The summer I stopped eating meat, it was more on a whim than with a plan. A friend's pointed question had forced the realization that more meat passed my lips than realized: a chicken sandwich for lunch, a steak on the weekend, they add up unless paying close attention. Within just a few days, I was lost. Many of my favorite recipes were no longer relevant. I didn't know where to turn.
It's hard to believe, yes? But this was not only before the Internet, it was also before there were bookstores on every corner. I was already shopping at Store #2 or #3 of a small company called Whole Foods but it was a hippy-dippy place then, a resource for only the most motivated and educated cooks. Anyone care to guess the year? It wasn't that long ago. :-)
A few weeks later, my cousin Laura, a long-time vegan, pressed a cookbook into my hands. "You need this," she said. "It'll help." It was her own copy of The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen by Marilyn Diamond, many pages penciled with notes. What a gift! For eight years, it was my only cookbook and my own notes far outnumber hers.
(Note to Vegetarians)
When I began to eat meat again, more mindfully this time, it was as an occasional food, once or twice a week. I put Laura's cookbook away. Especially as food magazines began to feature more and more vegetarian meals, it just wasn't necessary.
But a few weeks ago, when Lisa from Show-Me Vegan and Nupur from One Hot Stove were coming for supper, I wanted to make a seven-layer salad suitable for those who don't eat meat, eggs or dairy. It was easy enough to leave out the bacon and sliced eggs but the gorgeous Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing wasn't vegan either.
So I made a simpler, fresher version of the cookbook's vegan substitute for mayonnaise, one that starts with almonds. My notes read, '#1 - Wow. Especially with cilantro' and '#2 fresh dill' and '#3 dried dill' and '#4 cinnamon!'. Clearly this was a winner.
And sure enough, it is, it STILL is. And yes, this almonnaise is vegan. But it's also its own category of sauce that's entirely plant-based but has the consistency of mayonnaise. I served it last week -- there's irony here, yes? -- spread on rolls for BLTs. It's just delicious. I'd recommend it to anyone who plain likes good food, vegan, omnivore or otherwise.
"No meat, no eggs, no dairy. It's not just for vegans anymore."
~ Green Beans with Mayo-Soy Sauce ~
~ Chipotle Chickpea Salad ~
~ Summer Dill Salad ~
~ more Dips, Spreads & Pestos ~
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 1 cup
3/4 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds with skins on
1/2 cup soymilk (can also use water)
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons good vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Optional: 1 bunch of fresh cilantro or other herbs
Salt & pepper to taste
In a small skillet, toast the almonds until golden brown, stirring often and watching very carefully so not to burn. Combine almonds, soymilk, garlic and vinegar in a food processor until smooth. (The skins make this quite grainy, not the smooth consistency of mayonnaise. But they add both flavor and fiber and thus are a good thing, to my taste anyway.) With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl in a thin stream, letting the mixture slowly gain volume. Once it becomes light and fluffy, add the cilantro or other herbs. Season to taste. Will become thicker once refrigerated.
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