Sojourner Cafe in Santa Barbara

One of the restaurants I like in Santa Barbara is Sojourner Cafe, which is downtown on Canon Perdido off of State Street. They have vegan and non-vegan food. Everything is labeled if it’s vegan or gluten free, which makes it a good choice if you’re going out with a group that has different food restrictions.

We tried the Vegan Jumbo Pasta Shells, Split Pea Soup, Cornbread Muffin, and Chili Tempeh Tacos.

I’ve had the stuffed shells before, and it’s where I got the idea to try a vegan version of my own. The garlic bread that came with it was also quite tasty.

The split pea soup was also good, and I’d like to try out a recipe at home. Does anyone have a good vegan split pea soup recipe?

The chili tempeh tacos were on the spicy side, but yummy. The cornbread helped cool down the spice.

We couldn’t leave without trying out the vegan chocolate cake. Sometimes icing on cakes in stores and restaurants isn’t very good, but this icing was pretty yummy…almost like a light chocolate mousse. Yum!

If you find yourself hungry in Santa Barbara, Sojourner’s is definitely a good choice. They also have started composting, and they purchase produce from local growers, so you can can feel good about your yummy meal!

Vegan Stuffed Shells

With the holiday season coming up, get-togethers with family and friends start to pick up. As a vegan, it can sometimes be a challenge to know what to bring to a potluck or party to share with vegans and non-vegans. Or if you’re not vegan, but are having vegan guests over, you may need to come up with a meal for them. What can you make that everyone will eat? Here’s an easy and tasty recipe that’s great to share. You can make it ahead of time, freeze it, and heat it up later, so it’s perfect if you need to travel.

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 box of pasta shells
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 14 oz pack of firm or extra firm tofu
2 shallots
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper
dried oregano
dried basil
dried garlic
paprika
2 cups of frozen spinach (defrosted)

Directions:

  • Boil the shells according to the directions on the box.
  • Chop the onions and shallots. Peel and press (or finely chop) the garlic. Saute the onion, shallots, and garlic, in a little bit of olive oil.
  • Drain and press the water out of the tofu with a paper towel. Crumble the tofu with your hands into a mixing bowl and then use a fork to crumble it more.
  • In the bowl, combine the tofu, onion, shallots, garlic, and defrosted spinach. Mix well.
  • Add the salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, powdered garlic, and paprika to taste. Mix well. I usually start by sprinkling a little of each spice in, then tasting the mixture and adding more as needed rather than measuring out each one.
  • Drain shells after boiling and rinse under cool water so you can handle them without burning yourself.
  • Put a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13×9 inch cake pan. Stuff each shell with a spoonful of filling and layer the shells in the pan. Top them with the rest of the sauce.
  • Bake at 375° for about 35 minutes. If cooking from frozen, cook the shells longer with tinfoil covering the top, so the top doesn’t burn. For the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, uncover them so the top gets crispy.

Vegan Lasagna Recipe

My mom is a great cook and there are a lot of recipes of hers that I love. Growing up, one of my very favorites was her lasagna. I came to realize that all other lasagna you could get at a restaurant, in a store, really anywhere else, did not live up to her lasagna. When I became vegan, I knew this was one of the things I would miss the most. And then I realized, it really wasn’t hard to veganize this recipe at all. So here’s the modified version of her lasagna recipe. Tastes like home!

Just don’t dump your lasagna noodles in the sink like I did! Running out to get new lasagna noodles in the middle of a recipe isn’t very efficient.

Ingredients:

1 13.25 oz box of lasagna noodles
1 8 oz. pack of firm tofu
2 cups of frozen spinach
2 cups of shredded carrots
3/4 oz pack of basil, chopped
1 yellow onion
1 green pepper
4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
ground pepper to taste
1 jar of tomato sauce

Directions:

  • Boil a large pot of water and cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Preheat your oven to 400°.
  • Drain and press the water out of the tofu. Crumble it up into small pieces in a mixing bowl.
  • Defrost frozen spinach and add it to the tofu. Add shredded carrots and chopped basil.
  • Chop yellow onion and green pepper. Finely chop or press cloves of garlic. Saute the onion, pepper, and garlic with a little olive oil and add to the filling mixture.
  • To the mixture add dried oregano, salt, and ground pepper to taste. Feel free to add more of these spices, or to include powdered garlic, dried basil, etc.
  • Stir the filling mixture well so everything is evenly distributed.
  • Once your noodles are finished boiling and your filling mixture is done, you’re ready to layer the lasagna. Use a large casserole dish (about 15 inches x 10 inches x 2 inches deep). Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of noodles, 3 noodles across. Add a layer of filling on top of the noodles. Then another layer of noodles, then sauce, then filling. Keep layering until you use up all your noodles and filling. You’ll probably end up with about 3 layers of filling so use about 1/3 of your filling mixture each time so you don’t run out.
  • The top layer will be 3 lasagna noodles covered with tomato sauce. If you want your lasagna to be “cheesy” you can put some daiya cheese on top, but I prefer it without any cheese substitute. You can also sprinkle some bread crumbs on top if you want it to be crispier.
  • Bake the lasagna at 400° for about 40-45 minutes, until the sides look a bit bubbly and the top edges are getting a little crispy. Enjoy!

Tabouli, Tabouleh, Tabule!

Tabouli, tabouleh, or tabule? Bulgar or Couscous? More couscous or more parsley? Tabouli is one of those dishes that comes with a lot of options. But however you make it, it’s an easy and quick vegan meal or side dish, and the leftovers make a tasty lunch the next day.

It only takes me about 1/2 an hour to make start to finish. It really is so simple, but so tasty and you can easily adapt it however you prefer!

Here’s the way I usually make it.

Ingredients:

2 cups couscous
2 cups water
2 teaspoons vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup of mint
1 small yellow onion (about 1/2 -3/4 cup finely chopped)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 small cucumber chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of salt and pepper

Directions:

Follow the directions for preparing the couscous that are on the package you buy. Most kinds in the store will be instant couscous, which is what I use. Bring the water, vegan butter, and salt to a boil. Add the couscous and remove from heat. Let the couscous sit for 4-5 minutes. Once the water is completely absorbed, put the couscous in the refrigerator to cool down.

While the couscous is cooking/cooling, prep your vegetables and herbs. Finely chop the parsley, mint and onion. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber. I used cherry tomatoes, but any type of tomato will work. You can peel and seed the cucumber if you prefer, but I don’t.

Mix the vegetables and herbs with the couscous. Juice your lemon and add the juice to the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This makes about 4 servings if it’s your main meal. As a side dish I would say about 8 servings.

Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

One of my favorite quick recipes is “Pasta with Fresh 5-Minute Basil Tomato Sauce” from Sarah Kramer’s book La Dolce Vegan! Vegan Livin’ Made Easy. She has a few different vegan cookbooks, and if you’re vegan you probably already own at least one.

This recipe is really fast, really yummy, and a nice change from regular tomato sauce and pasta. Usually I make it in the summer, but I realized I hadn’t made it in a while and summer is almost over! It went by so fast…


I stick pretty close to her recipe, but do a couple things a little differently. I can’t seem to ever follow recipes exactly! Here’s the way I do it.

Ingredients:
1 package pasta
4 tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh basil tightly packed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Dash of dried (or fresh) oregano

Directions:

  • Boil the pasta.
  • While it’s cooking, chop one tomato and set it aside for later.
  • Finely chop (or press) the garlic and sautee it until golden.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend together the remaining tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano until chunky. I recommend putting the tomatoes in the blender last so the other ingredients get chopped and mixed in before the tomatoes turn completely to liquid. The sauce can be a little watery, so if you don’t want that, you can squeeze out the seeds of the tomatoes before blending.
  • Drain the noodles and place in bowls for serving. Add sauce, chopped tomatoes, and a sprig of basil on top.