Shameless Shortcut Recipes

Super-Quick Grain-Stuffed Peppers

Farro-Stuffed peppers3

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→

Quick and Easy Vegetable Curry

Quick and easy Vegetables masala dinner

This quick and easy vegetable curry is flexible; use the vegetables recommended, or see the variations below the recipe. Complete this easy meal with lentil chips or papadum, and a cool cucumber salad with coconut yogurt and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Gone are the days when the laziest among us make a curry dish by dumping in some curry powder. Now, for homemade curries that have truly authentic flavors, a number of Indian simmer sauces from jars are at our disposal.

Please note that a number of varieties are vegetarian (containing dairy) rather than vegan (which are often based on coconut milk. In our Vegan Food Hacks kitchen, we love Maya Kaimal Indian Simmer Sauces (our review here, where you can see which varieties are dairy-free). There are other good brands that you can explore in the international foods aisle  Because much as we love authentic Indian flavors, we’re way too lazy to roast and grind and measure and mix the proper way.

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Baked Polenta Casserole with Zucchini & Spinach

Polenta Zucchini casserole

This easy baked polenta casserole uses prepared polenta (the kind that comes in a tube) layered with zucchini and spinach. Smothered in marinara sauce and topped with melty vegan cheese, it’s almost so embarrassingly easy to make, but such a crowd-pleaser. Use a really flavorful prepared marinara—roasted tomato, garlic, mushroom, or chunky vegetable. Adapted from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. more→

Salsa Verde Quinoa Pilaf

Salsa Verde Quinoa Pilaf

In this simple quinoa pilaf, salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) makes a bold flavor statement. If you’ve never used it before, this green salsa variety is shelved along with the standard kinds. It has a somewhat smoky flavor that adds a distinctive character to dishes, and of course, it’s also perfect as a dip for tortilla chips. Just 5 ingredients (not counting salt and pepper) add up to a super tasty quinoa dish! more→

5-Minute Vegan Artichoke Dip

Vegan sour cream artichoke dip

If you like artichokes, you’ll love this tangy vegan sour cream artichoke dip. And being to make it in 5 minutes flat makes it even more appealing. We used Follow Your Heart vegan sour cream, but you can use any brand your natural foods store carries. (when you have more than 5 minutes to spare until snack time, there’s also a link to a recipe for homemade vegan sour cream in the ingredient list). Serve with veggie chips, tortilla chips, or raw vegetables. more→

Easy Vegan Batter-Dipped Cauliflower

Vegan batter-dipped cauliflower

Whether you enjoy this vegan batter-dipped cauliflower as a simple side dish or a veggie-based snack, you’ll find them completely addictive! And because we’re all about easy here at Vegan Food Hacks, we start with a bag of frozen cauliflower. Kids and adults — even picky ones — often approve of cauliflower. And what about the egg batter usually used to make this kind of recipe? A chickpea flour batter is the perfect swap.

Fresh cauliflower is great, but sometimes you don’t feel like dealing with the mess required to chop it down into cute little florets. No worries, frozen cauliflower may not be as good as fresh, but it does retain most of the nutrients, and is already in perfect-sized pieces for this recipe. more→

Nearly-Instant Vegan Miso Soup

Vegan Miso Soup recipe

If you’re vegan, you need to know that miso soup served in a Japanese eateries is often made with fish stock, so do ask when ordering. It’s a warming treat that’s a shame to miss, it’s nice to know that making traditional-style miso soup at home (minus the fish) is quite easy. Lately, though, I’m not fond of what kombu (a sea vegetable) does for the soup. It has a fishy flavor (after all, it comes from the ocean), a weird slippery texture, and it’s expensive. Fortunately, this vegan miso soup recipe is just as good without it.

Like its more traditional counterpart, it’s incredibly easy to make and cooks up in minutes. The green leafy aspect of the kombu is replaced with dark green lettuce leaves. more→

Vegan 7-Layer Bean Dip

Vegan 7-layer bean dip

7-layer bean dip (aka 7-layer Mexican dip) is one of those delicious concoctions that probably has little to do with Mexican cuisine, in the same way that many “Chinese food” dishes are nowhere to be found in China. But it’s a heck of a party dip, so we’ll take it. This all-vegan 7-layer bean dip is super easy to make and you need not measure precise amounts, just build the layers, make it look nice, and serve with plenty of chips.

This is a fun snack to serve for Cinco de Mayo, Super Bowl and other sports gatherings, or any time you need an accompaniment to margaritas, mojitos, and sangria. more→

20-Minute Salsa Black Bean Soup

Salsa black bean soup

There are those times — and it doesn’t have to be in the dead of winter — when you crave a really hefty, hearty, satisfying soup. A rainy day, a sudden head cold, and you want some soup NOW. This delicious salsa black bean soup is yours in not more than 20 minutes. Seriously. And it’s made with common ingredients you can find anywhere.

The only thing I urge you to splurge for — and it’s not much of a splurge — is organic canned black beans. That’s because the liquid they come in is a lot more like broth than like slime-water, making a lovely thick base for the soup. And the fact that many brands of organic beans come in BPA-free cans is a bonus as well. A jar of good salsa gives the soup a huge flavor boost. Thanks to VegKitchen contributor Hannah Brown for this tasty idea. more→

Chinese-Style Cauliflower Fried Rice

Chinese cauliflower fried rice

I’m all for rice, especially brown rice, but lately, I’ve fallen for cauliflower rice. Or, to be more precise, cauliflower “rice.” If you haven’t discovered it yet, it’s nothing more than cauliflower chopped down into rice-like pieces. Much as I like brown rice, it can feel heavy; cauliflower rice becomes a lighter substitute. Chinese-style cauliflower fried rice shows how well it works; and it makes the dish even quicker to prepare — no need to take the 30 to 40 minutes to cook brown rice.

Cauliflower rice makes any classic rice dish lighter, and is a fun and tasty way to get an additional serving of vegetable into your daily fare. For slothful food hackers like myself, the availability of frozen cauliflower rice is a huge bonus! If you like this as much as I do, explore our other cauliflower “rice” and “couscous” recipes. more→

Peanut Satay Zucchini Noodle Bowl

Peanut satay zucchini noodle bowl

Who doesn’t love zucchini noodles? They make a perfect base for ever-popular vegan bowls, too. We love them not because there’s anything wrong with regular pasta noodles. But in the same way as cauliflower “rice” has gotten to be such a big thing, it’s just another very cool way to eat more veggies. But what if you don’t have a machine — how do you make zucchini noodles without a spiralizer? You buy them already spiralized, that’s how. And then this peanut satay noodle bowl will be ready in a flash. more→

World’s Easiest Peanut Satay Noodles

Easiest peanut satay noodles

I’ve made peanut noodles dozens of times in my time as a mom and a cook, and I can attest that a homemade peanut sauce isn’t the hardest thing to make. Everyone likes it, even the pickiest of eaters (aka kids). But I’ve gotten to the point where using a bottle of Thai peanut satay sauce makes more sense (and is cheaper) than getting all the authentic ingredients (tamarind sauce, lemongrass, red chili …) and making a mess with the food processor. And so, we give you — the world’s easiest peanut satay noodles!

For this recipe, I used my supermarket’s organic brand — so tasty, and surprisingly low in calories for a sauce whose main ingredient is organic peanuts! Per 1/4 cup (the label serving size of 1 tablespoon isn’t realistic) it’s only 100 calories and 4 grams of fat. more→

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