Get time on your side again with this simple system for no-recipe recipes.
We could all use a little help making life easier. We want to eat healthfully but who has the time? So, we Google, “simple vegan recipes for beginners” and cross our fingers that something actually simple pops up.
You’re in luck!
BIG fan of “no recipe recipes” over here.
What does that mean? Basically, it means: keep it simple.
Ironically, it can take skill and time to learn how to “keep it simple”. Cooking without a recipe can be a challenge if you aren’t a cook yourself. You have to learn easy go-to ingredients so that you can come up with things to put together for a meal on the fly.
If you are one of these people and feel totally lost in the kitchen and unable to improvise a meal, it’s ok. That’s where Plenty Vegan comes in!
Learn some systems for no recipe recipes that are truly simple vegan recipes for beginners and you’ll be on your way to making easy weekday dinners.
The 3 Ingredient Dinner
Lately, my dinners have been coming together really easily. I took a look at my plate the other day and realized,
Wow, there are only 3 parts to this meal.”
3 Building Blocks of Any Simple Meal
This combo of ingredients is basically the same as the meal concept of a salad or a bowl.
Let’s delve into each of these parts. And, yes, it’s slightly more complicated than only 3 ingredients. But… only slightly.
To make this meal, I cook or prep each part of the meal according to how I like that ingredient best and then just combine them on a plate or in a bowl.
1. The Grain
What I am calling “the grain” is what I think of as the foundation for this 3 ingredient meal. It is what you pile everything else on top of.
This part of your meal can be anything you like the best. Here are some examples:
All of these bases can be kept for a fairly long time in the pantry. So, you should always have at least one that can be made without a trip to the grocery store.
These bases can be prepared simply with water or you can use veggie broth and spices to make them a bit more complex. You can also prepare them in bulk so that you always have extra ready to go in the fridge. This is a great idea for the beginning of the week before the busy work week hits.
Quinoa, millet and pasta cook up quite quickly. As does white rice.
Brown rice and polenta can take almost an hour. You can buy prepared polenta instead of making it from cornmeal.
Ready to get started?
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2. The Protein
Protein as a concept gets cloudy almost immediately. The meat industry has convinced us that there is no way to get all the protein we need without eating meat so the question is: where does that leave vegans and protein?
The fact is, the idea that we can only get protein from meat is garbage.
There is plenty of protein in plant-based foods and you do not have to focus on meeting your daily requirement of protein nearly as much as you would think. In fact, many Americans go way over the daily recommended protein mark because of excessive meat consumption.
Regarding plant-based protein, even quinoa, which I have listed under “grain” and not protein, has tons of protein. As do leafy greens and other veggies.
So, when I talk about vegan protein, I am thinking about the vegan ingredients that are often used as meat substitutes.
- canned beans: chickpeas, black beans, pinto, etc.
- tofu: store-bought prepared baked tofu or home-prepared
- tempeh: store-bought prepared baked tempeh or home-prepared
- packaged vegan meats: Field Roast, Beyond Meat, etc…
I like to marinate and bake a bunch of tofu and tempeh and then have it in the fridge for sandwiches and these simple meals. You can also buy prepared baked tofu and tempeh strips if you don’t want, can afford and/or just prefer store-bought.
You got me, those marinades add ingredients to your supposed 3 Ingredient Meal.
BUT, you can also just steam up some tempeh without any marinade. As for tofu, and I wouldn’t prefer this because tofu is much more bland than tempeh, you could bake it without marinade or sauté it on the stove top.
Maybe use some oil and salt, is all I’m saying…
NOTE: You can skip a protein and just put together a hearty bowl from other ingredients – for example: quinoa, sweet potato, spinach and miso dressing.
3. The Green
My rule of thumb is: green things are good. I add a handful of spinach here, a head of broccoli there and I feel it helps me cover my nutrition bases.
The truth is, you can add any other veggie and you’ll be in great shape.
Some examples of greens (and more) are:
- green veggies – broccoli, zucchini, peas (can be frozen!), etc.
- non-green veggies are a-ok too: carrots, mushrooms, etc.
I prep each ingredient according to the way I like it best and what I’m in the mood for. So, sometimes I add raw spinach but sometimes I sauté it for a bit until it wilts. I like to roast up a bunch of broccoli all at once but if I’m not that on top of things, I just use frozen peas for my veggie.
Do what works for you.
Beyond 3 Ingredients: The Dressing
Ok, this is where I’m breaking the 3 ingredient rule… a bit.
The reason I don’t include the dressing in the 3 ingredients is because this can always be something you have on hand in your kitchen.
As simple as salt and pepper, there’s no reason to call these true ingredients. And, even if you go beyond 3 ingredients, you’ll still be able to create some easy vegan meals for beginners.
Some dressings are:
- olive oil and salt (if you are ok with olive oil)
- a squeeze of lemon or lime and a dash of salt & pepper (this is a super healthy option)
- balsamic vinegar
- soy sauce
- a store-bought dressing (I recommend Amy’s Goddess Dressing)
- a leftover sauce from another meal
- canned tomato sauce, salsa or tomatoes
- sesame oil (hot pepper sesame oil if you got it!)
- sriracha or any other hot sauce you like
The point is, you don’t have to get fancy! The dressing is just serving the purpose of adding some liquid and/or flavor to make the rest of the dish a bit more interesting. It can just tie it all together. Just drizzle or sprinkle on top!
Easy Bonus Ingredients
If you want to go beyond the 3 ingredients, there are some easy add-ins to mix things up. Now, you might not have these in your mind or in your kitchen but review the list and see if you want to put them in your rotation.
- nutritional yeast (for some cheesiness)
- peanut sauce: combine peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic (fresh or powdered)
- miso and lime dressing – just mix the two
- look up a simple dressing recipe with ingredients you like
- raid your spice rack and see what would work with what’s on your plate (or in your bowl)
No-Recipe Recipes For All
I have been beating the drum of no recipe recipes for a bit now.
How are you with an improvised dinner? What are some of your standby combinations? Do you have other suggestions for simple vegan recipes for beginners?
Share with us! Comment below or tag Plenty Vegan on Instagram. I would love to get some new ideas!
If you want to get some more ideas and support for how to eat a simple vegan diet, check out the Plenty Vegan Plan (one week’s worth of an easy vegan meal plan and grocery list included – simple vegan meal planning!).
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