Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cooking for the vegans

Ross and Nicole ("the Vegans") ended up with two sets of Corning ware after their wedding. And for some reason, they were not able to return the extra set, so they gave it to me!

(Photo: Is he cold because he is hungry or because he is at an evening outdoor wedding in October?)

In gratitude, I have invited them over for vegan dinner baked in one of the dishes they gave me. I have no vegan cookbooks, and so far finding a suitable vegan baked thing online has been a challenge.

Basic criteria:
- Vegan
- Able to be baked in one of the many sizes of Corning ware.

My additional criteria:

- Not trying to approximate non-vegan ingredients: I'd rather try to embrace the naturally vegan ingredients instead of trying to make some facsimile of non-vegan food. Maybe actual vegans do this because otherwise their food universes would be too limited, but it somehow makes me sad to resort to "cheese" with a label that advertises "it melts!"

- Not made of ingredients that are abominations: I'm not into margarine made from split molecules, cheese made of oil, or other Frankenstein-food. This rule ties into the previous one pretty tidily, but in my mind is a distinct concern as well.

The biggest problem so far has been the ingredient imposters. My guess is this is because I'm looking for something casseroley (so I can bake it), and gooey, melty things are often part of that equation. There are tons of vegan food blogs out there, many of which have some good-looking recipes, but I've really limited myself with the criteria.

So far, the best thing I've come up with is a polenta chili bake without the cheese (or with optional cheeze/cheese on the side). I could also trot out a couple of classics from the Lebanese stable (a little imjedara, some baba ganoush, etc.), but that's what I always do when faced with hungry vegans, and I'd like to expand my horizons.

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