Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

I live for summer. For a few blissful months, I’m enveloped in the warmth of our personal star, tilting my head to the sky every time I’m outside. It’s the one time of year I don’t have to deal with my perpetual coldness. (Don’t even talk to me about air conditioned buildings!) I love the heat!

I also love typical summer foods: corn on the cob, salads with garden-fresh veggies, grilled everything. And, now that I’m vegan, potato salad. I stand firmly by the belief that vegan potato salads are orders of magnitude better than those gloppy, mayonnaise-y, sad non-vegan versions that are ubiquitous at summer barbecues. This version is an update on the potato salad I made five (!) years ago, and it’s full of crunchy veggies to counter the fork-tender potatoes. Dijon mustard gives this salad a kick, and a touch of vegan mayo adds just enough creaminess to keep everything together. I love this potato salad, and I hope you will, too!

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, skin still on, chopped into bite-size pieces (about 3/4″)
1/2 small red onion, diced finely
3 stalks celery, diced finely
A handful green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, separated
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoon vegan mayo
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
A few dashes freshly ground black pepper

Put a medium-sized pot of water on high heat while you prepare the potatoes and other veggies. Just before the water boils, add the potatoes to the pot and boil for 7-10 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove from heat and strain in a colander. Rinse briefly with cold water and let sit while you finish chopping the veggies.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and one tablespoon of the Dijon mustard. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and slowly pour the vinegar-Dijon mixture over the potatoes, stirring to distribute it evenly. Let the potatoes sit while you mix the mayo, agave nectar, salt, black pepper, and remaining tablespoon of mustard in the small bowl. Add the chopped onion, celery, and green beans to the potatoes, and then pour the mayo mixture over everything. Stir to coat evenly.

Refrigerate the potato salad until cold. If you’re serving it the next day, you might want to add an additional tablespoon of Dijon — the flavors lose intensity over time.

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

Enjoy outdoors on a sunny day! Be sure to double (or even triple) the recipe if you’re serving to a large crowd.

Spicy Collards & White Beans

There’s really nothing like a big ol’ plate of beans ‘n greens to fill you up and make you feel super-duper healthy. Although I never ate collards growing up, I’m so glad to have discovered them as an adult. Packed full of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, they make a great nutrient-dense side dish.

For meat-eaters, the classic pot of stewed collards features ham or bacon — ugh. I’m skipping right over the typical salty, smoky flavors in favor of something lighter and a little more heart-healthy: a brothy, spicy pot of collards and beans. Steven and I chowed down on our collards with dry-fried tofu in a miso-maple sauce; they’d also be great with grilled tempeh or even some seitan sausages.

Spicy Collards & White Beans

Spicy Collards & White Beans
Serves two

  • 1 bunch collards, de-stemmed, rolled, and cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (about 7 oz), diced very finely
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups no- or low-sodium vegetable broth (I use a salt-free homemade broth)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 8 oz cannellini beans (about half a can)

In a large saucepan or small stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to get translucent. (You can prepare the collards during this time.) Add the vegan Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup and stir to coat the onions and garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, then add the collards and broth to the pot. Bring the greens to a boil and then reduce the heat.

Let the greens simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, checking them occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t boiled away. (If it’s getting low, add a few tablespoons more broth or water.) After 30 minutes, the liquid should be much lower, but the pot should not be dry at all. Add the beans to the pot, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more red pepper flakes if it’s not spicy enough for you. Eat!

Note: If you’re using canned beans, feel free to throw the whole can in there — you’ll just have a higher bean-to-green ratio. Not that that’s a bad thing…!

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

“I could eat this for lunch seven days a week,” said Steven, after tasting a forkful of last night’s dinner. High praise? Well, coming from a guy who is actually notorious for eating the same lunch every workday for nearly a month… maybe not. But I’ll take it.

On any given day, I’ve got a couple recipe ideas buzzing around my brain. I toy with them, mull them over, research similar recipes. Sometimes I actually make them. Every so often, though, a wholly unplanned meal idea just pops, fully-formed, into my head. I don’t ignore impulses like those—I head straight to the kitchen to cook. Thus was born Monday night’s dinner.

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

Tangy and abundantly flavorful, this dish is a winner. A zesty, creamy lemon-Dijon sauce is the perfect accompaniment for the more subdued flavors of broccoli and quinoa. This bowl is a surprisingly filling, fun-to-eat side dish that probably tastes just as good cold from the fridge as it did warm from the pot. You could add some baked tofu for some extra protein and to kick this into entree territory.

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl
Serves six (as a side dish); four (as an entree)

For the Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used a salt-free homemade broth)
  • 3 heads broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional; for topping)

For the Lemon-Dijon Sauce

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 T Vegenaise
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan on high heat. Once the broth boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa has soaked up all the water and is light and fluffy.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Vigorously whisk the wet ingredients together until emulsified, then add the spices to taste. (You could use a food processor or immersion blender, but this is such a small portion that you can easily whisk it by hand.) Place the finished sauce in the fridge.

As the quinoa finishes cooking, chop the broccoli into small florets (if you haven’t already) and steam it lightly, for about five minutes. You want it to be not-quite fork tender; it should still have a little bite. I used a steamer pot, but you can use your favorite steaming method.

When the quinoa and broccoli are both done, mix them together in a large bowl. Remove the lemon-Dijon sauce from the fridge, shake it, and pour it over the quinoa-broccoli mixture. Let it sit for at least five minutes to absorb the flavors, top with pine nuts, and eat!

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl