Come and Get ’em: Recipes from VB6!

Photo Credit: Daniel Meyer

Eggplant Un-Parmesan

Makes: 4 Servings

Time: about 1 hour

This take on eggplant Parmesan proves that (a) you don’t need a lot of oil to cook eggplant, and (b) you don’t need gobs of cheese to make it delicious. Try using zucchini or portobello mushrooms as variations, or serve the vegetables and tomato sauce over polenta or a more sub-stantial meal. If you can’t fnd whole wheat breadcrumbs (panko-style are best), make your own by pulsing lightly toasted whole-grain bread in the food processor or blender.

2½ pounds eggplant

5 tablespoons olive oil

1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with their juice

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, preferably coarse-ground

1. Heat the oven to 450°F and position two racks so that they’ve got at least 4 inches between them. Cut the eggplant crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices and arrange them on two rimmed baking sheets.

2. Use 2 tablespoons of the oil to brush the top of each eggplant slice and sprinkle them with ½ teaspoon salt and some pepper. Roast the eggplant until the slices brown on the bottom and sides, 10 to 15 minutes; turn and cook the other side until they’re crisp in places and golden, another 5 to 10 minutes. When they finish cooking, remove them from the oven and lower the heat to 400ºF.

3. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, sprinkle with another ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture comes together and thickens, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Cover the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with about ½ inch of the tomato sauce. Nestle a layer of eggplant into the sauce and top with some of the basil. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and repeat until all the eggplant is used up; reserve some of the basil for serving. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, the remaining ½ teaspoonsalt, and lots of pepper, and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Simmer the remaining sauce (you should have about 2 cups) over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, while the eggplant bakes.5 Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes; let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, garnished with the remaining basil; pass the remaining sauce at the table (or refrigerate or freeze it for another use).

Nutritional info (using all the sauce):

Calories: 411 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 22g • Saturated Fat: 3g • Protein: 9g •Carbohydrates: 53g • Sodium: 1221mg • Fiber: 16g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 17

Scrambled Spinach and Tofu 1

Scrambled Tofu with Spinach

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

In this hearty morning scramble, tofu takes the place of eggs. Since tofu is undeniably bland, it’s important to ramp up the seasonings a bit. I like to use spinach, but any leafy greens will work. Other options: sliced mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, and asparagus; chopped broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini; or grated winter squash and root vegetables. This scramble makes an ideal lunch, too.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon red chile flakes, or 1 or 2 fresh hot red chiles (like Serrano or Thai), minced

1 ½ pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and rinsed well

1 ½ pounds firm or silken tofu, drained and patted dry

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, less than a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the spinach and ¼ cup water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and fairly dry, 5 to 8 minutes.

3.Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir, using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and combine the tofu and vegetables; adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning. When the mixture starts to stick to the pan, it’s ready: Taste and adjust the seasoning, serve hot or warm.

Nutritional info (with firm tofu):

Calories: 224 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 13g • Saturated Fat: 1g • Protein: 14g
Carbohydrates: 177g • Sodium: 727mg • Fiber: 5g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 5g


Steak and Broccoli Stir-fry

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Once you learn one stir-fry, you pretty much have mastered the art, and you can make a different one every day of your life and never encounter a repetition unless you wanted to. (See sidebar, page 200.) This one works with just about any combination of vegetables and protein, which might be boneless chicken breasts or thighs, sturdy white fish, shrimp or squid, or pork shoulder. You could also skip the meat altogether and substitute tofu. The other ingredients are equally flexible. I like broccoli here, but try, alone or in combination, bell peppers, cabbage, bok choy, fennel, spinach, snow peas or snap peas, asparagus, summer or winter squash, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, or cauliflower. For a change from rice, serve with whole-grain soba or rice noodles.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces beef flank or sirloin steak, very thinly sliced (easiest if you freeze the meat for 30 minutes)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chile (like jalapeño or Thai; optional)

1½ pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste

Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon (optional)

¼ cup chopped peanuts or cashews

3 cups cooked long- or short-grain brown rice

1. Put a large, deep skillet over high heat. When it’s hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirl it around, and add the beef. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.

2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, then the garlic, ginger, and chile, if you’re using it. After 15 seconds, add the broccoli and all but a handful of the scallions. Cook, stirring infrequently, until the broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ½ cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more.

3. Return the meat to the pan along with the soy sauce and lime juice, if you’re using it, and a little more water if the mixture is dry. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly. Stir in the peanuts, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary; garnish with the remaining scallions, and serve over the rice.

Nutritional Info (with ¾ cup brown rice):

Calories: 572 • Cholesterol: 55mg • Fat: 28g • Saturated Fat: 5g • Protein: 31g • Carbohydrates: 54g • Sodium: 1510mg • Fiber: 10g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 6g


Carrot Candy

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 3 hours, largely unattended

Here, you concentrate the sweetness of carrots by slow-roasting them until they’re essentially dehydrated. The resulting “candy” is slightly chewy and slightly crisp—the perfect healthy snack to eat alone, or as a vehicle for dips.

You can use this technique on virtually any vegetable, alone or in combination. Thinly sliced fennel bulbs, beets, parsnips, celery root, and turnips all work great, as will cauliflower or broccoli florets. All will take somewhere between 2½ and 3 hours, depending on the cut and how dry the vegetables were to begin with. If you want something crunchy and salty, try the variation. If you have the pans and oven space, make at least a double batch, using an assortment of vegetables. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

8 medium carrots (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 225°F. Peel the carrots and cut them into ¹⁄8-inch coins. Toss them with the olive oil and salt, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until slightly shriveled, dehydrated, and sweet but still soft and chewy. You might have to move them or the pan around to ensure they don’t burn or get too crisp.

2. Start testing the carrots after about 2 hours, and remove them from the oven when they’re as chewy or crisp as you like, another 30 to 60 minutes. Cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container.

Nutritional Info (about 2 carrots):

Calories: 58 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 4g • Saturated Fat: 1g • Protein: 1g • Carbohydrates: 6g • Sodium: 284mg • Fiber: 2g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 3g

Photo credit: Daniel Meyer

Posted in Recipes


  1. Heather Smith said...

    Thanks for these. Haven’t gotten to the back of the book yet! We ARE wondering, though—whatever do we do about your light and fluffy pancakes. They are THE BEST but NOT vegan for breakfast!! Is that just a day when we cheat?!
    This is a great book and I am looking forward to getting all the way through and then beginning a new journey.

  2. Ttrockwood said...

    Thank you so much for sharing these recipes with us!
    Since i am vegan i love (most of) this book and was very excited to see these- my carrot chips are in the oven now 🙂

    I worked near the NYT office building and i wanted to recommend “green symphony” cafe, on 43rd st between 8th and 7th, lots of vegan healthy lunch options and fresh made smoothies.

  3. Robert Koffsky said...

    Your VB6 diet and recipes for today contains a total of 3,742 mg of sodium which is well over the recommended 2,300 mg per day and over twice the 1,500 mg recommended for those of us over 50. Would these dishes suffer greatly by cutting the salt?

    • Sandy said...

      Hi Robert, you might want to take the nutritional info with “a grain of salt” because both recipes that I have made had twice the servings that the recipe indicated. And I have a good appetite. Also, I did not add the salt that the recipe called for, and the ratatouille was wonderful. I think if you are not used to having salt in your recipes, the added salt would not be palatable anyway.

  4. Nancy Hall said...

    Sending these recipes is a wonderful idea.

  5. Susan Mullen said...

    Just made a great dish you might want to try, also an Eggplant Un-Parmesan. Using the basic technique you suggest for roasting the eggplant, then I drizzled a little Fig Balsamic vinegar on each slice, topped that with my basic cashew “Ricotta” (recipe below), and topped with tomato sauce and breadcrumbs. Yummy!
    Cashew Ricotta
    1/2 cup raw cashews
    Juice of one lemon
    salt, pepper
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    2 cloves garlic
    1 lb firm tofu, drained
    Basil, fresh or dried

    In food processor, process cashews, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic until a paste has formed. Crumble in tofu and basil and mix until the consistency of ricotta. Season to taste, and use any way that you use ricotta. I have stuffed shells with it and made many pasta dishes with it as well. Enjoy!

  6. Alice Alexander said...

    I do love you so, Mark B. For me personally (Re: “Why I Am Not a Vegan”), I believe my own veganish diet would profit, aesthetically speaking, from the addition of more fake meats, maybe to replace your meat content, at dinner time. There are increasingly some pretty decent fake meats out there, and I always forget about them.

  7. June said...

    I am shocked at the amount of sodium in these recipes!!!

  8. Heidi Bayer said...

    Made my rendition of Fisherman’s Stew from VB6 with Village Fishmonger’s mix of fish (VF is a CSF – community supported fishery) and it was a complete hit, even with a true 24 hour Vegan – (cheated because it was so good) – and recently made the McBitty Burger from your NYTimes article, again, simple, elegant, easy to make ahead and store. Review soon.

  9. leatrice cohen said...

    Dear Mr. Bittman:
    I would appreciate it if you could suggest food combinations without the use of salt. I do adapt some of your suggestions and do enjoy reading your columns. Thank you very much,

  10. Michel Denarie said...

    Hi Mark
    Thanks for writing such a convincing book.
    I have a question: what is the differential benefit from using a strict vegan diet before 6 as opposed to a vegetarian diet?
    On another note, i like your breakfast recipes and have come to love your home made cereal. However, i do miss my eggs at breakfast so after a week of following the plan regimen, i treat myself on saturday to my poached eggs on an english muffin with fesh chives, aleppo pepper and fleur de sel. One has to live a little. Cheers. Michel

  11. Sandy said...

    Hi Mark, I really like your book and recipes. I have had it for two weeks, and have made the vegetable miso soup and the chickpea ratatouille. I thought that the sodium was a little high for the soup, but instead of four servings, we got eight out of the recipe. I can’t imagine splitting that huge pot of soup into four! So the sodium is actually only 1037 per serving (still a little high, but you can always eliminate the 1/2 tsp salt from the soup recipe and the salt from the rice recipe and lower it). I also made the chickpea ratatouille, and so far we have had 4 servings and there is LOTS left. How did you come up with the serving sizes? Maybe you should base the servings on 1.5 cups (which I think is a normal serving size) and then people would have a better idea of the nutritional content that they are consuming and would be more accepting of the recipes.

  12. Lorraine Lewandrowski said...

    As my neighbors and I struggle in rural NY to keep our farms safe from developers and fracking, we’ve invested time and lots of cash into making cheeses, like Parmesan style cheese now aging in the cave. How does the (Un)cheese version help the environment of rural NY as you try to push us out?

  13. said...

    Hey there! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally
    got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  14. Norma said...

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post!
    It is the little changes which will make the most important changes.

    Many thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *