Antipasta Tofu Stuffed Shells + Winner

What? The end of August already? That means I’m a whole week late in posting the winner for Grills Gone Vegan. Never fear, if it’s feeling wintery where you are, you can still make all these recipes in the kitchen rather than outdoors. I’ve got you covered. But since I’m late (must. get. back. into. regular. blogging!), I’m sharing a recipe from  my upcoming book, Vegan Finger Foods, which is co-authored by the always awesome Celine Steen.

Without further ado, the winner is lucky number 13: Amanda! Hurray for you for getting into garlic scapes. They can do anything! Congratulations on winning the contest. I will try to contact you, but if it falls into the internet cavern of communication,  please email me.

On to the recipe! I served these at a potluck at the end of July and they got rave reviews. As with all recipes, cook to your own taste. If you like creamier foods, add more mayo. If you like more tang, add more vinegar. It’s all about you, so make it your own! Hope you  like it as much as our co-potluckers did!

Thank you to Celine Steen for the gorgeous photo.

Antipasto Tofu Stuffed Shells

Antipasta Tofu Stuffed Shells

The tofu is seasoned with a perennial vegan favorite, nutritional yeast, as well as other goodies, before being combined with roasted asparagus and flavorful artichoke hearts to make an incredible variation on a tofu salad. We couldn’t resist adding peppery arugula (ever!), to really take this over the top. Stuff it in a pasta shell, and you’ve got a fabulous finger food.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon (8 g) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) liquid smoke
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegan dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound (454 g) extra-firm tofu, drained, and pressed, and cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) cubes
6 stalks roasted asparagus, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces
3 tablespoons (30 g) minced scallions
4 artichoke hearts, minced
2 tablespoons (8 g) soft sun-dried tomato halves (not oil-packed)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) capers, drained and minced
1 cup (40 g) packed baby arugula, minced
1/4 cup (11 g) chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan mayonnaise, or more to taste
14 to 18 dry jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente, drained

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6). Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a medium-size bowl, stir together the nutritional yeast, tamari, oil, liquid smoke, wine, syrup, garlic powder, and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the tofu to coat. Spread the tofu on the sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden and firm in texture. Let cool.
Stir together the tofu, asparagus, scallions, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, arugula, basil, red pepper flakes, and mayonnaise. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If desired, the filling can be made ahead of time, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Moisten it with extra mayonnaise if needed when assembling.
Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons (34 g) filling. Serve at room temperature.

Yield: 14 to 18 shells


August? Already? Get Grilling Contest!

Where has the summer gone? As I sit down to type this, I’m thinking I can’t believe it’s August already. Then I glanced at the date and realized we are almost half way through the month! This is the time of year I decide to amp up my appreciation of the season. After all, we’re hitting our stride with wonderful, fresh produce so there is no better time to make the most of the grill. I’ve already posted a whole slew of recipes from Grills Gone Vegan (see here), so this time, let me whet your appetite with a few more photos.

Grilled Olives


Cajun Mushrooms


Italian Bean and Orzo Salad


Tempeh and Chickpea Stew with Harissa Biscuits


Porcinci and Sausage Paella

Broccoli and Cheeze Calzone (Yes, on the grill!)


Grilled Nectarines with Five-Spice Granola


One lucky reader has a chance to win a copy of Grills Gone Vegan! To enter, just leave a comment here about one of your favorite foods to grill. US and Canada shipping only, please. The contest will close Monday, August 19th. You’ll still have plenty of time to use that outdoor grill. Remember: all the recipes can be made indoors, too, so you can get those big, bold, grill flavors all year round! Spread the word on the contest. If a lot of people enter, I’ll increase the number of winners, too. Good luck!

Melt Bar and Grilled Introduces Vegan and Vegetarian Weekends!


It’s true! Every second weekend of the month will have increased vegan and vegetarian options. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. If you live within 5 hours of any of their Northeastern Ohio locations, it’s worth the drive. Seriously. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Vegan Weekend Menu

We started with an appetizer. The only time we have ever gotten an appetizer at Melt. These tofu wings were wonderfully mighty chunks of tofu, coated to perfection and doused with hot sauce. Served with a vegan (!) ranch dressing and celery sticks, of course.

Buffalo Tofu Wings

It wasn’t an easy decision, but we got the Chorizo and Potato Sandwich and the Parmageddon. The fries aren’t vegan, but you can sub the fantastic potato salad that is in an herby dressing. It’s only a dollar more, and a no-brainer.

Chorizo and Potato Sandwich

The chorizo and potato sandwich has deep smoky undertones that make it addictive. Besides the chorizo, it had chunks of potato and cheddar cheese. We always opt for half the cheese because it’s just right for us that way.  The sandwich is beautifully toasted to a crisp, gorgeous golden brown that plays off the filling texture like a song.


Never one to walk away from a pierogi, Jim got the Parmageddon. All the Melt sandwiches are insanely huge, but this one ups it a notch. Pan-fried pierogies are piled  high with homemade slaw and cheddar cheese. Jim added lettuce (he always does) and got extra pickles on the side.

Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

At this point in the meal, I’d eaten half my sandwich, 2 bites of Jim’s sandwich and had doubts about dessert. But how often can you get a peanut butter bread pudding with jam and vanilla ice cream? Plus, I felt that in order to blog this to the best of my ability, I had to order dessert! I’m so glad I did. I only managed a few well-balanced bites (a bit of pudding, a little blob of ice cream, and a dab of whipped cream, with a quick swipe of the jam) and my mind started to melt. I have no idea how they made the whipped cream, but it was the best I’ve ever had. Neither of us are big fans of bread  pudding, but this one changed our minds. The complexity of the dessert was nothing short of genius.

When you go to Melt, keep these tips in mind:

You can eat vegan there every day, this is just a special weekend event. Word on the street is that the menu is going to be expanded to include even more vegan-friendly dishes on a regular basis.

If you like the idea of the Monthly special, get it. Every one I’ve tried has been a well-conceived and fantastically executed sandwich.

If the Special of the Month (often with a vegan option) doesn’t get you drooling, I suggest you order the Kindergarten which is a basic grilled cheese sandwich. That’s just the start of the fun. Add any of the vegan toppings to make it your own. One of my favorite combos is seitan (house-made!), avocado, jalapeños, and cheddar, with a side of salsa. All the toppings can be found on the single page menu, not the album cover menu. That album cover menu is such a cool idea, by the way.

If you get the Kindergarten, get the roasted tomato soup, but ask for no cheese or vegan cheese.

The fries aren’t vegan. They are cooked in a shared fryer. But they will happily double the coleslaw for you, or sub the potato salad (this month) for a buck extra.

If you like the idea of the Monthly special, get it – you can always make your own sandwich off the menu another time.

Get the Big Cheese Club card! Ask your server for the details.

Before closing this post, let me take a minute to thank Matt Fish, the chef/owner of Melt. His recognition of the vegan community in Cleveland is a remarkable step forward for us. Thank you, Matt, for providing vegans with fantastic food options and always valuing our business. It’s people like you who have the potential to show the masses how incredible vegan food can be. Thank you for sharing your brilliant ideas, and feeding us so well in the process. (Psssst… making all the corn on the cob vegan is the way change happens!  Thank you!)

Chickeny Tofu and Kale

As vegans, we know it and love it: kale is chock-full of goodness! It really packs a punch nutritionally, and with it’s green, almost earthy taste, can be used in a variety of ways. We’ve been eating a lot of kale salads this summer, thanks to the heat. Combine that with the fact that our local farmer’s market has a new vendor, Happy Greens, and we’ve been feasting on greens.  While kale salads are perfect for the mid-day heat, one of my latest favorite dinners has to be this Chickeny Tofu and Kale. The tofu itself is a go-to for  making quick and easy dinners. Give it a try, and you’ll find it is suited to many different dishes: tofu salads, as cutlets, as a salad topper, and more.

Baby Kale Salad



Chickeny Tofu  and Kale

Chickeny Tofu

Quick and easy, this tofu is flavorful enough to stand on it’s own, or it can be used in tons of ways. This one earned Jim’s praise: “This is the dish you should make to turn people onto tofu!”.

1 (15-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/4-inch slices, then cut on the diagonal

1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon chicken-free broth paste

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (15-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/4-inch slices, then cut on the diagonal

To make the tofu, stir together the broth through the garlic powder in a 9 X 13-inch glass baking pan. Add the tofu, and turn to coat. Let marinate 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the tofu in the marinade for 20 minutes. Turn the tofu over and bake for 15 minutes more, or until golden. Use as directed below.


Chickeny Tofu and Kale

Tofu and greens are a match made in heaven, it’s a fact. We especially like it served with a grain to sop up the juices.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil

1 recipe Chickeny Tofu

3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1/4 cup minced shallot

2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes

4 cups baby kale, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth, more if needed

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour and pepper on a plate. Toss the baked tofu slices to coat them with the mixture. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tofu slices (in batches) until browned, then turn over to cook the second side, about 5 minutes total. Put the tofu in the oven to keep warm while preparing the kale.

In the same skillet, cook the garlic, shallot, and a pinch of salt over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and baby kale and cook until just starting to wilt. Add the tomatoes, broth, and wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, adding broth if needed to keep the mixture moist, but not soupy. Stir in the basil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the tofu slices on top of the greens.

Yield: 4 servings



Winners of the Grills Gone Vegan Photo Contest!

Are you one of them?

1st Prize: Vegan Miam 
2nd Prize:VeganAide
2nd Prize: Regina R
3rd Prize:  Aphrodite F
3rd Prize: Marissa W

This grand prize will be on the way to Vegan Miam. Congratulations to all the winnners! Please contact to claim your prize. Many thanks to all who entered. Your photos will continue to whet appetites on Pinterest. Keep on snapping those photos and adding them to the board! Also, a big thanks to Book Publishing Company and Stephanie from Vegan Mainstream for making the contest happen.

Get your own copy of Grills Gone Vegan and take back the vegan grill this summer!