Saturday, November 22, 2008

This year's vegetarian Thanksgiving

Last year I made these items for festive vegetarian meals around the holidays. I'd say both were better than average, though the white-bean thing gets a tad gloppy. Tomorrow, for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws (since we're going to Ohio for the actual day), I'll be making the Vegetarian Times' Holiday Cashew Nut Roast. It's true that when your vegetarian friend (or daughter-in-law) offers to bring the "Holiday Cashew Nut Roast," your smile grows a little stiff, and you say, "Wow! That sounds interesting!" But this one looks pretty good, and not too difficult. Unlike, say, the Tassajara Recipe Book's Cheese and Nut Loaf, which I guess was OK, but Jesus, it was a pain to make. The animal products are, I think, not a selling point, and it is about as heavy as a cinder block. Nothing against Tassajara, or Edward Brown, who seems like a wonderful person--but there's a certain assumption with these recipes that you are cooking as part of your Zen practice. Meaning you welcome, or don't notice, all the damn ingredients, or the fact that you forgot to cook the brown rice ahead of time (watch out for those recipe lists that say "1 cup brown rice, cooked"--the Cashew Roast has this, too). Anyway, making that loaf filled me certain un-Buddhist furor. But the Veg Times has yet to steer me wrong. Brewer's yeast is about $15 a pound, though.

UPDATE, 11-24:
So this thing turned out pretty good. I'd say 3.5 stars out of five. A few caveats: I think next time I will use roasted, unsalted cashews for more cashewy goodness. One could maybe add in other nuts, like walnuts, for variety. It should also be noted that sauteeing nuts is not an activity one can wander away from. They burn. I caught them just in time. I might make more layers: eggplant/stuffing/eggplant/stuffing/eggplant/tomatoes. But I'm like that with eggplant. I am not sure the brewer's yeast is all that necessary; you could probably use nutritional yeast, or just throw in some more herbs, like sage. Vegetarian / mushroom gravy and cranberry sauce* really do complement this.

*I finally made cranberry sauce from scratch--there's nothing to it. (I know you know that. But I grew up with the purplish stuff shlooping out of the can, so this is a thrill for me. Damn, it's good.)

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