The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Recipes for 'Vegan Spreads'

Smokey Grilled Asparagus and White Bean SpreadYield: approximately 2+ cups

I am headed to an outdoor concert at The Hermitage Museum in Norfolk tomorrow evening and I think I’ll take along this crowd pleaser.  I took it to a party on Saturday night and everyone seemed to love it, even with a garnish of peanuts that the hostess accidentally spilled on top when we were moving the apps outdoors. :)

Different without being odd and elegant without being fussy, it travels well and looks fresh upon emerging from the backseat of your car.

While grilling the asparagus may seem like an unnecessary step, trust me it’s not.  The unique and addicting flavor of this spread is all about that grilled umami flavor boosted a bit with the addition of smoked almonds and offset by a burst of fresh lemon and “grassy” fresh dill.

 

1-15 ounce can white beans (like cannelini), rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil + 1/4 cup

Pinch sea salt or to taste

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (*see note below)

1/4 cup smoked almonds

2 large cloves garlic

1 cup loosely packed fresh dill (I include the tender stalks)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Pinch freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Optional garnish: a couple of grilled asparagus tips, lemon slices or fresh dill sprigs

Place white beans in food processor.  Spray a grill pan with nonstick spray and place over medium-high.  Add asparagus in a single layer, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, roll to coat, and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on diameter of asparagus), rolling them over about halfway through or as needed to prevent burning.  Remove to cutting board, cut in half, and add to food processor along with all remaining ingredients, including 1/4 cup olive oil.  (If using asparagus tips as garnish, set a couple aside.)  Pulse until desired texture is reached.  I like it fairly smooth, but with a hint of texture and flecks of color.  Serve at room temperature or chilled with small toasts or crackers.

*To trim sparagus, hold one spear horizontally between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  Bring hands down and toward each other causing the spear to bend and eventually snap.  Wherever it snaps is where all spears should be trimmed–use it as your measuring guide–for the most tender and freshest tasting asparagus.

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Nutty TunaYield: approximately 4 cups “tuna” salad

On Mother’s Day, my phenomenal weekend yoga instructor, Angela Philips, mentioned after our morning class that she had prepared her “Nutty Tuna,” made with sunflower seeeds, for her Mother’s Day brunch.  She had given me that recipe years ago and at the mere mention, I began craving it.

So I made a batch on Monday, but it wasn’t quite right.  I hadn’t consulted the recipe, choosing to make it from memory instead, and, among other things, I went overboard on my substitution of Nori powder for dulce flakes and used an inferior mayo I had on hand that had been given to me.  Honestly, it was kind of a dud.  I ate a fair amount of it during the week so as not to be wasteful, but it was off the mark, and I discarded the remainder today with little remorse.

But, this past Saturday, I purchased the ingredients I needed, tried it again yesterday afternoon, and I am happy to report that it is delicious.  This time, I consulted the recipe just to see if I needed to adhere more closely and decided that I didn’t because, for example, I didn’t want to include the parsley it called for and I knew I wanted mayonnaise to adhere all of the ingredients together, while the original recipe relies only on the moistness of the celery, onion, parsley, soaked sunflower seeds and a tiny bit of lemon juice.

From the original recipe, I did decide to use the capers called for instead of the pickle relish I had added last week.   When I was a pre-vegan kid, we always added pickle relish to our tuna salad, but it didn’t work so well with this vegan version.  And I added fresh dill, which Angela has started doing too.  Though I associate dill more with “chicken” salad, it is widely known to be compatible with seafood, and it is really nice in this recipe.  In addition, I included some dried apple, as we often chopped up fresh apple in our childhood tuna salad.  Since it is not apple season here and I had some moist and plump dried ones in the pantry, I opted for them and am so glad I did, as they lend just a hint of sweetness.

In the end, this recipe is a little down-home with all the mayo and a little upscale with the addition of capers.  As such, I think it is the best of both worlds and hope you agree.

Be sure to begin soaking sunflower seeds the day before you plan to serve the salad.

 

14 ounces roasted sunflower seeds (salted or not, but the salt will be drained away after soaking)

1 Nori sheet torn in pieces (or 1 teaspoon Nori powder or dulce flakes)

2 cups warm water

4 celery hearts, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons drained fresh capers

1 cup lightly packed fresh dill fronds, stemmed and broken in half

Optional but very good: 1/3 cup dried apple pieces (be sure they are moist and plump)

1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

8 to 10 tablespoons Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise (my favorite brand for this, but use the mayo of your choice)

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Place sunflower seeds and Nori sheet pieces in medium bowl and cover with warm water.  Cover and let stand 8 hours or over night.  Drain, pressing gently, to remove as much water as possible.  Place celery, green onions, capers, fresh dill, optional dried apple, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in bowl of food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Add drained and pressed sunflower seeds and continue pulsing until sunflower seeds are also finely minced.  Add mayonnaise, submerge into mixture with a spatula, and pulse until well combined.  I prefer almost a spread consistency, but still with lots of texture.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional teaspoon of lemon juice, if desired.  Pulse just to distribute.  Serve immediately or chilled on a sandwich, toasted bagel, stuffed in a tomato, or on crackers.  Note: if you desire a more pronounced flavor of the sea and a darker color, use Nori powder or dulce flakes and add them to the mixture in the food processor rather than to the soaking water.

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Grilled Asparagus and White Bean SpreadYield: approximately 2+ cups

1-15 ounce can white beans (like cannelini), rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil + 1/4 cup

Pinch sea salt or to taste

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (*see note below)

2 large cloves garlic

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)

Optional: tiny pinch of red pepper flakes

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Pinch freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Optional garnish: a couple of grilled asparagus tips, lemon slices or fresh dill sprigs

Place white beans in food processor.  Spray a grill pan with nonstick spray and place over medium-high.  Add asparagus in a single layer, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, roll to coat, and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on diameter of asparagus), rolling them over about halfway through or as needed to prevent burning.  Remove to cutting board, cut in half, and add to food processor along with all remaining ingredients, including 1/4 cup olive oil.  (If using asparagus tips as garnish, set a couple aside.)  Pulse until desired texture is reached.  I like it fairly smooth, but with a hint of texture and flecks of color.  Serve at room temperature or chilled with small toasts or crackers.

*To trim sparagus, hold one spear horizontally between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  Bring hands down and toward each other causing the spear to bend and eventually snap.  Wherever it snaps is where all spears should be trimmed–use it as your measuring guide–for the most tender and freshest tasting asparagus.

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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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GO Veggie! recently posted to their website two of my newest recipes made with their delicious vegan cheese products. Check out the cheesy goodness:

Vegan Smoky Cheddar Spread

Vegan Southwest Mac-n-Cheese

Go Veggie Smoky Cheddar Spread

 

Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--horizontal

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Ham Salad in Celery 2Yield: approximately 3 to 4 cups

This super-easy salad was a pre-vegan childhood favorite.  I remember consuming way too much of it when I was home sick from school one day.  The mere thought of it brings back feelings of nurturing and nostalgia…even more so now that I’ve replaced the ham with extra-firm tofu and finely chopped smoked almonds.  To recreate the total flavor profile that I longed for, I added a few additional spices like fennel, sage, thyme, etc., and then stirred in the requisite vegan mayo, pickle relish and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

This recipe goes together in a flash, so when the craving strikes, satisfaction is only minutes away!  Enjoy for breakfast on a toasted bagel half, in a sandwich or wrap for a brown bag or even company-ready lunch, or spread on crackers or raw veggie slices as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup for a light–and lightening fast–supper.

14 ounces extra-firm tofu (not Silken), lightly pressed and blotted with paper towels

1 cup smoked almonds, finely chopped (I use a food processor)

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (lightly crush with a mortar and pestle if desired, but not necessary)

1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional, but I think it is nice)

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

5 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/2 of a large vegetable bouillon cube

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I am quite generous with it in this recipe)

Crumble tofu into a medium bowl.  Add almonds, fennel, sage, nutritional yeast, thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder, and toss with fingers to combine well.  Mash bouillon cube with fingers and whisk into mayo.  Add mayo to tofu-almond mixture along with remaining ingredients.  Stir together gently until completely combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.  Delicious stuffed in celery sticks, mounded onto cucumber slices, or crackers, piled onto a sandwich, rolled in wrap, or heaped on a toasted bagel.

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Beet Spread--Bird's Eye ViewYield:  approximately 2 cups

The Beet Muhummara spread in my Blooming Platter Cookbook is a rave with beet lovers and haters.  I know this both from experience and from others’ enthusiastic reports.

However, it contains bread crumbs, which is not a problem for most people, but I teach with someone who has Celiac Disease and it is a BIG problem for her.  With a birthday next week while we’re away on Spring Break, I wanted to send her home with a treat she could eat, so I created this version that is not simply Beet Muhummara sans bread crumbs, but it’s own delicious spread.

It was inspired by a really zippy dipping sauce my husband and I were served with some kicked-up tempura (baby beets, baby bok choy, Brussels sprouts, wax beans ,etc.) at a recent cooking demonstration.  The vegan batter contained just a few chili flakes and the beautiful green sauce was made with lots of cilantro, lime juice, cardamom pods, etc.

I started with beets, adding what I had on hand: cilantro from a cooking class I had taught (but not too much, as people either love it or hate it), smoked almonds because I always keep them at the ready to snack on, lemon juice, and some spices.  After tasting the spread, I decided that I really liked the flavor of the lemon, but that it also needed some lime, so I purchased one and added it.  The result was tamer in the citrus department than my inspiration because, if there is anything I would have changed about the latter, it would have been to make it slightly less tangy.  The resulting balance of flavors in my Cilantro-Coriander Beet Spread is perfect for my palate, but always feel free to adjust for yours!

4-2 to 3 ounce fresh beets (trimmed weight), peeled and quartered

1 cup, firmly packed, fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

1/3 cup smoked almonds 2 large garlic cloves,  halved

1 tablespoon coriander seeds (whole) 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (whole)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (ground)

1/3 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 large lemon

Juice of 1 medium-large lime

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes or to taste

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until almost smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

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Roasted Pecan and Dried Apricot No-Chicken Salad 2Yield: 4 servings

I actually created this throw-it-all-in-the-food-processor-simple no-chicken salad recipe from ingredients I had in the house while I was “snowed in.”

But, now that the snow is melting and folks in many states will be headed back to school and work tomorrow, I wanted to post it as a delicious lunchbox option.  Also, though, with the Super Bowl tonight, it’s a delicious and nutritious spread for crackers and, as you can see in the photo, it dresses up nicely for a “fancier” cocktail party.

I have created many versions of no-chicken salad, some here on my blog and some in my cookbook.  This one is made with wholesome tempeh, roasted pecans, and dried apricots, and is delicious served as you would any chicken(less) salad: in a sandwich, on crackers, or on my low-calorie, highly nutritious preference: sliced cucumber.

1/2 cup pecan pieces

4 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup dried apricots, halved

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

8 ounces tempeh (any kind), coarsely crumbled

4-5-inch stems fresh dill, leaves stripped

4-5-inch stems fresh tarragon, leaves stripped

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Accompaniments: bread for sandwiches, crackers or sliced cucumber

Optional garnish: fresh dill sprigs and/or pecan halves or pieces

Roast pecans for a few minutes with a pinch of salt in a dry skillet over medium-high heat; transfer to bowl of food processor.  Add celery, apricots, garlic and onion powder, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.  Add tempeh to skillet in which pecans were roasted and roast, stirring frequently, just until it begins to turn golden brown in spots; transfer to bowl of food processor.  Add dill and tarragon, and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped.  Add mayonnaise and pulse a few more times until mixture comes together.  Serve in a sandwich, spread on crackers, or as canapes perched atop slices of fresh cucumber.

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DSCN2354

I am super-excited to share this recipe with you!  Excited because I found NOTHING like it online when I got the initial brainstorm AND excited because the good folks at Tofutti wanted to publish it.  Plus, my carnivorous husband and friends love it!

So, Savory Vegan Layered Hummus and Kale Cheesecake.  Sound weird?  It’s not!  It is utterly delicious, really easy, and beautiful to boot.  It is even quite festive.

A generous gift of way too much homemade hummus to consume while it was still fresh led to a brainstorming session about how to use up a good portion of it.  A pumpkin cheesecake came to mind, as the hummus is about the same texture.   And this particular variety–garlic-red pepper–was about the same color.  “So what about a savory hummus cheesecake?” I wondered.  As I mentioned, a little online research revealed no such thing, so I set out on my own, using my go-to cheesecake recipe as a starting point.

But a whole hummus cheesecake, while scrumptious-sounding, also sounded like perhaps too much of a good thing.  So, a huge bag of chopped kale, also needing used while still fresh, inspired the idea of layers: a kale and hummus batter on the bottom with just a hummus batter on the top.

Since pita chips are so tasty with hummus, I made a pita chip crumb crust, though a bagel chip–or even cracker–crumb crust would be equally as tasty.  I simply mixed finely processed crumbs with a little melted vegan butter and pressed the mixture into an 8-inch spring form pan.  Once baked and cooled, I “frosted” the whole thing with vegan sour cream and garnished it with sliced cucumbers and red bell pepper strips to echo the green and red color scheme of the cheesecake for a lovely presentation.  However, by all means, you should feel free to let your imagination be your guide.

Note that you can use any flavor of hummus you prefer, though one with a reddish hue contrasts handsomely with the kale layer.

DSCN2367

 

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Yorgo's Chicken SaladOur schools just started last week and it’s going to be a super year!

As a teacher, my culinary mind has turned to healthy, tasty, quick treats I can pack for satisfying mini-meals throughout the day.

I live in VA Beach, next door to Norfolk, VA, where you can regularly find me “Jonesin” for Yorgo’s Bageldashery’s vegan chicken salad (Yorgo’s has a VERY vegan friendly menu).  I try to pick up a carton when I “cross the border” for some other reason, but the deli closes at 2 p.m., so I can only make it on the weekends during the school year.  And I have been known to drive to Norfok just for the chicken salad.  I know, it’s a shameless waste of gas.  But I drive a Prius…does that make it almost okay?

At any rate, I have tried–unsuccessfully–in the past to duplicate their vegan chicken salad.  But, I tried again and I do believe I got it!

In addition to the taste, the texture is divine.  It’s almost a spread, but not quite.  It’s more like a very fine mince bound together with a creamy vegan mayo.  Pulsing the ingredients in the food processor a few times after each addition did the trick.   But, from past experiments, I knew that using all mayo overpowered the other flavors, so keep reading to learn my secret.  And, finally, I also realized that I was trying to add too many additional flavors.  Keeping it VERY simple was the key.

3 celery hearts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 green onions, white and green part, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1-8 ounce package Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chick’n Strips (or 1/2 pound purchased or homemade chicken-flavored seitan, cut into thin strips or chunks)

3 tablespoons vegan sour cream

1 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, purchased or homemade (I like a neutral tasting mayo like Vegenaise for this)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: for a Vegan Dill Chicken Salad, add 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill weed or, in the summer, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced dill and stir to evenly distribute.

Place celery in food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped.  Add green onions, and process until very finely chopped.  Add vegan Chick’n Strips or seitan, and process until chicken is finely chopped.  (Other ingredients will be minced at this point.)  Add mayo and  pulse a very few times, just until combined.  Throughout the process, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary for uniform chopping.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage carton and stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in dill weed or fresh dill if desired. Serve as you would any other chicken salad or cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Because of both its taste and texture, this chicken salad is especially well-suited to spreading on a cracker, a toasted “everything” bagel or rolled in fresh spinach leaves to create healthy little wraps.

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