The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Recipes for 'Vegan Appetizers'

Tropical HummusYield:  approximately 2 cups

As most of you know, since my darling husband of 25 years passed away on July 30, 2015, my relationship to food has been profoundly impacted.  I no longer cook or eat as much as I did before.  And when I do, its meaning has been transformed.  You can read the long version here in an essay published by Alimentum, a literary and art journal devoted to food.  [Scroll down under “Throw Tradition to the Wind” (though you might enjoy it too) to “‘Til Death or Dinner Do Us Part.”

The short version is simply that, though I love and respect food–perhaps more than before–I now think of it as somewhat of a sacrament, as an outward sign of inward grace, more spiritual than it once was.

When this began to happen–which was, actually, almost immediately–I jokingly proclaimed this the year of the “mini meal.”  In that spirit, I offer this recipe, though it is really more of a formula, and a simple one at that.

It was inspired by a bite of something I tasted, coincidentally, at a Celebration of Life for a dear friend who passed away just before Christmas.  Called Tuscan Hummus, it was creamy, but with appealing chunks of tomato, basil, and ???  I have long been a fan of a layer of tapenade spread over hummus, but I found the idea of a “chunky” hummus ultra appealing.

Wanting to make this new creation quick and easy, I thought a salsa would be a fun twist and the tropical pineapple salsa at Whole Foods was their most enticing.  So, I stired a cup of it, drained, into a cup of their plain hummus and voila!  For extra crunch, I served it garnished with the little crispy bits and pieces at the bottom of the container of their vegan kale chips.  A brilliant lunch with a dab of lentil soup on the side.

Of course, you could make your own hummus and your own salsa.  But, after Christmas, I started teaching a 6th class and a 4th prep–AP Art History (a super-rewarding but time-consuming course)–so quick and easy without sacrificing flavor or nutrition earns an A+ in my book.

1 cup plain or garlic hummus, homemade or preapred

1 cup tropical pinapple salsa (or your favorite type), homemade or prepared, drained

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish: crispy kale chip bits

Accompaniment: cracker or pita chip of your choice

 

Stir together hummus, salsa, sea salt and pepper.  Serve on crackers or pita chips garnished, if desired, with crispy kale chip bits.

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Serves: 25 or more as part of an appetizer buffetBeans and Greens Dip

Last Tuesday night was my 15th annual all-girls Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party and Swap.   This beloved fete is one of the most cherished of the holiday season.

This year, twenty-two of my nearest and dearest gathered for a tasty and festive vegan spread, including this dip, lots of conversation–and wine–and lively swapping of enticing items (home, garden, fashion, etc.) in excellent condition for ourselves and for holiday gift-giving.

If you’ve never hosted a swap, here is my easy formula:  set up a table near your entrance outfitted with clothespins, markers, and index cards.  As your guests arrive with their items, invite them to write a description on a card for each item (so that swappers will know what is yours and what is up for grabs) and place it with the item in the designated area.  In my case, that’s my living and dining rooms (I serve the food on the peninsula in the kitchen).

Then, for each item a guest brings, she receives a token in the form of a clothespin on which she writes her name with marker.  I save them in zip-lock bags, one per person, from year to year so as not to be wasteful.  When each guest finds an item she wants, she clips one of her clothespins to the card or the item.  If an item only garners one clothespin, that person gets to take it home.  If more than one, the clothespins go in a basket or bag and someone draws the winner with the other person or people allowed to continue shopping.  Anything left over at the end of the night is either donated to charity or, if someone is out of tokens and covets another item, can be purchased with the proceeds also going to charity.

Because most all of us have more than we need, it is an excellent time to shop for gifts.  Just remind guests that the party is a “swap,” not a “drop” so that no one says, “I really don’t need anything, so I’m not going to shop…”  Otherwise, the hostess ends up hauling lots of stuff to the thrift store and it’s not nearly as much fun.

 

Vegan Beans and Greens Dip

16 ounces vegan sour cream

8 ounces vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise or Just Mayo from Whole Foods)

2-16 ounce bags frozen mixed greens or spinach, thawed, and squeezed out (I purchased organic 365 brand at Whole Foods)

2-14 to 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

Approximately 2 tablespoons of your favorite spices or blends (I used a blend from Spice Ace in San Francisco, a gift from a friend, but use what you like; it’s hard to go wrong)

Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together, chill, and serve with crackers or toasts.

CCC&C--Betsy and Jonell

Hostess, Betsy DiJulio (in her hat from the swap), with Jonell Walthall, who brought a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook to be signed.

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Curried Figs Brulee with PestoYield: 8 bruleed fig halves

As everyone probably knows now, when the rhythm of my life changed on July 30, so did my approach to cooking and eating.

For a week after my husband passsed away, I ate almost nothing.  But I have now segued to slightly more than nothing or what I call mini-meals.  They are gorgeous and nutritious, but they are tiny and, for folks eating normally, are perfect sides.  (These figs were today’s lunch with a peanut butter rice cake.)

Whereas, in days of old, communities rallied round those who had lost loved ones with heavy comfort foods.  In contrast, my tribe surrounded me, as I may have mentioned, with a bounty of fruits–figs and more figs–vegetables, salads, prepared vegan dishes, and vegan bakery treats that went into goodie bags for out-of-towners booked at the Westin for Joe’s (amazing) Celebration of Life.

My artist friend, Sheila Gioliti brought the biggest and the firmest figs which inspired this glorius oh-so-simple recipe.

4 large slightly firm fresh figs, stemmed and halved

2 teaspoons granualted or brown sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon curry powder (mild or “warm”)

1/8th teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vegan pesto or chimichurri (or more to suit your taste)

Garnish: fresh basil or cilantro and pine nuts, roasted or not

Prheat broiler.  Arrange figs, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  In a small cup, whisk together sugar, salt, and curry powder.  Sprinkle on figs, dividing evenly among them.  Broil for 3 minutes or until surface of figs is slightly caramelized, but figs still hold their shape.  Top, if desired, with pesto or chimichurri and serve with fresh sprigs of basil or cilantro, and pine nuts.

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Vegan Coconut Red Curry-Basil Biscuit Stack

Yield: 8-2 inch biscuits (recipe easily doubles)

Woa!  I’m not one to brag, but these may be a “best ever” here on The Blooming Platter…

To celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook, the good folks at Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free have teamed up again to sponsor the ultimate Snackable Recipe Contest!

Contestants may enter two recipes in the Savory, Sweet, or Sippable categories and this is my second and final Savory entry.

I have to say, myy Vegan Bangkok Biscuit Stacks are every bit as irresistible as I thought they might be when the idea popped into my head yesterday (after an unmitigated disaster of an attempt with another idea the day before!).

Winner, winner, vegan dinner?  (Er, I mean snack.)

Quick recipe note: avoid omitting the teaspoon of vinegar or vegan fish sauce as it is necessary to interact with the baking soda for proper rise…and, boy do they rise!

Vegan Bangkok Biscuit Stack

3 tablespoons vegan butter, divided

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon shortening (preferably frozen)

1 tablespoon prepared Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

Approximately 6 to 8-1 1/2 inch fresh basil or Thai basil leaves

1/3 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer

Pickled Veggies (recipe follows; make while biscuits bake)

Garlic Aioli (recipe follows)

1/3 cup caramelized onions or 8-2 inch grilled tofu squares, etc.

Garnish: 8 sprigs fresh basil

Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter in a 6-inch (or larger) cast iron skillet placed in oven.  Remove and set aside.  In bowl of food processor, place flour, baking soda, salt, remaining 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and shortening.  Pulse a few times until vegan butter and shortening are well-distributed throughout and dough looks like damp sand.  Add curry paste, vinegar or fish sauce, and basil leaves and pulse until basil is finely chopped.  Drizzle with coconut creamer and pulse until dough comes together in a ball and basil is minced, but still visible.   Note: you may cut the butter and shortening into flour mixture by hand, mince the basil, and mix all ingredients together with a fork if you prefer.  

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 3/4 inch disk.  Working quickly, fold in sides like you are folding a business envelope, pat into a 3/4 inch disk, turn a quarter turn and repeat 4 more times.  Cut with a 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter or sturdy glass.  Place each biscuit into the prepared skillet, right side down, and then flip right side up to coat both sides with butter.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, spread each biscuit with 1/8th of the Garlic Aioli,  1/8th of the caramelized onions or a slice of tofu, and 1/8th of the Pickled Veggies.  Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil sprigs.

Pickled Veggies:

8 thin slices cucumber

1/3 cup shredded carrots (I purchase pre-shredded)

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

Toss together in a small non-reactive bowl or carton and set aside.

Garlic Aioli:

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small cup, whisk together mayonnaise and garlic powder until well combined.

Snackable-Recipe-Contest-Badge

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Black Bean and Corncake Snack StacksYield: 8 Black Bean and Corn Cake Snack Stacks (plus extra black bean filling)

 

To celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook, the good folks at Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free have teamed up again to sponsor the ultimate Snackable Recipe Contest!

My entry is the perfect little 3-bite snack that you can pick up to enjoy.  And they are simple to prepare.

Corncakes made with luscious So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk are the tasty foundation for these Snack Stacks.  A dab of mock Garlic Aioli–garlic powder whisked together with vegan mayo (raw garlic is a little too much of a good thing here)–anchors a mound of black beans, kale, onion, garlic, and spices cooked into a creamy mélange with So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk.

You can your stacks however you choose.  I like carrot shreds, cucumber slices, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a dusting of smoked paprika.  But avocado (to which I am, sadly, highly allergic) and grape tomato halves would be delicious, healthy and colorful too.

1/2 cup yellow corn meal

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup plus So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons creamed corn (a canned vegan product available at virtually all grocery stores) or 2 additional tablespoons So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

2 teaspoons vegetable oil divided

2 teaspoons vegan butter, divided

Creamy Black Bean, Kale, and Coconut Milk Filling (recipe follows)

Garlic Aioli (Recipe Follows)

Optional garnishes: carrot shreds; thin cucumber or avocado slices, halved; cherry tomato halves; lime wedges for squeezing; and a sprinkling of smoked paprika

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, sea salt, baking powder, cumin, smoked paprika, coconut milk, and creamed corn.  Spray a large cast iron skillet with nonstick spray, place over medium-high, and heat 1 teaspoon each of oil and vegan butter.  As the butter melts, swirl to coat bottom of skillet.  Scoop batter, 1 level tablespoon at a time, into skillet and spread to about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  Repeat to make 4 corncakes, cooking approximately 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter, beginning with heating the remaining oil and butter.  To serve, spread each corncake with about 1 teaspoon of Garlic Aioli, top with a heaping tablespoonful of the bean and kale filling, garnish as desired, and serve immediately.  Note: corncakes may be prepared ahead and kept well-covered until serving time.   

Creamy Black Bean, Kale, and Coconut Milk Filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion (half a medium), diced

Sea salt

1 cup coarsely chopped kale with thick stems removed

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Freshly ground black pepper

In the same skillet as you made the corncakes, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until softened.  Add kale and garlic and continue to sauté and stir for about 3 minutes or until kale is softened, but still bright green. Add all remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until ingredients reduce down and come together into a thick, fragrant, and creamy mixture. Season to taste with pepper and additional sea salt, if desired.

Garlic Aioli:

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small cup, whisk together mayonnaise and garlic powder until well combined.

Snackable-Recipe-Contest-Badge

 

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Baked Bean CrostiniYield: 12 crostini

My parents have a nack for making any simple run-of-the-mill meal or activity seem special.

When I was a kid, a favorite sandwich that my mom would whip up with leftover baked beans was simply cooled beans mixed with mayo and pickle relish served between slices of toasted white bread, with or without butter lettuce.

Make this delicacy yourself in minutes and watch it disappear!

Because I love to nosh, my modern twist on her tradition is simply to serve the filling openface on small pieces of grilled crostini.  I made these yesterday for an evening beach picnic with a good friend.  Bean-filled bliss!

 

Approximately 1 1/2 cups thick baked beans, chilled (I used a 15.5 ounce can of Bush’s vegan “Steakhouse” variety that I baked for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees to thicken and concentrate flavors)

2 to 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sweet or dill pickle relish

Optional: 2 sliced scallions, both white and green part (stir in or use as garnish)

12 thin slices lightly oiled and grilled or toasted bread (Italian, French, etc.)

Optional garnish: tiny sprigs of fresh basil

Stir together beans, mayo, relish, and opitonal scallions until combined.  Pile on top of grilled bread and garnish with basil.  Serve immediately.

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Beet BruschettaYield: 4 servings (8 bruschetta)

As I’ve mentioned, the newly formed Starlight Supper Club consisting of three couples–a vegan (me), 2 vegetarians, 1 pescetarian and, yes, my husband the carnivore–celebrated our inaugural dinner last Saturday night at the home of Becky Bump and Reese Lusk.  The setting–their tiny log cabin with an exquisitely designed interior and a furnished deck on Chubb Lake–was outdone only by the food and company.

The appetizer alone set me off on a several day-binge of Beet Bruschetta.  I can’t believe I never thought of it before, but it has quickly become a staple.  Becky and Reese made theirs on Reese’s delicious sourdough bread, but I just used bread from the bakery section of the grocery store and it was tasty.

Be sure to roast the beet a little over an hour before serving time.  And keep the bruschetta on the smaller side or it is too difficult to pick up and enjoy.

1 fist-size beet (which will shrink slightly while roasting), rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled lightly with salt, wrapped in foil over a pan to catch drips, roasted at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender, and slightly cooled

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic

Sea salt

8-1/3 to 1/2″ thick slices ciabatta bread (or something similar), about 2 1/2″ in diameter

Approximately 7 ounces extra firm tofu, crumbled (half of a 14 ounce box, as is available here) or Homemade Vegan Ricotta

Freshly ground black pepper

8 large basil leaves

 

While beet roasts, mince garlic into olive oil, add a tiny pinch of sea salt, stir to combine, and set aside.  While beet is cooling, brush bread very lightly with garlic oil and grill in an indoor grill pan over medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly toasted.  (If you don’t have a grill pan, broil, watching carefully).  Lightly mash tofu with about 1 teaspoon garlic oil and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cut beet into 8 slices, crosswise.  Divide tofu among bread slices and place a basil leaf on top of each, followed by a beet slice.  Drizzle with garlic oil and finish with a few grains of sea salt.

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Lemony Agean Artichoke and Chickpea SpreadLast week, I was in Mississippi, aka the ‘Sip, visiting my family when we suddenly realized that we had three guests joining us for happy hour and nothing to serve them.  My parents–children of the depression, the canned food-centric ’50s and ’60s, and survivors of Hurricane Katrina–always have a well-stocked pantry with overflow in two remote locations that I know of.

So, I quickly surveyed the shelves, selected a can of chickpeas and of artichoke hearts, and moments later–thanks to a food processor and a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, Greek seasoning, salt and pepper–this crowd-pleasing appetizer was born.

Though each is a little different, commercial preparations of Greek seasoning–at least the two the I have taste-tested–are perfectly compatible with the other ingredients.  But feel free to flavor it with your favorite herbs and spices, fresh or dried.  In particular, I am eager to try this recipe with beau monde seasoning.

1-15 ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained

1-15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

2 large cloves garlic

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 rounded teaspoon Greek seasoning

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional garnish: fresh lemon slices/wedges and sprigs of fresh herbs

Accompaniments: crackers, crostini, toasted bagels/mini bagels

Place all ingredients, except sea salt, in a food processor and pulse until a creamy, but textured, consistency is reached, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as necessary.  Check for salt, season accordingly, and pulse again, just to combine. Chill, covered, and bring to room temperature before serving, or serve immediately with crackers, crostini, or toasted bagels, garnished as desired with fresh lemon slices/wedges and fresh herbs.  (In the photo, I used thyme.)

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Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Greens, Mushrooms and Water ChestuntsYield: approximately 6 cups

Baby, it’s cold outside!  At least it is here in Eastern VA where we are expected to experience the southern edge of the winter storm headed for New England.  A warning is scheduled from 7 p.m. this evening until 4 p.m. tomorrow.  Yippee….Snow Day!

When snow is on it’s way, there is only one thing to do: make sure there is delcious, nutritious, body-and-soul warming food ind the house.  And this dip (which is darn tasty in a baked potato) fits that bill.

Inspired by the Super Bowl–you have to have dip during that game of games, no?–and by a bountiful box of GO Veggie! vegan cheeses kindly sent to me to test, I incorporated three kinds of cheesiness to achieve the flavor and texture I was after.

I am a new fan of GO Veggie! cheeses, having only discovered that the company makes vegan products (look for the purple label) when they contacted me recently, as the Kroger where I shop only stocks the vegetarian varieties.  With nice mild flavor, texture, and meltability, all they lack is “stretch,” and I can live with that.  Find a store near you.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced (or 1/2 medium onion)

Sea salt

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-8 ounce carton GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Chive and Garlic  Cream Cheese

1/2  to 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano)

2-14 ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained well, and chopped

3 cups coarsely chopped and lightly packed fresh mustard greens (feel free to use the greens of your choice, e.g. kale, spinach, Swiss Chard, etc.)

1-7 to 8 ounce cansliced  mushrooms, drained (I almost always use fresh everything, but canned are perfect for this)

1-8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained

1-8 ounce package GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Mozzarella Shreds

1/2 cup GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Parmesan Grated Topping, divided

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Garnish: smoked or plain paprika

Accompaniments: chips  or crackers of your choice (I bought the beet tortilla chips in the photograph in T. J. Maxx–tasty and such a pretty contrast with the green dip!)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add, garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add the cream cheese and Italian seasoning and stir until melted,lowering heat at any point if necessary.  Stir in artichoke hearts followed by greens, one cup at a time, allowing each cup to wilt before adding next cup.  Then stir in mushrooms, water chustnuts, mozzarella shreds, and 1/4 cup parmesan topping, stirring until mozzarella is completely melted.  Season to taste with additional sea salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper.  At this point, you may transfer into a greased casserole dish if you like, but I baked it right in the skillet.  Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan and sliced almonds.   Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with smoked or plan paprika and serve hot with chips or crackers.

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Today seemed like the perfect day to repost  a recipe I recently developed for Tofutti even if Super Bowl Sunday finds you sitting on your sofa rather than your tailgate: Vegan Tailgate Taters–Game On!

Vegan Tailgate Taters

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