Thursday, February 09, 2012

summer of vegan cooking round up

When you live with a Gemini, anything can happen. Eight years ago, when we met, the Significant Eater was a smoking, drinking, caffeine slugging, omnivore. Over the years his eating and living choices have gone through many twists and turns. This summer he’s a clean living, “wholefood” vegan.

Despite being a self-confessed Food Nazi, compared to him I’m a moderate. Though others may not think a diet without meat or dairy inhabits the middle ground, it’s been consistent for well over two decades. So dropping the eggs and fish from the home menu shouldn’t be a challenge, should it?

While I embrace the opportunity to increase my intake of wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts (the cornerstones of vegan protein) on a daily basis, the biggest issue has turned out to be quantity and diversity, rather than actual ingredients. The SE is an active guy who even at the height of his meat loving could still devour a leafy green salad made from the entire contents of the fridge’s veggie crisper.

It’s been a tough summer for me for entirely different reasons. While I haven’t entirely gone off my tucker, it’s certainly dropped down in my priorities. If ever there was a time when I’d be happy to come home from work and just eat a boiled egg and some lettuce from the garden, this is it. Instead I’ve had to plan ahead to soak beans, cook up pots of quinoa, brown rice and millet, bake/fry/steam tofu and tempeh, and cut, peel, julienne, dice and grate a truckload of vegetables.

So, onto the culinary highlights

Porridge probably shouldn’t be summer highlight but it was – a massive fruit salad with either oat, millet or quinoa/amaranth porridge. Toss in some seeds and nuts and it’s an amazing start to the day.

Heidi’s (not so) wild mushroom tacos. With fresh tacos from Casa Iberica, guacamole and using Asian mixed mushrooms and small cubes of smoked tofu to her chilli/wild mushroom recipe. Made a nice change from beans.

A Japanese inspired broth (1+ litre veg stock, a knob of finely julienned ginger, 2 tsp mirin, 2 tsp tamari – to taste) with soba noodles, tofu, veg (carrot, green beans and zucchini – spring onion would have been good). Simple and nurturing.

Madhur Jaffrey's spiced rice with cashews. An old favourite, still a delight. (There’s an online adaptation here).

Mushroom risotto, like this earlier version but sans butter and booze. Sometimes you just need a little ballast in your gut after all the salads.

Vegan BBQ – whole corn in the husk, portabella mushrooms tossed in olive oil and garlic and a biodynamic soy burger (from Tofu trek, very tasty and didn’t dry out). With a cucumber, tomato, red onion salad – with the dregs of the mushroom marinade and a splash of balsamic vinegar. (Grilled eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes are also lovely. I sometime pre bake jacket potatoes til 2/3 cooked, then slice, toss in oil/garlic/rosemary and grill on bbq)

More salads than you can poke a stick at

The SE’s super salad made from quinoa, grated beetroot and carrot, salad greens, plus steamed spud and pumpkin. Dressed with tamari, toasted sesame oil and lemon juice dressing. When I replicated it I ditched the cooked veg and add fried tempeh. Yum.

Kitchen sink salad with chickpeas – blanched green beans, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, (red onion might have been nice), toasted cashews and itty bitty capers. Dressing made from orange juice and zest, sherry vinegar, walnut/olive oil, a little garlic, mustard and salt. An ok salad uplifted by a stellar dressing.

Seaweed salad with (I found some old wakame in the pantry, it’s hard to get now due to the radioactive contamination around Japan) grated carrot/finely sliced cucumber and celery salad with dressing of rice vinegar (Tetsuya’s nori vinegar)/tamari/sugar/roasted sesame oil/chilli flakes.

Did I document the food I made this summer? Nope...sorry...not sure how this one ended up in the camera

Rice noodles, smoked tofu, grated carrot, cucumber, mint and coriander. Dressing lime juice, sugar, chilli and tamari (I did miss the fish sauce but it was still nice).

Roasted veg salad (spuds, onion, beetroot, pumpkin) with fresh chives and a vinaigrette mixed with cashew butter and garlic.

Carrot/daikon/cucumber salad (adapted heavily from The Asian Vegan Kitchen). Mix the finely sliced veg with toasted sesame seeds. Dressing equal parts rice vinegar and sugar, a touch (or a lot) of green chilli, pinch of salt and 2-3 drops roasted sesame oil. (I made this one a number of times)

Sweet things

Finally cracked Tony Chiodo’s chocolate tart made with silken tofu (it’s the delectable dish on the back of the book). It was a labour of love but worth the effort.

And the more wholesome and happily hippy raw fruit pie.

The winning ingredient of the season?

Kimchi. You’ve got to search for one made without fish sauce or MSG, but it’s worth scrummaging through all the tubs in your favourite Asian grocery store). It got thrown on top of brown rice with other salads and bits and pieces, in homage to Yong Green’s Dragon Bowl. A handy, no fuss meal with lots of zing.

Tempeh and kimchi gyoza

As you know I’m a sucker for a good gyoza and figured kimchi and tempeh would make an inspired filling. And yes it did. I salivate for it now, just writing about. If you don’t know how to make gyoza use this equally delightful vegan version as a template. For the filling use equal quantities of tempeh and kimchi, whizzed up in the food processor for a finer consistency. Serve with the same rice vinegar/tamari/chilli oil dipping sauce.

So what have you been eating this summer?

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Blogger Shula said...


12:23 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Kimchi the spicy Korean condiment/pickle. Often made from cabbage. Check out the fridge at a good Asian grocery, usually a red colour form the chilli. Addictive. Next time your in Brunswick St with the vegan daughter check out Yong Green a korean vegan cafe.

7:50 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

For Zoe's full run down on the wonders of kimchi (nb her recipe isn't vegan)

7:56 am  
Anonymous lisa dempster said...

Sounds divine! I've been eating similarly, with plenty of salad and raw foods, and nothing processed. Your Japanese broth is going onto my menu for next week!

11:04 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Glad you like the broth Lisa. It's a winner and you can vary the veg content as much as you like. The mirin really lifts the flavour.

2:12 pm  
Anonymous Lesh@TheMindfulFoodie said...

I LOVE what you ate over summer! You put in so much effort. Being vegan does require quite a bit of meal pre-planning with all that soaking and making sure you have all your nutritional bases covered. It's only now I appreciate (after doing a recent vegan challenge) the swiftness of cooking an egg, and getting my protein and B12 vitamins in one hit! :-)

10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are such a great writer Gill xx

2:13 pm  

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