I (heart) courgettes on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Unbelievably, I haven’t gotten sick of zucchini and summer squash yet this summer. I think I’ve eaten more than usual, but I’ve managed to keep the recipes rolling. Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast has been especially helpful for this as many of the seasonal summer recipes call for squash. But I’m kind of nearing the end of my creativity with summer squash, so I am leveraging my position as organizer of this week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap to try to get all my fellow GF bloggers to feed me their favorite recipes.

Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint

For those who are unfamiliar, the Gluten Free Menu Swap is a wonderful weekly event organized by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness. Gluten-free bloggers from all over the net (and the world!) get together to share our menu plans and our inspiration for the week.

This week I have a ton of tomatoes left from my box, four cucumbers (!) and of course a good amount of summer squash as well. I also have a bunch of lettuce I really, really should use up! The rest is kind of up to me as it is a farmer’s market week, rather than a CSA box week. Other considerations are a ton of plans (I hope I even have time to cook!) and a houseguest coming later in the week. I don’t know his tastes (we haven’t seen each other in almost ten years!) so I’ll likely end up switching things around.

Salad rolls with kitchari and tomato relish

For summer squash this week, I’ve got my new favorite summer recipe, Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint, plus an eggplant stew with zucchini and chick peas, and Korean noodles with zucchini and kale. I’m eager to see what other squash delights are on the menu this week in the gluten-free blogging world!

And of course don’t forget to check out OrgJunkie for a ginormous round-up of Menu Plan Mondays from all over the world!

Monday
Kitchari (red lentil and quinoa mixture) with tomato-basil relish (I’ll try to post the recipes later this week)
Cucumber salad made with lemon cucumbers and red onion (Fresh Food Fast, 89)

Tuesday
Chana masala (Vegan Express, 99)
Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint
Salad of chopped tomato, basil, and cucumber with Annie’s Goddess dressing

Wednesday
Spicy summer bean and chickpea salad with harissa vinaigrette (FFF, 125)
Fresh corn polenta with sauteed cherry tomatoes (FFF, 126)

Thursday
Middle Eastern eggplant, zucchini, and chickpea stew (manazilet badhinjan)
Tomato salad with marinated shallots
Gluten-free pita bread (this is totally overambitious, but I made hot pockets last week, so it could happen…)

Friday
Pasta with spicy vodka sauce, cherry tomatoes, and seasonal veggies
Green salad with citrus dressing

Saturday
leftovers

Sunday
Jap Chae (shiritaki noodles with carrot, zucchini, and kale)
Brown rice
Kim chee

Shopping list: 1 large/2 med ears of corn, 3 pint cherry tomatoes, 1/2 lb green beans, 1/2 lb wax beans, small red onion, med eggplant, 2 med zucchini, other veggies for pasta (whatever looks good), 1 bunch kale

As for my fellow GF menu planners? What tantalizing treats will they be concocting for themselves and their loved ones this week?

Renee of Beyond Rice and Tofu and I wish we were neighbors because we always want to gobble up what the other has planned! This week Renee solves the “what do I do with too many summer squashes” dilemma by just foregoing them entirely, and turning her attention instead to a weeklong feast of spicy tofu, red beans and rice, and two different cucumber salads that sound like summer personified! Renee is headed out of town this week – Bon Voyage!

Wendy at Celiacs in the House gives us some gorgeous farmer’s market eye candy and has frozen a brilliant assortment of summer bounty to keep her going through the winter (jealous! I totally want to do that but I never manage to…). She gets zucchini into a yummy quinoa salad and makes it into ribbons to accompany homemade gnocchi! Pasta salad and kale pizzas also have me salivating and planning a little “neighborly visit” in her direction. Wendy is also headed out of town – Bon Voyage to you as well!

Heather of Celiac Family makes a decadent-sounding chocolate chip zucchini bread (wow!) and likes her zucchini cooked simply, grilled or sauteed. Sounds good to me! Heather takes a trip around the world this week with chicken enchiladas, beef and broccoli stir fry, and a new recipe for lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes. She also has sweet potato fries planned, which are one of my very favorite foods. I haven’t had them in ages – looks like Tuesday I’ll be popping by Heather’s house just to see how her week is going (and snag a few fries…).

An impeccably seasonal vegan, gluten-free menu plan Monday

This week and last I’ve been trying out menus from the cookbook Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley. (Review to come!) The cookbook is organized into four chapters of seasonal menus, and each menu has two different dishes meant to complement each other. I’ve flipped through seasonally-organized cookbooks before, and even cooked from a few, but this cookbook is truly impeccably seasonal. at least as far as the summer menus are concerned. When I take my produce list to the farmer’s market, every single item on there is available. Even when I think something won’t be there (“Oh, I haven’t seen yellow wax beans. Maybe none of the farmers at my market are growing them.”), I have inevitably found someone selling it. It’s pretty amazing!

On the other hand, I did get kind of sick of corn, tomatoes, and zucchini at some point last week. But hey, it’s what is actually in season. Fancy that! I know I’ve mentioned this before, but this market is really making me feel connected to the seasonality of my food. Getting to taste twelve different kinds of peaches, nectarines, and plums every week and pick out which ones are tastiest right then is like my idea of heaven. This week it was Arctic Jay nectarines and some kind of nectaplum (!!) that I can’t recall the name of.

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Heather of Celiac Family with the theme of tomatoes. Speaking of seasonal… This is a perfect theme for me this week as my box preview tells me I’ll be getting a pound of heirloom tomatoes, a pound of slicing tomatoes, and a basket of cherry tomatoes. So I’ll be excited to see what my fellow GF swappers are doing with their tomatoes this week! My plans are pretty simple – three different tomato salads, one of them topping a pizza! – but I’ll also hopefully try something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – Roasted Tomatoes! I’ve always been both intrigued and intimidated, but the glut of tomatoes I’ll be getting this week has inspired me to just go for it. A few other delicious things I’ve done with tomatoes in the past are a Cook’s Illustrated Fresh Tomato Soup with Basil, Summer Bounty Gratin with tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, and basil (best way to use up summertime CSA boxes!), and my favorite Raw Kale Salad with Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes (ooh, that’s what I should use my cherry tomatoes for!).

As always, there’s a big ol’ roundup of menu plans today over at OrgJunkie, so be sure to check that out as well!

Monday
Pizza with kalamata olives, vegan mozarella, and chopped salad (FFF, 130)
Assorted summer squashes pan-seared with garlic and mint (FFF, 131)
Impressionist cauliflower

Tuesday (cook 1 C. brown long-grain rice ahead of time)
Golden tofu triangles with rich peanut sauce (Vegan Express, 46)
Steamed broccoli
Nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) with homemade kecap manis

Wednesday
Szechuan-style tofu with eggplant (Vegan Express, 56)
Fatiguer’s-style gai lan
Quinoa

Thursday
Roasted cauliflower and zucchini
Green salad with citrus vinaigrette
Baked sweet potato

Friday
Leftovers
Tomato salad with marinated shallots

Saturday
Chana masala (Vegan Express, 99)
Curried cashew quinoa (Vegan Express, 93)
Salad of chopped tomato and cucumber with Annie’s Goddess dressing

Sunday
Leftovers
Roasted tomatoes

Just the facts for a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Wednesday

Sigh. I love posting my menu plan on Mondays, when I can play with all my friends and swap comments and be part of the GF Menu Swap and the OrgJunkie Menu Plan Monday compilation. But lately Monday has been exactly the wrong day to plan. I’m also less likely to make a menu plan for the week when I’m too busy to select and edit photos to accompany a post. But I need to plan my menus. Meal planning keeps me on track, saves me money, and means there is always delicious, healthy food in the house.

So no photos, no fun stories, no theme ingredient, no links to round-ups. Just a Wednesday menu plan to take advantage of the Wednesday farmer’s market by my house.

Wednesday (defrost tempeh)
Chilled tomato soup with shallots, cucumbers, and corn (Fresh Food Fast, 100)
Warm green beans and new potatoes with grilled onions (FFF, 102) and lemon-pepper tempeh croutons

Thursday
Pizza with kalamata olives, vegan mozarella, and chopped salad (FFF, 130)
Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint (FFF, 131)

Friday
Szechuan-style tofu with eggplant (Vegan Express, 56)
Fatiguer’s-style gai lan
Quinoa

Saturday
Chana masala (Vegan Express, 99)
Curried cashew quinoa (Vegan Express, 93)
Salad of chopped tomato and cucumber with Annie’s Goddess dressing

Sunday (cook 1 C. brown long-grain rice ahead of time)
Golden tofu triangles with rich peanut sauce (Vegan Express, 46)
Steamed broccoli
Nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) with homemade kecap manis

Monday
Tortilla casserole with pinto beans and spinach (Vegan Express, 105)
Green salad with citrus vinaigrette
Baked sweet potato

Tuesday
Leftovers

Shopping list: 1.5 lbs tomatoes + 2 med tomato, 1 cucumber + 4 Kirby cucumbers, 1 lb green beans, 1.5 lb new potatoes, 1 ripe avocado, 1 lb summer squash, 1 jalapeno, broccoli (or suitable substitute), 2 long Japanese eggplants, 1 tub tofu, bok choy, gai lan, corn tortillas, vegan cheese, 1 sweet potato

Farmer’s market inspiration for a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Every other week, when I don’t get my CSA box, I try to make it down to the marvelous farmer’s market by my house. This week I actually remembered to bring cash with me and stocked up on all kinds of delightful goodies. I am usually very strict with myself about not buying prepared food at the farmer’s market (it is usually way outside my budget) but there is one stand, Sinbad’s, that sells the most incredible Middle Eastern food. Their baba ganoush – already one of my favorite foods – is divine, full of smoky chunks of eggplant in a smooth, perfectly seasoned base.

Mujadara, chopped salad, falafel, and Sinbad's baba ganoush

The market had plenty of eye candy this week – gorgeous squash blossoms, mountain-grown blueberries, incredible peaches and nectarines from Kashiwase Farm. Kashiwase had out a huge display that let you taste twelve different kinds of peaches and nectarines. The Honeygold nectarines (I think that’s what they’re called – definitely “honey” in the name) taste like honey, but like the honey that the gods drink on Mt. Olympus.

This was the first time I’d been to the market on an overcast day – the whole place looked different without the usual awnings, and my favorite table of Asian greens at the end of the market was alive with motion, all the leafy veggies flapping in the strong wind. I bought eggplants – several sizes and kinds, so happy to see them in the market at last. Strawberries, peaches, and nectarines. Chinese broccoli, a gorgeous head of cauliflower, a huge bunch of fat stubby carrots, and some pickling cucumbers for my long-delayed Russian meal.

I am barely scraping this menu together this week, so sadly I fail on the Gluten-Free Menu Swap ingredient-of-the-week. This week it is almonds and almond flour, chosen and hosted by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness, all around great cook and organizer of our GF menu swap. If I weren’t rushing about I would be all over this theme as I love cooking and baking with almond flour, but sadly I’ll just have to be satisfied with hungrily checking out what everyone else is doing.

And, as always, you can find a world of menu plans over at the giant MPM compendium at OrgJunkie!

Monday
Mujadara (lentils and rice with caramelized onions)
Homemade falafel
Chopped salad (tomato, cuke, red onion, sugar snap peas)
Baba ganoush

Tuesday
Vinegret (Russian beet and potato salad with dill)
Kasha with home-fermented cabbage and carrots
Pickling cucumbers

Wednesday
Soft polenta layered with steamed Chinese broccoli, kidney beans, and mushroom tomato sauce

Thursday
Udi’s GF pizza crust with garlicky beet greens, broiled eggplant, and tomato
Butter lettuce salad with citrus vinaigrette

Friday
Three sisters stew with leeks (Fresh Food Fast p105)
Arepas (Fresh Food Fast p105)

Saturday
Hot pockets with eggplant caponata filling (using Flying Apron pocket recipe)
Hot pockets with Indian sweet potato and cauliflower curry filling

Sunday
Zucchini and black bean quesadillas with chipotle salsa (FFF 85)
Chilled cucumber and mint soup (FFF 87)

Desserts
Vegan plum clafouti
Roasted peaches with labneh made from soy yogrut (FFF 138)

For $22 at the farmer’s market I got:
Huge bunch of carrots
Medium globe eggplant
pint strawberries
4 pickling cukes
3 nectarines
2 peaches
head cauliflower
bunch chinese broccoli
4 large japanese eggplants

It’s a salad party on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

I had an awesome menu plan for last week, but life ultimately brought in some unexpected tweaks, as it so often does. Do you know the kind of week I mean? I ended up being extremely busy, which meant I didn’t get to the store for the extra ingredients I needed to make several of the dishes in my plan. I also had a couple of raw dishes planned from a cookbook I’m checking out but didn’t end up making either one. There’s always so much grating and mandolining for raw meals! One night I found myself making dinner at 11pm, so I skipped the labor-intensive raw spring rolls I had planned and made Sunrise Noodles instead, which I can make in my sleep (good thing, too, at 11pm!). The other meal I had planned (Raw “Pasta” Puttanesca with zucchini “noodles”) was thrown by the wayside in favor of a nice filling hot dish – Tamale Bake – that kept me fed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days.

Nicoise Salad (on this week's menu)

Despite my total deviation from the plan, I still ended up eating quite well last week. I ate out on two nights when I had planned to cook, so I’ve ended up with two yummy meals that never got made but that I can recycle into this week. I think I’m just going to let go of those raw recipes that never got made. One of them provided inspiration for Wendy of Celiacs in the House to make gorgeous raw spring rolls (you should check out her blog this month, she’s doing an awesome project!), so for that alone I’m glad I included it in my meal plan.

Borscht (this week's menu)

I continue to love the feature of my CSA that lets me preview what will be coming in my box. Before I started menu planning I loved to be surprised, but now I find it invaluable to be able to get inspiration and information about what will be coming. This week is a lot of fruit, plus cucumbers, basil, tomato, lettuce, beets, and corn. Yum, I feel a delicious summer salad coming on! But that’s also why I have trouble in the summer. I need a steady diet of green veggies to feel healthy, and while I enjoy them, a little bit of cucumber, lettuce, and tomato just doesn’t do it.

Salad rolls with kitchari and tomato relish (this week's menu)

I also have quite a challenge coming up – to make dinner for myself and a friend who is also gluten-free. What’s the catch? Well, I’m vegan, and my friend (an omnivore) can’t eat soy, beans, or quinoa. So everything I eat for protein is off limits, and vice versa. We basically overlap at rice, fruits, and vegetables. What on earth can I make for us that will be both filling and delicious? Any suggestions? I’m thinking potatoes in some form?

One-pot Bibimbap (this week's menu)

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Heather of Celiac Family with the theme of salads. What a perfect theme for what’s coming in my box!  I’ll be making Salade Nicoise (a summer favorite I have yet to grow tired of), salad rolls stuffed with a yummy lentil quinoa mixture, and fruit salad with all the fruit coming in my CSA box. I’m trying out a new basil-citrus salad dressing (dressings are my Achilles’ heel), and making my favorite Russian salad which is made with beets and other wonderful things. It’s quite a week for salads! Hopefully the weather will oblige me… I was driving home the other night in freezing, foggy, drizzling weather, thinking to myself, Yep! It must be July!

As always there are oodles of menu plans at the giant MPM compendium over at OrgJunkie, with a fair number of vegan folks tuning in every week now, so go check it out!

Edamame and smoked tofu succotash (this week's menu)

Monday
One-pot bibimbap with arame, shitake mushrooms, spinach, tofu, and napa cabbage

Tuesday (defrost 5 C. stock)
Nicoise salad
Borscht

Wednesday (ferment cabbage for the weekend)
Hand-held salad rolls stuffed with kitchari (lentil and quinoa mixture with flax seed oil, lime juice, tamari, toasted sesame oil), tomato relish, julienned carrots, fresh basil
Corn on the cob with umeboshi plum paste or chili and lime
Fruit salad

Thursday
Edamame and Smoked Tofu Succotash (with fresh corn and tomatoes)
Salad with basil-citrus vinaigrette

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Vinegret (Russian beet salad)
Kasha with fermented cabbage
Cucumbers

Sunday
Leftovers

Shopping list: chili-garlic sauce, 1 lb new potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, 2 onions, 2 cabbages, scallions, small red onion, (check for frozen edamame), 1 orange, 3 medium boiling potatoes, canned peas, 3 dill pickles, scallions, fresh dill, kasha

Getting the ball rolling again with a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Friday?

As I said in my previous post, June was a crazy month with a lot going on. I was out of town, I never made it to the grocery store (luckily I keep an absurdly stocked pantry so I’ll never starve, but I do lose my interest in home-cooking when there’s nothing fresh to eat), I was barely home at all.

But a new box has arrived, and it’s a Rainbow coupon month again, so it’s time to get back into the swing of things! I know I usually ramble on forever in my menu posts, but this time I’m getting right to business.

For summertime inspiration, check out the Gluten Free Menu Swap this week hosted by Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness with the theme of Summertime Foods!

Nicoise Salad

Friday
Nicoise salad (lettuce, tomato, green beans, potatoes, red onion with Nicoise dressing)
Fruit salad

Saturday
Raw “Pasta” Puttanesca (made with zucchini “noodles”) (30-Minute Vegan p 202)
Fruit salad

Sunday
Live Spring Rolls (grated carrots and beets, sprouts, basil wrapped in chard leaves) (30-Minute Vegan p 308) (add rice noodles/baked tofu?)
Raw kale salad with avocado and cherry tomatoes

Raw Kale Salad with Avocado & Cherry Tomatoes

Monday
Bibimbap with arame, shitake mushrooms, spinach, and napa cabbage

Tuesday
Leftovers

Wednesday
Coco Rice and Beans (30 MV p 195)
Gingered Collard Greens (30MV p 177)
Baked Plantains (30MV p 186)

Thursday
Pasta Florentine with broccoli (30MV p 221)
Romaine lettuce salad with carrots and Balsamic Dressing (30MV p 144)

Friday
Leftovers

Vinegret (Russian beet salad)

Saturday
Vinegret (Russian beet salad)
Kasha with fermented cabbage
Pickling cucumbers

Sunday
Games! Burritos?

Shopping list: Nicoise olives, sprouts, kale, cherry tomatoes, 2 large ripe plantains, collard greens, baked tofu, tofu, napa cabbage, (check for 2 pkg frozen spinach), broccoli, romaine lettuce, 3 medium boiling potatoes, onions, garlic, canned peas, 3 dill pickles, scallions, fresh dill, kasha, fermented cabbage, pickling cucumbers

Hop on the express train to a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Last week I sent out a call for advice on making my meal plans simpler, faster, and easier, and that call was answered with everything from tips to techniques to recipes to cookbooks. A visiting friend came over and while we made Gluten-Free Goddess’s yummy, elaborate Best Vegan Mac and Cheese I made her tell me in detail about the not-elaborate meals she makes. (My favorite, utterly doable one was steam rice in the rice cooker, throw in some broccoli towards the end, then top with Annie’s Green Goddess dressing. I immediately bought myself some Goddess dressing – the vegan version of Green Goddess – at Rainbow. That’s the kind of simplicity + yumminess I’m looking for!)

Christiana from The Harmonious Kitchen, another great CSA blog, recommended Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I went to check it out on Amazon, which of course then led me down a merry path to other cookbooks that “people also viewed/bought/sighed over/etc.” When I came across a cookbook called Vegan Express, by Nava Atlas, I had to order it from the library immediately. I picked it up earlier this week and it did not disappoint! I already have a billion little paper scraps marking most of the pages. So this week’s menu is almost entirely express-lane recipes from Vegan Express, and I’m pretty excited about maybe having a more low-key week of cooking!

I’ll get my CSA box on Wednesday which is timely because I’m nearly out of fresh produce. Tuesday’s meal is going to be all pantry and freezer ingredients because, except for onions and garlic (and the stockpile of celery I’ve amassed from my box), I’m going to be completely out. Getting to peek ahead to what will arrive on Wednesday is such a boon – I have my Vegan Express meals all planned out to match what will be coming. Later in the week I’ll also be making a definitely not-express batch of GF Goddess sweet potato and black bean enchiladas because they are so good that I must have them again immediately!

Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with adobo sauce

This week Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness, who organizes the GF Menu Swap, is also hosting, with the theme of kale. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know how passionate I am about kale. Before I went back to getting my CSA box I had kale several times a week, and I do miss it now that I am trying to stick to what comes in my box and is at the farmer’s market. I bought some gorgeous Russian kale at Rainbow, however, and will be making a very yummy sounding skillet meal from Vegan Express. For a simple and delicious kale preparation, I recommend Kale with Kale Sauce, which Duck invented and which will be the gold-standard go-to kale recipe forever and ever.

More vegan menu plans can often be found at Your Vegan Mom, Musings from the Fishbowl, and Two Vegan Boys and Beyond Rice and Tofu plans her menus vegetarian and gluten-free. And as always you can find a heaping serving of menu plans (mostly not vegan and GF) over at OrgJunkie‘s Menu Plan Monday compendium!

Monday
Tempeh, kale, and sweet potato skillet with cashews (Vegan Express p 74)

Tuesday
Baked beans and white beans with tempeh bacon and spinach (a riff on Vegan Express p 103, using frozen spinach)
GF Cornbread (from Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook? haven’t decided yet which recipe to use)

Wednesday (defrost coconut milk)
Aloo Gobhi with Klamath pearl potatoes, cauliflower and tofu (Vegan Express 61)
Basmati coconut rice

Thursday
Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas (put a bit of soy cream cheese in each enchilada)
Green salad with butter lettuce and vinaigrette (Vegan Express p 221)

Friday
Bok choy, edamame, cashew and orange rice (Vegan Express p 83, use mandarin oranges)
Sauteed tofu (Vegan Express p 62)

Saturday
Pasta “Carbonara” with broccoli (Vegan Express p 132)
Green salad with butter lettuce and vinaigrette (Vegan Express p 221)

Sunday
Leftovers!

A somewhat wait-and-see vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

After a whirlwind two weeks with much fun and no menu planning, I have decided that “too busy to plan a menu” = “just plain old too busy.” Seriously! The amount of money spent on grabbing snacks out in the world and the amount of hunger experienced because of rushing somewhere and not having anything prepared to eat during my rare moments at home make a very conclusive case. If I don’t have time to plan (much less cook) my weekly menu, then I clearly need to take the kitchen scissors to my social calendar.
Fresh amaranth and potato stir-fry, Indian-style

Fresh amaranth and new potato stir-fry from last week’s farmer’s market trip

This week is my no-box week, so I’m only able to plan through Thursday and then I run out of vegetables. I’ll have to conjure up the rest of the week once I see what the Farmer’s Market has to offer on Wednesday. (Will I ever stop being delighted with the magic of having a farmer’s market a few blocks from my house? Well, if I do, it won’t be this week – this week I’m getting my knives sharpened!!)

It wasn’t just busyness that held me back on menu planning, however. I do feel like I’m running out of steam. I need more fast and easy dishes (that don’t involve tofu) – I’m getting tired of the standards from my repertoire, but all the recipes that look tasty online and in cookbooks are complicated and time-consuming. Shelly of Musings from the Fishbowl left a sweet comment on my last menu plan saying my meals were so elaborate and that she should try to carve out some time for elaborate cooking, so this week I thought, Great! I’ll check out her blog for some nice simple meals. Um… Eggplant Parmigiana? Lemon Herb Coconut Tofu with Udon? Chickpea Patties? I think maybe I fooled Shelly by sprinkling parsley all over the food in my pictures, because when I look at her menu plans, her meals sound way more elaborate than mine!

So a general call to all the other menu planners out there: Where do you go (cookbook, blog, standards you improv off of) when you need mellow, relatively fast meal inspiration? One of my challenges is that everything has to be both vegan and gluten-free, so if I’m going to buy a cookbook, for example, it can’t be mostly meat recipes or mostly wheat recipes. (Grr… stupid V’con and Vegan with a Vengeance “sammich” obsession…)

Beet, beet greens, and carrot curry with salad, quinoa, and Indian-spiced yogurtBeet, beet greens, and chickpea curry with salad, quinoa, and Indian-spiced yogurt in my gorgeous new nesting flower bowls, a gift wheedled from my mom when we visited the de Young museum

Let’s hope I managed to keep it simple enough this week! (I know I probably didn’t, though…) For more gluten-free menu planning, check out Celiacs in the House who is hosting the GF Menu Swap with the theme of “book inspired foods.” I’m just barely making it with “refrigerator-contents inspired foods,” so sadly I’ll have to pass on the theme this time! (Although I guess you could say that everything I eat these days is “book inspired.” After 18 years of vegetarianism, and living for two years with my vegan partner but never feeling like I could make the leap myself, it was reading Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Eating Animals last Decemeber that finally facilitated my transition to vegan.)

Your Vegan Mom, Musings from the Fishbowl, Two Vegan Boys, and Homemaking on an Island usually have great vegan meal plan inspiration. And for a giant compendium of menu plans from all over the web, check out the MPM round-up at OrgJunkie.

Monday “Deli Night” (that’s my justification for a bunch of stuff that doesn’t go together flavor-wise, like piling a plate with options from one of those ritzy by-the-pound delis)
Caramelized baby bok choy with cashews and sesame seeds
Carrot, Dill, & White Bean Salad
My new favorite thing: Soft-cooked polenta, warm, mixed thoroughly with mashed avocado, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday
Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
Braised Celery Hearts (defrost 2 C. stock!)
Steamed broccoli

Wednesday
Leftovers

Thursday
Indian cabbage stir-fry (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Creamy chickpea curry
Brown basmati rice

Colors pop on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Tofu Florentine (broiled marinated tofu over garlicky chard and roasted root vegetables, topped with Cheezy sauce) from last week (on menu from 2 weeks ago)

Last week was a good week. I ate really well. There’s something so lovely and self-caring about making gorgeous food full of fresh colorful veggies. Planning seems to be working out for me, and as an added bonus as I page through cookbooks and click through internet and blog recipes I’ve started compiling a mental (and actual) file of recipes I want to make. This means that when I’m at the farmer’s market, and there are beets everywhere, and not an eggplant or a zucchini in sight, I remember I’ve been wanting to make beet curry and can easily ditch the eggplant stew and rework things on the fly.

Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with adobo sauce from last week

I tried a bunch of brand-new recipes last week and loved every single one of them. They also made fantastic leftovers – I had a sweet potato and black bean enchilada for breakfast for four days running! This time I have more new recipes and a few familiar ones. I feel like this plan is actually way overambitious, especially as things will be getting quite busy in the middle of the week, but I’ll just have to do the best I can.

“Mish-mash bowl” with quinoa, fleur de sel, flax oil, and nori, topped with sweet potatoes, broccoli, broiled tofu, avocado, grated carrot, radishes, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, parsley, mint, and green onion, with tahini sauce (picture taken before the tahini sauce, 'cause it's prettier!)

This week Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness hosts the Gluten-Free Menu Swap with the theme of Quinoa. I love quinoa and eat tons of it! I’m not doing anything particularly creative with it this week, like baking with it or turning it into breakfast cereal, but it will accompany my curry and form the base of the delicious mish-mash bowl I’ve fallen in love with. Mish-mash bowl makes a terrific leftover and a great lunch to pack for an on-the-go day. The trick I discovered last week is to toss the quinoa with a little salad dressing (I had some left over from my romaine and herb salad) before packing it into my lunch container. This keeps it from getting dry and unappealing. My favorite way to eat hot quinoa is to just toss it with a pinch of fleur de sel. The big flakey grains of salt don’t dissolve all the way, and their salty crunchy texture is a great complement to the little pearls of quinoa.

As always you’ll find tons of menu plans at the grand round-up over at OrgJunkie!

Monday
Beets, beet greens, cabbage, and chickpea curry
Quinoa
Romaine salad with carrots, green onions, celery, with Spa Vinaigrette with fresh dill

Tuesday
Rice bowl with dandelion greens and avocado
Steamed artichokes

Wednesday
Leftovers
Gai lan with garlic and soy sauce

Thursday
Moroccan veggie tagine with zucchini, potato, cabbage, celery, cauliflower, eggplant with harissa (*defrost 2 C. stock)
Lundberg GF brown rice couscous

Friday
“Mish-mash bowl” with quinoa, fleur de sel, and nori, topped with baby broccoli, avocado, grated carrot, radishes, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, parsley, mint, and green onion, with tahini sauce (steam veggies and make tahini sauce ahead)

Saturday
Leftovers

Sunday
Chili-glazed tofu
Stir-fried iceberg lettuce
Coconut rice

Making up the rules as I go along on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

So last week is definitely being filed under “learning experiences.” In last week’s Menu Plan Monday post I started trying to articulate some of the elements of the planning process that seem to help make it work for me. This week I learned a few more gems of MPM wisdom, and while I learned them the hard way (not a lot of meals got made last week), at least I learned them!

Soft tacos with chile-beer marinated tempeh strips, lime crema, and cabbage slaw, topped with avocado, tomato, radish, and parsley, from last week's menu

The problem stemmed from the very lovely fact that I’ve been enjoying making more elaborate meals these past few weeks. Cooking is a real pleasure for me, and I’ve been loving trying out new recipes and making all kinds of delicious meals with sauces, sides, multiple components, etc. But last week I learned what happens when you’re busy, have a lot of evening plans, and nearly every meal on your menu plan is long and complicated. You don’t cook, is what happens! And not only that, but I would get kind of flummoxed and paralyzed because I had now earmarked all my produce to go into these certain meals, so what was I supposed to cook on nights when I didn’t have time to make those meals? One night I actually canceled plans so I could make one of the meals on my meal plan (that was one of a few reasons, of course, but still it was eye-opening!). Another night I basically didn’t eat dinner (I put an Amy’s in the toaster oven at 1 AM) so that I could keep my evening plans.

Lunchtime leftovers from last week: Inari stuffed with leftover Sloppy Sushi filling (sushi rice, carrot, asparagus, shitake mushrooms) with ume paste and pickled ginger

It’s ultimately all good though – making a meal plan each week and then seeing how it translates in real life is helping me to gather more and more data, which in turn helps me refine my menus. Here’s a recap of everything I’ve learned so far:

1. Build in nights for eating leftovers and eating out. Don’t plan (and shop for) a menu for every night of the week. Space them out fairly evenly so I’ll have leftovers to cover the nights I haven’t planned out a meal.

2. Don’t have every menu in my plan be an elaborate one. Don’t have every recipe be new. Try to have a mix of tried-and-true recipes, simple new recipes, and one or two more time-consuming and complicated recipes.

3. Balance proteins to come from beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and fermented soy, rather than just tofu.

4. Revisit the classic “main dish, side dish” format so I always have my veggies, salads, and sides specifically planned out for each meal. At the same time, don’t get overambitious – the “main dish” is whichever one is the most complicated. The “sides” should be easy-peasy, no-brainers.

5. Check the online prediction of what will be coming in my CSA box (which arrives every other Wednesday). This week only one thing was different from the prediction (celery instead of leeks) and I now have plans for nearly every item that came in my box, so hopefully nothing will be wasted!

6. Check the calendar to see what plans I have coming up. Be ruthless about planning the nights that I’m busy – it may seem boring and uninspired to have canned soup and steamed broccoli, or polenta and chard, but at least I’ll actually make dinner that night and not end up starving or spending money grabbing something out.

7. Take planning to the next level – make more extensive notes about what can be done ahead (e.g. steaming veggies for a rice bowl, making sauces that will keep in the fridge for a few days, etc.). On the nights – or even days – when I can cook more elaborately, it takes barely any extra time and trouble to also put on a pot and steam some sweet potatoes, or whip up an extra sauce. This means on nights when I am pressed for time my meal-prep will be more “assembling” than actual cooking.

8. Plan for a day or two, maybe a weekend day, that really is all about the cooking, and don’t make other plans on this day. Make a nice, multi-component meal for that day and do some of the advance prep mentioned above. I love to spend a whole afternoon in the kitchen! I listen to podcasts of The Splendid Table and KCRW’s Good Food (both free from iTunes) and become a chopping/cooking/baking/cleaning machine!

So with all these thoughts in mind, plus the fact that I’m out of olive oil and won’t be able to get any more ’til May, here is this week’s menu!

Monday
Polenta (cooked in rice cooker)
Steamed broccoli
Olive tapenade

Tuesday (sweet potatoes must be steamed ahead of time, make extra for Wednesday)
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (put a bit of soy cream cheese in each enchilada)
Vegan Caesar Salad (Vcon, p81)

Wednesday
“Mish-mash Bowl” with quinoa, avocado, sweet potato, grated carrots, radishes, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax oil, nori, and tahini sauce
Steamed artichokes

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Birthday dinner out for a friend

Sunday (buy 1 med eggplant, 1 med zucchini, 1 bunch dill, pick mint)
Eggplant and chickpea stew
Mint, dill, and Romaine salad

Manda of Asparagus Thin hosts the Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week with the theme of Fusion Food. A lot of what I cook tends to be pretty fusiony, but as luck would have it, this week things are a little more straightforward, actually. I have some Italian flavors, followed by Mexican (with a classic American salad), then good ol’ hippy food, then Middle Eastern/North African with the stew. Do check out the swap for more border-crossing flavor marriages!

As always there’s a huge round-up of MPMs (with a few more vegan folks participating recently!) over at OrgJunkie!