Home Cooking: Vegan options for your holiday dinners and parties (column) | SummitDaily.com

Home Cooking: Vegan options for your holiday dinners and parties (column)

Suzanne Anderson
Home Cooking

As much as I enjoy cooking, getting into the kitchen and cooking with a friend who enjoys cooking as much as I do is exponentially more enjoyable. I imagine it's the same giddy feeling two musicians have when they are playing music together. There's a lot of creativity and laughter and fun, and the results are always delicious.

On Sunday, my friend Tara Baroody drove up from Boulder where she'd spent the Thanksgiving holiday with two of her grown children. Tara and I knew each other from high school days when we were on the same AAU swim team in Fort Lauderdale. If you'd seen us cooking together in the kitchen, you would have never guessed that in the past 40 years we've seen each other twice. But aren't those the best friendships?

In my mind, there is no better way to spend an evening than cooking with friends. There's something about preparing food together that gets people to relax, to laugh and simply enjoy the moment. It's impossible to be pretentious when you're chopping onions with eyes and nose watering.

Tara is a former owner of a juicing business, gives cooking lessons for vegan cooking and has a certificate as a holistic health counselor from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, so I knew whatever we cooked would be delicious and healthy.

We decided on a series of small plates, which would be perfect as appetizers if you're entertaining this holiday season and want to have options available for your vegetarian guests, or anyone preferring to eat lighter.

Tara started off with nori (seaweed) wrapped vegetable rolls with a peanut-ginger dipping sauce. I found it difficult not to eat more than my share. Our main course was a delicious kale-quinoa salad tossed with roasted cashews and dried apricots. Then we had a small bowl of 'zoodles' (zucchini noodles). We finished with a raw cashew cheese topped with a spicy red-pepper chia seed jam.

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The evening with Tara was so delightful and educational, I'll make "Cooking with Friends" a regular feature of Home Cooking. Over the coming months I'll look for new friends to cook with and feature their recipes here. If you have suggestions of cuisine or a cooking friend you'd like me to cook with, drop me an email at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com

Nori-wrapped Vegetable Rolls with Peanut-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

2 grated carrots

Red cabbage cut into thin 'slaw' strips (splash with maple syrup and Braggs Liquid Amino or soy sauce)

1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips

1 cucumber cut into thin strips

1-2 avocados cut into long thin pieces

Cilantro (if desired) chopped

3-5 green onions thinly sliced

Nori sheets (found in the Asian Food isle of most grocery stores)

Directions:

Cut the nori sheet into the desired width of the roll. Lay the nori sheet on a cutting board place about 1 tablespoon of each vegetable in a horizontal line across the top of the nori sheet, then gently roll the sheet up, maintaining the tension. Place on the serving plate, seam side down.

Dipping Sauce:

Peanut butter

Braggs Liquid Amino

Freshly grated ginger (you can also use dried ground ginger)

Maple syrup

Lemon juice (or Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar)

Zoodles

Ingredients:

1 package of zucchini noodles, or if you have a spiralizer, you can buy 1 lb of zucchini

2 cloves of chopped garlic

Extra Virgin olive oil

Braggs Nutritional Yeast

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

Blanch the zoodles in lightly bubbling water on the stovetop, about 3-5 minutes, just until softened. Drain the water (save about ½ cup of the cooking water to use later), return the pan with the zoodles to the stovetop, add olive oil, Nutritional Yeast, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Allow the garlic to soften. The Nutritional Yeast will combine with the water to create a flavorful sauce.

Kale-Quinoa Salad with Cashews and Apricots

Ingredients:

1 bunch of Lacinato (aka Dinosaur) kale

2 cups of cooked quinoa (1 cup of quinoa cooked in 2 cups water)

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup chopped oven-roasted cashews

½ teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin powder, splash of maple syrup, squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, splash with olive oil, then "massage" the kale with the olive oil. Massage? Yes, get in there with your clean hands and massage the kale with your hands. This softens the kale and brings out the flavor. Yes, it does make a flavorful difference.

Add the cooked quinoa, grated carrots, chopped dried apricots, oven-roasted cashews, toss together. The salad can be gently warmed in a pan, if you wish. Toss again with listed seasonings, adjust to taste. You could also combine the seasonings into a 'dressing' and toss the salad with this.

Cashew Cheese

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews – soak for two to four hours in water (use a ratio of two parts water to one part nuts)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup Braggs Nutritional Yeast

¼ teaspoon onion powder (to taste)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder (to taste)

Salt and pepper – to taste

Fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Form the cashew cheese into a flat pancake, and let dry overnight in the fridge. Then bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, until the cashew cheese forms a light brown crust. Allow the cheese to cool, top with the red pepper jam, and enjoy with crackers or raw vegetables.

Red Pepper Chia Seed Jam

Ingredients:

¼ cup chia seeds

2 red bell peppers diced

1-2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno (depending on your heat preference)

1 ½ teaspoon sugar or maple syrup

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine chia seeds and water, diced bell pepper, vinegar, jalapeno and sugar in small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until the pepper is softened, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add chia seeds and let cool, covered, until the 'jam' thickens as the chia seeds absorb moisture. Use an immersion blender or food processor to create a smooth-ish jam. Chill in the refrigerator and then serve over the cashew cheese or as a condiment with other dishes.