Expect More From Vegan Dishes
When you think of vegan food, do you conjure up the same bland, textureless food that hippy's ate in the 1970's? I've got to say, now that it's 2016, we've come a long way, baby. That old, tasteless porridge from the past has been thrown down the disposal and replaced by bold, interesting flavors and that illusive crunch. Vegans are now demanding more creativity of themselves in their own kitchens, as well at restaurants where they spend their hard earned cash.
It's all about umami. Taken from Japanese, umami literally means "delicious taste", but I like to think of it as a sort of a depth, or a complexity of flavors. You know, that secret ingredient that makes something taste outstanding. As a plant-based cook, I am always searching for that addition to a recipe. I'm always trying to boost flavors by adding that unexpected component to a dish that will bring it to the next level.
When I heard about roasting carrots in coffee beans from Kate Williams at Serious Eats, I knew I had to try it. It sounds pretty out there, but I had a feeling that this method would create the umami I'm always striving for in my own cooking. And I was right. The carrots turn out sweet, but with this amazingly smokey, savory, intensity. Wow!
After roasting the carrots, I sliced them thinly, and used them to make a Rueben type of sandwich. Sometimes I still find myself craving the flavors of my past. Those old favorite foods that you just don't find at your basic vegan salad bar. Am I right? And you know what? It it came out insanely good. So good in fact, that I may just have to break out the coffee beans and do it all over again.
Coffee Roasted Carrots:
- 4-12 Carrots, depending on size
- 3 tsps of Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups of coffee. I used organic medium roast.
Clean carrots well leaving the skin on. You can use any size or color carrot.
Toss carrots in oil and garlic.
Place coffee beans in a cast iron skillet, and lay carrots over coffee.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.
To serve, slice thinly and prepare Rueben.
For my Rueben Sandwich:
- 2 Kale leaves, ribbed & chopped
- 3-4 Crimini Mushrooms
- Daiya Havarti Style Vegan Cheese - or whatever vegan cheese that you prefer
- 1 Cup Sauerkraut, I used jarred.
- 2 thinly sliced Coffee Roasted Carrots
- 2 TBS vegan Russian Dressing. 2 TBS vegan mayo, a dash of organic ketchup, and a dollop of relish.
- 2 slices of good bread. I used Whole Wheat, but sourdough would be amazing.
- Make the Russian dressing, and set aside.
- Saute mushrooms and kale until soft.
- Slather inside of bread with the Russian dressing, and start building the sandwich.
- Layer the cheese, carrots, sauerkraut, kale & mushrooms
- Place some vegetable oil in a hot skillet, and place sandwich in oil and grill for a few minutes on either side. Turn off heat and cover for 1 minute so cheese can melt. Be careful not to burn the bread.