The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Kale-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Balsamic-Marinated-Figs-and-Dates-Topped-with-Smoked-Almonds1When I was imagining what to serve with my “throwback Thursday” Thanksgiving main dish of  Vegan Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping, I reviewed the recipe and just about the only one of my favorite Thanksgiving ingredients that was missing was sweet potatoes.

However, because the entree is a pretty all-inclusive one-dish wonder and very creamy-chewy-crunchy, none of the sweet potato dishes I could dream up would provide the necessary contrast.  Instead, a salad seemed the perfect fresh, raw burst that was needed for a beautiful and bountiful meal.

So, I’m bringing back my Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette from last year.  Dried figs marinated in Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette and smoked almonds combine with the fresh kale for a light fall salad bursing with flavor and texture.

If you love cranberry sauce, it would be a lovely addition in terms of both color and sweet-tart flavor and delicious alongside the casserole.  I recommend my sister-in-law’s Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce.

For dessert, it has to be my Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced-Espresso ganache!

If you want to spend more time relaxing and less time in the kitchen, yet still present a meal to truly be thankful for, this year’s 3-course mostly-make-ahead menu is for you.

But feel free to peruse The Blooming Platter for many more options from Thanksgiving pasts.  Just search “Thanksgiving” or your favorite ingredients.

I am so thankful for all of you and I hope you have a very special holiday, with plenty of friends, family and fun on the menu!

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce

Cranaberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

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Mexican Migas CasseroleNo, this isn’t part of my Thanksgiving Countdown–the last dish of my 3-course feast is coming up tomorrow!–rather, this is just an outrageously tasty and satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs-without-weighing-you-down dish for any night of the week.  And heated leftovers are crave-worthy for lunch.

 

Yield : 6 servings

 

I call this delightful mash-up of everything Mexican “migas” because of the tortilla chips.  Real migas, of course, calls for eggs, which are absent from this dish, as well as torn up tortillas–my favorite part!  A partial bag of leftover chips and company coming for dinner inspired this dish, as I knew the chips would absorb moisture from the other ingredients and plump up like tortillas.

 

1 tablespoon  olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 ounces chopped kale

1-15.5 ounce can beans,  e.g black or pinto, rinsed and drained (I use a tri-bean variety)

1-15.5 ounce can diced roasted tomatoes, drained

1-12 ounce package frozen yellow corn, thawed

1 1/2 cups sliced sautéed mushrooms

2.5 ounce can (dry weight) sliced black olives, drained

4 ounces canned diced green chilies

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 cups white corn tortilla chips + 1 cup finely crushed

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper

Garnishes: dollops of vegan sour cream, a little salsa or chimichurri, and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil.  Add onion and salt, and sauté, stirring frequently for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add kale and sauté for another 3 minutes or until softened and slightly wilted.  Transfer mixture to a very large bowl and add all remaining ingredients, except finely crushed tortilla chips, in order given, lightly crushing the 4 cups of tortilla chips with your fingers as you add.  Fold all together until will combined.  Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, lightly smoothing top.  Sprinkle with finely crushed tortilla chips, spray top lightly with nonstick cooking spray (a canola or olive oil variety) to promote browning, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream, a little salsa or chimichurri, and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

This creamy fall casserole is special enough for a Thanksgiving feast but easy enough for a weeknight meal.  The sweet potato chip topping is an updated nod to the vintage “church cookbook” casserole genre.

Though it is a balanced one-dish wonder–full of delicious, colorful and nutritious vegetables and tempeh–I will share a sweet potato side to round out this year’s three course Thanksgiving repast.  Be sure not to miss dessert which I served up first: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Espresso Spice Ganache!

 

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

4 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and then finely diced

Sea salt

8 ounces tempeh, cubed

10 ounces fresh chopped kale

1 cup roasted, cooked fresh pumpkin

1 cup sliced, sauteed mushrooms

1 cup (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1-4 ounce jar pimentos, drained

1 tablespoon salt-free multi-purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces sweet potato chips (*I use Terra brand Beets and Sweets), crushed (I roll a sturdy glass across them right in the bag)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a large casserole dish.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion, celery, and a pinch of salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until beginning to soften.  Add tempeh and saute about 3 minutes more.  Add kale and cook, lowering heat if necessary and stirring fairly frequently, until tempeh is softened and partially wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes more.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add pumpkin and mushrooms, and toss gently to combine.  In a small bowl, fold together sour cream, mayonnaise, flour, pimentos, multi-purpose seasoning, sage, and pepper. Spoon over vegetables and tempeh mixture, gently fold together until well-combined, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly mound into into casserole dish. Sprinkle evenly with crushed sweet potato chips, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, covering if edges begin to brown too quickly.  Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

 *Note: the first time I made this dish, I only had a half a bag of chips, so I combined 3 ounces chips with the same amount of panko bread crumbs, sprinkled the mixture over the casserole, and sprayed lightly with non-stick spray before baking.  It is delicious with either topping.

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Pumpkin-Spice Chocolate Cake with Spiced Espresso GanacheOur Thanksgiving tradition is in transition this year. For over 20 years, Joe’s and my families have gathered at our home in VA Beach to celebrate my favorite holiday.

Birth, death, illness, divorce, and distance–the stuff of life–altered the guest list from year to year, but essentially our culinary tradition remained intact, alternating between traditional-with-a-twist and very non-traditional thematic feasts: Cajun, Thai, American Diner, and more.

Finally, though, my parents have gotten to the age (81 and 86) where neither the drive nor the flight from MS is comfortably manageable, though my father still works part-time as an engineer and just drove them to and from Texas where my mother’s siblings live.  

Last November, Mama took a spill in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in North Carolina on their way home–I told them that place was dangerous!–and they ended up in the local hospital.  She was fine, if shaken, but the writing was on the wall.

So, though it made all of us a bit sad–as my mother said, “You think things will always be the same”–I suggested that we meet in New Orleans, an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from their home and a not-too-terrible flight from here.  Grateful and enthusiastic, my folks booked us into the Chateau LeMoyne, a family favorite, and I made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Broussard’s, another family favorite since childhood.  Joe is game–he thinks it’s the right thing to do– if a little skeptical, as it’s not “his” city in the way that it is ours; my sister and I were weaned on The Big Easy.  And, though the decision was made too late for them to be with us this year, Joe’s sisters and our niece are hoping to join us every other Thanksgiving if our NOLA tradition continues.

Wherever you will be, whoever you will be with, and for whatever reason, my sincere hope is that you will find yourself deeply grateful for life’s gifts, even if, like us, they represent a “new normal.”

As a gesture of gratitude, over the next three weeks, I will serve up three new recipes–one per week–for a perfect, if slightly non-traditional, vegan feast.  And I’m starting with dessert!  Enjoy this moist, richly autumnal, and complexly flavored cake.  It was a hit for a friend’s recent birthday and I’ve made it again for a small dinner tomorrow night for two girlfriends.  Were we going to be at home, it would certainly be on our Thanksgiving menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake

 

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk

1 tablespoon vinegar

1  3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Spiced Espresso Ganach (recipe follows)

Garnish: chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside.   In a small cup, whisk together soymilk and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken.  Place all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl in the order given, and whisk to combine.  Add remaining wet ingredients including soymilk mixture and whisk 50 strokes or until lumps disappear.  Avoid overbeating.  Transfer into prepared bundt pan and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (65 minutes is perfect in my oven.)  Allow to cool completely in pan, loosen around edges, top with serving plate, and and invert.  Spoon ganache around the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the inside and outside edges and sprinkle with walnuts.

 

*Spiced Espresso Ganache

1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer (soy or  coconut)

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

1/48to 1/4 teaspoong round cinnamon (adjust to suit taste)

Heat creamer to barely bubbling.  Add chocoate chips.  Allow to sit a couple of minutes and then whisk together until smooth and completely combined.  Whisk in instant coffee or espresso powder and cinnamon.  Allow to cool until a thick pourable consistency.

*I like to double the recipe, using the whole bag of chips, and save half for another decadent purpose!

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Vegan Waldorf Panini

Waldorf PaniniA favorite cold, creamy, and crunchy salad from childhood made into a warm, toasted, grown-up sandwich, popular with all ages.  
Why?  Yesterday was National Sandwich Day and Tofutti Brands requested a new sandwich recipe made with one of their tasty ingredients.  You can see my guest post HERE.  Note that I use the Tofutti products made without transfat; be sure to read the labels.
Waldorf Panini
Yield: 1 sandwich
3 tablespoons Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (toast for even more flavor)
1 celery heart, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and finely chopped
1 date, finely chopped
Pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch no salt all-purpose seasoning
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons minced fennel fronds
1/4 apple, cored and sliced very thin
1 bagel or sandwich roll, halved, or 2 slices whole grain bread
Preheat panini grill.  In a small bowl, using a fork, combine all ingredients except apple and bread.  Spread on bottom slice of bagel, roll or bread.  Stack evenly with apple slices and top with remaining slice of bagel, roll, or bread.  Grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.  Halve and serve immediately.  Note:  if you have no panini maker, just prepare as a grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet using  a little vegan butter or oil in the pan.
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Pumpkin Pie SmoothieYield:  1 Venti (2 1/2 cups) or 2 small smoothies

When I learned that the “secret” ingredient in Starbucks ice crystal-free frappuccinos was xanthan gum, I bought some post haste.  It performs as promised, preventing ice crystals and lending a creamy smooth texture to frapps and smoothies.  However, clean-up was a mess because, as soon as water touches it, it turns into a slimy, almost impossible to clean-up substance, as it contains molecules that cause particles to bond, hence its use in some gluten-free baking mixes.

So I wondered about adding it to a simple syrup made of stevia (a plant-derived natural no-calorie sweetener) and water to create a syrup similar to what Starbucks dispenses into their frapps.  What I ended up with was gel  more than a syrup, but it works beautifully and keeps for what seems like forever, covered, in the fridge.  Use about 2 tablespoons of my “Smoothie Gel” for 2 to 2 1/2 cup frapps or smoothies

 

1 cup ice cubes

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 to 2 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk (or your favorite non-dairy vanilla beverage like almond,rice, or hemp milk)

2 tablespoons Smoothie Gel (recipe follows) or sweetener to taste and about 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

 

Place all ingredients in a blender or Nutri-Bullet and blend until smooth.  Enjoy this portable, filling, nutritious and milkshake-delicious breakfast in your favorite go-cup witha straw, though it’s lovely color and texture makes it pretty enough to serve in a glass at the breakfast table.

 

Sugar-Free Smoothie Gel:

5 3/4 cups Stevia in the Raw Natural Sweetener (I purchase the 9.7 ounce bag and make double this recipe in two batches; one batch is a bit unweildy)

5 3/4 cups water

1/4 cup Xanthan Gum

In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by whisking together stevia and water.  Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently, and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat. Allow to cool several minutes, whisking ocasionally.  Pour half into food processor, add 2 tablespoons Xanthan Gum, and process until smooth.  The consistency will be similar to a jam or jelly with a white translucent color.  Transfer into a lidded storage container (I use a large Mason jar) and repeat with remaining syrup and gum.  Allow to cool completely, cover, and store in refigerator.  Will keep for weeks if not longer.

 

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Pumpkin, White Bean, and Kale DipYield: approximately 3 1/2 cups

This recipe is throw-together easy, highly nutritional, and delicious to boot.  It was inspired yesterday by what was in our pantry and fridge when an impromptu post-yoga, haven’t-yet-been-to-the-market, quick lunch was in order.

1-15.5 ounce can white beans like cannelini, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

2 cups loosely packed chopped raw kale

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew pieces

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon rubbed sage (or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves)

1/2 teaspooon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: fresh sage leaves or rosemary sprigs

Accompaniments: toasts, bagel chips, pita chips, or crackers (I like melba toast as depicted)

 

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well-combined, but not pureed.  It should be creamy but with some nice texture and flecks of color.  Serve slightly warmed atop your favorite crunchy accompaniment.

 

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Four Taters

 

 

 

Yield: 8 potato skins

These delicious potato skins will look like irresistible little footballs on your tailgate spread.  I so enjoyed taking the “pig” out of “pigskin” for this vegan version of JaMarcus Russell’s “Famous Tailgat Taters,” commissioned by the good folks at Tofutti Brands, Inc!

Just click HERE for the recipe!

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Tofutti Enchiladas

This dip has always been a hit with my National Art Honor Society students since I introduced it a few years ago, wanting to serve them something tasty, but nutritious at our after school meetings.  We had our first meeting of the year about 10 days agao, and the officers specially requested it.

There was some left over, as we had a LOT of food for the induction ceremony and kick-off.  So, I rolled scoops up inside tortillas and some inside a halved red bell pepper; spooned homemade, slightly chunky enchilada sauce over the top of each; and baked them about 20 minutes (30 for the peppers) for some of the best enchiladas around!

They are perfect for a family dinner, but they reheat beautifully for satisfying lunches.  All you need is a microwave.

 

Vegan Spinach-Three Bean Dip or Enchilada/Bell Pepper Filling:

 

1 1/2 cups Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 envelopes (1 box) dry vegetable soup mix

2-9 or 10 ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed, and moisture squeezed out

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 can white beans or dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Pinch coarse sea salt to taste

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients, separating strands of spinach with your fingers as you add it. Check for salt and add a pinch to bring out flavors if desired. Serve cold with your favorite dippers.  Or, roll up inside tortillas, place in an oiled pan, top with your favorite homemade or prepared salsa verde or enchilada sauce, bake about 20 minutes and serve topped with more Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream and the garnish if your choice.  I like a slice of lime and a few toasted pepitas.  Note:  you can use any beans you prefer, even all of one kind.  To make stuffed peppers, stem, seed, and half a red bell pepper, mound slightly with the filling, top with the enchilada sauce, and bake for about 30 minutes or until peppers are tender.  Cover with foil if sauce in the bottom of the pan starts to scorch.

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Charred Broccoli and Eggplant Salad with White Beans and Dried FigsYield: 4 servings

The flavor of this simple and pretty salad–which may be served warm, cold, or room temperature–belies its throw-together-quick origins.

I always called broccoli prepared this way “roasted,” but the new term in culinary magazines is “charred” and I liked that for a fun change.  Whatever you call it, you will love it!

Note:  This salad is delectable as is, but if you like a little more salt, add about 6 oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped.  Olives and dried figs are one of the world’s great marriages of flavor.

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

About 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

2 8-inch long very slender Japanese eggplants, sliced diagonally 1/2-inch thick

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-15.5 ounce can cannelini or other white beans, rinsed and drained

4 dried Mission figs, stems removed and quartered

1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or if you really like the “bite” of raw garlic, 1 small clove minced)

Optional: 6 oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a metal roasting pan (I like to use my large cast iron skillet).  Add broccoli, eggplant, and a pinch of salt and pepper, toss, and roast for 20 minutes, stirring after 10, or until lightly charred.  Remove from oven and transfer vegetables to a medium bowl.  Add all remaining ingredients, adjust seasoning if necessary, toss gently to combine, and serve warm, cold (chill, covered) or room tempeature (my favorite).

 

 

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