I have a great salsa recipe coming soon for Super Bowl Sunday (not that I’m watching, with the Pats out)…but first I have to share this great vegan recipe for Warm Spinach & Artichoke Dip by Chloe Coscarelli. You all know how much I love Chef Chloe, and she’s got another winner here. I devour Spinach & Artichoke Dip, but if you’re like me and you have issues with the heavy, cheesy nature of the traditional recipe, I think you’ll find this agrees with you a lot more. Watch the video & check out the recipe below!
Warm Vegan Spinach-Artichoke Dip
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
5 ounces baby spinach
1 14-ounce package soft tofu, drained
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces of canned, marinated, or frozen artichoke hearts, drained
Bread or tortilla chips for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 1-quart baking dish.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Then, add the spinach.
Let the mixture cook, stirring gently, until the spinach is wilted.
In a food processor, blend the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add the artichokes and spinach mixture, and pulse about 15 times. Transfer to your prepared baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
Let cool a few minutes, then serve with bread or tortilla chips. Yum!
Before the holidays, I had a brunch & jewelry party for a few of my friends and family. Not wanting to overwhelm people with food, I eventually scaled WAY back from my original menu, just serving some finger foods (chips & salsa, cheese & crackers) for those who get up early and would have already eaten breakfast, plus a mixture of brunch-y favorites for those in the crowd (read: people my age) who showed up HUNGRY. Even though I didn’t get to make everything I wanted to, I still had a couple hits, so I’m sharing them with you!
What the heck is that last thing, you say? Glad you asked. It’s my new favorite for when you have to make a vegetarian-friendly breakfast dish for a morning potluck, or just want to have a grab-and-go option in your fridge for a busy work week. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here it is:
The New York Times had a cool article recently about how challenging it can be to “go Vegan” cold turkey. It listed a bunch of tips for easing the transition, broken down by which food type you’re trying to replace or replicate, from dairy milk to ground beef to eggs.
NONDAIRY MILK Taste all of them to find your favorite. Coconut and almond milks (particularly canned coconut milk) are thicker and good to use in cooking, while rice milk is thinner and is good for people who are allergic to nuts or soy. Soy milk is great in regular or vanilla flavor for fruit smoothies and breakfast cereal.
NONDAIRY CHEESE Cheese substitutes are available under the brand names Daiya, Tofutti and Follow Your Heart, among others, but many vegans say there’s no fake cheese that satisfies as well as the real thing. Rather than use a packaged product, vegan chefs prefer to make homemade substitutes using cashews, tofu, miso or nutritional yeast. At Candle 79, a popular New York vegan restaurant, the filling for saffron ravioli with wild mushrooms and cashew cheese is made with cashews soaked overnight and then blended with lemon juice, olive oil, water and salt.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST The name is unappetizing, but many vegan chefs swear by it: it’s a natural food with a roasted, nutty, cheese like flavor. Ms. Coscarelli uses nutritional yeast flakes in her “best ever” baked macaroni and cheese (found in her cookbook). “I’ve served this to die-hard cheese lovers,” she told the Times, “and everyone agrees it is comparable, if not better.”
Susan Voisin’s Web site, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, offers a nice primer on nutritional yeast, noting that it’s a fungus that is grown on molasses and then harvested and dried with heat. (Baking yeast is an entirely different product.) Nutritional yeasts can be an acquired taste, she said, so start with small amounts, sprinkling on popcorn, stirring into mashed potatoes, grinding with almonds for a Parmesan substitute or combining with tofu to make an eggless omelet. It can be found in Whole Foods, in the bulk aisle of natural-foods markets or online.
BUTTER This is an easy fix. Vegan margarines like Earth Balance are made from a blend of oils and are free of trans fats. Varieties include soy-free, whipped and olive oil.
EGGS Ms. Coscarelli, who won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars with vegan cupcakes, says vinegar and baking soda can help baked goods bind together and rise, creating a moist and fluffy cake without eggs. Cornstarch can substitute for eggs to thicken puddings and sauces. Vegan pancakes are made with a tablespoon of baking powder instead of eggs. Frittatas and omelets can be replicated with tofu.
Finally, don’t try to replicate your favorite meaty foods right away. If you love a juicy hamburger, meatloaf or ham sandwich, you are not going to find a meat-free version that tastes the same. Ms. Voisin advises new vegans to start slow and eat a few vegan meals a week. Stock your pantry with lots of grains, lentils and beans and pile your plate with vegetables. To veganize a recipe, start with a dish that is mostly vegan already — like spaghetti — and use vegetables or a meat substitute for the sauce.
“Trying to recapture something and find an exact substitute is really hard,” she said. “A lot of people will try a vegetarian meatloaf right after they become vegetarian, and they hate it. But after you get away from eating meat for a while, you’ll find you start to develop other tastes, and the flavor of a lentil loaf with seasonings will taste great to you. It won’t taste like meat loaf, but you’ll appreciate it for itself.”
What are your best tips for easing into Vegan eating? And what do you miss the most, or occasionally even crave? I don’t eat Vegan all the time, but as a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, I end up finding that some of the most stomach-friendly recipes are vegan, too. Think Avocado Pesto Pasta, or Sweet Potato Soup without the sour cream on top, Creamy Kale Salad, and just about any smoothie made with coconut milk or water instead of dairy (like this one or this one).