I have received feedback from several sources (including my Standard American Diet significant other) that vegetarian health-foods with familiar, S.A.D. names set an immediate expectation that will likely disappoint a reluctant taste-subject.
For example: my first ever cookbook (Madhur Jaffry’s World Vegetarian) taught me a super-yummy “Black Eyed Pea Pancake” recipe that I have prepared many times. However, it is not-at-all related to the kind of food you would get at a greasy-spoon diner, drown in syrup and nosh with crispy bacon. It is actually more like a flat-bread or wrap, and is excellent for sopping up savory stews/curries or dips. However, for some, the term “pancake” evokes a very rigid expectation that will not be swayed. If I called the dish “not-really-a-tortilla-but-not-quite-falafel” or even “floppy discs” it might meet much less resistance…
Low carb/vegetable based pizza crusts are very popular right now. And with good reason: they are FANTASTIC!!! Cauliflower crust pizzas are getting well-deserved praise, but they aren’t fooling anyone into thinking they are REAL “Pizza-Pizzas”. I enjoy them at my house and I love to prepare them for friends and family, but I recently had an inspiration: mold the “dough” into in fun sizes and shapes for dipping! Great for Parties and fun for kids (as long as you are careful not to use terms like “pizza” or “ch__ken nugget” then people can just enjoy them at face-value).
My first experiments were with cookie cutters. Now, some people have “sweet” and “kid appropriate” cookie cutters, but at my house it’s either zombies or ninjas.
I initially rolled out the “dough” and tried to stamp out the shapes.
Huge. Stupid. Mess.
Then, I wised-up and just filled the cookie cutters one at a time.
Bada-Bing-Bada-Boom: wonderfully twisted “Zombie Nuggets” (that also could pass for a Sasquatch or Chewbacca).
If you have little humans in your house who like to make art projects with their food, there is a ton of potential for decorating with capers, olives, colorful shredded veggies, etc etc.
Since I still had quite a bit of “dough” I decided to see what would happen if I mooshed it into silicon candy molds (unicorn heads, of course). This process was possibly even easier than the cookie cutter method, but you run the risk of them sticking and coming out all mangled.
Half of the Unicorns were given a pinkish hue by adding a bit of red cabbage. Sneaking in other colorful vegetables is another opportunity to make it kid-appealing (as well as more nutritionally diverse.)
There are many options for dips to serve with these “nuggets”, but my favorites are mint chutney or the pumpkin bbq sauce.
1 1/2 -2 heads cauliflower
5-7 cloves garlic (minced)
3 eggs (or substitute 3 Tbs flaxseed meal soaked in 7 Tbs water)
1/3 cup psyllium husks
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 Tbs minced fresh herb of choice (I prefer basil or green onion)
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup shredded parmesan (or vegan substitute)
1 cup shredded mozzarella (or vegan substitute)
Discard the outer leaves and thoroughly wash your cauliflower. Cut Cauliflower head into quarters and remove the stem. “Rice” the cauliflower by shredding it in a food processor, or by using the largest holes on a box grater (be careful with your fingers!). Cauliflower should end up crumbly and sort-of rice-like. *For this recipe you will need 6 cups of “riced” cauliflower.
Press/strain/drain as much moisture as you can from the cauliflower (you can let it rest in a fine-mesh strainer for a couple of hours, periodically trying to press out some moisture. OR you can spread it out on a clean, dry towel, and press it gently with another clean, dry towel to blot off the moisture. OR you can spread it out on food dehydrator sheets and set on 100-115 degrees for about an hour. I use all of these methods, depending on my mood and available time.)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowel. This is your “dough”.
Now you have options:
I like to designate a portion of the dough as a frozen pizza crust for future use. To do this, I line a 9×16” pan with parchment paper and press 2-2.5 cups of the “dough” into a flat “pizza crust”. I put the pan in the freezer until the dough is totally frozen, then transfer it into a sealed container or freezerbag. This gives me an extra pizza crust that just needs toppings and to be baked at 350 degrees for 45 min-1 hr on a parchment paper lined pan.
You can just make a million fun-shaped-tasty nuggets (which could also be frozen as dough and baked in the future.) Cooking times will depend on the size/shape thickness of your “nuggets”.
* For my zombies, which were approximately ½ inch thick, I baked them on a parchment lined pan in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. They are done when they are just starting to brown at the edges and are springy (NOT STICKY) to the touch.
*For my unicorn heads, baked in a silicon mold (which I greased with a thin layer of coconut oil), I baked 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool about 5 minutes before turning them out of the mold, back onto the baking sheet. Then I returned to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until just browning at the edges and springy (NOT STICKY) to the touch.
It would be very difficult to accurately predict what size shape, and thickness of nuggets each person will make, so I’ve calculated the nutritional value as if this recipe made 10 servings. I also calculated for full-fat, real dairy cheese and eggs, rather than vegan alternatives.