BBQ Tofu, Smoky Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens

The closest I’ve been to anything remotely Southern US-like is driving through Tennessee and Georgia on our way to Florida when I was 8 years old.  So it’s a pretty far stretch to say I know anything about culture in those parts.  What I do know is that I love adapting the flavours of what I think a good old Southern meal should have and making it vegan.  This was a quick, weeknight version of a comforting Southern-style meal.  Another great thing is, while you may think of Southern food as being high on the heart-attack-as-soon-as-you-finish-your-meal scale; this one wasn’t.  Totally cholesterol free (like all vegan food), and low in fat.  
The smoky mac and cheese is whole wheat macaroni, smothered in the Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction (with an added 1/2 tsp liquid smoke stirred in when the sauce is finished cooking).  So good!  So quick!   
Since our little barbecue is covered in a foot of snow right now, the tofu was cut into triangles and then dry-fried in a pan until it was golden with some nice charred bits.  Then it was doused in a generous bath of some locally made BBQ sauce we found at the farmer’s market – smoky, sweet and hot.  Yum.  It was left to bubble and thicken on the tofu for a while before serving.

The collards were made using a recipe from Appetite for Reduction, the Ye’abesha Gomen (Ethiopian Collards) recipe. Regardless of it being called Ethiopian Collards, the recipe produces tender, soft collards that complement the heartiness of the rest of the meal.

Also, last Sunday we went to try out The Early Bird, a new diner/greasy spoon place that just opened up and is run by one of Trevor’s oldest and dearest friends.  They have a vegan soup option each day, and a couple of sandwiches on the menu which can easily be made vegan by removing the dairy element and replacing it with some nice, grainy mustard.  I had the Ginger Beer Battered Tofu Sandwich with a bowl of Ginger Carrot Soup.  Good stuff!  It’s always great having new places to go and get something to eat.

Show posters everywhere at The Early Bird 

– Crystal

Southern-Inspired

I wanted something a bit comforting and filling for a nice Sunday meal after a day of chores.  Few things are more comfort-foody to me than a big Southern-inspired plate with some mac and cheese casserole, garlicky greens, rolls and watermelon.  Now, I really liked mac and cheese before I went vegan, but I love it now.  Honestly, the vegan versions are so much better than the dairy-based ones, in my opinion.  My favourite of all the ones I’ve tried is the recipe below.  The kale was given the usual treatment – deveined (removing the thick central stem) and cut into smallish pieces.  A few cloves (3-4) of garlic thinly sliced and sautéed in a bit of oil, then add the greens and sautée until cooked down and bright green.  Add salt to taste.

Mac and Cheese 
from Veg News

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika

  1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
Note:  I almost never add the shallots, and it doesn’t make a difference.  Use them if you have them, but otherwise just leave it out.
– Crystal