Vegan Italian

standard July 24, 2011 1 response

I love Italian food. Hands down my favorite type of food. So I am always trying to figure out how to replace all the meat and cheese laden dishes with healthy, veggie alternatives. My absolute favorite Italian dish is risotto. My first taste of risotto was at an authentic, family owned Italian restaurant in Chicago on my 19th birthday. It was probably the best thing I had ever eaten, and when I got married and had my own kitchen, it was one of the first things I taught myself to make. I don’t follow a recipe when I make it, and I always make it differently every time, based on what I have on hand. Last week, I made one of my favorite versions, so I had to share!

Mushroom and Leek Risotto with Parmesan Tempeh

Serves 2.


  • 3/4 c arborio rice
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 2 T Earth Balance, divided
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 8 baby Portobello mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 c diced leeks
  • 2 c spinach
  • 1 T  + 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2  tsp dried thyme, divided
  • 1/2 block of tempeh
  • 1/4 c whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make vegan “parmesan cheese” by combining nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in a food processor or blender until ground.
  2. Heat a large pot or skillet. Melt 1 T Earth Balance, then add mushrooms and leeks. Add 1 T parsley and 1 tsp thyme and saute until soft.
  3. Add rice to the skillet and allow to toast slightly. After about 5 minutes, add wine and stir well.
  4. Add veggie broth about a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Add broth as it gets absorbed, keeping the rice mixture covered in liquid. Keep adding and stirring until all broth is added and rice is tender.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in half of the vegan parmesan, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Combine remaining vegan parmesan, breadcrumbs, and the rest of the parsley and thyme in a shallow bowl.
  7. Dredge tempeh slices in mixture, patting it down well to stick it to the tempeh.
  8. Heat a skillet with remaining Earth Balance. Cook tempeh until heated through and golden on each side.
  9. Serve tempeh on top of risotto. Garnish with any remaining parmesan.

Oh so creamy goodness. If you want it even creamier, stir in a spoonful of vegan cream cheese. Or change up the veggies depending on what you have on hand. Try adding lemon zest with the rice, and stirring in asparagus and peas instead of the mushrooms and spinach. Delicious!

Spaghetti Night

standard February 20, 2011 Leave a response

This week I decided to pull my menu from my recipe binder. I collect so many recipes in there, but I never go back and cook them! And since I am traveling later this week, it’s another good way to plan just a few meals.


  • Sunday: Spaghetti with Tempeh and Mushrooms
  • Monday: Couscous with Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Tuesday: Pasta e Fagioli
  • Wednesday: Penne with Walnut Sauce
  • Thursday – Sunday, the husband is on his own. I could try to make food in advance for him to eat, but then it would just go to waste. I think he likes the excuse to eat as much red meat as possible.

I cooked two cups of  dried chickpeas on Saturday, so now I have four cups of cooked beans for the week. One cup went into hummus for a party this weekend. Another cup I roasted with some apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and cinnamon to put on top of salads this week. The last two cups go in Monday and Tuesday’s dinner. I love how one food can work in so many ways to make my life easier!

Tonight’s spaghetti dinner was super easy, especially considering the husband requested meat be involved this time. 🙂

Spaghetti with Tempeh and Mushrooms

Serves 2.


  • 1/2 block tempeh
  • 8 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces spaghetti


  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small skillet. Saute mushrooms until soft.
  2. Crumble tempeh into mushrooms and stir to combine. Cook until tempeh heats through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti and drain.
  4. Add sauce to tempeh mixture and combine well. Let simmer for another couple of minutes.
  5. Serve sauce over spaghetti. Top with vegan parmesan, if desired.

To make vegan parmesan, combine equal parts nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds in a food processor and combine until fine. The cheesy flavor of the nutritional yeast and the nuttiness of the sunflower seeds makes a great parmesan substitute. And it provides a good amount of vitamin B12 as a bonus! 🙂

Tempeh is a great meat substitute, for anyone not familiar with it. I like it because it is made from rice primarily, although some brands mix soybeans into it. I am not a huge fan of eating processed vegetarian protein products or meat substitutes, especially soy based ones. But tempeh is okay in my book every once in a while. It packs a lot of protein into a small amount of food and has a pretty neutral taste.

This dinner was easy, quick, and delicious! Definitely a new staple in our house.