I’ve recently met a client who’s struggling with providing some vegan recipes this year for a family member for her holiday dinner. “Cooking vegan” can definitely be a challenge; how do you get all the needed protein without using eggs, dairy or any animal products? Here are a few products that I’ve found to be essential in my vegan and vegetarian recipes:
Earth Balance buttery spread: Made from canola oil; It looks and tastes like butter. It is packaged in tubs similar to margarine or packaged in ¼ lb sticks like regular dairy butter and can be easily used in your cooking or holiday baking. Buy it at high-end grocery stores or health food stores that carry other vegan products.
Coconut Oil: This oil has a high smoke point compared to other cooking oils; there are many health benefits associated with coconuts; this oil that is highly stable and has an extended shelf life.
Earth Balance Coconut Spread: use this product instead of butter
Alternative Flour: Garbanzo Bean Flour; this flour can be purchased at Indian markets and is quite common in Indian cooking; it is higher in protein than other flours:
Dried Lentils: I often use the orange-colored ones in my recipes
Chef’s Vegetarian Menu
- Eggplant Rolls with Walnuts & Mint
- Cold Lentil Salad
- Spiced Sweet Potato Hash
- Grilled Zucchini/ Summer Squash with turmeric
Eggplant Rolls with Walnuts & Mint
Recipe 1: from Aarti Party on the Food Network. These make very nice, elegant hors d’oeuvre.
Chef’s note: if you can have dairy, use creamy ricotta cheese, as listed.
To make it vegan: substitute vegan cream cheese, either homemade, as in this link, Or you can purchase a ready-made product through your local grocery, as referenced at the beginning of this post.
Crispy Lentil Salad
Recreation of a dish we had while in France. The salad has a nice fresh clean taste. The apples give it an unexpected crunch. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- ½ cups, dried green lentils/ cooked until tender, 15 minutes
- 1 bunch of radishes, sliced
- 1 bunch spring onions/ green onions, chopped
- 1 cup diced green apple
- 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Simple Vinaigrette: 2 parts olive oil, 1 part cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, whisked together in a small bowl; add Salt & pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix together cooked lentils (cooled and drained after cooking), radishes, onions, apples, fresh herbs and vinaigrette.
Sweet Potatoes with roasted Poblano peppers, onions, Swiss chard and the Dinner Diva special spice rub.
- 2 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes/ also called jeweled sweet potatoes; peeled and diced.
- Chef’s note: do not use yellow-fleshed traditional yams for this recipe as your dish will not have the great color
- 1 onion diced, can be yellow or red
- 3 Poblano chilies, roasted, peeled & diced (see previous blog post for technique) OR 1 1/2 cups Diced bell peppers (preferably a combination of red, yellow or orange) or
- 1 bunch of Swiss Chard, chopped, stems removed ; can be green, red or rainbow chard
- Mary’s Spice Rub: equal parts of cinnamon, chili powder, cumin (1 teaspoon each) plus ½ teaspoon each, kosher salt & black pepper. Note: you will not use the entire spice blend; save extra for a later use; can be used as a substitute for pre-packaged taco or chili mix in your mexican recipes.
In a large skillet: add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or canola oil to your hot pan. Sautee the onions and bell peppers until soft; add the diced sweet potatoes and 1 teaspoon of spice blend. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, approximately 10- 15 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes, adding a few tables of water or vegetable stock as needed to facilitate the cooking. Once tender, add the chopped Swiss chard and wilt in the same pan. Serve immediately.
Chef’s note: you can substitute cooked spinach for the chard, as long as you drain the spinach before adding to the pan. I prefer starting with fresh spinach, but frozen spinach would be okay, too.
Recipe from Aarti Party on the Food Network. If you don’t have the yellow summer squash, use what is locally available, like zucchini.
To make this recipe vegan: substitute the regular dairy butter with a product from Earth Balance, as referenced above.