Okay, so last night, I had a date with this really cute vegan guy. He’s funny, he’s charming, he’s handsome; he does stand-up comedy, and is really, really smart… oh, and did I mention he’s cute? So of course, I really wanted to impress him.
Earlier in the week, we had planned on cooking dinner at my place. When the day arrived, I happily floated through work, excited about the evening ahead. I had a few pre-date jitters, of course, but nothing major – until I realized:
I HAD NEVER COOKED A VEGAN DINNER BEFORE.
I hadn't prepared at all – what was I thinking??? I had no menu in mind, no special ingredients at home, and in just a few short hours I’d be opening the door to this vegan dreamboat, with nothing to offer him but wine (is wine vegan?) and some week-old cheese (cheese is definitely not vegan, right???).
My panicked mind ran through a couple of options:
So he’s vegan. Vegans like vegetables. So, I’ll make a salad. No, salad isn’t fancy enough… plus, the only vegetables in the fridge right now are baby carrots. Maybe I could just pick something up at a vegan restaurant? No!! Impress him with your cooking ability! Okay, I could always do something REALLY impressive...like slaughtering a live goat in the backyard? Why does that even occur to me right now?? Also, DEFINITELY NOT VEGAN!!! Come on, Alli. Think.
Which is when I remembered @danidee’s awesome recipe I had clipped a few months ago for Vegan Stuffed Peppers. They looked both delicious and easy to make! I found the card, refreshed myself on the recipe, and scribbled a grocery list. Now, for dessert… I had written a card on Mini Blueberry Galettes just the other day that seemed super simple and easily veganizable (is that a word? ...can we make it one?), so I added vegan pie dough and blueberries to my list, then headed to Whole Foods (because where else am I going to find vegan pie dough?). After I did indeed find frozen vegan pie shells, as well as a nice quinoa blend, I picked up the produce I needed from my local grocer (to save $$$). Finally, I was on my way home and ready to start cooking!
My Cooking Strategy
Since the quinoa was the element of the meal that would take longest to cook (about 25 minutes), and since it was a kind of “set it and forget it” kind of thing, I put that on the stove first, and let it simmer while I started the dessert. It seemed like a good idea to have dessert well underway by the time Vegan Dreamboat (that’s going to be his name now) arrived, so that I could pop the mini galettes in the oven while we made the rest of dinner together.
While the pie crusts thawed (I just left them on the counter in my non-air conditioned apartment), I threw together the simple fruit filling – blueberries, blackberries (because I was feeling adventurous!), sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. When that was ready, I set it aside and peeled the perfectly workable pastry dough out of its pie tin. It was very easy to roll out (using a floured rolling pin) into a flat sheet between ¼” and ⅛” thick. From there, I followed the directions in the Mini Blueberry Galette recipe – until it came to the egg wash. I panicked for just a moment before I remembered that I could just consult my omnipotent best friend, Google, about egg wash substitutions (for all you frequent bakers out there, I compiled my findings on the subject into a card!). After brushing my mini galettes with some olive oil and sprinkling them with a pinch of sugar, they were ready to pop in the oven when Vegan Dreamboat arrived.
I smoothly offered him a glass of wine, and we sipped as we chatted and cooked. I set him to work at the cutting board with the peppers, garlic, sundried tomatoes, kale, and a large onion I pulled from the freezer (I had stashed it there because @danidee told me cooling down onions can help eliminate those nasty, tear-inducing fumes… she was right!!!). We followed the recipe and everything went wonderfully – he laughed at my jokes, I didn’t do anything majorly embarrassing, etc. When the desserts were done, I put the halved peppers in the onion to bake, and in the meantime, we sautéed the quinoa cashew stuffing (Vegan Dreamboat commented on my impressive use of fresh herbs. Score!).
When everything was ready, we sat down and had – I kid you not – the BEST vegan dinner I’ve ever tasted!! The stuffed peppers were delicious and flavorful, and the berry galettes were not only gorgeous, but sweet and tart and perfectly crumbly. The Whole Foods pie dough really worked excellently. And best of all, everything was so fun and easy to make – and despite the easiness, Vegan D-boat was super impressed!! Between charming me with funny stories, he repeatedly praised our cooking efforts and how amazing everything tasted. I was so, so happy that everything had come out perfectly.
Which is why I am recommending these two recipes as the PERFECT vegan date night combo! They’re great for summer, and the stuffed peppers keeps things simple as an excellent one-dish meal. Add an impressive and cute dessert, and you’re in business!
Find the recipes here:
And for some handy baking tips, check out my card on vegan egg wash substitutions!
Now that you’re armed with the recipes and cooking strategy, go forth and find a dreamy vegan human of your own to impress!! :)