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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Celebrate May & June Holidays with Casual Dining

Something we all have in common is looking forward to spring and summer when we have the urge to enjoy informal get-togethers and casual dining outdoors as the weather brings warm days and evenings our way. Our May-June issue features a banquet of fun and delicious dishes to relish during this sunny season that's filled with a host of happy celebrations--Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, and Father's Day.

This tantalizing spring menu offers some old favorites ramped up with new touches and introduces a few fresh ideas for hearty dining on Mother's Day as well as Father's day. This menu, though, is not limited to only May and June, but can also be enjoyed throughout the summer months. In addition, each of the individual courses is ideal for afternoon or evening patio gatherings or picnics.

Need a tasty appetizer? Try the Cannellini and Almond Dill Stuffed Mushrooms. Whether to serve the mushrooms cooked or raw? Your choice! The Garlicky Cauliflower Butter Tea Sandwiches also make a great, non-messy starter that can be eaten with the hands--truly casual dining.

Summer salads are a delight--choose the Hot Dilly Potato Salad or California Tabbouli Salad for your party--or make them both and enjoy double blessings!

Make-ahead dishes like these are always welcome to avoid last-minute fussing in the kitchen, especially when you'd rather be enjoying the time with friends and family. Prepare ahead and you'll be the most relaxed party host ever.

Cannellini Almond Dill Stuffed Mushrooms


You simply can't beat an appetizer that's easy to assemble, looks great on the platter, and tastes divine! The bonus is that this treat can be made a day ahead and served right from the fridge. The mushrooms can either be enjoyed raw or cooked--it's your choice.

Yield: 20 stuffed mushrooms

    20 button mushrooms
    4 cups (1 liter) water
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

    3/4 cup (180 ml) whole almonds
    1 (15-ounce/424g) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1/3 cup (80 ml) finely minced parsley
    2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
    2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    Zest of 1 lemon, finely minced
    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 teaspoons dried dill weed
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    20 tiny sprigs parsley
    1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

  1. TO PREPARE THE MUSHROOMS: Wash them and use your thumb to loosen and remove the mushroom stems. Set the stems aside for another use. Set the mushrooms aside if you are using them raw.
  2. To cook the mushrooms, combine the water, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce in a large deep skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook them for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and drain them on several layers of paper towels, turning them upside down to drain completely.
  3. TO PREPARE THE STUFFING: Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they are finely ground or slightly chunky, if desired.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and process until the mixture is completely blended. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
  5. Using a teaspoon, pack some of the filling into the mushroom cavities, filling them generously and slightly heaping.
  6. TO PREPARE THE TOPPING: Top each mushroom with a tiny sprig of parsley pressed into the top. For the finishing touch, poke a few bits of red bell pepper into the top for color.

This ultra creamy and flavor-pumped vegetable dish is so versatile one could consider it a mash, spread, butter, ragout, puree, pudding, or any innovative way you'd like to label it. Enjoy it as an appetizer or canapé spread, a delicious baked potato topping, a base for creating a cheese melt, a rice or pasta topping--you name it! It's simply delicious and super easy to prepare. This recipe makes a tasty snack to enjoy at your teatime.

Garlicky Cauliflower Butter Tea Sandwiches


Yield: about 3 to 4 cups (720 ml to 1 liter)

    1 medium cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds/793g with leaves)
    1/3 cup (80 ml) water plus more as needed

    1 (15-ounce/424g) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup (120 ml) tahini
    2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    Juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
    1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    1 garlic clove
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch cayenne

    1 or 2 baguettes, sliced
    Persian cucumbers, sliced
    Pinch of black sesame seeds, paprika, or Aleppo pepper, for garnish

  1. Trim the cauliflower, discarding the leaves or save them to cook at a later time. Chop the cauliflower and put it in a large, deep skillet.
  2. Add the water and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is very soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add small amounts of water as needed to cook the cauliflower and prevent burning.
  3. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a food processor and add the garbanzo beans, tahini, yeast flakes, lemon juice, salt, garlic clove, garlic powder and pepper. Process until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings and transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. To make the Tea Sandwiches, spread a generous layer of the Garlicky Cauliflower Butter on the baguette slices. Top each with 2 slices of Persian cucumbers and sprinkle the tops with your choice of black sesame seeds, paprika, or Aleppo pepper.

Somehow a meal on the patio or a picnic always feels heartier when you can hold a sandwich in your hand and bite into something fully flavored, chewy, and even a little messy. Summer time is a relaxed season where it's OK to lick your fingers and nod when you don't want to talk with your mouth full.

To make this sandwich easy to transport to a picnic, pack the cut pita breads in a ziplock bag and spoon the cooked filling into a covered container. Use a securely covered container for the Royal Gold Barbecue Sauce and pack some serving spoons.

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich


Yield: 6 servings

    1-pound (453g) tempeh, scored on both sides and cut into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) cubes
    1/2-pound (226g) extra firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) cubes
    2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
    2 tablespoons rice vinegar, or other mild vinegar
    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) vegetable broth or water
    1 1/2 green bell peppers, cut into 3/8-inch (1 cm) wide julienne
    1 1/2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 3/8-inch (1 cm) wide julienne
    1 1/2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/8-inch (1 cm) wide julienne
    1 large red onion, halved and cut into half moons
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Salt and pepper to taste

    1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped cilantro

    3 whole-wheat pita breads cut in half crosswise
    1 recipe Royal Gold BBQ Sauce

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tempeh and tofu cubes, Tamari, vinegar, and maple syrup. Mix well and adjust flavors to your taste preference. Set aside to marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  2. Combine the vegetable broth, green, yellow, and red bell peppers, onion, and the garlic. Cook and stir over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add 1 tablespoon of broth or water as needed to prevent burning the peppers.
  3. Add the tempeh and tofu chunks and the marinade to the skillet, tossing well and cook another minute or two to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. When all the ingredients are cooked, add the chopped cilantro and mix well.
  5. Open the pita halves, fill with the tempeh mixture and spoon the Royal Gold Barbecue Sauce over the top or serve the sauce on the side.

Serving Suggestion
As an alternative to the tempeh, use firm or extra firm tofu. Drain it well and cut it into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) thick slices. Marinate the slices as you would the tempeh.

To enjoy the sandwich to the fullest, add some sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced sweet onions, and shredded romaine or Greenleaf lettuce.

A pleasant change from the well-established tradition of smoky, heavily sweetened, tomato-based barbecue sauces, this unique ensemble of flavors introduces a mustard-base sauce punched up with condiments and spice. The sauce is lightly sweetened with agave nectar to bring it to life. Brush the sauce on tofu, tempeh, or vegetable kebabs before grilling, or use as an after-grilling sauce. Alternatively, enjoy the sauce as a dip for veggie meatballs, tempeh strips, barbecued tofu fingers, or seitan chunks.


Yield: 2 cups (480 ml)

    1 cup (240 ml) yellow mustard
    1/3 (80 ml) cup water
    1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar
    3 tablespoons ketchup
    1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
    2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or hot sauce of your choice
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well with a whisk to incorporate seasonings evenly. If prepared ahead, store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe Suggestion

Royal Gold Baked Beans
After cooking great northern, pinto, or black beans, drain off most of the excess liquid and transfer the beans to a casserole dish. Stir in some chopped onions, tomatoes, and celery, and add a generous portion of Royal Gold Barbecue Sauce. Cover the casserole and bake at 250 degrees F. (121 C) for 2 to 3 hours. After the first hour, check every 30 minutes to make sure the beans do not become dry. Add more sauce as needed.

Appetizer Suggestion: Fresh Pineapple with a Royal Gold Dipping Sauce
Here's a delicious appetizer idea that simply couldn't be easier. Cut a fresh pineapple into bite-size chunks and put them in an attractive serving bowl. Put the Royal Gold Barbeque Sauce in a separate bowl and provide toothpicks, making it easy to spear a pineapple chunk and dip it into the lively sauce.

Sometimes it's just plain fun to bring new and exciting flavors and textures that give refreshing, zesty life to a familiar, tried-and-true recipe. This fusion of a well-loved Middle Eastern favorite somehow seems like an old friend, and yet--there's an infusion of alternate ingredients that creates nuance with every bite. Bringing a fresh California touch to the composition are raw, ripe corn kernels, toasted pumpkin seeds, black beans, and bits of nacho-flavored vegan cheese. Additionally, a finely minced jalapeno or two might punch up the experience with a touch of sunny California spice.

California Tabbouli Salad


Yield: about 6 servings

    2/3 cup (160 ml) whole wheat couscous
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) boiling water

    2 bunches fresh parsley, finely minced
    Kernels from 1 ear raw corn
    1 medium heirloom tomato, diced (from Melissa's Produce)
    1 cup (240 ml) diced vegan nacho cheese from Follow Your Heart
    1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
    1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (from Melissa's Produce)
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons ground sumac or 2 teaspoons minced lemon zest
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

    3 cherry tomatoes, for garnish
    10 to 11 pitted Kalamata olives, for garnish

  1. Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water. Cover the bowl and set aside to soften.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the parsley, corn, heirloom tomato, cheese, bell pepper, beans, pumpkin seeds, lemon juice, sumac, olive oil, and salt.
  3. When the couscous has softened, add it to the bowl. Mix well and transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl or recessed platter.
  4. To garnish, place the cherry tomatoes in the center of the salad and encircle with the olives.

Melissas.com is the largest produce distributor in the U.S. Their numerous products can be found in groceries across the country.

Follow Your Heart products are readily available in natural food markets and online stores.

A gustatory treat in a bowl, this hearty, color-infused potato salad is a delight to share with family or friends who will find the combination of sweet and red potatoes irresistible. Most people expect potato salad to be served chilled, but this one stands apart with its ingredients warmed on the stovetop to heighten their flavors.

Hot Dilly Potato Salad


Yield: 5 to 6 servings

    2 large sweet potatoes, about 3/4 pound (340g), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
    3 large red potatoes, with skins, cut into bite-size chunks

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1 garlic clove, minced

    1 cup (240 ml) finely minced purple cabbage
    3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
    1 to 2 teaspoons mild vinegar (rice vinegar, cider vinegar, distilled vinegar)
    Salt and pepper to taste

    1/2 pound (226g) frozen peas, thawed to room temperature

  1. Put both the sweet potato and red potato chunks in a 4-quart (4 liter) saucepan with water to cover. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer 5 to 7 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork tender.
  2. Heat the olive oil briefly in a skillet and add the onion, red and green pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon the cooked potatoes into the skillet with the vegetables, and add the cabbage and dill. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes to warm through. Season to taste with lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the potato salad to an attractive bowl and spoon the peas over the top. Serve warm.

While potato salad is usually served as a side dish, you can easily turn it into a main dish with plenty of stick-to-the-ribs ingredients. Add 1 (14-ounce/396g) can black beans, rinsed and drained and 1/2 pound (226g) teriyaki-baked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes to the skillet when adding the cabbage and dill.

Californians are indeed fortunate when it comes to accessing fresh produce. Strawberries, for example, are available throughout the year. Peaches, however, are usually available from June through October, though in some areas of the U.S. they may appear earlier than June and stretch into November. For a delicious finishing touch to a fun meal, pair the two fruits and enjoy dessert that makes a dazzling, irresistible splash! If you've never made a cobbler before, you'll probably find it very odd to pour the batter on the bottom of the baking dish and discover it rises to the top after baking.

Strawberry Peach Cobbler


Yield: 8 to 10 generous servings

    3 cups (720 ml) halved strawberries (scant 2 pints)
    2 pounds (1 kilo) fresh peaches, sliced
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) organic sugar
    1 cup (240 ml) golden raisins
    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons rosewater
    1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon finely minced lemon zest
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Cobbler Batter
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole-wheat pastry flour
    1 cup (240 ml) plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    Pinch salt

    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) vanilla flavored soymilk
    1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola oil/ coconut milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) and lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish. Put the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch the drips. Set aside.
  2. Combine the strawberries, peaches, raisins, sugar, cornstarch, rosewater, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside while preparing the cobbler batter.
  3. To prepare the batter, combine the pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Add the soymilk and canola oil and stir with a whisk to incorporate all the ingredients.
  4. Pour the cobbler batter into the prepared baking dish. Stir the fruit mixture in the bowl and spoon it over the batter. Don't worry if it blends together. When baked, the cobbler batter will rise to the top and form a soft crust with bright accents of fruit peeking through.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly and serve warm. Alternatively, cool the cobbler to room temperature and serve, or serve chilled.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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