Category Archives: Dinner

Vegan Stovetop ‘Baked’ Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more… beneficial fibre you are furnishing your body with. Yeah.

Shout out to my sister who, very sweetly, requested that I post a new salad recipe, as it is apparently quite hot in Toronto right now.

Sorry, but it’s pretty darn chilly here and I couldn’t face a cold supper. I spied a can of Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Beans in my cupboard and they looked appealing to someone who decided to join Bike to Work Week and has been schlepping in the rain 14 kilometres a day (that would be me; I had to brag about it somehow). They’re super tasty and animal product-free, but they contain mustard, which is a no-no for certain people in the house (not I, I adore mustard).

So, all that to say that although it may be Summer in some parts of the world, it sure isn’t in Vancouver, and sometimes a gal just wants some beans on wheat-free toast on an almost-June evening.

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Katie’s Easy GF, Vegan Baked Beans at Nourishing Flourishing. Thanks, Katie! I didn’t want to dirty another dish, so I didn’t bake them. Tangy, bursting with flavour, and not too sweet, these beans were a lovely and simply dinner served with toast and a simple salad.

Looks like chili, but it’s mostly just beans.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

4 smallish cloves garlic, minced

1 19 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (can use different beans; I used what I had on hand)

1 19 oz. can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

4 tbsp ketchup (I used organic)

1 1/2 tbsp molasses

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp prepared horseradish (not the mayo-y kind)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tbsp Bragg’s (or tamari)




Heat oil in a pan over medium-low.

Add onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If they start to stick, add a splash of water and carry on.

Add garlic and stir until fragrant, around 2 minutes.

Add beans and sprinkle a little more salt. Cook for a couple minutes.

Add all other ingredients, including 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.

Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add pepper and taste for salt.

Serve with hot buttered toast, or whatever you like.

Serves approximately 3 as a main.


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Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Pumpkin Bean Quinoa Stew

Did you know that the spanish word for ‘pumpkin’ is calabaza?

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes. This recipe, like many others, was born of pantry ingredients and a blasé attitude towards cooking. I’ve been busy and, as a result, not cooking or blogging. In fact, for the first time, feeding myself feels like a chore. I have even depleted my precious  freezer-ful of Trader Joe’s packaged vegetarian goodies. Sad times.

Feeling like I needed something wholesome and real, I glumly poked around my kitchen the other night, zeroed in on a can of pumpkin puree leftover from the Fall, and finally the rusty wheels of inspiration started turning. Very creakily.

What resulted was a Mexican-inspired pumpkin bean stew, with some quinoa thrown in for good measure. Cilantro, garlic , cumin and lime come together to give pumpkin puree a decidedly non-Thanksgiving kick.

Tasty and hearty, I hope this stew chases away your kitchen doldrums, like it did mine!

Hearty, rich and full of flavour.



1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 19 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or other bean, such as black or pinto)

1 28 0z. can pumpkin puree

1 bouillon cube

6 cups boiling water

1/2 a lime

1/2 tbsp salt ( and more to taste)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced for garnish


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-low heat.

Add the onion, sprinkle with a little salt, and fry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a kettleful of water.

Add zucchini and bell pepper to the onions and cook until slightly softened.

Add cumin, chili powder, garlic and quinoa and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.

Add beans, pumpkin, bouillon cube, salt and 6 cups boiling water.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or until veggies are tender and quinoa is cooked.

Squeeze in the lime juice, and stir in the cilantro. Taste for salt. I added more.

Serve with avocado and a sprinkle of cilantro on top if you want to get fancy.

Makes a big pot of stew. I froze a LOT of it for a rainy day. Add more water if you’d like a soupier consistency.


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Filed under Dinner, Soups

Vegan and Gluten-Free Lasagna

Decadent melt-in-your-mouth lasagna, pretending it was eaten with green accompaniments. Lies!

Catchy name, hey? Fret not, this lasagna is so saucy cheesy good that it has little use for clever titles and is also omni-approved. It’s only downside is that it is a wee bit tedious. But then, isn’t that always the case with lasagna?  While delicious, it’s not really a weeknight food.

So, obviously I made this on the weekend and it wasn’t really that much work. I just prefer to make lasagna when company is coming over because it feeds a crowd and also pleases said crowd. I’m sorry, folks, it’s been a long day and I have a cold and am not feeling especially clever and this recipe is going to be a doozy to write!

I hope I’m not turning you off making this now! Don’t listen to me! I’m cranky. What I was trying to say was that it’s not a big deal. People are coming over, so you’re cleaning your house, right? Trying to make it look like your bathroom always sparkles! Well, while you’re doing that, have your sauces simmering. Once they’re done, you really just have to assemble your lasagna and bake it. Do your dishes, and it looks like a lasagna just magically appeared out of your squeaky clean oven. I love that! There’s something so 50s housewifish about pulling a casserole or something out of a pristine kitchen.

Another good thing about lasagna, and this recipe in particular, is that not only allows your guests to feast, but also feeds you for a week, because this recipe makes one big lasagna, and then also a secret second mini one. I had some of my secret one for lunch today, and it really does get better with age. So freaking good. Sadly, it’s gone now, but yours doesn’t have to be! Invite people over so you have an excuse to indulge, or just treat yourself because you deserve it! Yes, you.

The main lasagna, all dressed up and ready to go! Into the oven.

This recipe is made without wheat or dairy, but honestly, you can’t tell. The cheese sauce recipe is pretty much Karina‘s, although I didn’t consult it this time because I have made it so often that I just wing it now.

A note on the vegetable layer: this recipe made enough for the larger lasagna, but not the secret mini one, which is the one I photographed. Honestly, it was really good without the veggies, because it was more comfort food-y. I like to throw the veggies in for a little extra nutritional value, but they are optional.

As for the noodles, I used rice lasagna noodles, which aren’t specifically oven ready, but you can treat them like they are! No boiling necessary, for real! They turn out beautifully every time.

The following sauce recipes are really handy, as they are ones I make all the time as my go-to tomato and cheese sauces, respectively.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 white onions, diced

1 tsp. dried basil (or fresh basil, if you have– use more!)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tbsp. capers, chopped (optional)

2 24-0z bottles Italian strained tomato sauce aka passata di pomodoro (mine had basil leaf in it)

2 small or 1 large can Hunt’s plain tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Sauce Directions:

Heat oil in a soup pot on medium to medium-low heat. Add onion and sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté for 15-20 minutes until soft, stirring as needed and adjusting the heat so the onions don’t burn at all.

Add basil, rubbing it between your hands. I think this releases the flavour, but I might be making that up. I kind of just don’t like the texture of dried herbs, so I like to soften them up.

Add garlic and let cook 1 minute until fragrant.

Turn heat to max, and add wine. Stir until wine has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn heat back down to medium and add capers and all of the tomato sauces.

Cover, reduce heat a little and simmer for half an hour.

Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

4 tbsp olive oil

4 heaping tablespoons rice flour

2 cups plain non-dairy milk

3 cups water

1 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional- this’ll give it a kick, which you may not want for mac ‘n’ cheese, but it’s good in lasagna)

1/2 cup Daiya (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Cheese Sauce Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat.

Whisk in flour and let cook for around 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in milk and water, letting the sauce thicken in between additions.

Once sauce is almost as thick as you’d want it to be, whisk in all other ingredients.

Let the sauce cook until desired thickness. Taste for salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I added a little more of all these things!

Vegetable Mixture Ingredients (Optional and Flexible):

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 white onion

crown of broccoli

3 cloves garlic

1/2 bunch kale

2 handfuls fresh spinach

small box of mushrooms

Vegetable Mixture Directions:

Dice all ingredients into small pieces. The idea here is to sort of mimic your standard spinach layer, not create a vegetable lasagna.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or, even better, a wok, on medium-high heat.

Sauté vegetables until soft, around 20 minutes or so.

Lasagna Ingredients:

The above 3 components

2 boxes of rice lasagna noodles (or 1 if you don’t want an extra mini one)

1 small tub of vegan cream cheese (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, assemble your lasagnas! My large pan is 9″ x 13″ and my small one is 8″ x 8″, by the way.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, followed by noodles, then tomato sauce, then cheese sauce, then noodles, then all of the vegetables and continue on like that until you run  out of space, leaving about an inch of room on top. I like to finish with cheese sauce. Don’t be stingy with sauce! The noodles need it to cook properly and they soak up a fair amount. I also like a saucy lasagna. Also, don’t overlap the noodles. You’ll need to break them to fit, possibly, as I did. Save little weird noodle pieces for your secret lasagna! It’s pretty much made of them!

Distribute little dollops of cream cheese evenly on top, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 15 minutes, or until noodles are easily pierced with a fork.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I don’t bake 2 lasagnas at once, because I tried it once and the noodles turned out really gross. You can assemble the 2 lasagnas at the same time, but bake them one at a time. The little one likes to bake while everyone’s eating because then everyone is distracted and won’t realize that you’re holding out on them!

Whew! I need some lasagna after all that. How about you?

Cheesy, saucy goodness, just like a real lasagna!


Filed under Dinner

Tomato Garlic Chickpea Soup

Garlic soup for the vegan soul.

You know that thing where you haven’t done the weekly grocery shop and you find yourself with a sparse crisper and you’re sick of seeking sustenance from a bag of Daiya and a couple corn tortillas?


Can we be friends?

Because I seem to find myself in this predicament on a biweekly basis. Well, thank goodness for blogs, I tell you! And for stewy soupy concoctions.

The inspiration for this particular combination was equal parts bare fridge and a FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for White Bean and Garlic Stew. Since I modified it a fair amount, I’ll share my version. Also, we thought it was quite delicious, thanks to something I hadn’t tried before– adding an entire bulb of garlic to a normal-sized pot o’ soup.

Do it, people, just do it. As promised by Susan, the whole cloves of peeled garlic become very mellow and yummy, just like when garlic is roasted. The garlic really gave the soup a richness and depth that made it addictive and seconds-worthy.

Vampire proof.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 bulb garlic (about 15-20 cloves) peeled

2 large carrots, sliced

1 small zucchini, chopped

2 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vegetable bouillon

freshly ground pepper

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, juice left in

1 19-oz can chickpeas. drained and rinsed


In a soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.

Sauté onions for 5 minutes.

Add carrots, zucchini and garlic cloves and sauté another few minutes.

Add water, salt, bouillon, bay leaves, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Cover, lower heat and simmer for an hour, stirring and adding more water and adjusting salt if you want it soupier.

Serve with freshly ground pepper.

Savour the delicious garlic cloves and share some with your nearest and dearest.

Serves 5-6.

And now, just ’cause, a pretty little ditty by some nice young British boys:


Filed under Dinner, Soups

Cozy Adzuki Beans with Red Wine, Onions and Thyme

Adzuki Beans stewed with onions, garlic, red wine and thyme taste better than they look.

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the Keen Kitchen Pantry! Want to make something cheap and nutritious that practically cooks itself? Whip up a batch of dried adzuki beans! You don’t need to soak them. Just put them in a pot and let them do their thing while you get on with your life.

I make a big pot of adzukis from time to time and freeze portions in tupperware. Pulling out a container of “homemade” beans feels very… dare I say luxurious? Adzuki beans are pretty mild and go with lots of things. Also, they are apparently easier to digest than other beans and are little nutritional powerhouses. Plus, they are soooooo cute.

I hesitated to post this recipe as this dish is, let’s face it, kind of ugly. But it is really tasty and, once the beans are cooked, comes together in about 20 minutes. If your freezer is a treasure trove of frozen beans, you can have this on the table in the time it takes to watch The Big Bang Theory (oh, how I miss you)!

I serve this as the sort of “meat” part of a meal, alongside a green vegetable and rice. I think it would be good with polenta too.

Add some mushrooms to increase the meatiness and earthy flavour of this cozy feel-good bean dish.

Steamy beanies.

This time around, I decided to cook 3 cups of dried adzuki beans. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot with 3 cups of water for every cup of dried beans. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to minimum and cook until softened. I salted mine and added a sprinkle of dulse flakes for good measure. They took around an hour, but I wasn’t really pay attention. May have been an hour and a half.


3 cups cooked adzuki beans, drained

2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re anti-fat)

1 medium white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (does not contain poultry. It is a mix of seasonings.)

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup broth or water

salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil on med-low. Cook onions until softened, around 10 minutes.

Add thyme and poultry seasoning and stir until fragrant.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add adzuki beans, red wine and broth. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

You say Fall? I say Beans!

Serves 4 as a side dish. 


Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Vegan Cheesy Potato Bake

Vegan cheesy potato bake: Cheesy and... bean-y.

I’m still here. Sort of. I am not taking the change in weather gracefully.  Going from 30° and sunny to 14° and raining in a matter of a day does not a happy Maya make.

It’s not all doom and gloom here in the Keen Kitchen, I just haven’t really felt inspired to create. Or grocery shop. So I have been whipping up things like vegan mac n’ cheese and weird chickpea and brown rice combos. My culinary highlight of the past two weeks has definitely been Melissa from Swapmeat’s Cuban beans and rice. Make those and imagine yourself enjoying them on the beach with a frosty cuba libre in hand if you want a little sunshine in your life!

I probably should have made those again, but instead spent my day watching all six super-grisly episodes of The Walking Dead back to back, occasionally looking up to gaze sulkily at the raindrops hitting the indoor furniture still on our deck that we stubbornly have not brought in.

Even though I really should have had zero appetite after six hours of  intestine-relishing zombies, my grumbling stomach convinced me to poke around and see what was up in the kitchen. Potatoes were pretty much the only fresh thing. I rarely buy potatoes, as they are a no-no in our house, but today called for comfort food after a gruelling day on the couch. Hence the cheesy potato bake.

Unlike its chockfull-of-dairy counterpart, this vegan cheesy potato bake is low(er) in fat and high in fibre thanks to today’s secret ingredient: white beans. I was feeling guilty about making a dish that has nothing green in it, so I thickened my sauce with beans instead of oil and flour. Nutritional yeast, a vegan cheese sauce staple, adds vitamins and overall yumminess too.

Jack couldn’t stop raving about this. He’s a comfort food kind of guy. He proclaimed it “delicious,” “soooooo good” and the “best scalloped potatoes” he has ever had. Woah! Not bad for a vegan bean-filled potato dish!

I recommend putting some Daiya on this. The liquid dried up a lot during the cooking process and a little Daiya melted on top gave the dish some extra moisture. Hot sauce or ketchup works too!

Zombies HATE vegan cheese.


2 19-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

1 tbsp tamari

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp tahini

3 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp paprika

freshly ground pepper to taste

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced in rounds

Daiya vegan cheese


Preheat oven to 450°.

Place all ingredients besides the potatoes in a blender and blend until smooth.

Grease a large baking dish (mine’s 13″ x 9″). Spread two potatoes-worth of rounds evenly in the dish. Ladle sauce until covered. Layer the remaining two potatoes. Pour remaining sauce on top.

Sprinkle with more paprika and freshly ground pepper.

Cover in tinfoil and bake 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 20 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

Sprinkle some Daiya on top and put back in oven until melted.

Serve with something green and try not to think about zombies. Enjoy!

Serves 4. 


Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca

Feed your inner saucy minx with this scandalously delicious puttanesca, sans anchovies.

According to the dictionary on my MacBook (a highly reliable source that has gotten me through many a paper), puttanesca sauce was developed by Italian prostitutes who needed a quick and tasty meal in between clients. Thank you, working gals of Italy! I have no idea if this is actually true, but believing it may add a little mystique to your dinner, so why not?

Savvy Italian prostitutes may not have whipped up this speedy and flavourful sauce, but you certainly should! It is one of the fastest and easiest tomato sauce recipes I know and it packs a punch, thanks to briny olives and capers along with the usual suspects of garlic, basil, tomatoes, onions and wine. I used to make it with anchovies and a wee bit of gorgonzola, but I honestly think it is every bit as good without.

This recipe is another one I honed during my stint living with my Italian second family. It is one of those recipes that isn’t measured and everyone’s version tastes just a bit different. I love how every cook’s food somehow has a distinct flavour, even if the ingredients are the same.

Today, I measured the ingredients as I went but usually I just eyeball it. So please use this as a blueprint and let your inner Italian prostitute guide you.

Vegan puttanesca sauce over brown rice spaghetti. Food styling and photography by Jack.

This sauce doesn’t take much longer to cook than the time it takes to boil your pasta, making it a great weeknight dinner.


2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re watching your fat intake)

1 white onion, diced

1/2 a jalapeño, seeded if it is a hot one

1/4 cup red wine

3/4 cup canned sliced black olives, drained

1/4 cup capers, drained

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (optional)

4 cloves garlic, minced

680 mL can Hunt’s plain tomato sauce

28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

Brown rice spaghetti (I use Tinkyada brand)


Heat olive oil on medium-low. Add onion and jalapeño. Fry, stirring, for 15 minutes until softened. Lower the heat if the onions are browning. This should be a gentle process.

When onions are softened, turn heat to high. Add the red wine and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn the heat back to medium-low.

Add the capers, olives and fresh basil. Fry for 5 minutes.

Put your pasta water on and boil the noodles while you do the following steps.

Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add Hunt’s and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer while your noodles are boiling.

Taste for salt. I did not need to add any, thanks to the saltiness of the capers and olives.

Serve over brown rice pasta and sprinkle with a little nutritional yeast (a delightful and vitamin-packed alternative to parmesan).

Buon Appetito!

Serves 6. Or 2 with leftovers. 


Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner, Pasta