I’m not a vegan, or a vegetarian, but I like to dabble in that space. Most of the time I prefer plants to meat, and a lot of what I cook is meatless. So, I was intrigued by a new book called Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens To Be Vegan) from a Melbourne restaurant of the same name that happens to stick to a vegan menu. The goal of the restaurant menu and of the book is to offer “plant-based food the way it should be: big, bold, flavorful, noteworthy, celebration-worthy, and myth-dispelling.” Rather than focusing on the conscientious reasons most people choose to follow a vegan diet, here plant-based cooking is a jumping-off point for creativity. The food is inviting, fun, and hearty. The Breakfast Burrito is made up of a few homemade components and is a great example of the flavorful cooking seen throughout the book. The burrito is made with homemade Chipotle Cashew Cheese, Brazilian Black Bean Soup, Spicy Ground Chorizo made with textured vegetable protein, and Tofu Scramble. Something to note about the ingredient lists is that you will see things like “chicken stock” and “butter.” But, in the Book Notes at the beginning, it’s mentioned that vegan substitutes for those types of items are intended. The delicious-looking Sopa Seca is made with broken angel hair pasta, chipotles in adobo, and vegan chicken stock. Some other dishes I want to try include the Warm Hearts of Palm Salad served with guacamole; the Artichoke and Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette; and Spanish Meatballs made with brown rice, bell peppers, oats, brown lentils, and chickpea flour. The recipe that got me cooking first, though, was Brazilian Slaw. This brought back a memory of a cooking class I attended taught by Susan Feniger. The title of that class was Inspired by Brazil, and one of the dishes was a Vegetable Salpicon or slaw. I still have the notes and recipes from that class (I keep the notes I receive from cooking classes filed away), and that slaw is the dish I remember most. Feniger’s version was topped with crispy shoestring potatoes, and the mix of vegetables was slightly different. The general concept was the same, and I couldn’t wait to try the version from this book.
Here, the crispy topping was baked corn tortilla strips rather than fried shoestring potatoes. They were baked until golden and crunchy and set aside to cool. I made a couple of substitutions based on what was fresh and in season right now. So, instead of using corn and apple, I used a mix of radishes. Along with radishes, carrots were also cut into julienne strips. Red and green cabbages were thinly sliced into ribbons. Mushrooms, and I used maitake instead of oyster just because they looked better that day, were seared with soy sauce until browned and allowed to cool. Last, pimento-stuffed green olives were sliced. To make the dressing, first a vegan aioli was prepared. It was made in the blender with silken tofu, garlic, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. The aioli was mixed with lime zest and juice and more garlic to form the slaw dressing. The vegetables were combined in a big bowl along with parsley and cilantro leaves, and all was topped with dressing. The mixture was tossed until well coated and served with tortillas strips on top.
I’m always a fan of crunch, and it’s abundant here. The vegetables are crunchy, and the tortilla strips are really crunchy, and all that texture made this fun and delicious to eat. The aioli is also a perfect base for other dressings. I used what was left from this recipe to make a green goddess dressing for another salad. And, I also made the Coriander Cashew Cream with added chipotle to use on tacos. I may not be vegan all the time, but thanks to recipes like these more plant-based meals are showing up on my table.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Smith and Daughters: A Cookbook (that happens to be vegan) by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse, published by Hardie Grant Books March 2017, RRP $35.00 hardcover.
As far as salads go, you just don’t get prettier, with more texture, more variety and more fun.
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
150 g (5 1/2 oz) fresh or frozen corn kernels
85 g (3 oz) oyster mushrooms, roughly torn
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 granny smith apple, cored and cut into thin matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
85 g (3 oz) green pimento olives, sliced into thin rounds
300 g (10 1/2 oz) thinly shredded purple cabbage
large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
large handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
250 g (9 oz/1 cup) Aioli
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 small garlic clove, crushed
3 corn tortillas, cut into 5 mm (1/4 in) strips (or use roughly crushed tortilla chips)
olive oil spray
chilli and lime salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a chargrill pan or small frying pan. Grill or saute the corn until lightly charred. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce and sauté until golden and slightly crisp. Set aside to cool.
To make the dressing, combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well combined.
To build the salad, combine all of the ingredients in a large salad bowl and add enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
For the garnish, spray the tortilla strips with olive oil spray and dust with a little chilli and lime salt. Transfer to a baking tray and bake in the oven until crisp. If you are using tortilla chips, just sprinkle with the chilli and lime salt instead.
Build a small conical tower with the salad and top with the garnish. Big salads are always better, especially when tortilla chips are involved.
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