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.
Yesterday, at the farm stand, gazing lovingly at the fresh greens grown right on the property, I suddenly remembered that I had never posted this recipe. I made it with spinach, but it would be just as good with Swiss Chard or kale.
Fondly dubbed by one guest as “the green thing” at my friend, Jo Grice Barrows’, potluck appetizer birthday party, this dip was a hit! And it was by NO means a vegan crowd!
I came home from school on a Friday after a busy week near the end of the academic year, the day of the party, and it started pouring. I thought to myself, “I REALLY don’t want to get out; I wonder if we have ANYTHING on hand from which I could make an appetizer?”
A scan of the pantry and fridge yielded smoked almonds and fresh baby spinach. Voila! Vegan Smoked Almond and Spinach Spread was born. And its consistency makes it also perfect for a pesto.
This crowd-pleasing appetizer could not go together more more easily or more quickly. I whipped it up and still had time to walk both dogs their typical mile each once the rain stopped. When I told my husband I created the spread from what we had in the house, he said with mock incredulity, “You made it out of dog food and Pill Pockets?” Funny guy.
You will love this spread even if you have LOTS more ingredients on hand.
2 cups smoked almonds
4 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons water
2 large cloves garlic, halved
2 teaspoons fresh fresh lime juice (lemon is tasty too)
1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon natural sugar
Optional pinch sea salt
Accompaniments: crackers, toasts, bagel chips, fresh vegetable “dippers,” etc.
Place smoked almonds in a food processor, and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add spinach, and pulse a few more times until spinach is finely chopped and mixture just begins to hold together like a paste. Add remaining ingredients and continue pulsing until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture reaches a thick, slightly textured, spreadable consistency. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time. Serve in a bowl surrounded by the accompaniments of your choice. I tucked a little yellow parasol on the side since the weather was warm, but you can garnish however you please.
This recipe is just one more reason why I love that pan so much. It is so basic: just a cast iron square grill pan by Lodge. But it transforms humble ingredients like early fall eggplant into magic.
Smoked paprika in the dish and sprinkled on top plays off of the char grilled caramelization of the veggies just perfectly. And the golden colors of the spread personify autumn to me, while the bed of fresh chives are the perfect fresh green counterpoint.
Speaking of colors…can anyone find the back of our beautiful brindle Great Dane, Minnie, in the photo? Whenever there is food around, that girl is never far away!
During our email correspondence following the lively interview–Laura has energy to burn!–she asked if she could post the recipe I shared on air on her blog. I didn’t even have to think about that…the answer was, of course, “Are you kidding? Absolutely!” You can find my easy and beautiful spring recipe for Fresh Pea and Tarragon Hummus from The Blooming Platter Cookbook right HERE.
Check out the Jazzy Vegetarian blog, radio and TV shows, recipes and more. Plus “JV” is also on FB…I hope everyone will “lick” it or “like” it…your choice!
Thanks again, Laura!
When we were in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, recently for our friends’ art gallery opening over Spring Break (how lucky was that timing!) we stayed at the beautiful Casa Luna Bed & Breakfast.
Each morning, we were served the most delicious marmalades with our fruit, frijoles negro, bread, fresh squeezed oranged juice, coffee/tea, and Joe’s huevos. Pineapple and Nopales (cactus) was a favorite, as was Tamarind Chipotle. When I learned that the hotel sells them, in addition to a not-too-firey jalapeno marmalade, and a spicy homemade peanut butter–and were making them fresh while we were there–I thought that all four would make a delightful host gift, along with a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. And they did, delivered still warm from the canning process! Mmm…
Wanting to replicate at least one of them, but not having a lot of time to slice mountains of jalapenos or engage in old-fashioned canning, I decided to try the peanut butter. When an internet search turned up no recipes, I just winged it. Casa Luna’s finished product had a rich flavor without a biting heat, which I rightly or wrongly attributed to reconstituted dried chilies. Though Casa Luna’s peanut butter didn’t have a smoky flavor, I love chipotles–smoked jalapenos–so I decided to use them, picking up a bag at a local tiende.
Carmen, at Casa Luna, had shared that the list of ingredients was really simple: peanuts, oil, chilies. So I simply guessed at the proportions, starting with just one chili and adding additional ones, one at a time, until I was satisfied with the flavor and heat, deciding at the last minute to drizzle in a couple of teaspoons of the water in which the chilies were reconstituted for a little more smoky intensity.
It may seem a little odd to add both natural sugar and salt, so feel free to omit the sugar, but I felt that the two together achieved a nice balance. The only other ingredient I toyed with adding is a hint of lime zest, but I haven’t yet decided, as the peanut butter is delicious as is. And its beautiful earthy color is irresistable.
Enjoy as you would any peanut butter–only maybe not on your child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich–or consider swirling some into both Mexican/Southwestern and Thai sauces. I hope you’ll try it and share what you do with it!
4 dried chipotle chilies stems removed
12 ounces of roasted and lightly salted peanuts
1/4 cup canola oil (or peanut oil)
1 tablespoon natural sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons water that chilies were soaked in
Sea salt to taste
Slit chilies lengthwise and remove and discard seeds. Place chilies in a small non-reactive bowl and cover with boiling water. (I don’t measure; I just boil whatever is left in our kettle.) Allow chilies to soak for about 20 minutes or until softened somewhat. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process for several minutes or until smooth but still textured, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Adjust seasoning if necessary and process a few seconds. Scrape peanut butter into an airtight container–I like to put it in a small crock–and refrigerate.
And that’s probably why One Green Planet dropped the reference to Benjamin Rabbit in my title when they graciously published this recipe for spring.
I was merely thinking of Benjamin and the carrots in Mr. McGregor’s garden from the beloved Peter Rabbit stories because, while this Pimento Cheese Spread is guaranteed rabbit-free, it is chock full of shredded carrots. And they are the perfect lighter, healthier, and vegan alternative to orange shreds of cheddar.
So, while shredded carrots aren’t a cheese clone, the end result is nonetheless packed with cheesy flavor reminiscent of one of my favorite pre-vegan spreads. Click here for the recipe of “secret” ingredients just in time for a spring picnic.
Thanks for sharing with your readers, Team OGP!
My “Knock-off-amole” is so named because it is a delicious and nutritious guacamole “knock off” made with fresh green peas instead of avocado. And like every good art teacher knows, green and red are complementary colors, making each other “pop,” so the chopped tomato and diced red onion look glisteningly gorgeous in this Mexican-Southwestern dip.
There is nothing non-vegan or unhealthy about traditional guacamole; to the contrary avocado is high in “good” fat. So it wasn’t for those reasons that I sought a convincing substitute.
No, sadly, it was because I developed a food sensitivity or allergy to avocados in my twenties. It was a tragic day, as I was born in Texas, and loved my mother’s guac. However, even the tiniest bit left inside a veggie sushi slice even afer the avocado has been picked out does a number on me.
So, craving my Mama’s guacamole and perusing the farmer’s market last spring, it suddently occured to me that their beautiful fresh green peas might make a fine substitute. Indeed! Though no one will necessarily think they are eating avocado, they won’t care because it tastes so good and is deliciously respectful of its namesake.
Therefore, whether you are an avocado lover or not, I know you’ll enjoy this fresh take on an old favorite. Click HERE for the luscious recipe at One Green Planet.
I originally created this deliciously different, colorful, nutritious, and flavorful tapenade especially to dollop atop my Moroccan Soup with White Beans and Kale, recently published on Go Dairy Free (GDF). But, the two go together so beautifully that GDF founder and creator, Alisa Fleming, published the tapenade today..
It has a multitude of applications beyond a soup topper: serve it on crostini, as in the photo; toss it with whole grain pasta; or dollop some on a baked sweet potato…just use your imagination!
So, before winter oranges are all gone, whip up a batch to nibble on this week, as it won’t spoil quickly. You will be glad to have plenty of this colorful, tangy, and simultaneously rich, yet bright, spread on hand.
Check out THIS LINK for the recipe and the back story to find out why in the world I would serve something so sophisticated it in a stainless steel dog bowl!
Thanks, as always, to Alisa Fleming, creator and founder of Go Dairy Free!
Last Saturday, I had the distinct honor of delivering a program on The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes (TBPC) for an education sorority of which I’m a member: the Alpha Rho chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. Because of my schedule over the last year, I have not been able to be an active member, so it felt very good to be back in the fold. And the 35 or so members in attendance were so generous with their praise and purchase of books.
The 9-11 a.m. time frame of the meeting dictated brunch-type offerings, but ones that were along the lines of “pick up” food and that didn’t need to be served hot, as the meeting was held in the library of the school where several of us teach. Though the space is filled with natural daylight, it has no kitchen.
It’s my pleasure to share the menu in the next few posts starting with this sneak preview recipe from TBPC. In the cookbook, I suggest serving it as an open-face sandwich on that ultra-thin, dense and perfectly square Danish pumpernickel bread. But for the meeting, I sliced the bread in half to make “fingers,” and toasted it for a few minutes on each side at 350 degrees. That way, I could serve the bread as an accompaniment to a dish of the spread and a separate one of cucumber slices, and not need to prepare a lot of finger sandwiches in advance.
Fresh and pretty, this sandwich would also be lovely for afternoon tea, though it is a perfectly filling lunch when lighter fare is in order. A “schmear” of the luscious ginger and clove-scented spread plus one slice of cucumber also tops a cracker just about perfectly. And both the spread and cucumbers on a toasted bagel take the quick breakfast concept to a new level.
14 ounces firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 medium (8-ounce) cucumber, thinly sliced Sea salt
8 slices Danish-style pumpernickel bread
In a food processor, combine the tofu, lemon juice, ginger, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cloves, salt and pepper to taste, and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in dates, walnuts, and apricots. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Spread the mixture evenly onto the bread slices, top each with the cucumber slices, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Serve immediately, two slices per serving.
The irresistibly adorable pumpkins at my favorite farm market inspired this pizza. I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week with my Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza and am so sad there is no more.
As I’ve said before, homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen. Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise. So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it. If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.
My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes. My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours. However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder. The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour. The crust made this way also benefits especially from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.
Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.
Blooming Platter Pizza Dough:
Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
Note: you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above. However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.
1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl
Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center. Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.
Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky. I knead it right in the bowl. Do not over-knead. Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.
Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.
Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:
1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)
1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.
Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.
Approximately 1/4 cup Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread (recipe follows)
Grilled Pumpkin (recipe follows)
1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto
Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves or pineapple sage blossoms
Vegan Pumpkin Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread:
6 ounces Silken Firm tofu (you may you “extra firm” for a firmer end result)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto
1 large garlic clove
Pinch sea salt
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. You will have more than you need for this pizza. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy as a dip with fresh veggies, spread on bagels or sandwiches, tossed with pasta, or as a pizza sauce.
Approximately 3 pounds fresh pumpkin (this weight is seeded and with pulp removed, but with the skin on)
Remove the skin from pumpkin with a paring knife. Cut pizza into bite size 1/3-inch thick slices. Spray a grill pan with non-stick spray and preheat over medium-high. Grill pumpkin, in two batches if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or unil tender with nice grill marks. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface. Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray. With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.
Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim. Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over. Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones. Bake for 2 minutes. Remove the stones from the oven and spread a very thin layer (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) of Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread on each crust. Divide the pumpkin evenly between the two crusts, arranging pieces in concentric rings. Return the stones to the oven and cook for about 7 minutes, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly. Remove the stones from the oven again and dot each with about half of the Pepita and Sage Pesto (1/4 cup each). Return the stones to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the crusts are golden and the topping is hot. Remove the stones form the oven, slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board, and cut each into 8 wedges. Serve immediately garnished with sage leaves or, if you’re lucky enough to grow this herb: ravishing pineapple sage blossoms.
Note: this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.