Andrea Mattioni-Willis

The Veggie Chef offers recipes for vegetarians. Andrea Mattioni-Willis is a vegetarian herself and she loves to cook. She frequently experiments with new recipes and will share her findings with all of you.

I enjoy my time in the kitchen. To me, it feels like a break from other work or chores the way another person might find a nice bubble bath relaxing.

However, there are some nights when I just need to get dinner on the table with as little fuss as possible. I’m sure I’m not alone here, and so I’m sharing three dinners that are made with ease and are of course, vegan.

The first meal, which is the  easiest is a tostada and salad combo. To make one tostada you will need:

1 tostada

¼ C vegetarian refried beans

1 TB black olives

What do vegans eat? The short answer is everything except animal products. Every kind of vibrant vegetable, great grain, fresh fruit, sumptuous seed, lovely legume, herb and pure spice is available for your eating pleasure.

We’ll go over specifics meal by meal, but the real answer is that this lifestyle is far less limiting than you may think. If you’re new to veganism, you’ll likely find yourself cooking more creatively than ever before – just don’t be afraid to experiment.

Some general guidelines:

Winter and the cold weather calls for soup, and a warming, spicy soup is just right. The soup recipe I’m sharing today gets a nice smoothness from butternut squash and spiciness from a red curry paste.

The particular red curry paste I use is Maesri brand. I use this paste because it already has dried red chilies, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, lime, coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom so it really cuts down on what I need to use to prepare a curry dish or even a nice miso curry salad dressing.

Today's recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, but no one will know if you don't tell them. Nothing is missing here as the rich flavors of chocolate and blueberry blend together in a way that leads to a decadent dessert experience.

A special thanks to the Happy Belly Deli at Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op for sharing this recipe with us.

If you are fortunate enough to come into inexpensive (or free) pumpkins, they are great for more than just being the centerpiece for some autumnal decoration.