the art of improv

I made vegan quesadillas this past week: mashed black beans, some Montreal Steak Seasoning (one of those things that is being used up), roasted red pepper strips, and a somewhat strange addition for me, some chopped up leftover broccoli. All of this was nestled into tortilla and then cooked, and after that, I warmed up some leftover cashew queso, a favorite from one of my favorite vegan authors, found here. I even sliced up a green onion to garnish it. It wasn’t bad.

Somehow I feel like I had better get recipes that execute perfectly, every time, if I am going to continue eating as a vegan-ish kind of person. As if I have something to prove, and maybe I do. For starters, I want to be proud of what I am making, not in an ego, look at me, I am so cool kind of way, but more of doing my best and putting the best we can afford and the healthiest, tastiest things I can make kind of way. Second, I want to prove to my husband and anyone else that may eat with us that this is a tasty, affordable, AND healthy way of eating, not something we will do just for awhile and then go back to McEd when our waistlines and wallets allow. I also want to prove to myself that I can adapt recipes, make them up, come up with combinatons, changes and whatever else and still have them come out great.

Normally, my quesadillas started with leftover grilled or roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, maybe a green onion or pepper if I had them (usually not), possibly some beans, again, if I happened to have them, possibly cilantro, red onion and salsa, more likely than not though, I didn’t have them either, so the quesadilla was mainly cheese, chicken and salsa. Yummy, greasy, warm, gooey goodness. Kind of plain though. It isn’t creative, mainly because I never had the ingredients on hand. I didn’t shop randomly and then figure out what to make based on what I had. So if cilantro was in the fridge, I might use a little, but not all of it.

So all sorts of things start randomly going into dishes, and it is easy to see how you can just swap broccoli for spinach in a stir-fry, or use amaranth instead of millet in a pilaf, or whatever. This was not something that I would have thought about before switching over to vegan cooking, that improvisation would start increasing once you started bringing home a huge variety of vegetables, fruits, flours and grains. When following recipes that used meat or cheese, I never really thought about substitutions – you either had a pound of chicken breasts or you didn’t. If you did, you made your recipe, if you didn’t, you found something else to make. It is interesting to see that with vegan dishes, if you have some tempeh, you can replace the tofu, or seitan can replace beans if you want, and on it goes.

 

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