Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Veganized Recipe: Paula Deen Collard Greens

When 2014 began, I took a step back and examined my progress as a food blogger. I liked what I saw but found a number of areas upon which I could improve. One of my top priorities at Lizz Delicious is showing my omnivore friends, family, and acquaintances how pretty much any dish can be made into a vegan one. Each month, I aim to "veganize" a recipe from another food blogger or a celebrity chef. And I couldn't think of a better chef to start with than the well-known Paula Deen (whose recipes are some of the farthest from vegan I could imagine).

Chris and I picked up another bunch of collard greens when we gathered our CSA box at Johnson's on Saturday. We liked them a lot after trying them (for the first time!) in our box from the week before. I knew it would be the perfect example to start with for this regular series.

Unlike with other "veganizations," I didn't want to simply make the same thing but substituting some wheat gluten version of the meat that was meant to be in the dish. That's not very creative, and it wouldn't make the dish any better for you, that's for sure. Paula Deen's recipe inspired this one. It's healthier, at the same experience level, and probably just as tasty (as far as I can assume, being vegan). The original recipe calls for smoked meat. The tofu is meant to replace that. The seasonings it uses will provide a meaty, smoky flavor as best as it can be replicated. The original recipe also appears to be spicier. I've indicated that you can use 1/8 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper to start. If you like it more spicy, use the 1/4 teaspoon instead.

1 head collard greens, stemmed and sliced into strips
1 tablespoon vegan butter, or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8-1/4 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
1 14-ounce package of extra firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon tamari
Liquid smoke

To start, place your tofu in its container in your freezer overnight. Let thaw the next day in the refrigerator. This will give the tofu a chewier, meatier texture. Before cooking, drain and press the water from the tofu. You can use a gadget, like a TofuXPress, or simply place the tofu between some dishes with something weighty on top. Then drain off the excess water.

Warm the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pot or pan over medium heat. Cut the tofu into small cubes. Add the tofu and season salt and stir. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until most of the pieces are browned on each side. Then add the nutritional yeast, tamari, and a few dashes of the liquid smoke. Stir well.

While the tofu is cooking, melt the vegan butter in another non stick pot over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and allow it to saute for a minute or so. Then add the collard greens, cayenne pepper and water. Cover and let cook until the greens are tender and water is mostly evaporated, about 20-30 minutes.

When the tofu and collard greens are cooked as specified, mix them together in one of the pots. Stir and serve.

Makes approximately 4 servings.

Note: If you are a vegan blogger interested in creating an original recipe to be featured on the Lizz Delicious blog for this Veganized Recipes column, please contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this page or via email at contact at lizzdelicious dot com.

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