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I hear people sometimes saying that eating vegan is expensive, but that's just not the case! Here are some of my favorite recipes from Robin Robertson, from her terrific cookbook Vegan on the Cheap. Each recipe seen below from Robin is less than $1/serving!

Almost-Instant Chickpea-Tomato Soup
Tuscan White Bean Pizza
Comfort Loaf
Smokey Joes
Chocolate Surprise Brownies


Almost-Instant Chickpea-Tomato Soup
[less than $1/serving]
Serves 4
This creamy rich-tasting soup couldn’t be easier or more economical. It’s also good served chilled.

1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Ground cayenne
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley

1. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the chickpeas and garlic and process until finely ground.
2. Add the tomatoes, cumin, juice, oil, 1/2 cup of the soy milk, and salt and cayenne, to taste. Blend until smooth.
3. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk as needed to achieve desired consistency—not too thin or too thick—and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and cayenne, if necessary.
4. Transfer the soup to a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until hot, about 5 minutes. If serving hot, ladle into bowls, top with minced cilantro, and serve at once. If serving chilled, let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. Then ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the cilantro.

Splurge a Little: Garnish with chopped pitted kalamata olives.

Tuscan White Bean Pizza
[less than $1/serving]
Makes 1 (12-inch) pizza
The people of Tuscany come by the moniker “bean eaters” owing to their inclusion of fagioli in everything from soups and stews to this creamy protein-rich pizza topping that will help you forget all about mozzarella cheese.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 medium ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in the water until combined then use your hands to knead it into a soft dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed so it doesn’t stick. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and gently stretch and lift it to make a 12-inch round about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the round to a floured baking sheet or pizza stone. Let the dough rise in draft-free place for 20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the bottom-most position of the oven. Preheat oven to 425°F.
4. Make the topping: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the beans, salt, and pepper.
5. Mash the beans a bit to break them up, then stir in the water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is creamy, about 8 minutes. Stir in the basil and set aside.
6. To assemble the pizza, spread the bean mixture evenly on top of the dough round, to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Arrange the tomato slices on top and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake until crust is browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Splurge a Little: Add sliced pitted kalamata olives when you add the tomatoes. Garnish with thin strips of fresh basil leaves.

Comfort Loaf
[less than $1/serving]
Serves 4 to 6
Meatloaf has long been synonymous with economical comfort food. This loaf skips the meat, of course, and is loaded with comfort. Serve with Creamy Mushroom Gravy and accompany with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans. Leftovers make great sandwiches.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon yellow or spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup wheat gluten flour (vital wheat gluten)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried savory
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, mixing well to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine the tofu, soy sauce, tomato paste, and mustard and process until smooth. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl combine the walnuts, oats, bread crumbs, and flour. Add the parsley, basil, thyme, savory, salt, and pepper. Stir in the tofu mixture and the vegetables and mix well to combine.
5. Scrape the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until firm, 45 to 50 minutes. If the top begins to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before slicing.

Smokey Joes
[less than $1/serving]
Serves 4
NOTE: I like to use homemade seitan to make this spicy version of sloppy joes, but you can also use frozen crumbled tofu, grated tempeh, cooked bulgur, cooked lentils, or finely chopped mushrooms to good effect.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces homemade seitan, finely chopped (or other option, see NOTE above)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 or 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely minced
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 burger rolls

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer. Stir in the seitan and the soy sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown.
2. Stir in the ketchup, tomato paste, water, chipotle, mustard, chili powder, paprika, Liquid Smoke, salt, and pepper. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors.
3. When ready to serve, spoon the mixture onto rolls and serve hot.

Chocolate Surprise Brownies
[less than .50/serving]
Makes 16
I like the idea of using inexpensive and healthy ingredients in dessert recipes, so I was intrigued by the numerous brownie recipes floating around on the internet that call for black beans. After experimenting a bit, I’ve come up with my own version that contains not only black beans but other surprises including coffee and fruit. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that these rich chocolatey brownies have a wonderful flavor and are easy to make.

1 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the black beans, sugar, and oil, and blend until smooth. Add the cocoa, banana, coffee, and vanilla, and blend until smooth.
3. Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnut pieces, if using.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on wire rack, then refrigerate for several hours before cutting into squares.

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