side dishes

Warm Brussel Sprout Salad

brussel salad

Brussel sprouts get a bad rap. They are always used as an example of a gross vegetable that kids hate, or that you move around on the plate to give the illusion of consumption. They are not something to enjoy- rather something that is forced upon children as some strange form of torture.

Well NOT ANYMORE! We love brussel sprouts, and we want YOU to love them, too! They are incredibly good for you, and can be prepared in many delicious ways. They are rather hearty and to us, just scream “FALL”. Combined with a few other seasonal fruits and toasted hazelnuts, we created a lovely warm Fall salad sure to change the minds of brussel sprout haters everywhere.

We also really wanted to utilize another Fall favorite- the persimmon. Our grandmother has a huge fuyu persimmon tree in her backyard, so we have been munching these candy-like fruits every fall for as long as we can remember. They are incredibly sweet, and are a bright, vibrant orange color. The addition of some pomegranate seeds, with their acidic flavor and deep crimson color allows for a very nice balance in taste, texture and appearance.

This dish is extremely quick and easy to put together, and is very aesthetically pleasing. It would make a great addition to a beautiful table spread. We recommend using the dressing at room temperature so it does not cool the salad, although it tastes great either way. Be prepared to show your family and friends how delicious brussel sprouts can be. They won’t even realize how healthy this salad is as they come back for seconds!

 

Warm Brussel Sprout Salad {recipe}

Serves 6-8

 

INGREDIENTS

  • Dressing

    • 3 TB lemon juice

    • 3 TB olive oil

    • 1 medium shallot, finely minced

    • 1 TB parsley, finely minced

    • 1 tsp whole grain mustard

    • 1 TB red wine vinegar

    • 1 TB balsamic vinegar

    • 1 tsp agave

    • ½ tsp miso

    • 1 TB nutritional yeast

    • ⅛ tsp salt

    • ⅛ tsp pepper

  • 1 Fuyu Persimmon, peeled and julienned (matchsticks)

  • ¼ c pomegranate seeds

  • ¼ c toasted hazelnuts, chopped

  • 12 oz shredded brussel sprouts

  • 3 TB olive oil

  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

METHOD

  1. Blend all dressing ingredients together until smooth.

  2. Heat medium saute pan over medium high heat and add oil.

  3. Sauteé brussel sprouts until slightly golden on edges, 3-5 min.

  4. Add about ⅔ of the dressing, and combine.

  5. Remove from heat and add persimmon, pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts.

  6. Can use remaining dressing as needed.

NOTE: Be sure to use fuyu persimmons, not hachiya. The fuyu’s are much harder and crunchy, and the hachiya is much softer and better for baking. Fuyu’s can be eaten just like an apple, and you can even eat the middle! The skins are also ok for eating, although we recommend peeling them for this recipe.

Print Friendly and PDF

Grandma's Italian Sausage Stuffing

stuffing

We are traditionalists. We really are. We grew up on a lot of foods that do not fit our current dietary (and moral) compass. The fact of the matter is that we like these foods. We like the taste, texture and memories associated with them. We love our family and our family loves food! As with most people, this includes meat, which creates a bit of a quandary for many vegans. Making the choice to not use any animal products is not equivalent to giving up everything delicious. It means eating the foods you love in a cruelty free and compassionate way. It is also almost always MUCH healthier than the dairy/meat/egg counterpart.

Vegans who eat meat-like foods will, without a doubt, be criticized for this decision at one point or another by a self-righteous “I don’t eat animals, why would I eat something that looks and tastes like animal flesh” vegan, or an indignant omnivore who wants to make you feel like a hypocrite for eating things resembling chicken fingers or deli slices.

Our opinion on the matter: we eat what we like, we eat what tastes good, and we eat what is familiar. If no animals lost their lives for our meal, then there is no harm in us eating it. It is unfortunate that there is so much negativity surrounding these products, when they should be viewed as a wonderful alternative for those of us who, at one point, actually ENJOYED eating meat!

When we were putting together our menu for Thanksgiving, we had to make some decisions about our dinner. Were we going to go a completely different route than the meal we grew up on? Are we going to keep it as familiar as we could? There were a few things that we were ok with changing, and a few others that we wanted to be the same.

We have chosen to veganize our family recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing, which has been passed down from our great-grandmother Ida. The original recipe features about 3.5 lbs of hamburger and pork sausage, 10 eggs, parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients that needed changing. It also made enough to go into a 20lb turkey, so we had to tone down the volume as well.

The sausage is what makes this stuffing delicious. There is almost equal parts meat to bread, so it really is a main ingredient. We thought of our favorite sausage alternative that cooks into large crumbles very well, which is Gimme Lean Breakfast Sausage. We doctored it up to turn it into an Italian sausage, and it worked out perfectly as our meat! If “meaty” dishes are not something you are a fan of, this may not be the stuffing recipe for you, but it really is delicious and filling..just like grandma used to make!

 

Grandma’s Italian Sausage Stuffing {recipe}

This is a big recipe -  2 9x13 casserole dishes, one for dinner, one for leftovers =)

 

INGREDIENTS

  • Sausage

    • 2 14oz pkg Gimme Lean Breakfast sausage

    • 3 TB red wine vinegar

    • 2 TB olive oil

    • 1 TB granulated garlic

    • 1TB granulated onion

    • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

    • 1 tsp dried basil

    • 1 tsp dried oregano

    • ½ tsp dried thyme

    • 1 tsp ground sage

    • 1 TB coconut sugar

    • ½ tsp salt

    • 1 TB paprika

  • 1 ½ large onions, diced

  • 5 stalks celery, diced

  • 1 can chopped water chestnuts

  • 1 6oz. bag baby spinach

  • ½ c fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 TB poultry seasoning

  • 2 TB olive oil

  • 2 c vegan “chicken” broth

  • 2 bags seasoned stuffing croutons

  • 1 tsp vegan butter

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350º (unless baking the next day).

  2. Prepare sausage by combining all dry sausage seasonings, and adding them along with the red wine vinegar to the meat. Use hands to combine thoroughly. Will be sticky!

  3. In a large non-stick soup pot heat 2 TB olive oil over med-high heat. Saute the sausage mixture until browned, breaking up into smaller pieces, about the size of marbles.

  4. Once browned remove to a bowl and using the same pot, heat 2 more TB olive oil and saute onions, celery and garlic over medium heat until veggies start to turn translucent, 5-10 minutes.

  5. Add parsley and chopped spinach and cook for 1-2 more minutes until greens are wilted.

  6. Add meat back in and stir to combine.

  7. In an extra large mixing bowl (this makes enough for 2 9x13 dishes) add one bag of croutons and half the meat mixture. Stir to combine.

  8. Add second bag of croutons and rest of mixture, stir to combine.

  9. Then add broth slowly to soften croutons, continuously mixing. We found it easiest to use clean hands.

  10. Let sit for 30 min to an hour.

  11. Butter 2 9x13 casserole dishes with ½ tsp butter in each. Pack in stuffing and Bake for 30 minutes, until top is crunchy.

 

NOTE: This is best if made the night before and rests overnight in the fridge to completely soften all the croutons. Can even be made up to 3 days in advance for convenience and stored in ziploc bags until ready to bake.

 

Print Friendly and PDF

"Canned" Cranberries

cranberries

Our family Thanksgiving dinner has seen a few slight variations throughout the years, but some things remain tradition. One of the key components of the perfect meal is the cranberry sauce. It seems simple enough, but it can really make a difference in how balanced your meal feels. It is important to have something sweet, like yams or sweet potatoes, to break up the savory components (“turkey”, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy etc), and something tangy to add even more dimension. This is where the cranberries fit in!

Every year, our aunt, who hosts and prepares dinner, makes a chunky cranberry compote with orange zest and some sort of chopped nut. Every year, we would bravely attempt to sample this concoction, and every year there is one thing we wanted instead: canned cranberry sauce. Yes. We are talking about that red, gelatinous blob that is etched with the ridges of the can. How else are you to know where to slice it with a butter knife if not for those bumps?! It seems strange that the sugar laden jelly from a tin is what we consider the perfect cranberry sauce..but it is what we love. It is simple, sweet, tart and smoothe. We don’t need a all the bells and whistles that go into other cranberry sauces! It is not that we don’t appreciate the flavor combinations, textures and gourmet touch that goes into my aunt’s cranberries..but the heart wants what the heart wants..and canned cranberries have our hearts!

We knew we could not just keep eating goo from a can forever. There is just way too much refined sugar that we don’t need added to our diets. Cranberries are naturally loaded with antioxidants, and are very high in vitamin C. On their own, they are a superfood, but that is all out the window as soon as you douse them in high fructose corn syrup! So what are two canned cranberry lovers to do? Make our own!!

With a few (and we mean VERY few) natural ingredients and turbo blender, BAM! All the smooth, tangy and sweet characteristics of our childhood favorite are back, and healthier than ever! Everyone loves these, and they are great spread on your post-Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. We hope you will give them a try, and see just why we love them so much!

 

“Canned” Cranberries {recipe}

Makes 4 ½ cups

 

INGREDIENTS

24 oz of fresh cranberries

2 cups (about 40) pitted dates

2 cups water

¼ c maple syrup

 

METHOD

  1. In a high-speed blender combine dates and water. Blend until smooth. (don’t clean the blender yet!)

  2. Pour date paste in a medium saucepan over medium heat with cranberries.

  3. Cook until cranberries begin to burst and soften, about 10-15 minutes. Stir frequently.

  4. Once they are soften pour cranberry date mixture back into blender. Blend 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.

  5. Refrigerate for a few hours to chill.

 

NOTE: Can be made up to 4 days in advance.

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Scalloped Corn Casserole

corn_casserole

For most, green bean casserole might be the side dish always appearing during the holiday times. But for us it quickly became this corn casserole.

This dish is the perfect combination of sweetness from the corn, saltiness of the crackers, creaminess of the cheese & crunch of the buttery topping. Now we can’t take full credit for this amazing recipe, as it was originally from Angela’s husbands family table. This scalloped corn, which they affectionately called “corn chowder” (even though that can be quite confusing) always graced their holiday table, and I have to say its always the first thing to disappear.

Once we got our heads on straight and headed in the compassionate direction it was time to veganize this family tradition, because we definitely didn’t want to do without. Well let me tell you, this dish is still the first thing to go, and if and only IF some survives the next day, it makes a great breakfast ;-)

So don’t let your next holiday go by without this dish on the side, we guarantee it will become a family favorite for you too!

Scalloped Corn Casserole {recipe}

6-8 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 can whole kernal corn (reserve ¼ c liquid)

  • 3 tsp egg replacer + 4 TB water, mixed (or enough to replace 2 eggs)

  • ¼ c unsweetened soymilk powder + 6oz water (or reduce 1.5 cups unsweetened soymilk by half)

  • 4 TB vegan butter, divided (3 TB + 1 TB)

  • 2 TB dried minced onion

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp pepper

  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers, crushed & divided (¾ + ¼ package)

  • Cheese

    • 1 c cashews, raw & unsalted

    • 1 c water

    • 2 TB tapioca flour

    • 1 TB nutritional yeast

    • 1 TB miso paste

    • 1 large garlic clove

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.

  2. Blend all cheese ingredients together in a high speed blender until smooth.

  3. Pour into a medium saucepan and cook on medium high heat until thick and bubbly, whisking often. Should take about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat after it has thickened.

  4. Blend gently(consistency of creamed corn): 1 can of corn, reserved corn liquid, mixed egg replacer, soymilk powder + water or reduced soymilk, 3 TB melted butter, minced onion, salt & pepper.

  5. In a large mixing bowl add second can of corn, blender ingredients, cheese & ¾ package of the saltine crackers. Stir to combine.

  6. Mix remaining 1 TB butter with the remaining ¼ package crushed saltines.

  7. Pour corn mixture into a casserole dish.

  8. Top corn with buttered saltines.

  9. Bake for 1 hour until golden and bubbly.

 

NOTE: Can be made in advanced, however keep topping separate and add right before baking.

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Savory Mushroom Gravy

Mushroom_Gravy

Thanksgiving is a challenging time of year for our family. It is tradition for us all to come together and enjoy the company of each other over a large meal- mostly consisting of stuffing filled turkey, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes loaded with butter and sour cream..and all the other fixins of the “traditional” dinner. This is where the challenge comes in. For us, traditional thanksgiving is not reflecting our morals. The holidays are a terrible time for animals, and we would much rather celebrate them than serve them for dinner. We know that it can be very hard for people who are, or are becoming, vegan to find a balance between doing what is right for them and doing what is expected.

We thought we could help make this a little bit easier with some rich, flavorful dishes that are sure to please even the pickiest carnivore. We think that there is no better way to bring people together than food, and serving familiar dishes in a cruelty free way can show the skeptics that you can still eat all your favorites without any animal products.

One of the biggest staples in a Thanksgiving meal is the gravy. It goes on EVERYTHING! Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing..the whole plate is usually swimming in a savory bath, perfect for dunking your crescent rolls in. Growing up, we always had giblet gravy. Yes, that is chopped up organs from a turkey made into a gravy. We had no idea what we were eating, or what those little pieces floating around in it were. When we found out, suddenly our plates were a bit drier. Somehow that was disturbing to us, but we looked past the fact that these bits of turkey insides were being ladled over other pieces of turkey. Reflecting back, it seems silly to have an issue with one, but not the other. Eventually we made the connection, and these sweet, affectionate birds never graced our plates again.

But then we thought..WE STILL WANT GRAVY!! And we like it with little chewy bits in it. So we are going to have it! And then savory mushroom gravy was born! All the richness we wanted and all the right textures. It is silky smooth, shiny and the mushrooms add a perfect amount of chew. This gravy is delicious on everything. Consider making a double batch so that everything can be smothered in the mushroom goodness!

Savory Mushroom Gravy {recipe}

2.5 cups

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 c  mushrooms, finely diced

  • 2 TB olive oil

  • 2 TB vegan butter

  • 4 TB flour, spelt or all-purpose

  • 2 c water

  • 3 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable paste

  • 1 TB soy sauce

  • 1 tsp dry sherry

  • salt & pepper to taste

 

METHOD

  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until melted.

  2. Saute mushrooms for 5-7 minutes until they begin to brown.

  3. Sprinkle flour in, stir and cook 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add in water slowly while whisking, to make sure there are no lumps.

  5. Continue stirring while adding the remaining bouillon, soy sauce & sherry.

  6. Bring to a simmer to thicken. Season with salt & pepper.

 

NOTE: If you don’t have Better than Bullion, you can substitute your favorite veggie broth.

 

Print Friendly and PDF