Here are some lunchtime favorites to put together when the mood strikes. Of course, I’d never tell you that you can’t enjoy these culinary delights for dinner, too!
Carrot Hot Dogs (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Carrot Hot Dogs
This is a family favorite. Even my non-vegan grown children make these. These are a two-day process, but worth the effort. You will be amazed how much these carrots remind you of hot dogs. I usually double the carrots and marinade so that we can have carrot hot dogs for dinner and then for lunch the next day, and if we’re lucky, the day after that.
4 hot dog-size carrots, peeled
⅛ cup rice vinegar
⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup tamari
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
½ tsp each: garlic powder and onion powder
¼ tsp each: ginger powder and black pepper
2-4 whole wheat hot dog buns
In boiling water, cook carrots for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until fork tender. Do not overcook them; the carrots should not be mushy. Remove the carrots from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking.
In a large zip-lock bag, combine all your remaining ingredients, except for the hot dog buns, and mix well. Add the cooled carrots to the marinade, shake slightly to coat, and place in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
Sauté the carrots in a few tablespoons of the marinade in a frying pan atop your stove for 8 to 10 minutes, turning to roast on all sides until heated through. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.
“Chicken” Salad (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Many years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a tofu press. It is one of the most practical kitchen devices I own. You don’t need a tofu press to squeeze the water out of a block of tofu; you can just put a plate on top of your tofu and weigh the plate down with a couple of soup cans. If you don’t press your tofu, you’re chicken salad will be a little too wet.
One 14-oz package of extra firm tofu, frozen, defrosted, pressed, then torn into bite-size shreds
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup diced onion
1 green or red pepper, diced
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon each: onion powder, paprika, pepper, seasoned salt, and parsley
Mix everything together in a medium-sized bowl. Serve on crackers or put between two slices of bread to make a sandwich.
Eggless Salad Sandwich (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Eggless Salad Sandwich
One 14-oz tub of extra firm tofu
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle (or pickle relish)
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
¼ cup stone-ground mustard
½ teaspoon each: cumin, turmeric, and garlic powder
Mash tofu then combine all ingredients. Place on a bun, or toast, with greens and slices of fresh tomatoes.
Crunchy Carrot Pitas (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Crunchy Carrot Pitas
6 medium carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
6 whole wheat pitas
½ cup hummus
½ cup sour cream
Place the carrots in a bowl and mix with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Gently warm pitas to make them easy to open and pliable. I usually place them one at a time in a microwave for 20 seconds to do this. Open each pita and spread one side with a little sour cream and the other side with a little hummus. Don’t worry about being neat about it. Cram some carrot mixture into each pita. Serve immediately.
Pigs in a Blanket (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Pigs in a Blanket
I always use Tofurkey brand kielbasa instead of vegan hot dogs since I despise hot dogs, vegan or otherwise.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 package vegan hot dogs or Tofurkey brand kielbasa
¼ cup soy creamer
1 tablespoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the puff pastry into 9 squares. Cut the hot dogs, or kielbasa, into 2 pieces. Roll a piece of puff pastry around each hot dog (or kielbasa) and seal. Brush pastry tops with soy creamer, sprinkle with seeds (or not), then lay seam side down on a baking sheet. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, then serve with mustard and ketchup.
Kung Pao Burgers (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Kung Pao Burgers
This recipe is adapted from The Vegetarian Times Magazine. They prepare this dish as sliders rather than burgers.
Two 14 oz. packages extra firm tofu
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 whole wheat hamburger buns
1½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon peanut butter
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
2 carrots, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1/8 cup chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon (or so) canola oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut each block of tofu into 4 bun-sized slices. Transfer to dish. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch together and pour over the tofu. Cover and let marinate at least an hour.
For the slaw: whisk together soy sauce, mayonnaise, peanut butter, sugar, vinegar, sesame seed oil, garlic and pepper together. Add zucchini and carrots.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with a little canola oil. Drain tofu and transfer it to the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes each side or until lightly brown and crispy. Top each bun with a slice of tofu, slaw and a sprinkling of peanuts.
Sloppy Buffalo Beans (Susan Alexander / For the News Tribune)
Sloppy Buffalo Beans
This recipe is adapted from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester. They’re not kidding; it really is a great vegan cookbook.
3 cups kidney beans
½ cup Red Hot or another hot sauce
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup vegan sour cream
4 whole wheat buns, lightly toasted
vegan ranch dressing
minced carrot and celery for serving
In a skillet, combine kidney beans, hot sauce, tomato paste, thyme and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the sour cream and heat thoroughly.
Serve over toasted buns and top with ranch dressing. Serve the carrot and celery sticks on the side.
Did you know?
Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, has pledged to serve an exclusively plant-based menu to its patients. When questioned, a spokesperson for the hospital responded, “Why did we stop serving meat? Because, meat is killing us, our planet, and our fellow earthlings. That’s why.”
Susan Alexander is an avid cyclist. She loves gardening, farmers’ markets and creating delicious meals consisting of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.