Vegan Recipes

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Vietnamese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Tau Hu Cuon La Nho) Recipe

This recipe is the result of one of my many experiments. The plants in our garden are starting to sprout beautifully. We have a small grape vine, so I used the leaves as wrappers for some Vietnamese vegetarian appetizers called tàu hũ cuốn lá nho (grape leaf wrapped tofu).

If you want to make the dish truly authentic, you should use betel leaves, but I find this version served on occasion. Betel leaves have a peppery, slightly bitter taste and I think the grape leaves taste a lot milder. The choice of the filling is really up to you. I filled them with bean thread noodles, fried jicama, shiitake mushrooms, fried tofu and fresh soy bean paste (packed with protein).

Either way, they make the perfect snack or appetizers. They're healthy, tasty and packed with good nutrition.


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Papaya Smoothie Recipe (Sinh To Du Du) Recipe

Sinh tố đu đủ literally translates in Vietnamese to papaya (đu đủ) vitamin (sinh tố). I've made sinh tố in the past with creamy avocado, but I got my hands on a beautiful papaya, so I made this version instead. You can also make many variations of the Vietnamese drink such as jackfruit, durian or mango depending on what you have on hand. The usual sweetener is sweetened condensed milk. You can blend the fruit with either yogurt, soy milk, regular cow's milk, coconut milk or coconut water.

I love wandering through ethnic markets. They're a great place to find interesting ingredients to develop new recipes. This weekend, my husband Lulu and I went to Mi Pueblo supermarket in East Palo Alto after a trip to the nearby Home Depot. Along with the beautifully ripe papaya, which reminded us of our last trip to Cancun, I found nopales (cactus), exotic banana varieties and the best horchata I’ve had in a long time. On top of that, the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I’m definitely going back for more great Mexican ingredients.


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Pulao Recipe (Indian Vegetable Rice) Recipe

Pulao is an Indian rice dish filled with sabji ("vegetables" in Urdu). In this version, I flavored the rice with only three vegetables: lima beans, carrots and green peas. Lima beans are packed with protein and are very filling. The combination of lima beans and rice makes a perfectly balanced meal for a vegetarian diet.

I served this one-dish meal family style with raita or chutney on the side. This weekend, we prepared a large pot and everything was gone at the end of lunch time! My favorite is the fried "burnt" rice at the bottom of the pot, called kurchan.


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Mediterranean Vegetables: Healthy Side Dish Recipe Recipe

This Mediterranean vegetable medley is not only a healthy side dish, it's also packed with flavor. I mixed red bell pepper, sunburst squashes, crimini mushrooms, green olives and garlic, along with baby eggplants, which fit perfectly in this particular dish. The skin is tender, not bitter and the seeds are very small. I also melted goat cheese at the end to bind all the flavors together. We bought way too many fresh loaves of French bread from the bakery aisle at Safeway, so I took one of the loaves and cut it into small croutons and used them to soak up the juices from the vegetables.

For a non-vegetarian version, I would substitute grilled chunks of chicken for the croutons and serve it on a bed of rice.


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Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Baking banana cupcakes is my way of using the ripe bananas that have been sitting in our fruit bowl. Our family eats a lot of bananas but I think this week we went a little over-board, so we had some leftover that were turning black. I mashed the bananas with a little lemon juice and used it as a flavoring for cupcakes. I added crème fraîche (you could use sour cream) so the cake batter was very moist.

I frosted the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and decorated them with sprinkles I recently bought at Target. Easter is coming soon, so why not prepare some cute sweet treats!


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