Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Directions - Vegan, Much to My Surprise!

Newly vegan (well, 95%) in the last four months or so, I'm searching out new tastes and ways to interact with eating, cooking and food. What I'm finding is that I'm wanting to do less and less with the basic fabulous ingredients themselves and just enjoy the real flavors.  I think I've become an event better cook and eater because of it.

Some of the best meals I've had while dining out have been through the kindness of the chefs in the various kitchens who have put together vegetable plates composed of whatever was being served that night.

So here I am again with no recipes - just suggestions for wonderful combinations. You can play with these all you want.

Avocados and sea salt on crispy baguettes - add a squeeze of lime or a shower of chopped cilantro, but this is just fine unadorned. I went through college on this delicious combination and it never got old.  Also, mashed avocado on very sour-dough bread, spread on crispy wheat toast for breakfast.  Sigh.

Roasted Portobello sandwich. The whole is much better than the sum...well you get the drill.  It's all about the choice of roll (I use ciabatta rolls, or sour-dough), meaty roasted mushrooms, grilled onion slices or carmelized onions, and a luxurious swipe of pesto. Drippy and and herby it's one of life's pleasures.

Hummus/vegetable wrap.  Sounds so plebeian, but with large, fresh, warm whole what tortillas, hummus (love the cilantro or red pepper varieties), a crunchy mix if cubed red pepper, cukes, red onion tossed in an olive oil/lemon vinaigrette it doesn't get any better or more satisfying. You can add any vegetables - arugula, artichoke hearts, heirloom cherry tomatoes, yet more cilantro. Add heated falafel patties (TJ's has a wonderful one in the frozen section) in addition to or instead of the hummus.  Mashed cannelini beans with a swipe of Romesco sauce...varieties are endless.

Just plain fruit.  Easy enough in the summer when the peaches are fantastic, the berries at their peak, melons are luscious. Why do anything to them? OK, maybe a crispy better cookie or biscotti.

I say "mostly vegan" because I still say baking = butter and that's a good thing.  I still need a good Parmesan cheese on most pastas, and a crumble of blue or goat cheese occasionally just is a necessary part of life.  So I'm not manic. This all started to support my wonderful husband, who is having pretty bad complications from Type 2 diabetes.  After reading the books of Dr. Neal Barnard on how veganism helps diabetics, we both jumped in. I've stayed in the pool quite happily, while hubby has backed out. 

Many thanks to some wonderful influencers: Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks , the wonderful Mark Bittman who started the whole VB6 (Vegan before 6 PM) concept, and Susan Goin's cooking with her exquisite love of vegetables and sides.  She says her first concern when ordering from a menu is not the main course, but the vegetables that come with it.  I'm with her.

So, what are your favorite sources of "veggie love", for lack of a better word.  Who are the cooks, cookbooks, bloggers, recipes and just plain folks who have added to your love of all things produce?  Please share, I'm on a new and endless quest


  1. Welcome back! I love the sound of your combos and frequently enjoy them sans the vegan label. I guess I'm a lazy foodie and focus on what's good for my body without drawing lines. I think I could eat avocados any which way, but right out of the peel with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle of salt is my favorite. :)

  2. Great to hear about your new direction, and looking forward to following along!