Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-29-14}

A quick note before today’s #NewsandChews post: be sure to enter my current giveaway for your chance to win a copy of the cookbook Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the last summer edition of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! In honor of the final days of August, I’ve got a meal-sized salad recipe ideal for highlighting all of that late-summer produce calling your tastebuds, plus a sandwich that has inspired disappointment in every moment that I’ve not yet eaten it, and some finger food that provides a tasty way to use up those puzzling broccoli stems. For news, I’m pointing you toward an article that reminds us that poverty need not serve as a default mode in our society, a video that offers a striking and truly consciousness-raising alternative to the Ice Bucket Challenge, and a book that deeply explores the fact – recently erupting with the public outcry against the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown – that racism and white supremacy reign in the U.S.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto & Charred Sweet Corn
via Our Four Forks

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Yesterday, I relocated from my summer apartment in Brooklyn to my vegan living cooperative on the Vassar College campus. While I’m thrilled to recommence my formal education (WRITING PAPERS!!! But actually, I live to write papers), it’s recipes like the one pictured above that cause my heart to pine for the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket that I’ve left behind. Currently bursting will all of the ripe summer produce featured in this meal-sized salad and beyond, the market provided me with vibrant, fragrant, and nourishing produce (and good conversation) each week from Greg at Willow Wisp Organic Farm, the heirloom tomato lady at Evolutionary Organics, the Divine Brine pickle folks, and more. Another aspect to love about the market concerns its EBT program, which allows low-income New Yorkers access to this top-notch produce. Comprising 25%-50% of many farmers’ total income, EBT sales clearly prove substantial, suggesting that the market welcomes a wide array of individuals, not just rich white locavore foodies. Anywho, this hearty salad – crispy, crunchy, sweet, nutty, herby, succulent – provides an ideal dish for featuring that summer produce that won’t hang around much longer.

Sweet

Grilled Almond Butter Mango Sandwich
via Connoisseurs Veg

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

There exist few food types that satisfy me more than sandwiches, especially when those toasty, bready slabs of scrumptiousness involve nut butters and the fruit of culinary royalty (aka mango). Though I choose to avoid purchasing tropical fruit on a regular basis since I don’t think that the working conditions and monoculture rates in their countries of origin warrant my support (especially when those issues arise primarily from Western demand), sometimes I’ll treat myself to a mango if I can find a fair-trade and organic one (and OH, what a treat it is). My next mango will certainly contribute to the recreation of this sumptuous sandwich.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Broccoli Stem Fries with Spicy Sunflower-Pumpkin Seed Dipping Sauce
adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking

broccoli fries 3

Impressed by the ingenuity and no-waste mentality represented by this use for broccoli stems, I experimented with Jodi’s original recipe, coating the green batons in coconut oil, corn flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and black sesame seeds. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these fun finger foods married well with a simple “peanut” sauce made with homemade sunflower-pumpkin seed butter, brown rice syrup, tamari, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and sriracha.

Must-Read News Article

Poverty is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do to Turn Things Around
via Dean Paton at Yes! Magazine

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reminding folks that the status quo need not serve as the default – need not exist at all, even. For example, though most individuals cannot (or do not wish to) envision an alternative to our current dominant economic mode of neoliberal patriarchal imperial capitalism, the industrial-based capitalist system originated pretty darn recently in relative terms, around 1750 according to Marks in The Origins of the Modern World. Before that, non-Western civilizations thrived on trade-based, non-war-inducing economies of subsistence rather than of accumulation. This article from Yes! Magazine follows the same path of debunking what we’ve been conditioned to believe must exist – in this case, poverty – and suggests a number of  potential solutions. It’s stories like these that give me hope.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

The Rubble Bucket Challenge
via Ayman al Aloul at AlterNet

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

In the midst of the sweeping popularity of the multiply problematic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, many folks have found alternative, more productive methods of consciousness-raising around social issues. For example, a number of my friends within the animal rights movement have taken on the #HydrateDonate challenge launched by Vegan Outreach Executive Vice President Jon Camp, in which one drinks a glass of ice water and donates to a number of organizations of their choice (learn why the Ice Bucket Challenge proves greatly harmful to non-human animals and humans who use drugs tested on animals here). The alternative challenge presented by Gaza-based journalist Ayman al Aloul in this video strikes me as especially profound, employing the rubble pervasive in an Israeli-ravaged Palestine instead of the area’s scarce water to encourage folks to speak out against Israel’s devastating bombardment and occupation of Palestine.

Book Recommendation

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

I’ve found myself seeking out a ton of critical race theory for reading material this summer, which seems fitting amidst the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown by white cop Darren Wilson. Of course, since racism and white supremacy run rampant in the U.S., this reading material would prove relevant even if Michael Brown’s murder had not sparked such public outcry. Indeed, Michelle Alexander illustrates this point well with her argument that the War on Drugs – launched under Reagan but still thriving – has sparked the rebirth of a racial caste system that treats Black people as second-class citizens by throwing them behind bars for the most minor of offenses. Targeting young Black individuals for drug-related arrest even though statistics show that white people tend to use drugs at rates equal to or above the drug use of Black people, today’s criminal justice system functions as clear evidence that the racial biases so obvious in the civil rights era run rampant even in the age of our first Black president, only now they prove more difficult to identify. The hidden nature of this discrimination demands systemic change, and Alexander’s book provides a thorough, compelling analysis of where we should focus such changemaking efforts.

In solidarity, Ali.

Salad Samurai Cookbook Review & GIVEAWAY!

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

Welcome to yet another summer giveaway here on Farmers Market Vegan! This one particularly thrills me because it involves a category of items of which, despite my striving to avoid conforming to a harmfully consumerist society, I can’t seem to keep my eager hands off: cookbooks. But seriously, folks, I read these things like novels, and I’m not going to embarrass myself by admitting how many reside on my bookshelf.

salad samurai (2)

Excitingly, one of the latest additions to my shameful collection is Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2014) by Terry Hope Romero. That’s right – this vegan cookbook author extraordinaire has graced the culinary world with yet another masterpiece, which joins the ranks of Terry’s other celebrated works like VeganomiconVegan Eats WorldVegan Latina, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Photo via Terry's Facebook.

Photo via Terry’s Facebook.

I don’t exaggerate in the slightest when calling Salad Samurai a masterpiece. With a super sleek design and strikingly lit photos by acclaimed vegan photographer Vanessa K. Rees, this book begs readers to recreate the salads that all but explode out of their photos. Another design aspect that I wholeheartedly appreciate involves the notes that accompany almost every recipe – deemed “The Spin” and “Samurai Stylings” – through which Terry “talks” to readers about preparing or shopping for uncommon ingredients, serving tips, recipe variations, and more.

While Salad Samurai expectedly features a wide variety of flavor-packed, meal-sized salads – expertly organized by season – the book also includes recipe sections for unique dressings; salad “toppers” like spiced nuts, croutons, tofu, tempeh, and seitan; and breakfast “salads” like smoothies, granola, and overnight oats. With this multiplicity of options for salad mixing-and-matching, Terry effectively debunks the myth that salads constitute “rabbit food,” doomed to sad dieting regimens and restricted eating habits. In addition to this impressive recipe array, Salad Samurai also includes a helpful guide to pressing tofu and tips for make-ahead meals for those of us who find ourselves in a rush around mealtime.

Since none of the three recipes I’m sharing with you today call for Terry’s special brand of chia seed dressings, I’d like to make a special note of this genius salad dressing method. While I’m a staunch advocate of oil-full diets (as is The Vegan RD!), Terry introduces the practice of upping the nutrient density of salad dressings without sacrificing that lip-smackingly thick texture that oil lends by substituting chia seeds for a portion of the oil. Not only do the unique gelling properties of chia seeds give the dressings body, they also add important omega-3 fatty acids. Nourishing and delicious.

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My version of the Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils

Onto the recipes! Beginning with a salad from the “Spring Salads” section of Salad Samurai, I tried out the Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils. The salad features crisp, smoky kale and caramelized scallions marinated with coconut milk and lime juice, layered on top of a texturally fascinating mixture of smooth lentils, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy almonds, with just enough red onion to provide  a sweet sharpness. Offering an impressive multiplicity of flavors that all complimented one another, this recipes yielded a colorful salad that works well with either grilled or broiled (for those of us without grills; hooray for apartment living!) kale.

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Book photo of Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad

Continuing my recipe experimentation by moving onto the “Summer Salads” section, I recreated perhaps the most prized salad from my reviewing duties: the Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad. Somehow managing to strike a balance between rich and deeply flavored yet light and bright, this salad features some of my absolute favorite ingredients, including liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and avocado. The salad calls for pan-roasting the chickpeas for a supremely crispy texture before coating them in a simple homemade barbecue sauce and sprinkling them with nutritional yeast. Those snack-worthy morsels get piled on top of a generous helping of greens, red onion, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and avocado, all tossed in a smoky-sweet paprika dressing that I would happily drink.

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My version of the Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad

Finally, I returned to the Spring salads for a taste of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad – a super fresh-tasting take on traditional heavy pad thai that features “noodles” of asparagus created by taking a vegetables peeler to the stalks. Coupled with toothsome rice noodles, marinated & baked tofu bursting with flavor from a marinade of fresh lemongrass, tons of fresh herbs, a caramelized shallot-lime dressing, and toasted peanuts, the asparagus noodles form a salad that truly showcases Terry’s ability to expertly combine flavors and textures.

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My version of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

So as not to leave you with your mouth hanging wide open from all of this tantalizing talk, the publishers of Salad Samurai have graciously offered to let me share with you the full recipe for the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad! Enjoy, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Salad Samurai by following the links at the top and bottom of this post.

salad samurai (1)

Book photo of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

Serves 2.

Pad Thai Salad Ingredients:

4 oz pad thai rice noodles
1/2 lb asparagus
1 cup mung bean sprouts, washed and dried
1 cup lightly packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves, chiffonaded
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
1 batch Lemongrass Tofu (recipe below)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely ground
Lime wedges and Sriracha, for serving

Toasted Shallot Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp coconut sugar or organic brown sugar, plus more for serving
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp soy sauce, plus more for serving

Boil the rice noodles according to package directions and cook only until al dente (1 or 2 minutes less than directed). Drain, rinse with cold water, and cover with cold water until ready to use.

Wash and trim the tough stem ends from the asparagus. Trim the heads from the asparagus and set aside. Use a Y-shaped peeler to shred the asparagus stalks into long ribbons and slice into thin strips the remaining pieces that are too awkward to shred. Transfer the asparagus ribbons to a mixing bowl and add the mung bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, and scallions.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry the shallots, garlic, ginger, and oil until the shallots are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus tips, saute 1 minute, remove from the heat, and cool for 2 minutes. Transfer the asparagus tip mixture to the bowl with the ribbons. Drain the rice noodles and add the the asparagus salad.

Whisk together the lime juice, sugar, tamarind, and soy sauce and pour over the salad. Toss to coat everything with the dressing. Mound the salad in serving bowls and garnish with strips of Lemongrass Tofu (below) and sprinkle with peanuts. Devour, but graciously offer wedges of lime, Sriracha, a small dish of coconut sugar, and soy sauce for dining companions to season their own dish to taste.

For zucchini noodle pad thai: Replace the rice noodles with homemade zucchini or yellow summer squash for an even lighter dish. You’ll need a little more than 1/2 pound of squash. Use the Y-shaped peeler to create long, thin strands similar to the asparagus “noodles” for the above salad. Proceed as directed.

Plan ahead like a samurai: Prepare the Lemongrass Tofu (below) a day in advance and heat up just before serving.

Lemongrass Tofu

Serves 2 as a salad topping.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing necessary for the latter)
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp tamari
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh or prepared lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp peanut oil or olive oil

If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first. Slice the tofu into thin 1/4-inch strips. Preheat the oven to 400°F and coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir around the tofu strips.

Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.

From Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 25, and I will announce the winner on the following day.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook. All opinions are completely my own.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {7-11-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

The sixth installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News features two creative and decadent animal-free recipes for traditionally animal-based dishes (one savory and one sweet); a gorgeously composed salad out of a much-anticipated cookbook; problematic coverage of recent developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the racist practices of the National Security Agency; and a book that every food justice advocate should have on their shelf.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Filet O’ Chickpea Sandwich with Tartar Sauce Slaw
via Keepin’ It Kind

Photo via Keepin' It Kind.

Photo via Keepin’ It Kind.

Kristy’s culinary creativity never ceases to amaze me, and she showcases her talent once again in this summery, sea-inspired sandwich. I’ve found myself on a vegan “seafood” kick lately, craving chickpea “tuna” salad sandwiches and experimenting with vegan smoked salmon from Sophie’s Kitchen in an animal-free, homemade version of bagels and lox. As such, Kristy’s fried chickpea-artichoke patty topped with creamy tartar sauce-coated slaw is supremely exciting my tastebuds. Plus, there’s vegan mayo involved. And man, I love me some vegan mayo.

Sweet

Hazelnut Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries & Pretzels
via Artful Desperado

Photo via Artful Desperado.

Photo via Artful Desperado.

The other night, I had the immense pleasure of dining at V-Note, an all-vegan bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and reveling in their creamy, silky-smooth, decadent, rich, mind-boggling rendition of tiramisu. The dessert featured coconut cream, coffee-soaked pastry, and chocolate syrup layered in a glass tumbler, parfait-like. Still reeling from the experience of the tiramisu, I feel called to this Hazelnut Mousse Parfait, especially considering my deep adoration of hazelnuts. Paired with salty pretzels and juicy strawberries, this mousse may just pave my path to replicating my tiramisu-induced happiness.

Be sure, of course, to use cocoa included on the Food Empowerment Project’s approved chocolate list to ensure that you don’t contribute to the slave practices of the vast majority of the global chocolate industry.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Raw Cobb Salad
via the Choosing Raw cookbook by Gena Hamshaw

raw cobb salad

I’ve eagerly anticipated the release of my dear friend Gena‘s cookbook for over a year now, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have its physical manifestation gracing my bookshelves today. While you’ll have to wait until later in the summer when my in-depth review of the cookbook will be featured on the Our Hen House podcast, my excitement for Choosing Raw the cookbook overflows such that I feel then need to offer you all a sneak preview. As part of my recipe-testing for the OHH review, I recreated Gena’s Raw Cobb Salad – an expertly composed dish of lettuce drizzled in a creamy, smoky red pepper-cashew dressing, topped with rows of succulent heirloom tomato, buttery avocado, homemade tangy cashew cheese, and crispy eggplant bacon. A rainbow of flavors in a rainbow of a plate.

Must-Read News Article

What Fuels the Violence Against Palestinian and Israeli Youths?
via Counterpunch

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City, 27 June. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City on June 27. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

While heated for years now, the Israel-Palestine conflict has received considerable media attention in the past week due to the murder of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestinian land. Problematically, however, the coverage of this event has largely failed to mention Israel’s 60-year campaign of occupation against the Palestinians, as well as the collective punishment that Israel has unleashed upon the Palestinian population. Such punishment has included destroying Palestinian homes, farms, and Mosques; abducting over 600 Palestinians; and bombing the people of Gaza with 34 air strikes in one night. This article from Counterpunch fleshes out the pro-Israel media coverage surrounding these events, as well as speculates upon what drives Israel’s abuse of the Palestinian people.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Spied on for Being Muslim? NSA Targets Named in Snowden Leaks Respond to U.S. Gov’t Surveillance
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

This week, the newly launched NSA-whistleblowing site The Intercept published a lengthy investigative report based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden that identify five prominent Muslim Americans spied on by the National Security Agency. Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, joins the Democracy Now! team to discuss how “the only thing [the five spied-on individuals] really had in common is that they are all politically active American Muslims. And that seems to be enough in the intelligence community to render these people suspicious.”

Also in the segment, Democracy Now! airs a video from The Intercept of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights group. Nihad responds to the government surveillance he experienced:

“I was not aware that I was under surveillance, except recently. And I’m outraged that as an American citizen, my government, after decades of civil rights struggle, still the government spies on political activists and civil rights activists and leaders. It is outrageous, and I’m really angry that despite all the work that we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, to serve our communities, we are treated with suspicion.”

Wonderful coverage of a hugely important report revealing the intensely racist practices of the U.S. government.

Book Recommendation

Stuffed and Starved
by Raj Patel

Photo via IndieBound.

Photo via IndieBound.

I would call Raj Patel’s book Stuffed and Starved a must-read for anyone involved in or concerned with the global food justice movement. The captivatingly written book recounts Patel’s investigation into food systems around the world, uncovering the reasons behind famines in Africa and Asia, the rampant poverty of farmers in Latin America due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and more. In doing so, Patel clearly displays that the enormous power of controlling the global food system lies in the hands of just a few wealthy corporations and governments. Once you pick this book up, you honestly will not want to put it down (nor should you!).

In solidarity, Ali.

Ranch Potato Salad | Enjoying Food, Enjoying Life

Before I get into today’s post, I’d like to point you toward Episode 234 of the Our Hen House podcast, where you can hear all about the top five most fabulous vegan eats that I enjoyed during my two-week trip to Italy back in March. The rampant vegan-friendliness of Italian cuisine might surprise you!

I also want to thank you all for the outpouring of positive feedback on my recent post on vegan privilege. Thank you all for your kind words and willingness to engage in a tough yet hugely important issue.

If you checked out the latest installment of my Vegan Chews & Progressive News series (#NewsandChews), you most likely noticed the tantalizing plate of food featured in the “Best Recipe I Made This Week” section. Along with a pile of buffalo tempeh and a sweet wilted kale salad, the featured dinner included a mound of young, multicolored potatoes dotted with verdant sweet peas and coated in the ubiquitous childhood favorite veggie dip: ranch dressing. Though, probably unlike the mayo-based ranch of your youth (definitely of mine), the making of this particular dressing did not contribute to the dumping of live chickens into trash pits, the gassing or grinding up of male chicks, or the forced molting of hens (but those are all just “standard industry practices,” right? No biggie?).

ranch potato salad (1)

While my switching from egg-based ranch dressing to a vegan, oil-based version in part represents a desire to foster a kinder world, my new-found enthusiasm for vegan mayo represents an act of kindness to myself. Back in the darkest days of my eating disorder, I abided by all sorts of  self-imposed, nonsensical food restrictions based on nutrition pseudo-science: no peanut butter because it’s susceptible to mold, only minute amounts of tofu and tempeh because processed soy causes breast cancer (actually the opposite), no maple syrup or agave nectar because even minimally refined sweeteners are the devil’s handiwork, etc. Policing my every bite of food for its “purity” of health, eating became an act of stress (that my food was optimally “healthy”) and self-punishment (if it wasn’t or if I ate “too much” of it). Because my disorder consumed my identity, this stress and self-punishment permeated the vast majority of my everyday life.

ranch potato salad (2)

Fast forward through a ton of psychological healing involving the refocusing of my attention off of food and onto a cause larger than myself (read: animal rights), as well as the cultivation of self-respect through a now approaching six-year yoga practice, I found myself able not only to enjoy the singular act of eating, but to enjoy the continuous act of life.

Life! That once-unhappy phenomenon through which I struggled throughout high school in irritable, depressive, static fashion became an interactive cornucopia of opportunity, action, and joy. My utmost goal transformed from achieving optimal “health” through “pure,” absolutely unprocessed diet, and to bettering the world by fighting against multiple societal oppression while finding pleasure in the everyday.

ranch potato salad (4)

Okay, so what does this have to do with vegan mayo? Well, my now-beloved Vegenaise once existed among my extensive list of forbidden ingredients (it was a processed product that contained soy protein, for pete’s sake!!!!). Though it may appear inconsequential to the unknowing witness, my ability to consume and absolutely revel in enjoyment of the foods on my past taboo list—including maple syrup, vegan cheese like Daiya, vegan meat products like Field Roast, and non-dairy ice cream like DF Mavens—constitutes an enormous positive leap in my psychological health and relationship with food.

Back to that Ranch Potato Salad. Bursting with freshness from a hearty dose of herbs and tanginess from that much-adored vegan mayo, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be able to enjoy this perfect-for-summer salad without even the slightest twinge of self-hate. Here’s to enjoying food, and enjoying life.

ranch potato salad (2)

Ranch Potato Salad

Serves 4.

Ranch Dressing Ingredients (loosely adapted from Betty Goes Vegan):

3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (Organic Vegenaise and Just Mayo are my favorites)
8 oz (half a package) silken tofu
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp tahini
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp freshly group black pepper

Salad Ingredients:

Sea salt for the boiling water
1 lb fingerling potatoes (I used a mix of yellow, red, and blue)
2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen

Scrub the potatoes and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot about 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle a generous amount of salt into the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Keep the water at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. Add the peas and boil for another minute. Drain and let cool until you can comfortably handle the potatoes.

Meanwhile, combine all of the dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until very smooth.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice each potato in half (or in quarters, if larger) and place in a large bowl. Add the peas, then add about 1 cup of the ranch dressing, or enough to coat the potatoes and peas to your liking (you may not use all of the dressing. Oh no! Leftover tangy, creamy deliciousness! Whatever will you do?). Stir the mixture until the potatoes and peas are evenly coated with the dressing. Serve warm.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {7-4-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy 4th of July! While the news highlighted in this fifth edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News may not contribute to your patriotism, July 4th still provides a fabulous excuse to fire up the grill for some summer veggies and dig into a pint of non-dairy ice cream. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Strawberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon-Caramel Glaze
via Yup, It’s Vegan

vegan_strawberry_sweet_rolls_lemon_caramel_glaze_1-1024x768

Photo via Yup, It’s Vegan.

Though the end of strawberry season is upon us in Brooklyn (hellooo, cherries!), Shannon offers up a chewy, yeasty, doughy, succulent, mouthwatering recipe to make creative use (not that eating them unadorned isn’t a fabulous use) of any late-season strawberries you might be lucky enough to snag. I expect that these whole-grain, refined sugar-free sweet rolls would provide both a comforting breakfast and a lovely warm-weather dessert, perfect for enjoying on the patio just before sunset.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Ranch Potato Salad, Buffalo Tempeh with Homemade Sauce, and Sweet Kale Salad
via Betty Goes Vegan, Post Punk Kitchen, Emeril Lagasse, and Chef Mickiyah

dinner

The “recipe” highlight of this week is actually a full meal made up of three components. The first: a Ranch Potato Salad with sweet green peas and a vegan ranch dressing adapted from the vegan-Betty Crocker remix cookbook Betty Goes Vegan. The second: crispy sauteed tempeh simmered in homemade buffalo sauce, inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe with a DIY twist. The third: a warm salad of wilted kale in a succulent sauce of Dijon mustard and coconut sugar with a sprinkling of juicy raisins, courtesy of Chef Mickiyah of Woodland’s Vegan Bistro (remember my rave review of this DC vegan hot spot last summer?). Hearty, boldly flavored, and nourishing, this dinner would have impressed any July 4th-celebrating non-vegan.

Must-Read News Article

This past week brought an onslaught of landmark court decisions, both inside and outside of the U.S.

canadian-harper-pipeline-protest

Photo via Grist.

Via Grist: In Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that any First Nation land that was never formally ceded to the Canadian government cannot be developed without consent of those First Nations that have a claim to it. In addition to challenging the Northern Gateway oil pipeline that would run from Alberta to China, the ruling recognizes the rights of the First Nations whose land the U.S. and Canada colonized long ago, and who have endured heaps of discrimination ever since. Way to go, Canadian Supreme Court.

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Photo via Slate.

Back home in the U.S., however, the Supreme Court produced decisions much less worth celebrating. Via Slate, Truthout, and Mother Jones: Not only did the Court strike down a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot buffer zone that anti-abortion protesters couldn’t enter to heckle patients outside of abortion clinics, it also declared that the government couldn’t require closely held businesses to provide their employees with health insurance that covers types of birth control that offend the owner’s religious beliefs. Both decisions severely infringe upon women’s health and reproductive rights, essentially indicating that corporations constitute “people” more so than do women. A much more sarcastic “way to go” to you, SCOTUS.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

BEST OF: Melissa Gira Grant on sex work, savior complexes, and a vegan dominatrix
via Citizen Radio

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Photo via Citizen Radio.

The topic of sex workers and their rights proves hotly debated, even in feminist circles, as many well-meaning folks attempt to control the actions of women who find themselves in precarious situations and choose to engage in sex work in order to get by. In this “Best Of” episode of Citizen Radio, Melissa Gira Grant—author of Playing the Whore, which is definitely next on my reading list—explains the politics behind the issue of sex workers with elegance, clarity, and wit. A must-listen.

For more information on sex workers’ rights, check out this recent article on Truthout, entitled “Cutting Off Sex Work Advertising Sites Disrupts Communities, Not Trafficking.”

Book Recommendation

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

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Photo via NPR.

While anyone who hasn’t lived under a slab of tofu for the past few decades has clearly seen the staggering wealth gap into which capitalism has sent our country spiraling, Matt Taibbi highlights the concrete impacts that this gap has upon the bodies of the poor and the criminal justice system. Switching between narrating startling stories of corporate/Wall Street money laundering and the clear discrimination in policing against people of color, Taibbi demonstrates the stark contrast between the treatment of the rich and poor in arrests, trials, and punishments. For example. on the one hand, the police arrest an impoverished Black man for “obstructing traffic” by standing in front of the door of his own home, while “too-big-to-fail” companies like HSBC receive no more than a slap on the wrist for major corporate fraud. A book to make your blood boil and your cynical laughter to ring.

In solidarity, Ali.

Seaweed & Edamame Salad | Thoughts on Vegan Privilege

Before introducing today’s recipe, I’m thrilled to announce the three winners of my most recent giveaway for two free pints of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream. Congratulations to Becca FergusonRosie Riccio DeRensis, and Megan Digeon! Enjoy the creamy, decadent, coconutty goodness.

I got myself into a Facebook skirmish the other day. I don’t often do so, nor do I know that I can even call this incident a “skirmish,” so much as an instance of me replying to a post I found problematic, and never hearing back from the poster or commentators. The post in question—entitled “Dear White Vegans: This is Your Collection Agency Calling“—elicited enthusiastic responses from two individuals who referred to themselves as “former white, privileged vegans.”

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I responded as such:

“I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in this article. The current vegan movement contains an onslaught of classist, racist, sexist, and ableist elements. Equating the mass slaughter of animals with genocide and slavery co-opts the unknowable suffering of marginalized peoples in an effort to further another movement.

However, I feel that the arguments expressed in this article are a bit ad-hominem. Yes, the way veganism at large is being executed right now is hugely problematic. But at its core, veganism, for me, is simply an extension of an effort to combat the multiplicities of oppression in this world. The exploitation of people of color, women, members of the LGBT community, non-human animals, etc. are not the same, but they share a similar component: an unequal relationship between oppressor and oppressed. I would argue that if this relationship exists anywhere, the possibility for a liberated society becomes greatly hindered.

Consider the powerful activists in history who were also vegan: Cesar Chavez, Thich Nhat Hanh, Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, and so on. They recognized that while different instances of oppression are not at all the same and each need to be understood in their own right, they are also intimately connected by their being perpetuated by a capitalistic, patriarchal, colonial mindset. To fight against these marginalizing power relations, I feel that we must engage in a multiplicity of social struggles in order to empower habitually silenced groups. And I would argue that these struggles should include non-human animals.”

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In essence, I don’t want to throw out the idea of veganism simply because its current execution involves a multiplicity of problematic aspects. Instead, since I’m currently privileged enough to enjoy access to a bounty of plant-based foods, an income to obtain such foods, and a social circle that won’t disown my non-mainstream lifestyle, I’ve passionately added animal exploitation to the list of oppressions I’m actively seeking to combat by leading a vegan lifestyle.

Equally important, however, is that in such a privileged position, I must also engage in actively combating the problematic aspects of the vegan movement, in part by constantly reminding myself that the privilege enabling my vegan lifestyle exists among the phenomena that I actively seek to combat. The actions I’m taking against such privilege don’t involve giving up veganism, since that would actively enforce another very real oppression. Instead, the actions involve supporting admirable organizations like Food Not Bombs and the Food Empowerment Project that work to make nourishing vegan options accessible to marginalized communities; working to free myself of the capitalistic mindset of nonstop accumulation of material goods; working not to reinforce my various privileges in my daily interpersonal relations; and educating myself about the histories and current manifestations of various oppressions by devouring anti-racist, feminist, anarchist, etc. literature and following progressive news sources.

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These efforts don’t stop my occupation of a privileged position, of course. I’m still able to take myself out for expensive dinners at upscale restaurants in Manhattan; I’m still able to host giveaways on the ol’ blog for free products while the vivacious homeless man, who hangs out most days on the bench in front of my apartment building, asks for donations; I’m still able to shell out $12.99 for a 6-oz bag of arame seaweed at Whole Foods.

But these privileges don’t exist because I’m vegan, and they’ll still exist even if I were to throw up my hands and give up veganism tomorrow (which I absolutely will not). They exist because I’m a white, straight, cisgender individual with an upper-middle-class background. And veganism is only the first way in which I hope to engage in a challenge to the capitalist, patriarchal, colonial, speciesist, etc. society that makes it super easy to thrive with such identity factors.

Now, before I recommence all this challenging, please excuse me while I enjoy the following salad that I made with a $12.99-bag of arame seaweed that I bought at Whole Foods after being inspired to make such a salad by a dish I enjoyed at a not-inexpensive restaurant in perhaps the most well-off neighborhood in Brooklyn. Don’t we all love a good contradiction?

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Seaweed & Edamame SaladNut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Serves 2-4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

3 oz arame or hiziki seaweed (or a blend of the two)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp finely sliced scallions
2 tbsp sesame seeds (both white & black are fine)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Place the seaweed in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let the seaweed soak for 15-60 minutes, or until it has expanded significantly. Drain.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled edamame and boil for 4-6 minutes. Drain.

When the seaweed has finished soaking, heat the coconut oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the drained seaweed and saute for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the seaweed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the toasted sesame oil, raise the heat to medium-high, and saute until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and relocate the seaweed mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the toasted sesame oil. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {6-27-14}

If you haven’t yet already, don’t miss your chance to win two free pints of amazingly decadent, creamy, rich, and delicious vegan ice cream from Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss on my latest giveaway!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

This week’s News & Chews (fourth edition!) features the wonders of summery finger foods and artful salads, a roundup of the need-to-know news stories of the past week, a video highlighting the racial politics of a resurfaced court case from the 1980s, and a book that must grace the shelves of anyone even remotely involved in movement organizing.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Peach & Avocado Summer Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
from Anya Kassoff’s new “The Vibrant Table,” via Katie at the Kitchen Door

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

This recipe, from the new cookbook “The Vibrant Table” by Golubka’s own Anya Kassoff, positively bursts with the goodness of summer produce, including juicy peaches, buttery avocados, and bright basil. Accentuated with the crunch of pistachios, the richness of hazelnut oil, and the unctuousness of a lip-smackingly tantalizing almond butter dipping sauce, these summer rolls all but beg to grace my dinner plate.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Salad Niçoise Bento Box
via Terry Hope Romero’s new “Salad Samurai

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 Lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of culinary genius Terry Hope Romero’s new cookbook (look out for a review & giveaway in mid-July!), I spent the last week reveling in fresh, creative, and hearty salads from the mastermind of the co-author of the vegan Bible “Veganomicon.” I don’t want to give away too much about this gorgeous Niçoise salad pictured above, but I will mention its innovative inclusion of coconut “bacon,” avocado “egg,”  and chickpea “tuna” salad. I’m in love.

Must-Read News Article

This past week saw such a proliferation of important news stories (both uplifting and gut-wrenching) that instead of featuring a single article on this week’s edition of News & Chews, I’d like to feature a “round-up” of sorts.
First, the bad news. From Daily Kos, 40 percent of Detroit residents who cannot afford to pay their water bills due to crippling unemployment and other poverty-related factors risk having their water supply cut off. In response, the Detroit People’s Water Board has petitioned the UN to make clear to the U.S. government that it has violated the human right to water. And in further draconian governmental news, from Al Jazeera, an Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to ten years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. This ruling has the powerful potential to have a chilling effect on journalists, and represents a serious blow to journalistic freedom.
Luckily, we still have access to multiple outlets for independent journalism, many of which this week featured a number of hopeful stories. From Truthout, the Presbyterian Church, USA sets an exciting precedent in upsetting the power imbalance between Israel and occupied Palestine by divesting from three corporations that have been continually involved in the Israeli population of the West Ban. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, from BuzzFlash, a federal court struck down a municipal ordinance that made it a crime to use a car for overnight shelter, representing a victory against the city’s anti-homeless agenda that seeks to decrease visibility of the issue rather than securing homes for the homeless. Finally, Gerardo Cerdas, coordinator of the transnational social movement Grito de los Excluidos, shares his uplifting views of the future of social movements at Truthout. I would highly recommend this article to anyone interested or involved in movement organizing, especially those who (like myself) have become (more than a bit) jaded.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

NYC’s $40M Central Park 5 Settlement Resolves Wrongful Jailing Fueled by Race-Baiting, Police Abuse
via Democracy Now!

Untitled

Those of us born in the 1990s may have missed the infamous case of the Central Park jogger, in which the NYC court system convicted five black and Latino men of raping a female jogger in Central Park, only to be found innocent decades later after the real rapist came forward and confessed. The five convicted men having already served sentences of up to 13 years, the City of New York has finally reportedly agreed to pay $40 million to the wrongfully convicted men. The most notable aspect of this story involves the racial profiling activities of the NYPD, through which young men of color were targeted as significant dangers to society. Additionally, as professor of sociology Natalie Byfield notes, “the significance of a settlement, to me, is important because it starts to undo what became a historic lie. And I say it in this way because the case itself was the launching pad for a transformation of the juvenile justice system.” So many complexities to this story, and an important case to remember in terms of the racial politics of the U.S.

Book Recommendation

Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy
by Chris Crass

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Written by longtime anarchist movement organizer (including with the awesome vegan organization Food Not BombsChris Crass, this book contains an invaluable assortment of reflections upon the history of anti-capitalist organizing in an attempt to learn from past mistakes and advance current movement efforts. From his background as an feminist-informed anti-racist educator of white people, Crass practices self-reflexivity with grace and provides important critiques of the un-discussed privileges and inequalities in past movement efforts. I sincerely hope that this book becomes widely read among activists everywhere.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {6-13-14}

If you haven’t yet, be sure to enter my latest giveaway to win a box of raw, vegan, sprouted, organic, gluten-free snacks from the fabulous folks over at Tastymakes!

Welcome to the second installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News here on Farmers Market Vegan! (Check out the premier post in this weekly series here). This edition brings you delectable springtime recipes, a critical analysis of the hype surrounding the World Cup, the dangers of the escalating cost of higher education, and a book that’s sure to make all you introverts out there (myself SO included) feel all warm and fuzzy inside with validation. Let’s get to it, folks!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Buddha’s Pasta Salad
via Clean Wellness

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Photo via Clean Wellness.

Replete with verdant veggies and aromatic herbs, this creamily dressed pasta salad appeals to all of my springtime culinary sensibilities. Lately, I’ve found myself straight nibbling the stems of fresh mint and chives, but this recipe will certainly put those her s to better use. Though I cringe at the name of Alison’s blog every time I see it (check out this article to see why), I must admit that the woman certainly has some recipe-creating prowess.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Caramelized Oyster Mushroom Scallops over Pasta and Cauliflower with Minted Pea Puree
via Olives for Dinner

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Photo via Olives for Dinner.

I have almost no words for this dish…but then I wouldn’t be very helpful, now would I? This multi-layered, complex, yet cleanly flavored entree featured comforting pasta drowned in a silky puree of sweet peas and refreshing mint, scattered with meltingly tender roasted cauliflower and topped with the pièce de resistance: oh-so-heartily textured, caramelized oyster mushroom “scallops.” The multiple components may intimidate you, but all of them require minimal, simple preparation, and the dish that results from their combination will persuade you to prepare all of them every night…or maybe every meal. I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Must-Read News Article

Photo via Truthout.

Photo via Truthout.

Mainstream coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has largely overlooked a couple hugely problematic aspects of the event (and of many other mammoth-sized global events, such as the Beijing Olympics): in an attempt to hide rampant poverty and inequality from international eyes, government officials have begun “pacifying” favelas (the “slums” of Brazil), resulting in widespread police abuse. Additionally, the state has spent astronomical amounts on various World Cup expenses, while the millions of Brazilians who live in abject poverty benefit not at all. Important facts to remember among the current World Cup hype.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Is College Worth it? New Doc ‘Ivory Tower’ Tackles Higher Ed’s Unsustainable Spending, Student Debt
via Democracy Now!

Untitled

Democracy Now! recently featured an exciting upcoming documentary that discusses the hugely important topic of the ever-increasing cost of higher education. The documentary sheds light on such frightening statistics as:
–The government will make $184 billion off of tuition and student loans this year.
–Since 1978, college tuition has increased by 1120%, more than any other good or service in the U.S.
–Colleges now spend lavishly in order to compete with other institutions, such that some dorms are now built at rates equivalent to construction of luxury hotels.
As a college student, I’m thrilled to see growing attention being paid to this pressing issue, one that threatens to make younger generations beholden to the government for their lifetimes.

Book Recommendation

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

Photo via ThePowerofIntroverts.com

Photo via ThePowerofIntroverts.com

During the last few weeks of the spring semester, I saw a counselor at my college, who after speaking with me informed me that I suffered from social anxiety. Okay, great, my preference for not interacting with large groups of people and my tendency to worry about how I come off in social interactions is now a pathology, and I feel like there’s something terribly wrong with me. This book changed my feelings completely. Like a close friend, this book assured me that my introverted personality does not mark me as broken, but rather bestows upon me the difficult task of navigating a Western culture that privileges extroverts. Author Susan Cain invokes a wide variety of fascinating statistics and psychological studies to shed light upon the strenuous endeavor of living as an introvert in an extroverted society. A necessary read for all introverts and their loved ones.

Until next time, Ali.

Spring Panzanella with Vegan Parmesan Croutons

The springtime—with its bounty of green gems of produce like asparagus, peas, artichokes, and fava beans (hear more about all of these on my recent appearance on the Our Hen House podcast!)—has sparked in my memory a recipe that my mother and I enjoyed often during our pre-vegan days. A creation of our past Top Chef sweetheart Michael Chiarello, this innovative, spring-inspired take on panzanella (Italian bread and tomato salad) featured lightly cooked spring veggies and parmesan-coated croutons in a basil-asparagus puree, topped with shavings of ricotta salata cheese. Every iteration of this salad that my mother and I made offered a brilliant amalgamation of fresh and unctuous flavors and contrasting textures.

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While the past four springs have passed without my attempt at recreating such an artful salad (well, artful except for the exploitatively manufactured butter and cheese…), the urge to once again experience the dish’s symphony of tastes and mouthfeels recently overwhelmed my gastronomic sensibilities. To veganize the parmesan croutons, I employed a commonly invoked technique of the world of vegan cheese-making, and blended nuts with nutritional yeast for a parmesan-like cheesy sprinkle. Tossed with coconut oil-coated bread cubes, this nourishing vegan parm—packed with vitamins B12 and E, not to mention tons of umami—yielded croutons quite flavorful enough to shine alongside the fresh spring veggies of this exceptional panzanella.

Fresh nut ricotta from Kite Hill (photo courtesy of Kite Hill).

Fresh nut ricotta from Kite Hill (photo courtesy of Kite Hill).

Instead of the ricotta salata, I dotted the composed salad with fresh cashew-and-macadamia ricotta from the much-hyped vegan cheese company Kite Hill (now, excitingly, available at Whole Foods in the fancy cheese section!). While this cheese will blow your mind with its firm creaminess and deep tanginess, if you can’t find it, a homemade cashew cheese would work quite well.

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Hurry on over to your local farmers’ market, for asparagus season won’t last much longer! And I assure you: you’d be remiss to allow a whole ‘nother year to pass without reveling in this mouthwatering, substantial salad. Happy springtime!

Spring Panzanella with Vegan Parmesan Croutons—Soy Free.

Serves 4-6.

Parmesan Crouton Ingredients:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp raw almonds or walnuts
2 tbsp raw cashews
Pinch of lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
4 cups day-old whole grain bread, crusts removed and cubed (I used Ezekiel brand bread)

Panzanella Ingredients:
1/2 small head of radicchio, cut into ribbons
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
5 tsp lemon juice, divided
1 large handful of arugula
1/2 cup-ish Kite Hill firm ricotta (or homemade cashew cheese)

Make the parmesan croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse the nutritional yeast, almonds, cashews, salt, and lemon zest until crumbly. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the melted coconut oil. Add the nut mixture and toss to combine. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the croutons are crisp and lightly browned. Set aside.

Make the rest of the salad: Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice and cold water. Place the radicchio ribbons into the ice water and let sit as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cut the asparagus in half, separating the tender tips from the more woody ends. Once the water is boiling, blanch the asparagus tips for one minute, then remove from the water with a sieve. Set aside. To the same water, add the asparagus ends and blanch for 3-5 minutes or until tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the asparagus ends (not tips!), basil, 3 tbsp of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the parmesan croutons, asparagus, peas, and scallions. Add enough of the asparagus puree to coat the mixture lightly and evenly. Add 4 tsp lemon juice and toss again.

Drain the radicchio ribbons and dry with either a salad spinner or a clean dish towel. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Place the dressed arugula on a large platter, then mound the crouton mixture on top. Dot the plate with the Kite Hill ricotta or spoonfuls of cashew cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan in Florence, Part 3

Don’t miss your chance to win a jar of body butter and a tube of lip butter from the all-natural and vegan cosmetic company Ellovi! Enter Farmers Market Vegan’s latest giveaway by Wednesday, April 2.

Well, dear readers, my adventures in Florence, Italy have come to a close, but I still have one more round of vegan Italian cuisine to share with you all. The last few days of my trip included day trips to the nearby towns of Siena and Fiesole, both of which boast magnificent churches and stunning views of the Italian countryside; a dinner party with my parents, aunt, uncle, and cousin; and a theater jaunt to see the previously on-Broadway show Stomp. And of course…tons of tasty vegan noms. Here are a couple culinary highlights from my final days in Florence:

Il Vegetariano

Via delle Ruote 30r, Florence, Italy 50129

My travel companion Gabe shows off the front of Il Vegetariano.

My travel companion Gabe shows off the front of Il Vegetariano.

I first discovered this 30-some-year-old staple of Florence’s vegetarian scene three years ago when I spent the summer with my aunt, and eagerly returned to introduce this popular, all-organic eatery to my travel companion Gabe. Luckily, from that summer I gleaned the experiential know-how about how Il Vegetariano works, so that I could lead Gabe along in the process. You see, Il Vegetariano’s set-up differs from that of a traditional sit-down restaurant, functioning in a more cafeteria-style manner. Upon entering the restaurant, the diner proceeds past the two dining rooms to greet the kind bespectacled man behind the ordering counter, seated beside a colorful blackboard that lists the daily-rotating menu of small plates, salad bar, entrees, and desserts. The diner puts their order in at the counter, pays, picks up a tray, and stands in the line in front of the salad bar/dessert counter to wait for another kind balding man to grab a freshly made plate from the kitchen, and/or to choose from an array of raw and cooked vegetables to enjoy in a salad. Finally, the diner can choose a seat in one of two mahogany-clad dining rooms with exposed brick walls, or on a covered patio just behind the restaurant.

Dessert case, salad bar, ordering station, and pick-up counter at Il Vegetariano.

Dessert case, salad bar, ordering station, and pick-up counter at Il Vegetariano.

During our visit, Gabe and I opted to enjoy the warm weather and took a seat on the patio. Peckish after meandering around the city all morning, we dove into our bowls of immensely savory brown rice pilaf with roasted artichokes, cauliflower, and parsley. Herbaceous and full-bodied, the pilaf’s flavor showcased just how complex simple vegetables and grains can taste. Of course, considering that Il Vegetariano describes their wide dessert selection as their specialty, Gabe and I simply had to sample a slice of a crumbly tart jam-packed with succulent pears and apricots. Certainly no complaints there, especially when my entire meal cost less than 10 euro.

Brown rice pilaf with roasted artichokes and cauliflower.

Brown rice pilaf with roasted artichokes and cauliflower.

Pear-Apricot Crumble Tart

Pear-Apricot Crumble Tart

Gelateria Perche No!

Via dei Tavolini 19r, Florence, Italy 50122

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Gabe once again serves as my restaurant model.

Venturing out for gelato after enjoying lunch at home became a favorite ritual of mine and Gabe’s during the latter portion of our stay in Florence. While we most often headed to Festival del Gelato due to its close proximity to our apartment, Gabe and I opted on one occasion to sample another of Florence’s famous gelaterias, founded in 1939 and known as Perche No! (aka “why not!”). Upon first entering the small shop, I noticed and hugely appreciated that the gelateria had separated its non-dairy gelatos into a separate cooler, making ordering much simpler for myself and others who avoid dairy. On the day that we visited, Perche No!’s non-dairy flavors included banana, dark chocolate, pear, soy-based hazelnut, soy-based vanilla, strawberry, lemon, and raspberry. Funnily enough, Gabe and I both chose the soy hazelnut and raspberry to satisfy our daily gelato quota. While both gelatos held the exact flavor essence of their respective fruit and nut bases, the soy hazelnut proved less creamy than the rice-based hazelnut that we often enjoyed at Festival (strange, considering that rice milk tends to hold a much thinner texture than soy milk!). Regardless, Perche No! boasts some darn tasty gelato.

The "senza latte" (without milk) case at Perche No!

The “senza latte” (without milk) case at Perche No!

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Miso di Riso

Borgo degli Albizi 54r, Florence, Italy, 50122

miso di riso

A couple of weeks before arriving in Florence, my mother emailed me to express her excitement that she had discovered a newly opened vegetarian restaurant called Miso di Riso (translated to rice miso) along the main pedestrian street in her neighborhood. As such, I made it a point to accompany my mother to lunch at the eatery during one of my final days in Florence. Brightly lit, filled with verdant potted plants, and boasting a plethora of vibrantly colored décor, Miso di Riso provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere in which to enjoy some macrobiotic-inspired vegan noms.

After ordering, my mother and I check out the dessert case to find such tantalizing creations as two mixed berry tarts, as well one with a semolina crust and chocolate ganache filling. While we opted to head to Festival del Gelato for dessert after our meal, Miso di Riso’s bakery selection definitely impressed me.

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Soon after we had sufficiently ogled at the dessert case, my mother and I received our plates. I chose to sample a savory tart of cauliflower and seaweed with a remarkably flavorful crust, accompanied by a meltingly tender pile of curried cabbage and a lightly dressed salad of gorgeous greens and shaved carrots. As for my mother, she opted for the tofu burger, complete with vegan mayonnaise and coupled with a colorful sauté of mixed vegetables, as well as a salad similar to mine. While both my mother and I “mm”-ed with delight at the features of our plate (the tart and burger) as well as at the impeccably fresh salads, the vegetable side dishes left us unimpressed—though tasty, they struck us as dishes easily made by any home cook. This new restaurant has a great base (and space!) on which to build, but it definitely requires improvement.

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Le Fate

Borgo Allegri 9r, Florence, Italy 50122

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About seven minutes before my mother, Gabe, and I planned to leave to see Stomp, my mother decided to call the restaurant at which we wanted to have dinner, only to find that they had no open tables for the night. Scrambling to find another eatery for the evening, we soon recalled another newly opened vegetarian restaurant that we had passed by on one of our evening passeggiare (walks), called Le Fate (translated to “the fairies”). With moments to spare, we secured a reservation and ran out the door to the theater.

That scramble for another restaurant resulted in one of the best gastronomic decisions of my trip, as the meal that my family and I enjoyed at Le Fate will live on in the Seiter family memory for years to come. True to its name, Le Fate boasts a rather enchanting dining room and a mystical menu: the four appetizers find inspiration in the four elements (earth, water, wind, and fire), while each of the entrees corresponds to one of the twelve astrological signs. Upon noticing the struggles of our English-speaking family to decipher the Italian menu, our charismatic waiter called the chef out of the kitchen to explain in detail every dish—VIP treatment, eh?

As a pre-meal amuse bouche, we each received a small crostini of house-made whole-grain bread spread with what I took to be an artichoke pate, served upon a leaf of soft and lemony sorrel. For an appetizer, the table opted to share a platter of house-made vegan cheeses and fruit compotes. Though I couldn’t discern the exact flavors of each of the cheeses, I could tell by the textures that two of them certainly featured agar-agar seaweed as a binder, while the other two seemed to be aged nut spread-type cheeses. Unfortunately, the latter two lacked the creaminess integral to satisfying cheese, though their flavors proved intensely complex. I have absolutely no complaints about the sweet and expertly spiced compotes, however.

le fate

While I found the vegan cheeses a tad lacking, there was absolutely nothing subpar about any of our entrees. Indeed, every bite (both of my own dish and stolen from the plates of others) offered a new flavor and mouthfeel, providing for a hugely interesting and astronomically delicious meal.

The only diner of our party to order the dish that corresponded to their actual astrological sign, I chose the Vergine (Virgo) plate as soon as I heard the chef say “dates,” “fennel,” and “homemade basil tofu.” The bowl of homemade noodles coated in a creamy, succulent sauce of dates and caramelized fennel that I enjoyed that night still enters my dreams. Providing textural contrast to the silky pasta were leaves of bitter radicchio spread with house-made basil tofu and topped with orange segments and toasted hazelnuts. An inspired dish.

My mother opted for the Gemelli (Gemini) plate, which featured a bowl of fluffy-on-the-inside-crusty-on-the-outside biscuits in three savory varieties, accompanied by a number of spread and toppings: a mild golden chutney of onions and apples, a rainbow-colored salad of minced peppers, a fluffy and cloud-white vegan mayonnaise, oil-marinated heirloom white beans, and quenelles of smooth hummus. Um, wow.

Finally, both Gabe and my father chose the Capricorno (Capricorn) plate: creamy black lentil soup topped with a puree of white root vegetables, served alongside perfectly round balls of falafel with carrot-tamarind spread, and rounded out by a salad of mixed greens and ripe berries. Need I say more?

Though we all found ourselves too full to enjoy dessert, we did end the meal quite enjoyably by speaking with the bubbly owner of the restaurant—a longtime vegan and astronomer who gave us each our horoscopes before leaving. Le Fate’s inviting atmosphere, it’s enormously hospitable waitstaff, and its inspired and tantalizing culinary creations have earned a top spot on my list of most memorable travel restaurants, and I can hardly wait to return during my next trip to Italy (crossing my fingers that it’s soon!).

le fate 2

Though I probably experienced one of the more perfect spring breaks of my entire life during the past two weeks, I’m happy to find myself back at school and among the community of my on-campus vegan living cooperative. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the spring on Farmers Market Vegan!

Until next time, Ali.