Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living So Well Eating Vegan Warrior Food

There are some recipes that really make you feel like a vegan warrior.  The kind of thing that, when you eat it, you really can't feel anything but thrilled to be ingesting such healthy and delicious food.  Among those ranks, I nominate 500 Vegan Recipes' Quinoa with Hazelnut Parsley Pesto.

First there's the pesto.  Some hazelnuts, which you have to toast (I did it in my toaster oven, not the big oven -- too energy inefficient), all blended up with parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.  It's rich and vegetable-y.  Parsley tastes very, like, "Hey, I'm a plant!"  And that can be a great thing sometimes.  The pesto gets mixed into some quinoa you cook, and, like parsley, I think quinoa is the most earthy of the grains.  There is something about eating quinoa with a parsley-hazelnut pesto that makes me feel proud of myself.  Such natural food, no trying to imitate non-vegan things.  Just enjoying real food for what it is!

And then, to make everything even greater, the recipe has you cook Brussels sprouts to put on top!  Now, I've mentioned in the past about what I see as Steen and Newman's inaccurate names for recipes, and this one's got a bit of that going on.  If I were them, I would have called this "Hazelnut Parsley Pesto with Braised Sprouts" or something like that.  That is, something that mentions the Brussels sprouts.  But hey, it doesn't matter, whatever.  The point it, it's got sprouts on top cooked with wine.  They suggest only a tablespoon of sherry wine or water, and only if needed.  But in my opinion, wine is essential to making a dish like this go from ok to Wow! so I deglazed my pan with more than a tablespoon of red wine.  I also used a lot more than ten Brussels sprouts.  Ten?!?!  Deprive me much??  I wasn't going for that, and I cooked a lot more.    

So I went to this dinner party where everyone was assigned to make something.  I got assigned apple pie.  It didn't really have to be apple pie, though, it could be any kind of apple thing, just something that screamed "All American."  I'm pretty lazy about pies, so I made something I've made many times before, the Individual Heart-Shaped Gallettes from Veganomicon.  At first, I even made them heart-shaped.  But I started to actually lose my damn mind while doing it.  It was getting to be super-late at night and those hearts are hard to do!  So I started making them circles.  And I also made real vanilla bean ice cream!  I bought some vanilla beans, and I zested one into coconut milk beverage and simmered it, and then left that milk in the fridge overnight to cool, then made the vanilla ice cream recipe as directed in Veganomicon.  Amazing.  So amazing.  Vanilla beans are expensive, but sooooo worth it for ice cream.  Anyway, here's what it looked like:

My friend Erin gave me all the leftover BBQ Seitan she had made for the party, so I brought it home and added it to this Cheater Mac and Cheese from 500 Vegan Recipes I had made.  It's called "cheater" mac because you don't bake it, or even make a proper nutritional yeast sauce.  Instead, it's closer to, like, Kraft Mac'n'cheese in a box.  You boil the noodles and strain them, then add a bunch of stuff together, including a heck of a lot of Earth Balance butter.  It doesn't even look that pretty, so I didn't even plan on take pictures of it for the blog here.  But it was so good with that BBQ seitan in it, and also, I still had the tofu sour cream I'd made to make the Cheater Mac, so I decided to make a second batch of it.  This time, I took some seitan out of my freezer and whipped up some Backyard BBQ Sauce (from Veganomicon again).
And then I grilled the seitan with some peanut oil and BBQ sauce on the ol' Forman Grill, which I rarely use, but it is kinda fun to use it.
And I added the grilled seitan to the Cheater Mac and I had a real summer meal, complete with CSA-greens salad and homemade iced tea.  Damn, I live well.

And, just for good measure, here's a closer look at the BBQ seitan mac'n'cheese.


  1. Your food looks amazing, as always. Is the 'cheater mac & cheese' your favorite vegan mac & cheese recipe? I have yet to come across one that I would make again. I have a few really good recipes for vegan fettucine though, so go figure..... My husband really wants me to make bbq seitan mac & cheese (I showed him your pics.) He is an omnivore so I need a good recipe that won't make him miss the real cheese. I would appreciate any recipe suggestions you might have! Thanks! -Tara

  2. Sorry for the delayed response! I wouldn't say Cheater Mac is my favorite, but it IS really simple, and doesn't involve turning the oven on. I like vegan mac & cheese, and so far, I've never made one I thought was no good. Usually I make the one in Veganomicon, although I also really like the real mac & cheese recipe in 500 Vegan Recipes -- it's really simple, and I dig that. I think, though, that if it's real cheese you crave, fake cheese is never going to fit the bill. One thing I like about mac & cheese is that it takes well to additions. I sometimes put a little liquid smoke in the "cheese" to make it like "smoked gouda." And I like to add veggies, and all kinds of stuff, really. I'm lucky I'm not very picky, I think.


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