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Authentic Southern for a vegan?

We're planning a southern/blues themed dinner party and need help finding a tasty down home authentic southern recipe for the main dish that I can tweak to make vegan friendly.

Also any kick-ass, creative Southern Comfort cocktail recipes out there?

Thanks for the help!!!

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  1. You could try a succotash. I make mine with lima beans, corn, black-eyed peas, and finely chopped red bell pepper. Cook everything but the pepper until still tender-crisp. Saute the pepper in olive oil (I usually use butter, but oil will have to do), then add the other vegetables into the saute pan. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. At the end I'd usually add another pat of butter, but again you'd have to leave out.

    Also, you could make greens and just leave out the typical ham hock. I like a combination of turnip and mustard greens. Sautee an onion and garlic in olive oil in bottom of a large pot. Add a couple cups of water and a vegetable bullion cube to the pot, the add the washed, cut greens until they cook down. Simmer about 45 min. Before serving, add crushed red pepper and salt to taste, and a dash each of cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar.

    Both of these are side dishes, but it's pretty typical in the South to just have a "vegetable plate" for a meal - 3-4 veggies (fried green tomatoes or fried okra would also be good) along with a roll or cornbread.

    1. There was a "soup bean" recipe in Cooking Light a few years ago in the Inspired Vegetarian section. They used smoked paprika to get the meaty taste without the ham hock. It was very good.

      They also had a cornbread recipe but I'm sure it included eggs; if you could find a decent eggless cornbread, a beans and rice dish would be perfect along with the greens suggested above (also a good application for smoked paprika)

      1. Ack, the last time I had Southern Comfort (30+ years ago), we did flaming shots. Not really a cocktail, but it did kick our asses!

        1. I had dinner at my Mom's on Thursday. She served:

          Crowder peas
          Oven fried okra and yellow squash
          Rice and mushroom gravy
          sliced yellow and red tomatos
          sliced canteloupe

          the only non-vegan things were pot roast and sweet potato casserole (egg and milk - easily left out)

          I know you were looking for a main course, but the meal I just described has been the standard summer time meal in our family for at least two generations. Very vegetable intensive, none of them cooked w/ meat (I think we were a bit odd in that respect.) Usually the protein was a bit of an afterthought, many times it was chicken salad or in my grandparent's case, a small amount of country ham. And of course biscuits.

          9 Replies
          1. re: danna

            Thanks for the suggestions. Anyone have any savory sweet potato(not yam) recipes? Maybe a gratin or casserole that I could turn vegan?

            I'm also thinking of a good Hoppin' John without the meat. Any thoughts there?

            1. re: Nakdcpl

              Not a casserole or gratin (either would be really hard to do without dairy), but this is very tasty and satisfying -

              Red hot sweet potatoes

              2 sweet potatoes (medium size)

              1 TBL Olive Oil

              1 TBL Rosemary, fresh, minced

              2 cloves Garlic, minced

              ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

              ¼ tsp coarse salt

              ¼ tsp pepper

              1. Preheat oven to 425.
              2. Mix oil w/ minced garlic.
              3. Slice sweet potatoes in half, then into wedges.
              4. Toss in bowl w/ oil+garlic until evenly coated.
              5. In small bowl, combine rosemary, cayenne, salt, pepper. Sprinkle evenly over potatoes, toss to coat.
              6. Put on baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are golden brown and tender.

              1. re: Nakdcpl

                I would just bake (better results than boil) some sweet potatoes, puree, sweeten w/ maple (or not), add some hot sauce to taste. Myabe a little lime juice. You could warm it and serve it in a casserole dish and top with pecans (mandatory in the post marshmellow South) It wouldn't set-up without egg, but it would still be delicious.

                1. re: Nakdcpl

                  Sweet potato fries are delicious, but might not go with your menu.

                  Mmm, Hoppin' John. I've never had it without smoked sausage or a ham hock, but I'm sure it can be flavorful without. Just make sure you've got good cornbread to go with it.

                  1. re: pattisue

                    Tossing a dried chipotle pepper in with the beans might help, because you would get that smoky flavor that the bacon or ham hock gives you without the meat.

                    1. re: pattisue

                      For smokiness use Lapsang Suchong tea. You can either grind it in a spice grinder and sprinkle in or put in a tea strainer & remove at end of the cooking process. Gives a nice hearty smoked flavor. Imagine you could brew as tea and add in place of the water, but I have not tried that method.

                      1. re: meatn3

                        wow good tip. smoked salt is also a great ingredient for flavor-- use it for finishing, right before serving.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Thanks. This tea works well with salt too. Pretty good on popcorn! I used to teach organic/veg. cooking & so many people really miss the flavor smoked meat adds to soups/beans. This method worked the best of all my experiments. Fairly inexpensive to try if you have a coop or such that sells the tea in bulk, you can buy a few teaspoons worth without investing in a box.

                    2. re: Nakdcpl

                      This is a big hit at the Thanksgiving table. It's made with 2 large acorn squah, seems kind of Southern, calls for lots of butter and pecans!

                      Bake the squash (or nuke in microwave) till soft.
                      Scoop flesh into large bowl, mash with lots of butter, brown sugar, touch of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, few T maple syrup.
                      Grease large 9X13 pan really well, add squash mixture.
                      Peel and slice some tart apples (I like Granny Smith), toss with melted butter, some granulated sugar, arrange over squash puree.
                      Top casserole with crushed cornflakes, mixed with finely chopped pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter.
                      Bake until crumbs are golden, about 30-45 min @ 350-375.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      Oh honey, there is no such thing as "authentic" southern vegan. Southern food, prepared in the traditional way, is about as far from vegan as it's possible to get. Even the vegetables are often cooked with ham hocks. And I remember a wilted onions and lettuce salad from my childhood that was actually quite delicious but it featured bacon grease dribbled over the greens. But the suggestions given here are excellent and it's true that during the summer many Southerners eat nothing but vegetables (even if those veggies have been cooked with meat). Good luck!

                        1. re: angelhair

                          well, if the op looked towards traditional new orleans and louisiana dishes, dating back to being a french new world city, many are vegetarian-- no meat on fridays. gumbo z herbs, maquechou, stuffed mirlitons, tons of bean dishes. southern food needn't be heavy on the hog meat, and most southern vegetable dishes can be made vegan with a minimum of fuss.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            I cannot imagine maques choux without tasso or bacon at the least. I'm with Angelhair. It just not the same.

                            1. re: Candy

                              My grandmother's maque choux was the best I've ever eaten, and it contained no meat. She relied on very fresh sweet corn, scraped off of the cob in two scrapings, and the "milk" from the cob. She added heat and spice with Rotel tomatoes, and added little bit of cream at the finish. It was all cooked relatively quickly. Newer versions now have crawfish or tasso or other meat, but hers did not, and it was fabulous.

                              1. re: pattisue

                                your grandma's recipe sounds a lot like craig claiborne's authoritative recipe for maque choux in "southern cooking", copyright 1984 i think. his recipe is an old family one, vegetarian as well, with only 3 tbsp of cream added-- easily made vegan.

                                Candy and angelhair, i'm not trying to slam anyone's family recipes, just saying that traditional southern cooking does include veg options. people in the old days needed to get through lent somehow, if they observed it, and not every traditional southern recipe needs to include pork products.

                              2. re: Candy

                                Daddy was Cajun, Mama was from New Orleans. Neither family put meat in their maque choux, and I don't either. All that tasso, etc., are new-fangled recipes.
                                Of course, we used bacon drippings (even in Lent) but there's no reason why you couldn't substitute another oil. Never used cream either so vegan would be easy.

                        2. Check out http://blog.fatfreevegan.com

                          The writer is from Mississippi so she knows her stuff. Recipes include various gumbos, bbq seitan "ribs" etc.

                          1. This is from King Arthur Flour Company, and very good. You can use a vegan egg substitute like the one made by EnerGee brand. Go with the vegetable oil for the fat, and substitute a rich soy milk with a little lemon juices added to sour it, left at room temperature about 10 minutes. It should work fine, but be sure to bake in cast iron.
                            SOUTHERN-STYLE CORNBREAD
                            Makes one 8-inch skillet of bread (double quantity for 9" round or 9x9 square pan)

                            Unlike its sweet, cakey Northern counterpart, Southern cornbread is thin, crusty, and decidedly savory. Though some styles of Southern cornbread are dry and crumbly, we favored this dense, moist, tender version. Cornmeal mush is essential to this bread.

                            -- 4 teaspoons bacon drippings OR 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon
                            vegetable oil OR combination of bacon fat with oil or butter
                            -- 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
                            -- 2 teaspoons sugar
                            -- 1/2 teaspoon salt
                            -- 1 teaspoon baking powder
                            -- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
                            -- 1/3 cup rapidly boiling water
                            -- 3/4 cup buttermilk
                            -- 1 large egg, beaten lightly

                            Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

                            Set 8-inch cast-iron skillet with bacon fat (or vegetable oil) in oven as it heats.

                            Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into medium bowl.

                            Mix remaining cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.

                            Pour boiling water all at once into the 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush (similar in density to oatmeal).

                            Whisk in buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps until smooth, then whisk in egg.

                            When oven is preheated and skillet hot, stir dry ingredients into mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove skillet from oven and pour hot fat into batter. Stir to incorporate, then quickly pour batter into heated skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately turn cornbread onto wire rack; cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

                            If not using a cast-iron skillet, do not preheat pan, just pour fat (melt butter is using) into batter - bake for around 25 minutes.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: amyzan

                              vegan buttermilk=1 cup plain soymilk + 2 tsp lemon juice

                              and white sugar is not vegan, sub natural brown cane sugar or other vegan sugar

                              bacon drippings i don't think anyone's come up with a good sub for. . . :)

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                White sugar is not vegan? I assume that you're referring to some animal product used in the refining process, but I've never heard of that. Please explain..?

                                1. re: wawajb

                                  I was curious about this too:


                                  "Over half of the cane refineries in the United States use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source. The bone char used in this filtering process is so far removed from its animal source that cane sugar processed in this method is deemed kosher pareve, which, according to Jewish dietary laws, means that it contains no meat or milk in any form as an ingredient. A number of vegans disagree with this perspective."

                                  Apparently it is an issue with sugar made from sugar cane, rather than sugar beets.

                                2. re: soupkitten

                                  Ok...I answered my own question. (gotta love google), so sorry for the off-topic question. If anybody is curious, white cane sugar is frequently filtered through bone char. This is not an issue with "raw" cane sugars or with beet sugar as they are not carbon filtered.

                              2. A lot of Southern food is about the vegetables. Admittedly, meat is liberally and tradtionally used to season cooked vegetables, but okra, tomatoes, squash, greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peas and beans, fresh fruit, all make a great Southern meal. Cooking without butter may be the greater challenge to authenticity. Pickles and relishes of all kinds (beets, okra, beans, green tomatoes,corn relish)are very typical on a Southern feast table. A pecan rice pilaf would be really good to round out a big chlled fresh vegetable platter.

                                1. Did anybody mention grits?

                                  1. Thanks to everyone for the very interesting thoughts. I can definitely put something together form your suggestions. If anything else comes to mind...I'm all ears.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Nakdcpl

                                      Sure, I make vegan barbeque all the time: use Morningstar Farms vegan chicken (for Southern 'pork') strips. Saute in olive oil untill crisp in pan & then put on a nice Southern Vinegar-based sauce! or Mustard one...Serve with mustard greens, cornbread...
                                      it's a vegan paradise down here