Amazing food blogger and artiste Suganya at Tasty Palettes is having a ‘one-off’ event in honor of November, national vegan month. I always love experimenting with vegan cuisine because I think it’s a great opportunity to be really creative in constructing a healthy, delicious meal. A vegan diet is also perfect for someone recently diagnosed with Celiac, because for the first six months after diagnosis many Celiacs are unable to digest milk products due to compromised villi. Eggs are also a notoriously common allergen. Those of us with multiple allergies or intolerances can learn a lot about creative substitution from the vegan diet.
Like many of the dishes I create, I was motivated to make this dish by something I saw by chance at the farmer’s market- a gorgeous (gluten) bread pastry with lovely traditional quiche and vegetables beautifully highlighting the filling. But the true inspiration came from a friend from my department, who not only shares my birthday but also shares my passion for food. His partner is always making these amazing vegan dishes that Max brings to the department, inspiring rabid jealousy in many of us, especially those not able to steal a bite due to that darned demon gluten. *sniff, sniff* Oh, where oh where is my violin. Haha. Anyway, one day Max was chomping on this oh-so-delicious looking quiche for lunch and I just had to ask for the recipe. Somehow or other, it took me months and months before I actually got around to making it, but when I did, it was just as good as I had imagined. Of course, being me I had to tweak it, and about half way through I decided to try to make a vegan style of Chebe pastry.
I’d never tried making Chebe vegan, although I’d made it dairy free before. I decided to try using ground flax meal as a substitute for eggs, thinking it would add a nice nutty flavor that would compliment the tofu filling. I combined 1 tbsp. ground flax meal with 3 tbsp. of warm water (per egg) and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. I hadn’t experimented with using flax seed as an egg replacer much before, so I was pleasantly surprised when the mixture became quite viscous. I then combined the Chebe ingredients. I did find that I had to add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to get a good texture of dough for rolling. This vegan chebe was much more temperamental than when it is made non-vegan style, and tended to rip. I wasn’t too worried about any rough hewn texture in the pastry, figuring it would suit this kind of dish. Also, although I could have made a more traditional pastry with shortening or vegan margarine that might have held together better, I really wanted to make a lighter, healthier quiche with this recipe, so I thought Chebe would work well. See the notes at the end of the recipe for a more extensive review of the pastry.
I really enjoyed the quiche filling, and to my delight, DH liked it too. Although sometimes he’s not always receptive to certain vegan flavors, whenever a recipe involves tofu he seems more enthusiastic. He did comment that the chebe was a little gummy/chewy. Nevertheless, he gobbled it up, and even seemed to enjoy the beet greens. Apparently while he dislikes spinach, kale AND chard (alas), he doesn’t mind beet greens. Who would have thought? I have to admit, they were delicious. I paired the meal with some boiled young, pink beets, dressed lightly in the barest touch of salt, pepper, and white balsamic vinegar, and it was great to enjoy both the greens and the root of that nutritional powerhouse, the beet, in one meal.
Beets are an excellent food choice for those who are gluten-free AND for vegans, as the roots “contain significant amounts of vitamin C, whilst the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also high in folate, soluble and insoluble dietary fibre and antioxidants. . . Beet roots are [also] rich in the nutrient betaine. Betaine supplements, manufactured as a byproduct of sugar beet processing, are prescribed to lower potentially toxic levels of homocysteine (Hcy), a naturally occurring amino acid that can be harmful to blood vessels thereby contributing to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.” (source: Wikipedia)
But what are other ways to enjoy your beets? Wikipedia suggests the following:
Boil them “either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar.”
Try making beet pickles.
Whip up some “Eastern Europe beet soup, such as Cold borscht”
Eat them peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with margarine as a delicacy.
Cook and pickle them, and then eat them cold as a condiment on a veggie burger. (Common in Australia or New Zealand)
Peel and shredded raw beets and then eat them as a salad.
Here at the Book of Yum, we’ve enjoyed A Fresh Beet Root Salad- to make this recipe vegan, just substitute a tofu or pine nut “cheese.”
Have you had your beets today?
Stefan and Max’s Vegan Tofu Quiche Recipe
Crust: Your favorite vegan pie crust
OR Chebe crust, vegan:
1 all purpose chebe bread mix
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
6 tbsp warm water
3 tbsp. olive oil or vegan margarine
5 tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 C onion essence: 1 med onion (minced) 2 cloves garlic (minced) 1/4 C GF low sodium tamari (or less- this amount resulted in more saltiness than I ideally wanted), 1 T blackstrap molasses, a little olive oil [you will have some essence left over. reserve for another recipe.]
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
For Chebe crust, combine all ingredients and mix into a ball. Work with the dough until it is malleable and moist, and slightly oily. Roll out half of the dough inside a freezer gallon bag with the sides cut out. Place an upside down pie pan underneath the bottom plastic layer, peel off the top layer of plastic and place another inverted pie pan on top of the naked dough. Flip the pie pans so they are right side up, remove the top pie pan and then peel off the (now) top layer of plastic wrap. Make any repairs necessary to the crust. Bake pie shell for 10-15 minutes. (Less with another pie crust recipe) Roll out your remaining dough and use for knishes.
Sautee the onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron pan. When both are translucent and have started to caramelize, add the tamari and molasses to the pan. Pour into a measuring cup and measure out 1/2 cup for your recipe. Put the remainder in the refrigerator and use in another recipe.
Clean pan. Add a dab of olive oil to the clean cast iron pan and saute your mushroom stems first, adding the chopped cap pieces when the stems have started to soften. When done, turn off heat.
Mix all the ingredients together. Don’t forget the cleaned, chopped beet greens! Then, fill pie crust with the tofu mixture (leaving some for knish filling). Use your remaining dough to make some makeshift tofu knishes. The dough is fragile, so don’t worry too much about rips. Consider them holes for the steam to escape. Spray knishes with nonstick olive oil cooking spray and bake on a dark cookie pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes.
I wanted to experiment with a healthy, vegan Chebe pastry crust so I tried flax seed “eggs” for the first time. It wasn’t bad, but especially in the bottom of the pie, the chebe dough was very chewy. The (rather ugly) knishes managed to be crispier, although they were still more chewy/ gooey than the non-vegan recipe. Next time I will try it with half tofu and half flax seed, or half egg replacer and half flax seed, and see how that works. The dough did not puff in the appealing way it does with non-vegan ingredients, so you might be better off with another pastry recipe.
Interestingly, the bottom of the crust was edible the next morning, even when cold. The Crispier sides were a bit too chewy so still necessitated reheating in the oven, but I probably cold have enjoyed the whole thing cold with only minor need for dental work afterwards.