Welcome to the 2nd guest post of my series. In this series I ask other bloggers: “ What would you feed a vegan coming to dinner ”. Genevieve of Vanilla & Spice was one of my earlier readers. She writes a scrumptious blog of vegetarian and vegan creations. And like me, she’s Canadian and a graduate student. I’ll let her give you her perspective.
Hi everyone! My name is Genevieve and I blog about healthy vegetarian and vegan food at Vanilla & Spice . I’ve been a fan of Sometimes I Veg since well before I started my own blog because I really admire Miriam’s cooking style and food philosophy. So when she offered me the chance to do a guest post on her blog, I gladly accepted the opportunity!
I also liked the idea of writing a guest post on the theme of “What would you feed a vegan coming to dinner?” Most of the meals that I cook for myself are vegan, so I don’t have any problems coming up with ideas for healthy and delicious vegan dinners. But I can definitely understand how the thought of having to cook a vegan dinner for a new guest could be a bit daunting for someone who isn’t familiar with the vegan diet.
I think it can be hard enough for some people to cook meatless meals, and then having to eliminate common ingredients like eggs, cheese, milk, butter and honey makes it even more difficult to plan a menu! What I love about vegan/vegetarian blogs is that they help show people that it’s actually easier than they might think to come up with vegan meals that anyone will enjoy!
If you are feeding a group of people with mixed diets, one idea could be to make a meal that’s easy to modify with different proteins – you can make one main dish and cook the proteins separately for people to add to their own servings if they want. One easy way to do this is to make a pasta dish – I recommend this recipe on my blog for Ginger-Peanut Noodles , which can be topped with cooked tofu or chicken.
Another way to please both vegans and omnivores is to make two different versions of a similar dish. This is something we do a lot in my family (since both my older sister and I are vegetarian), especially during BBQ season. So for example, we’ll make both meat and veggie burgers, then we can all share the same toppings and side dishes. These Spinach Tofu Patties and Beet Chickpea Sliders are some of my favourite veggie burgers that I think non-vegans would like too!
Of course, the easiest approach would be to make only one dish that everyone can eat and enjoy! If you have some picky eaters in your family or some who are resistant to try vegan food, then your best bet might be to modify a familiar meal that’s traditionally non-vegan. I think some of the most successful vegan recipes are ones where the people eating it like it so much that they don’t even realize it’s vegan!
Here’s a recipe I made recently that fits the category of meals that are traditionally non-vegetarian, adapted to be vegan. Growing up, chicken potpie was one of my family’s favourite meals. This vegan version turns traditional potpie into a stew that is just as delicious and comforting as the meal I remember, and I’m sure everyone in my family would happily eat it without missing the meat at all!
First, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the whole pearl onions. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut the larger onions in half. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, mushrooms, dried sage or rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 3 more minutes, until the mushrooms have released their moisture.
Add the split peas, vegetable broth and white wine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, then add potatoes and carrots. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the split peas have softened and the potatoes and carrots are tender.
Meanwhile, place the water in a large measuring cup, add the flour to the water, and mix until it dissolves.
Remove lid from the pot and add the flour-water mixture, fresh thyme leaves and peas. Let cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring often, until the stew thickens. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary (mine needed more salt).
Serve with vegan biscuits.
Makes 5-6 servings.
Since potpie is traditionally served with some sort of crust, I decided to make some vegan biscuits to serve with the stew. Appetite for Reduction recommends a recipe for sweet potato drop biscuits, but I decided to make whole wheat biscuits and added some fresh herbs and garlic powder for flavour. You can eat these on their own, but I liked to add the biscuit on top of my stew to eat them together.