Vegetarian Homegating 101

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While there is no place more exciting than watching a game at a stadium along with 70,000 other screaming fans, most fans watch games at home with family and friends. Growing up with a single mom, who was not a die hard sports fan, there were never any occasions to go see professional sports teams and embark upon the All American Tradition of tailgating. We did do a lot of homegating (but we never thought to call it that) at the homes of family or friends. Flash forward from the 1980s to 2014 and while I have finally attended two professional football games and numerous baseball games (usually with my mom who is now an avid SF Giant’s fan), I still have yet to officially tailgate. So in the spirit and tradition of homegating, I thought it would be fun to flip this meal on its head and honor those vegetarians in my life with a party theme they would be excited to enjoy. While I am reminded by avid sports enthusiast that most vegetarians are not hard core sports fans, I refuse to be complacent. After all, can you imagine if at nearly every party you went to, the best vegetarian option available was spinach dip or a cheese plate? Yes, I do love both of those food dishes, but being at the top of the food chain I don’t have to devote an entire afternoon to this type of limited meal before I gobble down dessert. So in tribute to all those looking to go meatless, host meatless or just wanting to mix it up, I present Vegetarian Homegating 101.

Menu:

* Brown Lentil Dip With Cilantro Pesto

* Quinoa Banh Mi Sliders with Carrot Slaw

* Sweet Potato Chips

* Baked Beans

* Bloody Maria

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Brown Lentil Dip with Cilantro Walnut Pesto

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Brown lentils are transformed into a lemony puree flavored with a Kenyan spiced butter of coriander, cumin and nutmeg.

Brown Lentil Dip Ingredients

2 cups brown lentils, uncooked

1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 quart (4 cups) water

4 TBS unsalted butter

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup whole walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup olive oil

Wheat Pita bread, cut into triangles and toasted

Brown Lentil Dip Directions

In a large saucepan, cover the lentils, carrot and onion with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the lentils are tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated, approximately 35 minutes. It is important not to overcook the lentils as they will be come quite dry and pasty. In a food processor, puree the lentils and vegetables and remaining water. If mixture appears too dry, add additional hot water one tablespoon at a time.

Cut pita into 8 small triangles, by first cutting in half. Toast lightly and then set aside.

In the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cumin, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for approximately 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the lentil puree and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro pesto. To prepare cilantro pesto, place walnuts, cilantro and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Mix until finely chopped. Serve warm with an extra splash of olive oil at room temperature with the pita toasts.

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Quinoa Banh Mi Sliders

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This version of Vietnamese street food is one that I’ve enjoyed for years. Typically it is made with marinated pork. This version keeps those fresh crisp flavors but brings in a vegetarian flair that I thought would be fun.

Carrot Slaw & Toppings for Banh Mi Sliders

Carrot Slaw Ingredients

2 TBS white vinegar

1 tsp sugar

2 carrots, shredded

1/2 tsp coarse salt

Carrot Slaw Directions

Stir together vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in carrots and salt; allow to sit 10 minutes. Lightly toast bread and then thinly coat with mayonnaise to ensure that bread is not too dry. Place Bah Mi in buns and top with cucumber, carrot slaw, jalapeno, and cilantro and Sriracha.

Quinoa Banh Mi

Quinoa Banh Mi Ingredients

1 cup water

1/2 cup sprouted quinoa

1 TBS canola oil

4 spring onions, sliced into rounds use ½-inch of green (tops set aside)

2 cups cremini or white button mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp fish oil (optional)

1 large egg

2/3 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup whole pecans, toasted and finely chopped (see Tip)

1/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 TBS reduced-sodium soy sauce

* Condiments *

8 wheat hot dog buns, or ½ French baguette, split in half lengthwise

Mayonnaise

Sriracha

Cucumber, thinly sliced

Jalapeno, thinly sliced

Cilantro leaves, cleaned and dried

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine water and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a food processor finely chop green onions and mushrooms.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushroom mixture, garlic, fish oil and soy sauce; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool for approximately 5 minutes.

Toast nuts before adding to recipe for the best flavor. If using whole nuts, spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees, stirring once, until fragrant; approximately 7-9 minutes. Then place nuts in food processor, finely chop and set aside. If using chopped nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned; approximately 2-4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat egg. Add the quinoa, mushroom mixture, cheese, pecans, and oats; stir to combine. Scoop scant 1/2-cup portions of the mixture onto the baking sheet and shape into 8 oblong patties. Leave about 1-inch of space between each patty. (The mixture will be crumbly; patting it into the desired shape on the baking sheet makes it easier to work with. The Banh Mi will hold together very well once baked.)

Prepare the carrot slaw and set aside.

Bake the Banh Mi until crispy, approximately 28-30 minutes. Serve on buns with garnishes.

Notes: To save time, these can be made ahead of time. Individually wrap and freeze cooked Banh Mi for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet with a little oil.

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Sweet Potato Chips

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Sweet Potato Chip Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8-inch thick

1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt, preferably sea salt

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Sweet Potato Chip Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in center and lower positions. Place sweet potato slices in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Divide sweet potatoes between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Spread them in a single layer on sheets. Bake, flipping once, until centers are soft and edges are crisp, 22-25 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.

To crisp the chips up. Turn off oven and allow to sit up to one hour.

Serve with lime wedges.

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Baked Beans

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/sidevegetabledishes/r/beansandbarley.htm

Baked Bean Ingredients

3/4 cup pearl barley

2-1/4 cups water

2 cans (15 oz each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/3 cup molasses

2 TBS ketchup

1 TBS dry mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Baked Bean Directions

In small saucepan with cover, bring water to a boil. Add barley; return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Pour cooked barley into large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Pour into 2-quart baking dish. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Bloody Orange Maria

How does a Bloody Mary becomes a Bloody Maria? It is a simple, swap of tequila in for vodka. Since I am not much of a tomato juice fan, a few modifications were made by reducing the tomato juice and then adding in blood red orange juice. The below recipe makes one drink.

Drink Ingredients

2 lime slices, for glass and garnish

Ice

5 TBS fresh blood-orange juice, plus 1 twist from peel, for garnish

2 TBS tomato juice

1-1/2 oz tequila (preferably blanco, or “silver”)

A few dashes hot sauce (optional)

Drink Directions

Run the cut side of 1 lime slice around the rim of a glass. Fill glass with ice and add juices and tequila. Add hot sauce, stir once, and garnish with twist and remaining lime slice.

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