Yikes, a vegan for dinner
OK, I've got my go-to menus for vegetarians, but now I've got a vegan coming. It's just three of us so I'm willing to do the menu around him. Does anyone have some great dinner ideas? I just can't think of anything that doesn't involve a little butter or cheese.
I would ask your friend what he likes to eat. More than a few times, I have spent lots of time devising a creative healthy vegan or vegetarian menu to be told "Oh, I don't eat..." (not weird stuff either....chick peas, melon, asparagus...) Perhaps vegans tend to have stronger food preferences than most people? Anyway, I recommend asking before you finalize your menu. If he eats rice and spinach - make that.
It's late, I know, but I just made the Punjabi Red Kidney Bean Stew from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian last night, and I was extremely impressed. I expected it to be good, because her recipes usually turn out well for me, but this was better than I expected. It's totally vegan, but it had a richness to it that I'm sure would have satisfied any meat eater. And very simple, too.
Think of things that are vegan not by intent but by nature. You might not have to modify:
Pasta with pesto (just leave out the cheese when you make it)
Pasta with marinara sauce (garlic bread and a fresh salad on the side)
Meatless chili over polenta
Veggie stir fry (throw in tofu if you want)
Mexican theme: build your own burritos/tacos, do spanish rice & refried beans on the side
Indian: TONS of vegan food, chana masala is my favorite, you could do a dal, chutneys, yummy jasmine rice cooked with a cinnamon stick and make some naan bread
Mediterranean spread: hummus and baba ghanoush with fresh veggies and homemade pitas for dipping, side of tabouli
Vegan sushi (avocado, cucumber, carrot, whatever you want!) or vegan onigiri
Cheeseless pizza (use pesto instead of marinara - soooo good) or lasagna
Sub olive oil wherever you'd normally have butter. If you want that buttery flavor, get Earth Balance margarine. This stuff is soooo good, and when I was an omni I was all about the butter so trust me the flavor is right on. It's 100% vegan (no whey like most margarine) and non-hydrogenated.
Having a vegan for dinner is really not as scary as people think, ha.
Here's my favorite vegan recipe. I and my meat-loving honey eat this about twice a month with just crusty bread and spinach salad.
Basque Garbanzo Beans The Basque Kitchen, Hirigoyen
1/2 cup olive oil
2 med onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 dried red chile, mild or spicy (I use 1 t ground ancho and 1 t smoked paprika)
1 T coriander seeds, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 cups garbanzo beans, soaked 24 hours at room temp. (I use 2 cans
garbanzos, drained - works just fine)
5-6 cups vegetable broth (I use 2 14.5 oz. cans. I reduce the liquid
because I use cooked beans.)
10 saffron threads, soaked in a little warm water
1 T kosher salt or more to taste (OR LESS! Esp. if you use full-salt broth;
wait and add toward end)
1/4 t freshly ground white pepper or more to taste (black’s okay)
Preheat oven to 450 deg. In a large casserole, warm the olive oil over
med-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, chili, coriander and bay leaves;
saute for about 5 min.
Drain the garbanzos, and add them , along with the broth, saffron, salt
and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven. (It doesn’t say
to, but I find that the dish works better if you uncover it when you put it
in the oven.)
Bake until the beans are soft and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes. Season
to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings
I was thinking a bit more about it and realized that a lot of Italian dishes can easily be vegan. I do a really good bean soup with cavolo nero (kale is fine), which is really easy and substitute-able. Saute an onion, either alone or add carrots and celery, gently till colored, add garlic, cook for a few more minutes. Add beans (borlottis or cannellini are the ones I usually use), season, add some veg broth. Add some small pasta. While pasta cooks in soup, briefly cook kale or cavolo leaves in boiling water, then drain and chop. Add to soup. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, and some parmesan for those who want it.
You could also do a Mediterranean spread... hummus, babaghanoush, marinated tofu kebabs, tabbouleh, pita, etc.
Another menu: Butternut Squash soup (no dairy), Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Heart Salad, Lentil and Bulgur Salad or Spicy Lentils - http://www.chooseveg.com/display_recipe.asp?recipe=381 , Brown Rice Medley, etc.
Or, do an Asian spread...
These rolls are great http://www.podsumer.com/vegancookingschool/archives/2006/04/spring_rolls_wi.html
Dumplings w/ tofu and/or tempeh
This is also a great site: http://www.veganmenu.blogspot.com/
Here is a recipe I've served to many a carnivore and vegan with requests for seconds every time! I serve this along side roasted root vegetables or wasabi mashed potatoes. Yum!
Miso Glazed Tempeh or Tofu.
Tempeh or Tofu Cutlets.
White miso paste.
Mirin (cooking sake).
Sesame seeds (black and white).
Lemons or Oranges.
Jasmine tea bags.
Preheat oven to 350.
Place Tempeh/Tofu in a 2 inch pan or other pyrex container with walled sides, NO cookie sheets. Leave space between cutlets.
In a mixing bowl, mix 1 part miso paste with 1/2 part maple syrup.
Add a splash of sesame oil and a splash of mirin.
Whisk ingredients together into a smoothish consistency and taste. It should be somewhat sweet and not too salty...
You need enough to be able to spoon a not too thick layer of glaze onto the top of each piece of Tempeh/Tofu with a little left over in the bowl.
Add tea bags to the bowl with the remaining glaze and add boiling water to the bowl so you now have a 'tea' of Jasmine and miso glaze....
Ladle this tea into the pan just about 1/2 way up the sides of the Tempeh/Tofu.
Take care not to disturb the glazed cutlets while ladling.
This will keep them from drying out.
Place a very thin slice of lemon or orange on the center of each cutlet and sprinkle the sesame seeds lightly onto each cutlet as a garnish.
Cover the pan and bake for 30 min...then remove cover and bake for 10 more min or so 'till the glaze looks carmelized and somewhat dry.
Scatter some finely chopped green onion onto the cutlets just before serving.
Fancy dinner or regular weekday fare? If the latter, you could make Mjeddrah. That's lentils and rice with onions, topped with a salad of spinach, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, whatever you want to put in it, and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and paprika. You toss the salad with the dressing and then pile it on top of the beans. Supposedly this is the "mess of pottage" Jacob was making that Esau sold his birthright for, and personally, I'm absolutely certain I'd do the same if I came in starving and someone was cooking it.
We end up eating a lot of vegan food just incidentally. Here are two of our recent hits enjoyed by vegans and meat-eaters alike:
Pasta with chickpea and garlic sauce
Yes, I was thinkingof a recipe from Yamuna Devi's Indian cookbook that's a stew of chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach. Really good and vegan.
My favorite weeknight pasta dish is also vegan: saute some garlic (minced or left whole) in olive oil till it starts to brown. Add 1-inch cubes of eggplant, and turn till they color and go soft. Add canned tomatoes, season with salt and a little dried chili, let simmer down till it's the consistency you like, serve with penne or tortiglioni. Serve grated cheese on the side for those who want it. Serve a salad and maybe some green beans as a side?
You can do a vegetarian chili with beans, quinoa or bulghur, etc. You can leave it as is for everyone, or you can serve shredded cheese and sour cream on the side for the non-vegans. You should also be able to find vegan cheese and sour cream or yogurt if you want to try those (I have personally never been fond of these items).
You can serve with a nice tossed salad - you can embellish the salad a million ways -
beets, hearts of palm, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
If you go to a local health food type store, you should be able to find vegan wraps, etc. that you can serve alongside the veg chili.
A chinese hot pot is also a good option - I like this version - fill a large soup pot about halfway with water - add about a cup of sweet chili sauce and a cup of light soya sauce and about a 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice. You can add tamarind or miso if you have. add a variety of dried mushrooms of your choice - straw mushrooms are also nice - add cut up bok choy - add cubed extra firm tofu - add finely chopped green onions - bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 min - add about 3 cloves freshly chopped garlic and about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger - put in bowls topped with freshly washed bean sprouts, cilantro and an extra splash of lime juice