Friday, November 27, 2009

Warm Pumpkin 'Cheese' Dip

Thanksgiving may be over, but don't stop eating pumpkin for the season! This delicious dip will work well at any holiday party.

The original recipe called for 1/3 cup evaporated milk, which of course is easily bought at the store for lacto-ovo vegetarians. As a vegan, you'll need to make your own evaporated soy milk at home. The process takes some time, but as always, I find it quite therapeutic: cook 3 cups of soy milk over medium-low heat until reduced to 1 and 1/2 cups, stirring constantly - it should take just over an hour. Grab a good paperback book that you can hold with one hand, stir with the other, and have fun with it! I recommend making the evaporated soy milk ahead of time, and then letting it cool before using in the recipe. Save the extra as creamer for your coffee! It will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

For the dip, I wasn't sure if the first step of the original recipe was strictly necessary. That was to spread 1 and 1/4 cups plain yogurt to 1/2-inch thickness on several layers of paper towels, cover with additional paper towels, and let stand for 5 minutes. The purpose of this step is to drain the yogurt, and as I said, I'm not sure if it's necessary to do so with soy yogurt. Just in case, I did do the above with 1 and 1/4 cups plain soy yogurt. When you're done, scrape the soy yogurt into a bowl with a spatula and set aside.

For brands of soy yogurt, try Wildwood or Whole Soy.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup thinly sliced leek and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (use 1/2 tsp. dried thyme if you prefer) and 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside.

To the bowl with the soy yogurt, add 3/4 cup crumbled vegan feta (in place of goat cheese), 1/3 cup evaporated soy milk, and 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin. The original recipe also called for 3 egg whites here, for which I used 2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer powder whisked into 4 tablespoons warm water.

The original recipe said to beat all that with a mixer until smooth, but mine was so smooth just from stirring that I left the mixer out of it!

Stir in the leek mixture, then spoon the entire mixture into a 1-quart (8x8-inch) baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

As the name of the recipe implies, this dip is best served warm. It goes great with breadsticks or bagel chips. For the former, try the rosemary-flavored breadsticks from Alessi - they're the long thin ones like you find in Italian restaurants - yum! Stacy's Bagel Chips make the list on PETA's "I can't believe it's vegan" website, and if something's good enough for PETA, it's good enough for me.

1/4 cup of dip is 60 calories.

plain soy yogurt $2.78
leek $1.15
vegan feta $3.69
canned pumpkin $0.99
egg replacer $5.69

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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