When the time came
to plan a menu, Phyllis asked us to create a dream list full of our
favorite foods, flavors and spices. The list turned out to be strongly
Italian-food inspired: tomatoes, roasted red peppers, polenta, eggplant,
nutty raviolis, crusty bread, garlic, rosemary, and basil.
Phyllis serves up some ravioli for Pete, Paige's dad
With some brainstorming
and experimentation, a menu was devised and Phyllis' cooking at
the pre-wedding tasting blew us away.
We didn't tell
many people the wedding dinner was vegan, since people not versed
in veganism tend to judge the food as flavorless or weird before
tasting it. The food was not only delectable but the elegant presentation
on buffet tables with heaping portions and bold flower arrangements
made the whole affair seem more sensual and hedonistic -- anything
Offering a variety
of flavors pleases more palates and breaks veggie food stereotypes.
Guests helped themselves to sumptuous plates of Caesar salad with
sage croutons, saffron ravioli filled with walnut and tofu, and
a seasonal crudite platter with roasted bell peppers, eggplant,
and Portobello mushrooms.
surprised to learn vegan food is both delicious and nutritious.
People said they felt like they had been treated to something healthy,
rather than leaving with the heavy-in-the-gut feeling common at
friends enjoy the Italian dinner
We wanted the
dessert, like the meal, to be wholesome as well as tasteful. Colorful
fresh fruit platters adorned each table, and a chocolate vegan cake,
decorated with flowers, was baked by an acquaintance of Phyllis.
the bride and Dan the groom trying out the vegan wedding cake
The cake was
moister and more flavorful than most vegan cakes I had tried. Rather
than being one of those "natural" desserts full of soy
margarine, white flour and white sugar, the cake had nourishing
ingredients like beets and carrots, much to my delight. I assume
people liked the cake, as there was barely enough remaining for
us to follow the freeze-the-leftovers tradition!
planning in general is known to be stressful and trying, making
the event vegan didn't present additional challenges. My main suggestion
for anyone wanting a vegan wedding is to thoroughly use resources
in your community: health food stores, restaurant chefs, caterers,
and bakeries. The Internet is also educational - try the vegetarian
wedding guide, with many links, including a list of vegan bakers,
at www.about.com - do a search for "vegetarian weddings"
or "vegan weddings."
If you choose
filling, flavorful and diverse foods and use a caterer who is familiar
with vegan cooking, people may not notice the meal is free of animal
products. And if you are vegan, you will be able to eat everything
on your plate - imagine that -- and have a great time to boot.
Newman writes for various veggie publications
and likes to search for other vegans in her Wild West
town of Durango - so far she has met three.
with Walnut and Tofu Filling
Recipe by Catering by Phyllis
for ravioli filling:
6 T extra
virgin olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia sweet onions
4-6 threads Spanish saffron
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (or almonds, brazil nuts, pine nuts or
other nuts/ nut butters)
8 oz. firm mashed organic tofu
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t miso (light miso best)
1/4 cup finely chopped Medjool dates
2-4 T toasted ground sunflower seeds
1 package wonton wrappers (see below to make your own pasta)
1 t gray sea salt
Fresh basil and lemon zest (optional)
olive oil, garlic, and onions together until onion and garlic are
translucent. Add saffron and gently cook for 3-5 minutes.
nuts in Cuisinart or blender - add mashed tofu into mixer. (If substituting
nut butter, mix it with tofu.) Add lemon juice (enough to maintain
firm texture), miso, dates, and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Add sautéed
onion mixture. Mix thoroughly.
pasta wraps: use 1 package wonton wrappers (makes about 40 ravioli).
Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan has vegan ravioli
recipes for creating pasta from scratch. Arrange wrappers on a clean
flat surface covered with wax paper. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in
middle of wrapper, being careful not to get any filling near edges
as it makes sealing process impossible.
Wet edges of
wrapper with pastry brush dipped in tepid water. Take another wrapper
and lay on top of wrapper and filling. Important step: press firmly
around edges on both sides with fork to make sure completely sealed.
to gentle rolling boil with dash of sea salt and 1 Tablespoon olive
oil. Drop 6 raviolis in boiling water, one at a time, and boil 5
minutes or until raviolis float to top. Do not pack too many raviolis
in the water!
Use a wire mesh
ladle to strain ravioli when done. Toss in bowl with olive oil.
Add favorite marinara sauce or a homemade sauce with Roma tomatoes.
Garnish with a chiffonade of fresh basil and lemon zest.