Friday, May 22, 2009

Potatoes with Spicy 'Cheese' Sauce

The translation for this dish is Papas a la Huancaina; it is popular in both Chile and Peru, and both countries argue that it originated there. The dish is made up of several different components, a few of which required some creative vegan thinking. I'll cover those first, and then move on to the pieces that are already (or easily) vegan.

The first is cottage cheese; you can make a simple vegan version at home with 3 ingredients: tofu, lemon juice and salt. Since this recipe only called for 3 ounces of cottage cheese, combine 3 ounces lite silken firm tofu, 3/4 tsp. lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a bowl, mashing with a fork until you reach the look and consistency of cottage cheese. Cover and chill for at least 5 hours.

(Note: if you want to make more 'cottage cheese' than this recipe calls for, combine a full 14-ounce block of tofu with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt - add a few drops of vanilla and a pinch of raw sugar, too, if you like).

The second ingredient posing a problem were hard-cooked eggs. As I did with the Field Greens with 'Eggs' and Enoki Mushrooms recipe I made back in May, I concocted little trompe l'oiel 'eggs'. For the hard-boiled white, slice half of a 14-ounce package of lite silken firm tofu into 12 slices (round the edges with a spoon, for more authenticity). Dig a tiny hole in the center of each with a spoon.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon water and a teaspoon and a half of vegan mayonnaise (such as the Light Canola mayo from Spectrum). Dollop the 'yolk' into the hole in each of your 'eggs'. Set aside.

The other step that needs to be done ahead of time for this recipe is marinating the onions. Thinly slice 4 cups of onion (about 2 medium). Place the onion slices in a ziplock big with 1/3 cup lemon juice and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours, turning occasionally. (I only had small ziplock bags, so I used two, and divided the lemon juice equally among them).

Remove the onions and set aside, and reserve the marinade.

Place 2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain and let cool compeltely, or you'll scald your fingers in the next step! Peel the potatoes (no easy task, on potatoes this small, but the skins slip off easier after cooking than they would have before), and cut in half.

Meanwhile, combine the reserved marinade in a blender or food processor with 3 ounces of your 'cottage cheese', 3 ounces of crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia), 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (such as the Hot Stuff from the Wizard), and 1/4 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk). Process until smooth.

Place 2 curly lettuce leaves on each of six plates. Top each serving with 2/3 cup onions, 3/4 cup potatoes, 2 tablespoons 'cheese' sauce and 2 of your 'egg' wedges. Each serving is 230 calories. Double that for a hearty vegan entree portion.

onion $0.75
Yukon gold potato $4.99
lite silken firm tofu $2.69
curly leaf lettuce $2.49

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance