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Vegan Cooking for One: Week Two

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).

Here’s week two, three weeks late because these meal plans clearly don’t mesh well with my busy New York lifestyle!

Sunday Lunch: Basque Salad

Roasted peppers and blanched tomatoes drizzled with a tomato/vinegar/garlic sauce and served on toast. This was quite tasty, although the avocado was my addition and made it about ten times better.

Sunday Dinner: Vegetable Pilau Special

This week isn’t off to a great start, since this recipe calls for a tomato that the shopping list never mentions. I was nearly thwarted, but luckily I found an ancient half tomato lurking in the back of my fridge. It didn’t have any mold and it didn’t kill me, so, hey, all’s well that ends well? Although I think I should send an angry letter to Leah Leneman’s proof-readers!

This dish is quite good; it’s got garlic, ginger, and Indian spices, with rice and vegetables cooked and then baked. The roasted slivered almonds are the best part, though.

Sunday Dessert: Strawberry ‘Cheese’

This recipe looked completely repulsive–you leave plain unsweetened soy yogurt out for a few hours to drip through cheesecloth until it resembles fromage frais, then mix in strawberries and sugar. I don’t know what fromage frais is, but it sounds gross, and I don’t want to attract bugs. Instead I made…

Sunday Dessert: Banana Split Cupcakes

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World to the rescue! These are stunning, wonderful, incredible, and amazing. Thank you, Isa!

Monday Dinner: Peanut Buttery Stir-Fry

Ick. My fault; I overcooked both the vegetables and the rice. I might try this again, because it’s probably delicious in non-mushy form.

Tuesday Dinner: Mediterranean Noodles

Awesome! You make a tomatoey sauce with green pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and oregano, and serve it with spinach noodles coated in margarine and vegan Parmesan. I couldn’t stop nibbling on the noodles, even before the sauce had finished. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Wednesday Dinner: Vegetable Fried Rice

It’s the toasted almonds and sesame seeds that make this dish above average. You can’t get fresh-from-the-oven toasted nuts when you’re waiting a half hour for delivery!

Thursday Dinner: Chick Pea (Garbanzo Bean) Burgers

Man, what crack was this woman smoking when she came up with this? Who wants to eat plain dry burgers on their own? They’re horribly bland, although that’s partially my fault since I forgot the only flavoring which is a half teaspoon of marjoram. Still, they’re just chick peas mashed with scallion, soy yogurt, soy sauce, and bread crumbs and shallow fried. Blech.

On the plus side, I made a tasty salad to go with it:

Friday Dinner: Spaghetti Stir-Fry

This dish seriously calls for four tablespoons of vegetable oil. I kept checking to see if I was reading it wrong, but, no, that’s what it says. That’s 64 grams of fat in one meal, or 480 calories from the oil alone. Plus, the meal comes out drenched in oil and rather gross. I’m hoping it’s a typo; next time I’ll use teaspoons.

Other than that, this dish is good; the scallions, garlic, and ginger give it a nice flavor, and you can’t go wrong with green peppers and mushrooms. The cucumber sprinkled on top is a nice additon; I wish this book had more uncooked vegetables.

Saturday Lunch: Piquant Chick Pea (Garbanzo Bean) Spread

Nothing special here; I had to triple the amount of Tabasco sauce in order to get something decent out of it.

Frustratingly, the book tells you to serve it in sandwiches or rolls, with lettuce or alfalfa sprouts, but of course the shopping list doesn’t mention these ingredients. Damn you, Leah Leneman, and your half-assed shopping lists!


  1. Comment by


    on #

    argh. I feel like these recipes/ pics would turn off new or non-vegans thinking of becoming vegan. They look and sound so unappetizing and I know us vegans are capable of putting together MUCH tastier meals !! Hope next week is better – Maybe you should try a new cookbook (Vegan with a Vengance, Vegan Planet, Vegan Omnicon)

  2. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Hattie, I’d much prefer a cookbook like Veganomicon, but what makes Vegan Cooking for One so much easier is:

    * The weekly shopping list.

    * The fact that the meals are single-sized. It’s infinitely easier than dividing a Veganomicon recipe by 1/4 or 1/8. And I like eating different meals every night, not making one thing and eating it four days in a row, or having to freeze it and eat non-fresh food later.

    * That the meals all have a balanced amount of protein, grain, and (usually) vegetable (though I wish it had more veggies and especially more raw veggies). From another book I’d generally have to make an entree *and* a side to get all that.

    * The fact that everything you buy fits into the week’s meal plan (ie if you buy a can of chickpeas, you’ll use half in one recipe and half in another). Thus I have no leftovers rotting in my fridge.

    Someone get Isa to write a “for singles” cookbook and I will be totally there. Until then, I’m stuck with this.

  3. Comment by


    on #


    I only visited this site because I’m off to New York on Monday from the UK and needed information (great work by the way). The thing is I have had this book for about a decade and still use it as a starting point for many of my meals – I even had Tofu a la King (week 1) for dinner tonight. The good thing about the book is that it is easy to double up for my wife and I than divide by 2 than conventional recipes. I had a spell of using the week menus but now just dip into recipes I think both my wife and I will like. A real favourite of mine is the Irish Stew in the winter section – easy and so filling. The Indonesian Green Curry and Spaghetti with Red Pesto are regulars on my menu also.

  4. Comment by


    on #

    fromage frais is a creamy type of cheese in french pasteries, I’m a vegetarian and that’s the only receipe I was actually interested in hearing about. I agree with comment one, and that the writer doesn’t seem at that interested in food in general… “I had to triple the amount of Tabasco sauce in order to get something decent out of it.” Don’t know if these articles are the best examples of vegan. or vegetarian cooking at all for that matter.

  5. Comment by


    on #

    i started cooking those dishes one summer and also meant to follow the weekly menus, cos i the idea sounded so good. eventually i only managed to do it for 1½ weeks, but after that i have cooked dishes from the book in random order and so far i have really liked them. here’s my versions:

  6. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    CR, thanks for sharing your versions! Your photographs are beautiful–I wish my food looked so pretty. I actually am still following the meal plans–I’ve just been too lazy to blog regularly. One of these days I’ll catch up, though my images will never be as lovely as yours.

  7. Comment by


    on #

    thank you! it was really nice to find your photos too. it was kinda exciting to see someone else do the same thing.

    i used to read this blog where some girl cooked everything from one of nigella lawson’s books. those meals were like the most non-vegan thing ever, since she is famous for her “dip your bacon in this yummy mixture of lard, cream and egg yolk!” sort of cooking (EEEEW!), but i thought it would be really cool to do that with a vegan cookbook.

    i like how the recipes in the book mainly have pretty basic ingredients that i use everyday anyway, but like i said it is kind of hard for me to try to follow the plans especially cos i tend to be more of a spontaneous cook than a recipe follower, so i don’t know if i ever will cook everything.

    but i’m glad to hear following the plans has been working for you! can’t wait to see the next post!