Plant-based dishes for the break-fast buffet
Cauliflower lettuce wraps and spicy Thai quinoa salad
We all love the traditional whitefish/bagels/lox break-fast meal — and what’s not to like?!
But these days, many people are adopting more plant-based eating habits, either for environmental and ethical reasons, or a need to reduce cholesterol or sodium intake, to lose weight, or for other health considerations.
My sister-in-law Esther, who is a healthy eater, made these recipes on a recent visit and, although not traditional, they would be good additions to the break-fast buffet. Both are pareve, healthy, deliver plenty of fresh veggies along with fiber, protein and, of course, they are delicious. Both of these dishes are also colorful, so they add some visual pop and interest to the buffet.
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When cooking for a holiday crowd, it is ideal to offer a variety of dishes to accommodate all preferences and needs; these two recipes do just that! For folks who need to watch their sodium, try using low-sodium soy sauce, and reduce the amount as required. Ditto for lower fat diets concerning sesame oil and peanut butter.
Cauliflower lettuce wraps
These mimic chicken wraps seen on many Chinese and Vietnamese menus.
Cauliflower rice is available in the produce sections of most supermarkets these days. If you can’t find it, see the note below on how to make your own.
The wraps are designed to be a finger food, but they can be rather messy; some may wish to serve these plated with a knife and fork.
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 cups cauliflower rice
½ cup diced water chestnuts
¼ cup diced red onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha or your favorite chili sauce
12 lettuce cups, either from Boston or bibb lettuce, small romaine heads, or iceberg
Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts or cashews; cilantro sprigs, sliced jalapenos and/or sliced scallions
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil and sauté the onion, garlic and mushrooms until fragrant. Add the water chestnuts, cauliflower rice, soy sauce, hoisin and Sriracha with a splash of water to help distribute the sauces. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes until all vegetables are cooked. Remove from heat and cool slightly—you don’t want the mixture added to the lettuce while it is steaming hot or it will cook the leaves.
Place the lettuce cups on a large platter and fill them with the cauliflower mixture.
Garnish as desired, and serve.
To make cauliflower rice, divide a large head of cauliflower into florets and small pieces.
Blanche the pieces in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them immediately into an ice bath. Drain thoroughly, and put them in a food processor. Whiz the cauliflower around until the pieces resemble rice. This will make more than you need for the lettuce wraps; save it and use it in salads or as you would rice or couscous.
Spicy Thai quinoa salad
Serves 6-8, depending on portion size
2 cups finely sliced red cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large bell pepper, finely sliced
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups edamame
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 -3 tablespoons Sriracha or other hot chili sauce
1 cup hot water
Mix all the vegetables and quinoa in a large bowl. Set aside.
Mix all the dressing ingredients except for the hot water in a medium bowl. Gradually add the water, starting with about a quarter cup, and whisk. Continue adding water and whisking until the dressing becomes creamy and smooth. It should be thin enough to pour over salad but not too watery.
Pour the dressing over the veggie/quinoa mixture, and stir it together.
This is best if it has some time to sit, allowing the flavors to blend. PJC
Keri White writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.