27 May 2016

Memorial Day for Vegans

More and more of my friends have decided to be mostly or full-time vegan, which makes good sense for a number of reasons. I am probably eating more meat now than I have for most of my adult life, but that still only means I'm including meat in about one out of every ten meals or so. Grilling is a perfect way to eat vegan, and even trick others into joining you, because you're getting all of the smoky goodness from the charcoal without actually charring flesh. And hot dogs are so fucking gross, anyway. (PS-If you are using a gas grill, we need to talk.  That is not grilling. It's one step beyond using your daughter's Easy Bake oven on your back patio.)

And that brings me to Memorial Day, because it is national law that we grill at some point this weekend. So whether you're throwing a party or just being a reclusive nuclear family this holiday, you can impose your hippy agenda on all in your orbit without even having to listen to much whining.  Case in point:

Grill tofu steaks (pressed first to remove excess water), thick rounds of eggplant, squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and top with one of my favorite condiments, homemade chimichurri sauce. Or cube it all and make kabobs.

Grill a pizza! It's delicious. You can make this nice whole wheat crust and put whatever you want on there. Don't want cheese? Don't bother. Here are some ideas to get you started (sorry, there are some reviews to sift through, too).

Make a veggie burger.  Here's one I published a few years ago, and here's another one I think sounds very clever, because I love corn (thought I'm not sure I'd bother to put it on a bun).

You need a dip for your chips or bread, right? How about...

Baigan Bharta

2 medium sized eggplants
3 tablespoons oil
¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 tomatoes, blended into a puree
2 green chilies, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro

Place the eggplant on a corner of the grill. (For future reference, if neither of these are options, then place the eggplant in a 350 degree oven and bake until soft and then broil until the outer skin is charred.) Back to the open flame eggplant, cook until it is soft and the outer skin is completely charred. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute, and add in the cumin seeds and when they begin to sizzle, add in the red onion and sauté lightly until the onion softens and wilts and finally gently turns pale golden in corners. Add in the ginger-garlic paste and sauté lightly until the paste is somewhat dry and begins to turn fragrant.

Add in the tomatoes and the chilies and begin to cook this mixture to allow the tomatoes to turn into a thick fairly dry sauce, you should begin to see the oil leaching again from the edges. While the tomatoes are cooking, peel and discard the charred skin from the eggplant and mash lightly. Add into the tomato spice mixture and mix well.

Stir in the cilantro and mix well. Use as a dip or serve over rice.