Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vegetable Schnitzel with Creamed Spinach

Originally uploaded by jennifermf
I'm almost embarrassed to post this recipe, because it's so freaking easy! But it's one of my favorite dinners, so I wanted to share it with you.

Over mashed potatoes, this is vegetable schnitzel with creamed spinach, inspired by a (presumably not vegan) dish at a German restaurant near us in our new home in East Bay, California.

First, prepare the schnitzel. Preheat your oven to 350f. For two people (plus a generous lunch the next day), I washed, peeled, and sliced two beets, one very long yam, four asparagus spears, and half a head of cauliflower. Slices were 1/2-1" thick (thicker slices take longer to cook), and i kept them piled in a bowl while i prepared the dip and batter.

1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice
1 tbsp garlic aioli (or vegan mayo)

Mix well until the milk (i used soy milk) thickens. The aioli adds a nice garlic touch, but really it's not necessary. you could also use plain soy milk, but thicker liquids allow for more breading to stick. And I love breading.

You'll need about 1.5 cups of bread crumbs (I used plain whole wheat crumbs) for all these veggies. If you like, you can add salt and pepper, but I was feeling bland.

To assemble:

Dip each veggie slice in the soy milk mixture and then coat generously with bread crumbs. (ProTip: Dip the beets last, or you'll turn your mixture bright red. Which then turns cauliflower pink. Trust me.) Place on a large baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the slices with tongs or a fork, and bake for another 25 minutes. The veggies will be soft enough to pierce with a fork, but won't fall apart on their own.

While the veggies begin to schtnizel, wash, peel, and chop about 2.5 lbs of potatoes, and boil in a pot of lightly salted water for about 20-25 minutes.

Depending on how fast you peel and chop, the veggies should be ready to be turned and to cook for their second 25 minutes. Once they're back in the oven, you can start the creamed spinach.

Creamed Spinach Ingredients:

one bunch fresh spinach (about 6 cups of chopped leaves?), stems removed
2 tbsp Earth Balance non-dairy butter
1 tbsp flour (or cornstarch)
small pinch of nutmeg
1 cup soy milk (or your favorite milk)
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable concentrate (or one vegetable stock cube)

Wash the spinach and let it drain while getting the cream sauce ready. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and nutmeg and dissolve in the melted butter (about one minute). Slowly add the milk (and Better than Bouillon) and mix well. Once the mixture's thickened a little bit (2-4 minutes or so), turn the heat down to low, add all the spinach (it'll be a tight fit), cover the pot, and let the spinach wilt down for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to coat the spinach with the cream sauce. I don't like my spinach completely decimated when I eat it, so I stopped at this point and took it off the heat. However, if you like yours cooked more, feel free to continue wilting until you're content.

While the spinach is wilting, I mash the potatoes with a potato masher (if you're high tech, feel free to use a mixer). I mash potatoes based on my mood: last night I only added about a quarter tub of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, because I've been on this crazy sour cream kick, although sometimes I'll just add Earth Balance, or just a little soy milk to moisten them up. And sometimes I add a little of everything just to fatten those suckers up. ;)

To serve, put mashed potatoes on a plate, lean several slices of veggies against the mashed potatoes, and put creamed spinach over the potatoes and veggies.

Overall, this is a low fat comfort food type dinner. For more protein, you could schnitzel some tofu or tempeh (or your favorite meat analogue). I meant to, just to try it, but it slipped my mind, and I went a little crazy with all the veggies anyway. The creamed spinach could be made without the margarine, if you'd like to eliminate the fat (just dissolve cornstarch in cold soy milk and heat to thicken). For allergies, Earth Balance has a new Soy-Free blend that's even more delicious than the original. One of these days I'm going to experiment with gluten-free bread crumbs, just to see how that works out, but for now I'm enjoying Whole Foods' brand Whole Wheat crumbs. To low-carb it, you could eliminate the crumbs entirely (or coat in soy or quinoa flour), and have naked schnitzel. I believe schnitzel is traditionally fried in oil, but frying is so messy, and so bad for my tummy.