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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel


This November I'm delighted to share one of my favorite recipes from my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook, a recipe that's just made for the celebration season.

Melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out for the holiday, this attractive Italian-inspired pie makes an ideal savory dinner dish with a very unique crust.

Since sweet potatoes are in such abundance during this colorful autumn season, I thought I would put them to work as a piecrust. My experiment worked magnificently and provides a welcome flavor balance to the savory filling.

The pie is a delicious choice for a small family gathering of six people. For a large group, enjoy it as a main dish or side dish by doubling the recipe and preparing it in a large, rimmed baking sheet. The baking sheet method works best with only two layers rather than the three layers as mentioned for the 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan.

The pie not only excels in flavor, but its fragrant aromas also infuse the kitchen with the irresistible scents of an old world Italian kitchen. Just be sure to deseed the tomatoes to avoid excess moisture spoiling this very striking crust that so perfectly compliments the filling and the holiday season.

A wonderful advantage to the busy cook, this has a convenience factor built in--you can prepare it up to 2 days in advance and simply reheat it at 350 degrees F. about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Tomato Pine Nut Pie


Yield: 1 (9-inch/23 cm) pie or 6 servings

    12 ounces (340g) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole almonds
    2/3 cup (180 ml) mashed tofu
    1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) Lightly oil a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan.
  2. To make the crust, put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.
  3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process them until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.
  4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 -inch (1 cm) higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

    2 green onions, sliced
    1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    1/3 cup (80 ml) pine nuts
    2 to 3 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan (recipe below) or prepared vegan Parmesan
    2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    Salt Freshly ground pepper
    1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch (.318 cm) slices
    4 to 5 large red or green tomatoes, seeded and sliced.

  1. To make the filling, put the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan in individual bowls. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate.
  2. Cover the bottom of the crust with one layer of eggplant slices. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy). Reserve remaining eggplant for another use. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.
  3. Dredge one-third of the tomato slices in the cornstarch. Arrange the dredged tomato slices over the eggplant, filling all the spaces with small bits of tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one third each of the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan over the tomatoes. Repeat the process to make three layers.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Note: If using green tomatoes, the pie might have to bake another 15 minutes.


Often I've come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of holiday or everyday dishes.

    1 cup almonds
    1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid over-processing or it will turn into almond butter.)
  2. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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