Illustration by Michael Clement
As a first-year in the Quinnipiac University Honors Program, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a residence hall where I have access to a fully-functioning kitchen. It comes in handy for Sunday brunches with friends, or if I simply want to toast a Pop-Tart. The biggest blessing though, is the fact that it enables me to cook for myself.
The few vegans at Quinnipiac know the horrors of cross contamination in the dining halls or under-seasoned vegetables. Our options are limited, and so I often find myself cooking comfort food that reminds me of home that I never see in the dining hall. I shared a few of these quick, healthy and delicious recipes below.
These recipes all require what I consider to be the basic essentials of living vegan at Quinnipiac — almond milk, vegan butter of your choice and seasonings (make sure nutritional yeast is included in the bunch).
I know mushrooms are a polarizing subject, but just hear me out. These stuffed mushrooms are simple and delicious and will fill you right up after eating just a few.
– Two packages of baby bella mushrooms
– Panko breadcrumbs
– Neutral oil
– Nutritional yeast
– Herbs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Start by rinsing the package of mushrooms. Remove the stems and save about a third. Compost the rest.
In a separate bowl, add a good portion of bread crumbs. I usually say around a cup is safe but you can start by adding less and working your way up. Finely mince the saved mushroom stems and add to the bowl with the breadcrumbs.
To the mixture, add three tablespoons of nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and any additional fresh herbs you have on hand (preferably thyme or parsley). Finish the mix by pouring in enough oil to hydrate it. There should be a consistency of wet sand, crumbly but still able to hold.
Line up the hollowed mushroom caps holes up on a foiled baking sheet lightly coated with oil. Start to stuff the mixture into each cap. Don’t be shy with this part — most of the water will cook out of the mushrooms and you want them to be nice and full. Once all the caps are filled, add a drizzle of oil on top and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The mushrooms should be golden and soft, almost shriveled up.
I recently created this recipe on campus. I found myself on a Sunday afternoon looking at the bits and bobs in my mini-fridge, and this is what came to fruition. It’s warm and savory and hits all the same spots as some vegan mac but with a healthier twist.
– Broccoli (or any green veggie of choice)
– Pasta (I used mini-shells)
– Vegan butter
– Non-dairy cream cheese (optional)
– Nutritional yeast
– Garlic powder
– Chili flakes
– Any fresh herbs you might have (my suite has herbs from
an event at the Albert Schweitzer Institute a couple weeks ago)
– Neutral oil
First, you’ll want to chop the veggies. Cut the broccoli pieces quite small so they are evenly dispersed throughout the dish. Then, cut the onions as thin rings so they cook down into stringy pieces. Finally, place a pot of salted water on the burner and bring to a boil.
In a saucepan at medium heat, drop the onion with roughly two tablespoons of oil. Season the onion with salt, pepper and chili flakes in order to bloom the spices. Once the onions have softened and browned a bit, toss in the broccoli. You’ll want to stir this mix occasionally and cook it until the broccoli is fork tender. At this point is when you should drop the pasta in the pot, cooking for about seven to 10 minutes until al dente.
Returning to the saucepan, pour in enough almond milk to cover the vegetables and turn the heat up to medium high. Once the milk starts bubbling, add a good handful of nutritional yeast, a few shakes of garlic powder and a spoonful each of butter and cream cheese. Once everything starts to simmer down, add a splash of the pasta water — this is going to help thicken the sauce.
Once the sauce has thickened, toss it all together and add a few herbs and some pepper on top.
Now, I’m well aware that few people brought a box of potatoes to college with them, but I’m a special breed of french fry connoisseur. This recipe can be applied to any vegetable you have that you want to get crispy and crunchy. Some zucchini lightly coated in flour and seasonings, some quick onion rings, you name it. But for this, we’ll be making easy dorm fries.
– Neutral oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Start by cutting the potatoes into fries. I like mine to have a variety of thicker and thinner ones so they bake unevenly. This way I will have both crispy and fluffy fries. However, chop to whatever size you prefer and leave the skins on. Once chopped, place the fries into a bowl. Add water to the bowl until all the fries are covered and give this a good stir. By washing off some of the starchy sugars, this will ensure the fries won’t burn so fast.
Drain the cloudy water and place the fries on a paper towel to dry. Then toss them into a dry bowl.
Drizzle with oil, enough to coat all of the fries and add a healthy shake of both salt and pepper. Pepper is the key to a delicious fry.
Shake the bowl around to cover and season each fry and then lay them out on a sheet pan. Make sure no fries are touching and that they line up evenly. This will ensure for a crispier fry.
Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes.