Friday, January 31, 2014

Vegan Super Bowl Menu!

OK, so I have no idea who is even playing in the Super Bowl this year-I have zero interest in football--but I have always loved cooking for game day.  My Dad always asked for a special meal when it was game day back when I was a teen falling in love with cooking.  The menu changed every year, but it was always hearty, casual, warming, and fun--and dip of some kind was nearly always involved.  Nowadays, I'm cooking a lot differently than I did in those early years.  Fresh vegetables are my favorites now.  Most days, I'd sooner have Quinoa-Lentil Patties with cucumber-dill sauce and a side of steamed greens than the meaty chili and meatball subs of those early Super Bowl party days. 

Still, though, just like I can't seem to escape the need for something vaguely turkey-ish on Thanksgiving, I also can't escape the desire for something hearty and casual for game day.  Our connections to our culinary past don't disappear when we change our diets.  Becoming vegetarian/vegan doesn't mean we have to give up our favorite food rituals. It can simply become a re-working and re-thinking of what we crave alongside what we believe to be the best way to eat.  We can remain connected to the fried chicken of our youth with making chicken-fried seitan a couple times a year.  We can remember Grandma by making a tofu-based version of her chocolate pie.  Becoming a plant-based eater doesn't mean we sever those ties.  In fact, we honor them by bringing our twist to them; the connection continues, and the culinary line remains unbroken.  With that in mind, I present this year's Veghead Super Bowl Menu, and the recipe for the Spinach-Artichoke Dip, with love, in honor of Dad.  The other two savory recipes are in my vegan family cookbook, Vegan Kids Unite.


Decadent Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
Black Bean, Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
Philly Cheese-Seitan Hoagies
Blood Orange Slices and Pomegranate seeds with Key-lime Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Spinach Artichoke Dip


This was my first dish to veganize, years ago for a vegan friend.  I had been a vegetarian for a decade at the time, but he was coming over for a dinner and I had to come up with something yummy that he could eat.  This was the outcome, and I’ve been making it this way ever since.  There are basically two different ways to make vegan spinach artichoke dip:  you can either make it with super “crunchy granola” healthy things like pureed white beans or raw soaked cashews, or you can make it super indulgent and use all the vegan dairy products you love to make it cheesy and gooey.  I’ve had both, and I like both, but this time around, we’re going indulgent.  It’s still way healthier than the dairy version, and the upside is that you can serve this to omnivores and vegetarians and vegans alike and they will all love it.  Serve it warm with baked pita or tortilla chips and vegetable crudités.


8 oz. vegan cream cheese (Daiya or Tofutti both work well)

½ cup vegan mayonnaise, preferably the Vegenaise grapeseed oil variety

1-10 oz.package frozen CHOPPED (not cut leaf) spinach

1-14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts (not marinated)

1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese or ¼ cup nutritional yeast

2/3 cup vegan shredded mozzarella-style cheese

1 tsp. dried basil or 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Greek seasoning (lemon pepper seasoning also works)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil



1. Blend room temperature cream cheese and vegan mayonnaise with an electric blender until smooth. 

2. Add thawed spinach and drained chopped artichoke hearts.  Blend until everything is evenly distributed. 

3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces and stir into the dip.

5. Put the mixture in a greased oven dish and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

6. Serve with warm pita bread, tortilla chips, or fresh vegetables.

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