I remember trekking down a muddy mountain with my cousin after a long summer hike.
We were starving, and naturally, we were chatting about where we should go for lunch after our descent. I mentioned a few local places (I totally wanted a beer and a burger with ALL the toppings), but quickly caught myself asking her: “Can you even eat anything at restaurants these days?”
My cousin is newly vegan. When eating at non-vegan restaurants, it’s been difficult for her to find something on the menu that’s not just a bunch of leaves and mealy tomatoes on a plate. To my question she replied: “There’s always French Fries.”
Of course! French Fries. Who doesn’t love thin, salty, crispy French Fries?
But seriously? For your main meal?
One of the greatest pleasures in life is enjoying a fabulous meal out, and to think that French Fries could be your only option is such a buzzkill. I’m not a vegan myself, but this conundrum got me thinking about the real issue at hand: is it that hard to offer something substantial (and creative!) for those looking to follow a plant-based lifestyle?
Of course it’s not; it’s all about awareness.
And that’s why I’m excited to share Gena’s new book with you today.
Full disclosure: Power Plates is the first vegan cookbook I’ve ever owned.
I never thought plant-based eating applied to me because I’m not a self-proclaimed vegan. Which is silly. You know why? After a few weeks of tracking my meals in a little notebook on my desk, I realized that a substantial chunk was naturally vegan. I just wasn’t aware of it.
My meals would include: oatmeal with almond milk; grain salads with chickpeas, roasted veggies and a mustardy balsamic dressing; risottos of all kinds; sourdough wraps with creamy hummus and black olives. Even cauliflower bolognese.
How many of you have found yourself in the same “unconsciously vegan” boat too?
Power Plates features over 100 nutritionally balanced, one-dish vegan meals. Whether you’re a conscious vegan or not, everything looks so vibrant and inspiring I promise you, the selections will not disappoint.
From Apple Ginger Museli, to Harvest Bowls with Spelt Berries, and Creamy Curried Lentils and Quinoa, each recipe is carefully balanced with some plant-based protein, some fat, and some complex carbs. You won’t have to worry about going hungry, that’s for sure!
There’s even a helpful meal planning section so you can make the most of your time, especially during busy weeknights. You know I’m all about that! I’ve chosen this share this easy, Italian-style spinach and gnocchi with white beans which is ready in under 30 minutes.
To begin, bring a pot of water to a boil. While that’s going, slice up some shallots and garlic. Then saute in olive oil with juicy sundried tomatoes and white beans until everything is tender. I love using the little Northern white beans for this dish.
Once the veggies are tender, add some baby spinach leaves to the skillet. Continue to saute until the leaves are just wilted. At this point the water should be boiling, so now’s the time to drop your gnocchi into the pot.
I’m using the vegan potato gnocchi from Trader Joe’s which you can find in their pasta aisle. And! They only take 3 minutes to cook.
Okay, so when the gnocchi are done, just add them to the skillet with the spinach. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar (yum!), and season nicely with salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir and voilà! Dinner is served!
You’ll love the straightforward flavors of the balsamic and sun-dried tomatoes, and the soft pillowy texture from the gnocchi. This would be really good with some black olives, too (the cured wrinkly black ones- I love those!).
PS: one of the things you’ll notice while making this dish is that the gnocchi are nice and starchy. When you stir them around in the skillet, their natural starches thicken any pan juices, like the balsamic and the residual liquid from the spinach, which creates a really nice sauce.
Whether you’re a true vegan, or someone just looking to change up a few of their weeknight dinners, my hope is that this post will continue to spread the awareness of healthy, plant-based eating.
Just look at this gnocchi dish- all you need are a few panty items and it’s ready in no time. Perhaps a few non-vegan restaurants will take a cue from Gena and offer a few creative power plates of their own!
Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post! Enjoy friends!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 fat clove)
- 12 sun-dried tomato halves (oil-packed or dry-packed), coarsely chopped
- 5 ounces (140 g) baby spinach
- 11⁄2 cups (270 g) cooked cannellini or Great Northern beans, or 1 (15-oz, or 425-g) can, drained and rinsed
- 1 pound (450 g) vegan gnocchi (I used Trader Joe's)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach; you may need to do this in batches. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through.
- When the water is boiling, stir in the gnocchi. Adjust the heat to maintain a low boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until the gnocchi are floating on the surface of the water and are tender. Drain, reserving 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of the cooking water, then stir the gnocchi into the spinach mixture, along with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.
- If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved gnocchi cooking water. Season with salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. You may wish to add as much as 1 tablespoon more balsamic vinegar.
- Serve right away, with any desired toppings.
**One lucky winner will receive a copy of Gena Hamshaw’s Power Plates!**
To Enter: Comment below describing your favorite plant-based dish!
Rules: Contest open to US residents only. Timeframe will run for two weeks
And… here’s a bonus recipe!
Another winner from Power Plates is this delicious Spring Pea Panzanella. It’s made with mixed greens, marinated artichoke hearts, peas, asparagus, and a lemony-dill vinaigrette. Oh! And sourdough baguette croutons. I’ve served this alongside the gnocchi and they were a big hit. You can find the full recipe in her book.
“Veganism has opened my eyes to how diverse and satisfying salads can be. My favorite salad recipes aren’t dainty piles of greens that live on appetizer plates; they’re big, bold, abundant dishes, hearty enough to fill a pasta bowl”. -Gena Hamshaw