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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel


That long-awaited month of holiday celebrations has arrived and never fails to spark our desire to invite friends and family and share the joyful times together.

So many fun holiday-themed events occur this month--whether it's unwrapping presents together, holding a fun and frenzied gift exchange game, attending a cookie exchange party, having a tree decorating party, enjoying a family reunion, attending a potluck, or observing a religious ceremony--no matter the event--we eventually get hungry.

Because this time of year is so very special, we tend to go to greater efforts to plan a menu that measures up to the expectations of the occasion. We satisfy our hunger with the everyday foods during the rest of the year, but for holiday time--well, we aim a little higher and try new recipes that look and taste extra special.

This sumptuous yuletide dish makes a dramatic, showy presentation on the holiday table. It's a winning entrée for those with an inquisitive palate because its deliciously complex flavors present a fun challenge to guess the hidden ingredients.

This is one of the delicious recipes in my cookbook Vegan for the Holidays!

Shiitake Tornadoes in Cashew Cream Sauce


Yield: Makes 12 balls; 8 to 12 servings


    8 ounces (226g) shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps cut into quarters
    1 onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon tamari
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
    3/4 cup (180 ml) water

    1/2 cup (120 ml) pitted Kalamata olives

    3 cups (720 ml) cooked short-grain brown rice
    1 cup (240 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup (120 ml) walnuts, coarsely ground 1/4 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper

    1 cup (240 ml) black or regular sesame seeds
    12 long sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
    6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half, for garnish

  1. To make the tornadoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Line a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch (44.5 x 32 cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the mushrooms, onion, tamari, and tarragon in a large, deep skillet. Add water and cook and stir over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the onion is softened and transparent. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
  3. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor and add the olives. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
  4. Add the rice, oats, walnuts, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour the black sesame seeds into a deep, medium bowl.
  5. Using your hands, form the mushroom mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll each one in the sesame seeds to coat well. Place the coated balls on the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Cashew Cream Sauce

    3 cups (7200 ml) vegetable broth
    1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted tomato paste
    1 to 2 tablespoons tamari
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
    Pinch cayenne

    1/2 cup (120 ml) cashews, finely ground
    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Salt to taste
    Freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. To make the sauce, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, tamari, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, marjoram, and cayenne in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cashews, whisk and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing. Before serving, stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. To serve, spoon some of the sauce into a large, deep platter and arrange the tornadoes over the sauce. To garnish, poke a rosemary sprig into each tomato half and push them into the tops of the tornadoes, so they stand upright.

Note: If not serving immediately, refrigerate the tornadoes and sauce separately. Warm the tornadoes in a preheated 350-degree F. (Gas Mark 4) oven for 12 to 15 minutes before serving. Heat the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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