Friday, September 29, 2017

Southern Style BBQ Pecans over Garlicky Greens and Quick and Dirty Rice

Last weekend at the first ever Plant Fest at Tanaka Farms, I got to do the thing I love doing best! Teach non-vegans how to cook vegan foods that taste great! Foods that have a familiar flavor, don't have any "weird" ingredients, made with everyday home cooking tools, with ingredients you can find at any grocery store, won't break the bank, and won't keep you in the kitchen all day.

And sometimes you just have a go-to recipe that multi-tasks. For me, it's the BBQ Pecans from the Texas Hold 'Ems recipe in Vegans Go Nuts! These sassy little nuts go so well in so many dishes, from tacos, to bowls, to sandwiches, to get the idea. So I decided to bring these bad girls back for another run. This time with some ridiculously easy Garlicky Greens, and a Quick and Dirty Rice that is a play on the Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe from Vegan Food Gifts.

By golly, I pulled it off! I mean, geez, the class was taught outside, on a farm, in the dirt, on a folding table with a portable single burner, and an extension cord to plug in the rice under an hour! Wahoo! I got some great feedback from some die hard carnivores, and people saw others walking around with samples after class asking where they could buy it. Boom. Mission accomplished. It really is the reason for these festivals, right? Sure, vegans absolutely love to attend veg fests and vegan events, because we can order and buy whatever we want without having to think twice...but the real goal is to expose more and more non-vegans to the lifestyle, and get great food in their mouths, show them they can still have super fun festival foods, teach them how to cook at home...right?

To make it easier on you folks, I've gone ahead and gathered up all the recipes right here, so you don't have to go clicking all over the interwebs to make it as shown...and I've even included a bonus recipe for Vegan Bacon Grease, because during my class, we talked about how Southern style cooking often uses bacon fat, or bacon grease to impart a smoky, fatty, salty flavor...well vegans like smoky, fatty, salty flavor, too! We just don't like to kill pigs to get it.

I did introduce everyone to a fun ingredient I like to use often in cooking. It's a finishing salt that is smoked....aka smoked salt. And it is exactly what it sounds like. Salt that has been smoked, so it smells and tastes like a campfire! It's a really inexpensive ingredient to add to your repertoire. I get mine in bulk at WinCo Foods, but it can also be ordered online.

Okeedokee...enough chit chat. Here are the recipes!

Quick and Dirty Rice
In this version, I just throw everything into the rice cooker* and let it do its thing. As written this recipe is completely oil free. However, I like to melt in some vegan butter after cooking to give it a richer flavor.

2 cups (360 g) dry uncooked jasmine, or other long grain white rice**
4 cups (940 ml) water
1 tablespoon (1 g) parsley flakes
1 tablespoon (2 g) dried chives
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Add all the ingredients to the rice cooker and press start.
*If you do not have a rice cooker, you can use a pot with a tight fitting lid. When I make it in a pot, I like to toast the rice in a little oil, then add in the dry herbs and spices, and toss to coat. Then I add in the water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed...about 15 to 20 minutes.
**You can sub brown, or wild rice for a healthier version, but make sure you adjust your water amounts according to the instructions on your rice.

Yield: 8 servings

BBQ Pecans
Super simple and pretty quick, considering you are making the barbecue sauce from scratch! Speaking of the can make this sweet and sassy sauce all by itself and use it as you would any barbecue sauce...just don't add the pecans! Once cooked, you can use an immersion blender to make it a smooth sauce.

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (160 g) diced red onion
2 tablespoons (30 g) minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (366 g) tomato sauce
1 cup (235 ml) pineapple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) sriracha sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons (44 g) molasses
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
4 cups (396 g) pecans, soaked and drained*
salt and pepper to taste
*the recipe will work out just fine if you don't soak your pecans, but soaking them makes them even chewier

Add oil to the bottom of a pan and heat over medium heat.
Add diced onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent, and edges are browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and continue to sauté 2 to 3 more minutes.
Add in remaining ingredients except pecans, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer, add in pecans, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, returning to stir halfway through.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 5 1/2 cups (8 servings)

Garlicky Greens
This recipe works with any kind of leafy greens. We used Kale and Red Chard in the class, because that's what they had growing on the farm at the time...but collards, spinach, dandelion, mustard greens...really, any leafy green will work here!

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 g) minced garlic
1 bunch curly kale, ribs removed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 bunch red chard, stems removed (but saved for snacking!) and chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 lemon
smoked salt, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet or pot with a lid over medium high heat.
Add diced onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent, and edges are browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and continue to sauté 2 to 3 more minutes.
Add in greens, toss to coat, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until wilted.
Remove lid and toss to make sure onions and garlic are well distributed.
Remove from heat and squeeze with lemon juice.
Add smoked salt, or salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 4 servings, depending on the size of your bunches of greens

Bonus Recipe! Homemade Vegan Bacon Grease
I don't know about y'all, but when I was a kid, my dad made everything in bacon grease. After he made a batch of bacon, he would pour the grease into an old coffee can, and keep it in the refrigerator, where it solidified into a solid block. When it came time to fry anything, he would forego the butter or oil, and go straight for the bacon grease. From eggs, to collard greens, to peppers and onions, everything my dad fried was in bacon grease. Flash forward to now, and Dad has diabetes (no wonder!) and I (and my sister, and a few cousins...) are vegan. So, no more bacon grease for us! But, wait a minute. What if there was a way to make bacon grease using plant-based ingredients that are full of heart-healthy fats, that can still impart that smoky, salty, fatty flavor into sautéed greens and tofu scrambles? That is when I discovered Vegan Magic Bacon Grease. Yep, vegan bacon grease already exists. You can buy it at select specialty vegan stores around the country or online. But what if you want it right now? Well, here is a simple recipe to make your own at home.

1 cup (235 ml) refined coconut oil, softened but not completely melted (This is important, because it needs to be partially solid in order to suspend the particles, otherwise the bacon bits and spices will sink to the bottom.)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) liquid smoke
1 tablespoon (14 g) tightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons (16 g) TVP Bacon Bits (Storebought, or homemade RECIPE HERE)

Vigorously mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container (like a mason jar) in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups (295 ml)

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All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni