Monday, May 30, 2011


Best Blog Tips Just wondering!  Here are 5 of my fave condiments right now (What are yours?):

1.) Bacon Salt (yes, it can be vegan!):

 A baked potato with my homemade Bacon Salt-- here's my recipeAll the the bacon salt I have seen on the Internet is vegetarian-- it either just contains the flavorings for bacon (liquid smoke, brown sugar, etc.), or it contains some soy bacon bits, but some brands contain milk products (like J&D brand).

The sodium content of this condiment is much, much lower than table salt-- 1 teaspoon of my homemade recipe contains 90.2 mg. of sodium; 1 teaspoon of table salt contains 1880 mg of sodium! My recipe is much lower in sodium than the commercial brands I've checked.

If you don't want to make it yourself, this is the one I tasted first: Chef Salt Bacon BBQ Salt-- it is vegan.
On corn on the cob and popcorn and homemade oven-fries; seitan steaks; in BBQ sauces; in marinades for seitan TVP and tofu; in dips, spreads, and vegan mayonnaise; in baked beans; in salad dressings and on salads; as a seasoning in homemade seitan products; in mashed potatoes; on scrambled tofu; in eggless egg salad (made with tofu); roll tofu pieces in it and pan-fry; mix with olive oil for a French bread dip; on potatoes; in potato salad; on or in veggie burgers; on a grilled (vegan) cheese sandwich; with vegan cream cheese and/or vegan sour cream as a dip or spread; on steamed or grilled or roasted veggies; on pasta with a thin creamy sauce (a sort of vegan carbonara); on grits; in vegan mac'n'cheeze; on many types of sandwiches; in soups (or on them); on homemade potato crisps (chips) or other veggie crisps-- kale chips, maybe?-- I'm sure that's just the beginning! 

2.) Peruvian Restaurant-Style "Green Sauce":

 Sweet Potato Oven-Fries with Peruvian Restaurant-Style "Green Sauce".  Here's my recipe.

I still like good ketchup on fries, but we love this creamy, spicy sauce not only on sweet potato oven-fries, but also on veggie burgers and even tomato sandwiches! They use it as a dip for bread  and yucca fries in Peruvian restaurants, too. It's pretty addictive! (But, that's no problem, as my recipe has negligible fat and calories.)

3.) Ajvar (Pronounced Eye-vahr) (Balkan or Serbian "Salsa"): This is a name of Turkish origin given to a popular Balkan spread or relish made of roasted peppers and eggplant (and sometimes other vegetables, too).  I make it with zucchini instead of eggplant sometimes. Here's my recipe for making it at home, but it's widely available commercially.

This delicious condiment is originally from Macedonia, Croatia, and Serbia, but is popular also in Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, etc., and all over the Middle East now, it seems. It is sometimes called "vegetable caviar", and  there are hot ajvars and mild ajvars. In some areas they use roasted green peppers.

Commercial versions are inexpensive in Middle Eastern stores and many brands are available from Trader Joe's sells it but they don't call it ajvar on the label. They call it Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic. I understand that Whole Foods sells an organic version with "Ajvar" on the label.

I use it on all kinds of wraps, panini, and sandwiches,or as a cracker spread or a dip. Serve it as an appetizer to spread on thick slices of country-style bread or flatbread such as pita or lavosh, or use it as a side dish. Or just use it like salsa. You can use it with rice or potatoes, or as a quick pasta sauce; or use it in hummous and other dips. It's used on grilled meats, so why not on grilled seitan or tofu? Or on some of those big Field Roast or Tofurkey veggie sausages? Or with white beans, veggie "meatloaf", or "cheese" toast, or bruschetta? Spice Island Vegan used it with my tofu fritatta from "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" and it would be good on scrambled tofu and vegan omelets, too. I also use it to color vegan cheeses  and sauces.

4.) Za'atar ( a seasoning mixture of wild thyme, lemony ground sumac and sesame seeds) is a popular seasoning in Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia,Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

 Pita bread with za-atar and olive oil

If you've never tasted za'atar (also spelled za'tar, zatar, zatr, zahatar, satar), prepare to be hooked! The taste of a za'atar mixture can described be tangy, herbal, nutty, or toasty-- actually all of the above!(The word can be used for wild thyme, or for the mixture of thyme, sumac, sesame and salt, by the way.) 

You can either spread it on flatbreads or pita with olive oil, or dip the bread in a mixture of olive oil and za'atar. (Use a really good extra virgin olive oil that you enjoy uncooked.)  I sprinkle it on top of roasted cauliflower, steamed broccoli and stir-fried Brussels sprouts, some soups (try it on Palestinian Red Lentil Soup , Levantine Bean Soup , Silky Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup or Balkh Brown Lentil Soup), on tofu feta and on dips and other vegan cheese preparations.  It would be great on grilled or fried tofu, or rubbed into your favorite seitan.  Try it in salad dressings and on latkes (potato pancakes) or oven-fried potatoes, sweet potatoes,  couscous, grilled zucchini, cucumber salad, tomatoes-- I'm sure you'll come up with many other ways to use it!

There are many, many different versions-- here's a formula to start with.  Or  you can buy some at Greek or Middle Eastern Markets, or on amazon here and here and more.

My absolute favorite za'atar is Zatoun fair trade brand, available from Ten Thousand Villages fair trade markets in Canada (you can order online) and here in the USA. The aroma of the wild thyme in this product is so amazing-- it bears no resemblance to the dried thyme we usually have available to use.

#5)  Spanish Smoked Paprika (Pimentón): How did I ever live without this product? I know it's a bit "old hat" now, but I still love it! Smoked paprika is the Spanish cousin to sweet Hungarian paprika. It's made from pimiento peppers that have been dried and smoked over an oak fire, then ground into a fine powder.

It was originally used in paella and in spicy Spanish sausages, but it's delicious sprinkled on soups, salads, dips (such as hummus) vegetables (especially roasted), pizza, potatoes, scrambled tofu, roasted tomatoes, and in stews and BBQ sauces. It's a great spice for adding smoky flavor and depth to vegan dishes, and low-fat dishes.

There are many, many brands available (amazon carries many) and in gourmet food stores and supermarkets.
Here is the brand I can find in my area, the sweet and the hot kind:

There is also a moderately spicy smoked paprika (Pimentón Agridulce), but I haven't found it around here.  Perhaps I should order the 3-pack from amazon!

Enjoy! (And I look forward to hearing what your favorites are!)


Deb said...

Hi Bryanna,

Great post! I didn't see #4 or #5 -- could you point me in the right direction? = ) Deb

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Deb-- sorry about that1 I accidentally published before I was finished! It's all there now!

Phlat said...

I tried to make Za'atar before; maybe the sumac I got was old (tasted like dirt) or my thyme was weak (homegrown). May need to try a commercial version to get the authentic flavor. I love your roasted garlic aioli (I usually use 2 heads per batch) as dip for asparagus/Nicoise salads, oven fries, etc. Fruity Indian chutneys (hot + tangy) with naan/on rice. Guacamole + salsa on polenta. Italian salsa (with olives, capers and basil) on your chickpea crepes. How I wish I had all I needed to make bacon salt...

Lucy said...

Just a little note about your sodium calculation on both this page and the bacon salt recipe page.

Firstly, you have used "g", where you (presumably) mean "mg" (imagine a teaspoon weighing more than 1880g!)

Secondly, your sodium reduction calculation doesn't sounds plausible:

The change from "1/3 cup" (of table salt) to "1 1/2" cups (of bacon salt), involves less than a five fold increase in volume. So the sodium reduction (presuming no other ingredients include sodium) can't be more than five fold, yet you're suggesting a 20 fold reduction in sodium content?

And of course both sun dried tomato and bacon bits (the added ingredients) include A LOT of sodium, so maybe you can share how you calculated this 90.2(m)g/tsp?

Thanks! Otherwize, love the recipes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bryanna, I too love za'atar! I get it (in the USA) from Penzeys.

On subject of huacatay: Tagetes minuta is often called "Mexican marigold." I haven't grown or tasted it myself, but have often read that it's a good substitute for tarragon - it is often grown, for example, by those in climates too hot to grow tarragon. So *maybe* tarragon is another possibility for the Peruvian green sauce.

I'll go along with Phlat - roasted garlic aioli is terrific! Roasted garlic ANYTHING is terrific, really. :)

Pat Meadows

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Lucy, thanks for the heads-up on the g vs mgs measurement-- my bad! I changed it to mg, as it should be.

But I assure you that my calculations are right-- well, they aren't my calculations. I used Living Cookbook recipe software to do the nutrient analysis, using FDA nutrition data.

One sun-dried tomato contains 42 mg sodium (natural sodium)-- I used 6 in the recipe.

Also, most of the recipe is NOT salt-- only 1/3 cup out of 1 1/2 cups total. If you add up the tablespoons of all of the dry ingredients in the recipe, except for the tomatoes, it comes to 20.5 tablespoons. 6 dried tomatoes pieces (not in oil), ground up, make up the last 3.5 tablespoons, which makes 24, which makes 1 1/2 cups, the recipe yield.

BTW, I don't use table salt in this recipe- I use Saltworks Salish Alderwood Smoked Salt, "fine grain" which is actually much larger grained than finely ground table salt, and so has less sodium than table salt. (You can see a picture of it here: )

I used the nutrition facts for kosher salt, which is larger-grained than table salt, but not coarse grained.

Here are the Nutrition facts for 1 teaspoon (1 serving) of my Veggie bacon Salt:
7.6 calories; 15% calories from fat; 0.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 90.2mg sodium; 23.6mg potassium; 1.5g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 1.2g sugar; 1.3g net carbs; 0.2g protein; 0.1 points

Lauren (PB&G) said...

Oooh I just picked up some hot ajvar at an awesome little international grocer this weekend. Half the jar is already gone. I can't get enough!

Spice Island Vegan said...

My favorites are also ajvar, the peruvian green sauce or huacatay, gochujang, sriracha, spicy and hot salsa,and lemongrass sesame chili sauce (homemade). I might blog the lemongrass sesame chili sauce recipe someday. :-) It is Vietnamese hot sauce.

Anonymous said...

Horseradish!!!! Yay!!

Lucy said...

super, thanks for clarifying that!

Linda said...

This is a tough one...I really don't use condiments anymore! However, (Bryanna, your)Muhammara; (again,your) ajvar; guacamole/avo; Mom's green chile; carmelized onions... come to mind. Couple more -- vegan parmesan-like "cheese"; and kim chi!

Mmm...Are tomatoes and olives considered condiments?!

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

Nice list!!

Mac said...

Bryanna - loved this post (as always.) RE: bacon salt: we've found imported Spanish smoked paprika in nearly identical tins under the brand name "El Avion" at Marshall's discount stores - and for very reasonable prices. We always check the food aisle at Marshall's and Ross stores for unique and organic food items. Keep up the wonderful work!