Southern-Style Soul Food, Vegan Style

This is a special post today, because not only do we have a guest blogger, but she’s also sharing a recipe, and… doing a book giveaway! This is a book that I have been really loving, and am so excited to do a giveaway (for US and Canadian residents). Just make sure to leave a comment with your name (and email address so we can reach you), and tell us what recipe you’ve been wanting to veganize.,

And now I want to introduce you to the fabulous cookbook author and blogger Bianca Phillips….

Hi y’all! I’m Bianca, author of Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South and the Vegan Crunk food blog. Julie asked me to guest post and fill y’all in on a few tips for veganizing Southern-style soul food.

No matter what region of the world you call home, few can resist a steaming bowl of collard greens, a buttery slice of sweet cornbread, or a heaping platter of fluffy buttermilk biscuits smothered in creamy gravy. Those are just a few of the comforting Southern staples my little region has contributed to the food world. Sadly, most soul food joints put ham hocks in those greens, eggs in that cornbread, and milk in that gravy.

But never fear! Vegan soul food is here! In my first cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk, I’ve included about 150 cruelty-free recipes for traditional Southern staples. Chicken-fried steak becomes country-fried tempeh steak. Fried catfish becomes baked tofu fish. And BBQ pork ribs become BBQ seitan ribs. You get the idea.

Anyway, I’m here today to share with y’all a few tips I’ve learned along the way while veganizing Southern fare. And I’ll provide a recipe from the book too!

1) Liquid smoke is your best friend.

I couldn’t have written my book without liquid smoke. This smoky, hickory-flavored liquid is great for adding that bacony flavor so often imparted into soul food through ham hocks and bacon fat (grody!). No need to harm pigs for flavor. Just add a splash of liquid smoke to greens, soup beans, or homemade barbecue sauce.

2) Cajun seasoning is your other best friend.

You know how you have your real old-school bestie and your newer friends who make great stand-ins for besties since your original best friend moved miles away after college? Cajun seasoning is like those newer best friends. He’s no liquid smoke. But he’s damn tasty, and he’ll season up your food just fine and maybe even add a little fieriness that your original best friend (in this case, liquid smoke) never could. And sometimes, when your real best friend is visiting from out of town, all three of you get together and have the time of your lives. All this is to say that Cajun seasoning is great for adding a little Southern flair to soups, stews, and even sweet tater fries.

3) Fried food DOES NOT need egg batter.

So often, battered, fried veggies — squash, green tomatoes, onion rings, etc. — are coated in an egg wash before breading to help the flour coating stick. But that’s just not necessary. Although they may not be the healthiest recipes in my book, I have included some fried recipes. And they are all egg-free. Mix together soymilk (or coconut drinking milk) and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken like buttermilk. And then dip veggies in the vegan buttermilk before dipping anything into a flour breading mixture. Repeat this process at least once to ensure a thicker coating. (And while I love other plant milks for most things, I have found that soymilk and coconut milk work best for curdling and coating).

I could go on and on all day, but since I promised a recipe, I’ll stop here and dish the goods.

BBQ “Pulled” Tempeh & Carrot Sandwich

From Cookin’ Crunk; Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South

Yields 2 sandwiches

1 8-ounce package tempeh

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 tablespoons minced red onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, grated

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Extra barbecue sauce for dressin’

Creamy Poppy Seed Coleslaw (recipe below)

2 whole wheat buns, toasted

Slice the tempeh into about 10 medium-sized strips. Place the tempeh into a steamer basket with a little water in the bottom. Steam for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer basket, place the tempeh directly into a little water in a saucepan and heat for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the shredded carrot and sauté for about 5 more minutes or until carrot is soft.

Crumble the steamed tempeh into the skillet and brown for about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. To assemble, divide the tempeh over the bottoms of two toasted buns. Top with extra sauce and coleslaw and the tops of the bun halves.

Creamy Poppy Seed Coleslaw

From Cookin’ Crunk; Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South

Yields 3 1/2 cups

3 cups shredded cabbage (about half of a medium-sized head)

1 carrot, grated

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Place the shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and minced red onion into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the vegan mayonnaise, agave nectar, salt, and poppy seeds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the book to review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

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