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Put Some “Yum” Into Your Meals
Decadent and delicious vegan recipes
An excerpt and recipes from the book ‘Vegan Yum Yum.’
When Lauren Ulm went vegan, she faced the typical onslaught of questions from acquaintances and more than the occasional wince from unsuspecting dinner guests. Vowing to prove that vegan food can be decadent and delicious — and not a bland stand-in for “normal” food — she created a blog, veganyumyum.com. With these two recipes from her debut cookbook, Vegan Yum Yum, Lauren shows that vegan food is anything but dull.
When I first went vegan, it was a bit of a mystery to me, too. I was totally amazed that you didn’t need eggs and dairy for baking, and that the resulting treat tasted just as good. Or that with a little imagination and a few swaps, you could make decadent things like doughnuts, cupcakes, and macaroni and cheese that rivaled my mom’s and weren’t just pathetic vegan stand-ins for the “real” versions. It was then that I became sort of obsessed with creating vegan food, both savory and sweet — recipes that would be enjoyed by even the staunchest carnivores.
Would I want each and every person to try a vegan doughnut and declare him or herself a vegan convert? Sure. A much more attainable goal, however, is much less dramatic. I want to provide vegans with an armory of fantastic recipes they can serve to their friends and family with pride. My point is that great food is just that — great! A lot of great food is vegan, and you can make it for yourself starting here. Bon appétit!
Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous
Makes 8 side dishes or 4 main dishes
(Note: The couscous is nice on its own, so feel free to make less squash if you don’t mind having some couscous left over for another meal.)
4 Delicata squashes, about 5 to 6 inches long (or other similar-size sweet squash)
olive oil to oil cookie sheet
1-3/4 cups water
1 cup dried cherries
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Granny Smith apple
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon Earth Balance margarine (optional)
1 cup couscous
3 tablespoons agave nectar
3 tablespoons mustard (stone-ground or Dijon style)
1/4 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Halve the squashes lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Sprinkle lightly with salt, then place cut side down on a lightly oiled cookie sheet (I use a Silpat baking mat, but parchment paper or foil will work to minimize mess). Bake squashes for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the water, cherries and salt in a pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Bring the cherries to a boil, then turn off the heat.
- Dice the apple into approximately 1/4-inch chunks. Add the apples and almonds to the cherries and let stand for 5 minutes, until cherries are plumped and apples are softened. Strain out cherries, apples, and almonds and place them in a large bowl, reserving the liquid. The liquid should be reddish and equal to 1-1/4 cups now. If not, adjust by pouring some off or adding water.
- Add the liquid back to the pot and bring to a boil. Add margarine, if using. When the liquid boils, pour in the couscous, give the pot a little shake, cover, and turn off the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes or until you’re ready to stuff.
- During the last 10 minutes, make the dressing by mixing together the agave nectar, mustard, and salt. Clear a space to fill the squashes.(When I got to this step, there were 10 minutes left on the squash.)
- Remove the squash from the oven and carefully use a spatula to take them off your baking sheet. The squash should be very soft, so take care not to smoosh or rip them. It’s prettier to fill them and then place them on your serving dish, because you will get couscous everywhere while filling.
- Fluff the couscous with a fork, then place it in the bowl that has the apple/cherry/almond mixture and combine well.
- Mix half of the dressing into the couscous and spoon the mixture into the squash cavities. Plate the squashes, then drizzle the remaining dressing over the top, if desired. Garnish with extra dried cherries and almonds and serve immediately.
Collard Dolmas and Cranberry Tahini
Makes 6 pieces
6 large collard leaves, trimmed and blanched (see Step 1)
1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
2 to 3 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons of another herb, like parsley or mint)
Zest of 1 lemon
Black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dried cranberries (plumped in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the collards by removing two-thirds of each leaf’s stem with scissors. Boil the leaves for 1 to 2 minutes, until bright green and tender. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the rice according to package directions. Heat a skillet and melt the margarine in it, adding the onion and garlic and cooking until softened. Add the cooked rice and the lemon juice, salt, thyme, lemon zest and black pepper and mix well.
- To make the cranberry tahini, blend the tahini, water, cranberries, lemon juice and salt in a food processor until smooth and set aside. Add additional water if necessary to get a smooth, diplike consistency.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Place one collard leaf down on a flat surface with the slit closest to you, facing vertically. Whatever side is facing down will be the outside of your dolma. With a pastry brush, brush the top of the leaf with the oil/lemon mixture.
- Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the rice to the bottom third and middle of the collard leaf. Fold in the sides, then fold up the bottom, and roll tightly. Serve immediately, at room temperature or slightly warm.
Reprinted from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm with the permission of Health Communications, Inc. (hcibooks.com). Copyright © 2009 by Lauren Ulm.