Vegan Cooking

The Vegan Holiday Table
by Tracy Mitchell Griggs

Holidays can be a joyous time-a gathering of friends and family in the spirit of celebration. They also can be stressful. Vegans particularly are subjected to the additional stress of the buffet or dinner table. Food is a big part of holiday traditions, and the typical American holiday dinner frequently includes a meat protein centerpiece such as ham or turkey. Although savvy soy companies produce alternatives like "tofurkey", non-vegan hosts are unlikely to offer meat alternatives for their vegan guests. Most vegans are adept at making a meal of non-meat side dishes at holiday parties, and hosts are sometimes receptive to preparing vegan main or side dishes for their non meat-eating guests. I have found that hosts who also like to cook are generally enthusiastic about adding new dishes to the recipe box and would welcome serving ideas for their vegan guests.

The recipes below are a colorful, healthy selection of holiday side dishes that even staunch meat eaters would have difficulty passing by. If you know in advance that your holiday host is receptive to recipe suggestions, these vegan offerings will be a welcome addition and enhance any holiday table. If you are hosting a vegan gathering, these recipes are home-runs! All guests will leave the table satisfied, and the recipes might even help create a few new vegans!

Cauliflower Salad with Capers and Olives Slice off thin slices of cauliflower, working around the head. Quarter then thinly slice. Remove large stems from watercress and chop the rest. Prepare the vinaigrette (see next recipe). Toss with veggies, greens, olives, capers, and parsley.

Keep the dressing on the tart side, a little more vinegar than oil. Prepare vinaigrette -Any classic vinaigrette recipe will do. I recommend white wine vinegar, or white balsamic. Red vinegars will discolor the cauliflower. I would also recommend some Dijon mustard (2 tsps is fine) to the vinaigrette. I like to use a classic one part vinegar to three part oil recipe. Please use a fruit vinegar for the vinegar part. I LOVE Trader Joe's raspberry vinegar. I also add (blend or whisk) a fresh raspberry or two, a squeeze of lemon, some sea salt and voila! YUMMY!

Savory Wild Rice Stuffed Onions 1. Preheat oven to 400F

2. Cut 1/4 bunch off both ends of the onion and peel off dry layers. Bake onions, root end down in baking dish for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and hollow out each onion from top, leaving 1/2 inch shell (outer most 2-4 layers).

3. Chop 1 cup of reserved onion and sauté with mushrooms in a medium hot pan for 3 minutes. Add garlic and apple and sauté 3 minutes. Add parsley, marjoram, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper; combine the sautéed mixture with the cooked rice.

4. Fill each onion shell with rice mixture. Pour enough stock to cover bottom of onions (about 1/2 inch). Bake for 20 minutes, basting the stuffed onions with stock occasionally. Makes 6-8 servings depending on which onions you use.

My suggestion on this is that the onions took A LOT longer to cook than 30 minutes. If you want to fix this for a dinner, I recommend that you bake the onions the night before, and then finish up the next evening with the filling. The onions will also be cool then, instead of working with hot onions that just came out of the oven.

Corn and Shiitake Mushrooms In large skillet, melt margarine or oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; cook three more minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetables Preheat oven to 450. In large bowl combine vegetables, oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper-toss evenly to coat. Transfer coated veggies to baking dish and bake until tender and browned, 35-45 minutes. Serve warm.

Fruit and Nut Holiday Rice Cook rice according to package directions, and cool. Add vegetables and fruit. Top with dressing, and toasted pecans. Do not add pecans until ready to serve. Serve room temperature.