Tag Archives: appetizers

Vegan Spinach Balls (revised)

vegan spinach balls

Spinach balls are a family-favorite appetizer. The original recipe calls for eggs, butter, and parmesan cheese. These are veganized with golden flax meal (Omega 3’s!), nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese, and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. The whole cup of Earth Balance (see update below) hardly qualifies them as health food, but they have a lot of protein and no cholesterol, unlike the original.

UPDATE (2/5/12): I reduced the amount of Earth Balance in the recipe to 3/4 cup, with good results. I think I could reduce it even more. The amount of nutritional yeast has also been modified to compensate for the lower amount of moisture. They still disappeared at our latest party.

Vegan Spinach Balls

Makes about 48 balls

Ingredients:
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
4 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing
2 cups minced white onion
6 tbsp golden flax seed meal
3/4 cup water
1 3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (1 1/2 half-cup sticks), melted
3/4 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, grease your cookie sheets well.

In a large bowl, whisk flax seed meal with 3/4 cup water. Let stand until mixture thickens.

Add melted Earth Balance, spinach, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Mix well. (It will be thick.)

Add stuffing mix and stir well. You may have to add a bit more water if the mixture is too dry.

Using a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, or a small ice cream scoop of equivalent size, roll approximately 2 tbsp of the mixture into a ball. If the mixture gets too sticky, wet your hands a bit to make the process easier. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. You should have about 48 balls.

Bake for 20 minutes, until balls are golden. Remove from oven, and let stand for 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Balls will be soft when they come out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool.

 

Random Food: Aug. 20-27

vegan firm tofu banh miFirm Tofu Banh Mi from Xinh Xinh Cafe. Cucumber, daikon, onion, carrot, super-hot jalapeños, cilantro, and delicately fried slices of tofu. There are herbs embedded in the tofu. I don’t understand how this is done, and I can’t question the deliciousness.

veggie fried spring rolls with riceVeggie fried spring rolls with rice.

vegan "Big Mac"-style Gardein burgerVegan “Big Mac” Gardein burger. Special sauce, lettuce, homemade pickles, onions, tomato.

pretzel rollsPretzel rolls from Serious Eats, made without the egg white-brushing step.

Corn Blinis with Dill Cream

corn blinis with dill cream
Kelley gave me a huge amount of dill, which didn’t even make a dent in her backyard supply. I have yellow flowering heads, green seedy heads, and a lot of fronds. Our refrigerator smells like pickles. Look for a super-easy refrigerator dill pickle post later this week.

I made these corn blinis for breakfast. The recipe is heavily adapted from The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking. At 500+ extra-large pages, this hefty volume has an extensive catalog of vegetable varieties, storage, and preparation. I’ve owned it for years and haven’t cooked much from it, but it has a lot of good ideas.

The dill cream recipe is approximate. Feel free to season with more black pepper, more or less dill, or add some crushed or roasted garlic to taste. The key components are the sour cream and dill.

Corn Blinis with Dill Cream

Ingredients:
2 tbsp ground flax seeds (I used golden, but the dark variety would work)
4 tbsp water
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 C fresh sweet corn kernels; or frozen corn, thawed
canola or olive oil, for the griddle

For the dill cream:
1/2 C vegan sour cream (Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream is good)
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp chopped fresh scallions
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Heat a griddle pan or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium high heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the flax seeds and water together. Let stand until it forms a thick gel.

Combine soy or almond milk with lemon juice and let stand while you measure the dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in flax mixture, milk mixture, and corn kernels. Stir until just combined, so that no dry ingredients remain. Do not overmix.

Brush the griddle or frying pan with a little bit of oil. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the griddle. Cook until holes appear on the top and the mixture begins to set around the sides. Flip the blinis and cook briefly on the other side. Keep warm in a low oven until all are cooked.

To make the dill cream:
Blend the sour cream with the dill, scallions, salt, and pepper.

Serve blinis warm, topped with dill cream.

Makes about 9 3-inch blinis.

Finds: ZerGüt Peppetizer

“Finds” are products I like enough to recommend. I haven’t been paid to write about them, nor have I obtained them as free samples (unless specified).

ZerGüt Peppetizer is a chunky spread with a thick salsa-like consistency. It’s made from crushed roasted peppers, roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and onions. All pronounceable ingredients here. It is mild and not spicy (to my taste), and would probably not be considered “hot” to anyone except those used to very bland foods. The label indicates it is medium spicy, but I don’t think so. (It is also available in a “hot” version.)

Despite the eggplant, it’s not exactly baba ghanoush. The pepper flavors predominate. Everything tastes deliciously roasted.

I’ve used Peppetizer as a sandwich spread, mixed it with some Vegenaise to dress a pasta salad, and eaten it with crackers. It would be great on a veggie burger, or with falafel.

World Harvest (my favorite local ethnic food store) as well as some other stores, offer several brands of similar spreads, but this one is my favorite. Some others I’ve tried were too briny or had too much vinegar. ZerGüt Peppetizer’s predominant flavors are definitely peppers and eggplant.

If you’re looking for a break from traditional chip-and-dip offerings, pick up some ZerGüt Peppetizer and whole grain tortilla chips.

Samosas with Cilantro Chutney

samosas with cilantro chutney

These Vegetable Samosas from VegWeb.com were the first item to be devoured at Potluck #1 (of 3) this weekend. I made a large batch of filling, with curry powder instead of Korma sauce, so I might have to make some more dough.

The cilantro chutney (sometimes labeled coriander chutney if you’re looking for a pre-made version), is a quick recipe I created. Like many of the things I come up with, it’s a combination of 2 or 3 recipes I’ve seen on the web, adapted to whatever I have on hand, and rarely measured accurately since I always adjust things to our tastes.

Cilantro Chutney

Ingredients:
1/4 large white onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped, including seeds and ribs
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp mustard seed
juice of 1/2 lime
1 large bunch cilantro, ends of stems removed
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a food processor, combine onion, jalapeño, cumin, mustard seed, and lime juice. Pulse until chopped finely. Be careful not to breathe the aerated jalapeño juice!

Wash and dry cilantro, then chop into about 4 sections, breaking up stems so it will fit into your food processor. Don’t be afraid the use the stems… they have a lot of flavor. Add to food processor, and process until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Olive Nut Ball

olive nut spread
apologies for the low-quality photo

I enjoyed this Olive Nut Ball appetizer with pretzels this afternoon at work. It’s one of my holiday favorites.

1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (non-hydrogenated)
1/2 cup manzanilla (green) olives with pimentos, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp Bacon Salt (hickory flavor is vegan, all flavors are vegetarian)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine ingredients. Turn onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into ball, log, or other amusing shape. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Serve with toasted rye bread, crackers, or celery sticks.