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vegan birthday dinner- looking for one last dish

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Hello Hounds!

I'm cooking a birthday dinner on Friday for a friend who is vegan and doesn't like onions. I think I'm going in an asian-inspired direction, and will make coconut cilantro rice (this recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...), a salad of watercress, avocado, mango, radish and cucumber with a sesame dressing, and I'm in need of a third dish. Normally I would serve this with a Thai chili-shrimp recipe, and I'm having a hard time coming up with a suitable replacement. Any thoughts? Any dessert ideas would be appreciated as well!

Many thanks.

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  1. Tempeh (or cubed extra firm tofu) and cashew, done as chili shrimp.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      The chili shrimp recipe has onions in it, so that's out. (Honestly, the no onion part is harder for me than the vegan part.) I should have mentioned, I'd like to avoid tempeh, tufu and seitan if possible. I know that's may be a tall order, though.

      1. re: luckiestduck

        What about a similar dish (minus the onions) made with a vegetable instead? Butternut squash or sweet potatoes could mimic the slight sweetness of shrimp and could have somewhat of a similar texture if cooked long enough.

        1. re: luckiestduck

          You can't omit onions? Use water chestnuts, celery, tofu, cashews, stir fried with chilies/chili blend. (or marinate the tofu in a blend of spices first, then toss with the rest and then stirfry).

          1. re: wyogal

            Yes, I suppose I could omit the onions, though they do bring a lot of flavor. I'm usually an inventive cook and like to play around, but somehow I'm having a hard time imaging that dish vegetarian. I feel it needs an animal protein. But thank you so much for the recommendations!

      2. how about a cashew curry?
        Or a chickpeas with coconut ginger rice?
        Especially since you do not want to use faux meats, I think you should start with something that is inherently vegan, not an adapted fish or meat recipe.

        There is a raw strawberry cheesecake which is seasonal and vegan on post punk kitchen. I have made this as a birthday cake several times. It is wonderful.

        5 Replies
        1. re: magiesmom

          I agree, I'd rather not adapt something. I love the idea of a cashew curry, but it seems that every recipe I look at calls for onions or shallots. Personally, I love onions, so it's hard for me to imagine simply omitting them from a dish. Onions bring so much flavor. Am I being too finicky about not wanting to leave them out? Is there a wonderful way of making a curry without them?

          1. re: luckiestduck

            Yes, I think that you could use a recipe and leave out the onions.

            1. re: luckiestduck

              how about a thai green curry with chickpeas and/or cashews? and don't worry about losing flavor by omitting onion. you can always use a touch of asafoetida (a.k.a. hing). it adds a flavor that's somewhat reminiscent of sauteed onion & garlic (though almost a bit sweeter & mellower like leeks), yet doesn't taste strongly of onion. in fact, members of certain religious sects (Jain, Hare Krishna, Buddhist monks) who abstain from eating onions or garlic use asafoetida as a substitute.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                That sounds about right. Do you happen to have a link to a recipe that I can work off of? Thanks so much!

                1. re: luckiestduck

                  i'm sure i have a great recipe stashed away somewhere in a folder...in my storage unit...in Los Angeles...which is 3000 miles away from where i'm presently sitting!

                  but i like the look of this one:
                  http://thaifood.about.com/od/vegetari...

                  you can easily add cashews to it, go with the chickpea option instead of tofu, omit the onions, and use *just* a pinch of asafoetida.

                  a few notes about asafoetida:
                  - use sparingly - it's really pungent
                  - speaking of pungency, when raw/uncooked, the stuff REEKS (it's also called "devil's dung" with good reason). don't let the initial odor turn you off, because it changes *completely* once cooked. but store it in a very, VERY tightly sealed glass jar to keep it from stinking up the place.
                  - don't handle it with your bare fingers - you'll never get the smell off. it's much better to use the tip of a knife to dig out a little mound of it and toss it into the pan from there.
                  - and speaking of tossing it into the pan, don't add it raw to the other curry paste ingredients - wait until you start to pan-fry the curry, THEN add it.

                  hope that helps!