9 Ideas to Use the Vegan Pantry

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I’m still working on eating out of my pantry (and freezer)!  I am actually eating so much better than I had been.  I’m eating lots of beans, eating my frozen and fermented veggies, eating a variety of grains.

I need to eat like this more often.

I usually have the best of intentions, which is why I have a whole pantry full of dried beans and grains and such, but all too often I end up eating take out, frozen vegan pizza and other assorted convenience foods.  Not that I eat those exclusively, but more often than I’d like.

A few weeks ago I shared my recipe for wild rice soup, one way to use up some pantry staples.

Today, I’m going to go through 9 things you can make!

I know that not everyone will have the same things on hand, but the nice thing about these is that you can mix and match and make new recipes with what you have on hand.

I am assuming some fresh produce is available as part of the pantry.  I personally always have onions, garlic and carrots in abundance, and usually have one or two types of citrus on hand (limes, lemons, oranges).  I also tend to have random things like a few tortillas and rice paper wrappers around, which you may not.  Think of these just as ideas, not recipes!

1.  Lentil soup:  1 part red lentils, rinsed and drained to 4 parts liquid (veggie broth, water, water + bouillon); add salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for about 25 minutes.  Serve with greens thrown in at the end to just wilt, such as spinach.

2. Pasta sauce: 6 pints canned tomatoes (home canned; will probably need four 14 oz or two 28oz cans of commercially canned), 1 large chopped onion, 6 minced cloves garlic, olive oil, dried basil, oregano, parsley, salt.  optional:  sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pesto, crushed red pepper.  extra optional: vegan beef style crumbles or reconstituted TVP:  sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent, then add garlic (would also add in TVP/beef style crumbles at this point).  Dump everything together in the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Alternately, cook on low heat on the stove, though you will need to stir more often.

3.  Flavor cube rice:  when you get a chance, make these cilantro, parsley, basil, ginger & spinach flavor cubes and freeze, to make part of your vegan pantry.  Using leftover rice (or other whole grain):  heat old in a pan, add the rice/grain to warm and crisp, then add the frozen flavor cube (I like two for about a cup- cup and a half or rice), stirring frequently to keep from sticking.  Season with salt if needed. Add some beans if you like.

I added some leftover black beans.

I added some leftover black beans.

4.  Miso soup:  I’ve written about this one before.  Noodles/grain, water or veggie broth, miso (about 1Tbs per 2 cups liquid), veggies (fresh leafy veggies like bok choi, or fermented such as kimchi), beans/tofu/seitan:  Using freshly cooked noodles of any variety, or a leftover whole grain (or noodle)- heat your water or veggie broth with the leftover grain/noodle.  If using a green that needs cooking (like the stems of bok choi), add now.  When hot, take out a small amount of liquid and mix with miso.  Add all to bowl, including the tofu/tempeh/beans and fermented veggies at this time.

5.  Tofu scramble:  vegetable oil, pressed, drained and crumbled tofu; diced onions and garlic, any other veggies of your choice; turmeric, salt, pepper, and black salt if you have it:  heat the oil, add the tofu, brown it up, add the onions, garlic and other veggies; finally, sprinkle on the turmeric, mix in, add salt and pepper.  If you have black salt, add it last.

6.  Tacos with cashew cream: for the cashew cream (sour variety), soak a cup of cashews for at least 2 hours. Add the drained and soaked cashews to the blender, with 3/4 cup water, a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of salt; blend.  For the tacos, use any blend of fillings:  beans, vegan chick’n, vegan chorizo, lettuce, salsa, avocado, etc on soft or hard taco shells.

7.  Summer rolls:  rice paper wrappers, lettuce, rice noodles, and fruit/veggie/vegan protein you’d like to add:  soak the wrappers in warm water, line with lettuce, fill with noodles.  I like tofu, mango, cucumber and carrot if I have them.

8.  Barley risotto: 1 cup hulled barley, rinsed and drained; vegetable oil, 1 medium onion, minced; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 3.5 cups veggie broth; 0.5 cups white wine, salt.  Optional: greens, vegan cheese.   In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add the onions, sauté until translucent.  Add garlic, cook a minute more.  Add barley and toast.  Add wine and veggie broth.  Put on lid, bring up to high pressure and cook for 35 minutes on the lowest heat you can that maintains high pressure.  Use the quick release (cold water), open, stir in vegan cheese, greens and salt if needed.

9.  Chana masala: 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained;  2 Tbs tomato paste;  2 Tbs chopped onion; 1 clove crushed garlic; 1/4 cup veggie broth, 1 tsp garam masala.  Sautee the onion in a small amount of veggie broth in a well seasoned cast iron pan.  Add the garlic.  Add the chickpeas, tomato paste and rest of the veggie broth to thin.  Make sure the tomato paste is covering all the chickpeas.  Add garam masala to taste, and a bit more veggie broth if needed.  Taste and add salt if needed.

How do you use up foods from your pantry?

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About Author

I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan.

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