Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vegan Chicken Salad For Really Lazy People

The dog days of summer are starting here in LA. Honestly, I couldn't be more ready for them. Hot weather, DO. YOUR. THING. Why am I so excited about the insane heat, you ask? Well, I tend to run cold; I despise wearing long-sleeved shirts; and I weirdly like the challenge that comes with the heat - it's sort of like taking a Bikram yoga class...all the time.

(Actually, I've taken two Bikram yoga classes in my life, and, well, I'm not really sure those are for me. ;) I will say, though, that I would give Bikram another chance.)



Anyway, I'm sooooooooooooooooooooooo lazy with cooking lately. I want to chop, like, nothing. Ingredient list longer than 5 items? No, thanks. Prep time is longer than...wait, there's PREP time? Pass. 

There has been a benefit to my laziness of late, however. That is, I'm so averse to even getting in my car to drive to the grocery store that I'm not spending extra cash on ingredients! So, I'm thrifty, too. Win-win.

And by the way, rather than "lazy," I prefer the phrase "energetically economical."

Okay no I don't.

Right, so without further ado...here is the recipe:

V e g a n  C h i c k e n  S a l a d  

F o r   

R e a l l y  L a z y  P e o p l e ! 


Alright, look, here's a forewarning: Given that this recipe was inspired by my laziness, it relies heavily on dried spices, which I just happen to collect in my kitchen cupboard. You can never go wrong with buying whatever dried spice is on sale, I say, but, I digress. Anyway, if you don't have all the dried spices, it's really okay. Don't knock yourself (and your wallet) out over it - just skip! I wrote viable substitutions where possible.

Ingredients:
Stuff you have to saute
1/2 a package (4 oz) of tempeh (I use Trader Joe's, which comes in an 8 oz pack)
2 TB peanut oil (or any oil that doesn't burn when you saute with it)

Stuff you have to chop
1/3 cup pickles, diced (use whatever kind you feel like - I used 3 Kosher sandwich slices)
1/3 cup onion, diced (use any kind - I used white because it was already in my fridge)

Stuff you have to mix
3 TB vegan mayo (I love the Follow Your Heart brand, called "Vegenaise" and I used the original)
1 TB (or less) mustard (I used the standard yellow mustard)
dried tumeric (enough to give it color)
dried dill (maybe like 1 tsp)
sea salt, to taste 
black pepper, to taste (I used the tricolor peppercorn from Trader Joe's)
fresh lemon juice (squeeze maybe 1 or 2 tsps' worth)
optional: some mustard seed (use more mustard if you don't have mustard seeds)
optional: a lot of celery seed (see, there was mold on my *real* celery, so I doubled up on celery seed - if you don't have celery seed, you can substitute 1/3 cup celery, diced)
totally optional: black sesame seeds, a couple sprinkles' worth (I only used this to see what it'd look like...totally skippable)

What To Do:
Heat the peanut oil slightly. Slowly crumble the tempeh into the pan and saute until most sides are golden-ish.

Mix all other ingredients together, adding the pickles and onion last. Add the tempeh. Stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve so that flavors combine.

Serving idea: This tastes great in a sandwich! Pictured is mine: vegan chicken salad on toasted sourdough bread, with big leafy romaine, chopped grape tomatoes, and sliced avocado. Mmmm-MMM!!!

Serving idea #2: Double the recipe if you want to make it for your family/roommates/etc. or if you want it to last a couple of days. I specifically made the recipe small because I am only cooking for moi!

Monday, April 21, 2014

10 of Your Favorite Splurge Foods Are Totally Vegan

Check it out, folks! Ten of our favorites are already vegan! 

Can you believe it? 

1. Spaghetti.  This beloved household staple is typically vegan. Box of pasta, jar of sauce.

Box of pasta, jar of sauce.

- say it with me -

Box of pasta, jar of sauce.
Box of pasta, jar of sauce.
Box of pasta, jar of sauce.
Box of pas -

taaaaa...aaand just like that, you have dinner. Boil water, add pasta, drain, add sauce, heat more...DONE.

Ninety-five percent of the time, the pasta you have to boil in water contains no eggs (unlike the already-cooked stuff you buy in the refrigerator section), and the vast majority of jarred red sauces contain no milk or cheese ingredients (unless, of course, you buy the one that says "cheese" in the title!).

2. French bread. Buy a whole baton of it. Yep, totally vegan. Want something familiar and delicious in which to dip said bread? Try the totally-incidentally-vegan combo of olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Potato chips.

4. Frozen French fries. They're are almost always vegan (potatoes, oil, and salt tend to be the main ingredients). Many times (really, most of the time), too, you can get French fries at a restaurant that just happen to be vegan. What would make them not vegan? If they're fried in animal lard, which is the case at SOME but definitely NOT ALL restaurants. Ask next time if you're curious!

5. Tortilla chips and salsa. There are some exceptions, such as, if you're eating at a very authentic Mexican restaurant, sometimes the tortilla chips are cooked in lard. Kind of same things as the French fries. You buy the bagged kind from the grocery store - almost always vegan (ingredients: corn, oil, salt). You get 'em out at a restaurant? Depends, so ask questions. Politely. Please.

6. Soft pretzels. The plain kind. Once in a while, they randomly throw milk in there, which is odd to me. I'm a native Philadelphian, and the REAL soft pretzels are akin to fresh French baguette (see above - ingredients: wheat, salt, maybe oil - simple). You buy them at a little street cart, which only enhances their effect. They're chewy, moist, decadent, and perfect for dipping into mustard, which leads me to...

7. Mustard. Okay, okay, I know it's not a super fancy or splurgy treat, but it goes with a lot of things that are treats, and...if we're talkin' your standard American yellow mustard, or your standard spicy Mustard (German or otherwise), it's almost always just a combo of mustard seed, vinegar, and salt. Now, honey mustard is a different story, as honey comes from bees, and technically what comes from an animal = not vegan. A lot of people just learning about veganism forget about the bees, but it's true, veganism accounts for the bees, too.

8. Water ice, aka Italian ice. Another Philadelphia favorite. Note: I'm only talking about the water/Italian ice, and not the water/Italian ice mixed with frozen custard. The latter = not vegan.

9. Chocolate nonpareils. I know. I was once just as amazed when I first found this out. And apparently "nonpareil," as I just learned, means "having no equal." Imagine that. Makes total sense, right?

10. Pickled pretty much anything. Pickled cucumbers (aka anything referred to as "pickles" in America, including Kosher Dill, Butter Pickles, Sandwich Pickles, etc. - although careful with the fried pickles, which although I agree are LOVE in a cripsy shell, you really do have to check on those to see if they're vegan), pickled carrots, Sour Kraut, Kombucha (just seein' if you were paying attention, lolz), peppers, relish (you still with me??), olives, tapenade, radishes, plums... the list goes on. And on. Especially if you live in a pickle-friendly country, such as Japan, where a major component of every traditional meal involves something pickled.


What about you? Discover some of your favorites that just happen to already be vegan? Share your example(s) in the comments!