The Vegans are Coming, the Vegans are Coming!

For a multitude of reasons, there will be times when even carnivores need to prepare a meatless meal. Sometimes the vegans come to dinner, and a few easy recipes can help ensure that everyone leaves the dinner table satisfied and happy. Here are a few simple recipes to create an elegant and healthy meal.

 

Jerk Tofu with Apple Cider Glaze

1 package firm tofu

1 tablespoon Nancy Aycock’s Jamaican Jerk Spice Blend, or other jerk spice

Grapeseed or canola oil

1 apple of your choice, peeled, cored and diced

1 tablespoon diced onion

½ cup shelled edamame

½ teaspoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon minced ginger

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup unfiltered apple cider

Sunflower seeds, optional

Cut tofu into four thick slices and sprinkle with jerk spice. Use more spice if you like spicy foods; use just a touch if you just want to add a little zest. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat. When oil is hot, add tofu and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until tofu is browned and crispy. Flip tofu and repeat. Remove pan from heat and remove tofu.

Into the still-hot pan add the onions, apples and ginger. Return the pan to the heat and stir. After a minute or two add the garlic, toss and add the vinegar. Cook until the vinegar evaporates, add a pinch of sea salt and remove from the pan.

Add apple cider to the pan, turn the heat to medium high and reduce the liquid by half.

Layer rice and lentils (recipes follow) on each person’s plate and top with two pieces of tofu. Garnish with sautéed vegetables and spoon on the cider pan sauce. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds or any nut in your pantry for one extra flavor.

Everyday Green Lentils

3 cups dried lentils

6 cups water

2 teaspoons local sea salt

Bring lentils to boil in salted water. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender to taste. Remove from heat and cool. Lentils can be seasoned in a variety of ways. Made once a week, cooked lentils can be added to salads, soups and sides as well as become the star of the plate. This recipe makes enough to eat some for dinner then save some for later.

Chai Tea–Infused Brown Basmati Rice + Broccoli

2 cups organic brown basmati rice

8 cups water

1 tea bag chai tea

1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

Bring rice to boil in water with tea bag added. Boil rice until al dente. Remove pot from stove and pour rice into a strainer to drain water. Put rice back into pot and remove tea bag. Top with broccoli, and replace lid. Allow to steam for at least 10 minutes.

Different flavor profiles can be achieved by using different flavor tea bags. You can also add a tea bag to the lentil water and introduce another layer of flavors. This recipe makes more rice than you will need for two dinners. It is good to make more than you need. Chances are you will need to eat again sometime.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pie

 

Filling

¼ cup cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups coconut milk

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped

Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes (until mixture thickens). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth. If there are any lumps, press the mixture through a sieve.

Pour filling into a pie shell and cover the surface with waxed paper if you want to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with local sea salt for an added dimension of flavor.

 

Flaky Pie Crust

Makes 2 crusts for 8- or 9-inch pies

(freeze extra if you only need one)

2 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for rolling

1 teaspoon dry local sea salt

2/3 cup shortening

5–6 tablespoons ice cold water

Using gentle hands, sift flour before measuring. After measuring, sift flour again with the salt. Put dry ingredients in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in half of the shortening until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add remaining shortening until mix is the size of large peas. Switching to a fork or your fingers, sprinkle water over dough, one tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly until dough is just moist enough to hold together.

Gently turn dough onto a floured surface and avoid handling too much. Coat a rolling pin with flour and gently roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Carefully lift dough and place in the center of a pie plate and gently press out any air pockets that might have formed. Try not to stretch the dough as it will shrink back during baking.

Flute the edges of the pie crust, prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork and bake at 450 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely before filling with chocolate pudding.

Recipes by Amy Huggins Gaw of Outer Banks Epicurean.

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