Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Great Vegan Cook-In

This morning, my husband's good friend (and our neighbor) showed up with assorted meats for the grill (remember folks... I'm married to an omni, it happens sometimes), so we had an impromptu party. While they did their thing I was left to fix a vegan cook-in for myself and another neighbor who decided to eat veggie that night ( yay!!). I'm calling it a cook-in because although much of the food was grilled or is traditional cook-out/picnic food, we live in Baltimore and have no real yard to speak of. In fact the grilling was done on our teeny-tiny balcony on a tailgate-style grill. We ate all of the food indoors in the air-conditioning around a table.

The menu du jour:
  • Vegan Boca burgers on kaiser rolls
  • Compassionate Collards
  • Potatoes and Peas in a dijon vinaigrette
  • Corn on the cob
  • Mint Iced Tea

The potatoes and peas were a twist on potato salad made with a vinaigrette instead of a mayonaise based dressing. I wanted to try something different since I have been eating so much potato salad lately. It was ok, but a bit to mild for my palate. My husband said he definitely prefers my usual potato salad, but it was worth a try. Since it wasn't too noteworthy I am foregoing sharing a recipe for it.

The Collards were a total success though and so perfectly seasoned that no one requested any hot sauce, vinegar, or even salt & pepper! They were perfectly done, smoky, spicy and not a bit watery. Plus they were the ultimate no-fuss side dish. I threw them in the crockpot and walked away. Besides stirring them every hour or so, I didn't think about them again until dinner time. I named them compassionate collards because unlike the southern tradition of seasoning greens with meat, these were wonderfully meat free. Here is the recipe:

Compassionate Collards

For each bunch of collards you will need:
1 sweet onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 chipotle peppers ( from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
1 packet imitation ham flavoring (I used the goya variety...if you read the ingredients it is meat free) or some liquid smoke


Clean your collards really well but do not spin dry, you want a little water clinging to them.

Prep the collards by removing the center stem and chopping into bite-size pieces. (this is really easy to do if you stack several leaves and roll them tightly before chopping)

Place in a large crockpot, put all other ingredients on top of the collards. Do not add additional water!!! As the vegetables cook down they will give off some of their own water which will season the collards without causing them to be watery.

Turn Crockpot on high and let cook until done to your desired tenderness (for me that was about 4-5 hours...)

See... Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!!

Note: I left the chipotles whole so that people could see them and not bite down on one if they didn't want too. They could be chopped or even pureed if you wish.

By the way, when I went to pick up the Boca Burgers I noticed that Morningstar farms now offers a grill-style chick patty, that is TOTALLY VEGAN!! I usually don't even think twice about their stuff because it has eggs or milk... but this was exciting. So even though my friend requested the boca burgers, I bought a box of the Morningstar Grillers Chick'n for later.

I would say the cook-in was a success as everyone cleaned their plates of all their veggies, one of my friends asked of he could have some collards to go and people lingered late into the night. Now if I could just find a way to fit us all of that small balcony so we could have a proper cook out!

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  1. As a meat eater who needs to cook for my vegan spouse, your site is a fantastic resource!!! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic and humorous take on a "blended" household!

  2. The collard greens are sooo good. A nice side dish with great flavors. I also get a kick out of your stories of a blended household. You seem to be able to carry it off and keep everyone happy. Thanks again, The Don