meatball sandwich.
Once baked, your eggplant meatballs will get firmer as they cool. I recommend making ahead of time and reheating them in marinara in a saucepan over the stove when you're ready to serve. Makes around 24.
Foregoing the tahini called for in many hummus recipes means dropping lots of fat without sacrificing the creamy texture or rich flavor.
Easy Tahini-Free Rosemary Hummus
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained (liquid reserved) and peeled (see Notes below!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- Paprika or smoked paprika for serving (optional)
- Add chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and rosemary to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as many times as necessary until everything is well blended. If needed, add some of the reserved chickpea water one tablespoon at a time and/or the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and continue blending until hummus reaches your desired consistency.
- Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika or smoked paprika before serving (if desired).
Using peeled chickpeas means pinching the skins off each bean by hand, and it takes some time! Don't bother if you want the extra fiber from the skins (or don't mind a more rustic hummus), but know that removing them will make the hummus much creamier. Personally, I put on some music and just get in the peeling zone...
The classic (and perfect) holiday cookie to serve with coffee or tea.
- 1 cup brown sugar (I use certified-vegan Florida Crystals Organic Brown Sugar)
- ¾ cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I used Earth Balance Vegan Shortening)
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons of water; mix and let stand a few minutes until goopy like an egg)
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Granulated sugar (I used certified-vegan Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar)
- Beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses, and flax egg in a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium speed (this can be done by hand with a spoon but is much easier with a mixer). Make sure ingredients are thoroughly creamed; as they are beaten, the mixture will turn lighter in color.
- Stir in all remaining ingredients except granulated sugar until mixture is completely blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease baking sheet.
- Shape 1 to 2 teaspoons of cookie dough (1 teaspoon for an adorable bite-sized cookie, 2 teaspoons for a larger cookie) into balls. Dip the tops and sides into granulated sugar, leaving only the bottoms uncoated.
- Place cookie-dough balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart on baking sheet.
- Bake 9 to 11 minutes or just until cookies set. (It's important not to overbake cookies; they may seem very soft when you take them out of the oven, but they'll continue to harden as they cool.) Transfer baking sheet from oven to wire rack for 3 minutes or so to allow cookies to firm up, then transfer cookies from baking sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
As a rule, it's best to place cookie dough onto a cold baking sheet. I suggest turning your baking sheets upside down and running cold water on the undersides of them in between their trips into the oven so that each batch of cookies comes out perfectly. This recipe will make 40-50 cookies, depending on the size ball your roll.
Possibly the ultimate in comfort food.
Veggie Pot Pies
- 1 batch of vegan biscuits (here's my super-easy perfect biscuit recipe)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup red or yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (+ 2 tablespoons of water)
- 1 cup red-skinned potato (skin left on), diced
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine or white wine
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans, whatever you like) or substitute 1 cup of fresh mixed vegetables (diced) of your choice
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy butter (I use Earth Balance)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Start by mixing up one batch of perfect biscuits. Cut the biscuits out and set them aside, leaving them unbaked.
- In a medium pan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. While the onions and garlic are cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water until it's smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.
- Add potatoes and wine to the onion pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the vegetable broth, almond milk, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and cornstarch + water mixture to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- After the sauce has thickened, add the frozen mixed vegetables (or fresh vegetables) to the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I recommend starting with ¼ teaspoon of salt and a few shakes of pepper, tasting, and adding more as necessary; make sure to season well so that your sauce is not bland). Cook the entire mixture on a low heat for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and discard the 2 bay leaves.
- Set 6 ramekins on top of an aluminum-foil-covered baking sheet (this will catch any overflow). Divide the mixture evenly between the 6 ramekins. (If you prefer, you can skip the individual ramekins and pour the mixture into an 8" x 8" baking dish.)
- Top with biscuits and brush each biscuit with melted vegan butter.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes (until biscuits are golden and you see the filling bubbling up). Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Ramekins are small, and really only provide a few bites. I suggest doubling this recipe (and using a baking dish if you don't have 10-12 ramekins) if you're feeding more than two or three people or you want leftovers!
Light, fluffy, easy, perfect. (Adapted from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits recipe.)
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold vegan butter (I use Earth Balance), plus a bit more for brushing on top (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cold vegan shortening (I use Earth Balance)
- 1 cup plant-based buttermilk, chilled (1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar + just under 1 cup of almond milk; directions follow!)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Begin by making the plant-based buttermilk: Place 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add plain almond milk up to the 1-cup mark. Stir and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Using your fingertips (not your palms), cut vegan butter and vegan shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (Move quickly -- you don't want the fats to melt.)
- Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled plant-based buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together -- do not overstir! The dough will be very sticky.
- Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour, and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press down into a 1-inch thick round.
- Cut out biscuits with a 3-inch cutter, making sure to push straight down through the dough. Reform any scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting biscuits until you have 6 (the more you work the dough, the less light and fluffy the biscuits will be, so try to get as many biscuits as possible out of the first cut).
- Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Brush each biscuit with melted vegan butter (optional). Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, around 15 to 20 minutes.
Decadent, chewy, chocolate caramel candy with health benefits? Yep. Dates are a whole food — they’re rich in fiber, packed with vitamins, and a great source of potassium and calcium.
Note: You or someone you know doesn’t like dates? I have yet to meet a date-hater who didn’t love these! This recipe will make around 15 turtles — my bet is you’ll want to double it!
Date-Caramel Chocolate Turtles
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound or about 1 cup, packed) soft Medjool dates, pitted (be sure your dates are sticky and moist)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for topping
- Heaping ¾ cup of non-dairy semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips)
- 1½ teaspoons coconut oil or vegetable oil (coconut oil will, predictably, give them a faint coconut taste, so go with vegetable oil if you don't want that)
- 1 cup pecan halves
- In a food processor, blend the pitted dates until a sticky ball starts to form (patience -- this could take a few minutes and several times scraping down the sides of the food-processor bowl with a spoon to keep things moving)! If your dates are sticky and moist, you should have no problem, but if necessary, add a ½ to 1 teaspoon of warm water while pulsing.
- Once you have a paste starting to form, add the ¼ teaspoon of salt and continue to pulse until everything is well combined (it's okay if it's not perfectly blended and creamy). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In a double boiler over a medium heat (or in the microwave in 40-second intervals), melt the chocolate and your oil of choice together.
- On a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, arrange pecan halves in groups of four (these are your turtle's four legs -- you can add additional pecan pieces if you're a stickler for anatomical accuracy and want to represent the head and tail, but I find four work best).
- Scoop a heaping teaspoon of date caramel into a mound in the middle of the pecans to make the body of the turtle. Push down on the date-caramel mound so that it holds the pecans in place.
- Using a spoon, coat the whole fellow in melted chocolate, leaving the ends of the pecans uncovered.
- Top turtles with a sprinkle of sea salt. I don't recommend skipping this step -- it's the salty/sweet contrast that makes these so decadent.
- Transfer baking sheet to refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow turtles to set up. Serve turtles taken directly from fridge, or let them come to room temperature if preferred. Store in container in freezer or fridge.