24 August 2007

Fancy Pants Food

A friend of mine is going to be cooking for her sister's baby shower. She wanted some suggestions for healthy, vegan food. Here's some of the ideas I gave her:

If you're lookin' to go healthy, avoid the sweets, and stick to marinated fruit (a little balsamic, some agave, a touch of basil, and a dash of orange juice will have them singing your praises for years) for a sweet kick. For appetisers, stick to things like canapes (use a slice of cucumber or courgette rather than a cracker) topped with hummus, a sprig of dill, and a tiny drizzle of lemon juice. Dress up the canapes with either a little slice of roasted red pepper, a small slice of olive, or other pretties. When they're all laid out on a platter, they look so darling, and taste magnificent.

Make a large salad, using steamed whole wheat berries, red and green onions, roasted red peppers, cooked chickpeas, olives, walnuts, dried cranberries, minced sundried tomatoes that have been reconstituted in balsamic or red wine vinegar, lots of parsley and basil, curly endive (frisee), baby spinach, and a lot of mixed field greens. Serve the salads on top of a slice of roasted aubergine (sliced thin, that's been dry rubbed with cinnamon, clove, a pinch of nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and sprayed with nonfat cooking spray, and baked at 350°F until they're dark brown), with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar (use a spray bottle to get the vinegar evenly sprayed). Top it off with beet crisps (beets, sliced thin, sprayed with cooking spray, baked at 350°F until crispy--about 30 minutes or so). It'll look absolutely amazing, be filling, and taste fantastic.

Make a soup to go with the salad. Start about a kilo of sweet potatoes (diced finely) simmering in four litres of water. As they cook, sautee a kilo of sliced leeks in a wide, shallow skillet. Sprinkle in (as the leeks sautee) a generous pinch of italian seasoning, and a hefty dose of paprika (makes it pretty). Add about a kilo of kale, that's got its stems removed, and been finely chopped. Let the kale and leeks sautee in the skillet together until the kale is cooked through. When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, throw in two or three cups of cocoanut milk, and allow the water to come to a full rolling boil. When you're ready to serve, ladle the sweet potatoes into a bowl, and top off with the pretty leeks and kale mixture, but don't mix it through! Allow the guests to do that at the table themselves.

Make stuffed mushroom caps. Get a vat of mushrooms, and wash them well. Remove the stems, and set them into a food processor. Add a handful of breadcrumbs, lots of fresh parsley, and a hint of pepper and salt. Process the stems until they're about the size of the breadcrumbs. Stuff the mushroom caps with the filling. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Set the mushroom caps onto the sheet, and bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is browned through.

These would work for any fancy occasion where you wanted to wow people, but wanted things to be healthy, so that you don't have to "cheat" on your diets.