Vegan Food Hacks
Gnocchi, in case you haven’t discovered them, are an Italian specialty that are mainly made of potato flour, with a little wheat flour. In other words, a bit of starchy comfort heaven. You use them the same way you’d use a chunky pasta; they’re especially good enveloped in marinara sauce. We like gnocchi with beans and greens — all adding up to a classic Italian trio.
Some cooks like to make their own gnocchi, but no thanks, not us. The project takes a good hour or two and makes a floury mess of the kitchen. There are a number of vegan brands, one of which we depict below, and being the food hackers that we are, we’d prefer just opening the package and letting that be the beginning and end of it. more→
Not long ago, we presented super-easy and extremely tasty Pesto or Hummus Flatbreads in a make-as-many-as-you-need version. We enjoy these so much, especially during the warmer months, that we were inspired to present a full meal paired with a tasty black bean salad.
For the flatbreads, choose something that’s 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Flatbreads are pre-baked, so all they need is a quick warm-up on a dry skillet to get the bottom nice and golden and crispy. Pre-baked mini pizza crusts work very well too, as do sturdy Indian breads (make sure there’s no dairy in them).
Most breads come in packages of at least 4, but you can make as few or as many as you need. If you’re eating solo or serving two, just make those, and you can make them again the next day, as they’re best fresh and take almost no time to prepare. more→
This dish featuring cold shirataki noodles will remind you of Asian summer rolls — without all the soaking, rolling and fuss. Combined with crisp lettuce and bottled sweet chili sauce, this is a 5-minute salad that pleases both the palate and the eye.
First of all, what are shirataki noodles? If you haven’t discovered them yet, you’ll be pleased to know that they come ready to eat (no cooking!), and they have zero calories. If you’re gluten-free, you can check that box off, too, Shirataki noodles are made with a yam-like tuber called devil’s tongue, and have a firm, pleasing texture. Sometimes tofu is added to them (hence: tofu shiratake), but you can get them soy-free, too. more→
If you love the idea of a homemade fruit dessert but aren’t much of a baker, you’ll appreciate this incredibly easy skillet blueberry crumble. No fruit to pit and cut, no crust to labor over — just a few key ingredients and you’ve got a blissful summer dessert. It’s especially delicious served over nondairy ice cream. We chose a pecan praline for these photos, and it was a perfect fit!
This is also a nice choice when you have company coming for a meal and worry that you might not have the time or patience to make dessert after all other preparations — so no worries, this quick dessert requires neither time nor patience, but still impresses. more→
Salad bars are often an appealing option for healthy food fans at restaurants, so why not serve one in your own kitchen? Here’s how to put together a delicious and easy salad bar at home. It’s a fantastic way to put together a last-minute company meal or for building a dinner around fresh raw veggies when you’re too rushed or tired to do a lot of cutting.
For a larger meal, consider a soup (or chili) and salad dinner. Classic Veggie Chili is a crowd-pleasing choice for cooler months; a cold soup like Gazpacho for summer (and if you want to take the hack a bit further, try our Brilliant 4-Ingredient Gazpacho).
Poutine is a Canadian fast-food specialty with roots in Quebec. Basically it’s French fries smothered in gravy and covered with cheese, or rather, cheese curds — whatever those are. This vegan poutine recipe swaps out a beefy gravy for a veg version, and nondairy cheddar shreds for the curds.
Admittedly, poutine (vegan or not) is kind of like enjoying movies that are so bad they’re good — liking something a bit weird as a guilty pleasure. If we could have gone full-on vegan hack with this recipe, we would have liked to use a readymade vegan gravy. We’re not sure one even exists, but no worries, vegan gravy is super-easy to make — and really, the only from-scratch item in this simple rendition. more→
Pizza is such an easy go-to meal, but if it’s warm weather or you want a lighter version, you’ll enjoy these little pesto or hummus flatbreads that can be grilled right on the stovetop. And as quick as homemade pizza can be these days, with prepared crust, sauce, and vegan cheese, these are even quicker, since you don’t have to wait until the oven gets hot and then the baking time, all of which can easily add up to 30 minutes. And while that’s certainly not an eternity, how does 10 or 15 minutes sound? Even better, right?
These fun little flatbreads can be varied in a number of ways. As a change of pace from tomato sauce, we used a vegan artichoke pesto on some and hummus on others. You can use classic basil pesto as well, of course, purchased or homemade if you have an abundance of basil. more→
This is the easiest Asian slaw recipe ever, since it requires a bare minimum of chopping (just the fresh herb!), and starts with pre-cut fresh vegetables. You can also shortcut your way to a flavorful dressing by using a good bottled brand of sesame-ginger, but if you want to make your own, by all means! This simple salad adds color and crunch to Asian-style meals, of course, but honestly, it goes with so many other dishes, like sandwiches, veggie burgers, wraps, soups, and more. more→
There are plenty of pulled jackfruit sandwich recipes around the web, but this miracle food is so amazing that we just had to have one of our own. This super-easy pulled jackfruit sandwich recipe relies on flavorful BBQ sauce to envelop the starchy fruit. In its unripe state it has that kind of stringy texture provides an animal-free way to enjoy a “meaty” treat. Pairing it with coleslaw gives the sandwich a cool crunch.
- Two 20-ounce cans young green jackfruit in water (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 to 1 cup barbecue sauce (your favorite brand or homemade)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons barbecue seasoning such as mesquite (see Note)
- 2 cups or so pre shredded coleslaw
- 1/4 cup vegan mayo or other creamy dressing
- 4 whole-grain buns
1 Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Cut away and discard any core portion, then chop the jackfruit roughly.
2 Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the jackfruit and 3/4 cup barbecue sauce. Heat up over medium-high heat until the sauce bubbles, then turn down the heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir from time to time.
3 Uncover and mash with a potato masher or large fork to create string-like “pulled” texture. Add a little more BBQ sauce if the jackfruit has gotten dry, then stir in the BBQ seasoning to taste. Cook for 5 minutes or so longer.
4 In the meantime, combine the slaw with enough vegan mayo to coat.
5 Divide the pulled jackfruit among 4 buns (you may have excess), top with a little coleslaw and the top of the bun, then serve.
- Make sure to get jackfruit in water, not brine or syrup. If you can’t find canned young green jackfruit at a natural foods store near you, it’s available online at Amazon.com.
- Barbecue seasonings are available in the spice section of most supermarkets
Photos: Evan Atlas
- See more of our Shameless Shortcut Recipes
This nearly raw mac and cheese is pretty amazing, even though there’s no macaroni and no cheese in it! The noodles are a summer favorite, spiraled zucchini, and the sauce, based on carrots cashews, hemp seeds, and nutritional yeast is surprisingly cheesy. Though a high-speed blender is preferable for making the sauce, no worries if you just have a regular blender.
Spiralize the zucchini noodles yourself, or, if you don’t own a spiral slicer, you can get spiralized squash in the produce section of many supermarket these days, yay! This is recipe says “comfort food” like raw foods rarely do. more→
Carrots are a fantastic vegetable to incorporate into your daily diet — filled with Vitamins A and C, they’re also a great source of fiber. Most kids and picky eaters don’t object to carrots even if veggies aren’t their thing. Whole carrots, baby carrots, grated carrots — they’re all good. Grated carrots can go into so many kinds of dishes or star in other, but if you’re not inclined to peel and grate whole carrots, take advantage of pre-grated carrots from the supermarket.
In our Vegan Food Hacks kitchen, we love them, and even when other kinds of carrots are in the fridge, as they usually are, there’s often a bag of them on hand to toss into all manner of dishes or as a foundation for simple salads. Here’s a sampling ways to use pre-grated carrots. more→
Stuffed peppers seem like such a fancy thing to make, something you’d serve at a special occasion or a holiday meal. And yes, they can be all that. But quick grain-stuffed peppers can also be made for everyday meals with little fuss. The secret is using tasty, all-natural pilaf mixes, which have so much flavor that there’s no need to measure and mix a multitude of seasonings; no need to do anything other than follow package directions.
Once you stuff these pilafs into prepared peppers, you need not even cook or bake them any further. For this dinner hack, we used a delicious porcini-flavored quick-cooking farro pilaf mix, but you can also use quick rice or couscous pilafs (not all are vegan so check labels). more→