Vegan Potato Salad


Potato salad is a great dish to bring to a picnic, both healthy and hearty. Here’s my variation:

Boil potatoes until they can be pierced easily. Rinse in cool water or let cool down. Peel off skins, and chop into half-inch pieces.

Chop vegetables and herbs, and mix together with cubed potatoes in a bowl. Add mayonnaise and vinegar (white, rice, or apple cider.)

Add spices and salt to taste. Best prepared in advance and refrigerated before serving. Makes 7 cups.

  • 5 potatoes/4 cups chopped
  • 1 cup carrots (2 carrots)
  • ½ cup bell pepper (½ a pepper)
  • ½ cup celery
  • ¼ cup pickles or cucumbers or artichoke hearts
  • ¼ cup olives
  • 2 Tbsp dill (fresh if available)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1-2 Tbsp vinegar

Vegan Gumbo

Perfect for cold nights, here’s a delicious vegan version of Gumbo.

First, make a roux:

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together equal parts oil and flour over low heat. Whisk constantly until it turns milk chocolate brown, approximately 20-30 minutes. Make sure to keep whisking so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

Next, stir in the diced carrots, bell pepper, and celery. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the okra, bay leaves, and vegetable stock. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add additional vegetables earlier or later depending on how long they need to cook (put butternut and cauliflower in earlier, and green beans at the end). Add spinach right before you finish.

In a separate pan, stir fry the veggie sausage or tofu until crispy, then add to the mixture.

Finally, add a dash of filé powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Add parsley as a garnish. Serve over rice or alone.

  • 1 cup oil + oil for stir frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 cups okra
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 veggie sausage or a block of tofu

Other assorted vegetables:

  • 1 cup butternut squash
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • handful of spinach


  • salt
  • pepper
  • gumbo filé spice
  • cayenne
  • chili pepper flakes
  • parsley





Veggie Tofu Pancit

This is my version of the Filipino rice noodle dish Pancit, with stir fried with veggies and tofu.

  • Soak the noodles in hot water to soften for 10 minutes.
  • Grease a large pan or wok with oil. Sauté half the chili and ginger.
  • Fry tofu until golden brown. Season with soy sauce and spices such as cumin, cayenne, turmeric.
  • Remove tofu and add more oil. Sauté remaining chili and ginger.
  • Add the broth and all the vegetables and stir fry until cooked.
  • Mix in the noodles and cooked tofu and add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and pepper.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot, squeeze lemon on top.


  • 1 8 oz. pack rice or bean noodles
  • 1 12 oz. package of tofu
  • 1 tsp chili pepper
  • 1 Tbs ginger
  • ¼ cabbage, sliced into strips
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into strips
  • ¾ cup diced celery, bell pepper, or green beans
  • 2 Tbs of sesame oil
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbs rice wine (mirin)
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • black pepper
  • spices – cumin, cayenne, turmeric
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Broccoli Cheese Chowder

This broccoli cheese chowder soup makes for a warming, cozy dinner as the days get shorter and colder. Delicious with biscuits or grilled cheese. Adapted from my mom’s recipe.

Put soup stock or water and potatoes in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and add broccoli, carrots, and corn. Simmer until both potatoes and broccoli are tender. Mash slightly so that about half the cubes are mashed. Add milk, salt, and butter,  stir well and bring almost to a boil. Take off heat and stir in grated cheese. Do not bring to a boil again after adding cheese or the texture will change.

Add more milk if it is too thick.

Makes about 7 cups of soup.

For a vegan soup, replace milk with water and skip the cheese or use a vegan cheese.


  • 1 ½ C soup stock or water
  • 4-5 C of peeled potatoes cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 C chopped broccoli
  • 1 ½ C milk
  • ¾ grated cheese (cheddar or jack)
  • 1 t salt or to taste
  • dash of cayenne
  • Optional additions:
    • ¼ corn
    • ¼ shredded carrot
    • 1 t butter

Gallo Pinto à la Israel

Gallo Pinto is a traditional breakfast food in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, made with rice and beans, often left over from the night before. I enjoyed it travelling around Costa Rica, and found that this protein rich meal prepared me for a day of adventuring. Israel has modified the recipe to skip the onions and includes more vegetables. In addition to pepper and corn, you could include chopped celery, carrots, or shredded cabbage. We have even included asparagus!

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat for a minute and add chopped vegetables, corn, and beans. Cook while stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes. Add rice and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Drizzle with Lizano Salsa if available, add spices, and salt to taste. Just before serving, top with the cilantro.

Serve solo, or top with avocado, queso fresco, and sliced tomatoes.

  • 2 cups white rice; cooked
  • 1 cup black beans; cooked
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper
  • ¼ corn
  • 1 tsp chili pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 Tbs Lizano Salsa
  • 3 tsp oil
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Devanistha’s Cheesy Vegetable Pie

This is my mother Devanistha’s classic savory holiday pie — a warm, cheesy pie that is filling and comforting on a cold winter night, and reheats perfectly for a breakfast of leftovers. A great alternative to pot pie or quiche for vegetarians such as myself who avoid eggs but love cheese.

To start, make a batch of White Sauce. I also like to pre-bake my crust for about 10 minutes before filling to keep it crispy.

Wash, pare, and peel vegetables of choice to fill up a pie crust. For example, I recently made a pie with 3 carrots, 3 potatoes, and a small head of broccoli. You can use an empty pie tin to measure out the vegetables, keeping in mind that they will compress after steaming.

Steam the vegetables until tender and drain well, and then mix into White Sauce. Pour mixture into pie crust. Top with grated cheese. Bake in oven at 350ºF until cheese is golden and bubbly. Usually takes 1-2 hours. Serve hot.

For a vegan pie, use an oil-based crust and make white sauce with oil and water instead of butter and milk. Top with a crust, ground cracker crumbs or chips, or vegan cheese.

  • 1 pie crust (make your own or get a premade crust)
  • vegetables of choice: potatoes, carrots, broccoli, yams, parsnips, squash, cauliflower, peas, etc. (Avoid juicy vegetables such as zucchini or tomato.)
  • 1 batch White Sauce:
    • 1 cube (1/2 cup) butter
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 T white flour
    • 3 1/2 – 4 cups milk
    • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese
Vegetable Pie

White Sauce & Cheese Sauce

Recipes by my mother Devanistha.

White Sauce

This white sauce can be used in pies and as a gravy.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a saucepan (use a pan with a sturdy bottom so that the heat is distributed evenly). Just as it dissolves, stir in the flour. Let it cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Before it starts to brown, turn off stove and add the milk. Stir immediately with a wire whisk until all lumps are gone. (If you can’t get all the lumps out, you can use an immersion blender or put the sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.) Turn on stove again and bring to a boil, stirring constantly all the way to the bottom of the pan. Take off the heat.

Vegan White Sauce: Use oil instead of butter and replace milk with water.

Cheese Sauce

Use to make scalloped potatoes or any vegetable au gratin. For example, put over a head of steamed cauliflower, steamed broccoli, or serve as a sauce for nut loaf, etc.

Follow White Sauce recipe above. After taking off heat, stir in 1 cup grated Monterey, cheddar, or other easily meltable cheese. Don’t use mozzarella, as it is too stringy.  Do not bring it to a boil after adding the cheese or it will separate (but in a casserole it is fine for it to boil).

  • 1 cube (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T white flour (can also use whole wheat pastry flour, but may have to reduce milk)
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups milk (adjust amount depending on how thick you want it to be)
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • For cheese sauce: 1 cup grated Monterey, cheddar, or other easily meltable cheese

Enchilada Casserole

This is one of my mother’s recipes, a simple enchilada casserole I ate growing up and make myself now. I realized that the American style “enchiladas” are completely different than authentic Mexican enchiladas when I lived in Monterrey, Mexico. However, both are delicious. The enchilada casserole is a great dish to make when you have some leftover rice, older tortillas, and beans and tomato sauce on hand.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together beans, rice, and spice in a large bowl. Add some of the tomato sauce if they are too dry.

Spread some of the sauce over the bottom of a casserole, baking pan, or cast iron.

Toast the tortillas individually for just a minute or two and remove before they get crisp. Put about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture in each tortilla. Fold in half and line up in the casserole dish. When all are filled, cover with tomato sauce, making sure the cover all of the tortillas to the edges of the dish. Cover with the grated cheese and bake for 30-45 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

This casserole can be taken to potlucks if well wrapped, because it keeps its heat well. Leftovers are excellent.

For extra spice, you can add chopped jalapeño or serrano chilies, or replace some or all of the tomato sauce with salsa. You can also add bell peppers, celery, or other veggies. I like to serve with some avocado on top.

  • 4 cups well-cooked pinto or black beans, or a combination of beans and rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 – 3 cups prepared tomato sauce (see recipe)
  • one dozen tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese

Tomato Sauce

My mother’s delicious homemade tomato sauce is great for spaghetti, lasagna, enchiladas, and even as a ketchup replacement. You can freeze it or can it or keep it in the refrigerator for about a week or so.


Saute chopped peppers and celery in oil. Add water and tomato puree and mix well. Consistency should be pourable and not so thick that it will burn easily. Add all the herbs and salt, mix well and bring to a boil. Turn down and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes.

Makes about 8 cups.

  • 1 T oil
  • 1/2 c chopped green peppers
  • 1/2 c chopped celery
  • 2 cans tomato puree (28 oz cans)
  • 1 can water
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 T oregano
  • 2 t dried cilantro
  • 1 T rosemary
  • 1 t powdered cumin
  • 1 1/2 t salt

Dill Pickles

This is my mom’s recipe, in her words:

You will need a pot deep enough to cover the 4 quart jars standing. Boil together 2 cups vinegar and 2 cups water with 2 T pickling salt (no iodine). Keep hot while you prepare the jars and cucumbers. Sterilize the clean jars in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Boil the rings and new rims in a pan just before you need them.

Carefully wash small, fresh, unwaxed cucumbers. Slice, make spears, or use whole cucumbers. Fill the sterilized jars as thick as you can with cucumber pieces, stopping 1/2 inch from the top. Put a piece of fresh dill weed in the the cukes or about 1 T of dried dill seed on top.

Pour in the very hot vinegar brine filling just to about 1/2 inch from the top. Top with the rim and rings and tighten. Place in the pan with enough hot tap water to cover the top. Bring to a boil. Time for 15 minutes for quarts or 10 minutes for pint jars. Remove from pot.

Let cool on a wood board and don’t disturb until cool. Make sure the rims have sealed well. Takes a few weeks to pickle – I make them for next year’s potato salad!

  • Pickling cucumbers (unwaxed) to fill 4 quart jars
  • Fresh dill or dill seeds
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 T pickling salt (no iodine)