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Spaghetti LoMein

In our small town, the most vegan-friendly food available has been the local Chinese take-out restaurant.  Sadly, they closed down during this pandemic. To satisfy our cravings, I’ve included a few stir-fries in my menu rotation.  One of our favorites is Spaghetti Lo Mein.  (I make it with spaghetti because most traditional lo mein noodles contain egg and are therefore not vegan.)

This recipe is quite versatile.  Use fresh veggies if you’ve got them, but frozen veggies work quite well too. The last time I made them I used frozen bell pepper strips and substituted sliced zucchini for the mushrooms.  Use what you’ve got! Here’s the recipe from my quarantine-friendly cookbook, Cook the Pantry:

Spaghetti Lo-Mein

If you are using leftover cooked pasta, steam the broccoli for 3 to 5 minutes. If you don’t have fresh vegetables on hand for this recipe, substitute frozen stir-fry vegetables, cooked according to package directions. This recipe is from Cook the Pantry by Robin Robertson © 2015, published by Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Annie Oliverio.

  •  8 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral-tasting oil such as grapeseed oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/3 cup sliced scallions
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup reconstituted Soy Curls  or diced extra-firm tofu or seitan (optional)

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender.  About 3 to 5 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the broccoli. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the tamari, hoisin, sesame oil, and sriracha, if using.  Add the water and sherry, if using. Mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrot, scallions, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the Soy Curls, if using and stir to combine.  Stir in the reserved noodles and the sauce mixture, and gently toss to combine until heated through.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

Cook the Pantry by Robin Robertson


Singapore Mei Fun

Quarantine cooking can be fun — as in mei fun!  Mei fun noodles are very thin Chinese rice noodles (also called rice vermicelli). It is a popular street food in Singapore. Basic mei fun can be somewhat bland, usually stir-fried with shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, and a few other ingredients, with additional condiments served on the side.

Singapore mei fun, on the other hand, is distinctive for its addition of curry powder. It usually features a number of vegetables, and some type of protein food — my version calls for tofu, but you can substitute seitan, tempeh, or soy curls.

If rice vermicelli noodles are unavailable, you can make this with angel hair pasta instead (cooked al dente before adding to the skillet). Also feel free to change up the vegetables used (zucchini instead of broccoli, or green peas instead of snow peas, for example). The seasoning can also be adjusted to your taste, add more red pepper flakes (or a drizzle of Sriracha) for more heat, or use more or less curry powder.

Here is the recipe for Singapore Mei Fun.  Since I.m limiting my trips to the supermarket, I was out of bell pepper, snow peas, broccoli, and cilantro, so I just used cabbage, carrots, and frozen green peas – and it was still super-delicious.  Use what you got!  This is what my quarantine version looked like last night:

This recipe is from my most beautiful cookbook, Vegan Without Borders.  If you don’t have this book, now is a great time to get it — it’s like taking a culinary tour around the world, right in your own home!

Singapore Mei Fun

  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli (mei fun noodles)
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons good-quality Madras curry powder (I used 2 tablespoons  S&B curry powder blended with water)
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin matchstick strips (or shredded cabbage)
  • 1 carrot, coarsely shredded
  • 2 ounces snow peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (or frozen green pea)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omit if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets, lightly steamed (or steamed green beans cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Soak the rice noodles according to the package directions until softened. Drain well and set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until nicely browned, adding 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce and a sprinkling of curry powder while cooking. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate.

Reheat the skillet with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and snow peas, and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Stir in the remaining curry powder and stir-fry 10 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, along with the sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes, stirring to mix well. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the drained rice noodles and return to a boil, stirring to coat the noodles in the sauce. Add the steamed broccoli and reserved tofu, and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed by the noodles. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve hot sprinkled with cilantro. Serves 4

Recipe is from Vegan Without Borders (c) 2014 by Robin Robertson


Quarantine Quesadillas and Stay-At-Home Menu Plan

I hope you’re prepared for cooking during quarantine.  I know I am.  But I owe my preparedness in the path of hurricanes for many years.  Hurricane preparedness was so much a part of our lives, that we actually wrote a book about it!  And now, that the same kind of preparedness is helpful during these strange days of self-isolation.

Even though we’re allowed to venture out for groceries, I prefer to keep my interactions with the outside world to a minimum.  That’s why we made one trip to the store last week and shopped for enough food to last a month. The canned and dried beans and pasta was the easy part. I also stocked the freezer with an extra supply of frozen spinach, collards, broccoli, and other green veggies because I knew the fresh, more delicate produce would be the first things we needed to use up. I then loaded up the fridge with plant milk, tofu, and lots of fresh produce.

I planned menus that used the most delicate product first, so now, over a week since shopping, we’re nearly out of fresh greens — I have enough lettuce for about three more salads. But we still have a lot of other hardy veggies like cabbage, carrots, celery, winter squash, and of course, white and sweet potatoes.  I bought a lot of fruit that I’m keeping refrigerated to last longer, pulling out only what we’ll use in a day each morning.

Here is a list of what I plan to cook in the weeks ahead using what I have on hand:

Stay-at-home Menu Plan

  • Chili Mac & salad
  • Tacos
  • Pizza & salad
  • Hakka noodle stir-fry
  • Lentil soup
  • Stuffed kabocha squash
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Ramen bowls
  • Vegetable fried rice
  • Tofu tetrazzini with green beans
  • Saag with tofu and basmati rice
  • Enchiladas
  • Pasta Fagiole
  • Tofu scramble
  • 15-bean soup
  • Seitan Pot Roast with Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes
  • Artichoke Mac UnCheese
  • Three bean pasta salad
  • Veggie Dogs w/sauerkraut
  • Chickpea salad wraps
  • Singapore mei fun
  • Hoppin’ John

If you have a copy of my book Cook the Pantry or Vegan Unplugged, you’ll find lots of useful tips and recipes using pantry ingredients.  I’ll be sharing some of those recipes in the weeks ahead.  For now, I’ll leave you with the recipe from Cook the Pantry for Spinach and White Bean Quesadillas or as they are now known, Quarantine Quesadillas.  Stay safe!

Spinach and White Bean Quesadillas aka “Quarantine Quesadillas”

Frozen spinach and canned white beans combine with garlic and spices to make a delectable filling for these hearty quesadillas.  No cheese needed.  Serve with your favorite salsa.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 2 tablespoons water to water-saute)
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Large flour tortillas

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the beans, lemon juice, coriander, and cumin.  Cook, stirring, until the spinach is cooked and the flavors are blended, about 5 minutes.  Mash the beans well while cooking. Set aside.

Place a large tortillas on a flat work surface. Spread a thin layer of the spinach mixture evenly over half of the tortilla. Fold the remaining half of the tortilla over the half with the filling and press gently to enclose and spread the filling close to the edges.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the quesadilla in the hot skillet.  Flatten with a spatula and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip the quesadillas and cook until the other side is golden brown.  Cut into wedges. Repeat with more tortillas and filling as desired. Serve hot with salsa.

This recipe is from Cook the Pantry by Robin Robertson © 2015, published by Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Annie Oliverio.


Mad Mocha Marbled Mousse Pie

Chocolate mousse pie has long been a stalwart of vegan desserts, but leave it to Laura Theodore (PBS’s Jazzy Vegetarian) to “jazz up” this favorite with a few new (and delicious!) twists that are right in the recipe title: in this recipe chocolate teams up with coffee giving it a wonderful mocha flavor.  And then, it gets all fancy with a beautiful marbled effect, making it off-the-charts gorgeous.  Another thing to love about this pie is a crust made with dates, nuts, and coconut to add even more flavor and texture.

You can find this recipe and more in Laura’s latest book, Vegan for Everyone.  In addition to many all-new recipes, the book features updated versions of 60 fan-favorite recipes from her earlier books.  Check it out, but first, check out this pie…..


Mad Mocha Marbled Mousse Pie


This pie is gorgeous to look at, delicious to eat and a delight to serve! Your family and guests will think you slaved for hours creating the “fancy” marbled effect, but it’s actually super easy to do! You will please chocolate and coffee lovers alike with this impressive sweet indulgence!


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat pan

11 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

2/3 cup chopped pecans

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut


1 block (14 to 15 ounces) extra-firm regular tofu, drained and crumbled

5½ tablespoons vegan cane sugar

½ cup cold, strong brewed coffee

1½ cups vegan dark chocolate chips (55% to 70% cacao)

½ cup unsweetened or sweetened nondairy milk

Generously coat a 9-inch round pie pan with olive oil. Put all of the crust ingredients in a high-performance blending appliance and process into a dough, stopping the machine and scraping the bowl several times. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer the dough to the oiled pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan (see note). Put the pie pan in the freezer for 6 to 8 minutes, and then transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, put the tofu, sugar and coffee into a blender and process until very smooth. Transfer 1/3 cup of the tofu/coffee mixture to a small bowl and reserve. Add the chocolate chips to the top of the remaining tofu mixture (that is still in the blender container).

Put the nondairy milk into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Immediately pour the simmering nondairy milk over the chocolate chip mixture and process for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until it becomes completely smooth. Pour the chocolate filling into the chilled crust (it will mound up slightly, above the crust). Immediately drop 5 to 6 spoonfuls of the reserved tofu/coffee mixture onto the top of the pie. Then, using a wooden skewer or the tip of a knife, gently swirl the tofu/coffee mixture into the top of the pie in a pleasing, marbleized pattern. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight), until completely set. Slice and serve!

Chef’s note: If you are cooking gluten free, make certain to purchase certified gluten-free tofu, available in most supermarkets.

Chef’s note: If desired, create a decorative edge to the crust. Using the tines of a fork, press gently down around the entire outer edge of the crust to form evenly spaced lines.


Photo Credit: Laura Theodore

Recipe from Vegan For Everyone by Laura Theodore Published by Scribe Publishing Company, ©2020. Reprinted by permission.


In Case of Quarantine: Cook the Pantry

With a possible pandemic on the horizon, I’ve stocked up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer — just in case.  But I’ve also stocked up on enough food supplies to get us through the next couple of months, in case of quarantine.

I’ve been using the tips and recipes in my book, Cook the Pantry, to dictate my grocery list and keep my pantry full if the situation worsens.  The quick and easy recipes in Cook the Pantry use mostly items from your pantry and freezer (along with some optional fresh produce, if you have it on hand).

One of my favorite recipes from the book is the Artichoke Muffaleta Po Boys.  It’s the best of two popular New Orleans culinary icons joining forces to create the ultimate sandwich made with artichokes and a piquant olive relish. Here’s the recipe:

Artichoke Muffaleta Po’ Boys

Makes 2 servings

Recipe from Cook the Pantry © 2015 by Robin Robertson. Photo by Annie Oliverio. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press LLC.

  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/3 cup pickled vegetables, well-drained
  • 1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, well-drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, well-drained and halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
  • 3 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 small sub rolls
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • Pickled sliced jalapeños
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, to serve

1. In a food processor, combine the scallion and garlic and process until finely minced. Add the pickled vegetables, olives, and pulse to make a relish. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the artichoke hearts, season with the spice blend, and cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side.

3. To assemble the sandwiches, spread the mayonnaise and mustard on the inside top and bottom of the bread. Spread the lettuce onto the bottom of each sandwich, followed by tomato slices. Top with the relish mixture, a few slices of jalapeños, and the artichokes. Serve at once with Tabasco.

In case you don’t already own Cook the Pantry, below is a list of the 100 recipes in the book. Check it out — you don’t need to be quarantined to enjoy these easy and delicious recipes.

Cook the Pantry: Vegan Pantry-to-Plate Recipes in 20 minutes or Less

Soup, Stew, Chili

  • Tortilla Soup
  • Chipotle Corn Chowder
  • White Beans and Greens Soup
  • Hot and Sour Noodle Soup
  • Black Bean Soup with a Whisper of Sherry
  • Shiitake Happens Mushroom Soup
  • Pretty Good Gumbo
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Curry-Spiced Pumpkin Bisque
  • Creamy Peanut Soup
  • Pantry Plus Gazpacho
  • Vegetable Bricolage
  • Everyone’s Favorite Black Bean Chili
  • Red Bean Chili
  • Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Stew
  • Chana Masala Bowls

Salad Savvy

  • Five-Minute Couscous Salad
  • Amazing Technicolor Chickpea Salad
  • Moroccan Couscous Salad
  • Tabbouleh Salad
  • Pantry Pasta Salad
  • Hearts of Palm Ceviche
  • Composed Marinated Vegetable Salad
  • Pinto, Corn, and Red Pepper Salad
  • “Three’s a Crowd” Bean Salad
  • White Bean Niçoise Salad
  • Taco Salad with Corn and Black Bean Salsa
  • Southwest Salmagundi
  • Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
  • Zucchini “Pasta” Salad
  • Suddenly Sushi Salad
  • Asian Noodle Slaw
  • Avocado Goddess Salad
  • Three-Tomato Pasta Salad
  • Sesame Soba Salad

Sandwiches, Burgers, and Pizza

  • Crab-Free Sandwiches
  • Bean and Spinach Burritos
  • Artichoke Muffaleta Po Boys
  • BBQ Jack Sandwiches
  • Homestyle Hash Burgers
  • Black Bean and Walnut Burgers
  • Samosadillas
  • Artichoke Tartines
  • Black Bean and Spinach Quesadillas
  • Chunky Chickpea Sandwiches
  • Texas Caviar Wraps
  • Artichoke-Spinach Pizza
  • Pizza Nicoise
  • Black and White Pizza
  • BBQ Chickpea Pizza
  • Cheeseburger Pizza
  • Jalapeno-Hummus Pizza
  • Pinto Bean Nacho Pie

Stovetop Suppers

  • Hoppin’ John and Collards
  • Paella from the Pantry
  • Cheesy Grits and Greens with Smoky Mushrooms
  • Polenta Fiesta
  • Quick Quinoa Pilaf
  • Asian-Style Vegetable Pancakes with Dipping Sauce
  • Dinnertime Scramble
  • Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry
  • Layered Tortilla Skillet
  • Lemongrass Jasmine Rice
  • Greek Freekeh and Spinach with White Beans
  • Pantry Bulgur Pilaf
  • Tuscan Chickpea Fritatta
  • Red Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Queso
  • Chickpea-Artichoke Cakes with Dill Aioli
  • Black Bean Picadillo
  • Jerk Tempeh with Coconut Quinoa
  • Top Shelf Couscous Pilaf

Pantry Pasta Plus

  • Giardiniera Mac and Cheese
  • Capellini with Palm-Heart Scampi Sauce
  • Penne and Broccoli with Red Bell Pepper-Walnut Sauce
  • Kitchen-Sink Capellini
  • Ramen Fagiole
  • Pasta Marinara
  • Puttanesca in a Pinch
  • Rotini with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce
  • Penne with White Beans and Olivada
  • Speedy Lasagna
  • Rice Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • Spaghetti Lo-Mein
  • Artichoke-Cannelini Pasta
  • Manchurian Black Bean Noodles

Sweet Treats

  • Rawklava
  • Easy as Chocolate Pie
  • Peanutty Energy Balls
  • Almond-Cranberry Haystacks
  • Coconut Lime Drops
  • No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies
  • Bananas Foster Dessert Nachos
  • No-Fuss Chocolate Fondue
  • Stovetop Peach-Blueberry Crumble
  • Ginger-Walnut Rum Balls
  • Chocolate-Almond Truffles
  • Pecan Pie Squares
  • Mangos with Pistachios and Cranberries
  • Fudgy Brownie Mug
  • Pastry-Wrapped Chocolate and Walnut-Stuffed Dates


Happy New Year Hoppin’ John

If it’s January 1st, it must be time for Hoppin’ John.  I love the tradition of making black-eyed peas with rice and collards so much!  I first discovered it when we moved to Charleston SC from Pennsylvania in 1983.  It’s been a New Year’s Day tradition ever since.  Most people serve the collards on the side, but I love to combine them. I sometimes add diced tomatoes just because.

My favorite way to serve them is topped with vegan sour cream, Tabasco, sliced jalapenos, with cornbread on the side. I like to cook the collards and black-eyed peas a day in advance and then add them to the rice on New Year’s Day.

Here is my basic recipe (and more photos of Hoppin’ John variations from previous years).  Happy New Year to all my friends. I wish you all the best in 2020!

Hoppin’ John with Collards

1 tablespoon olive oil or 3 tablespoons water

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup long-grain brown rice

2 cups  vegetable broth or water


3 cups cooked or 2 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

3 cups chopped cooked fresh or frozen collard greens, well drained

1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (optional)

1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, plus more to serve

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegan sour cream, to serve

Sliced pickled jalapenos (optional)


Heat the oil or water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and broth or water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste (the amount of salt needed depends on the saltiness of your broth or if you use water). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes.  About 10 minutes before the rice is tender, stir in the cooked black-eyed peas, the cooked chopped collards, tomatoes (if using), Liquid Smoke, Tabasco, and black pepper. Add more salt, if needed.

To serve, spoon into bowls and accompany with vegan sour cream, jalapenos (if using) and Tabasco at the table.

Here are pics of two other favorites from my Hoppin’ John gallery:

Made in a slow cooker with a cornbread topping….

and Hoppin’ John Collard Rolls…. (serve with Tabasco-Sour Cream)…