Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm from the South

Being a vegetarian in the southeastern United States is often entertaining. Basic food items here generally come loaded up with some form of ham or bacon. Or brown beef gravy. Or white sausage gravy. And let's not forget bbq, ribs, fried chicken, etc. I am very often asked "What DO you eat?" as if there could not possibly be anything Southern that I could eat. Well, I am glad to inform you that I have been able to create this wonderful list of recipes that fulfill my very Southern appetite =)


BBQ Tofu

1 lb block of tofu (I use Twin Oaks brand tofu from EarthFare, it’s locally(ish) and cooperatively grown (from Virginia)! And it is always really firm and not too juicy. When you get home, put your tofu in the freezer and freeze it for at least one day, leave tofu out for a few hours before you make this recipe, and then cut tofu out of package and drain it/squeeze it to make it as dry as possible)
¼ cup of peanut butter or peanut sauce
¼ cup of tamari or soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons of liquid smoke
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of onion powder
Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl. Take your tofu and cut it into really thin slices, then use your fingers to pull it apart into decent sized chunks reminiscent of a pulled pork look. Pour marinade over tofu, make sure all tofu is covered. I take a potato masher and lightly press on the tofu to make sure it absorbs the marinade well (don’t press too hard or mash up tofu). Let sit in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (sometimes I leave mine over night).
Marinating tofu
Heat oven to 400, cook tofu 10-15 minutes, or until liquid is dry and tofu is slightly crispy (you can take it out before it is completely crispy because as it cools it will harden).
Baked tofu
 Now, you can use any bbq sauce you want for the tofu shreds you have made. I usually combine Carolina gold brand and add hot mustard and spicy red bbq sauce, but really this is entirely up to what kind of bbq sauce you like. You can mix and match or experiment with making your own. But, once you have figured out what you want to use for bbq, take your tofu and put it into a container with the sauce, mix it up thoroughly, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes for the tofu to absorb it.

Southern Fried Tofu
(note: I mostly stole this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen:
1 block of tofu defrosted and cut into triangles. (freeze your tofu before use, as before)
Organic White Flour
*Cayenne pepper
*Garlic powder
*Sea Salt
*Fresh ground pepper
A teaspoon of cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup warmed vegetable broth
Canola oil for frying

*All of these are according to taste*

~For spicy tofu, melt two tablespoons of dairy free butter and mix with your favorite hot sauce in a bowl. Set aside.

Leave your tofu sitting in warm water

In a small cup, add the cold water and the corn starch and stir until dissolved. Mix in with vegetable broth.
In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.

It turns out better if you 'double dip' the tofu. Take a triangle and dip it into the flour mixture first. After that, dip in the vegetable broth mixture and then back into the flour until evenly covered. Set the battered tofu on a plate and prepare the rest of the pieces the same way. Get your oil good and hot.

Fry your battered tofu and turn regularly until brown on all sides. It doesn't take that long. Do yourself a favor and use tongs!

If you want to, once the tofu is cooked, toss it into the hot sauce/butter mix. It is good plain too.

Vegan Gumbo
So, there is a small back story here: one of my friends posted a facebook status that she was making gumbo, someone commented asking if there was a way to make vegan gumbo. I, realizing I had not had gumbo since my childhood, decided that I would find a way to make vegan gumbo. Thus, stealing and tweaking a recipe from the famous Paula Deen, I created this:


  • 1 block of cajun marinated tofu (see directions below)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pieces of vegan Italian sausage (note: Morning Star brand is NOT vegan!) seasoned with cumin and cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy/tamari sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish (I used basil)
  • 4 cups hot vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice (I use fresh tomatoes, I used about 3-4, diced up)
  • 2 cups frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts


      Cajun marinated tofu:
    combine 1/4 cup tamari/soy sauce, 1/3 cup of olive oil 2-3 teaspoons of liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of cajun seasoning, and 2-3 teaspoons of cumin. cut tofu into large chunks and marinate for about 1 hour (or as long as you want) then bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until tofu is slightly crispy.

    Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat.Add tofu until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove (sprinkle the warmed tofu and sausage lightly with cajun seasoning and cumin).
    Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
    Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons vegan butter. Add the onion, garlic,  and celery and cook for 5-6minutes.

    Add soy/tamari sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 5-6minutes.
    Add vegetable stock/broth, whisking constantly. Add the tofu and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving add the green onions and chopped parsley.
    Note: I also used zucchini and carrots in my gumbo. You can add any vegetable you have on hand, really.
    finished gumbo


    Southern Style Pinto Beans
    1 bag dry pinto beans or 1 can vegetarian pinto beans
    Liquid smoke
    Butter (or vegan butter)

                For the dry pinto beans you will need to cover the pan of beans with water at least three inches above the beans. Soak overnight. The next morning the beans will be plump and ready to cook. Pour out the water and fill with clean tap water, covering beans at least one inch above the beans. Bring beans to boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for about 4-6 hours (until they are well cooked and soft) checking every hour to make sure beans continue to have enough water.
                For canned beans, you just need to heat them up in a pot.
                Add a few dashes of liquid smoke (maybe about 4-5 teaspoons?)
                Add about 1 tablespoon of butter/vegan butter
                Salt and pepper to taste

    Cajun Pinto Beans
                Dry beans or can of beans
                Brown sugar
                Cajun seasoning
                Liquid smoke

    Prepare your beans, add 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a few dashes of liquid smoke, mix well. Dice up tomato and about 1/3 cup of onion, add to beans, stir well. Add about 1 teaspoon of cumin and 2-3 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. To make them spicy you can add red pepper flakes.

    Southern Style Greens
                Greens of your choice (I have used swiss chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, and poke salad, usually I use collard greens though)
                Liquid smoke
                1 clove of Garlic (minced)
                Additional/optional vegetables (I sometimes use zucchini or mushrooms when I make greens, but you don’t have to add anything unless you have it on hand)

    Heat about ¼ cup of oil with garlic and onions, cook until onions are transparent. Add greens (and additional vegetables if you are using them). Add a few dashes of liquid smoke. Stir well, cook for about 10-15 minutes (depending on if you want your greens softer or crispier), stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, you can also add red pepper flakes if you want them spicier.

    Fried Green Tomatoes
                Green tomatoes (I usually use 2)
                Corn flour
                1 egg (beaten) (for vegan use vegetable stock/broth)
                Salt and pepper
                Slice tomatoes. In a bag or on a plate mix salt, pepper, and corn flour. Dip tomatoes in egg and then place in corn flour mix to thoroughly coat. Heat about ¼ cup of oil in frying pan, cook tomatoes, turning often, until they are thoroughly golden brown on both sides. 
    When zucchini is in season I often fry it up with the tomatoes too.

      Enjoy your Southern feast!

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