Are you having a negative response to this visual? I would understand if you are because the mystery dish kind of looks like a grainy clay brick. This was actually last night’s dinner, a vegan mushroom/cashew gluten-free “nut loaf”. And it was absolutely delicious. It seems as though these types of loaves are a vegan staple and are even served at many a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. David had a dish like this the other night at our local vegan restaurant. This loaf is full of cashews, walnuts, lots of sweet sautéed onion, piles of mushrooms, carrot, and garlic. A bit of red wine and soy sauce add lots of wonderful flavor. But this looks soooo brown (said with a bit of a whine).
Since committing to eating vegetarian and leaning more and more toward vegan I’ve been forced to address my lifelong habit of not eating foods that I don’t find visually appealing. I am Jewish, and to this day I have never eaten chopped liver, gefilte fish, or whitefish salad (classics of traditional Jewish cooking) for this reason. OK, they don’t smell too good to me either, but you get the point. The idea that we eat first with our eyes holds very very true for me. I have been told countless times “you don’t know what you’re missing”. OK, I’m starting to get it now. Necessity and all of that.
It’s interesting that while vegetables are so incredibly colorful, the foods that are more dense and satisfying (meat substitute sorts of things) are well, grayish. Tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, quinoa, brown rice, black beans, garbanzo beans, etc. etc. The first time I made tahini for falafel I had to sprinkle on some parsley just to make it look like something I wanted to eat. I recently made a fabulous smoky eggplant dip (a baba ganoush type thing) and needed to sprinkle on some paprika. One of the reasons I serve nearly everything with a green salad is to pep up the plate appeal. Like with this loaf, for example:
That little dab of dijon mustard doesn’t hurt either. And this meal was scrumptious–even better on a sandwich for lunch today. So while the “flavors are there” the food porn is a little lacking in vegan land. I think this is something I can remedy with the judicious use of herbs, dips and various other condiments. A dish of salsa verde or fresh pesto may be something to keep on hand. The veggies and herbs in our newly planted garden will undoubtedly provide some inspiration.
I know that not everyone struggles with this issue (David doesn’t) and I absolutely recommend this loaf (recipe here) for vegans and non-vegans alike. The only change I made to the recipe was that I used walnuts rather than brazil nuts. So give it a try, and don’t forget those greens on the side…