Vegan Days

4 Nov

I recently became a vegan, and in turn realized I now have no clue how to feed myself! I basically lived for dairy products before. The no-meat situation is easy-peasy for me but uhhhhhh MY CHEESE how am I going to do with out it!  Luckily, my amazing friend Marian was able to lend me a few cook books and explain to me what kind of tofu to get, what nutritional yeast is … things like that. Seasoned Vegans could spot me a mile away, staring cross-eyed at all the dairy free options in the grocery isle.

SO I officially cooked my first vegan dish and to my surprise it was Fantastic! I chose Eggplant Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream a recipe from the PPK website.  My meat loving husband was the taste tester, and even his first response after he took in a fork full was  …  WOW!  So I said … Wow good? And he said Yeah!!  SO then I dug right in, and I myself was wowed. It’s not the easiest dish to make due to all the slicing and chopping but it is SOO worth it!  My biggest struggle with a vegan diet is the lack of cheese. I am a cheese lover to the MAX, and I have to say I did not miss cheese one bit with this dish. The Pine nut sauce baked on top has this rich, creamy, cheesey-like, goodness to it. Oh it was good! Try it out.

Note: The zucchini tends to be watery after roasting, so after it cools  gently squeeze slices, by the handful, to remove any excess water. This will keep you form having a soggy casserole.

For the vegetable layer:
1 lb eggplant
1 lb zucchini
1 1/2 lbs russet-type baking potatoes (using large, long potatoes works perfectly in this recipe)
1/4 cup olive oil

For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth or red wine
2, 15 oz. cans crushed tomatoes, with juice
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Pine Nut Topping:
1 lb. soft tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic
pinch nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
white pepper to taste

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Extra pine nuts for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.

Wash and trim stem from eggplant and zucchini. Scrub and peel potato. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potato, lengthwise, into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Rub eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to soften, briefly rinsing with cold water and squeezing out any excess liquid water.

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet. Distribute 1/4 cup oil between the three sheets and sprinkle vegetables with salt (except eggplant if salted already). Toss to coat, making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Spread vegetables out with minimal overlapping. Roast the zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes or until tender. Roast the potatoes for about 22 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

While vegetables are cooking prepare the tomato sauce. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic to a large heavy bottom sauce pot. Bring to medium heat and let garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until slightly reduced, another 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, ground cinnamon and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce slightly. Turn off the heat, remove bay leaf and adjust salt.

Make the pine nut topping: In a food processor blend together pine nuts and lemon juice, scrapping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula until a creamy paste forms. Add tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 pan and pre-heat oven again to 400 F. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce in the pan, then add a layer of the following; eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and half of the breadcrumbs. Spread all of the zucchini on top of this. Top with a final layer of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and breadcrumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut topping over the entire top, smoothing out any uneven spots. Scatter a few pine nuts on top if desired. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


2 Responses to “Vegan Days”

  1. Shannon November 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Hey Amanda, I’m not sure if you remember me (Shannon Jones, your mom is friends with my dad and I went to UNF). I love your new blog! I am always reading cooking blogs. Just a quick question, why did you decide to become vegan? Is it harder/easier than you thought? Hope your doing well. Talk to you soon.


    • fashionforwardfoodie November 7, 2011 at 1:46 am #

      Hi Shannon! How are you? It’s great to hear from you! 🙂 I actually became a Vegan bc I was having stomach pains practically every time I ate a meal! I went to the Doctors because I thought it might be my gallbladder. THey didn’t find anything wrong with me specifically, and instructed me to start taking these pills to help with digestion everyday, which I did NOT want to do. I decided I would give a vegan diet a try instead, and see if it helped my stomach. Thankfully, it worked! I don’t have stomach pains anymore woo hoo! I feel so much better and have way more energy! It was pretty easy for me to make the change, because if I don’t eat the right stuff I pay for it! lol If I didn’t have physical pain, I probably would have a more difficult time! Well thank you for the comment and it really is great to hear from you!
      Love Amanda

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