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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel


Are you ready for the Easter Bunny? He's hopping your way to help the family celebrate Easter, a celebratory time to recognize the coming of spring and its refreshing blades of green grass, warmer weather, and a new season--a time of rebirth.

Easter is filled with so many delightful traditions it may be challenging to squeeze them all into one holiday, but the Easter Bunny is a fun little theme to jump-start the festivities. So how did the Easter Bunny tradition begin? Seems rabbits deliver a large litter of baby bunnies in the spring, and who can resist those adorable, fluffy little bunnies that have found their way into children's hearts and eventually into Easter baskets, too.

Some families bake an Easter Bunny Cake, others roll out cookie dough and use bunny cookie cutters to create little bunnies to decorate. For the chocolate lovers there are molded chocolate bunnies of all sizes available in candy shops and groceries.

Many families revel in the joy of togetherness that takes place around the table when dying Easter Eggs, a fun tradition that may have been brought to our country in the 1700s by German immigrants.

Our own children loved to dye eggs at friend's houses. We would buy plastic Easter eggs, decorate small Easter baskets with egg-shaped candies and fluffy toy chicks, and on Easter morning they would drop them on the doorstep of their friends in the neighborhood. They would ring the doorbell and quickly run away. Then, later they might ask their friends if the Easter Bunny paid them a visit. Of course, they giggled and spoiled the secret.

We also woke up early on Easter morning to hide the plastic eggs all over the garden. Our joy was watching the kids have such fun hunting for the hidden eggs. And when all the fun and games are over, we finally come together at the table and enjoy a hearty meal full of delicious foods.

So, what are we cooking up this year for Easter dinner? Chickpea Treasure Cakes, of course!

Heavenly light and moist, these pattycakes are a treasure to have in your repertoire of hearty bean recipes. They're wholesome and flavorful and bake up into an eye-appealing golden-brown finish. This alluring recipe makes enough to feed the whole family with pleasingly plump patties that measure about three inches in diameter.

The fun part of this recipe is dressing these little babies with a multitude of sauces: Chimichurri, Romesco, Italian tomato, Alfredo, lemon-caper, béchamel, pesto, or your family favorite are all great choices. My favorite is the super-easy Hickory Smoke Sauce accompanying this recipe because it's blessed with awesome flavor.

These chickpea patties can be made up to two days in advance and briefly reheated shortly before serving. To reheat: put the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle each patty with water by running your hand under water and shaking it out onto the patties. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and heat for about 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 350-degree F. oven.

Enjoy the Treasure Cakes with Pesto Potatoes, Sweet & Sour Carrots, and Roasted Butternut Squash. You might also want to begin the meal with a great big salad.

Chickpea Treasure Cakes/Hickory Smoke Sauce


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Caramelized Onions
    3 onions, sliced

    1 tablespoon Tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Chickpea Treasure Cakes
    1/2 cup (120 ml) almond meal or almond flour

    1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    2 (15-ounce/424g) cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

    1/2 cup (120 ml) oat bran
    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground in mortar & pestle
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper

    Follow Your Heart egg replacer for 2 eggs
    1 cup (240 ml) ice water

    Hickory Smoke Sauce
    1/2 cup (120 ml) Vegenaise or other vegan mayo
    2 teaspoons liquid hickory smoke flavoring
    2 teaspoons Big Tree Farms Organic Coco Aminos (See note)

    1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced parsley

  1. TO PREPARE THE CARAMELIZED ONIONS, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (Gas Mark 5) and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Heap the onions into the center of the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a metal spatula, turn the onions over and heap them into the center again. Roast another 20 minutes.
  4. Spread out the onions on the pan and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are very soft.
  5. Sprinkle the onions with Tamari and vinegar, toss the onions to distribute the flavors, and spread them out in a single layer. Roast 5 minutes longer to finish caramelizing and infuse the seasonings. Set aside.
  6. TO PREPARE THE CHICKPEA TREASURE CAKES, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment. While the onions are caramelizing in the oven, put the almond meal in a large bowl and set aside.
  7. Put the chopped onion in a food processor and pulse chop. Add the rinsed and drained chickpeas to the processor and pulse 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is almost smooth. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the almond meal.
  8. Add the oat bran, yeast flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, fennel, salt, and pepper to the bowl.
  9. Put the caramelized onions in the food processor and process until pureed. Then, add them to the bowl and mix well with your hands or a large spoon.
  10. In a small bowl, combine the egg replacer and ice water. Use a fork or small whisk to beat the mixture until smooth and creamy and lightly thickened. Add the egg replacer mixture to the bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined and evenly distributed.
  11. Using a large spoon, scoop up a heaping spoonful of the mixture and drop it onto the prepared parchment-lined baking sheet. Add enough of the chickpea mixture to form patties about 3 inches in diameter. The mixture will be enough to form about 15 generous patties.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a large spatula to turn the patties and bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top each Treasure Cake with a dollop of Hickory Smoke Sauce and a pinch of minced parsley.

Hickory Smoke Sauce
Combine the Vegenaise, hickory smoke seasoning, and coco aminos in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. This sauce makes about 2/3 cup (160 ml) and will keep for several days.

Coco Aminos is a liquid mixture of aged coconut sap and sea salt and comes in a 10-ounce (296 ml) bottle. The product has a delicious savory flavor similar to soy sauce with definitive undertones of sweetness and is much lower in sodium.

Whether you're cooking for your tiny family or serving a crowd, you'll welcome a simple dinner prep at Easter time. While the main course is a bit fussier timewise, the side dishes are super easy, attractive, and delicious and can be prepared in advance.

Nothing beats the hominess of simple boiled potatoes slathered with a tasty vegan pesto. It's hearty, delicious, and provides perfect satiety to a meal. The potatoes can be prepared a day or two in advance and quickly reheated on the stovetop shortly before serving.

This simple potato dish doesn't have to wait just for Easter. Served hot or cold, it's a year-round honey of a potato dish.

Homey Pesto Potatoes


Yield: 8 to 10 servings

    8 to 10 medium size red, white, or Yukon Gold potatoes

    1/2 cup (120 ml) vegan pesto (recipe below)

  1. Wash and dry 8888888888888888potatoes, but don't peel them. Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks and put them into a 3-quart (3 liter) saucepan. Add water to cover and about 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste.
  2. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 4 to 8 minutes or until just fork tender. Watch carefully to prevent overcooking the potatoes.
  3. Drain the water from the potatoes and add the pesto. Use a wooden spoon to toss the potatoes and distribute the pesto sauce evenly.
  4. Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and garnish as desired.


1 cup (240 ml) fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and lightly packed
1 cup (240 ml) fresh basil leaves, washed and lightly packed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the pesto ingredients in the food processor and process until completely smooth. Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of pesto to the cooked and drained potatoes. Use remaining pesto to enjoy in a future dish.

Carrots make a colorful side dish to accompany almost any main dish. We couldn't resist having the Easter Bunny deliver a beautiful bunch of carrots to our home so we could share this simple, yet tasty recipe for a delightful Easter dinner. The carrot sauté can be prepared a day or two in advance and simply warmed on the stovetop just before serving.

We use a deep, 10- to 12-inch (25 to 30 cm) ceramic skillet for many of our veggie stir-fries and find it a great asset in our kitchen. What we love is that we can stir-fry almost any vegetable without burning the pan or the veggie. That pan is such a good friend I know I can count on to turn out beautiful sautéed dishes like these yummy carrots.

Sweet and Sour Carrot Saute


Yield: about 4 to 5 servings

    8 medium carrots, peeled and angle sliced
    4 garlic cloves, sliced crosswise
    1/2 red onion, chopped
    1 to 2 teaspoons grapeseed or canola oil
    3 tablespoons water

    1 bunch green onions, sliced
    3 to 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar

  1. Combine the carrots, garlic, red onion, oil, and water in a large skillet and cook and stir over high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the carrots are beginning to soften. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to cook the carrots and avoid burning them.
  2. Add all but 1 of the green onions, cider vinegar, and brown sugar and continue cooking and stirring until the carrots are softened to desired consistency.
  3. Transfer the cooked carrots to an attractive serving dish and garnish with the remaining green onion.

Butternut squash in any form is a delicious addition to any meal. Mashed, it offers a pleasing side dish and helps to round out the tasty Easter dinner. Because the squash is such a favored winter vegetable for its delicious sweetness and stunning bright orange coler, you don't have to wait for Easter to enjoy it. When there are several dishes to prepare for a meal, baking the squash and serving it mashed offers an easy contribution that's always welcome on the buffet table.

Baked Butternut Squash


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1 medium butternut squash, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds (approximately 1 kg)
    Sweetener of choice: maple syrup, organic sugar, agave nectar (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. (Gas Mark 7) and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Wash the squash to remove any surface dirt and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the neck of the squash is soft when gently squeezed.
  3. When soft, remove the squash from the oven and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Spoon the squash into a bowl and mash.
  4. Taste the squash. Most of the time it's pleasantly sweet, but occasionally delivers a bland quality. Sweeten to taste as desired.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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