I've been thinking about putting together a class called something like, "A Vegan is Coming to Dinner. Help! What Do I Feed It?" I think there are lots of people out there who have new vegans in their lives, whether it's friends, or co-workers, or kids coming home from college. It can be confusing, I know. And I think a simple one or two day class could do a lot to fill in some of the blanks for people who are used to centering a meal around a piece of meat.
I'll start working on that soon I think, but last night I found myself faced with the opposite side of the coin, and not for the first time. We have relatives visiting, and they're devoted, unapologetic meat eaters. I wanted to please them, but was not willing to compromise my own personal ethics to do so. The challenge in these situations is to come up with something that's just like what the beloved omnivores are used to eating, but to make it out of plants. Nothing weird, nothing too exotic, and certainly no seaweed.
My solution to last night's Welcome To Taos Dinner... Beanloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Salad. It was a hit. And it felt really good to find some common dietary ground, and to come up with a meal that was satisfying to all, and might even get these guys thinking that the vegan life might not be so crazy after all.
To recreate this dinner yourself, make a big salad and stash it in the fridge. I imagine you also already know how to make mashed potatoes. For this meal, I boiled equal parts potatoes and cauliflower, and whipped it all up as usual, for less starch, and more nutrients. The only thing anybody noticed was that it was good!
The Beanloaf is ever evolving. I like it the way it is now, but will probably keep tinkering with it, as beanloaves, and bean burgers too, have a tendency to fall apart more than I want them to. Try this though. It's very tasty!
1 can each pinto and black beans, partially mashed (or about 1 1/2 cups each if you cook them from dry)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup dry rolled oats
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms - any kind you like
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
Mix everything together well, with your hands, and let it sit for 5 minutes or so, so the chia seeds can do their gelling magic. Feel free to taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings. Since there's no meat, it can all be eaten raw. Nice perk to vegan cooking!
Place in a well oiled loaf pan, and bake at 350º for about an hour. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting, and use a spatula to help serve. While the Beanloaf is baking, make the gravy. So far, everyone who tries it says this is the best gravy they've ever had. I could just eat a bowl of it...
Mushroom Gravy - this is my spin on Mark Reinfeld's original recipe, which can be found in The 30-Minute Vegan, on page 236.
1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped (I like baby portobellos)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
about 1-2 T dry or fresh herbs to taste - try basil, thyme, sage, oregano
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup brown rice flour - most other kinds of flour will work too
1/4 cup oil - try organic sunflower or olive
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms in a little oil, over medium heat, until the onions are soft and transparent. Stir in the nutritional yeast and herbs, then the broth, wine, and tamari.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and oil. Gradually add the flour-oil mixture to the gravy, stirring over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve it up with the beanloaf and potatoes, and be sure to eat your greens. Get that salad out of the fridge and fill half your plate with it! Enjoy!
Here's to eating with friends!