Saucy Vegan

March 14, 2012

Generally, when people ask what the hardest thing to give up as a vegan was, they already have a presupposed answer. It goes something along the lines of a description of delicious, ooey, gooey, melty, cheese, followed by reminiscence about the smell of a pizza parlor or the taste of a meal of orange mac ‘n cheese of yesteryear as if they were the ones who hadn’t eaten their beloved food for several years. For me, the story isn’t quite the same love story of human meets cheese. As a self-conscious teenager obsessed with health and calories, cheese was barely part of my diet, making my transition to veganism five and a half years ago lacking in the midnight cheese cravings that haunt some omnivores-turned-vegans or the specifically pleasant memories of gourmet cheeses of some foodie friends.

Possibly because of my relationship with the dairy counterpart, I rarely eat vegan cheese now. When I do, I prefer it to be a homemade, saucy, nutty cheese instead of some of the chemical-laden, plasticy ones that line the shelves of grocery stores. Granted, in recent years the vegan cheese market has boomed with impressive products that I’ll happily top my Hillside Pizza with, but generally speaking, they disappoint.

Isa’s Post Punk Kitchen, on the other hand, never fails to delight with exciting new projects. This unusual recipe for Sunflower Mac from February caught my eye, relying on sunflower seeds in place of the standard cashews for creaminess.

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I followed her recipe with the addition of a pinch of turmeric to hide the weird gray color that my seeds produced. Her’s looks far more orange without the addition of any turmeric, leading me to believe my carrot count was a bit low. This recipe made A LOT of sauce, making about 5-6 servings at first and then, stretched a bit on the last day with some extra veggie broth, made another two.

I served it first night over whole wheat thick spaghetti with some steamed broccoli frozen last summer from our farm share. The sauce was pleasingly salty and nutty from the seeds and nutritional yeast and the texture was a slightly grainy but not gritty texture that reminded me  I was eating seeds, something I didn’t mind a bit. With a newer food processor or faster blender yours might turn out a bit smoother.

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Last fall we used a butternut squash and a sugar pumpkin from our CSA to make homemade raviolis. We have had about a dozen and a half left in the freezer since our pasta making party and pulled out twelve to top with leftover sunflower sauce for a delightfully simple meal. The frozen ravioli cooked up well in a skillet with two T of vegetable broth, one T of olive oil and some salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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Served with a simple salad of local greens or the addition of frozen farm share broccoli, these meals really demonstrated the beauty of having delicious, homemade foods canned in the cupboard or frozen in the fridge to make busy nights easier.

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