Beyond Chicken Vegan Jambalaya

Beyond Chicken Vegan Jambalaya | Delectably FreeBefore we get to our regularly-scheduled programming, I have a few housekeeping — er, should I say site-keeping — notes to share. First of all, you may notice that Delectably Free has a new look. My previous header and design was created by my lovely and talented friend Aubrey, but I needed an update to go with some of my other site changes, and wanted to once and for all clarify that we are not entirely “sugar” free, but rather refined sugar-free, lest anyone get too confused. With that, we now have a new header reflecting that clarification. You might also notice the new photo on the sidebar, courtesy of my other lovely and talented friends at Riggs Photography, who took long-awaited photos for this site, which can also be found on my About Me page and in my Coaching Program pages. A few weeks ago, I also added Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram links to my sidebar, for those interested in following my happenings on any of those sites as well. Finally — and this one came with great trepidation — I added mobile compatibility so that my site is easier to navigate via phone. This was was with trepidation because the character and feel of this site is largely lost through the mobile setup, but I felt I had to do it to make everything easier and more seamless. Please, please, please let me know what you think! I am always open to suggestions for improvement.

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My Favorite Vegan Mac and Cheese

my favorite mac and cheeseI know I have, like, a bagillion mac and cheese recipes or variations of mac and cheese on this site. Actually, I only have 3 others. But in the food blogging world, that sort of seems to me like a bagillion.

At any rate, despite the fact that I don’t need to post yet another mac and cheese recipe here, it would feel disingenuous to go on with life knowing that there’s a go-to mac and cheese that I pretty much make exclusively these days that I haven’t shared here. It’s quickly become one of my favorite meals, and one that I make at least once every few weeks — especially during this cold winter, when I’ve been craving warm comfort food and carbs.

I know the internet, as well, has no shortage of vegan mac and cheese recipes using cashews as a base. That’s fine. What I like about this particular recipe is that there are very few ingredients, it’s very creamy, and the miso and smoked paprika are secret ingredients that sort of make this a perfect blend of delicious, umami, smoky and decadent goodness — without any oil or processed fat. I am willing to go out on a limb and say that, despite its lack of processed ingredients, this recipe will wow even the most ardent omnivore or self-proclaimed “cheese addict” you may be feeding.

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Hearty Vegetable Marinara

hearty vegetable marinaraSimple need not be boring. That’s the slogan I would use if I were to bottle this stuff and sell it.

I’ve long had a visceral aversion to boring foods. And by boring, I’m thinking those measly garden salads that are on every average restaurant menu in America. I’m thinking plain white bread. I’m thinking marinara sauce — not every marinara sauce, but the ubiquitous kind that’s plopped out of a jar and poured over spaghetti and called dinner. As long as I’ve been cooking, and as many short-cuts as I like to take at times, I’ve never brought myself to accept a jar of sauce and some noodles as dinner. This may explain why, even when faced with little time and a jar of sauce, I do my best to jazz it up, like I did with this spicy chorizo sauce from a few years ago.

It’s not that I am being a food snob (OK, maybe I am), but that I really just LOVE food so much that I can’t imagine wasting a meal on something that doesn’t really excite me. I guess that’s the difference between someone like me and someone who “forgets” to eat lunch (we all know those people, and no, I don’t understand them one bit).

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Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Noodles

butternut squash coconut curry noodles

Today, I am going to tell you a little story about the power of denial. And the power of really good Thai food.

It all started when I was nearing the end of my vegan transition, which basically meant that I was starting to actually tell people that I was “vegan” (but still had a lot to learn). I had also just moved back to Michigan and was starting a new job in Ferndale, a city in Michigan with a small but fun and eclectic downtown that seemed to me to be bursting with amazing food options. One of those options was a small hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant that charged only $6 for a lunch special that was not only generously portioned but exceedingly delicious. And, to my delight, it was (or so I thought it was) “vegan”. Coconut-Vegetable Curry, as I assumed at the time, was of course made strictly of coconut milk, vegetables, tofu (non-GMO, of course) and secret Thai spices that made it so delicious that I would eat the entire aforementioned generous portion in one sitting, inducing an afternoon food coma that was not the most conducive to productivity in my new job.

I was obsessed with this curry dish. I would crave it. My co-workers soon became obsessed with their respective favorites from this small place as well. Eventually, we were all sheepishly suggesting office carry-outs 2, 3, 4 times per week. After all, it was cheap, quick and delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I tried to ignore the splitting headaches I would get after each meal, the bloating, or the fact that my mouth was so parched that I would go through 4 bottles of water within an hour after eating. 

But it was one day that I went in to this restaurant for my weekly office pick-up duties that I noticed that behind the checkout counter, there was a glass refrigerator filled with cartons of heavy cream. Yes, as in dairy cream. I started glancing around the small restaurant, searching for the coffee pot. Surely, that’s what the cream was for. But there was no coffee. Then I remembered. Ah, yes. They serve Thai iced tea here. That’s what the cream is for. But there was a lot of cream. I mean, loads of it. And slowly, I started realizing that all of that cream wasn’t just for iced tea. It was for something else: our food. A few questions with the manager confirmed my suspicions. Devastation crept in.

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Kale

butternut squash macand cheeseI love mac and cheese. Or should I say, I love gluten-free mini shells with healthy butternut squash sauce made from plant-based whole foods and a healthy addition of leafy greens? Mac and cheese is just easier to say.

The last time I posted a vegan mac and cheese recipe on this blog, I was still in the throes of my vegan transition and was utilizing loads of processed cheese and dairy replacements in my cooking. Not that it wasn’t a superb mac and cheese. It was. But to argue that it was much healthier than its dairy counterpart would be misleading. Such recipes are the perfect example of how vegan foods are not inherently healthier alternatives in every case.

I think my experience is common. I’ve spoken with other vegans who’ve undergone similar transitions — especially for those who go vegan for environmental or ethical reasons over health concerns. Meat and dairy meals are slowly replaced with meat and dairy replacements — processed alternatives made with high-fat oils, wheat gluten and other unnatural products. I will say, I do credit some of these alternatives (minus the wheat gluten, of course) for really helping me kick my cheese habit back in the day (sound familiar, anyone?). And I still occasionally purchase vegan cheese shreds or a cream cheese alternative to use in moderation, and mostly only for special occasions.  But by and large, I’ve come to realize that such products, while instrumental in helping me transition into a vegan lifestyle, are by no stretch of the imagination healthy foods just because they’re vegan.

butternut squash mac and cheese side

With this in mind, I sought to create a mac and cheese recipe that would satisfy all comfort food cravings without having to resort to processed cheese alternatives or oils to get the job done. While there is added fat to this dish from the cashews, they add a monounsaturated fat, which lowers bad cholesterol and does not contribute to heart disease as saturated fat and unhealthy processed oils do. Compare with the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products — along with plant-based products such as palm oils, which are prevalent in dairy-free cheese and cream cheese alternatives — that contribute to an increase in bad cholesterol, raising the risk of heart disease. I’ll take the unsaturated option, please!

But I couldn’t just stop at cashews. To make this dish ultra healthy, I used creamy, delicious butternut squash as a base for the sauce. Not only does it add a beautiful orange color, but it adds additional creaminess to the dish with no added fats, while contributing tons of nutrients and antioxidants, including carotenoids, which are said to protect against heart disease.

And then, just for fun, I added kale. Because why not? I love finding new ways to add leafy greens into my meals, and kale adds a pretty burst of color and textural contrast to the creaminess of the rest of the dish.

butternut squash mac

So, whether you’re transitioning into a vegan diet or going all-in for health reasons, this mac and cheese is sure to satisfy the strongest comfort food cravings without the addition of processed oils and fats that contribute to many health problems. Not to mention that simply removing processed oils and products containing oil is an easy way to keep off the extra pounds without sacrificing flavor.

Just a note: I think this is best when served immediately, but if reheating a pre-made batch, you may want to add a little bit of extra almond milk while reheating and heat over low heat until creamy consistency is reached and the pasta is warmed through.

Possible adjustments, additions & other notes:

  • I used Tinkyada brown rice mini shells instead of elbow macaroni in this dish. I prefer mini shells in mac and cheese recipes because I find that they really trap in a lot of the sauce, making each bite extra creamy and delicious.
  • If not using a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix, soak cashews for 1/2 hour to an hour and then drain before using. This was a trick I used many times with my old, crappy blender and it worked pretty well.
  • This sauce is on the thicker side, almost like a very creamy Alfredo sauce. For a thinner consistency, I would recommend increasing the almond milk to about 1 cup.
  • Instead of kale, use steamed broccoli as an added veggie.
  • This sauce is versatile: pour over steamed veggies or baked potato (or both!). Try adding salsa for a Mexican twist, then pour over baked potatoes stuffed with black beans and fajita vegetables.
  • This dish is great with hot sauce!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Kale:

Serves: 3-4 (serves 4 if served alongside a large salad and maybe another veggie side for a complete meal)


3 cups (about 8 oz.) dry gluten-free macaroni or mini shells

1 cup raw cashews

3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk

1 cup cooked butternut squash, tightly packed (see note*)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (plus more for sprinkling)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

dash cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)

2 heaping cups chopped kale

To cook butternut squash: halve squash lengthwise using a sharp knife. Scoop out seeds and stringy stuff in the middle. Lay squash flat, skin-up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until squash is soft and skin is browned. Remove skin before using in this recipe. 


1. Boil pasta according to package directions until just al dente (do not overcook). Drain and set aside.

2. While pasta cooks, combine all remaining ingredients except kale in a high-powered blender such as Vitamix and blend on medium intensity until completely smooth (I blended for almost a minute). You may need to stir a few times to properly distribute ingredients.

3. After pasta has been drained, return to pot and add butternut squash sauce and chopped kale. Heat over low-medium heat for another minute or so, until kale is wilted and pasta is warmed through. Sprinkle with a little bit of smoked paprika (optional) and serve immediately.


Fajita Bowls with Pineapple Pico de Gallo

vegan fajita bowls with pineapple pico de gallo

Like many vegans, I presume, I often get asked what foods I miss the most since going vegan. And the truth is, I really don’t “miss” much of anything. My mind and taste buds shifted so much during my vegan transition that I no longer view my old favorites such as cheese and roasted chicken as enticing whatsoever.

What I do miss, though, is having dining options in almost any scenario. While I am lucky enough to live in an area in Michigan that boasts a decent amount of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, I do have to do a lot more menu planning and calling ahead when I’m eating out with a group and don’t really have a say in where we’re eating. Sometimes, it works out well for me — and usually I am able to get creative even when ordering off less vegan-friendly menus (sometimes choosing an array of side dishes, for example, that draw the envy of those I’m dining with).

What’s more difficult are those times when I’m truly in a bind — when my blood sugar begins dropping to levels that make me less-than-pleasant to be around, I’ve forgotten to pack an emergency snack, and when nearby options are few. In those situations, I always, ALWAYS, look for a Qdoba or Chipotle, as the best “fast food” option for me is usually some type of burrito bowl. I can remember more than one situation where a Qdoba veggie bowl brought me back from the edge of hunger oblivion.

But as much as I rely on burrito or veggie bowls as an emergency option when eating out, I’ve rarely made them at home. Sure, a bowl of brown rice and black beans has served as a homemade meal on more than one occasion. But I’m talking about burrito bowls with all the fixins — rice, beans, fajita veggies, salsa. Why is this not more of a staple in my everyday meal planning?

fajita bowls with pineapple pico de gallo

Over the weekend, I decided to make my take on a burrito bowl, though I did make an effort to keep these extremely healthy and light as well. No oil, no added fats and lots of fresh veggies keep this bowl guilt-free. I did not even salt the veggies or pico de gallo very much, trying to keep the sodium content to a minimum as well. My parents noticed that the sweetness of the pineapple really brought complexity and flavor to the dish, making a lot of salt unnecessary. The result is no bloating, and feeling just full enough. You can really play around with these bowls by adding guacamole, using jarred salsa instead of pico de gallo, or topping with some vegan cheese. We served ours with a delicious side salad that my mom brought over, but you could easily make this into a true one-dish meal and put your shredded lettuce or salad greens right on top.

Fajita Bowls with Pineapple Pico de Gallo: 

Serves: 4


3 cups cooked brown rice

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Pico de Gallo:

2 cups ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 cup pineapple, finely chopped

1/2 cup red onion, minced

2 jalapenos, seeds removed, minced (add back seeds, to taste, for more heat)

salt to taste

Fajita Vegetables: 

1 large zucchini, chopped

2/3 cup red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pinch sea salt (plus more to taste)


1. To prepare pico de gallo: mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized glass bowl. Add salt to taste and then set aside. This recipe can also be made ahead and chilled in the refrigerator for a day or two.

2. To prepare fajita vegetables: stir together all ingredients in a medium-sized glass bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Add to a non-stick skillet and cook over medium-high for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and add more to taste.

3. To put together bowls: divide rice and beans evenly in 4 individual serving bowls. Top with 4 equal servings of black beans. Divide up fajita vegetables and add them to each bowl on top of black beans. Finally, top each bowl with a large spoonful of pineapple pico de gallo and serve.


No Recipe Summer Pasta Toss

summer pasta tossI don’t know about everyone else, but I haven’t felt like cooking a whole lot lately. Not that it’s been very hot this summer. But summer’s still summer, and it has that effect of making you not want to cook. Then again, I’m still, well…me. So, when I don’t feel like cooking, I still somehow end up cooking something. But this non-recipe recipe was less about cooking and more about tossing some fresh ingredients together: heirlooom tomatoes, zucchini, corn, onion, pine nuts.

I remember when I was little, my mom found a “fresh tomato sauce” recipe in the Detroit Free Press that called for diced tomatoes and raw corn. At the time, I thought it was so fun and different when she made it. Little did I know that, years later, I’d be a raw food loving vegan and a recipe like raw pasta sauce would become far from unusual in my diet. Nevertheless, that recipe was one of my first memories of my mom making a high-raw vegan meal. This non-recipe recipe was inspired by that one, with the addition of some other things I had on-hand, including red onion, zucchini and toasted pine nuts. As simple as it was, it turned out so tasty! No wonder they say you can make amazing food with just a few fresh ingredients.

I decided to share this as a loose recipe because this is one of those ideas that is amenable to so many different variations, and can be easily adjusted based on taste and based on what you have on hand. I could easily see basil or fresh greens being tossed into the mix.

To make this pasta toss, I did the following:

  • Chopped up two large, very ripe heirloom tomatoes. One was red and the other was yellow. 
  • Diced one fresh zucchini
  • Minced up about 1/4 cup of red onion
  • Added some thawed, frozen organic corn (though fresh could easily be used)
  • Toasted up a small handful of pine nuts in a dry skillet until golden brown
  • Tossed it all together with some warm gluten-free spaghetti
  • Tossed in a good pinch of sea salt to taste

What variations would you make to this one? What are some of your favorite no-recipe summer recipes?


What I’m Eating These Days

Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi

Since becoming what I like to call a “real person” and working full-time (ugh, not to mention beginning a course of extensive Lyme disease treatment), it’s been somewhat difficult to keep up with blogging as much as I’d like. I honestly do NOT understand how so many bloggers that I read and admire have other jobs — not to mention kids! — and yet can post on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. Whew. I got tired just thinking about that.

But as much as I haven’t been able to blog consistently lately, my blogging gene is still in full-force. Which is to say, I can’t stop taking pictures of my food! Eating for me these days is more quick and less recipe-based (i.e. I’m throwing together what I have in the fridge), but I still try and create things that are healthy, colorful, and most importantly, exciting to eat! So I thought I would share with you some of the iPhone photos I’ve been taking of my “thrown together” meals (those that haven’t already been instagram-ed, that is). These represent in large part what I have been eating lately when I’m not trying to create recipes. Hopefully they will provide some inspiration to my readers. Oh, and please excuse the photo quality as, like I said, most of these were taken on my phone!

Boiled baby potatoes, green beans, hummus and raw sauerkraut

As you can see, my quick meals still involve lots of greens, whole grains, and of course, raw sauerkraut, which has become a staple in my diet. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve become a huge fan of nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, whose new book Beauty Detox Foods has inspired even more of my go-to meals. However, as you can see, I still do eat organic tofu (which is an apparent Beauty Detox no-no), and other things such as white potatoes on occasion. I feel that the key to good health is to vary your diet enough so that lots of fresh and colorful vegetables are incorporated, and to minimize processed foods and animals products (duh!) as much as possible.

Stuffed peppers with sweet potato salad and mixed baby greens

Here are some of my go-to, healthy meals (no recipe necessary):

  • Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi: Saute tofu, garlic, ginger and veggies of choice in olive oil or vegetable broth. Add cooked rice (I sometimes even just use Trader Joe’s pre-cooked frozen brown rice for a super quick meal), wheat-free tamari sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos to taste, and frozen peas. I also add some crushed red pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with raw fermented kimchi on the side.
  • Stuffed Peppers: I make stuffed peppers a lot, usually mixing in different grains with sauteed veggies, then baking in the oven, covered, until peppers are soft. This particular photo had short grain brown rice, corn, sauteed zucchini, garlic and baby portobellos. I added cumin, coriander, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and sea salt for flavor. The only reason you don’t see them topped with salsa in this picture is because I had run out! I love Mexican flavored stuffed peppers topped with salsa and avocado. I either bake them in the salsa or add it after.
  • Sweet potato salad: I like to boil sweet potatoes until tender (with skins!) and toss with cider vinegar, cilantro, sea salt (to taste) and reduced fat Vegenaise. I got the inspiration for this recipe from Dr. Barnard’s book Power Foods for the Brain, which is also amazing and another frequent healthy eating reference for me.
  • Mixed Greens Salad: Toss pre-packaged mixed greens with your choice of a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s (just a dash or two), apple cider vinegar, sea salt and nutritional yeast. So healthy and easy — a great way to get your greens!
  • Potato-hummus-kraut plate: Topping baked or boiled potatoes with hummus is one of my new favorite things, and something that my mom definitely got me hooked on. The plate shown in the above photo was taken on a day when I was tempted to order out because I had “nothing” in my fridge. Just goes to show you what can be made from “nothing”! I boiled Trader Joe’s “teeny tiny” potatoes (one of my guilty pleasures) until tender, then added green beans during the last minute. Drained. Added some nutritional yeast (totally optional), a healthy dollop of hummus (ok, I may have gone back after this photo to add more) and just a tiny pinch of salt. Then I topped with a heaping pile (as you can see) of raw sauerkraut (yum!). This was one of my favorite creations from my fridge full of “nothing”.
  • Sauteed beans, grains and greens (below): To prepare for busy weeks, I like to cook up a big pot of beans in my pressure cooker (aduki is a new favorite for me), and a big pot of grains such as millet or quinoa. Then, during the week, I can simply saute everything together and add some greens or other veggies, seasoning, and enjoy a meal without having to do a lot of prep. The photo below was millet and aduki/black beans, packaged baby spinach, sliced baby bell peppers (I forget what they’re called…), cumin, olive oil, cider vinegar, coriander, chili powder and some cayenne for heat. It was delicious!

Black and aduki beans, millet and greens


No-Boil Gluten-Free, Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Not my most polished photo, but it does capture the delicious gooeyness that is this lasagna

While lasagna is probably high on my list of favorite comfort foods, there is something very un-comforting about slaving away over the stove all night, especially after an 8+ hour workday. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and find it therapeutic in some ways, but the thought of multi-step preparation, several pots and pans and a sink full of dishes has often dissuaded me from preparing labor-intensive meals on weeknights, however comforting or satisfying those meals may turn out to be.

With that mindset, I set out to prepare a version of lasagna that I could feasibly prepare in under 30 minutes (with a little added baking time) — and one that would not sacrifice on flavor for it. I determined that my first step in executing such a plan would be to prepare a lasagna where the noodles do not need to be boiled first. Sure, there are recipes out there for no-boil lasagna…for vegan lasagna…for gluten-free lasagna…but how would this work with all three components in play? And on top of that, the only lasagna noodles I seem to regularly find in my area are Tinkyada noodles, which are not specifically no-boil. But guess what? It worked!

I think you will find this no-boil lasagna hearty and satisfying. The trick, I found, is to use a lot of sauce. The bottom noodles came out perfectly cooked — the top layer was slightly more chewy but still done throughout, though they did curl up a bit. To counteract the curling, I would suggest using a slightly smaller than 9×13″ pan — one that is no more than slightly longer than the noodles themselves. I found that the pan I used was significantly larger than the actual length of the noodles, causing the top layer of sauce to run off into the sides. While the noodles were still cooked through on top, and I actually liked the slightly chewier texture, I think a smaller dish would have probably relieved the slight problem. On the other hand, if you only have a 9×13″ dish, it is not the end of the world. The noodles still cooked through and a pizza cutter worked to cut everything without making a mess.

The choice of filling in this lasagna was also largely influenced by my effort to save time while still creating something that evoked “real” lasagna (I would argue that vegan lasagna is, of course, “real” lasagna, but you know what I mean…). Spinach lasagna, even in my pre-vegan days, has always been a favorite. This filling involved little more than opening a bag of frozen spinach and crumbling up some tofu. But it was delicious.

On a final note: the sauce I used for this recipe is a take on Chloe Coscarelli’s  mac and cheese sauce from Chloe’s Kitchen, one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. I tweaked the original recipe by adding crushed tomatoes and oregano and playing with some of the other ingredient amounts to make it suited more to a lasagna than a mac and cheese. I also, of course, made it gluten-free. It turned out really delicious! You could definitely use this sauce for any type of baked pasta dish.

No-Boil Spinach Lasagna:

Note: while the bottom layer of noodles cooks perfectly, the top noodles layer may be a little chewier in this recipe because of the no-boil factor. To combat this, you can either split up the filling into 3 parts and spread some more on top along with the sauce (so there would be no noodles on top), or simply boil the noodles if you really don’t want to deal with it. However, I have made this recipe a few times and feel that the noodles cook perfectly when underneath something, so I think splitting the filling and adding more on top is the best solution. Of course, I have also made this several times with a chewier top layer, which I am fine with. I use a pizza cutter to make sure everything slices easily. 

Serves: 5-7


1 pkg. Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles (or other gluten-free lasagna) -totals 12 lasagna noodles


1 pkg. (about 8 oz.) firm tofu

10 oz. bag frozen cut spinach

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour (another gluten-free all-purpose flour should also work)

3 cups soy or almond milk, plain, unsweetened

1 cup organic crushed tomatoes (preferably no salt added)

1 teaspoon sea salt (if used tomatoes with salt added, reduce sea salt and add in more to taste)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (plus more for top, if desired)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. For Filling: Place tofu and frozen spinach in a medium-sized glass or other mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Prepare Sauce: In a large saucepan, melt buttery spread over medium heat. When butter is melted, add flour and whisk until a paste is formed. Add remaining ingredients and whisk. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

4. Return to Filling: Using your hands, squeeze out excess water from tofu and spinach mixture over the sink, about 4-5 times.You may wish to do this over a colander in case you lose any tofu or spinach. Return the tofu and spinach to bowl and add cider vinegar and salt. Mix well.

5. Put it together: Spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom of a 7×11″ pan. Layer 4 dry lasagna noodles evenly over the sauce. Spread about 1/2 of the tofu-spinach mixture evenly over the noodles. You can gently press down with your hands to pack it on. Cover with 1 cup of the sauce. Add another layer of 4 lasagna noodles and cover with the remaining tofu-ricotta mixture. Cover with another cup of sauce. Add remaining layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining sauce. If desired, sprinkle top evenly with nutritional yeast (about 2 tablespoons).

6. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes; sauce should be bubbling. Remove from oven and serve.


Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce

I first made a version of this pasta sauce when I was studying for the Michigan bar and looking for something quick, easy, cheap and still actually filling enough to power me through an hours-long study session. Since then, this recipe has evolved into a weeknight go-to that is so easy, it will have Sandra Lee wishing she thought of it. Truly the “semi-homemade” meal, it’s one of my favorite dishes lately. And, in keeping with the “theme” of this dish (fast! easy!), I’m signing off with a short post today — it’s close to midnight on a Sunday night and I have to get up early for work. Oh, the joys of a full-time job…

Yield: Enough for about 1 lb. of pasta, plus a little extra

Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 large zucchini or 1 small zucchini, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 package Trader Joe’ Soy Chorizo

1 (approx. 18-20 oz.) jar Marinara Sauce*


1. In a large, deep saucepan or Dutch Oven, saute zucchini and carrots in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until zucchini begins to soften and vegetables release their liquid.

2. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften. Add chorizo and crumble with spoon. Add pasta sauce and heat through. Serve over your favorite type of pasta (I like spaghetti or fusilli for this dish), or spaghetti squash.

* I used Trader Joe’s traditional marinara, which is my favorite