Fat(ish) Tuesday: 5 Plant-Based Recipes for Mardi Gras

Take your plant-based plates and palettes to the French Quarter with these comforting, reinvented New Orleans classics.
February 17, 2020 Leave your thoughts 7 min read

Nobody does food or a party quite like Louisiana. As a country girl, I’m partial to Southern cooking of all kinds. From Columbia Gold BBQ to hoecakes to Texan chopped brisket, I’ve tried it all — but the spice, flavor and flair of New Orleans cuisine reigns supreme! I hope these bayou-inspired recipes delight your palate from dusk ‘til dawn. Celebrate your Mardi Gras indulgently with these five plant-based recipes straight from the Pelican State.

Blackened Tofu & Grits

An easy-peasy savory Southern staple with cheesy grits and Cajun-style tofu.

Out of all the go-to meals in my house, there’s nothing I love to eat more than savory grits with the works. Greens, mushrooms, tomatoes — I’m eating it! In this plant-based version, we use a traditionally Cajun method of cooking (blackening) to turn plain tofu into a stellar main course. Pro-tip: Always freeze your tofu! When it thaws, you’ll have a super spongy flavor canvas that practically presses itself.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes (not counting freezing of the tofu)
Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 block tofu, frozen, thawed and pressed (freezing optional
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ – 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp browning sauce
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup instant grits
  • 2 cups plant-based milk
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy butter
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Cut pressed tofu block into cubes, then transfer to a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tbsp cornstarch and pinch of salt. Set aside.

3. Toss tofu with 1 tsp browning sauce, then toss with seasoning mix until fully coated.

4. Heat oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high heat, cook tofu on all sides until heated through and crispy. Place in an oven set on low heat (less than 300F).

5. Bring non-dairy milk and veggie stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, then add non-dairy butter, nutritional yeast, and non-dairy cream cheese, stirring thoroughly until uniform.

6. Reduce heat and return the pot on the burner. Add instant grits and stir for five minutes. Serve tofu immediately on top of or beside grits, topping with hot sauce and/or melted non-dairy butter.

Ultimate Loaded Plant-Based Jambalaya

Flavor jumps front and center with this awesome combo of lion’s mane and plant-based sausage for a new take on surf & turf.

This versatile Creole dish is loaded with flavor and texture, and cooks in less than 30 minutes. The secret ingredient, lion’s mane mushroom, adds a unique seafood-like flavor to the dish, since the traditional version uses shrimp or crawfish. Ask your local mushroom farmer if they have some available! If you like it spicy, feel free to add extra pinches of cayenne, diced jalapeno, or a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ pound lion’s mane mushrooms, shredded (if not available, substitute regular white mushrooms and 1 tbsp of dulse flakes for flavor)
  • 6-7 oz plant-based sausage links, sliced; 15 oz of favorite beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper OR 1 tp (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a pan on medium high heat, sear plant-based sausage slices for 5 minutes (if using), until browned. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. In the same pot, heat onion, green and red bell pepper, celery and a pinch of salt for 5 minutes, or until veggies are softened.

3. Add pulled mushrooms, cooking for another 2 minutes.

4. Add garlic, tomato paste and sausage, cooking for 2 minutes more.

5. Add stock, crushed tomatoes, long grain rice, onion powder, garlic powder, Old Bay, cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

6. Lower heat to medium. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

Heart of Palm Po’Boy

Enjoy this simple yet satisfying staple found at diners and restaurants everywhere along the Gulf Coast.

This recipe is certified carnivore-approved — so much so that the first time I made it, there was barely any left over for me to eat! Heart of palm is a crunchy vegetable sourced from palm trees that makes an excellent substitute for calamari. Although some harvesting methods aren’t environmentally friendly, multi-stemmed trees continue to grow as the vegetable is harvested, preserving the tree. Be sure to look for varieties that say “sustainable” on the packaging!

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 tbsp kelp granules
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 2 cans of sustainably sourced heart of palm, drained and sliced or salad cut
  • ½ cup seafood breading
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (if breading is unseasoned)
  • Oil, for frying
  • 2 loaves of French bread, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • Egg-free mayo
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomato, sliced


1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbps kelp granules, 2 tbsp ground flax seed and 5 tbsp of water. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes to thicken.

2. In a colander, toss flax mixture with the heart of palm pieces, allowing excess moisture to drip off.

3. Transfer the heart of palm pieces to a large bowl, and add seafood breading of choice. If your seafood breading is unseasoned, add 2 tsp of Old Bay.

4. Prepare a fryer or large pot and fill just under halfway with oil for frying (about a quart in most cases), heating to 350F. Alternatively, you can use an air fryer set to 350F. Using an oil-safe slotted spoon, transfer small batches of breaded heart of palm to the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain off excess oil.

5. Dress the French bread with mayo, tomato and lettuce. Add a generous amount of breaded heart of palm to each sandwich. Serve warm, immediately.

Beignet Bites

These plant-based pillows of deliciousness straight from The Princess and the Frog will disappear before you can say ‘Who dat?’

Who doesn’t love a donut? We sure do — these powdered-sugar-dusted pillows of deliciousness are the official state donut, and commonly eaten as breakfast in New Orleans. Our plant-based take isn’t so different from the traditional version, and comes together in a matter of minutes. The only hard part is putting them down!

Servings: 2 dozen +
Prep Time:  2 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 envelope)
  • ⅓ cup organic sugar
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp softened non-dairy butter
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine non-dairy milk and vinegar, let sit for ten minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast and sugar and set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.

3. In a small bowl, combine flax seed, vanilla extract and water and let sit for 5 minutes.

4. Whisk together wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl.

5. Combine dry ingredients in a stand mixer or another large bowl.

6. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. If using a stand mixer, use the flat beater. Mix until just combined. Dough will be sticky and shaggy.

7. Cover with a damp paper towel, then cover with a heavier cloth towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

8. Once risen, roll the dough into a rectangle of ½ inch thickness. Cut into bite-sized squares or rectangles.

9. Fry in 360F oil for 1-2 minutes each, spooning oil over beignets as they cook (this helps them fluff up to a pillowy shape).

10. With a mesh sieve, dust powdered sugar on top. Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Mushroom Muffuletta

Swapping out the meat doesn’t mean our muffuletta isn’t meaty. Garlicky mushrooms work just fine for this Silician sandwich. 

A sandwich rooted in the Silician and Italian immigrant communities of New Orleans, the traditional muffuletta is piled high with deli meats, cheese, and a marinated olive salad. Our plant-based version uses garlic-roasted portobello caps as our meaty main, non-dairy cheese and a pickle-y olive salad for a taste straight out of Decatur Street.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup stuffed green olives, chopped
  • ½ cup black olives, chopped
  • ½ cup giardiniera, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp celery, chopped
  • 4 pepperoncini, chopped
  • ¼ tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 4 slices of non-dairy cheese
  • Ciabatta or focaccia bread, or traditional round loaf


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Dress mushroom tops with olive oil, smashed garlic, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. (Alternatively, you can grill the mushrooms instead.)

2. While mushrooms are roasting, prepare the olive salad by combining green olives, black olives, giardiniera, garlic, celery, pepperoncini, celery seed, oregano and basil. Add a splash of red wine vinegar.

3. Remove mushroom caps from oven or grill.

4. Assemble sandwich by slicing loaves horizontally. Optionally, you can add a mixture of olive oil, Italian herbs, and cracked black pepper to the bread, and broil for 30 seconds to 1 minute in an oven to toast.

5. Add olive salad, non-dairy cheese slices, and mushroom caps to complete the sandwich. Cut as desired. Best eaten immediately.

What's Next?

Hey, North Carolinians — if you’re in a pinch or are looking for a local spot to grab some tasty plant-based grub, check out our North Carolina Plant-Based Eaters Guide!

About the Author

Zakiyaa Taylor is OMD’s North Carolina Field Organizer. She works with communities on the ground in North Carolina to change hearts and minds around plant-based eating by supporting school districts, community members and restaurant owners to co-create lasting change.

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