Wednesday, June 13, 2012


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Our vegan dinner group of 5 couples convened at our house last week for another great vegan meal. (We were also celebrating 3 Gemini birthdays-- me, DH Brian, and Rob.) It was a bit of a squish in our little house, but nobody minded-- it has been a while since we got together and even longer since we hosted a dinner.  On the menu, we had Fireweed's yummy vegan quiche with potatoes and veggies in it; a delicious lemony cauliflower and potato curry on yellow rice from Gordon and Sarah; Pelka's aromatic focaccia and wonderful green salad with Sunshine Dressing; and Ellen's beautiful wild rice salad with black beans. ( My contributions were two vegetable salads and a Chocolate/Almond Tiramisu for dessert.

I changed my plans for what to make for the dinner at the last minute because I thought we weren’t going to be enough vegetables on the menu.  (It turned out that we had plenty of veggies in the end, and it was all delicious.)  Because we live on an island, I had to use what was in my freezer, fridge and pantry, and inspiration was just not coming to me (probably due to the fact that I was trying to get the house spiffed up at the same time).  I turned to a book that I’d just borrowed from the library, “Fine Cooking in Season” (Tauton Press, 2011).  Two salad recipes jumped out at me because, not only did they sound delicious, but I had most of the ingredients, and with a little substituting here and there, I judged that I could make them- and make them vegan and lower in fat at the same time.

One recipe was a roasted corn salad with edamame (green soybeans), fresh mint and cherry tomatoes, in a basil/yogurt dressing with honey and lemon.  I had frozen sweet corn and frozen shelled edamame in the freezer, fresh mint in the garden, frozen basil paste from last year’s crop, and soy yogurt and agave nectar to use in the dressing.

The other recipe consisted of quickly-braised kale or Swiss chard, escarole or frisée, and spinach with roasted hazelnuts, in a dressing flavored plum preserves. I had hazelnuts, kale and spinach on hand, and figured that the rapini in the fridge could stand in for the escarole.  I had no plum preserves, but I did have some plum butter that I’d made last year from the plums on the wild plum tree near our back deck, and I figured that would do in a pinch. (Polish plum butter is available in some supermarkets, gourmet stores and online-- amazon carries it, too.)

In both recipes, I could substitute some of my lowfat oil substitute for some of the olive oil, in order to lower the fat content.  (The plum dressing called for a whole cup of oil!)

For the celebratory dessert I made a Chocolate/Almond Tiramisu, adapted from the tiramisu recipe in my book "World Vegan Feast", but, instead of the vegan sponge cake, I used the cake layers from the Mocha Cafe Latte Cake in the same book. Besides the boozy vegan mascarpone layer called for in that recipe, I added a layer of Italian Chocolate Mousse (from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen"), laced with ground roasted almonds. The whole thing was topped with my Almond Whipped Cream Topping, ground dark chocolate and slivered roasted almonds. (I used Kahlua for the liqueur.) 

There wasn’t much left at the end of the night, of either the salads or the dessert! All in all, another enjoyable evening with great conversation and company and excellent vegan food!  Here are my versions of the salad recipes (I also streamlined the methods a bit), just in case you's like to try them.


Serves 8
Adapted from a recipe in “Fine Cooking in Season” (Tauton Press, 2011).
For the plum vinaigrette:
5 Tbs. plum butter
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the greens:
10 oz. baby spinach
1 bunch young kale
1 bunch rapini
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (about 3 oz.) roasted, peeled hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Whisk together the plum butter, vinegar, and mustard until smooth. Add
the olive oil, broth and salt and pepper to taste; mix again briefly. Refrigerate in a jar or bottle. This can be made a few days ahead of time. Shake before using.

Stem the kale and slice it into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Cut the tough bottoms off the rapini stems and slice as for the kale. Mix all the greens, wash thoroughly, and spin dry. (If you prepare the greens ahead of time—1 to 4 days--wrap them loosely in paper towels and store refrigerated in sealed zipper-lock bags.)

In a very large sauté pan, stir-fry pan or skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add one-third of the greens, and a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes, stirring all the time, until the leaves are slightly wilted. Repeat twice with the remaining greens in two batches. Scoop the greens into a bowl and add the roasted hazelnuts and the dressing to taste.  Toss well and spread on a large serving platter. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8-12
Adapted from a recipe in “Fine Cooking in Season”, Tauton Press, 2011.

2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed, OR fresh corn kernels (from about 6 medium ears)
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup very thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil OR a cube of frozen basil paste, thawed

Boil the edamame in water to cover by 2 inches for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool completely.

Mix the corn kernels with 1 Tbs. of the oil on a large baking sheet. Spread the corn out on the sheet.  Place about 5 inches under the broiler of your oven and broil until the tops start to brown a little (about 4-5 minutes—watch carefully).  Remove from the oven.

To make the Dressing: whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, agave, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings, whisking constantly until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the edamame, corn kernels, tomatoes and herbs. Toss gently. Add the dressing and toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.



Anonymous said...

wow those dishes look delicious! what great eats for a dinner party! thanks for sharing!

Tracy A. Minton-Matesz said...

Hi Bryanna~ The party looked like a lot of fun, the food looked very enticing. I am new-ish to blogging, but have had a life-long love affair with writing and cooking. My blog has lots of info and photos, and weaves together other information on health, especially as it all relates to food.

I am just starting to look up the many wonderful vegan blogs, and am both overwhelmed, and overjoyed. So many recipes, and beautifully written and photographed posts, and so little time!

I welcome visitors and input. Thanks ~Tracy