Having a stocked pantry helps you create tasty meals with a variety of long-lasting ingredients without needing to run to the store. Rice, pasta, and lentils are commonplace on most shelves, but there are some additional pantry essentials for vegans that can make your plant-based recipes really shine.
Vegan pantry staples vary from essential ingredients to items that enhance the flavor of specific recipes. They are often found at specialty health food stores or can be ordered online. From vital wheat gluten to chickpeas, these items are both versatile and delicious.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein found in wheat. It has the consistency of flour and can be used as a protein-packed base for a number of vegan recipes, such as seitan or other plant-based meat replacements.
Vital wheat gluten is also a wonderful base for veggie proteins. Cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz has a fantastic recipe for vegan sausage. She combines vital wheat gluten with veggie broth, beans, nutritional yeast, and tons of spices to create a magical meal. When I make this, I always double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
Nutritional yeast does not have active yeast cells like the packets used in baking. In vegan cooking, it is traditionally used for its cheesy, nutty flavor. Nutritional yeast can be added to enhance recipes similar to Moskowitz's vegan sausage dish, sprinkled on top of pasta in lieu of Parmesan cheese, or incorporated into scrambled tofu to provide a savory element.
Chickpeas are another one of the top pantry essentials for vegans. These legumes are ideal for hummus or as a hearty ingredient in meat-free soups and stews. One of the tastiest ways to use chickpeas is with a vegan version of tuna salad.
Other vegan staples to keep on hand include:
- Veggie stock
- Tahini (perfect for combining with chickpeas for hummus)
- Rolled oats
Adapting to a vegan lifestyle doesn't mean giving up on flavorful meals. You're only limited by your own imagination! Here are a couple of recipes using some of these vegan pantry staples.
Basic Seitan Recipe
Here's what you'll need:
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup water
- 6 cups veggie broth
Combine the vital wheat gluten and chickpea flour in a large bowl, and then mix in the water to form a dough. Knead this dough on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes until it has a smooth texture. Let the dough rest while you bring the veggie broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Lower the heat to a simmer, cut your dough into eight pieces, and simmer the dough for 1 hour. That's it! You can eat your seitan as is or cut it into smaller pieces to add to a salad or stir-fry.
Vegan "Tuna" Salad
Here's what to grab to get started:
- 1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 tbsp. vegan mayo
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. fresh dill (optional)
Simply mash the chickpeas with a fork, add the remaining ingredients, and mix well. It's that easy!
For more vegan recipe ideas, make sure to follow the Meatless Monday board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
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Why It's Good
Pantry essentials for vegans empower home cooks to create healthy and delicious plant-based meals on a moment's notice. Keeping your pantry stocked with vegan staples is a great way to treat your family while also prioritizing your health and the environment!