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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Emerald Island Tofu Shares the Menu
With It's No Blarney Potato Salad

Because St. Patrick's Day is just ahead, I found the color green kept popping up in my head along with wonderful memories of my trip to Ireland many years ago. So green became the focus of not just one, but two tasty recipes to enjoy while being Irish for a day.

This easy recipe began as a simple, tasty tofu mixture to spread on toast or pita before I tinkered with it and aimed it in a very different direction. Unbaked, it actually makes a tasty party spread and can be used to stuff celery, endive, or mini peppers.

But in its second career, the gorgeous green tofu was employed as the top and bottom of an inspired vegetable napoleon perfect as a dinner entrée for celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Between the layers, I simply used a medley of roasted or sautéed vegetables as the napoleon filling and prepared a tasty avocado sauce to dress it up to the greens.

A little more puttering in the kitchen gave the recipe a third career simply served as tofu steaks garnished with a dollop of avocado sauce.

Ireland, frequently called the Emerald Isle, is also known as the country of 40 shades of green and truly lives up to that description with its picturesque and pastoral rolling hills of green grasses, trees, bushes, and vines. Have fun with the versatile recipe and see how many shades of green you can include!

Emerald Isle Tofu


Yield: 8 servings

    1 1/2 pounds (675g) firm tofu
    2 cups (480 ml) fresh spinach leaves

    1/4 cup (60 ml) cashews, pine nuts, macadamias, or Brazil nuts
    3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons red miso
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
    1 tablespoon dried onions

    Avocado Sauce
    1 medium avocado, mashed
    2 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
    1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Pinch cayenne

    3 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
    Cluster of parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Gas Mark 6) and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.
  2. Drain the tofu thoroughly and place it in the food processor. Add half the spinach and pulse-chop until the spinach disappears into the tofu. Add the remaining spinach and continue pulsing until the spinach is fully incorporated.
  3. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, miso, salt, and pepper and process until all the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon the tofu mixture onto the parchment-lined pan and spread the mixture with the back of a spoon to form a rectangle approximately 10 x 13 inches (25.4 x 33 cm).
  5. Sprinkle the surface lightly with paprika, then, sprinkle the black sesame seeds over the top. Distribute the dried onions over the top and press them lightly into the surface of the tofu.
  6. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, cool completely, and cut into serving squares or rectangles.
  7. To make the Avocado Sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  8. Arrange the tofu rectangles on a serving platter and drop a dollop of Avocado Sauce onto the center of each tofu piece. Add a cherry tomato quarter to each tofu piece and garnish the dish with the parsley.

There'll be no Irish potato famine in my house, and that's no blarney! With it's greenish tint and the delicious flavor of Dutch Yellow potatoes, this recipe can be gently warmed in the oven to become a hearty pairing with the Emerald Isle Tofu. Served chilled, it's the perfect mate to veggie burgers, open-faced patty melts, or all varieties of kitchen-sink sandwiches. The recipe is a great keeper and can be made a day ahead without losing even a tad of its rich flavors. Peewee potatoes are those tiny little orbs about the size of a large thumb.

If you don't have Melissa's Peewee Dutch Yellow Potatoes available, substitute with Yukon Gold or red or white potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces.

It's No Blarney Potato Salad


Yield: about 6 to 8 servings

    Potato Salad
    1 pound Melissa's Peewee Dutch Yellow Potatoes, scubbed

    1 1/2 cups chopped parsley
    2 ribs celery, diced
    1 large carrot, coarsely shredded
    1 medium zucchini, diced
    1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
    1/2 cup pine nuts
    4 green onions, chopped

    Avocado Dressing
    2 to 2 1/2 large avocados, mashed
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    Freshly ground pepper
    Pinch cayenne

    Cluster of parsley
    3 thin slices avocado

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Gas Mark 6). Spread the potatoes on a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or just until softened. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters if they are large.
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, put the parsley, celery, carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, pine nuts, and green onions in a large mixing bowl and toss together. Set aside and prepare the Avocado Dressing.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the avocados and put it into a medium bowl. Mash the avocado thoroughly and add the remaining dressing ingredients. Mix thoroughly to create a smooth, creamy sauce.
  4. Add the Avocado Dressing to the bowl with the vegetables, along with the cooked potatoes and mix well. Transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl or platter and garnish with the cluster of parsley and avocado slices.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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