Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Making a Specialty Vegan Style

I've mentioned here that a friend is vegan. The simple reason is that he had some major organ failures, researched some solutions for the problems without going on the transplant lists or getting dialysis and found that eliminating all animal products from his diet *could* do the trick. It did, and he's made a massive turn around in five years.

Still, he likes meat, love cheese-but hates what they do to him. Sometimes he'll sneak a little cheese, but it's after carefully considering what he'd eaten for the past couple of days. For instance, we did a shop at a pizza place and he decided it was worth the risk. Between the two slices, he had about 1.5 ounces of cheese, so I'd say he was being careful.

The lunch time conversation was partly about that measured decision. That day's plans included visiting Whole Foods, a store I wish we had in Lakeland. The objective was to either find prepackaged vegan ricotta or purchase flax seed and/or hard tofu to make ricotta from one of two recipes I found. All three items were purchased, and I found why finding ricotta substitute was so important: more than anything in his pre-vegan life, my friend's absolute favorite food was lasagna.

Finding new ways to cook things is something I'm up for, like reworking a meal to make sure it is kashrut for someone keeping kosher (really easy if you know what isn't kosher or violates the laws of kashrut). The friend's desire to find vegan ricotta went back to when we were casual acquaintances, but it became clear at that lunch this was something I had to make. It was important to me to find a way to make something I've prepared hundreds of times in the past to do it again, but totally different.

The trip was successful in finding Tofutti Vegan Ricotta, a chub of a meatless meat, and I was going to make homemade marinara. The only violation I made to truly vegan is that I used one egg white to bind the 'dairy' type products, but only because I knew those are tolerated by his body.

Knowing the meatless ground meat would not be giving off any fat to cook it, I spread about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, then seasoned it like I normally do the beef/pork blend for lasagna: a lot of granulated garlic, some fresh, some basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. At first, it had the same consistency of slice and bake cookies, but it crumbled nicely, and had good flavor. The ricotta was miked with a little almond milk, one egg white, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. With no cheese on top to melt, once I layers everything, it baked for 20 minutes. The whole pan was going to be delivered, save for one portion for me to try. Ed and I actually split it and darn, other than not using an abundance of 'meat' or 'cheese' because of the sizes of the packages, it was nearly identical to the original. Apparently, the recipient felt the same way-he tells me he gained three pounds today eating a few servings.

I think we need to figure out what else to make...

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