So, at first blush, you might think veganizing this holiday is antithetical to the logic behind it. Aren’t we supposed to eat all the fatty, sugary, nasty crap in our house so we can fast in the coming weeks? Well, depends who you ask. But I like to think that Vegan Fat Tuesday still conforms to the spirit of the holiday.
How do I reach this conclusion? Brace yourself. Carnevale, the pre-Lent Tuesday celebration in Italy, actually predates the celebration of Mardi Gras [which translates from French as "Fat Tuesday," by the way - did not ever put two and two together]. Contrary to what I believed [and what I'm sure many others did, too], it’s not technically “carnival,” like “an exciting and riotous mixture of something” as Google defines it. The word is actually derived from “carne levare,” or “to take away meat.” SO THEREFORE, it’s not totally outrageous of me to want to take away meat from traditional Mardi Gras dishes. Bam.
So there might be a few premises missing in there somewhere, but that didn’t stop me from making Vegan Jambalaya on Mardi Gras/Carnevale/Fat Tuesday. The last few nights have been super carb fest for me, and this dish is no exception.* But the vegan version is actually filled to the brim with protein and nutrients tied to very little fat. However, I couldn’t let this totally be Anti-Fat Tuesday. What’s jambalaya without Cornbread?
Alas, the cornbread is not vegan, although it’s actually butter-free [plus one, life], so that’s why this is Almost Vegan Fat Tuesday Dinner. But since I lack both the time and desire to work up a vegan cornbread on my own, Whole Foods’ baked-fresh cornbread is the next best thing, even if there’s eggs and milk in it.
The recipe’s pretty simple, although it does take almost an hour to prepare [did not work my Antitrust reading into that...]. Begin with the Creole answer to the French Mirepoix [carrots, celery, onion] – onion, celery and bell pepper. Toss in tons of garlic, hot sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce, home-made creole seasoning,** bay leaves, tomatoes, veggie broth, rice, simmer, simmer, simmer, and finish with some perfectly browned vegetarian sausage, more hot sauce, and parsley.
It was so good I forgot to take decent pictures of it. Light Life’s Italian Style “Smart Sausages” cook so perfectly I’m convinced you could fool a meat-eater, save for the calories. One link of this vegan sausage: 140 calories. One link of the kielbasa Shaun has in the freezer? 440 calories. Eek. Cholesterol in one vegan sausage link? 0% DV. Cholesterol in one link of the kielbasa? 60% DV. Ick. Even if you could taste the difference, wouldn’t your heart thank you a little? [and the pigs! the pigs!]***
Coupled with the two liters of sparking water I downed to try to combat the sodium and the spice, this was a delicious and insanely filling dinner. I probably should not have snacked an hour before it…
In other news, Shaun’s Beer Journey is well on its way because Beer Run tweeted today that they received a small shipment of one of his ten beers! We drove as fast as we could to snag a six pack, and left sadly as we watched all the people with beads and beers having a blast. Alas, carb cravings don’t come with extra money to spend to satisfy them… Stay tuned for the Troegs Nugget Nectar!
For the Vegan Jambalaya recipe, go here. I followed it to a T other than making Creole Seasoning from scratch and reducing the quantity, although I’m sure Grady would have loved the other four servings.
* I can’t explain it. I’m on a carbs and sweets kick right now. My pants aren’t happy. Neither is Shaun when I suddenly have sugar crashes and start screaming like a crazy person. But pasta is SO GOOD.
** 2 1/2 tbsp. paprika, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1/2 tbsp black pepper, 1/2 tbsp white pepper, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp dried thyme, mix with a fork and store in a spice jar.
*** In other news, an article came out today talking about all the calories you save if you give up certain foods for Lent. Turns out, assuming you eat 2 servings of meat per day, foregoing that meat for 40 days saves anywhere from 9,000 to almost 13,000 calories over the Lent period. Considering that most people don’t eat one “serving” of meat each time they sit down to eat it [one serving is three ounces. a typical burger, steak, or chicken breast, well... let's just say more than three], the savings for a rabid meat-eater could be double that.