Italian Archives | Plant Based, Family Friendly Meal Planning by Stephanie Dreyer, Los Angeles

February 15, 2018
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I hope your family enjoys these Lentil Walnut Meatballs as much as mine! As a vegan Italian, plant-based meatballs are a staple in my house. There are some great ready-made options at the store by Gardein and Trader Joe’s, but my family prefers homemade. My Beyond Meat vegan Italian meatballs are always a win, but I recently played with my lentil burger recipe to create an Italian meatball that is free of faux meat.

These Lentil Walnut "Meatballs" are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

These lentil walnut meatballs start with a saute bath of mushrooms in garlic, onion, and olive oil. The smell is insanely delicious. There is nothing like the aroma of onion and garlic in my opinion! That’s the most “strenuous” part of the recipe. After that, you just combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Make them gluten-free by swapping out the breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option.

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

I used a cookie scoop to form these lentil walnut meatballs. Make sure the oil is hot enough and covers the bottom of the pan well before placing your meatballs inside. You don’t want to walk away from these or be multi-tasking (I have tried and burnt them!). Monitor your meatballs and keep rolling them so that they get crispy all around.

I have also included a recipe for a quick and easy marinara sauce. I throw all of the ingredients for the sauce in a pot before I start the meatballs so that it can simmer, allowing the flavors to be enhanced.

I like to serve these meatballs over a combo of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti. I toss the raw zoodles with the spaghetti and it blends in nicely. It’s the only way I can get my kids to eat zucchini!

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

Please try these Lentil Walnut Meatballs, and let me know what you think. My non vegan kids aren’t always fans of the faux meats so having whole foods plant-based option like these is a great go-to recipe for our family. For more Italian recipes that my family loves, try my Dairy-Free 3-Cheese Rigatoni, my Vegan Beef Lasagna Rolls, or Italian Stuffed Ricotta Burger.

Lentil Walnut "Meatballs" with Marinara Sauce

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

For the "meatballs"

  • 1 14.5 ounce cans lentils or 1 3/4 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms about 8 ounces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • ½ onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes.
  3. Combine the mushrooms, walnuts, lentils, breadcrumbs, garlic powder and onion powder in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Form into small golf-ball sized meatballs.
  5. Heat olive oil in a pan. Place the meatballs inside and cook, turning often until golden brown and crispy all around.
  6. For the sauce, the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To serve, cook 8-16 ounces of spaghetti, spiralize 2-4 zucchinis, or use a combination of both. Top with the sauce and "meatballs".

These Lentil Walnut Meatballs are a delicious plant-based alternative for topping spaghetti and/or vegetable noodles. Top them with my easy marinara.

 

 

 

 


February 8, 2018
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I love a good creamy sauce to pour over my family’s favorite pasta. This Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce is smooth and luscious with just a few ingredients — and your blender. Make it in minutes. Instead of milk, this dairy-free sauce uses cashews to achieve its silky velvet texture. It all comes together in just minutes, and is easy clean up with only the blender to wash!

My kids love this over farfalle, jumbo shells, or regular spaghetti. Sometimes, I will cook penne, toss it with broccoli and the sauce and bake for 20 minutes for a baked dish that has some extra plant power.

You won't miss the dairy in this creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce - perfect for pouring over your family's favorite pasta! #vegan #dairyfree

This Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce is my go-to cream sauce for my recipes. Leave out the sun-dried tomatoes and add roasted red peppers for a twist or leave out the tomatoes all together for a creamy white sauce that is delicious in its own right. Enjoy!

Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

Servings 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cashews soaked for 2 hours or overnight and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
  • ¼ cup lemon juice about 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and mix until smooth.

You won't miss the dairy in this creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce - perfect for pouring over your family's favorite pasta! #vegan #dairyfree

 

 

 

 


September 13, 2017
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If you’ve never had this Italian stuffed bread, you must try this recipe! It’s a family favorite in my house. Olives and pepperoncinis are a wonderful complement to the vegan ham, (which I purchased from The Herbivorous Butcher.) The mildness of the Chao regular slices worked really well for this recipe. My kids are not a fan of dairy-free cheese but this one melts really well without a strong flavor, which they enjoyed in this dish. A dairy-free mozzarella would be delicious too.

This vegan stromboli is a delicious plant-based variation on the traditional meat stuffed Italian bread and simple to make with store-bought pizza dough.

This makes a great appetizer for Italian night. It also makes a great main, serving a couple of slices with a tossed green salad and an antipasto platter. Change up the ingredients for countless stromboli options!

This vegan stromboli is a delicious plant-based variation on the traditional meat stuffed Italian bread and simple to make with store-bought pizza dough.

Vegan Ham and Olive Stromboli

Ingredients

  • 1 package of whole wheat pizza dough
  • 3 Chao Creamy Slices (Field Roast), sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup olive tapenade
  • 1/4 cup sliced pepperoncinis
  • 3 slices vegan ham (or other plant-based “meat”)
  • Sprinkling of Penzey’s Spices Pizza Seasoning (or any Italian Herb seasoning and garlic powder)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Go Veggie! grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil , divided
  • Marinara sauce , for serving

Instructions

  1. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit 30 minutes to an hour to allow to rise.
  2. Roll out dough on a floured service into a large oval.
  3. Brush the dough with 1 1/2 tablespoons olives oil and sprinkle with the seasoning.
  4. Layer the cheese slices down the length of the pizza dough, leaving a 1 inch border around the entire oval.
  5. Add the vegan ham on top.
  6. Spread the olive tapenade over the cheese and ham. Sprinkle the pepperoncinis on top.
  7. Bring both sides of the dough together and fold over each other to make a seam. Tuck and seal each end.
  8. Turn the roll over and place on a greased baking pan. Brush with remaining olive oil and dust with the Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes.
  10. 10. Allow to sit 5 minutes and slice. Serve with marina sauce for dipping.

This vegan stromboli is a delicious plant-based variation on the traditional meat stuffed Italian bread and simple to make with store-bought pizza dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I have been a little obsessed with Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger lately. They are delicious on their own, but I’ve been having fun playing with them in all kinds of recipes. My Italian Meatballs were my last creation, and today, I am excited to share this Italian Stuffed Ricotta Burger. Stuffed burgers are all kinds of fun! It’s a surprise inside an already tasty treat.

For this burger, I wanted something creamy and savory to sandwich between the Beyond Burger patties. Kite Hill’s Ricotta is the perfect salty filling for this recipe. I added a few ingredients to the cheese and formed it into a small ball and flattened it between the patties, so it would melt while it cooked. I added traditional Italian seasonings to the burgers with a special shout out to rosemary. I think it makes this Stuffed Italian Ricotta Burger!

To put the burger together, I used a ciabatta roll for a thematic twist on the hamburger bun (focaccia would be tasty too), some doctored up marinara sauce (although regular store-bought works just fine too), and fresh basil leaves. Read on for the recipe below and let me know what you think!

Italian Stuffed Ricotta Burger

Ingredients

For the burgers

  • 1 package Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the marinara sauce

  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 dashed Italian seasoning
  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6-8 basil leaves

For the ricotta

  • 1/4 cup Kite Hill dairy-free ricotta
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 leaf basil, finely chopped

Instructions

For the ricotta

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to mix all the ingredients. Form into two small balls and flatten.

For the burgers

  1. Combine the burgers and seasonings in a bowl. Mix well.

  2.  Flatten the mixture into 4 evenly distributed patties.

  3. Take one of the ricotta balls and place on top of one of the patties, flattening to spread it out on top of the burger.

  4. Place another burger on top and form together into one thick patty.

  5. Heat a grill or pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

  6. Cook the burgers about 5 minutes on each side.

For the marinara sauce

  1. Heat the marinara sauce and remaining ingredients in a sauce pan.

  2. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

To assemble the burger

  1. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  2. Toast the bread.

  3. Spread marinara sauce on each slice of bread.

  4. Top with a burger and 3-4 basil leaves.

  5. Top with the other slice of bread.


June 12, 2017
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My post last week regarding my love affair with Gardein prompted me to cook up one of my favorite “elegant” vegan dishes. It just so happens that Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini is the star ingredient in the dish. I like to serve it over pasta, but it also works well over mashed potatoes. Steamed broccoli makes a great side dish. I hope you enjoy it!


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I created this recipe while wanting to reinvent a recipe that was passed down to my mother from my great aunt, Peggy. It has been in the family forever it seems. When I got married, my sister and mother put together a recipe book filled with family recipes on old school style recipe cards. The rigatoni recipe was one of my favorites. She made it at every holiday meal. It is the most requested staple at our holiday dinners. Since going vegan, I have veganized her traditional recipe and it was okay, not great. Swapping out the mozzarella with Daiya shreds was fine and got the job done, but it didn’t bring the comfort and pasta joy that the old dish did. So…I reinvented it and created this three cheese rigatoni. I have several favorite dairy-free cheeses, but three top my list when it comes to Italian cooking:


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I love tofu scrambles. When I first went vegan and discovered I could use tofu instead of scrambled eggs, a whole new breakfast world was opened up for me. I make a tofu scramble at least once a week. This bruschetta scramble is a family favorite. I originally created this recipe as a test for my kids when I was trying to add some variety to their breakfast meals. I wanted to add more protein to their morning meal and thought a tofu scramble would be perfect, but couldn’t get them to eat one. That was until I thought to combine the bruschetta and kalamata olives together – two of their favorite things. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it sooner! It was a success and it has become a constant on our weekly breakfast menu ever since.


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