B.Y.O.Veggies! 09/21/2010
 
Last weekend I had plans for a big family dinner at my brother's house.  As I always do (I hate going anywhere as a guest empty-handed), I asked what I could bring.  His reply?  "Something you can eat!" 

When you're not a vegan, you hardly notice the trace of butter here, the sprinkle if cheese there, or even the single egg used as a binding ingredient, but when you are a vegan, those little ingredients make food inedible.  

Truth be told, I had entertained 14 people for dinner Friday night so I wasn't rushing back into the kitchen.  I went to a new vegan cafe and take out place near my house (more info to come...) and grabbed a few pre-packed vegan items like a spiced carrot and red cabbage slaw and an asparagus and tomato salad in garlic and lemon (a lot of lemon...I was puckered for an hour…)  I had a little "food envy" as I sampled these dishes (along with an herbed seitan I'd also packed) because it was so vastly different from what everyone else was eating, but it was crunchy and filling (and didn’t make me sick) so I got over it!

If you're looking for veggie dishes for vegan and non-vegan palates to enjoy while entertaining, here are three for you to try ~ an appetizer, a side dish and a pasta.

Babaghanoush

2 medium eggplants, about 1 pound total 

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste) 

1 lemon, juiced 

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil  

Pita bread, cut into wedges, for dipping   

 Pierce the eggplants with a fork, so steam can be released as they cook.   Roast the eggplants in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes.  When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, split them open and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin and as many seeds as possible.    In a food processor, combine the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and parsley and puree until smooth. Add the eggplant flesh (aka – not the skin) and season with cumin, salt, and pepper.  Pulse several times to make a thick, coarse puree. Pour in the oil and pulse again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with pita wedges for dipping

 Asian Cabbage Slaw (Courtesy of Martha Stewart with commentary from me)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 milliliters rice vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt

1/2 small head shredded Savoy or green cabbage

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (not everyone likes cilantro - I'd say you can take it or leave it)

4 scallions, cut into matchsticks

1 grated carrot

1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced (be careful not to rub your eyes when cutting this!  And if you don't want this extra kick, it's still good without it...)   

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons sugar; season with salt and whisk. To dressing, add 1/2 small head shredded Savoy or green cabbage, 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 4 scallions, cut into matchsticks, 1 grated carrot, and 1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced, and toss to combine.   

Tomato and Eggplant Pasta

1 unpeeled large eggplant or 2 small/medium  

5 tablespoons olive oil  

1 large onion, diced  

2 medium garlic cloves, minced 

4 large tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped  

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced  

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar  

1 1/4 teaspoons sugar  

1 teaspoon dried oregano    

Salt and fresh ground pepper     

4-6 servings of your favorite cooked pasta            

Cut the unpeeled eggplant into 1/2 inch slices and then cut slices into quarters.  Place the cut eggplant in a colander and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt and toss lightly. Weight down with plate and let stand for 30 minutes to drain with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid.  Rinse lightly and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add eggplant and cook until tender, shaking pan constantly to avoid sticking and burning.  Add tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper; heat thoroughly, stirring gently with wooden spoon.  Cook until tomatoes are desired consistency. Remove from heat.  Toss with pasta, sprinkle with vegan parmesan if desired and serve.               
 

Veg and the City