One of my very favourite things about cooking is picking food to match the setting and circumstances. It’s as if this part of my brain doesn’t shut off and I’m constantly sorting recipe ideas into some kind of giant mental filing cabinet. The list is of folders is pretty endless, and all the better if I get to cross-reference them – season, time of day, number of people, who the people are, if avocados are on sale, unusually hot, unusually cold, after boxing, after yoga, after the pool, feeling run down, celebratory, on the balcony, on the sofa, at the park, actually at the table, if I’m craving cauliflower, if I’m craving beets, things to cook for fellow vegans, things to cook for non-vegans, dishes that go with wine, dishes that go with beer, dishes that feel like Friday night, Sunday dinner, dishes that will yield leftovers for lunch, things that are fun to cook with others, etc. If you’ve ever mentioned a favourite food or a food you don’t like in my presence, I have a brain folder for that too! But instead of all this (and I’m really only scratching the surface here!) making for a lot of noise in my head, the order and balance of it makes me feel calm and centered.
My work life has been particularly hectic lately, and I pretty consistently need to work 7/7 to stay on top of things. This has made getting to Saturday evening and cooking for Hockey Night in Canada a treasured ritual of protected free time. Even though I’ll confess I’m still learning the ropes of watching hockey, I love dreaming up menus that have that flop on the sofa and watch something sporty feel (cross reference sporty feel, with on the sofa, with Saturday night, with fall has set in, with goes with beer, with…).
Here’s the first batch, inspired by sports bar classics.
Menu I: Burger & Fries
I knew I wanted to start hockey season off with burgers and fries, and figured this was a good chance to try something new from the FULL chapter on burgers in Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan. I picked the Lentil Walnut Burgers:
I topped them off with heaping dollops of Creamy Grilled Eggplant Dip from the same cookbook. The two recipes worked great together! This dip is truly amazing – as in one of the best dips I’ve ever eaten kind of amazing. It’s not online though, sorry. That said, if you like cookbooks, this is one I go to over and over again, and am never disappointed.
For the fries, I went no frills. Just a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then threw them in the oven until they looked right.
Menu II: Nachos
I really, really love nachos and used to imagine no vegan version would ever quite live up to their more traditional form (if you can call nachos traditional). How wrong I was!
I wanted to focus on the dips, so went quite simple with what I put on the chips: just VegKitchen’s Easiest Hot Bean Dip and a bit of Daiya cheese.
Instead of tinned, I used the unfried refried beans recipe from Appetite for Reduction in this dip. They’re a snap to make, and are a good bit cheaper, healthier, and tastier than the tinned version. Unfortunately, and quite surprisingly, they’re not online.
The cheese “KD Dip” is another Dreena Burton Let Them Eat Vegan special. Yum yum, but not online either.
I don’t usually use a recipe for guacamole (how can you go wrong!?), but I had broccoli on hand and a remote memory of having flagged a guacamole recipe that used it. This recipe by Vegangela was totally worth digging through my bookmarks for! Not just healthier, but really, truly tastier than the broccoli-free version.
Finally, the salsa. No recipe here – just fresh tomatoes, red onion, chilies, cilantro, and lime juice.
Actually, the chips themselves are worth mentioning. I’m not sure how widely distributed Nacho Villa is, but I love the multigrain ones – really grainy tasting (corn, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, flax, sesame, and brown rice) and they keep their crisp.
Menu III: Falafel
I love homemade falafel + love finding ways to stuff extra veggies in things = I had to try the Gourmet Vegan’s Popeye Falafel.
Topped off with my favourite vegan tzatziki sauce. I have recommended this recipe many, many times.
And then a nice big side of tabouli salad. Another no-recipe dish for me – there just needs to be loads of parsley and loads of lemon.
Menu IV: Sloppy Sandwich & Fries
I flagged this BBQ “Chicken” Sandwich from Vegan in the Freezer as a hockey night must as soon as I saw it.
Instead of store-bought mock chicken, I prepared tofu in the way used as the base for this Tofu Chicken Salad recipe from the Fatfree Vegan (which I also highly recommend).
It turned out fantastic, and the leftovers were great in wraps.
I also wanted to take advantage of having time in the kitchen to initiate my beautiful, beautiful new cookbook, Isa Does It. I picked the Baked Garlic Curry Fries, and oh were they good (even without the garlic, which I can’t eat) – and a perfect fit for the sandwich!
Not only is Isa Does It a beautiful and insanely user friendly cookbook, but it was also such a steal that ordering it alone didn’t qualify for free delivery on Amazon. The perfect excuse to finally acquire Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World… From it, this Harissa Carrot Salad rounded out the meal perfectly.
Up next in Hockey Night in Canada menus: take-out made in.