Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

I’ve never liked potato salad. I don’t know why; I love potatoes, and have always been a pretty big mayo fan. Potato salad always seemed gross to me, though. Maybe my judgement stemmed from a food poisoning incident in 1998, whereby my entire family (including my father, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time) got sick after eating potato salad at a graduation party. (It was one of the largest food poisoning outbreaks in Illinois history, sickening over 1,800 people in the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago). At any rate, I’ve never been a potato salad fan.

What was I going to do, then, with the giant bag of local Virginia potatoes I’d just purchased at the farmers market?

I sat down with my stack of cookbooks to seek a solution to the problem of my overabundant potatoes and stumbled upon – what’s this? Potato salad made of guacamole?!

Yes, Isa is a genius. Enter: Creamy Avocado Potato Salad. This one is featured in her book, Vegan Brunch.

I didn’t have any plum tomatoes, so I used a couple tablespoons of oil-packed sundried tomatoes. I also skipped the optional cayenne. Otherwise, I followed the recipe, and it was delicious!

Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

Isa mentioned that it should be served immediately, due to the inevitable browning of the avocado, but really, mine wasn’t all that urgent. As leftovers the next day, it still looked pretty good, and the day after that, still not bad. It obviously looks the best when it’s fresh, but don’t let the warning deter you.

This is a very fresh-tasting twist on an old favorite. Loved it!

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Skillet Sloppy Jims

It’s 7:21pm. Do you know where your dinner is?

Today, I did not know where my dinner was. I did not know what my dinner was. All I knew was that I was hungry to the max, and I didn’t feel like slaving for a meal.

Enter: the cast iron skillet.

This particular piece of cookware is amazing. It’s naturally nonstick. When things do stick, it’s actually good, because you can deglaze the pan and everything tastes even better! Somehow, everything I’ve ever made in my cast iron has turned out awesome – including tonight’s throw-together mess of deliciousness.

I call it: Tempeh Sloppy Jims.

(Sorry, Joe. There’s no red sauce going on here, so I can’t really call it Sloppy Joes, but this sandwich assembled exactly like a Sloppy Joe, and ate just like one… just tasted different! So I gotta give the nod to Jim).

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Tempeh Sloppy Jims

Take 1 cast iron skillet.

Add a diced white onion. Sautee in oil (I used peanut oil) over medium heat while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Dice up a red bell pepper. Crumble a stick of tempeh. Throw them into the skillet. Keep on sauteing.

Pour in a little water or veggie stock. (I used a vegan chicken-flavored stock). Deglaze the pan. Keep on sauteing.

Don’t burn the batch of kale chips you’re making on the side like I did.

Throw a couple big handfuls of baby spinach into the skillet. Toss in some fresh basil, for fun. Awww heck, let’s mince a couple garlic cloves in there, too.

Salt and pepper…. stir until the spinach is wilted…. voila.

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jim mix

Tempeh Sloppy Jims! Well, I suppose this could be eaten a lot of ways. I was tempted to just eat it with a fork, but it reminded me so much of Sloppy Joes that I had to put it on a bun (with some melted Daiya mozzarella, of course [vegan… best vegan cheese on the planet!]). Served it with a baked potato and a giant bowl of greens, and some un-photogenic burnt kale chips on the side (not pictured).

Speaking of baked potatoes… why do I let myself buy big 5# bags of potatoes? Usually I just buy 1 or 2 potatoes, because I end up letting them sit until they’re growing eyes, but somehow while standing in the grocery store, I sometimes convince myself that the extra $1.50 is so worth it to get so many more potatoes! And then they go bad. This might have been the only potato I’ll out of the entire bag. Grrr! Why!!! I don’t even like to eat regular potatoes that often… I prefer sweet potatoes… I think I meant to make my favorite asparagus potato soup… except that I ate all of my asparagus. Hmm. Dilemma.

Maybe next time it’s 7:21pm and I’m lost without my dinner, I should study my potato options.

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

A Vegan Alfredo Attempt

What do you think of when you think of alfredo sauce? If I had to come up with 3 descriptors, they’d probably be:

  • Creamy
  • Rich
  • Buttery

Traversing through my collection of vegan cookbooks, I’ve managed to pull together some pretty good creamy vegan sauces. But pulling off rich and buttery in a vegan dish? It’s a bit more difficult – especially if you’re trying to do it without the help of vegan margarine or Daiya miracle-cheese.

So when I came across this recipe for Potato Alfredo Pasta, I knew I had to try it. The secret ingredient: potato flakes. (Not the crap-loaded ones of my youth – I was super-excited to read the ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 brand of instant potatoes. It reads: dehydrated potatoes. End of story. Yes!) Cannellini beans might also be considered a secret ingredient. (Did you know that they’re really just white kidney beans? I did not).

I stuck to the recipe faithfully, opting to use soy milk for the entire liquid portion (instead of half milk/half creamer). This recipe made a TON of sauce – enough for the 4 servings of pasta I made, plus about 1 cup left over.

I had trouble getting the sauce down to the consistency pictured in the original recipe. I added a good half cup extra of soy milk, but it was still very thick (and I ran out of room in my food processor to add any more).

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

Vegan Potato Alfredo Pasta

The real question: did it fool my taste buds into thinking I was eating a dairy-based alfredo?

Hmm. Well, not really. Maybe I’m too close to the last time I ate alfredo (probably within a year), so I remember the flavor too well.

That’s not to say it was bad. It was tasty – definitely flavorful, approaching “rich.” Definitely creamy. Not my favorite sauce on the planet, but certainly a “keeper” in the recipe box.

As I was eating this dish, I was thinking about food expectations. Does this dish have to taste like the pasta alfredo of my youth to give me the same sense of comfort?

I decided that it does not. The key to my food memories with this dish is the ooey, gooey factor. This Potato Alfredo was ooey gooey, and had the familiar comforting factor of pasta, and tasted “Italian.” It made it to the right ballpark, and as such, hit the spot.

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Vegan Potato Alfredo & Broccoli

Broccoli played the supporting role to this dish, and I went a little nuts with the whole vegan cheese theme. I made up a batch of Isa’s Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction. Nooch-based vegan cheeze sauces are kind of like a rite of passage. You’re just not cool until you have a favorite nooch-cheeze. (Nooch = nutritional yeast). I like this one! Again – I think it’s just the comfort of drenching veggies in an ooey, gooey sauce that brings the love.

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Broccoli and Easy Breezy Cheeze Sauce

Yeah, it looks like Cheez-Whiz – but that’s not entirely a bad thing. I recall many an afternoon chowing down on tortilla chips and Cheez-Whiz as a kid. Gawd, I don’t even want to imagine the ingredient list on that stuff. Still, good memories.

So, I’d give this dinner 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Maybe a little closer to 4 stars, but not quite there. I’ll eat the leftovers, and I’ll likely make it again someday.

However, I am still in search of the perfect vegan alfredo sauce. I suspect it is just going to have to include Daiya and Earth Balance. We’ll see.


Real Food FTW!

Food, real food!

black bean burgerDinner consisted of black bean veggie burgers – a concoction from Emily over at The Front Burner, topped with a roasted red pepper pesto and spicy dill pickles, roasted broccoli, and roasted garlic potatoes.

The other day, when I was making the roasted potatoes with the last of my bag of ‘taters, I threw a red pepper in the oven with it. I found the perfect use for that pepper today – I made roasted red pepper pesto, loosely based on a recipe from Brendan Frazier’s Thrive book. It included 1 roasted red pepper, some basil, a couple tbsp of nutritional yeast, some sesame seeds, a tbsp of hemp oil, and a pinch of salt. I think that was it! Very tasty.

The spicy dill pickles were a farmers’ market find.

black bean burgerThe burgers were very easy to make – throw some raw oats, black beans, pumpkin seeds, and spices into the food processor, then form into patties and bake! I plan to experiment with some different spices. This burger was very savory and really didn’t need any toppings – it was that good!

broccoliThis was the first time I ever roasted broccoli. I tossed it with some olive oil and salt and pepper and stuck it in the oven with the burgers. It turned out to be the best broccoli I’ve ever had! Steamed broccoli seems flavorless to me, and raw broccoli just isn’t my favorite thing in the world. But roasting it gave it a really subtle, delicious flavor. So good!

The roasted garlic potatoes were the splurge of the plate 🙂