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Polenta with Spicy Tomato-Mushroom Ragu

Polenta Tomato Ragu Marked

My new book, 100 Best Vegan Recipes hits the shelves this week.  To celebrate, I’m sharing another recipe from the book.  This one is a childhood favorite, Polenta with Spicy Tomato-Mushroom Ragu. Whenever my mom made this, she’d spread the cooked polenta onto a large wooden board (about 42 inches square) that my mother used for rolling out homemade pasta and kneading bread.  The board was placed on top of the kitchen table for the occasion.  The polenta was then topped with her rich tomato sauce that often included pieces of homemade spicy Italian sausage.  We’d all sit around the board and dig in, marking off our own section of the polenta and eating directly from the board.  In this version, bowls replace the board and mushrooms and seasonings provide a sausage-like flavor and texture to the sauce.

As I mentioned in a previous post, many of the recipes from 100 Best Vegan Recipes are favorite recipes that you helped me choose from my book 1000 Vegan Recipes.  I’ve also included several all-new recipes into this slim hardcover volume with gorgeous photos by Lucy Shaeffer. I hope you enjoy this recipe — and the book!


Serves 4

For an even quicker version, use pre-cooked polenta, available in the produce section of well-stocked supermarkets. Cut it into slices and sauté in a skillet in a small amount of olive oil, then top with the sauce. Excerpted from 100 BEST VEGAN RECIPES, © 2016 by Robin Robertson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

1 1/2 cups polenta or coarse-ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Slowly stream in the cornmeal and add the salt, whisking constantly. Decrease the heat to medium- low and continue whisking until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot, about 20 minutes. Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the marinara sauce, fennel seeds, basil, red pepper flakes, and marjoram. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. To serve, spoon the warm polenta into shallow bowls and top with the sauce.


100 Best Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson


Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives

Thyme Sweet Potatoes

With just a week to go before the release of my new book, 100 Best Vegan Recipes, I want to share another one of my favorites from the book, Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Garlic. Packed with umami flavor, these delicious sweet potatoes are the polar opposite of those candied sweets that put so many people off this wonderful vegetable.

If you’ve never been a fan of sweet potatoes, I suggest you try them prepared in a savory rather than sweet way. You can simply bake sweet potatoes (in their jackets) or make healthy “fries” — just peel and cut lengthwise into strips and then toss in a little olive oil and bake on a baking sheet until just tender.

Or you can try this recipe, redolent of garlic and thyme and studded with kalamata olives. Excerpted from 100 BEST VEGAN RECIPES, © 2016 by Robin Robertson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Garlic


1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives

Peel the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic. Sprinkle with the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. A few minutes before serving time, add the olives and taste to adjust the seasonings, if needed. Drizzle with a little additional olive oil, if you like.

Check out 100 Best Vegan Recipes for more favorites…

100 Best Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson


Portobello Po’Boys for Mardis Gras

Portobello Po'boys Marked

Today is Mardis Gras and the perfect time to make these Portobello Po’Boys.  Of course, any time is a good time to enjoy them — Mardis Gras or not!

From my upcoming book, 100 Best Vegan Recipes, this quintessential New Orleans sandwich is made vegan by using succulent Cajun-spiced portobello mushroom pieces in place of oysters.  Slather some vegan mayo on a crusty roll, add lettuce tomato, and a splash of hot sauce and a Portobello Po’Boy can be yours for the eating!  I’m excited to share this recipe with you. Happy Mardis Gras — Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Recipe excerpted from 100 BEST VEGAN RECIPES, © 2016 by Robin Robertson. Photo (c) Lucy Shaeffer. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Portobello Po’boys
Juicy chunks of portobello mushrooms replace the traditional oysters in this flavorful interpretation of the Southern classic. Leave the Tabasco bottle on the table for anyone who wants an extra splash.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 portobello mushroom caps, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 crusty sandwich rolls
Vegan mayonnaise, for spreading
4 tomato slices
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
Tabasco sauce, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushroom pieces and cook until browned and softened, about 8 minutes. Add the Cajun seasoning blend and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spread the rolls with mayonnaise. Place a tomato slice on the bottom of each roll, and top each with some of the shredded lettuce. Arrange the mushroom pieces on top, sprinkle with Tabasco, and top with the roll tops.


REMINDER: 100 Best Vegan Recipes hits the shelves on March 8.  Preorder now!

100 Best Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson

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kapow tofu100

51DkT0xL-qL._SX294_BO1,204,203,200_I’m excited to tell you about my new book coming out on March 8. It’s called 100 Best Vegan Recipes and it features many of the “top hits” of 1,000 Vegan Recipes PLUS several all-new recipes.

In 100 Best Vegan Recipes I share many of the best-loved “must-have” recipes from 1,000 Vegan Recipes (including fan favorites chosen by YOU!). The recipes in this book are mostly main dishes but it also features several breakfast and dessert recipes to show how easy (and delicious) it is to cook and bake without dairy and eggs. Among the great all-new recipes in this book are: Cheesy Rice Balls, Banh Mi Tostadas, Chimichurri White Beans and Roasted Asparagus, and others.

Unlike its ginormous predecessor, 100 Best Vegan Recipes is a diminutive hardcover volume that features gorgeous color photography by Lucy Schaeffer. If you like 1,000 Vegan Recipes, then I think you’re going to LOVE 100 Best Vegan Recipes, available now for preorder on Amazon.

I’ll be sharing more about 100 Best Vegan Recipes soon, including sample recipes and photos from the book. For now, here are some photos taken by the talented Zsu Dever during the recipe testing for this book.

Shown above is Tofu “Ka-POW.” This is Beans Bourgignon:

beans bourgignon 100 bestAnd these beauties are the Cheesy Rice Balls:

cheesy rice balls

Even if you already own 1,000 Vegan Recipes, I think you’ll enjoy this handy little volume.  Because it is a small hardcover with gorgeous photos, it also makes a great gift to someone who wants to “dip their toe” into plant-based cooking.  I hope you enjoy it!



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Tofu Tonkatsu

gvk Tonkatsu z 2a

There’s lots to love about tofu tonkatsu. First there’s the crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside tofu cutlets sitting atop a crisp and crunchy slaw fragrant of ginger and sesame oil. Then, topping it off is the oh-so-flavorful sauce, at once zesty, tangy, and fruity.  These three components, when served together, create a harmonious symphony of flavors and textures that make you want more. If you’re not a fan of tofu, try it with thin slices of seitan or tempeh.

This recipe is from my book Vegan Without Borders: Easy Everyday Meals from Around the World. The photo is by Zsu Dever.

Tofu Tonkatsu
The name tonkatsu means “pork cutlets” but not surprisingly, this tasty dish is fabulous made with tofu, coated with panko and topped with the traditional zesty sauce. It’s especially good paired with the crunchy slaw. This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tamari
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard

6 cups shredded cabbage (1 small head)
1 large carrot, shredded
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
Salt and black pepper

12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2-inch slices, then cut each slice in half, lengthwise
1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Neutral vegetable oil, for frying

Sauce: In a bowl, To make the sauce, combine the ketchup, soy sauce, agave, Worcestershire sauce, applesauce (if using), and mustard in a bowl. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

Slaw: To make the slaw, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Tofu: Place the almond milk, flour, and panko crumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Dip the tofu slices into the almond milk, then dredge them in the flour and then back into the almond milk, followed by dredging them in the panko crumbs.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu to the skillet, in batches if needed. Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 4 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd. Keep warm in a low oven until all the tofu is cooked. Arrange a bed of slaw on four plates and top with the tofu, dividing evenly. Spoon the sauce over the tofu and serve.

Serves 4


Oh Christmas Cheese!

parsley tree

Thanks to the proliferation of plant-based cheese wheels, balls, and logs in recent years, vegans can now enjoy something other than hummus or salsa at holiday parties.  Whether you buy some of the fabulous vegan cheese now available from companies such as Miyoko’s Creamery or Kite Hill or make your own using one of the many recipes available in cookbooks or online, a gorgeous vegan cheese board is no longer just a dream. Oh, Christmas Cheese!

There are a number of ways that you an arrive at the creamy texture and umami flavor you want, including kappa carrageenan, agar powder, rejuvelac, and others.  For my own part, I prefer to use the easiest and quickest method which relies solely on coconut oil combined with cashews to provide the firm yet creamy texture.  The flavor comes from the usual suspects found in many vegan cheeses: nutritional yeast, miso paste, lemon juice … plus I like to add a splash of wine or beer.

Over the years, my go-to cheese log has been made by simply adding some melted coconut oil to my favorite mac and cheese sauce base and then chilling it and then shaping it into a cheddary log encrusted in crushed pretzels or walnuts.  Today’s recipe, however, is even more basic, using fewer ingredients for a milder flavor.  Best of all, it’s shaped like a Christmas tree, just in time for the holidays.

Shown are two ways to “decorate” your tree — coat it with minced parsley and festoon it with pimiento ornaments, or go with a more subdued yet still festive combo of crushed pistachios and dried cranberries (or pomegranate arils).

pistacchio tree

If you want to try your hand at some other vegan cheese recipes, there’s a nice round-up here that features Somer McCowan’s stellar sharp cheddar ball and Richa Hingle’s glorious green goddess gouda.

And now here’s my recipe for a Cheesy Christmas Tree!  Happy Holidays!!!

cheese slice

Cheesy Christmas Tree

1 1/3 heaping cups raw cashews, soaked 15 minutes in hot water, drained well
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
4 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dry white wine, beer, or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon light-colored miso paste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Your choice of: 1/3 cup crushed pistachios + 2 teaspoons dried cranberries (or pomegranate arils)
–or– 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley + 2 teaspoons chopped pimientos

In a food processor, combine everything except the pistachios + cranberries or parsley + pimientos. Process until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Place a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap on a small cutting board. Scoop the mixture into the center of the plastic wrap and top with a sheet of plastic wrap, then use your hands to shape the mixture into a triangle shape to make your tree. It should be about 1-inch thick. Top the cheesy mixture with another small cutting board (or other flat object) to be sure the “tree” is even. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap, and smooth the tree shape, using a knife to even up the sides and bottom. Shape a small amount of the cheese mixture that you trimmed from the tree into a small piece of trunk and attach it at the bottom of the tree.

Press the crusted pistachios or minced parsley evenly into the cheesy tree, on the top and on the sides, then place cranberries or pimiento pieces on the “tree” to represent holiday ornaments. Use a thin wide metal spatula to transfer to a plate or cheese board and chill until ready to serve.

Recipe by Robin Robertson (c) 2015.