VENTURE INTO VEGAN FROM FOOD FOR THOUGHT WITH CLAIRE THOMAS

“Vegan,” like any lifestyle that seems restrictive to those outside of it, can appear meager or ascetic. For many, the idea of foregoing bacon and cheese is too much (and I am firmly in that camp), however, this doesn’t mean that vegan food is intrinsically boring, tasteless, and gruel-like in any way.  To help turn perceptions around, I dedicated an entire episode to awesome food that happens to be vegan.  No tofu, no fillers, no cashew puree or kelp flakes.  None of the ingredients or ideas that seem to scare people away from vegan.  You can have a gorgeous dinner without any animal by product and not miss a thing, so today, I’m highlighting some of my favorite “vegan by accident” recipes. Enjoy!

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ROASTED GARLIC WHITE BEAN DIP

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cannellini beans (canned or cooked)

1/2 cup reserved liquid (from cooking or the can)

1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

1 head, roasted garlic

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

To roast garlic, cut the top off of the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.

In a food processor, combine the beans, rosemary, roasted garlic, and balsamic until pureed.  To make the texture looser, add a little liquid a little at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

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ROASTED VEGETABLE PASTA

INGREDIENTS

For 6

1 cup roasted butternut squash (1 inch chop)

1 cup roasted potatoes (yukon gold, 1 in ch chop)

1 cup roasted red onion (1 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick circles)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup basil, chiffonade

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

8 ounces dry pasta

DIRECTIONS

This is meant to be a left overs meal, but if you’re roasting your veg from scratch preheat your oven to 425 F.  Start with a cup and a half of each vegetables and rub with a heavy drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread out over a baking sheet (you may need two baking sheets to ensure that the the vegetables aren’t touching).  Roast for 25-45 minutes, depending on the vegetable (less time for red onion, more time for potatoes).  Halfway through roasting, flip the vegetables to make sure both sides are cooking evenly.  Once the vegetables are crisp at the edges, remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water per manufacturer’s instructions.  While the pasta cooks, heat up a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and then cherry tomatoes.  Let the tomatoes cook for about one minute, and then add the garlic.  Add the roasted vegetables, stirring to combine.  Add the basil and stir.   When the pasta is done, add it to the  sauté pan straight from the pot with a slotted spoon.  The residual water on the pasta will create a sauce.  Stir and finish with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

 

HEARTY FARRO SALAD WITH CURRY VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS

1 cup farro

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup pecans halves

salt and pepper

1 handful arugula

INGREDIENTS (CURRY VINAIGRETTE)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chutney

1/2 teaspoon curry powered

salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F. Thinly slice the fennel and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 20 minutes at 400 F, or until golden brown and crisp at the edges. Cook farro per manufacturers directions. Combine farro, fennel, red onion, raisins, pecans, and arugula.

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COCONUT SHAVED ICE WITH STRAWBERRY BASIL SYRUP

Raspado, if you’re not familiar, is just shaved ice with syrup on it. So simple, and yet something that had never occurred to me to make. Now that I’ve been bitten by the bug, I can’t stop. Shaved iced tea with lemon infused syrup? It’s a frozen arnold palmer. Shaved pineapple juice with jalapeno mango syrup? A spicy yet refreshing treat. I am going to be all over this recipe once I get to enjoy a sunny day.

INGREDIENTS

1 pint strawberries, quartered

2 tablespoons basil, torn (about 4 large leaves)

1/2 cup sugar

1 pint coconut water (from a box is fine)

DIRECTIONS

Pour coconut water into ice cube tray and freeze.

Cut strawberries into quarters. Combine in a pot with sugar, basil and 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn heat to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Strain and discard solids, and refrigerate syrup until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.

Pop the coconut water cubes into the blender and crush until fine.  Scoop into a cup or bowl and drizzle with syrup.  Enjoy!