Menu of the Week: Summer Comfort Food

Vegan Summer Comfort Menu: Balsamic Roasted Beets with Wilted Arugula, Mashed Carrots and Sweet Potatoes, Zucchini and Corn Salad, Tempeh-Potato Cutlet with Dill Mayo Sauce

Chef James Holloway and I prepared this meal for some 110 people who joined us last night for our weekly vegetarian dinner in Palo Alto. I wanted the meal to feel and eat like comfort food and to include an abundance of summer vegetables. We began the meal with Red Lentil-Mushroom-Barley Soup (recipe here) and concluded with an Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie (recipe here). The centerpiece of the meal was a Tempeh and Potato Cutlet which was bound together with well-cooked (and sticky) short grain brown rice. I began by oven braising the tempeh in a broth of water, soy sauce, mirin, ginger and toasted sesame oil.  Additionally, we boiled and mashed potatoes and sautéed diced onions, carrots, celery and garlic chives.  We mixed all the ingredients and formed cutlets which we fried on a griddle.  We served these with a dill tofu mayonnaise (recipe here).

We rounded out the plate with three side dishes: Zucchini and Corn Salad for which we blanched chopped zucchinis and corn on the cob, then cut the corn from the cob and mixed it with the zucchinis. James seasoned this with olive oil, rice vinegar, minced garlic, garlic chives, fresh basil and salt and pepper. For the Mashed Carrots and Sweet Potatoes, we boiled the vegetables and then puréed them in a food processor, adding a little salt and pepper, olive oil, a bit of tahini and some cinnamon and freshly-grated nutmeg. We also added back enough of the cooking water to facilitate making a soft purée. For the Balsamic Roasted Beets with Wilted Arugula, we roasted whole beets, then peeled and chopped them and roasted them briefly again with balsamic vinegar, mirin, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.  We simply tossed the warm beets with the arugula, which played its role by quickly wilting!

Oven-braised tempeh

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