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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegan Recipes/ Vegetarian Recipes


Wind up the summer with a bash that celebrates the Labor Day holiday with panache. Invite some amigos, fire up the grill, and dish up a Western-style barbecue that carries the flavor of the Old West with every succulent bite. Got some tough hombres who are tofu-shy and need a little arm-twistin'? Many carnivores believe vegans live a life of deprivation. Lasso 'em, and then dazzle 'em with a host of finger-lickin' made-from-scratch eats that make the Labor Day holiday memorable.

The new kid on the block, Labor Day does not have a long history. Proclaimed a national U.S. holiday in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, became an official workingmen's holiday, earning all laborers a day of rest. The holiday honors the contributions made by American workers to social and economic achievements that promote the country's strength and prosperity.

While President Cleveland declared Labor Day an official holiday in 1887, the gala was not actually celebrated throughout all the states at that time. Instead, there was a gradual adoption, first by Oregon, then Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Early in 1894, twenty-three more states passed legislative acts recognizing the holiday. Finally, in June 1894, Congress enacted legislation to make the first Monday in September, Labor Day, a legal holiday in recognition of the American worker.

The arrival of Labor Day proclaims the last gasp of summer in some regions of the U.S. where cooler days and chilly nights signal the onset of autumn. So gather the cowpokes, spread out the red and white checkered tablecloth, pull on those non-leather boots, don your fancy straw Stetson, and get ready for a rip-roarin' fun barbecue.

Ropin' the Pinto Pattypans and Buckin' Prairie Dogs

After a hard day ridin' the vegan range and workin' the tofu patch, you can just imagine how hungry those wranglers might get. Rough and tumble as the Old West was, cowboys looked forward to a meal of tasty and hearty grub with robust flavors and zesty seasonings. By squeezing in a little time here and there a day or two beforehand, you can re-create the sizzlin' flavors of chuckwagon meals that are easily veganized. You'll notice the following menu focuses on simple preps and wholesome foods with irresistible flavors and tantalizing aromas.

And instead of roughing it with skewers made of old dry sagebrush, mosey on over to the general store and invest in a few metal skewers for easy grillin' of those ornery veggies. That'll tame 'em in a hurry.

Do-ahead fixin's include the colorful Chuckwagon Salad, tangy Cheesy Ranch Dressing, Stuffed Prairie Dogs, savory Pistachio Buttered Loaf, and the dessert-time Spicy Banana Oatmeal City Slickers.

Two or three hours before guests arrive, take the Pistachio Buttered Loaf out of the fridge and set it aside on the counter. When the grilling begins, place it near the grill to warm while the potatoes are baking. Then, a quick warming on the grill shortly before serving will bring out the rich, buttery flavor of the Pistachio Paté that's liberally spread between the slices.

While the foil-wrapped Grill Taters are baking under the hood of the barbecue or tucked right into the hot coals, offer the friendly cowpokes a tall Tumbleweed Twizzle. A tasty little sipping tonic gives the guests something to guzzle while the potatoes are baking.

The Chuckwagon Salad and Cheesy Ranch Dressing might be served while the "taters" are baking, or, if you prefer to wait until all the grilling is finished, just serve it along with the whole kaboodle of fixin's.

Finally, the Grill Taters are ready and will stay nice and hot while grilling the Pattypan Skewers, followed by the Cowboy Steaks and the Stuffed Prairie Dogs.

When it's time to round up the all the big and little vaqueros for dessert, bring on the cooling watermelon slices and a platter of Spicy Banana Oatmeal City Slickers. Watch the faces react in surprise when the gang bites into the City Slickers. Those little treats are laced with a subtle zap of hair-raising spice.

Still got a few doubtin' Thomases that need some arm twistin'? Show those picky varmints you're plum serious about serving the best chuckwagon meal they ever ate, and you'll soon have them begging to be invited to the next barbecue.


Waterin' Hole Special
Tumbleweed Twizzle

Chuckwagon Salad
Cheesy Ranch Dressing

Hearty Grub
Pattypan Skewers
Stuffed Prairie Dogs
Cowboy Steaks
Grill Taters 'n' Toppings
Pistachio Buttered Loaf

Sweets 'n Treats
Chilled Watermelon
Spicy Banana Oatmeal City Slickers

A refreshing thirst quencher, this fruity punch will keep the wranglers sated with something cool to sip while you're tending the grill. If there's no time to chill the beverage ahead, you can always count on ice cubes to help the folks chill-out. This recipe is so quick and easy that you can be a last-minute camp cook and still impress the crowd.


Yield: 4 servings

    4 cups (1 liter) coarsely chopped peaches (about 4 peaches)
    2 cups (480 ml) apple juice
    1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

    Seltzer or sparkling water
    Ice cubes

    1 peach, chopped
    4 sprigs mint

  1. Combine the 4 cups (1 liter) peaches, apple juice, agave nectar, lime juice, and ginger in the blender and blend until smooth. Chill for at least 3 hours.
  2. To serve, fill tall glasses half full with the peach and apple juice blend. Then top off the glasses with the seltzer and ice cubes to keep the Twizzle nicely chilled. Drop a tablespoonful of chopped peaches into each glass and finish with a sprig of mint.

Range-ridin' cowpokes need their greens, too, but some balk like bucking broncos when the greens land on their plate. Gotta be persistent like the varmints that come a-rustlin'. Be sneaky and brighten up the salad bowl with vibrant colors. Intense orange carrots, passionate purple cabbage, sizzlin' yellow corn, and hot-blooded red tomatoes offer "green relief" for those tough hombres who turn sissy at the sight of green.


Yield: 6 servings

    1 head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
    2 collards or curly kale leaves, stems removed, greens thinly shredded
    1/4 of a small head red cabbage, chopped or shredded
    3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
    Kernels cut from 3 ears of fresh uncooked corn or 1 can corn kernels, drained
    3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    5 green onions, sliced

Toss all the veggies together in a large salad bowl and serve with Cheesy Ranch Dressing.

Smooth and creamy, thick and tangy--all qualities that make for an irresistible salad dressing. Toss all the ingredients into the blender to create this well-seasoned, homemade dressing that offers classic comfort with a nouveau bent.


Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml)

    1 12-ounce (340g) box soft silken tofu
    1 cup (240 ml) shredded vegan cheddar cheese
    2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    3/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You may have to stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides and process again to blend thoroughly.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the shredded cheese, mixing well. Chill or serve immediately. Refrigerated, the Cheesy Ranch Dressing will keep for up to 1 week.

To offer the ranch hands a spicy Cheesy Ranch Dressing, use 1 cup (240 ml) shredded vegan nacho cheese in place of Cheddar Cheese, or add a pinch or two of cayenne to the blender.

For the busy host who enjoys a day of rope-tossin', adding foil-wrapped spuds baked on the grill provides a convenient, yet hearty menu choice that will make those 'tater lovers yee-haw with joy. Served with tasty, make-ahead toppings they're a cinch for success. Just squeeze in a few minutes to prepare the Bacon Tomato Topping the day or two before guests arrive and give the Tofu Sour Cream a whirl in the food processor when another window of time opens. The toppings are served chilled or room temperature, so just relax and enjoy the get-together. When guests begin to speak up for a feeding, watch the grill really work its magic and keep the kitchen cool and comfy.

Grill Taters 'N' Toppings


Yield: 6 servings

    6 large Russet potatoes

    Bacon Tomato Topping

      6 large tomatoes, chopped
      1 large onion, chopped
      1/4 cup (60 ml) soy bacon bits
      1 or 2 tablespoons water
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed
      Pinch or two cayenne
      Salt and pepper

    Tofu Sour Cream Topping

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

    1. Wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, and place them directly on the coals of an open barbecue grill. If using a grill with a cover, place the wrapped potatoes on the grate and cover the grill. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until fork tender, turning them once or twice.
    2. To prepare the Bacon-Tomato Topping, combine the tomatoes, onion, soy bacon bits, water, garlic, coriander seeds, and cayenne in a large, deep skillet and cook and stir for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the onions and tomatoes are softened. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.
    3. To make the Tofu Sour Cream, combine the tofu, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Spoon into a serving bowl.
    4. When the potatoes are ready, use a knife to slit them open. Serve the Bacon Tomato Topping and Tofu Sour Cream on the side.

    The Tofu Sour Cream will thicken when chilled for at least 2 hours. Refrigerated, the leftover Tofu Sour Cream will keep for 1 week. Makes 11/2 cups (360 ml).

    Real cowboy steaks could never boast their ability to lower cholesterol or provide a good measure of calcium, but these hickory smoke-flavored "steaks" certainly can. Marinated in this lightening-quick flavor bath and cooked in a matter of minutes, Cowboy Steaks provide darned good eats for a hungry bunch of cowpokes.

    Cowboy Steaks


    Yield: 6 servings

      1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
      1/2 cup (120 ml) water
      1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil
      1/4 cup (60 ml) tomato paste
      1 tablespoon natural hickory seasoning liquid smoke
      1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
      1 teaspoon salt
      Dash Tabasco Sauce

      2 pounds (1 kg) extra firm tofu cut into 12 slabs

      Fresh sage leaves

    1. To make the marinade, combine the lemon juice, water, canola oil, tomato paste, liquid smoke, soy sauce, salt, and Tabasco Sauce in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish and stir well to distribute the seasonings evenly.
    2. Place the tofu steaks into the marinade and turn to coat them on both sides. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days, turning once or twice each day.
    3. Place the tofu steaks in a grill basket and grill over hot coals 4 to 7 minutes on each side, brushing with the marinade each time you turn the basket. Transfer the tofu steaks to a large serving platter and garnish with fresh sage leaves.

    For cooking the "steaks" directly on the grill, brush oil on the grill and use the Chinese extra firm tofu, a variety that is super firm and almost dry. Placing the regular extra-firm "steaks" directly on the grill may make them difficult to turn and remove from the grill in one piece. Those are best cooked in a grill basket.

    Surprises are in store for those hungry cowpokes who cut into their grilled veggie dogs. Rather than plain, unadorned, grilled veg hotdogs, these critter-free pups are lovingly prepared with a charismatic stuffing. With just a few extra preps you can offer guests a hip chuck-wagon treat with brassy flavor that won't bulge the belly.

    Prairie Dogs


    Yield: 6 servings

      1/2 slice whole wheat bread, diced
      2 tablespoons plain or vanilla soymilk

      6 to 8 plump veggie dogs

      1/4 pound (115g) button or cremini mushrooms
      1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped onion

      1/4 cup (60 ml) diced red bell pepper
      4 pitted green olives, chopped
      Pinch or two of cayenne
      Salt and pepper

      2 long, plump zucchinis or Mexican squashes, very thinly sliced lengthwise

      Prepared barbecue sauce

      3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

    1. Combine the bread and soymilk in a small bowl and toss together to moisten the bread completely. Set aside.
    2. Cut a lengthwise slit almost all the way through each of the veggie dogs, and set them aside.
    3. Place the mushrooms and onions into the food processor and pulse chop until they are minced. Transfer them to a bowl and add the moistened wheat bread, red bell pepper, green olives, and cayenne. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Spoon the mushroom stuffing into the slit of each of the veggie dogs, packing it down firmly. Lay a slice of zucchini over the mushroom stuffing of each veggie dog and secure each one with 3 toothpicks.
    5. Brush the dogs with the barbecue sauce and place them in a grill basket. Grill over hot coals for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, adding more barbecue sauce if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish the top with the rosemary.

    Nutty and alluring, this distinctive spread makes the tired old garlic bread seem out of step. Here, the nut-buttered bread becomes something superlative, yet homey with compelling flavors that will even bring the cowpunchers back for seconds.


    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

      1 prepared whole wheat bread, unsliced

      Pistachio Butter
      1 1/2 cups (360 ml) raw pistachios, ground into a fine powdery meal
      1 cup (240 ml) chopped raw zucchini
      3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      Pinch cayenne

    1. Angle slice the loaf of bread leaving the loaf attached at the base. Make the slices about 1-inch thick.
    2. To make the Pistachio Butter, combine the pistachios, zucchini, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and cayenne in the food processor. Process until almost smooth and thick, with a finely textured consistency.
    3. Using a spreading knife, apply some of the Pistachio Butter to both sides of each bread slice. Wrap the entire loaf in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, and place on the grill for about 10 minutes. Turn the loaf and heat for 5 to 10 minutes longer.

    To grind the pistachios, place them into a mini-chopper/grinder, a coffee grinder, or the food processor and process until finely ground.

    A gorgeous summer vegetable that takes no advance prep and no last-minute fussin' either, pattypan squashes make the perfect grill veggie. They retain their moisture and offer sweet, fresh flavor with nothing more than a little olive oil to keep them moist on the grill. Buy them right from the farmers' market or farmstand the day before they hit the barbie to assure the freshest flavor.


    Yield: 6 servings

      12 pattypan or summer squashes
      12 metal skewers
      Extra virgin olive oil

      Salt and pepper

    1. Firmly secure 2 whole pattypan squashes horizontally with double skewers, placing the skewers side-by side about 1-inch apart. This skewer method makes it easy to turn the squashes frequently. Brush the squashes with the olive oil and grill for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Turn the skewers every 4 to 5 minutes to cook them evenly and avoid burning.
    2. Remove from the grill, place them on a platter, and season with salt and pepper.

    Big and little cowpunchers look forward to a sweet reward at the end of their hearty meal. These special oatmeal city slickers don't disappoint. Instead, they deliver a flavor surprise--a subtle burst of heat from two ingredients seldom found in a cookie recipe. You won't find these critters the least bit dry or crunchy. They stay soft and moist from the start. Store them at room temperature wrapped in plastic for a day or two or tuck them into the fridge for up to a week. If you're a long-range planner, you can make the cookies ahead, spread them out on a parchment paper-lined metal tray with parchment paper between the layers, wrap them well with plastic, and freeze them for up to two months.

    Banana Oatmeal City Slickers


    Yield: 12 giant cookies or 24 smaller cookies two inches in diameter

      1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole-wheat pastry flour
      1 1/2 cups (360 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats
      1 cup (240 ml) dark brown sugar
      2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
      1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
      1/8 teaspoon cayenne
      Pinch salt

      1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts

      1 1/2 cups (360 ml) well mashed banana
      1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      1 tablespoon powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer
      1/4 cup (60 ml) water

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) and line two jellyroll pans with parchment paper.
    2. Combine the pastry flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, baking powder, coriander, baking soda, pepper, cayenne, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Be sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir in the pine nuts.
    3. Mix together the mashed banana, canola oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl, stirring vigorously to incorporate the canola oil.
    4. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well to form a thick batter. Combine the egg replacer and water in a small bowl and beat with a fork until foamy. Stir into the batter, mixing well.
    5. To make each giant cookie, drop 2 heaping tablespoons of batter onto the prepared jellyroll pans, spreading the mixture with the back of the spoon to form 3-inch diameter cookies. Place 6 cookies on each pan.
    6. To make each smaller cookie, drop 1 heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared jellyroll pans. Both sizes will bake the same length of time.
    7. Bake for 12 minutes. Open the oven briefly to trade the positions of the jellyroll pans and bake 5 minutes longer. Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cookies to cool 5 minutes before serving.

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