Monday, December 10, 2012

A Week of Vegan Eating

After the indulgence of Thanksgiving (I went to three different dinners!) I decided it would be fun to eat vegan for a week. As someone who loves to cook, deciding to eliminate meat and dairy from my diet was an exciting creative exercise. I got to try out some new ingredients (miso, tahini), and discovered some new flavor combinations that I absolutely loved (butternut squash and lemon!). If you've ever thought about trying out veganism, or cooking some vegan meals, I highly recommend the recipes below. Each is ranked out of 5 stars, based on my personal tastes.

This was an easy, fresh tasting recipe. Three stars because there was nothing too exciting about it. But, the same can be said for most "salad" sandwiches. I liked the filling over toasted wheat bread for breakfast. In fact, even though I'm not eating vegan this week, I am making this for breakfast again!

This would be the perfect vegan meal for meat lovers. The portabella mushrooms and wine combine to make a truly rich and hearty cold-weather dish. I served it over spaghetti squash, but it would be great over egg noodles too, if you're okay with it being vegetarian instead of vegan. (I used vegetable broth instead of beef broth, and eliminated the butter from the recipe). I will definitely make this again.
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Noodles with Marinated Tofu and Kale ****
Nate really liked this one. Unfortunately I made it as a quick weeknight meal and don't remember exactly what quantities of ingredients I put in it - I just did the "taste as you go" approach. 
I marinated a pound of extra firm tofu in soy sauce, miso paste, rice vinegar, mirin, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, garlic powder, and sesame oil. I let the tofu marinade for about 30 minutes, then roasted it at 425° for 30 minutes, turning frequently until browned on all sides. I boiled a half box of angel hair pasta, then sauteed some kale in sesame oil until tender. I removed the kale from the pan and added the leftover marinade, then boiled the marinade until slightly thickened. I then added the noodles, tofu, and kale, tossed to thoroughly coat, and added a handful of chopped fresh thai basil before serving.

This was my favorite recipe by far! I got to use tahini (toasted sesame paste) in the dressing, and discovered that sweet, roasted butternut squash tastes amazing with lemon. The only modifications I made to the recipe were that I roasted 6 cloves of garlic in their skin with the squash, then squeezed out the garlic and tossed it back in, and I served the salad on a bed of micro greens with an extra squeeze of lemon (which really made a difference!).

Aubergine & Lemongrass Curry *** 1/2
I loved the flavor of this curry, but I have never for the life of me been able to properly use lemongrass. It's very woody and fibrous. You can't grate it, because you wind up with these long lemongrass hairs in your food, and this time, when I chopped it up as small as possible, it still didn't get soft and tender after 45 minutes of cooking. You can buy pre-chopped lemongrass in Asian markets, and I think I need to make a trip to get it! Aside from the odd crunchy bits, the flavor of the curry was really, really good. I also liked how the recipe used an unlikely group of ingredients: eggplant, Brussels sprouts, and apples!

Thinking about trying to eat more vegan food? GO FOR IT!!

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