Originally posted on The Health Journal
Written By Kimberley Cuachon Haugh --
A meatless summer spread to satisfied any omnivore’s palate
[dropcap]If you’re an omnivore like me, when you think of summer grilling, the star of the show isn’t usually herbaceous. And when vegetables are involved you think, tomato or cucumber salad, crudités—side-dish types.
[/dropcap]My lunch date is with a group of vegan roommates, hyper-vegans by the sound of it; the first letters of their last names spell “S,” “O,” “Y.” And so I enter what the vegans refer to as the “House of Soy.” I have never dined with vegans before let alone attended a vegan barbeque. Shouldn’t that be an oxymoron? It’s not that I have anything against them. My reasons are selfish. It’s my fear of being judged as the one at the table who has put animals to slaughter—oh, would you please hold my butcher knife?
Sapta Yin is a 27-year-old vinyasa yoga instructor and personal trainer. She strikes you as a cross between Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and a young Dian Fossey, slender and soft spoken. Her other two roommates are David Sella-Villa and Geneviève Okuma, who’s been a full-fledged vegan for three years, the longest out of the three. Okuma kindly offered me some “green juice.” Made with kale, celery and ginger, I admitted that the concoction tasted far better than I had imagined, and actually edible compared to what my husband and I made at home with our juicer where the primary ingredient was beet. Downing it was like being a contestant on Fear Factor.
The menu consisted of a seasonal spread with produce from the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market, where all three work on Saturdays. Okuma and Yin made vegan sausages the night before, out of seitan—a wheat gluten—and beans. These were accompanied on a skewer with marinated peppers, onions and tomatoes. Grilled local asparagus spears were also served along with a raw pasta dish that floored me with flavor.
Just like the beet juice, I psyched myself out about the raw pasta and the fake sausage—I’m sorry not, “fake sausage,” it’s called “vegetable sausage.”
The meat was delicious. All of it was. I tricked my taste buds. I admit, I packed a couple of purse snacks just in case, but I was full and satisfied. “You can veganize anything,” Sella-Villa tells me. He and Okuma echo the philosophy of vegan guru Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is famous for her 30-Day Vegan Challenge. I thumbed through the cookbook while sipping on my green juice and was impressed by the vegan interpretation of some of my favorite dishes such as Caesar salad. Patrick-Goudreau uses tofu as a base instead of the traditional egg yolks.
“There should be no difference in the experience,” Chef Eric Garcia answered when I asked about his philosophy on vegan cooking. Garcia, who is the chef at The Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, Va., believes that an omnivore can be satisfied with a “vegan-que” so long as the menu hits the expected barbecue flavor profiles: smoky, savory, sweet and spicy. “Marination is key and can enhance the flavor of fresh vegetables—the fresher the better,” explains Garcia, whose menu revolves around local, seasonal ingredients.
Garcia suggests experimenting with mushrooms—for grilling purposes, not the other kind. “There are so many different types of mushrooms that are now available, and mushrooms easily absorb marinades. I love mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. And as an omnivore, mushrooms can be quite meaty.”
While a gas grill is convenient, Garcia likes to use a charcoal grill to add a char flavor to dishes. He also uses a combination of wood chips to further enhance the flavor. When I asked him about liquid smoke, a concentrated flavoring and preservative that is produced by passing smoke through a combustion chamber then into a condenser, he thought I was talking about the liquid you add to a model train. “Stuff like that defeats the purpose of healthy eating. You can achieve smokiness from the charcoal alone, or by using certain spices like smoked paprika.”
According to the vegan roomies, the key to vegan cooking is to satisfy the expectation of our taste buds. “For instance with cheese, you expect gooey and salty,” says Sella-Villa. Garcia recommends using nut butters for a creamy, salty sensation. “There should be no difference in quality when it comes to omnivorous and vegan meals; both should feel equally satisfying,” he says.
healthy eating Kimberley Cuachon-Haugh Recipe The health Journalvegan
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