After enjoying a few post-wedding months of eating literally everything in sight, I've come to to the realization that it's time to start eating healthily again--and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year! To kick 2014 off right, we've decided to do a 30-day vegan challenge. We already eat mostly vegetarian anyway, but dairy is my downfall and chicken stock has become my cooking crutch. So to shake things up, we'll be eating only vegan food for the next 30 days. This recipe for vegan Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh and Squash kicked off dinnertime for day 1. It was filling, delicious, nutririous, and made enough for me to have a very hearty batch of leftovers for lunch the next day.
Vegan Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh, Squash & Cheese
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inc squares
8 oz tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch bricks
1 winter squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares (I used Acorn; Butternut would work well, too)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
3 medium garlic cloves
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup vegan "cheeze" (recipe below)
1/8 cup maple syurp
1/2 tsp urfa chiles (dried chipotle would work, too. Or, just use an extra 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 cup cashews, soaked for at least 1-2 hours
1 tsp vegan mayo (I used Eath Balance Mindful Mayo)
3/4 tsp tahini
1 tsp nutritional yeast (or to taste)
What to do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating up, chop up the eggplant, tempeh, squash, and lemon zest and put them in a big bowl.
Now, prepare the glaze: get out a chopping board and place the peeled garlic on it. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic salt, then, using the side of your knife blade, smash the garlic. If you've never used this method before, it's a surprisingly effective, entertaining way to chop up garlic. Simply turn the knife on its side, place it over the garlic, then use your palm to hit the knige and smash the garlic. If any large chunks remain, chop them up or use the friction of the salt and the flat at sharp side of the knife to pulverize the garlic into a paste.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste with the ref pepper flakes, urfa chiles, cumin, sumac, pomegranate molasses, and maple syrup. Mix well, then whisk in the olive oil. Drizzle 3/4 of this glaze over the chopped vegetables/tempeh, toss well to combine, then dump the veggie/tempeh mixutre out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange everything in a single layer (I had to use an extra baking sheet to make sure everything lay flat), then bake for 45-60 minutes, tossing everything and rotating your baking sheet(s) at the 35-minute mark to ensure everything cooks evenly. The dish is done cooking when the squash is soft and the eggplant is starting to caramelize.
While the vegetables/tempeh are roasting, prepare the vegan "cheese." Finely hop the soaked cashews, but leave a couple largert chubnks for a nice texture. Add the chopped cashews to a small bowl with the mayo, tahini, and nutiritional yeast. mix well and set aside.
Drizzle the roasted vegetables/tempeh with the remaining glaze, sprinkle with the cilantro and "cheeze," then enjoy! This is a fairly hearty dish on its own, but I served it over wild rice simmered with some dried cranberries. Yum!