Waving hello to you all from my desk at home. Compiling this list of vegan pantry-friendly recipes was one of the more useful endeavours I’ve taken up in the last week or so. Amidst all of the tips out there right now for at-home productivity, maintaining physical fitness, and keeping a sense of routine, I wound up doing… none of those things last week. I mostly checked the news every 5 minutes, took long dog walks (maintaining physical distance between ourselves and others throughout), made banana bread and lots of other carb-heavy things, and stared into space thinking about the heaviness of it all. This week is different though. The shock has worn off and I’m feeling better equipped to actually help folks finding themselves cooking at home with limited access to a variety of foods.
First, let me tell you what I try to keep in my pantry throughout the year:
-Whole grains like farro, brown rice, millet, quinoa, steel cut and rolled oats
-A variety of dry AND canned pulses such as chickpeas, green/French/red split lentils, navy beans, and black beans.
-Vegan flavour enhancers like tamari soy sauce, miso, nutritional yeast, mustard, and tomato paste.
-Oils to cook with like avocado oil and coconut oil. I love virgin olive oil for vinaigrettes.
-Nut butters (almond and peanut are my favourites), seed butters (tahini forever!), as well as whole nuts and seeds.
-My go-to flours: spelt, almond, chickpea, and whole wheat.
-Spices! My most commonly used: chili flakes/powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, smoked paprika, and blends like garam masala and Old Bay.
-Other pantry items that I find myself using a lot: maple syrup, canned tomatoes, prepared marinara sauce, liquid smoke, a variety of vinegars, pasta, and hot sauce.
In addition to pantry stock, I find the most useful strategy for buying fresh food right now is to go for heartier options that can hold up in your fridge a bit longer. Fresh basil and tender greens are delicious, but they both begin to wilt on the car ride home from the store essentially. Not ideal! Here’s the fresh items I’ve been prioritizing on our very few shopping trips: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions, leeks, garlic, ginger, citrus, mushrooms, and hearty herbs like thyme and rosemary. Root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and alliums are your friends. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies or quick compotes to dollop onto porridge or mix into overnight oats.
So with all of that, I give you some of my best pantry-friendly recipes to turn to at dinner time. With each recipe, I’ve added some substitution notes based on what I surmise is most widely available in stores right now. As always, if you have substitution questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments of that particular recipe. That way, if someone else is wondering the same thing as you, they can be privy to the same information. Thanks for your continued support and extra big thank you to health care professionals, grocery store and pharmacy workers, waste management professionals, cleaners, and everyone else out there keeping us safe and making a difference right now. Keep on cooking and looking out for each other :)
1. GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS: The only fresh stuff that you need for this one are mushrooms (which hold up for quite a while in the fridge from my experience) and an onion. The rest is rolled oats, nuts, spices, and other pantry stock. Add tomato sauce and spaghetti, enjoy a much-deserved dose of comfort.
2. CREAMY VEGAN “BUTTER” CHICKPEAS: Cooked chickpeas, and a simple creamy sauce with canned tomatoes, spices and whizzed up raw cashews hits the spot with some fluffy brown rice. If you don’t have raw cashews or a high speed blender to make the cream, substitute 1 cup full fat coconut milk for the cashews, water, and maple syrup.
3. HEARTY HERBED CHICKPEA PANCAKES WITH ZESTY LEMON TAHINI: The source and inspiration here is the Indian chickpea crepes known as pudla. Equal parts chickpea flour and water mixed with whatever herbs and spices you like makes for a hearty savoury pancake that mingles well with whatever sautéed or roasted vegetables you like. It’s one of my go-to meal bases for when I don’t feel like cooking.
4. CREAMY LEMON ORZO WITH CHICKPEAS & BROCCOLI: Pasta + creamy nut-based sauce + broccoli = wholesome comfort. Use any small pasta you have on hand. If you don’t have cashews, raw sliced almonds or pine nuts will also blend up into a perfectly creamy sauce here. Go with frozen broccoli here if you want or use another vegetable that you have on hand.
5. BUTTERNUT MINESTRONE WITH SAGE, CHICKPEAS & CHARD: No need to hop out to the store for fresh sage. Just use what you have! Dried thyme and rosemary would also be amazing. Replace the chickpeas with any cooked bean or lentil you have on hand. Frozen chopped greens are great in this soup.
6. DREAMY WINTER VEGETABLE CHOWDER WITH MUSTARD & LEMON: All the storage-friendly vegetables you can handle with lots of flavour from mustard, lemon, and Old Bay seasoning. Super creamy and delicious with a crust of bread.
7. CREAMY MISO BRUSSELS SPROUT PASTA: This is a brilliant recipe from the Love & Lemons cookbook! You make a creamy, nut-based sauce that’s spiked with miso, and then you sear some brussels sprouts, mix it all up, and call it a day. New wave, next wave, comfort food!
8. CREAMY FRENCH LENTILS WITH MUSHROOMS & KALE: Still one of my most popular recipes on the site! Hearty veg like kale, mushrooms and shallots combine with pantry staples for a super hearty stew that warms to the core. Frozen greens are perfect here and once again, you can replace the thyme with any dried herbs you like (rosemary would be great).
9. SAVOURY VEGGIE, HEMP & MILLET NUGGETS: These are really fun to make and adaptable to whatever vegetables and spices you have on hand. You can also substitute quinoa for the millet. I know that people have had success binding this recipe with a flax egg-style mixture rather than the psyllium husk listed in the recipe as well. Cute little snack for kids!
10. SMOKY CHICKPEA, LENTIL, CABBAGE & KALE STEW: All the hearty vegetables and pantry staples come out to play here. I honestly think that cabbage is one of the most underrated vegetables. It keeps in your fridge for a loooong time! This is one of those recipes that makes me SO glad that liquid smoke exists.
11. HEARTY MUSHROOM & BEET BOLOGNESE: This is a recipe to turn to when you have a bit of extra time and you’re in the mood to sip some red wine while you’re cooking (isn’t that always?). Cellar veg all stars like beets and onions combine with finely minced up mushrooms and lentils to make the vegan bolognese that I’ve always dreamed of. Fresh parsley on top looks nice but is NOT necessary. Monochromatic food is great!
12. GINGER SWEET POTATO & COCONUT MILK STEW WITH LENTILS AND KALE: I’ve already seen so many people making this one on Instagram! Coconut milk and spices flavour up a big pot of lentils and sweet potatoes. Any greens that you have would be great in this and the cilantro garnish is definitely not mandatory. We’re all just doing our best!
13. GREEN GODDESS BOWLS WITH PEPITA LIME SAUCE: Use any grain or vegetable or protein source you like–just make this zippy and flavourful pumpkin seed-based sauce to pour over everything! I recommend parsley or cilantro as the herbs here, but green onions, chives, and mint would all be great too.
14. TWICE BAKED POTATOES WITH BUFFALO CHICKPEAS & CAULIFLOWER: Stuff a baked potato (or sweet potato!) a million different ways and call it a meal. Here, we invoke the incredibly flavourful powers of Buffalo-style hot sauce. This would be so nice with a salad, but I also wouldn’t be mad if I was just eating a couple of these solo for dinner :)
15. CREAMY WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH KALE, ROSEMARY & LEMON: Another one of my most popular recipes! We use one of my favourite hacks in this soup: pureeing half of the base to give it a creamy texture. Chopped kale and lemon juice round everything out in this hearty and soul-soothing soup. I’ve added a chopped potato and leek to the base of this recipe and just cooked until the potato was tender, and then proceeded with the recipe as written. It’s a super hearty remix!
16. CREAMY VEGAN FARROTTO WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH: It’s a risotto made with farro that we make extra creamy with puréed roasted butternut squash. Roasted sweet potatoes are also amazing in place of the squash. The key to this recipe is slightly “cracking” the farro in a food processor or blender ahead of time.
17. SEVEN SPICE CHICKPEA STEW WITH TOMATOES AND COCONUT: A bunch of canned goods (chickpeas, coconut milk & tomatoes) plus spices and onions/garlic gives you a comforting, super flavourful meal in no time. It’s so simple to make and highly adaptable to whatever spices you have on hand.
18. NAPA AND KALE SLAW WITH CRUNCHY BBQ CAULIFLOWER & PICKLED JALAPENO RANCH: Can you believe that we snuck a salad into this mix? It’s cabbage and kale-based and topped with crunchy bread cauliflower and chickpeas. Just skip the tomato portion to make it more appropriate in terms of pantry stuff and well-storing vegetables. Or just make the pickled jalapeno ranch and drizzle it over rice bowls, roasted vegetables, basically anything you find yourself eating! ;)
19. CREAMY KALE PESTO AND WHITE BEAN DIP: Use this as a veggie/cracker dip, sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce! Just reserve a cup of your starchy pasta cooking water and add it to the pot as needed when you’re combining the final pasta dish.
20. FRENCH ONION SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CREAMY CAULIFLOWER MASH: This one if more of a time-consuming recipe that you can take on as a little project if you have the time or you just need to lose yourself in a recipe for a bit. I’ve seen lots of people making this one on Instagram over the course of the last week or so. You could do all potatoes or all cauliflower in your mash if you like.
20. HARISSA CHICKPEA BOWL WITH POTATOES, LEMON TAHINI & GREENS: Is there anything that potatoes and chickpeas can’t do?! I’m starting to notice some recurring themes with my own content lol. Lots of spices and canned tomatoes form the flavour base of these delicious chickpeas. They get served up with whatever greens you have, some crispy roasted potatoes, and a drizzle of lemony tahini–make a double batch of the sauce to drizzle on all sorts of things!
21. SWEET POTATO & PECAN TACOS WITH QUICK PICKLED CABBAGE AND CASHEW SOUR CREAM: This recipe contains a lot of useful components, but the key here is the pantry-friendly pecan taco “meat” and roasted sweet potato filling. It’s super flavourful, satisfying, and easy to make. I have homemade tortilla instructions here, but of course you can use store bought ones or even collard leaves!
22. SMOKY SQUASH CHILI WITH QUINOA, PINTO & BLACK BEANS: Chili is one of the original pantry saviour meals, and this one falls in line with that idea. Butternut squash, lots of spices, beans, quinoa, and tomatoes make this so nourishing. You can definitely leave out the poblano pepper here (a bell pepper is great if you can find them, but not 100% necessary).
23. CREAMY CAULIFLOWER PASTA WITH GARLIC AND ROASTED TOMATOES: Substitute chopped sun-dried tomatoes for the fresh roasted ones and we’re good to go. Frozen peas add a nice hit of green here, but aren’t 100% mandatory. I know that I personally don’t always have them stocked in my freezer. How much pasta have I ate during the social distancing phase? You don’t wanna know.
24. GINGER SWEET POTATO DAL WITH COCONUT LEEKS: No need for fresh turmeric roots–just use powdered turmeric here! This is simple and nourishing on a soul level. I know that I show it with rice in the photos, but I mostly prefer to consume dal on its own these days. Total simplicity and ease.
25. KALE AND BRUSSELS SPROUT CAESAR SLAW: It’s another salad that takes advantage of hearty winter greens! If you’re desperately craving greens and they are available to you, this salad hits the spot with all of those familiar and flavourful caesar vibes–just a little bit more wholesome/extra green! ;)
26. SMOKY AND CREAMY WHITE BEANS WITH GREENS: This is perfect with thick slices of toasty bread. Use frozen greens if that’s all you can get your hands on–they will be perfect here. This recipe is also great with small dices of other vegetables added in (beets, potatoes, carrots, squash etc). Beans truly are a pantry cooking hero and this dish from Amy Chaplin’s latest book really shows them off.
27. INSTANT POT MUSHROOM RISOTTO WITH SPINACH AND MISO: Now is as good a time as any to familiarize yourself with the amazing capabilities of your Instant Pot (if you haven’t already). Any greens you have will do here. It’s truly amazing how quickly this one cooks.
28. SALT-BAKED POTATOES WITH CHEESY ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE AND BROCCOLI: Stuffed baked potatoes strike again! The roasted red pepper sauce is incredible as a vegan mac and cheese-style sauce, just an FYI. Feel free to substitute the broccoli with whatever cooked vegetable you like.
29. ROASTED CARROT AND HARISSA CHICKPEA DIP: We often do a dip platter for dinner (usually accompanied by wine!) and just because we’re practicing social distancing, doesn’t mean we have to give that practice up. This one is vibrant orange, full of flavour, and all made with simple ingredients. You definitely don’t need all of the garnishes that I suggest here! This dip is a lovely sandwich spread and amazing as an avocado toast base.
30. BUFFALO CHICKPEA CHILI WITH MUSHROOMS: Once again, we turn to the deeply savoury and spicy powers of Buffalo-style hot sauce. I will love it forever and continue to work it into basically any recipe I can haha. We finely mince up mushrooms to mimic that signature meaty texture that traditional chili has. This simple one pot recipe satisfies a lot of vegan skeptics!
31. SWEET POTATO CAKES WITH LEMONY SLAW: Nice little golden brown cakes on a bed of slaw! It’s a bunch of pantry goods and a few hearty produce items (kale, cabbage, sweet potatoes) coming together to make something super fresh. Once again, if you don’t have psyllium husk, I know that readers have had success with a flax egg mixture here!
32. INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA: It’s another great recipe to try in your Instant Pot! This one couldn’t be easier on the pantry and makes truly delicious next-day lunch leftovers. While it’s doing its thing in the Instant Pot, you can cook up some rice (or whatever grain you have kicking around) or maybe try your hand at a little flatbread for dipping.
33. SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE WITH ALMOND RICOTTA: This is another “special project” kind of recipe that you can lose yourself in if need be. Frozen chopped spinach is a dream in this. I love the cozy flavours of the toasted polenta crust, the savoury mushrooms, and the creamy almond-based ricotta. Deep comfort!