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Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

There’s this new spot that opened up in Philadelphia last year called COOK, designed for cooking demonstrations and classes. It features a 16-seat bar that sits in front of a workspace and large open range, with mirrors that hang above for the audience’s viewing. Here, foodie experts and chefs come to hold tastings and learning sessions. And the audience watches/joins in/eats, depending upon the night’s topic. The place is an absolute gem.

Brussels Sprouts

A newfound friend recently invited me to a vegan Thanksgiving class being held there, which would bring me my first COOK experience. By the end of the experience, I was entirely smitten. I do hope this means more nights there to come.

The event was held by a sweet lady named Rachel who owns Miss Rachel’s Pantry, a vegan catering and delivery service as well as a communal table styled restaurant. During the session, she whipped up recipes like cashew brie with toast, winter veggie stuffed seitan roast, and the recipe I bring you today. As the cooking transpired, the audience tossed out questions while COOK’s event host poured an endless supply of wine. Rachel’s responses were incredibly warm and so was the night.

Coconut Flakes

For me, this salad was definitely the highlight of the menu. I had only ever had coconut bacon once or twice before, and the raw brussels sprout concept was entirely new to my taste buds. Together, they make a combination that gives memory to a salad.

This is a bowl of leaves that’s far, far more than just a salad. With the toasty sunflower seeds, sweet and tart cranberries, and smoky coconut-y bacon, theres a huge depth of flavor going on here, all complimentary to the earthy, cabbage-like flavor of the brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

COOK often sends you the recipes from their events, which is awesome because I had been planning to recreate this recipe since my last bite. I whipped it up yesterday for a lovely Friendsgiving, and plan to make it again for my family’s own Thanksgiving. When a salad gets rave reviews at a party, you know its worthy of remaking and eating twice within a week’s time. If you don’t get around to it for Thanksgiving, I recommend you bookmark this for later. Thanks Rachel!

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Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich

Most times of the year, when I go to the grocery store, 75% of my basket is filled with fruit and vedge. However, lately I’ve been swimming in honeycrisps and butternuts and greens from the farmer’s market where I work. My grocery trips have been minimized, and my produce budget even more so.

Now when I go to the store, I end up with a basket that looks nothing like myself.

tempeh_apple (3 of 3)

I am a people-watcher. I love the art of observing others. So when going stir-crazy in the Whole Foods check-out line, I’m watching. I’m analyzing what the people in front of me plan to make for dinner. I’m picking out recipes for them in my mind, and I’m judging — er, I mean guessing — their lifestyle and personality traits. All from the items cruising their way to the cash register.

I, of course, am also seeking out my future husband. I’m scanning the lines in search of the handsome guy who’s buying figs and sweet potatoes, brazil nuts and oatmeal, and ingredients you can actually cook with. If you need to find me, I’ll be in that line. And hopefully exiting it with dinner plans. Just kidding.

Lately, however, trips to the grocery store have been scarce, and the farmer’s market is my new best friend. From it, I was able to pick up the fresh fall arugula and apples that compose this meal. Complimented by the rich flavors of caramelized onion, curry and parsley, this creates a surprising and satisfying sandwich. I love adding a sweet crunch in unexpected places, and here the apples carry this out beautifully. Choose your favorite eating variety, and make sure to thinly slice.

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BBQ Sriracha Tempeh with Black Rice

BBQ Tempeh

When I’m craving meat, I often turn to tempeh. It’s dense, but not dry, with a heartiness that won’t leave your stomach empty. And there’s no antibiotics or hormones ever needed to get it that way. Amen.

As a vegetarian, I’ve found my  “craving for meat”, is often actually a hunger for the sauces and marinades that go with it. I could care less about BBQ ribs. Wanting them on my plate is like saying I’d want Mountain Dew in my cup for breakfast. Gross.

So tempeh works for me (and seitan), especially when there’s BBQ involved. The summer nostalgia of BBQ is what I really want, not the meat on the grill that it often coats. I want the slightly sweet but tangy sauciness, grass on my bare feet, and a cup of mint tea or cold IPA in my hands.

If you want all that too, well, we might make a good fit. But seriously, even if you love a smoky brisket or BBQ pulled pork sandwich, this Srirarcha Tempeh recipe could likely make its way to the top of your summer eating list, too. Especially with all the comforts of a warm spring or summer day.

I’ve kept the sauce for this on the not-so-sweet side because I’m not a huge fan of a super sugary BBQ. I’d rather save that sweetness for dessert. However, if BBQ’s your summer sweetheart, simply add an extra spoonful of honey to the mix. The spiciness and color from the Sriracha lends itself well to a nutty, black rice. However, feel free to put this on bread, lather it with slaw, and call it a meal. A good one at that.

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Marinated Tempeh Strips

Tempeh Strips

The first few months of 2013 ran out the door faster than my latest jar of peanut butter. I see a pattern similar to last year. I guess my mom was right  — the older you get, the faster life moves. And right now I’m sprinting.

For me, when time starts to go missing, I often resort to breakfast-for-dinners. Though in my mind, this is rarely a sacrifice. I love breakfast. You feel me? Good. We can probably be friends then.

In my dream world, I’d wake up every morning and whip up homemade blueberry pancakes. I’d heat up the syrup and toast up some walnuts. Sliced bananas and mangoes would sit on the side, and homemade OJ would be flowing from the juicer. In my dream world, every morning would have time for a two-hour breakfast.

Too bad my workweek mornings consist primarily of cereal, oatmeal and overnight oats. Don’t get me wrong, I love these dietary staples. But, they just don’t quite bring the romanticism of a homemade stack of pancakes or even a simple omelet.

Cereal will never make up my breakfast-for-dinner. A late night snack, maybe, but dinner, no way. Weeknights are short on time, but if I’m going to eat in, I should at least have a little time to get the stove going. This means eggs and lately, a ton of tempeh bacon. Tempeh bacon is actually what led me to this recipe. Searching for a new way to make it, I came across this, my new favorite tempeh sensation.

The marinade is wildly addicting, and can make me want to munch on the strips before they’re even cooked. Plus, it’s fairly simple. It has an Italian flair from the oregano and a saltiness from the tamari that lends itself well for everything from breakfast, to sandwich material, to a salad topper. I recommend making extra so you can enjoy this tempeh for other meals of the day too.

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Smoky Maple Tempeh BLT

I don’t like bacon. Yes, shoot me now all you bacon lovers, especially those of you who are jumping on the nonsense bacon-in-my-milkshake fad. Coming from a pescetarian, the contentious statement probably doesn’t mean much, but even when I ate meat, I hated bacon. I found it to be overpowering and always oppressive to all the other ingredients it sat next to in a dish. But hey, that’s just me. At this point, I’m used to all the “Are you an alien?” looks I get when the I hate bacon concept is brought up.

There is one kind of bacon though that I must say I absolutely love—make it a Tempeh variety, and I’m sold. Sliced and baked, this is one of the easiest ways to infuse flavor into tempeh. It’s the kind of flavor that can really perk up something like a sandwich but is multidimensional to avoid coming off as overpowering.

I chose to go with a smoky maple combination for this version of tempeh bacon. I once had a friend say that the key to every breakfast is having everything taste like maple syrup and bacon, no matter what’s on the plate. I guess you could say this is my version of that.

While I wouldn’t want this topping my ice cream, the bacon does make a killer sandwich. The smokiness here is the perfect compliment to the tomatoes layering the bread on this one, and the hints of maple go well with the kick of arugula I’ve swapped for lettuce. I may be crazy for not enjoying traditional bacon, but you’d be crazy not to love this vegetarian version of a BLT.

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