The best place for vegan fare is my own kitchen where I can control the ingredients. However, a girl’s got to go out with friends and Hubby on occasion and that’s where things get a little tricky in the Dallas area. Of course I can always eat a salad or have a veggie or pasta dish but it’s not the same as when vegan fare is at the heart of the menu. The fact that I don’t like imitations also limits my choices since many restaurants pride themselves in offering fake seafood, fake meats and other look-alikes. Overall I’ve had the best luck dining at Asian, Indian or Middle-Eastern places. You do have to be careful though and remember that the wait-staff is not very knowledgeable even when they try to be. I had a waiter tell me once that I can have tofu in my soup but not realize that the broth was made with chicken stock or not know that rice and noodles were being cooked with chicken or beef base. Gelatin is also a widely used thickening agent as are yogurt and cheese.
At most Asian restaurants a nice selection of stir fried veggies with steamed brown rice is a safe bet. I also like to substitute rice noodles or add tofu. Thai recipes use eggs extensively so if you like Pad-Thai make sure they’re omitted, also Coconut Lemongrass Soup (Tom Kha Gai) is made with chicken stock.
A couple of Sundays ago, TJ and I had the best Veggie Burgers and fries at a new place that opened in our neighborhood. I realized later that the nice mesquite flavor was probably due to the use of the same grill on which meats were prepared.
The worst places for finding something vegan are Dallas’ Mexican restaurants. Even if you opt for beans and rice, you cannot be sure that lard was not used in their preparation. Also, chips may seem vegan but again, it depends on what they were fried in. Then there’s the cheese: it’s added to everything even when not visible.
Vegan Caesar Salad with Garlic Toast
Place washed and drained romaine in a large bowl. Chop 2-3 garlic cloves and whisk with 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, the juice of one lemon, an 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place 4 slices of good Italian bread on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil, smashed garlic and chopped parsley. Sprinkle toasts with Hemp Hearts, shelled hemp seed (my Parmesan Substitute) and bake at 400 till golden. Toss salad with dressing and use Hemp Hearts again liberally. This is a great way to add texture and protein. *If you miss the taste of anchovies, you may add a tsp of dried sea weed flakes to the dressing. Enjoy!