Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Budget Friendly (and Delicious!) Holiday Dip

The Topic: Making a budget-friendly, super-simple, and super-good vegan hors d'oeuvre, fast, with Associate Publisher Colleen Holland

The Dish: On the recent VegNews Vegan Yoga Retreat in Mexico, we left with more than just rejuvenated spirits, stretched-out bodies, and new-found friendships. With us came a recipe none of us were going to leave Mexico without. Each day at lunch and dinner, Executive Chef Hugo Gutiérrez started our meal with a pitcher of homemade agua fresca, a basket of baked tortilla chips, and a colorful vegetable-based dip that disappeared before we could say uno mas, por favor. All week long, we pondered what could possibly be in these smooth, vibrant dips—and waited patiently until the scheduled cooking class to learn the secret behind Chef Hugo's beloved appetizer.

To our surprise, these dips are an absolute cinch to make, and cost just pennies per serving. Perfect for last-minute company or a post-workday gathering with friends, you simply need fresh bread or vegetables to accompany the dip—and a bottle of Champagne or sparkling cider to wash it down. Salud!

Chef Hugo's Famous Vegan Dip
This simple-to-prepare dip takes on the color of the base vegetable you use. Want to really dazzle guests? Whip up a batch each of carrot, beet, and broccoli for a super-impressive orange, pink, and green combination. 

Possible vegetable bases:
Beet, carrot, eggplant, tomatillo, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, or bell pepper

What You Need:

2 cups desired vegetable, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 garlic clove, peeled
Juice of half a fresh lime
3/4 cup avocado oil or olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

What You Do:
  1. Steam or boil vegetable until soft and brightly colored. Drain water.
  2. When vegetables are still hot (very important), place in Vitamix or blender along with garlic and lime juice.
  3. Blend until smooth, and slowly stream in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
The Final Word: This delicious dip is seriously that easy. Get creative and use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and try any combinations that pique your interest (red pepper-eggplant sounds superb). Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cheap Eats: Easy Baked Tofu

The Topic: Making the yummiest, easiest, cheapest tofu you'll ever eat with Assistant Editor Anna Peraino

The Dish: Savvy Vegan is almost two years old, and between posts about cheap and easy biscuits, soup, more soup, and peach pie, we've posted some really delicious, inexpensive recipes. While combing through our Cheap Eats one day looking for Abby's tortilla recipe (so good, y'all), I realized something quite disturbing: We don't have a recipe for baked tofu on here! Baked tofu! It's the vegan everyman's meal. The recipe you can whip up in three seconds. The vegan's infinitely more awesome baked chicken.

In order to right this wrong, I offer to you this incredibly simple and delicious baked tofu recipe. You'd think that working at a food-obsessed establishment such as VegNews would mean that I spend my evenings whipping up seitan Wellingtons and homemade ice cream with some two-cheese lasagna for dessert (what? I'm Italian), but alas, that's not my thing—we have Associate Editor Jennifer Chen and Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig for that. Most of my meals consist of the very baked tofu I am about to share with you. So, without further ado…

The Easiest Baked Tofu Ever

Serves 5

What You Need:
1 package extra-firm tofu
2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 packet or 1 teaspoon stevia
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

What You Do:
   1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain tofu and place on 2 paper towels
   folded in half. Cover with another 2 paper towels folded in half and
   gently press to remove excess moisture. Cut tofu into 1/2- to 1-inch
   2. In a glass baking dish, combine tofu with all other ingredients.
   Gently toss to combine.
   3. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until tofu seems firm to the touch and
   marinade has dried in pan.

The Final Word: As I mentioned before, baked tofu is a vegan's bread and butter. The best thing about it is its versatility, and it will only get better as you hone your flavor profile (fancy culinary phrase: $0) and figure out what you like best. And we want to hear about it! Please post your favorite everyday baked tofu recipe in the comments below!