5 Staple Recipes Every Vegan Should Have
This article was written by Joey Bruno. Joey runs Thrive Cuisine. His mission is to make vegan food accessible to everyone. He does this by creating and sharing recipes that are easy to follow, but result in a delicious meal, which encourages the 'cook' to make more vegan food!
If you’ve been vegan for years, at this point maintaining the lifestyle is second nature to you. You don’t even have to think about cooking vegan food . . . you just think about cooking, period! However, some newcomers may find that staying vegan is difficult, and if they’ve only got a few recipes under their belts, they may start to feel discouraged and bored with their diets.
Mastering a few vegan staple recipes is the cure for this problem. With these base recipes, you’ll be able to keep yourself satisfied and well-nourished, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own signature vegan dishes to keep things interesting!
Vegan Mac n Cheese Sauce
Every vegan needs a go-to comfort food, and what’s more comforting than a big bowl of creamy, gooey mac n’ cheese? In order to satisfy the craving, you’ll need a delicious vegan cheese sauce recipe.
This basic recipe gives you the overview of how it’s done. It uses white beans and cashews to give you that creamy, filling consistency and some simple spices to give you flavour.
This can be poured over whole wheat or veggie pasta to create an even more nutritious meal.
Here’s how to make a very basic vegan mac and cheese sauce for 2-4 servings of pasta. After you've made it once, you may decide that you like it more or less saucy, but it will be easy to amend the recipe to achieve that.
Ingredients for Vegan Mac n Cheese Sauce
• 1 can of white beans (drained)
• ½ cup of soaked cashews
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• ½ of a juiced lemon
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tsp of onion powder
How to make Vegan Mac n Cheese Sauce
- Simply blend all these ingredients together and add water as needed to control the thickness
- Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can build on it by adding veggies to your dish. Try it with carrots, potatoes, or peppers.
The sauce itself is just begging for adaptations. You could add your favourite hot sauce or combine it with veggies. You could also experiment with the seasoning. A southwest blend or an Italian mix could elevate the flavour profile and take your simple comfort food up to a sophisticated meal.
If you’re looking for something even richer, add more cashews and create a dish that will trick your non-vegan friends! I can hear them saying "I can't believe it's vegan!"
Having a go-to breakfast recipe is a key element of maintaining any dietary lifestyle. After all, we are often pressed for time in the morning, and if your mind is racing with all the things you have to do for the day, the last thing you want to do is think about what to make before you head out the door.
This quick and easy go-to breakfast offers the perfect base for whatever breakfast flavours best thrill your taste buds.
Quick tip: You can use any firm tofu for this but buying a pre-drained block (which actually does exist now!) or using a press to drain the tofu you will get the scramble to cook a lot faster. This is because all the water doesn’t have to evaporate in the pan. But even if you don’t drain it, it will get there eventually.
Ingredients for Vegan Tofu Scramble
- 1 block of tofu
- salt, pepper and turmeric to taste
How to make Vegan Tofu Scramble
- Add 1 block of preferably drained tofu to a pan and break up with your hands or a spatula.
- If not using a non-stick pan, you may need to add a small amount of oil to make sure it doesn’t stick.
- Add salt, pepper, and turmeric to create your basic tofu scramble.
- Keep moving the tofu so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn.
- You’ll know it is done when you have a bunch of chunks that are slightly browned – slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and chewy.
- Upgrade the scramble with onions, chopped broccoli or your ingredients of choice.
Just like the cheese sauce, this recipe is completely adaptable. You can add whatever spices or vegetables get you the flavour you’re looking for. Try it with mushrooms, red peppers, and a Mediterranean spice blend or tomatoes, black beans, and chilli powder.
Basic Stir Fry
Stir fry is a veggie-packed meal that requires very little fuss. It’s all made in one pan and can be cleaned up quickly while still providing a filling, satisfying dinner. Everyone likes a good stir-fry, and it’s definitely a recipe staple to have in your arsenal.
This basic recipe comes together in minutes and uses frozen veggies, so you can keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients and never find yourself wondering what to have for dinner when your plans go awry.
Ingredients for Vegan Stir Fry
- frozen broccoli
- frozen carrots
- onions and garlic
- soy sauce
- sesame seeds
- lemon juice
How to make Vegan Stir Fry
- Throw frozen broccoli, frozen carrots and some cooked onions and garlic into a non-stick pan with 1 cup of water.
- Cover and lightly steam until veggies are thawed.
- Add even parts of cooked rice (you can eyeball this) to your veggies.
- Mix everything together with soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and lemon juice.
- Toss and stir until everything is evenly flavoured and rice takes on a “fried” appearance.
The veggies here are just a suggestion, and you can make this meal even more satisfying by adding whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand.
You don’t have to stop here! Experiment by adding Asian-themed spices such as 5-spice seasoning or powdered ginger. You might also want to add some baked tofu to the mix for extra texture and flavour. This video, that's 6 minutes and 46 seconds long, shows you how to do a basic oil-free marinade for tofu and how to prep it for stir-frying.
Smoothie and Smoothie Bowls
Smoothie bowls are delicious and refreshing and can be eaten for any meal. They’re a great way to reduce any ice cream cravings and are super refreshing. I highly recommend investing in a good smoothie blender because you’ll end up using it for a lot of things, including the vegan cheese sauce that I’ve already mentioned.
Here’s the ingredients that I like to blend together to make a very basic and nutritious smoothie or smoothie bowl.
Ingredients for a Smoothie or Smoothie Bowl
• 1-2 frozen bananas
• 1 cup of unsweetened plant-based milk (soy is my favourite)
• 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
• ½ cup berries of choice (blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
• 1 cup frozen kale
How to make a Smoothie or Smoothie Bowl
- Blend it all together and enjoy!
The possible adaptations are limitless, and this is a great way to start your morning with a nutrition-packed punch. Try mixing in your favourite fruits or even topping it with cacao nibs or coconut flakes for a more decadent treat.
Massaged Kale Salad
Kale is often hailed as a “super food” because it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, but most people don’t know how to eat it. If you find kale to be a bit intimidating (or at least tough to chew), it’s time to learn a key staple recipe that will give you a base for all kinds of nutritious salads.
The trick to making kale more manageable is to massage it with healthy fats like tahini or avocado. By doing this, you will soften up the kale and make it much more delectable.
Here’s how to prep your kale to make it taste great!
Ingredients for Massaged Kale Salad
- 3 or 4 handfuls of kale
- 1 ripe avocado
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
How ot make Massaged Kale Salad
- Grab 3-4 handfuls of kale and place it into a bowl
- Remove the skin and stone from one ripe avocado
- Add the avocado and some lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bowl
- Use your hands to massage all the ingredients together until kale is softened and avocado is completely mashed
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with sesame seeds for extra crunch
Once you’ve mastered this technique, there are all kinds of toppings you can add to your kale salad. You could top it with lemon juice, carrots, and chopped bell peppers for a fresh, crunchy lunch. Alternatively, apples, cranberries, and a vinaigrette create a savoury and sweet mix. Kale can become the blank canvas for your culinary innovations.
A vegan lifestyle is easy to maintain if you have the tools available to keep your meals interesting and meet your cravings head-on. You don’t have to eat the same thing over and over again, and you can experiment to get whatever flavour combination you’d like.
Mastering these simple, versatile recipes will give you an excellent starting place not only for what to eat but also how to stock your fridge and cabinets to make sure you always have something delicious on hand.