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4 Easy Vegan Recipes You Can Make in Less Than an Hour

Based on his best-selling book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00, Mark Bittman's recipes from The VB6 Cookbook coax big flavor out of real, healthy food to appeal to vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians alike.

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Go veggie for good health

Preparing nutritious meals can be a great tonic for these times—especially if those meals are vegetarian and delicious. Noted food journalist and author of VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 Mark Bittman shares some of his favorite veggie-based recipes.

chorizo tacosReprinted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon

“Chorizo” Tacos

“Soft corn tortillas make a perfect vehicle for this tofu ‘chorizo,’ which is so good you’ll find a lot of other uses for it too. Make it as soft or as crisp as you like, but use a nonstick pan for the best results; cast-iron is a good second choice.”—Mark Bittman

Makes eight 6-inch corn tortillas / 4 servings

Time: 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the desired texture

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1½ pounds firm tofu (1½ blocks)

1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 limes, 1 halved,
1 quartered

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

¼ cup chopped scallions, for garnish


1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stack the tortillas on a large square of foil and wrap them loosely.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Crumble the tofu into the pan with your hands. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet occasionally, and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the tofu browns and crisps as much or as little as you like it, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

4. When the tofu is almost ready, put the tortillas in the oven.

5. Add the bell pepper to the pan if you’re using it. Sprinkle the mixture with the chili powder; stir, and cook, continuing to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan until the mixture is fragrant, less than a minute. Squeeze the juice of the halved lime over all, garnish with cilantro and scallions, and serve with the tortillas and lime quarters.

More ideas
• For a little more kick without being too fiery, try 1 or 2 poblano chiles instead of the bell pepper.
• Substitute 3 cups well-drained cooked or canned black or pinto beans for the tofu. (If you’re using canned beans, rinse them before draining.)
• Use tempeh instead of tofu. It will be tangier and slightly more dense, closer to the texture of ground meat.
• Small whole wheat tortillas are good, here, too. Soften them the same way as described above.

eggplant meatballsReprinted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon

Eggplant Meatballs

“The more I play around with vegetable-based meatballs, the more I like them; certainly they’re not the same as meat meatballs, but the different textures and flavors are terrific. To round out the meal for lunch, serve these over pasta, rice, salad, or steamed greens with a squeeze of lemon.”—Mark Bittman

Makes 4 servings

Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into cubes no larger than 1 inch

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup cooked or canned white beans

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably wholewheat

Pinch red chile flakes

2 cups tomato sauce


1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease a large rimmed baking sheet. Put 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the eggplant and ¼ cup water. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces shrivel a bit and are tender and beginning to color, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of a food processor.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan along with the onion and garlic and return to the heat. Cook, stirring frequently until they’re soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the beans; if using canned, rinse the beans also. Add the beans and parsley to the work bowl with the eggplant and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.

3. Toss the eggplant mixture with the onion and garlic, then add the breadcrumbs and red chile flakes if you’re using them. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Roll the mixture into 12 balls about 2 inches in diameter; transfer them to the prepared pan. Bake, undisturbed, until they’re firm and well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, warm the tomato sauce. Serve the meatballs hot or at room temperature along with the tomato sauce.

tropical puddingReprinted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon

Tropical Fruit Pudding

“Whenever I serve tofu pudding—and with so many variations I can make it frequently—everyone is shocked to find there’s no dairy involved. Creamy and sweet with fresh mango, crunchy with toasted coconut, and bright with pineapple, this version is a great way to make tofu converts of your friends and family.”—Mark Bittman

Makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to chill

2 tablespoons maple syrup or other sweetener

24 ounces silken tofu (about 3 cups)

2 mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into big chunks

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¹⁄8 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)

½ large pineapple, peeled, quartered, and cored

¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut


1. Put the syrup, tofu, mangos, vanilla, salt, and coconut extract, if you’re using it, in a food processor or blender. Puree, stopping to scrape down the sides whenever necessary, until completely smooth, at least 1 minute total. Transfer the puree to a large bowl.

2. Chop the pineapple into ¹⁄8-inch pieces and fold it into the pudding; cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

3. Put the coconut in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool (You can store the coconut in an airtight container in the fridge for days.) To serve, spoon the pudding into bowls and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

mushroom burgersReprinted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon

Mushroom-Nut Burgers over Greens

“I’ve made tons of meatless burgers since becoming a part-time vegan, and they’re always better than store-bought. Almost as convenient too: Just double or triple the batch and freeze the burgers on a wax paper-lined tray until solid; then wrap them up and keep them frozen for a rainy day. You could also have them on a whole-grain bun.”—Mark Bittman

Makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)

2 (or more) garlic cloves

1 pound mushrooms (like cremini or button), trimmed and halved

½ cup pecans (or any other nut you like)

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

8 cups torn lettuce or other salad greens

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

½ large red onion, sliced into thin rings


1. Put the oats in a food processor and let the machine run until they’re ground to a coarse meal, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a large bowl.

2. Pulse the garlic in the food processor (no need to wash it first) until the cloves are broken up a bit, then add the mushrooms. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the bowl with the oats. Put the nuts in the food processor (again, no need to wash it) and let the machine run until they’re ground to a thick paste, adding water a teaspoon at a time if necessary just to let the machine do its job; be careful not to make the mixture too wet. Scrape the nut butter into the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Add the chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir with the spatula, pressing and folding as you work until the ingredients are distributed evenly. Refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes, then make four patties.

4. Put the oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick or cast-iron) over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the burgers and cook, undisturbed, until they’re browned on the bottom and release evenly from the pan, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the burgers, lower the heat a bit, and cook on the other side until firm and browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.

5. Remove the burgers and return the pan to the heat with the lemon juice and ½ cup water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens a bit. Serve the burgers on a bed of lettuce, drizzled with the pan sauce and topped with the tomatoes and onions.

If you’re a mushroom fan, you should try these mushroom jerky recipes for healthy snack options.

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From The VB6 Cookbook:

Pick up a copy of The VB6 Cookbook at or wherever books are sold.

Reprinted from The VB6 Cookbook. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Bittman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman writes for the New York Times and has penned several bestselling cookbooks. His newest book, How to Cook Everything Fast, goes on sale October 7.