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Vegan Cooking for One: Week One

Potato and Lentil Bake with Steamed Collard Greens

From Week 1: Potato and Lentil Bake with Steamed Collard Greens

I recently moved from the vegan paradise of the East Village to the vegan wasteland of Bushwick, and I desperately miss my former diet. So I’m attempting to get back into the swing of cooking for myself via a cookbook called Vegan Cooking for One by Leah Leneman. It sounds perfect for my lifestyle: you just buy everything from the shopping list at the beginning of the week and follow the recipes each weeknight, plus lunch on the weekend and a big Sunday dinner with dessert. (It assumes you’ll eat out Saturday night).

So lets see how it goes. I’ll be blogging a week at a time, with photos and comments on the results.

First of all, can I just say how much it sucks to lug a week’s worth of groceries home on the subway by yourself? But the Bowery Whole Foods had everything I needed for under $100, which is a hell of a lot less than I was spending eating out in Manhattan several nights a week.

Anyway. Here’s the first Spring/Summer week:

Sunday Lunch: Italian Pasta Salad

This was yummy. It’s got scallions, olives, red peppers, smoked tofu, croutons made from toasted home-made bread, and a homemade dressing. The only change I made was to triple the amount of olives, because olives are awesome. And I’m annoyed that the shopping list had me buy a bunch of scallions but this one scallion is the only one that gets used all week. I guess I’ll use the others for garnish for the later recipes.

The book wanted me to buy whole wheat macaroni, but… yeah, no. “Vegan” does not equal “health nut.”

Sunday Dinner: Potato and Lentil Bake

This was better than I expected. It’s got potatoes on the bottom and a red lentil/onion/mushroom/tomato topping, and with steamed collards on the side. The collards turned great, with a hint of tahini mixed in for flavor, but the cookbook was no help; Google told me how to steam them. Not a cookbook for beginners!

That photo is only half of the recipe, which is all I was able to eat in a single sitting; maybe it should be called Vegan Cooking for Two? But at least it was quick to prepare and I wasn’t left with massive leftovers.

(Also, note to Whole Foods Bowery: why put the red lentils in an entirely different section of the store from the green and French lentils? Are you trying to drive me insane? Two hours in the supermarket is not fun!)

Sunday Dessert: Apricot Brown Betty

This was delicious. Fresh local apricots, breadcrumbs from homemade bread, freshly ground cinnamon… awesome. And I love the idea of single-serving desserts, since I enjoy making desserts but don’t like eating a lot of sweets.

Monday Dinner: Smoky Beans

Ooooh, this is good. You can’t go wrong with smoky things, can you? It’s got smoked tofu and apple juice for flavor.

Tuesday Dinner: Smoked Tofu a la King

I’ve never had dinner on toast before. This cookbook is very English. Sadly I’m an Anglophile about damn near everything but the food. This is good, but mainly just because Soy Boy smoked tofu happens to be good.

Wednesday Dinner: Spaghetti with Bean and Caper Sauce

I tripled the capers. What’s with the bland recipes?

Thursday Dinner: Creamy Curried Mushrooms with Bulgur Wheat

Now I can cross “cook bulgur wheat” off my list of “things to do before I die.” Yay?

(This is one of those bland “healthy” Indian dishes that make me miss Madras Cafe. At least the soy yogurt curry isn’t nearly as gross as I thought it would be, and the mushrooms are yummy.)

Friday Dinner: Millet Pilaf

Mmmm, toasted almonds. For “Millet Pilaf,” there’s barely any millet in this dish.

Saturday Lunch: Green Bean Salad

And, yum, toasted walnuts. They can definitely keep with the toasted nuts as far as I’m concerned. Although I suspect my neighbors will object, as it seems the process of toasting nuts sets off my fire alarm.

Most of these meals were too big for me to eat by myself. On the plus side, I saved money by eating leftovers for lunch. On the minus side, this was pretty much all I ate for the week, and it was way too grain and protein heavy. I miss my wide variety of vegetables. Oh, Angelica Kitchen, I’m sorry I ever took you for granted!


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Why does everything vegan have tofu. I cannot eat soy products, so I cook vegan with a variety of beans. I wish vegan food looked more appetizing.

  2. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Gee, Josephina, thanks so much for your feedback. It’s good to know all the time and effort I put into photographing and blogging this “unappetizing” food is appreciated.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Well, I think all of this food looks amazing! I’ve been trying to cook really healthy food every night and bring the leftovers to work for lunch as well. Keep up the good work!

  4. Comment by


    on #

    Laura, your effort is not lost on all of us. I think your food looks terrific. I like that it looks like you forgot to snap the photo before digging into the smoky beans. That’s a good sign. I’ll have to pick up the cookbook and try the recipes. Thanks for posting.

  5. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Thanks k and Jennlynskey. Glad you are finding this interesting! :)

  6. Comment by


    on #

    This all looks great, found your post on googling her book. Thanks!

  7. Comment by

    florence rainey

    on #

    just recently gone vegana after being a meat eater.I was desperate for a cookbook for one as I was floundering about on my own . this looks just the book for me.florence in liverpool uk .

  8. Comment by

    KIm Holliday

    on #

    Thanks for the great comments! I’m with you, vegan doesn’t equal health nut. And what is with Whole Foods and their product placement? Took 15 minutes and 2 different store munchkins to track down the nutritional yeast I wanted. They have 2 kinds…and they are not even on the same isle! O_o