Recipe Roundup: 3 new twists on old favorites

Whenever you change your diet, no matter how in love with your new lifestyle you may be, eventually you find yourself craving old favorites. Whether or not you decide to cut yourself some slack and indulge in a family fave (which is always my plan of action and a good way to maintain balance and not start to resent a diet), there are plenty of ways to find a substitution and turn a new dish into a new favorite.

With that in mind, here are three recipes that put a new spin on a classic dish.

Tofu Basil Ricotta

eggplantlasagna-7521-2

Image courtesy LuminousVegans.com

I’ve never been a big fan of ricotta cheese; it’s way too much dairy and far too little flavor for my liking. But a homemade basil “ricotta” from tofu? Now we’re talking. I used the recipe from Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook “Chloe’s Kitchen,” but this version of tofu basil ricotta from food.com is nearly identical. The result is a textural match to traditional ricotta but infinitely better: it’s infused with fresh herbs and spices, and without any of the unfortunate side effects I get when I eat dairy. That’s a win-win. Pictured here is a scrumptious-looking vegan lasagna; I used my tofu ricotta to make stuffed shells (with this slow cooker marinara that I’m completely in love with). No matter how you use it, I promise that even non-vegans will be completely won over.

Slow cooker lazy cabbage rolls

cabbage-rolls

Image courtesy SimpleBites.net

Speaking of non-vegans, here’s a recipe for those in the paleo/omnivore camp: Slow cooker lazy cabbage rolls with brown rice and herbs from SimpleBites.net. They have all the savory, tangy flavors of traditional cabbage rolls without the time and effort spent rolling and pinning; instead, you just layer everything and let the crock pot work its magic. Because let’s face it, shortcuts in the kitchen just make sense. I mean, it takes the same time to eat it no matter how long it takes to prepare it. So do yourself a favor and take the short route next time.

Vegan spinach balls with pesto

Image courtesy Vegalicious.Recipes

Oh, mama. These vegan spinach pesto balls from Vegalicious.Recipes are amazing. Like, instantly-my-favorite-food-ever-of-all-time amazing. The texture is thick and hearty like a traditional meatball but with no cow involved. And they’re a perfect vehicle for the pesto, my other favorite-food-ever-of-all-time (although I use my favorite non-vegan pesto sauce, because I just can’t part with the perfection of my recipe). My family knows that if I’m ever on death row, pesto on capellini will be my last meal. Anyway, I’ve made these spinach balls several times with two changes: one, I omit the dill because I’m just not a fan, and two, I once baked this as a loaf instead of rolled and fried as meat-less meatballs, and the result was just as delicious — and it made for a killer sandwich the next day.

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