“This is vegan new school, which is really vegan old school, which draws on traditions that predate any of us. Cooking can be empowering, no doubt about it.” —Lauren Corman, host, Animal Voices, CIUT in Toronto
Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisleby Dino Sarma Weierman
Tofu, seitan, tempeh, tofu, seitan, tempeh.... it seems like so many vegans rely on these products as meat substitutes. Isn't it time to break out of the mold? Taking a fresh, bold, and alternative approach to vegan cooking without the substitutes, Dino Sarma brings you over 100 fully vegan recipes, many of which draw from his South Asian roots. Sharing his jazz-style approach to cooking, Dino also discusses how you can improvise in your own cooking with simple ingredients and how you can stock your kitchen to prepare simple and delicious vegan meals quickly..
Whether you love tofu, seitan, and tempeh or hate it, Alternative Vegan shows you how to let the flavor shine through by cooking simply with fresh ingredients.
Read an Excerpt
International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle
By Dino Sarma Weierman
PM PressCopyright © 2012 PM Press
All rights reserved.
Meals in One Pot
The following dishes are what I would consider to be meals all by themselves. It's not the traditional "American" meal per se, but I would be quite full after eating a bowl. In my opinion, these are also among the easiest to customize. If you're a beginning cook, make sure to read through the section on cooking techniques. Once you've finished that, you're more or less ready to try these.
There's more "wiggle room" in these dishes than you would have in a dish that requires stacks of ingredients. What do you need to complete the one-pot meal? Usually, some rice in the bottom of your bowl will make the meal totally complete. These are the sorts of things that I pack for my lunch when I'm headed out to work and the like.
Because they're so customizable, these are the dishes that I'd like you to try rst. Try the variations, or even make up your own and give those a shot. These are so easy to make yours that your friends will get used to your versions of things and wouldn't ever suspect that you could have creatively borrowed the recipe from someone else!
That One Soup Dino Makes
As you, my lovely readers, know well, I am capable of a variety of soups and stews. However, I sometimes get a request for "that one soup like how Dino makes." Aside from being grammatically cringe-worthy, it's also highly useless when trying to describe what the soup is, what goes in it, or much of anything else. All you know is that it's good, because it's my recipe.
That's the point of this recipe. It's a sort of default soup for when you don't really know what you're in the mood to eat, or are going to feed a person used to eating milk or meat (the creamy texture and the smoky flavors help this to happen). The vegetables here are fairly neutral and don't really bring in too much flavor. This is essentially what I like to call a "mother soup" (much like the "mother sauces" found in European cuisine), because you're supposed to add stuff to it. It tastes lovely all by itself but leaves something to be desired in terms of variety.
Make this soup your own by adding your favorite blends of frozen vegetables, favorite quick-cooking greens such as spinach or arugula, or your favorite canned vegetables or beans. The base flavors took a while to lay down, so you can play fast and loose with the other ingredients.
You can also take it totally gourmet and add roasted butternut squash, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, garden fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, or whatever you can think of. How about some morel, shiitake, oyster, crimini, and cloud ear mushrooms? Maybe some black beans, avocado, huitlacoche, and fresh tomato for a Tex-Mex-like thing. You can make the final product as fancy or plain as you'd like. This is a concentrated soup, meant to be ready for storage. A lot of the water has boiled off, and the final product will seem like it's fatty. That's normal.
10 to 15
* 2 tablespoons oil
* ½ tablespoon (either yellow or black) mustard seeds
* 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
* 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
* 1 large onion, chopped fine
* 2 teaspoons turmeric
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 bay leaves
* 6 potatoes, roughly chopped
* 5 small summer squash, chopped
* 1 pound carrots, scrubbed and chopped
* Small bunch watercress
* Small bunch Italian parsley
* Up to 6 cups water
* 2 cans coconut milk
* Any other ingredients you're adding (precooked)
This soup starts off in layers and builds up step by step. Start by dicing your onion. Then heat the oil in a large stockpot on high heat. When the oil is hot, pour in the mustard seeds. When they pop and crackle, add the cumin. When you can smell a strong cumin smell, and the cumin is popping, add the crushed coriander seeds. Wait about 10 seconds and add the onions. Stir immediately to coat in the oil. Sprinkle in the salt and turmeric, and add both bay leaves. Stir until the onions are all yellow.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and put on the lid. You want it to cook for about 15 minutes, covered, to slowly sweat. Every 5 minutes, come back and stir the onions to redistribute the spices. While the onions are sweating, chop the carrots. If you have time, start in on the potatoes as well. Check the onions at the end of the 15 minutes. If they're completely softened, increase the heat to high. Stir the onions until evenly coated in the oil. Add the potatoes and carrots. If you still have more potatoes to chop, don't worry about it — we can add those as soon as they're chopped. Stir the vegetables to coat evenly in the oil and the spices. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Finish chopping your potatoes and add them to the pot as you complete them. Let the potatoes cook in the pot dry for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the watercress, parsley, and squash. At the end of 15 minutes, open up the lid of the pot, and pour in just enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Allow the water to come to a full boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and allow the soup to simmer, covered, an additional 5 minutes. You may stop the soup at this point and freeze it. Then, later on, when ready to serve, you would reheat the soup to come back to a simmer.
Open the lid and layer on the squash, watercress, parsley, and coconut milk (in that order) and do not stir. Just let it sit like that in layers and cover the lid. Let it sit for 10 minutes, at a low simmer, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, the soup will be ready for any other vegetables you'll be adding to dress this up. After the addition of any such ingredients, make sure to let the soup come together in a medium boil for about 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with a side of beans and a green salad. Have plenty of croutons ready to grab.
Uppuma is a South Indian dish that uses a wheat product called sooji (in Hindi). In the United States, most people wouldn't know what you're talking about, so I've found that farina (AKA cream of wheat) works perfectly well. This recipe isn't as tricky as it seems, because you develop a knack for it once you've made it a couple of times. Figure on the texture of the stuff in the pot being a little bit wetter than couscous. You don't want it to be too wet like porridge. You want it to finish on the dry side.
* 2 cups sooji or farina
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
* Handful curry leaves (optional)
* 1 large onion, diced
* ¼ teaspoon turmeric
* ¼ cup diced carrots
* ¼ cup corn
* ¼ cup green peas
* 1 ½ cups water plus 1 cup water
* 1 chile, minced
Pour the sooji into a skillet and roast over a gentle flame. You want the stove at medium-low to medium so that you don't burn the sooji. The reason for roasting is that it enhances the dimensions of flavor. It's also the only way I know how to make the stuff, because that's how my mother taught me, and I'm not comfortable with trying to use unroasted sooji.
Make sure you constantly stir the sooji to avoid burning, and reduce the flame if you notice any smoke coming from the pan. This should take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. When the sooji smells lightly nutty and looks a tan color, remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl to cool. Rinse out your pan and place it over high heat.
When the water evaporates, pour in the oil and wait for it to heat. Add the mustard seeds. In about 30 seconds, they should be exploding. Add the cumin seeds. They should be popping before long. Add the asafetida and wait 5 seconds for it to sizzle. Tear the curry leaves in half, add them to the skillet, and step back, because they will explode! Immediately add the chile and onions. Generously sprinkle in salt to taste and the turmeric.
Stir the onions around the pan to combine with the oil and the turmeric. When all the pieces are yellow, you've combined enough. Let the onions get softened but not browned. When the onions are soft, add the carrots and corn. Stir to combine all the ingredients. When the carrots are soft, add the peas. Stir everything to evenly coat all the vegetables with the oil and spices.
Pour in the 1 ½ cups water. It should come to a full boil quickly. Start stirring everything together, and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to release any particles stuck there.
While constantly stirring the ingredients in the liquid in the pan, pour the roasted sooji into the pan in a steady stream. If you can't stir and pour simultaneously, ask for help. Everything should start coming together quickly. If it looks too dry, add a little bit more water, until it's at the consistency of thick porridge. Keep stirring until the excess water evaporates and you're left with a dry final product.
This is a stand-alone meal, because it has everything you'll need in one bowl!
Basic Kale Soup
Make sure to try some of the variations. This soup is bland on its own and needs some sidebar vegetables in there to make it interesting. If you prefer the milder flavors, you may stick to the basic recipe, but I would recommend at least trying one or two variations to avoid making the same thing all the time.
4 to 6
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1 large onion, finely minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 head kale, sliced, and stems diced
* 4 cups water
* 1 cup minced parsley
Add oil to the bottom of a large heavy-bottomed pot. Turn on the stove to high heat. When the oil is hot, add your cumin seeds. In about a minute, if you made sure to get the oil good and hot, you'll have the cumin seeds popping and cracking. At this moment, add your onions. Sprinkle in salt to taste. Stir to evenly coat in the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add the garlic, pepper, and chopped kale, and stir into the onion mixture so that the pieces of kale are evenly coated in the oil. You may have to add the kale in batches if your pot isn't that large. Add a batch, stir it around, and wait for it to wilt down. When there's more room, add subsequent batches and continue to stir and wilt the kale. Sprinkle on salt. Toss through over the heat for about 5 minutes. Add the water. Bring it to a full boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Allow it to cook for about 20 minutes. When cooked, sprinkle in parsley and let sit about 5 minutes.
1 pound diced, cooked potato, stirred in at the end; 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced, added in 10 minutes before removing from heat; 1 head of cabbage, sliced, added in 10 minutes before finishing; 1 pound zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons, added in roughly 5 minutes before removing from heat; Chile oil, added in right at the end of cooking. Add a teaspoon or so to each bowl of soup; 1 tablespoon kimchee; 1 pound cooked chickpeas added in the last 10 minutes of cooking; or 1 pound cooked kidney beans added in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Combine all the variations to make a very filling soup
This squash is not only mindlessly easy to make but pulses to make a creamy, rich, decadent soup. I'm including multiple variations, because I love the stuff, and I'd like to get people to at least try it. Because it stands alone (for the most part) you can use this soup as an appetizer before starting the rest of your meal. In the winter it is more difficult to find fresh herbs in your garden, so I made this recipe using dried herbs. However, because you don't have a chance to chop the thyme and rosemary to release the oils properly, gently rub them between the palms of your hands before adding them to the dish. You should smell them once you start breaking them up.
* 1 medium butternut squash
* 2 cups vegetable stock
* ½ teaspoon dried sage, or 1 teaspoon fresh
* 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed gently between your palms
* ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed gently between your palms
The easiest way to peel squash for soup (in my opinion) is to microwave it. Cut the squash into large chunks (roughly split it into eight pieces), and put it in a microwave-safe bowl with ¼ cup of water. Cover loosely with a plastic lid. Nuke it until the squash is tender (it takes my microwave about 15 minutes). Now, you should be able to easily scoop out the seeds and flesh with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and simmer over medium-low heat with the stock and herbs for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
For a smoother texture, strain through a sieve before serving it piping hot with a side of croutons.
For those like myself who like some heat in their food, add in a red chile or two before simmering and blend it along with the squash. (I find Tabasco sauce to have an offensive flavor with butternut squash.)
If you want your soup thicker, stir in a little bit of hummus.
If you like it a little sweeter, add some carrots to the microwave with your squash.
If you want extra protein in it, add ¼ pound of cooked red lentils to the blender along with the squash.
To make it a dressing, take ½ cup of the soup, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, and whisk vigorously. Then stir in some fresh dill, parsley, and basil for a really nice zip.
Quick Chickpea Soup
I've made this recipe with precooked beans (the giant lot I make on weekends), which is the reason I'm asking you to use canned beans. Cooking your own is always best, but we're looking for speed here. The key is finding the balance of tomato to chickpeas. You can use larger or smaller cans as you wish, but make sure to adjust the flavorings. I've gotten feedback from my readers about this particular dish. The overwhelming consensus is that the soup really is freakishly fast to throw together and that they sincerely wished they'd increased the amount. I'm not saying that you'll necessarily need to double the recipe. If you want to, I won't tell anyone.
* 1 teaspoon canola, peanut, or safflower oil (can take high temps)
* ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
* ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
* 3 stalks curry leaves, if available
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* ¼ teaspoon turmeric
* 1 pound canned tomato, drained
* 1 pound canned chickpeas, drained
* 1 ½ cups water
* Fresh chiles, chopped
Heat oil over high heat in a wide, shallow pan. Sprinkle in cumin. When you hear the cumin popping (about 30 seconds, if the oil is hot), add in sesame seeds. When the sesame seeds brown, strip the curry leaves off their stalks, tear them in half, and toss them in along with the onion. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and sprinkle in turmeric and a little bit of salt. Sauté onions until soft (about 1 minute). Bring the heat back to high and add in the can of tomatoes. Stir vigorously for about 3 to 5 minutes. You'll see the tomatoes breaking down a little — this is a good thing. Add the chickpeas. When the beans are coated with the tomatoes, add the water. Add chopped-up chiles to taste. When water comes to a boil, you're done!
Serve all by itself, over brown rice, or with your favorite short pasta or Asian-style noodles. Adding in the grains will make it so that you have a complete meal in one bowl.
For a creamier soup: Strain some of the beans from the soup at the end, and blend them in a blender with a little bit of the soup water. Or add 1 tablespoon tahini at the end and stir through.
For heartier soup: Add a pound of frozen vegetables along with the chickpeas.
After the onions soften, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for a minute or two. If you notice a tinny flavor in the tomatoes from the can, add ½ capful of vanilla extract when you add in the tomatoes. This goes for paste, purée, or pieces of tomato from a can.
Excerpted from Alternative Vegan by Dino Sarma Weierman. Copyright © 2012 PM Press. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Dino Sarma Weierman is a cook who writes a food-related blog at altveg.blogspot.com and creates food-related podcasts at www.alternativevegan.com. He lives in New York City.
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