06 August 2012

Three easy, versatile and delicious vegan appetizers

Vegan appetizers are by no means limited to just salads or plain vegetables (not that there's anything wrong with either of those whatsoever). Here are three tasty and extremely versatile vegan appetizer recipes that are perfect for sharing if you're having guests over, and are also just as great as part of a homemade meal any night!

What You Need
·         ¼ c nutritional yeast
·         ¼ c all purpose flour
·         ½ tsp mustard powder
·         ½ tsp garlic powder
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         1 c water
·         1 ½ tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan butter replacement)
·         Fresh ground pepper and cayenne to taste

What You Do
Whisk all dry ingredients in a small saucepan. Add water and whisk thoroughly until all clumps are gone. Add the Earth Balance and place the saucepan over medium heat. Whisking frequently (and being sure to scrape the whisk against the bottom of the pot), heat until the mixture thickens to desired consistency. Take a little taste to check for seasoning balance and adjust if desired.

The serving options are endless! This is a great dip as is for chips, pretzels, or crudité. You can also pour it over layers of tortilla chips along with chopped tomatoes, black or pinto beans, salsa, guacamole and vegan sour cream for veganized nachos. Or in keeping with the Mexican theme, add it to your favorite vegan taco for a creamy kick. You can also stir any combination of chopped vegetables and/or herbs (tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cilantro, basil) into the mix for a heartier sauce.

Greek food lovers (and everyone else), rejoice – you CAN still enjoy the typically dairy-centric deliciousness that is tzatziki and have it be dairy-free. Silken tofu takes the place of yogurt, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a difference in taste or texture. For an appetizer, serve with warm pita bread and sliced veggies!

What You Need
  • 14 oz package of soft/silken tofu (organic, non-GMO), drained
  • the juice of one medium lemon (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium/large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated, with excess water squeezed out*
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, or 3 tsp dried dill

What You Do
Put garlic in blender or food processor container (I use my mini Cuisinart food processor for this recipe) and grind until it’s finely shredded. Add the tofu and pulse to combine with the garlic. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and blend until the texture gets smoother and creamier. Add the salt and pepper, pulse to combine (taste now and add more if desired). Add the olive oil and blend to thoroughly combine. Using a spatula, scoop the mixture into a bowl, add the cucumber and dill and stir to distribute evenly. Taste again for seasoning – serve/eat right away, or store in the fridge (keep in mind the garlic will come through more the longer you keep this in the refrigerator).

Oven-"Fried" Zucchini
Fried zucchini is a bit of a veggie revelation - the zucchini inside takes on a soft and creamy quality when it cooks, and is surrounded by the delicious crunch of seasoned breadcrumbs. But - you don't need gobs of oil to get a very similar result! Try making these in the oven for a delicious appetizer or snack.

What You Need
  • 1-2 zucchinis, sliced into small sticks and/or thin rounds
  • 1 c breadcrumbs (try this kind for Italian seasoned breadcrumbs that are organic and vegan, and are made only with basic clean ingredients vs. the monstrosity of more common brands!)
  • 1/4 c water or coconut milk
  • Dipping sauce of your choice - marinara works great, as do vegan tzatziki (see above for recipe) or vegan "cheese" dip (see above as well for recipe)
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with a little olive oil (hint: pour a teaspoon or two of oil on a paper towel and swipe it across the foil to coat). Dip slices of the zucchini in the water or coconut milk and then dip in the breadcrumbs to coat. Line the zucchini on the foil, and bake for 15-30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are turning golden brown and the zucchini inside is softened. Serve on a plate with your favorite dip and enjoy!

Sarah Mandell | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Arizona Sarah is a life-long foodie, always emphasizing nourishment, enjoyment and nutrition through clean, whole foods and, more recently, veganism. She is a freelance PR specialist and copywriter, and writes the blog Let the Good In, featuring delicious recipes, restaurant recommendations, and wellness and active lifestyle tips. Sarah packed up her NYC apartment in early 2012 to head west into the sunset and live in the high mountain desert of Arizona with her fiancé, where they are growing their first vegetable garden and have fun veganizing meals at home and on the road together.

Photo credit: Sarah