Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vegan Comfort Foods

What foods bring back positive memories of your childhood, your parents, or times when you've been particularly happy. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup? Brownies? Green Bean Casserole with crunchy onions?

In our household, we have numerous vegan comfort foods that we use for celebrations or to warm up after a day outdoors. My vegan comfort foods are:
*Homemade Vegan Curry
*Homemade Yakisoba
*Homemade Vegan Pizza
*Homemade Split Pea Soup from scratch
*Homemade Vegan Pot Pie

Their recipes are below:

1-2 teaspoons peanut or avocado oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tub fresh tofu, firm or extra firm, cut into bite size cubes
5 large carrots, sliced into thin rounds, boiled or or steamed until slightly tender
2 large Yukon Gold or White potato, diced and boiled or steamed until slightly tender
1 3.5oz package Golden Curry mix (medium hot)
6 cups water (doubles the water called for in the package, but this reduces the sodium overall, and increases the curry gravy)
2 tablespoons non-GMO organic cornstarch

Saute the onion in the oil, then add the tofu, browning slightly. Add carrots and potatoes and saute for a few minutes. Add 5 1/2 cups water, add the curry paste and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer to thicken. Mix cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup water and add slowly to the mixture. Serve over hot rice, optionally garnish with salt-pickled ginger strips. Goes well with steamed broccoli or other green vegetable of choice.

Use fresh yakisoba noodles from an Asian market, or substitute any chow mein noodle available. Stir fry in a wok or large frying pan, in 1 tablespoon of peanut or avocado oil, any 2 cups selection of finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots, plus peas and corn as desired.
If using the fresh yakisoba noodles, add them to the stir fry until soft and lightly browned, adding the flavor packets or use soy sauce to taste.

Vegan Hawaiian Pizza
1 fresh refrigerated Multigrain pizza dough from Whole Foods Market (or substitute any preferred pizza dough, commercial or homemade)
1/4 cup low sodium marinara or pizza sauce
1/3 package Daiya mozzarella style cheese substitute
1/4 to 1/2 package Lightlife Smart Bacon, chopped 
1/2 can organic pineaple chunks, or fresh pineapple as available
1 small can sliced black olives
cornmeal for base to prevent sticking

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Fresh dough should be left to warm slightly outside the fridge before you manipulate it.
Sprinkle cornmeal onto baking sheet. Take fresh dough and gently make into a round flat form. before any areas that are too thin happen place the dough on the cornmeal, and continue to stretch the dough out into a uniform round to fill the sheet. (of course, if you are skilled in spinning dough, go for it).

Thinly coat the surface with the tomato based sauce, then sprinkle Daiya uniformly over surface, and follow with chopped Smart Bacon, pineapple and olives. Add green bell peppers if desired.

Cook pizza for 25 minutes or until properly melted and browned. Slice and eat.

Vegan Split Pea Soup
1 teaspoon avocado oil or preferred vegetable oil
1 pound dried green split peas
6 cups water, add more as needed
one medium onion, chopped
three medium carrots chopped
one bay leaf
3 vegan no-salt added bouillon cubes (Rapunzel)

In soup-pot, saute onion in oil over medium heat. one softened add carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add dried peas, water, bouillon, and bay, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately an hour until peas are completely soft. Cook longer if needed, and add more hot water if too thick. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Vegan Pot Pie
2 Whole Wheat pie crusts (per pie) - find them in the freezer section of your local market, or if you are able to make ahead of time from scratch, that is always great too
1 large Yukon Gold or White potato, diced and parboiled until slightly tender
1 cup fresh or frozen organic peas
1 cup fresh or frozen organic corn kernels
1 cup thinly sliced rounds of carrots, parboiled or steamed until slightly tender
Optional variations include green beans or broccoli as desired to taste.
1/2 stick Earth Balance vegan margarine
approx 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
vegan no salt bouillon powder (or vegan no salt bouillon cube) to taste
approx 1/2 cup soy milk, unsweetened or sweetened (substitute vegetable broth or another kind of nut milk as preferred)
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
powdered, or fresh herbs if in season, including thyme, rosemary and sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove crusts from freezer to allow them to become flexible. If using frozen vegetable allow time to approach room temperature in advance. Pre-steam or parboil the carrots and potato. In a large saucepan, melt the margarine under medium heat and begin to stir in the flour until a gravy paste is formed. Sprinkle in vegan bouillon powder to taste. Slowly wisk in the soy milk, adding as much as is needed to create the thickness of gravy desired. add soy sauce and herbs. Add remaining vegetables, stirring to coat all the vegetable surfaces.

Pack the vegetable mixture spoonful by spoonful into one pie crust, and mound them in the center, creating a raised center. Rub water allow the rim of the crust, then tip over the second crust on top of the filled pie, and press the two rims together firmly to create a seal. Cut several slices in the top crust to allow for steam to vent.

Place the pie on atray or foil to catch any bubbling over gravy. Set into into the oven, and cook for 45 minutes approximately. It is easy to plan ahead and make two pies so that you have leftovers - they taste great rewarmed the next day.

You can add a Gardein vegan meat substitute if you wish to create a meat textured pie.


Thomas said...

I don't think I'll ever go vegan (I'm a good southern boy, far too committed to his butter), but I have been eating less and less meat. We're hoping to give Seitan a try this weekend. Have you ever made it? Suggested broths to cook it in?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the recipes and for the support, John. As I mentioned on our recent podcast call, my daughter just returned from college as a vegan and it's good to know you approve as an MD--not all do, as you know!
Best regards,

befree said...

I have a few comfort foods. Feel free to share this one!

This is my own concoction after playing around with several mushroom/barley and lentil/barley recipes. I think the soy sauce and sherry do the trick!

½ lb. dry or about 1 lb. wet (Trader Joe’s package in refrigerator section) lentils
1 cup dry barley
3 to 6 tablespoons ‘butter’ – any variety you like
6 tablespoons cooking sherry
3-6 tables spoons soy sauce (to taste)
¼- ½ small onion finely chopped or 3 tablespoons dry onion flakes
1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small carton of portabella mushroom soup (Trader Joe’s or Whole foods) OR
1 pound of mushrooms fried in half (3 tbsp) the butter
2-6 cups of water

Set the barley in 2 cups of pre-boiled water and keep on low heat (or, put on high in crock pot). Barley needs to get fairly soft before adding other ingredients.

Set the lentils in 2 cups of pre-boiled water (or, put on high in crock pot). Lentils need to get fairly soft before adding other ingredients. If you get the pre-cooked type, they are ready right out of the package and you use less water.

If you are using fresh mushrooms, slice them thinly and sauté them until golden in half the 'butter'. Other wise, the mushroom soup is used out of the carton.

Sauté garlic and onion in the other half the butter, careful not to burn.

Combine all the ingredients once the lentils and barley are fairly soft (it’s okay if they need some more cooking but are well on their way – in a crock pot, it takes several hours). I add the soy sauce a bit at a time. I add more water if it has boiled down too much. The stew is thicker than soup but should still have a bit of ‘broth’.

A splash more cooking sherry? Why not? Pepper to taste. Goes well with hard, dark bread.

Serves 6. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

These recipes are great! I love making twists on childhood dishes. Like you, I love curries and the rest that Indian food has to offer, and recently I found a brand that helps me satisfy my cravings without having to worry whether the dishes are vegan or not. The brand is called Tastybite - their dishes are preservative-free, all natural, low fat/calorie/sodium, and tasty - living up to their name. They have an extensive list on their site in which they break down and label each dish with "vegan," "gluten-free," etc. And my kids love their stuff too, which is very important. I buy their stuff at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, but I think you can find them on Amazon and buy from their website as well. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Nice posting John

As a regular traveller to japan, what are some of your favorite Japanese dishes?

Maynard S. Clark said...

Glad to know we're doing it better here at HMS and Harvard at large, even in the vegan comfort foods.

I enjoyed this immensely, John.

Thanks again.


Tracy H. said...

Thomas, why not go vegan except for the butter?