Viva Argentina! Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce and Ensalada Rusa


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chimichurri3When you think of Argentinian cuisine, you probably don’t think of tofu!  Like the U.S., Argentinians, as a whole, embrace meat- as seen by their love of dishes such as asada (barbecue) and empañadas (meat-filled pastries).  But that doesn’t mean we plant eaters can’t enjoy the wonderful flavors inherent in Argentinian food! And when it comes to flavor, nothing beats chimichurri: a fresh, intense no-cook sauce, made from vinegar, oil, parsley and other herbs.  It’s traditionally served with grilled meat, but I serve it here over panko-crusted tofu with a side of “ensalada rusa” – a traditional Argentinian potato salad.

Today’s post gives you three versatile recipes in one: Chimichurri Sauce, Panko-Crusted Tofu, and Ensalada Rusa (potato salad). Enjoy!

Chimichurri Sauce


  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
chimichurri5Mix vinegar, water, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper and bay leaf together in a small bowl. Add olive oil and stir well, then add in oregano and parsley, stirring again.  Set aside for at least 1/2 hour.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Panko-Crusted Tofu


  • 4 oz. extra firm sprouted Tofu (such as Wildwood brand)
  • Panko crumbs
  • Olive oil (for frying)


Spread panko crumbs on a large plate or in a small casserole dish.  Slice off 1/4 inch slices of tofu and press both sides of each slice into the crumbs.  Bear down hard on the tofu with the heel of your hand, making sure the crumbs are embedded. Gently hake off any extra crumbs.

In a large skillet, over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is hot, place tofu into the skillet in a single layer.  Cook until golden brown on both sides – approximately 5 minutes each.  Serve with drizzle of chimichurri sauce.


Ensalada Rusa


  • 4 cups diced, cooked potatoes (tender, but not mushy)
  • 1/2 cup cut, cooked carrots (boiled approximately 7 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas (I added frozen the last minute of my carrot boil)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped raw onion
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (1/2 a lime)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Vegannaise (or other vegan mayo)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine cooked potatoes, carrots, peas and onion in a large bowl.  Add mayo and stir well.  Add lime juice, cilantro, cumin, salt & pepper – still well again.  Can be eaten room temperature, or cold.

ensalada rusa1ensalada rusa2ensalada rusa4


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Crispy Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce                   Vegan Pesto

crispy tofu7                                      pesto2


Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money


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A couple of months ago I made a decision: if I am committed to a healthy, plant-based diet, I need to grow some of my own food – regardless of the fact that I live in a very small urban apartment and have never grown anything edible.

My balcony

My balcony

I’m lucky to have a decent-sized, sunny balcony, so have begun the process of growing tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, oranges and lemons.  It began two months ago, purchasing and replanting a dwarf orange and dwarf lemon into lovely pots, left to me by a relocating friend.

Dwarf orangeLemon flower

Tomato seedlingsThen I set my mind to starting tomatoes, lettuce and eggplant from seed.  Why I couldn’t be content purchasing plants from the local garden center is beyond me – I guess I’m a glutton for punishment – and I want organic.  A few weeks ago I planted my seeds (in recycled coffee “k-cups), watching in excitement as they sprouted.  I sowed my lettuce directly outside, but my tender tomatoes and eggplants need a few more weeks indoors before making the transition to the balcony. This is all so new to me, and I’m quite a skeptic  – I told my sister today that if I ever actually harvest a vegetable, I’ll faint. (Okay, I actually said “I’ll pee myself”).

My goal is to post a recipe including vegetables I have personally grown – so stay tuned!

And if you want to be inspired, check out this video from South Central L.A. “guerilla gardener” Ron Finley, who said “growing your own food is like printing your own money.”


Crispy Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce


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crispy tofu7

If you’re looking for that dish to serve someone who normally isn’t crazy about tofu – or if you’re not crazy about tofu yourself – this is the one to try. Marinating tofu, then dredging it in flour and pan frying, results in a magical transformation from rubbery mass to crispy-tender morsel.  If, on the other hand, you truly like tofu (like I do), then you will love this dish with all your healthy heart.


Crispy Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce


  • ½ cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (not hot chili sauce!)
  • 10 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into cubes (I prefer Wildwood brand)
  • 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ – ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • ½ cup red bell pepper slices
  • ½ cup yellow bell pepper slices
  • ½ cup yellow onion, sliced
  • fresh basil or cilantro (optional)
  • raw or lightly roasted peanuts (optional)
  • green onions (optional)


Mix the Hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar and sweet chili sauce.  Set aside.

crispy tofu1 crispy tofu2 crispy tofu5Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, and 2 cloves of the minced garlic together into a marinade. Place tofu in large air-tight container or zipper bag, add marinade and shake to coat well.  Allow tofu to marinate approximately ½ hour.  After marinating, add flour and shake well, ensuring tofu cubes are coated evenly.  Heat 2 of the tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high, then add the tofu cubes in a single layer.  Brown the tofu evenly– approximately 3-4 minutes per side.   Place tofu on a plate and set aside.

crispy tofu3Still on medium-high, add the remainingl 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Once hot, add the mushrooms, onions and peppers, browning the edges, but leaving them “crisp tender”  (like you would for stir-fry), approx. 6-8 minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the additional 1 clove of minced garlic and stir.  Add the tofu cubes back to the pan. Drizzle Hoisin sauce mixture over the vegetables and tofu. Garnish with peanuts, basil, and/or green onions.

Serve with brown rice or your favorite noodles.

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You might also like:

Farro “Risotto”                             Thai Coconut Curry with Eggplant & Tofu

farrorisotto4                        curry4

Farro “Risotto”


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farrorisotto3This dish is quick enough for a work night, but elegant enough for company, and is perfect as an entrée or side dish.  Personally, I scarfed a bowl of it in front of the TV, but you’re welcome to serve it in your good china to dinner guests. Farro has a lovely nutty flavor and chewy, not tough, texture.  The earthy mushrooms and savory thyme add richness and depth (not to mention anti-oxidants and essential nutrients!)

I posted about versatile, delicious farro before.  Until recently, I used slow-cook farro, which I could only find online. Then – all of a sudden -Trader Joe’s started stocking “10 Minute Farro.”  I’m glad I decided to give it a try. It’s not quite as good as the slow cook, but it’s pretty darned close. It will now be a staple in my pantry (which in my tiny apartment is actually one small cabinet) to help me whip up easy meals on the go. I used 1/2 a package for this dish, the rest will go toward my Farro Breakfast Porridge.

This dish calls for a healthy dose of vegan Parmesan, which I keep on hand at all times. If you don’t want to (or have the time to) make your own, there are brands for purchase.

Farro “Risotto”


  • 1/2 bag (4.4 oz) 10-minute farro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 springs worth of fresh thyme leaves
  • Vegan Parmesan







Cook farro in a large pot, according to package directions (mine stated to boil for 10 minutes) and drain well.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the margarine. Add the mushrooms and onion, cooking until the onion becomes translucent and tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the vegetable stock and fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and cook until the stock has reduced by about 1/2 and the mixture has thickened.  Add the last tablespoon of margarine. Turn off the heat, add the drained farro to the sauce pan, and stir well.


Sprinkle with vegan Parmesan, to taste.


You may also enjoy:

Polenta with Mushroom & Spinach Ragout              Coconut Curry Soup

polenta3                                      coconut curry soup

Creamy Corn Chowder


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cornchowderEvery Sunday I try to get a jump on my week by cooking at least two large dishes. This time of year, when it’s chilly (even in Southern California) one of those dishes is invariably soup. Knowing delicious, plant-based lunches and/or dinners are just a few minutes of re-heating away, reduces my stress level and saves me money on dining out.

Corn chowder is a perennial favorite of mine.  it’s simple, delicious, and filling.  When summer finally arrives, you can certainly make this with fresh corn, but a leftover half bag of Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn did the trick for me.

Creamy Corn Chowder


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups diced potatoes (I used Yukon gold)
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 16 oz. vegetable stock
  • 1 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp vegetarian chicken base (I use Vogue brand)
  • salt & pepper to taste


Over medium-high heat, in a small stock pot, heat the olive oil and margarine.  Add cornchowder2the onion and bell pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent.  Add potatoes and frozen corn and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add the flour, stirring well to coat everything, then immediately add the vegetable stock.  Mix well.  Add the MimicCreme and stir again. Add the “chicken” base and turmeric.  cornchowder4

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Optional: use an immersion blender to break up some of the potato chunks. 

cornchowder5MimicCreme is an amazing product that truly does the job of real cream in any recipe. I find it at Whole Foods, but you can also find it online. Vogue Vegetarian Chicken base (which is actually vegan) is available on Amazon. In a pinch, you can substitute poultry seasoning.




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Cream of Asparagus Soup                          Simple Beef-Less Stew

soup4                                  beefless stew7


Cream of Asparagus Soup


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This is a lighter version of the classic, made with coconut milk instead of cream. It’s simple, delicious, and good hot or cold.

My mom made cream of asparagus soup when I was little, and I thought I remembered it to be labor intensive. Recently, however, I was inspired, when a friend told me he simply steams vegetables in the microwave and then blends them to make soup.  I thought “hey, I can do that“…and I did.  So, while sometimes it’s nice to have a pot of soup simmering all day, other times I prefer more immediate gratification.


Cream of Asparagus Soup


  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • Half of one large, sweet onion
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (12 larger stalks or 15-18 skinny stalks)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • leaves from 2 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 8 oz. canned coconut milk
  • 3 oz. vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper


Place potato, asparagus and onion in a microwave safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with microwaveable plastic wrap, leaving one corner open for venting. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  (If you prefer, you can steam your vegetables the traditional way until tender).


While vegetables are steaming, melt margarine over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and thyme, sauteing for 1-2 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn).


Put steamsoup3ed vegetables and garlic butter into a blender (or as I did it, in a bowl using an immersion blender), add the coconut milk and vegetable stock, then puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this with a slice of hearty, whole grain bread and you have a delightful meal in no time.


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Coconut Curry Soup                           Garlic and Greens Soup

coconut curry soup                 garlic and greens soup

Simple Beef-less Stew (Vegan “Beef” Stew)


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Here in Southern California, we’re enjoying delightful weather – but I know that’s certainly not the case everywhere (at least in my hemisphere).  So in honor of those suffering through, what I know sometimes feels like, the endless days of winter, I am offering you the very best in comfort food – beef stew (or should i say “beef” stew?).  Hearty, delicious, and simple – just the way it should be.  My secret is red wine, which adds a depth of flavor to the broth.

Simple Beef-Less Stew


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots chopped large, or 20 baby carrots cut in half
  • 12 baby potatoes cut in quarters (or halves if really tiny)
  • 1/2 bag frozen pearl onions
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bag Gardein beefless tips
  • salt & pepper


In a dutch oven or other good-sized stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the carrots and potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes.  Turn the heat to medium high, add the pearl onions and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  The vegetables should begin to brown, carmelizing a little on the edges (which adds lots of yummy flavor!).

beefless stew1beefless stew3

Add the red wine and and bring to a boil, scraping any burned bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture (deglazing). Keep the pan uncovered and allow the wine to reduce by half, burning off any alcohol – this will take about 5 minutes at a steady simmer.

beefless stew4Add the vegetable broth, stir well, and add the leaves from the thyme sprigs, plus the bay leaves.

The mixture should be bubbling, but not boiling.  Cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Add beefless tips and stir well.  Allow to cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Remove bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste,  and serve.beefless stew7

beefless stew5

This recipe is just as delicious without the beefless tips, so if you’re not a fan of faux-meat, you will still enjoy a yummy stew.  You may also want to experiment by adding mushrooms, or some other root vegetables, such as parsnips.  I kept it traditional, but you don’t have to!

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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie  


Mushroom Bourguignon

mushroom bourg3

Farro Breakfast Porridge


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farroYou may be asking “what is farro?”  Or you have seen it or heard about it, but don’t know what to do with it or how to cook it.  I’m here to help!

Farro has been around for centuries – it’s actually the world’s oldest cultivated grain. While Italians have embraced farro, and you will often see it on their menus (especially in Tuscany), it has only recently begun to catch on here in the states.  I truly believe, once people taste farro, and learn of its nutritional advantages, it will only be a matter of time before it is widely embraced here in the good ole’ U.S. of A.  I originally ordered my farro online, but it is cropping up in a lot of stores recently, including Trader Joe’s.

Farro is a cousin of wheat, but is substantially lower in gluten (not gluten-free!), and is more easily digestible.  It also has twice the protein and fiber of wheat, a half-cup serving providing 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  Plus it’s a good source of vitamin B and magnesium.

Of course, the real questions is: how does it taste?  That’s the beautiful thing: it is absolutely delicious!  Imagine if brown rice and barley had a baby – a nutty-tasting, chewy baby.  The texture is wonderful too – chewy but not tough, creamy but not sticky – kind of like arborio (risotto) rice. Farro is also a versatile grain – I use it here for hot cereal, but it is just as at home on your dinner plate: as a replacement for rice, as a pilaf, or mixed into your favorite soup.

Farro Breakfast Porridge


  • 1 cup farro
  • 2.5 cups water
  • almond milk
  • blueberries
  • walnuts


Place the dry farro in a large saucepan over medium heat (careful – farro bubbles up a lot, so use a big pot!). Toast for a minute or two, stirring frequently. 


Add the water and bring to a boil.  Cover and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes without stirring.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove excess water.

Take 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of cooked farro and place in a bowl.  Add almond milk, blueberries and walnuts to taste.  You can also add a little bit of maple syrup or brown sugar for added sweetness.


Of course, you can add whatever ingredients you like – maybe apples and cinnamon, or maple syrup and walnuts.  Leftover farro can be left in the refrigerator for a few days and easily reheats in the microwave.  It can also be frozen. A quick online search will give you lots of ideas of what to do with the yummy leftovers.



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No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal



Shepherd’s Tamale Pie


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Happy Siete de Mayo!  I intended to make shepherd’s pie this past weekend, but was inspired by Cinco de Mayo to mix things up. Having masa harina in the house since making vegan tamales, I entertained the idea of making tamale pie instead.  Then it hit me: combining the two – a tamale “crust” with a spicy lentil filling, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s Tamale Pie was born. Continue reading

Thai Coconut Curry with Eggplant & Tofu


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My inspiration this week was a huge bin of lovely miniature eggplant at the local market…15 for a dollar!  I allowed common sense to prevail and only purchased 15 – though I wanted to fill my entire cart.  As I stood there, I knew what I had to make: coconut curry.  I think my mouth watered as I imagined these lovely petite eggplant bathed in creamy, spicy, coconutty goodness.  I had tasted such a thing at a restaurant recently and knew that, with a little ingenuity, I could replicate it.   I’m sure my concoction isn’t particularly authentic – Thai food purists beware! – but it’s truly delicious.  Dare I say, this is one of the best things to every come from my kitchen? Continue reading