For many there is still a lot of mystery behind what vegans eat. I have been offered fish more than once yet asked, “can vegans eat peanut butter?” just as many times. There actually isn’t much secret behind what we eat, and preparing food is really quite easy – you just leave out the animals.
I’m using Vegan MoFo to take an A-Z trip through my pantry to bring you 26 easy recipes to show you that anyone can cook vegan. Eating vegan, well, it’s as easy as ABC.
I didn’t always love to bake.
Nine years ago when we were registering for wedding gifts we intentionally avoided any kind of bakeware because I knew it would just sit in our cupboards, unused, making me feel guilty for not enjoying such a simple thing, baking. Three years later I would be attending a baking & patisserie program and a few years after that starting a dessert-centric blog, and shortly thereafter drawing up the beginning sketches of a vegan baking cookbook. But of course I knew none of that as we added electronics and bath towels to our registry.
I would give nearly all the credit to one very influential woman in my life, a woman named Marie Catrib.
If you have ever been near Grand Rapids, Michigan you probably have heard about the popular restaurant Marie Catrib’s which is where I worked right out of college. This was supposed to be the job I worked while sorting out the terrifying questions, “what am I going to do with my life?” and somewhere between studying for the LSAT and a concentrated year of applying to MFA programs I found myself serving tables. A year and a half later I was still serving tables, no closer to either law school or a creative writing program, I was starting to worry that this was where I was going to land. So when Marie asked me if I wanted a job in the back of the house as the new bread baker, I jumped at the opportunity.
For the next year Marie taught me how to bake with patience (usually), spirit, and creativity. She gave me a lot of freedom to experiment with veganizing her recipes which laid the foundation for everything I now know. That year of baking under Marie’s guidance was, to this day, the best work experience I’ve ever had and decisively turned the direction of my life.
Marie is no longer among us. She passed away a littler over a year ago. It was years ago that I worked for her and thousands of miles away and to be honest I don’t think of her often. But when I do it hits me hard. Like a blow to the head that knocks the wind out of me.
You might find it odd that I’m telling you this story along side an orzo salad rather than a chocolate chip cookie or branny oat recipe, but you see orzo is one of those things that will always remind me of Marie – a food I first learned about at her restaurant and one that I’ve rarely eaten since. And while thinking of the foods that start with “O”, orzo came first to mind followed by a flood of wonderful and sad memories of my culinary mentor.
So today, I honor you with in the best way I know how, Marie.
With my Mediterranean Orzo Salad.
- 1 1/2 cups orzo, uncooked
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 3/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, packed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt to taste
- Prepare the orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Transfer to a large bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside to cool.
- Chop all the vegetables and add to the cooled orzo, mixing to combine.
- In a food processor or blender combine the ingredients for the Tahini Vinaigrette. Blend until smooth.
- Toss the orzo salad with tahini dressing* and serve.
- This dressing recipe makes more than you'll need. Add desired amount and store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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