Nisha Melvani, creator of Cooking for Peanuts, knows the secret to helping people who want to eat less meat.
Start with one meal. Start with dinner. Her new book, Practically Vegan, has a bunch of easy vegan recipes to get you there.
Melvani was born and raised in Jamaica to Indian parents and lived in London and Montreal before settling in New York. Her grandmother was an amazing cook, when her mother “ate because she had to eat” and her father, who loved vegetables, was somewhere in between. Which means it’s about to be the most delusional time of the year, as well. Melvani writes, “This extreme exposure has given me a balanced view of how food can mean such different things to different people.”
Not surprisingly, the book’s recipes – fried lentils, cauliflower-sweet-potato curry, spicy black bean peppers – reflect a varied, universal palate that makes vegan cooking convenient, easy, and, most importantly, for her three children, Fun. Exhibit A: Replacing eggplant perm by substituting cheese for nutritious yeast and presenting the whole thing in the form of “meatballs”.
Eggplant Parmesan “Meatball”
Practically from Vegan by Nisha Melvani
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 8-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, minced meat
6 cloves of garlic, minced meat
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Half a teaspoon of dried thyme
¼ teaspoon finely chopped black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 cup dried bread crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
16 ounces spaghetti
1 (24-ounce) jar mariner sauce
¼ Fresh parsley cut into cups, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook, occasionally rubbing it with a spatula or wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes or until the eggplant starts to soften. Add the onions and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the eggplant is cooked and tender but still retains its shape.
Add garlic, basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
Transfer the eggplant mixture to a large container. Mix nutritious yeast and bread crumbs. (Bread crumbs contain different amounts of sodium, so it is important to taste the eggplant mixture before adding salt.) Taste the mixture and season with salt. Before making the meatballs, let the mixture sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle.
Make 15 meatballs using a mixture of your hands and about 16 tablespoons of eggplant for each. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn them over and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti as per the package instructions until it is al dente and heat the marinara sauce over medium heat over medium saucepan.
Let the meatballs cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan with marinade sauce. Heat lightly before serving on top of pasta and garnish with parsley.
PS Chicken Perm Meatball and Muffin Tin Tapas.
(Practically taken from a vegan.)