Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy

OK, everybody’s asking what I’m making for Thanksgiving, so I’m sharing my menu here. Lazy blogger that I am now, I haven’t come up with any new and exciting recipes for the holiday this year. But I have quite a delicious spread planned!

It’s always a challenge to create my Thanksgiving menu, as it must be both delicious and heart healthy. Don’t worry, I don’t go so far into the healthy direction that I’m sacrificing flavor – I’m not going to serve steamed broccoli on Thanksgiving. I do try not to go overboard with sweet flavors – my pet peeve about some Thanksgiving menus is that almost every dish includes fruit, sugar or maple syrup (not to mention marshmallows). This year I’ve found some great recipes that are more on the savory side.

Most of my menu is vegan, but vegans be forewarned: there are a few exceptions, including shrimp and – gasp – a turkey. The people need their turkey, people.

Pickled Shrimp with Satsumas from Food & Wine. This just looks fantastic. I even ordered the Korean chili flakes called for in the recipe (I see kimchee in my future.)

Faux Gras with crackers and crudites.
I know it’s a store-bought item, but this stuff is positively addictive.

Sage-Rubbed Turkey with Lemon Bay Gravy from Eating Well
I like that the turkey gets a dry brine, and unlike most recipes, this one doesn’t call for rubbing the turkey with butter, or even oil. The lemons sound refreshing, too.

Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon / PPK
This is a pretty legendary recipe that I’ve had my eye on for some time. Many vegan main dishes, like stuffed squash, seem to take the place of other sides, but this one is simply a protein-rich vehicle for gravy. ‘Nuff said.

My Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy
I have a lot of vegan gravy recipes running around my little head, but this in the top tier for sure. The pureed roasted shallots and garlic add an unusual twist, if I don’t say so myself.

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from the New York Times
I don’t think people ever notice that my mashed potatoes aren’t loaded with butter and cream. Potatoes are great in their own right. Yukon Golds are especially good for this lower-fat treatment.

Sweet Potato Casserole, Gratin-Style from The Healthy Foodie
I think I’m most excited to try this one. It’s difficult to find sweet potato recipes that aren’t overly sweet. Here, there’s just a bit of honey plus onions, mustard and spices to keep things interesting.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole from Veggie Num Num
Trudy from Veggie Num Num made this as a guest post for my blog a few years back, but I’ve never gotten around to making it. I love the nut-based sauce and the crunchy quinoa flake topping idea, and I’ll take fresh onions over those icky canned fried things any day.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Cipollini Onions from the New York Times
I would never think of having Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts. But I’m departing from my usual maple-mustard sauce version to go with a less sweet approach, in an effort to try and cut down the sugar in my holiday feast.

Apple Chestnut Stuffing from Healthy Happy Life
I’m pretty much of a traditionalist when it comes to stuffing, and this one fits the bill. The other one in the same post, Butternut Tangerine Pecan Stuffing, is also calling out to me but I’m worried about pecan overload in the meal. Bonus trivia: did you know that chestnuts are the lowest-fat nut? Now you do.

Clean Eating Cranberry Sauce from The Gracious Pantry
I was looking for a simple, traditional cranberry sauce that was lower in sugar. Bingo, this one looks perfect.

My Apple Cranberry Pie
It will basically be the same recipe as my Apple Raspberry Pie that I link to here, but substituting cranberries (maybe heavier on the apples, since cranberries are so tart.) My healthy-ish pie crust recipe continues to win over even the most hardcore butter crust lovers, so I urge you to give it a try.

Last but not least, my friend Robyn is bringing her famous Squash Pie. The recipe remains a mystery, but I’m very excited to try it.

Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!

bowl of vegan split pea soupSplit pea soup is comfort in a bowl. And when you add a whole bunch of vegetables and cook them until they’re meltingly tender, it becomes extreme comfort.

I’d usually pooh-pooh the idea of overcooking vegetables, but here the mushiness works perfectly with the peas. The fresh herbs keep it, well, fresh. To pump up the flavor, I used caraway seeds, tamari and importantly, smoked salt. (Like the black salt I described in my last post, smoked salt is an ingredient you should get your hands on.) I love this soup as is, but the next time I make it, I’m going to experiment with adding a whole head of roasted garlic, and triple the amount of fresh herbs. Because, why not?

Admittedly, this might not be the prettiest soup (I hope never to photograph split pea soup again!), but the nutritional value is pretty amazing. It’s packed with protein, fiber, vitamin A and potassium. And my recipe is vegan, gluten-free and low fat to boot.

This made my husband and I wonder why in the world we don’t make split pea soup more often. I think we finished a big pot in two days and still wanted more. Don’t let winter go by without making this one, ok?

Split Pea Soup with Vegetables and Herbs

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, diced (about 1½ cups)
4 stalks celery, diced (about 1½ cups)
4 small red potatoes, diced (about 1½ cups)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small turnip, diced (about 1 cup)
1 pound dried split peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
5 cups water
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, or more to taste
Generous pinch smoked salt (optional)
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots and celery, raise the heat a bit and and sauté for 10 minutes, until the onion is nicely browned. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until the consistency is to your liking. If the soup gets too thick, add a bit more broth or water. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

Serves 8

Chickpea flour quiche vegan gluten free

This dish is the perfect answer to the age-old question: “What can I make for a vegan and gluten-free brunch?” This quiche is not only vegan and gluten-free, it’s delicious – omnivores will love it, too. And worry not, tofu haters, there’s no soy. It’s all chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, a truly magical ingredient.

I have to say, I’ve always been a bit skeptical when people say chickpea flour can mimic eggs. But I think my quiche is proof positive. It’s got just the right texture, and an eggy taste thanks to black salt. This Indian salt really does the trick, so it’s worth seeking out.

There more reasons to love this thing:

• “Crustless” means it goes together in no time.
• You can vary the vegetables to your liking.
• It’s great left over and eaten right out of the fridge.

Happy brunching!

Crustless Vegan Chickpea Flour Quiche

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1¼ cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably black salt – kala namak)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini and red pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garbanzo bean flour, baking powder, flax, vinegar and 1 cup water and set aside.

Add the remaining water to the pan with the vegetables, along with the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the chickpea flour mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be very thick and heat should be high enough to keep it bubbling a bit.

Use a spatula to pour into a 9” pie plate (regular or deep dish). Smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool before serving. May then be served at room temperature, or reheated.

chickpea fennel saladHere’s another one of my no-recipe recipes. I could chalk it up to being a lazy blogger, but truth be told, quantities aren’t that important here. This is a universally appealing dish, as it’s both vegan and gluten-free, and provides some nice protein. I must give credit to my husband Tim for this fresh and bright salad, as he makes it often to take to his art studio for lunch.

Chickpea and Fennel Salad

This is the basic method:

Put some chickpeas in a bowl (I used 2 cans – be sure to look for BPA-free).

Add thinly sliced (with a mandoline) celery, fennel and red onion to your liking.

Throw in some flat-leaf parsley.

Squeeze on the juice of a lemon, and drizzle on a bit of olive oil.

If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with fennel fronds.

Salt and pepper, and you’re done.

You could build on this simple salad by adding orange segments, roasted red peppers, olives or cherry tomatoes. Let me know what you come up with!

Sour cherry pieTo prepare for my once-a-year sour cherry pie, I made a special trip into the city to try to find organic sour cherries. Alas, there were no organic ones to be found at the Union Square greenmarket, but I scored some that they claimed were “minimally sprayed” – probably a crock but I bought them anyway. If it’s a choice between that and no cherry pie, I’ll turn a blind eye this one time.  And the season for tart cherries is so short, I had to act fast. (Don’t even think of making this with sweet cherries – it’s not the same thing at all.)

I broke from tradition a bit this year by doing a crumb top crust. This recipe is adapted from from Melissa Murphy’s excellent The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, although I found it on Smitten Kitchen.  I made a few small changes:

  • More cherries – the amount specified did not seem like enough.
  • A different bottom crust and slighly-adapted almond crumb topping, to veganize.
  • Slightly less sugar in the topping.
  • No pre-baking of the bottom crust – I swear my vegan crust doesn’t get soggy!

The result was outstanding. There’s just nothing as sublime as biting into a piece of sour cherry pie – first you’re hit with the sweetness then you bite into the cherry and …wow! By the way, I don’t know why people insist on putting almond extract in cherry pies – why would you want to interfere with the perfect taste of this perfect fruit?

Vegan Sour Cherry Pie with Almond-Oat Crumble

For the bottom crust:

1 1/2 cups flour, sifted before measuring* (I recommend half white flour, half whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt, slightly rounded
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons organic high-oleic safflower oil
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used Pacific Seven-Grain milk)

For the almond crumble:
2/3 cup rolled oats (not quick) ground in a food processor
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw whole almonds, coarsely ground in a food processor
2 tablespoons cold Earth Balance margarine, cut into pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons organic high-oleic safflower oil

For the sour cherry filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
2 1/2 quarts fresh sour cherries, pitted, with juice

Heat the oven to 375.

Almond crumble: Grind the oats well in a food processor. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and almonds. Process until the nuts are almost ground but still crumbly (not all the way to a fine grind.)  Place in a bowl, add the Earth Balance and drizzle on the oil. Mix with your fingers by pinching them together. Sprinkle with 1 or 2 teaspoons of water, and combine again lightly with your fingers until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Cherry filling: In a large bowl, mix the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Bottom crust (do not prepare in advance): Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.  Place the oil in a glass measuring cup, then add the milk, without stirring. Add to the flour mixture and combine quickly. Roll out between two pieces of wax paper, until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Remove the top sheet, and turn the crust over into a 9-inch pie plate. Remove the second sheet of wax paper. Crimp the edges, using the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and the index finger of the other hand.

Assembling the pie: Pour the cherries, including the liquid, into the pie pan lined with the bottom crust. (If your quarts of cherries were generous, you may end up with a dozen or so more cherries than you can fit – don’t force it.)  Sprinkle the almond crumble over the cherries. Place the pie plate on the oven rack, with a piece of foil on the rack below. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the juices are bubbling and thick. Cool on a rack to room temperature before serving.

* If you don’t have a sifter, spoon the flour lightly into the measuring cup.  Don’t scoop it – the measurement will be totally different.


Jun 22, 2015

Jerk chickpea burgers

vegan chickpea veggie burger

The other day, someone asked me, “When are you going to do a veggie burger recipe?”  As it happens, I had just perfected this baby: the jerk chickpea burger.

Veggie burgers can be a snore, but these got rave reviews at my recent backyard cookout. When developing this recipe, I was aiming for something super flavorful, and I think I hit that nail on the head. It does take a little while to grate/chop the vegetables, but if you have all the ingredients at hand, the burgers come together pretty easily. And they’re so worth it – the jerk sauce adds a Caribbean twist, while beets and tamari almonds take this burger to another level altogether.

I’m sure the choice of jerk sauce makes a difference in these burgers so choose carefully. I picked some Miss Lilly’s brand at Whole Foods and really like it, although the spicy variety is really spicy, so watch out!

Jerk Chickpea Burgers

2 cans chickpeas, well drained
¼ cup Jamaican jerk sauce
1 tablespoon ground flax seed whisked with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 medium cooked beets, grated on the large holes of a box grater and squeezed dry (about ½ cup)
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 medium carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about ½ cup)
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, finely minced
1/3 c. medium-coarse bulgur, cooked according to directions and well drained
1/2 c. whole wheat panko bread crumbs
¼ cup tamari almonds, well chopped (I pulsed in food processor)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
Whole wheat buns, red onions and romaine lettuce, for serving

Place the chickpeas, jerk sauce and flax-lime mixture in a food processor and process to a rough paste (can be slightly chunky).

In a bowl combine the chickpea mixture with the remaining ingredients, stirring well mixed. Refrigerate until read to use. Form into patties and grill on a well-oiled grate or vegetable tray. Alternatively, sauté in a skillet or brush with oil and bake at 375 for 10 minutes per side.

Serve on buns with additional jerk sauce, lettuce and sliced red onions.

Makes 8 burgers