Being Vegan at Easter is a strange situation. Easter is about honoring a man who died for our sins and the celebrations of compassion, faith, rebirth and yet we kill animals to celebrate. Does that mean the ham is supposed to be Jesus and we are just reenacting this whole mess, like at church how we eat the bread and call it the body of Christ? Kinda odd how us humans do things isn’t it? At least the Eucharist is vegan. I think.
Last year we skipped the normal brunch with my family because of some internal issues with the family and my wedding was about to happen. It was a crazy time. This year we are doing a dinner at the parents house. My husband lives for these events because he can feast on meat and cheese (even though he is lactose intolerant) until he passes out in a food coma. I however know that at these events it is a time to cook the night before or analyze menus of possible “brunch” spots for weeks so that I can call and preorder my veganized entrée. I preorder now in most cases because certain parts of my family get very irritated with my vegan ordering and the fact I always end up explaining “why” I am vegan. I don’t mind telling the story (because it was a health issue and not some factory farm scary story) but I have learned that it makes a very sensitive issue (food) a more sensitive issue to those that may already be hyper aware of poor eating habits and their own choices that they are silently sensitive of.
So this year is good because I am bringing my own food to my parents and that is the easiest way to guarantee I eat well on a holiday. Although I must note my mother has become quite the vegan friendly chef and is constantly finding new vegan foods and recipes for me. Once I got the green light, I then fell into a confused panic. What do I substitute for the traditional Ham dinner? I could’ve made a killer brunch but a ham dinner? That is hard.
So I inventoried several traditional Easter Dinner “Menus” and picked items that were the most common:
- Glazed Ham
- Parker House Rolls
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Cooked Asparagus
- Cooked Carrots
When I took a look at this menu I thought this is easy to veganize except for the ham (and I am not much for Asparagus but whatever), and the ham is always a staple. Which was my original debacle. Some serve Lamb instead but I was hard pressed to find a faux lamb roast on a few days notice either. So I decided I will recreate every item on this menu with a vegan option recipe and I will have to figure out something for that rich sweet and salty ham. I could be simple and just throw in a roast of any sort. A field roast from the refrigerated section or a Gardein Holiday Roast but no, no, no… I am going to master this with an option that will be just as filling and tasty and will harmonize with this spring Easter theme without being too Hippie/Crunchy/Healthy since it is an indulgent feast we are having, no?
Let us start with our cooked veggies.
Maple Glazed Carrots
1 package Peeled Baby Carrots
3 tbsp olive oil or an olive oil sprayer
1/4 cup maple syrup whisked with 2-3tbs of water
Preheat Oven at 425degrees. Spray carrots with olive oil or toss in olive oil and place in a roasting pan or in a cake pan if you don’t have one. Sprinkle with salt and then use a basting blush to baste carrots with syrup/water mixture. Once all are basted drizzle any excess over the whole pan of carrots. Roast until brown and soft.
1 bunch fresh asparagus
3 tbsp olive oil or olive oil sprayer
ground black pepper
1/8 cup dehydrated minced onions
1/8 cup water
Preheat oven to 425degrees.
In a pan bring brown onions by heating water and oil and a pinch of salt together on medium low. Once the onions are lightly browned toss in asparagus salt and some ground pepper to taste. Once the asparagus is lightly seared on one side transfer to the oven in an oven safe dish until tender.
Chopped Tomato Basil Salad
1/4 Bunch of Fresh Basil
2 tbsp Dehydrated Minced Onions
4 Tomatoes (freshly diced)
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1tbsp Kosher Salt
1-2 tbsp Granulated Garlic or Minced Frozen Garlic
2 tbsp Agave Nectar
Toss shredded basil, diced tomatoes, and onions in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk together all other contents until combined. Then drizzle over the tomatoes until covered and toss. I rebalance the vinegar oil combo each time I make this so please feel free to play with it or just by a simple balsamic dressing and add garlic and agave after! After everything is combined place in fridge to marinate for at least 30minutes. Serve cold.
1 small bag of white, red, or purple potatoes (about 2 lbs)
1/2 Earth Balance Buttery Stick
1 cup Soy or Almond Milk
1 block Daiya Havarti Cheese
1 bag Daiya Mozzarella Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350degrees.
Gather a casserole or Pyrex dish that is decorative enough that you would serve this in. I use a circular Pyrex dish that looks similar to a pie plate. So you can see the layers.
Next you need a large mixing bowl, potato peeler, knife, chopping board/mat, and mandoline.
First grease the casserole ban using the earth balance and take the rest and place it in a microwave safe container with the milk. This will be microwaved until the butter is melted and then whisked until combined right before you place the contents in the oven.
I half peel the potatoes so then have some skin. You can fully peel if this is your preference. I then slice them on the mandoline at a varied size between paper-thin and the 2nd thinnest setting. Placing the discs of potato in a mixing bowl and sprinkling them with salt from time to time.
Next, begin layering the potato discs into the casserole. I overlap them on the edges and work around the edge and in a circular motion spiraling to the center. When I get to the center I sprinkle the layer very lightly with salt, pepper, and mozzarella cheese and then do another layer spiraling outward with potatoes again. The next payer I alternate the sprinkling to simple the havarti cheese which I pinch small amounts of and sprinkle on and do a layer of thyme. No salt or pepper this time. Then another layer and we alternate back to the salt, pepper, and mozzarella. This goes on until you reach the top layer which gets a little of each sprinkle topping and then the warm milk mixture is poured on top.
Place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Let sit 2minutes. Serve hot.
Parker House Rolls
So I rarely suggest a recipe I have not tried or invented myself but my mother seems to be able to buy Parker House Rolls in Charlestown so I never make them (oh and Charlestown is a Boston Neighborhood known for bank robbers where my family lives but they don’t rob banks, see the movie “The Town” with Ben Affleck, it is not the same as Charleston in South Carolina; different accent, different tea). So I looked through the web and found one recipe I found trusty and delicious and that looked like what my mother so successfully procures for the holidays.
Here is Veganize Everything’s blog recipe on Parker House Rolls: http://veganizeeverything.blogspot.com/2012/01/vegan-parker-house-rolls.html
Now for the ham. This has literally taken days for me to figure out. I am not going to lie, I probably should’ve given out some silly note to just go buy a Field Roast. I also found a Vegan Ham Roll along my journeys so those that love ham feel free to find it online or at your local Natural Foods store. I however was continuing my journey until I stumbled upon this site: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/11/definitive-vegan-stuffing-post-recipe.html . It made me realize that I could do a lot with a vegan dish I just learned to make: Seitan! Or as my husband likes to joke “that Satan stuff”.
I buy the West Soy Seitan Cubes to make Seitan Marsala. So why not make a smoky, sweet ham version? I think we will. You will need the Seitan cubes, maple syrup, pineapple, and maybe some liquid smoke I imagine. So I looked through some recipes and this is my version of Easter Dinner’s Main course.
Smoky, Sweet Easter Seitan Dinner
Ground Black Pepper
1 Package West Soy Seitan Cubes
1 can crushed pineapple (optional)
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1tsp liquid smoke
In a deeper frying pan place olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Toss in Seitan Cubes once the skillet is warm. Next sprinkle the seitan with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the seitan in oil with a spatula until lightly browned avoiding splashing the oil, then add liquid smoke and maple syrup. Allow to reduce slightly and carmelize, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Then toss in crushed pineapple right before serving for a ham and pineapple vibe if you feel so inclined.