Chow Bella

A Merry Vegan Christmas Menu from Chakra 4, Green, and Pomegranate Café

Still don't know what you're making for your holiday table? Here are three recipes from local chefs and restaurateurs to get you started. First up, Kita from Chakra 4's Red & Green Holiday Salad will get you in the festive mood. Next, Lemongrass "Chicken" à la Chef Damon from Green makes a nice light entrée, ensuring you'll still have room for plenty of toffee and Bûche de Noël. And speaking of toffee, whip up some Vegan English Toffee from scratch using a recipe from Pomegranate Café's mother-daughter duo.

You don't have to be vegan to enjoy this menu. If you know and love a vegan (and these days, many of us do), sometimes the most thoughtful gift you can give is home cooked food.

During one holiday season, I baked vegan cookies so as not to leave out my three vegan coworkers, and everyone - carnivores included - was overjoyed. So, use one of the following recipes to win over the vegans in your life, or head to Pomegranate Café, Green, and Chakra 4 to pick up delicious dishes made by the pros.

Want to know these chefs' secrets? Find out after the jump...

Red & Green Holiday Salad from Chakra 4's Kita Centella

This salad can be easily adjusted to suit various tastes or to use up whatever you have in the house. For a vegan salad, exclude the cheese. Kita has plenty of suggestions to adapt this recipe. Use fresh tomatoes instead of beets. Add in some cranberries, and be sure to marinate fresh ones in something sweet. Omitting the sundried tomatoes will change the flavor profile, but they can be replaced with goji berries. And for the greens, exchange the sprouts for kale, onion sprouts, broccoli sprouts, or frisée).

1 tbsp. nama shoyu (or tamari)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 - 3 tsp. agave syrup or honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. fresh garlic, crushed (optional)
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced or pounded to paste

Correct and adjust the amounts of nama shoyu, balsamic vinegar, and agave to suit your preferences for salty, sour, and sweet flavors.

Salad ingredients:
4 oz. Micro-greens (you can substitute seasonal greens)
1/2 cup clover and radish sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh beets, chopped into matchsticks
1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced into 1/2" pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup julienned sundried tomatoes that have been soaked in olive oil, drained
2 tbsp. candied pecans, slightly broken up
2 tbsp. candied walnuts, slightly broken up
2 oz. Manchego cheese, diced 1/4" (optional)

Toss together all ingredients except beets (and cheese, if using). Toss the salad with dressing, then
sprinkle beets and cheese across the top of the salad.

Candied nuts:
You can either buy these at Trader Joe's or make your own. Toss pecans or walnuts with enough honey or agave syrup to coat. You can then add a dash of cinnamon, but it's not recommended for this salad. Place nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350°F, turning once or twice, for about 5 minutes or so. Keep checking them, and don't let them burn. Separate clumps, let cool, and save some for the salad before you eat them all!

Lemongrass "Chicken" from Green New American Vegetarian's Chef Damon Brasch

1/4 cup cold sparkling water
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. ground lemongrass
1/8 cup all-purpose flour

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Use one 14 oz. package o your favorite seItan or soy chicken. Dredge pieces of chicken through batter, remove excess batter, and fry on medium flame in ¼ cup grapeseed oil until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Lemon Butter Cabbage:
1 tbsp. Earth Balance Butter
1 tsp. fresh garlic
1 pinch salt
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1 cup chopped red cabbage

In a medium sauté pan, melt butter, add remaining ingredients, and sauté lightly for 5-6 min. Plate and add chicken, then garnish with cilantro and sliced red bell pepper.

Vegan English Toffee from Pomegranate Café's Chefs Cassie and Marlene Tolman

8 ounces naturally sweetened non-dairy chocolate chips
3/4 cups pecans, finely chopped
1 cup Earth Balance non-dairy butter
1 cup organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 tbsp. water
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 - 8 minutes, or until fragrant. With a heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch square shell with 1-inch high sides. Place the foil shell on a baking sheet, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, cook the Earth Balance non-dairy butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305°F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290°F because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture becomes dark golden brown, immediately remove the edges of the square. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until hard. Melt the chocolate according to instructions on the side of package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle with pecans, pressing lightly to set pecans into chocolate. Let set at room temperature for one hour, or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature for up to one month.

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