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Quick Vegan Meals

Now that it’s officially summer, I’ve created a new trio of recipes for you, dear readers: each one easy to make and cooling—or at least balanced—from an Ayurvedic perspective. Because one thing’s for sure: summer invites us all (even working people) to have a little extra time to relax so we can enjoy the balmy breezes or stay cool despite 90-plus degrees as the sun goes down!


Vegan Cilantro Coconut Sauce: For starters, let’s begin with cilantro because it is the most cooling of the fresh herbs and serves as an excellent tonic for summer when blended into a sauce. I’ve combined it with coconut cream (or coconut milk, whatever you have available), which is equally cooling and perfect for hot weather. Cilantro is both sweet and astringent, according to Ayurveda, and coconut is all sweetness. To balance the sauce, I’ve added salt, a splash of lime for the sour taste, and a clove of garlic or a teaspoon of freshly ground ginger to add a hint of pungent. These additions add a little warmth, making the sauce better for vata and kapha while still cooling pitta. However, go easy on the garlic and lime so that the sauce, while being delightfully flavorful, retains its a cooling effect! Use this sauce over steamed or sautéed vegetables, as a salad dressing, over your favorite pasta, as an extra layer of flavor over pinto or black beans; or pour it over tacos or burritos!


Vegan Cilantro Pesto: This pesto is the same idea as the sauce, but its texture is thicker because of the nuts. This pesto, too, can be used in a variety of ways. Make it with any nut you like. Keep in mind that nuts increase pitta, which mean nuts are inherently heating. In this pesto, the nuts are balanced somewhat by the cilantro. However, I would recommend that pitta types or people with pitta problems (skin rashes, acne, headaches, acid indigestion, among others) save this recipe for an occasional treat.


Pasta with Broccoli. This is a simple meal I made for our dinner last night. I chose the Whole Foods brand of Organic Red Lentil Gluten-Free Spaghetti, which holds up well when cooked. By this, I mean it doesn’t turn to mush, which some gluten-free pastas do. I find this easier to digest than the quinoa and chickpea pastas, but it still offers 15 or more grams of protein per serving. Broccoli, like all cruciferous vegetables, is also cooling and astringent, so it’s especially good for pitta and kapha. I added the red bell pepper for a little extra color, but it’s optional.


Enjoy these recipes featuring cilantro and coconut cream during these hot summer months!





Preparation Time: About 5 minutes
About 1 cup


1 large bunch of cilantro, including the stems (about 2 tightly packed cups)
1 cup coconut cream or whole coconut milk
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime
1 small clove garlic, pressed, or 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger


1. Wash the cilantro in a large bowl of water. Shake dry and discard any old leaves.


2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix for 30 seconds to a minute. Adjust lime and salt, to taste.





Preparation Time: About 5 minutes
About 1½ cups


1 large bunch of cilantro, including stems (about 2 tightly packed cups)
1 cup blanched almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, or macadamia nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime
1 small clove garlic


1. Wash the cilantro in a large bowl of water. Shake dry and pull off any old leaves.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix on high for about a minute until the mixture is a smooth paste. Adjust lime and salt, to taste.





Preparation Time: About 5 minutes
Serves 4 to 5


4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (split)
1 large leek, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 small red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
Florets from 2 medium to large heads of broccoli (4 to 6 cups)
2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
12 ounces spaghetti
1 cup Vegan Cilantro-Coconut Sauce or 1 cup Vegan Cilantro Pesto
½ cup chopped nuts (optional, if using sauce)


1. Pour about 5 quarts of water in a 6-quart soup pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and bring the water to a boil.


2. Meanwhile, put a large sauté pan on medium heat with another 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the sliced leek, and sauté until golden. If you’re using the bell pepper, add it to the leek now, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.


3. Add the broccoli florets and the Bragg’s to the pan. Cover and let the broccoli steam; it will be tender in about 7 minutes. After the broccoli is tender, uncover the pan and either turn off the gas or remove the pan from the heat source.


4. Once the water in the soup pot comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions—and possibly a minute or two longer so that the pasta is tender and digestible. Do not let it become mushy. Strain the cooked pasta. Put it back into the pot, run filtered water over it, and strain again. (In cooking a gluten-free pasta, this extra step can ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick together.) Move the twice-strained pasta to a large mixing bowl, and drizzle it with another tablespoon or two of olive oil. Gently toss it.


5. Add the cooked vegetables and either the Cilantro-Coconut Sauce or the Cilantro Pesto. Toss gently to mix well. If you’re using the sauce, you may want to add some nuts for additional nutrients and flavor. Add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

People with pitta problems may want to avoid the pesto or save it for an occasional treat!

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