Ain’t no other way to show some vegan fun and lovin’ than a cookout with your best buds. No animals harmed, you get to show planet Earth some lovin’ and best part is you get to chill with ya mates knowing you’re doing good to your body as well. I joke that if anyone needs their insides cleaned out they can come to my place. Actually, I don’t see my diet as being very clean, what with cakes and other savory snacks popping up more frequently than I’d like to admit but seeing what eating proper vegan/vegetarian food for a day or even just meal does to the average non-vegan GI tract amazes me. Namely, I mean how their bowels become more active and how they report a lightness in their stomachs even having absolutely stuffed their faces.
Okaaaay, enough with the non-essential details, onward to our party menu…
Roast Cauliflower in Makhani Gravy
I got a headstart making garam masala in the morning which is needed for the Gobi Musallam, a dish I’d never heard of till a picture of it on Vegan Richa’s stopped me in my vegan-recipe-hunting tracks. I made it, raved about it, my family members liked it, and now I was convicted to sharing it. So made it we did, and after receiving J and D’s approval (both of whom are non-vegans on standard diets) I am thoroughly confident in my decision to put Cauliflower Musallam on my official list of party recipes. What can I say, it wins in the aroma and flavor dept, the recipe if pretty straightforward and leaves your hands free for an entire hour before serving, the gravy can be prepared beforehand and the whole roasted cauliflower head makes for quite an impressive presentation (though I have to admit our failure at making it’s before-roasting appearance resemble less like The Blob).
This time I didn’t bother blanching since previously it’d become soft, on the verge of sinking into mushiness which I wasn’t sure if everyone would like. We pulled it out at 50 minutes since it was getting late and stomachs were growling ferociously (I might be exaggerating here) though 60 minutes might have been better. The florets were nice — soft yet firm enough to retain their shape and texture without getting all watery. The stem was cooked though still a little too hard for ease of cutting and serving. I would still skip the blanching for longer roasting time.
We weren’t in the mood for caring about appearances too much, so slapped a bit of everything on our plates as such, keeping a watchful eye over the gravy lest the others might hoard too much for their own good. I kid, the recipe produces a lot of gravy we had leftovers, perhaps to be again fought over the next day.
Hom Mali Brown Rice with Five-Grain Mix
We had the cauliflower with 5-grain brown rice — which was Thai Hom Mali brown rice (absolutely the best brown rice, I declare white rice eaters will never go back to their wayward habits after trying this!) with a bit of a 5-grain mix mixed into it. The 5-grain mix had millet, black rice and red rice which was probably what made our nutritious rice take on a purplish sheen and turn out a little sticky.
Black-eyed pea Salad with Balsamic Vinegrette
We also had a convenient black-eyed pea salad which had almost everything, except the kitchen sink of course. It had purple cabbage, red peppers, beets, raw corn, black-eyed peas, avocado. Am I glad J helped out with the chopping of ingredients cos that freed me to cook the black-eyed peas and beets. I thought this turned out pretty well in terms of taste and practicality because all you do is chop and heap up the ingredients and all it needed was a flavorsome vinegrette which is pretty simple to make. My default dressing is to combine apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (basil/parsley), EVOO, salt and pepper but when I do have extra sauce from the day before like sansho miso or even the cauliflower gravy I also add them in for a boost in flavor. It’s kinda like the secret ingredient in the dressing that piques your interest in an otherwise pretty standard dressing.
Plus, you can take the opportunity to throw in vegetable bits and bobs that don’t quite make up a dish by themselves and which you also want to get rid of. Clean out fridge + Yum = Sweet.
Umeshu Agar Jelly
We finished off with an Umeshu Agar ‘Jelly’ made using organic black sugar sweetened sour plum wine which was not bad, so they tell me. I only wish I’d made more and taken a pic to to show for it. If you know how to make agar jelly then this is no rocket science, bung 1 part liquor, 2 parts water, powdered agar and some sugar into a pot, let boil for a while to dissolve the ingredients and let the alcohol boil off before pouring into molds. Play with the proportions!
All in all, I’m glad our small-scale vegan cookout turned out well as it makes me look forward to trying out new recipes together with friends. Much love and thanks to awesome pals, J the excellent veggie chopper, cauliflower roaster and food photographer and D, enthusiastic dish-washer for making our cozy cookout a success!