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Vegan for the Holidays

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All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegan Recipes/ Vegetarian Recipes

For other Valentine's Day Menus and Recipes Click Below
Cupid Aims His Arrows from the Kitchen
Purple Passion Fluffery



Includes Recipes Below

Without a little romance, life would certainly be missing those shared moments of tenderness and passion that make us feel special. Thoughts of love bring contentment to the heart, and add fervor to our dreams. Love makes us smile more often, makes the heart beat a little faster, and sparks our life to know that someone cares about us.

Valentine's Day reminds us how fortunate we are to celebrate an entire day devoted to affairs of the heart. While some may think Valentine's Day ought to be celebrated more often, Cupid knows that stoking the fires of love with extra special attention once a year is just right. On Valentine's Day people in love make the effort to do extraordinary things for each other they might not do otherwise. Lovers whisper expressions of endearment to their beloved, words that they might not use ordinarily. This unique holiday puts romance on a pedestal and steams the heart with powerful emotion.

While each pair of lovers recognizes Valentine's Day in different ways, the one thing they have in common is the desire to please that special person in their lives. In planning a Valentine celebration at home, set the scene for romance to bring pleasure to all of the senses. You may choose to put on some soft music to please the ears, candlelight to create soft light for the eyes, flowers and potpourri to provide delightful fragrance, or poetry for the romantic at heart--those things that symbolize sentiment.

Treat your lover or those who are special to an exceptional home-cooked dinner that's full of lusty flavors and aromas. Some couples even enjoy preparing meals together. Welcome the occasion by toasting with a glass of your favorite wine or sparkling apple cider served in long-stemmed glasses. Then serve a dish of hot or cold Eggplant Cornucopias, a succulent appetizer that combines eggplant with seasoned garbanzo beans in a unique presentation. Perhaps a crackling fire sets the stage for romance. If so, this tasty first course makes a perfect fireside starter.

Valentine's Day can also be a special day to share with friends or family menbers who are important in your life. Your effort to make them feel appreciated will win their hearts and bring them even closer.

A Sweetheart Salad of baby greens with plenty of colorful, crunchy carrots, radishes, and jicama topped with a zesty Avocado Caesar Dressing offers a sensuous, light beginning with its varied textures and flavors.

The hearty, brightly colored entrée works magic in the love arena with pleasing aromas and tantalizing tang. Passionate Pineapple Tempeh embraces the tropical island flavors of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce with the sweetness of pineapple to create a distinctive dish that blooms with flavor. Decorated with bright red bell pepper hearts that appear to dance on the plate, the visual feast expresses romantic intentions.

Also gracing the plate is Cupid's Favorite Quinoa, the ancient grain of the Incas, dotted with roasted tomatoes and onions and heightened with a hint of cinnamon. Steamed Asparagus Spears lend an earthy green accompaniment while Roasted Beet Hearts offer a deep red color accent and plenty of sassy flavor.

Wrapping the evening in romance, our Love Tart is definitely the choice for the impassioned raspberry aficionados. Filled with spiced pears and raspberries, the tart is complemented with a romantic bleeding heart Raspberry Almond Sauce.

A warm embrace and a sip of warming, fruity liqueur by the fireside combine to form special memories of romance on this Valentine's Day.

Valentine Dinner Menu

Toast with glass of your favorite wine or sparkling non-alcoholic beverage
Eggplant Cornucopias

Sweetheart Salad with Baby Greens
Avocado Caesar Dressing

Passionate Pineapple Tempeh
Cupid's Favorite Quinoa
Steamed Asparagus Spears
Roasted Beet Hearts

Love Tart with Raspberry Almond Sauce
Peach Brandy in a long stemmed liqueur glass

Our appetizer recipe makes considerably more than two lovers will want to nibble for a first course, but the cornucopias are so flavorful you'll welcome the leftovers the next day. Made with large eggplants, the cornucopias can even be served as an entrée.

Because these little babies are quite messy, be sure to serve with plenty of napkins. When time is limited, you can make these a day ahead and serve them hot or cold. As a bonus, the garbanzo filling is versatile enough to make a zesty dip for veggies or toasted pita wedges.

Eggplant Cornucopias

Yield: Makes enough filling to stuff about 12 eggplant cornucopias

    2 medium eggplants, unpeeled
    1 red bell pepper, quartered

    1/3 cup (80 ml) walnut pieces
    1 1-pound (450g) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
    1/4 cup reserved garbanzo liquid

    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1 teaspoon dry mustard mixed with 2 teaspoons water
    1 clove garlic
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    2 green onions, white part only, minced

    3 thin julienne strips of red bell pepper

  1. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets and preheat the oven to 400 degrees (Gas Mark 6). Wash the eggplants and slice them crosswise about 3/8-inch (1cm) thick, making sure there are at least 12 slices. Place them on the prepared baking sheets along with the quartered red bell pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. While the eggplants are baking, assemble the filling.
  2. To make the filling, coarsely grind the walnut pieces in a nut grinder or food processor, put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl, and set them aside.
  3. Pulse the garbanzo beans and the 1/4 cup reserved garbanzo liquid in the food processor and process until almost pureed. Add the lime juice, dry mustard, garlic, salt, and cayenne and process until well combined. Spoon the garbanzo mixture into the nuts along with the minced green onions, and mix well.
  4. To assemble the cornucopias, cut the roasted red bell pepper into 12 strips lengthwise, and place a strip on each slice of roasted eggplant.
  5. Put approximately 1 tablespoon of garbanzo filling in the center of each eggplant slice. Pinch the bottom together to form a cornucopia and secure it with a toothpick.
  6. Sprinkle the exposed filling with paprika. Arrange the cornucopias on a serving platter, place a nest of parsley in the center, and overlap the red pepper strips over the parsley for garnish. Serve hot or cold.

Nothing quite compares to the crisp snap of a freshly prepared salad with its multi shades of green and satisfying crunchy add-ins. Because of their high water content, raw vegetables provide a much-needed lightness to a large meal.


Yield: 2 servings

    3 cups (720 ml) baby lettuce or field greens salad mix
    1 small carrot, shredded
    1 cup (240 ml) diced jicama
    4 radishes, sliced
    8 cherry tomatoes

Combine the lettuce, carrot, jicama, and radishes in an attractive bowl, and toss well. Divide into two portions, and garnish each with the cherry tomatoes. Serve with Avocado Caesar Dressing on the side.

Rich with color, tantalizing in flavor, and pleasing with creamy satin texture, avocado makes the perfect base for a tangy salad dressing. The recipe makes a generous portion to enjoy over other dishes like baked potatoes, grains, or steamed vegetables.


Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml)

    1 medium avocado
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
    1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
    1/4 cup (60 ml) vegan Parmesan alternative
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 clove garlic
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Wash the avocado and cut it in half. Scoop out the flesh and put it into the blender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend on low speed for a few seconds. Switch to high speed and blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer the dressing to an attractive serving bowl and serve with a ladle. Refrigerate leftovers. Will keep well for 5 to 6 days.

Charm your lover with a dish that captivates the heart at first glance. Who could resist a meal with sublime flavors and dancing red hearts? Easy to prepare, this dish will quietly marinate for several hours while you assemble other recipes for the meal.

Passionate Pineapple Tempeh

Yield: 6 servings


    1/2 cup (120 ml) Bragg Liquid Aminos or Tamari
    1/3 cup (80 ml) water
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 1/2-inch (3.5 cm) piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
    1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper


    1 1/2 pounds (675g) tempeh

    1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1 cup (240 ml) crushed pineapple with natural juices
    2 green onions, chopped

    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons water

    1 red bell pepper, halved

  1. To make the marinade, combine the marinade ingredients in an 8-inch ((20 cm) square or 7 x 9-inch (17.5 x 23 cm) baking dish and set aside.
  2. To make the tempeh, score each piece on both sides, making diagonal cuts 1/4-inch (.5 cm) apart and 1/4-inch (.5 cm) deep. Continue scoring by making crisscross cuts in the opposite direction, forming a diamond pattern. Scoring helps the tempeh to absorb the marinade. Cut the tempeh into 6 portions, and spread them out in the marinade dish, turning to coat evenly. Cover the dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 6 hours, turning the pieces frequently.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Using a slotted spatula, lift the tempeh from the marinade, transfer to the skillet, and brown for 1 to 2 minutes on each side over high heat. Remove to a serving dish and set aside.
  4. Pour the remaining marinade into the skillet. Add the pineapple with its juice and the green onions and bring to a boil.
  5. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup or bowl and stir well to form a paste. Pour the paste into the boiling pineapple mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, or until thickened to desired consistency. Pour the pineapple sauce over the browned tempeh.
  6. Using a cookie or canape cutter, cut 3 large and 2 small hearts from the bell pepper, and dice about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the remaining red bell pepper. Decorate the plate with the parsley and arrange the hearts attractively just before serving.

The ancient grain of the Incas comes to life dressed in roasted tomatoes and onions and accented with a complement of cinnamon. Simple to prepare, this dish gives the impression of a more complex preparation.


Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    2 large tomatoes, chopped
    1 medium, onion, chopped
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Salt and pepper

    1 cup (240 ml) quinoa
    2 cups (480 ml) water
    3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5) and have ready a large, lightly oiled baking sheet. Combine the tomatoes and onions on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Roast for 45 minutes, tossing once or twice during roasting.
  2. While the tomatoes and onions are roasting, prepare the quinoa. Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse under running water for a full minute to remove any of the natural saponin coating that might give the grain a bitter flavor.
  3. Transfer to a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan, and add the water, and salt. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low, and steam 15 to 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender.
  4. Add the roasted tomatoes and onions to the cooked quinoa, and mix well.

Always a welcome addition to any meal, fresh asparagus, wearing its handsome shade of rich, warm green, is the perfect choice to complement our entrée. When ranking vegetables in order of favorites, people will frequently list asparagus on the top. It's no surprise--asparagus is simply delicious.


Yield: 2 to 3 servings

    1 pound (450g) fresh asparagus spears
    Pinch of salt (optional)

  1. Wash the asparagus, and break off the tough ends by bending the stalk and allowing it to snap off naturally where the soft portion begins.
  2. If you have an asparagus steamer, use it to cook the asparagus. Otherwise, put the spears into a saucepan large enough to lay them flat. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan by 1/2-inch (1cm) and add a pinch of salt, if using.
  3. Cover the saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low, and steam about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove immediately and serve.

How sweet, you might say! And they are. Little color accents that just happen to taste great, these heart-shaped roasted beet slices remind two lovers that Valentine's Day is all about sharing those special feelings that touch the heart.


Yield: 2 to 3 servings

    2 or 3 medium beets
    Canola oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5), and lightly oil a large baking sheet. Wash the beets thoroughly. Cut off the stem ends, and peel the skin with a vegetable peeler.
  2. Slice the beets, thickly or thinly as desired, arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, and brush lightly with the canola oil. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the beets are fork tender.
  3. Using a heart-shaped cookie or canape cutter, cut the roasted beet slices into heart shapes.

Our Love Tart is as captivating as it sounds. Sweet, yet saucy, this tantalizing dessert will win your lover's heart at first bite. Because this recipe makes only three delectable tarts, you may need to double or triple the recipe for serving a group.

Love Tart

Yield: 3 love tarts


    2 firm Anjou pears, cored and diced
    1 12-ounce (340g) package frozen raspberries, thawed and divided
    1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 1 tablespoon organic sugar
    2 tablespoons golden raisins
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5). Put the pears into a medium mixing bowl and add 1 cup (240 ml) of the raspberries along with the organic sugar, raisins, and cinnamon, and toss well.
  2. Combine the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch is well dissolved. Add it to the pear mixture and stir well. Set aside while preparing the tart shells.

Tart Shells

    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 cup (120 ml) almond meal
    2 tablespoons organic sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola oil

    1/3 cup (80 ml) cold water

  1. Have three 10-ounce (280g) ovenproof custard cups ready. Combine flour, almond meal, organic sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Add the canola oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender until all the flour is incorporated. Add the water and stir thoroughly until the mixture forms a soft dough and all the water is absorbed.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper into a large circle about 15 inches (37.5 cm) in diameter. Cut the circles 1 1/4 inches (2.5 cm) larger than the rim of the custard cups and press the dough circles into the custard cups. You may have to gather the remaining dough into a ball and re-roll it for the third cup.
  4. Fill the prepared tart shells with the pear mixture and press the edges of dough inward so only a small portion of the filling is exposed.
  5. Place the filled custard cups on a large baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool completely and serve with warmed Raspberry Almond Sauce.

Raspberry Almond Sauce

    Remaining raspberries
    1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water
    3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Combine all the sauce ingredients in the food processor and puree completely. Transfer the sauce to a 1-quart (1 liter) saucepan and warm gently. Transfer to a attractive serving bowl and bring to the table to spoon over the tarts. Makes 1 cup (240 ml) of sauce.


Keeping the romance of the evening well-stoked, finish the meal by sipping Peach Brandy served in long-stemmed liqueur glasses. Possibly you have a favorite liqueur you prefer instead of brandy. The warming effect of a sweet liqueur or brandy does wonders for adding a special glow to the cheeks and encouraging thoughts of tender passion. According to the winged cherub, Cupid, sweet, sentimental thoughts of love are the perfect ending for a perfect Valentine's Day.

Click here for an alternative Valentine's Day Dinner

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

Click here for other Vegetarian Holiday Meals

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