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Vegan for the Holidays

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Throughout the centuries Mothers have gained a reputation for going out of their way to cater to their families' favorite food preferences. You might even say many mothers specialized in cooking those treasured dishes and desserts they knew would bring pleasure to eager little mouths and perhaps earn them hugs of appreciation.

You may not consider yourself Julia Child's equal in the kitchen, but, take heart. Few of us have graduated from the rigors of Cordon Bleu culinary training. And, it's unlikely Mom has such lofty expectations. You can be assured that she will appreciate your efforts to prepare a special meal in her honor.

To really go all out for Mom on her special day, we borrow from the French chefs who created outstanding dishes that have become culinary standards. While Vichysoise, the familiar French potato soup, is served chilled, our flavorful rendition contains sweet peas in place of the potatoes and arrives at the table gently warmed. And, voila! Hot Pea Vichysoise is born! Taking further liberties, we garnish the green jewel with a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream.

France also inspires our featured dish with one that may have originated in Nice. Mom's Veggie Niçoise is an extravaganza of artistic design composed of perfectly chilled, marinated vegetables just like its original, but highlights the vegetables of spring such as asparagus, new potatoes, and zucchini squash along with a variety of legumes. Spooned into individual red cabbage leaves on the colorful platter is Egg Salad Look-alike in place of the original hard-cooked eggs and soy-based Pecan Tempeh Waldorf standing in for the tuna. Pungent Garlic Tarragon Vinaigrette bathes the many vegetables in a lively marinade punctuated with the spicy flavor of the herb so valued by French chefs.

Accompany the Niçoise with toasted whole-wheat English muffins, and serve them with mashed avocado in place of margarine loaded with trans-fat.

Dessert is an apple pie for Mom--not just any apple pie, but an appealing variation of the French Tarte Tartin, an apple tart that is baked with the crust on top, then inverted just before serving. This mouthwatering original receives its extraordinary flavor from a splash of rosewater that's baked in to seal its perfume.

Peas have a favored spot on many dinner plates. Even young children find them appealing. Puree them and warm them gently with the simplest of seasonings, and they bloom into an exquisite, gorgeously green, tantalizing soup. Somehow, soup seems incomplete without a wholesome piece of bread or crackers. Either a multi-grain cracker or a small wedge of whole rye bread would be an appealing accompaniment.

Hot Pea Vichysoise

Yield: 4 servings

    1 pound (450g) shelled fresh or frozen peas (about 4 cups)
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soymilk
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Tofu Sour Cream

  1. Combine the peas, water, onions, celery, and garlic in a 6-quart (6 liter) saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Transfer the cooked peas, liquid and all, to the blender and process until they are thoroughly pureed. Return the soup to the saucepan and add the soymilk, lemon juice, natritional yeast flakes, salt, Tabasco Sauce, and pepper. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the cooked peas right in the saucepan before adding the remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer to blend the flavors. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream.

A splash of tangy sour cream frequently can be the ideal enhancement to heighten the appeal of many entrees, appetizers, and casseroles. Add a spoonful to garnish a steaming bowl of soup or top a fresh fruit salad. This super-easy dairy-free version is far lower in fat than the traditional sour cream, yet offers the same pleasing qualities. Experiment with using this recipe as a base to create countless party dips.


Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

    1 12.3-ounce (350g) box extra firm silken tofu
    1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Use immediately or chill for an hour or two before serving. Refrigerated, Tofu Sour Cream keeps keeps for 1 week.

Niçoise is a colorful, hearty vegetable feast offering a full range of choices to please even those hesitant to try something new. The recipe is the make-ahead cook's dream. With a little organizing the day before, the assembly is quick and the presentation creates an opportunity to play food stylist, juxtaposing contrasting colors and positioning the veggies on the platter at just the right angle to dazzle the eye! Because you'll be preparing many separate components to complete the niçoise, you may choose to present them on two or even three large platters.


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Double recipe Garlic Tarragon Vinaigrette
    2 pounds (1 kilo) new potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks and lightly steamed
    1 pound (450g) button mushrooms, sliced
    1 pound (450g) fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths and lightly steamed
    2 large zucchinis, sliced 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick and lightly steamed

    1 recipe Egg Salad Look-alike
    1 recipe Pecan Tempeh Waldorf
    1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
    1 large head purple cabbage
    1 15-ounce (425g) can garbanzo beans, drained
    1 15-ounce (425g) can kidney beans, drained
    1 15-ounce (425g) can black beans, drained and rinsed

    4 large carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
    4 to 5 small tomatoes cut into quarters or eighths
    1/2 pound (225g) assorted olives
    1 bunch fresh tarragon
    1 bunch fresh parsley
    1 bunch fresh rosemary or fresh herbs of your choice

  1. ONE DAY BEFORE SERVING, prepare the Garlic Tarragon Vinaigrette and marinate the steamed potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and zucchinis in separate bowls in the vinaigrette for several hours or overnight. Chill thoroughly.
  2. Prepare the Egg Salad Look-alike and the Pecan Tempeh Waldorf and refrigerate them in separate containers.
  3. AN HOUR BEFORE SERVING, line 2 or 3 large platters with a bed of the torn romaine lettuce, making sure the edges of the platters are well covered with the greens.
  4. Wash the red cabbage, then cut out and discard the core. Lifting from the bottom of the cabbage, carefully remove 8 whole cabbage leaves, taking care to keep them intact. You now have cabbage leaf bowls. Distribute them among the platters over the torn lettuce.
  5. Spoon the marinated potatoes, asparagus, and zucchini into separate cabbage leaves. Then spoon the Egg Salad Look-alike and the Pecan Tempeh Waldorf into the cabbage cups and fill the remaining leaves with the beans. Creating a pleasing composition, place the marinated mushrooms in small mounds around the outer edges of the platters, alternating with the shredded carrots, and tomato wedges Complete the niçoise with a garnish of olives and fresh herbs and serve buffet style.

A highly pungent dressing makes the perfect marinade for the Niçoise vegetables. Just let the blender do the work several days ahead, refrigerate the dressing, and it will be ready for the marinating task ahead.


Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

    1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
    1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    6 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in the blender and process thoroughly. Transfer the dressing to a narrow-neck bottle for easy pouring and refrigerate until ready to use. Shake well before using.

Here's a tofu creation that closely resembles real egg salad, but without the high fat and cholesterol. In addition to enjoying it as a salad, you can also employ the look-alike as a sandwich filling along with those inventive goodies you pile on to make the sandwich more rewarding.


Yield: about 3 cups (720 ml)

    1 pound (450g) firm or extra firm tofu

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

    1 stalk celery, diced
    1/2 medium sweet onion, diced, or 2 to 3 minced green onions including tops
    1 tablespoon pickle relish

    Dash of paprika
    1 teaspoon minced parsley

  1. Cut open the package of tofu and drain the liquid. Rinse the tofu with cool water and drain thoroughly. If using firm tofu, place it on a dish and place another dish on top. Place a heavy weight on the top dish to press out the excess liquid. Drain after 15 to 20 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze the tofu through your fingers into a bowl, creating a curd-like texture similar to chopped eggs.
  2. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, garlic, salt, coriander, dill weed, onion powder, turmeric, pepper, and dry mustard, and mix until well blended.
  3. Stir in the celery, onions, and pickle relish, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Spoon the salad into a purple cabbage leaf, garnish with a dash of paprika and a sprinkle of parsley and it's ready to serve. Refrigerated, the leftovers will keeps for 1 week.

With full-bodied flavor and stout-hearted ingredients, this salad is a captivating tempeh version of an old classic--Waldorf Salad. Because it's brined in a robust marinade, the tempeh loses its often-potent fermented flavor. Taking bold liberties with tradition, we replace the walnuts with coarsely ground pecans and kick up the salad with a pinch or two of cayenne. The pleasing result is a wholesome salad with tangy taste that tingles the tongue and offers complete satiety. Best of all, it's a snap to assemble.


Yield: 4 to 5 servings

    1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
    2 teaspoons mirin, apple juice, or white grape juice
    1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and grated

    1 8-ounce (225g) package tempeh, diced

    1 large apple, cored and diced
    3 stalks celery, diced
    1 or 2 green onions, sliced (both white and green portions)
    1/2 cup (120 ml) pecans, coarsely ground
    1/3 cup (80 ml) soy mayonnaise
    Pinch cayenne
    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon minced parsley

  1. TO MARINATE THE TEMPEH, combine the lemon juice, soy sauce, mirin, olive oil, and ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Add the diced tempeh and toss well to coat it completely on all sides. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The tempeh will absorb most of the marinade.
  2. TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD, add the apple, celery, green onions, pecans, mayonnaise, and cayenne to the marinated tempeh and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and spoon the Pecan Tempeh Waldorf into the purple cabbage leaf. Sprinkle the top with paprika and minced parsley.

For the final thread of our French connection, we've created a dessert that brings a twist to the Mom and apple pie tradition. This holiday, give Mom the gift of a homemade apple pie that just may have her begging for the recipe. Our original variation of Tarte Tartin features a whole-wheat pastry crust filled with cinnamon-spiced sweet apples laced with rosewater.

Tarte Tartin

(Upside-down Apple Tart)

Yield: 6 servings

    Canola oil

    Pie Filling
    1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened applesauce
    2 tablespoons organic sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1 1/2 kilos) sweet apples (Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala)

    1 cup (240 ml) organic sugar
    1 tablespoon rosewater
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    Nutty Wheat Pie Crust
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 cup (120 ml) almond meal
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
    1/3 cup (80 ml) cold water

  1. Lightly oil a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan and preheat the oven to 450 F. (Gas Mark 8)
  2. TO MAKE THE PIE FILLING, combine the applesauce, organic sugar, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the pie pan and set it aside.
  3. Measure the lemon juice into a large bowl. Peel and core the apples. Then quarter them, slice them thinly, and add them to the lemon juice, tossing with a wooden spoon to coat them completely. This will help to prevent them from turning brown.
  4. Add the organic sugar, rosewater, and cinnamon and toss well. Arrange the apples in the pie pan in a spiral around the edge of the pan, overlapping the slices. Arrange the second layer in the opposite direction. Continue overlapping apple slices, filling the entire pie pan.
  5. TO PREPARE THE CRUST, combine the pastry flour, almond meal, organic sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.
  6. Add the canola oil and water and mix with a spoon until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture forms a soft dough.
  7. Form the dough into a ball and roll out dough between two pieces of waxed paper. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and invert the dough over the apples. Remove the waxed paper carefully and trim the edges with a knife.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) and bake 15 minutes longer. Cover the dough with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for a final 15 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and cool it completely.
  9. To serve, loosen the edges of the dough with a knife, invert the tart onto another 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan, and cut it into wedges.

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