I've Gotttt Soul...... My take at Vegan Soul Food. Southern Fried Tofu, Collards and Mac and Cheez.

So I love a lot of the bloggers I follow for certain reasons.  They are doing something unique.  I saw this couple in my May Issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine and raced to check out their restaurant on YELP!  Was a bit sad that they did not share a recipe or two in the magazine but oh well. 

There is a growing Vegan Community amongst African Americans across the Nation.  "AFRO VEGAN Farm Fresh African, Caribbean and Southern Flavors Remixed" by Bryant Terry is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.  And the list goes on as Soul Food Vegan Restaurants are popping up.  On the West Coast, Tamearra Dyson, owner of 'Souley Vegan' has a touching story of why she is so good at what she does for her Restaurant.  None the less, it's a growing community and darnit I want some of this food.  Well unfortunately I live quite a drive from the nearest being in Oakland and challenged myself. 
Collard Greens with Black Eyed Peas
This certainly was a delicious and easy make.  Switch it up to your liking but was very pleased with this basic flavorful goodness. 
  • 1 pound of Collards leaves peeled and ripped or chopped.  I find about two large bunches from the store will equal but if you are over, no big deal.  They are delicious.
  • Two tomatoes chopped.
  • One can of black eyed peas.  Two if you like if really dig them.  There is no right or wrong to a pot of collards.
  • One onion and 2-3 garlic cloves chopped. 
  • Chili pepper flakes, or hot sauce.  If you don't like spice, omit. 
  • I threw in just a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and about 1/8 cup of Tamari.  You don't have to but I just wanted to create a bit of smoky bold flavor. 
  • 2 - 3 cups of vegetable broth.  Eyeball as just barely cover the leaves since they will be cooking down.
  • Olive oil, butter or vegetable oil.  Just enough to sauté your onion, garlic and the collards for a few minutes.   
  1. Put Olive Oil, Butter or Vegetable oil in your pot to heat and add onion.  Sauté for a couple of minutes.  Then add Garlic and Collard Leaves and just get a gloss going on them for about a minute. 
  2. Add your vegetable broth and any other spices you wish at this time and turn to simmer for about 45 minutes.  Less time if want more texture but the longer you cook, a bit silkier they become. 
  3. When they cook to the texture you would like, turn off the heat and add your drained black eyed peas and chopped tomato.  Stir and let set. 
Vegan Mac and Cheezzzz
  • One box/ 1lb of macaroni.  Your choice of pasta really and what type.
  • Once container of 'Heidi Ho's' Vegan Cheese
  • Vegan Butter, about three tablespoons.
  • 1/4 cup of any sort of non dairy Nut milk.
  • Salt, pepper to taste.
  • I added dried jalapenos because I like spice and a bit of a buttered chickpea cracker crumb during baking. 
  1. Boil pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain and add your vegan cheese, vegan butter and nut cream and stir.  Also add in any other additional items you would like.  Top with your crumb if you have one also. 
  2. Place in a casserole pan and set aside as you can heat up in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 before you know your southern fried tofu will be done. 
Southern Fried Tofu
Dear folks.  I truly lucked out on this one due to the fact I do work with tofu and a lot of the recipes on the internet for this seemed a bit too good to be true.   Had to use my own judgment due to personal experience with other dishes.  There are a lot of southern fried tofu recipes on the net and too little time but I knew I definitely wanted to utilize tofu, not a gluten.  I mean there are a lot of different types of soy product out there especially if you live near Asian Supermarkets, but lets just do the norm you can find at most any grocery store. 
  • One package of extra firm tofu for four patties. 
  • Cajun Seasoning.
  • Paprika.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • One cup of Chickpea flour.
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened Cashew Milk.
  • Bottle of hot sauce of your choice. 
First and foremost start pressing the water out of your tofu.  If you have a tofu press you know overnight is best.  I have a large heavy lid from one of my Le Creusset's that I utilize.  I just put the tofu on a small plate and set it on there checking every 3, 4, 15 minutes draining the water off the plate until no more comes out.  (I really have to invest in a tofu press:)  That can be some time doing it my way.  A couple of hours but a tofu press is best.  If you don't have one or something heavy, you need to figure out how to get the water out. 
  1. About done pressing out the water of your tofu, start to prep a few things.  Firstly your coating for your Southern Fried Tofu.  I utilized about a cup, maybe more of chickpea flour.  It is gluten free, it is grain free being made of chickpeas and now hitting the marking for the Paleo folks.  Don't be silly and go buy it at Whole Foods or that Bob's Red Mill pricey stuff.  Just go to your local Indian Grocery Store and get it at a decent price as they have been using it for a 100 years.  It is called "Besan" at a Indian Store. 
  2. To my chickpea flower I added a generous amount of Paprika across the flour.  About a spoonful of Cajun Seasoning and generous grinds of pepper.  Mix and set aside. 
  3. Get your tofu pressed of all the water you can and prep a bit of spoonful of flaxseed powder to just a small amount of water.  This acts as a binder in place of utilizing an egg. 
  4. Place your tofu in a bowl.  Salt, pepper and add a few sprinkles of the paprika and Cajun seasoning.  Or whatever seasoning you want.  Maybe a bit of dried vegetable stock.  It's up to you. 
  5. Mix with your hands whilst breaking up the tofu as you mix the spices in.  Add the flax seed water paste and continue to mix.  Form four patties and place on wax paper on a plate.  Actually I did not even have to use wax paper, I just put on a plate.  Place in freezer to harden.  Now you may think I am crazy but this trick I learned from the Asian Vegan places out here in Cali whom are brilliant at re creating tofu trips to emanate beef or chicken in Chinese dishes.  They really get the water out.  Marinate, slice and place in the freezer.  Then add to the dishes as they are ordered.  Ok back to the South. 
  6. Prep your almond milk with as much hot sauce as you want to mix in.  If you like it spicy go for it.  If you don't, leave it out.  Mix and set aside. 
  7. Prep your vegan buns or whatever you are using.  Maybe you are not having this as a burger as would be great with a nice onion and mushroom gravy.    If having burgers now is the time to prep whatever topping you like. 
  8. When your formed patties are frozen pull them out and immediately get your vegetable oil going to Medium High.  
  9. Place a spatula under each to remove from the plate to your almond milk/hot sauce dunk and get it covered.  Immediately dredge in your Southern Spiced Chickpea Flour mixture and place back on the place.  Repeat with the other four patties. 
  10. When your oil is at medium high, put them in for around 5 minutes on each side.  Remove carefully to drain. 
Well folks start prepping your plates as you should have just pulled out your mac and cheezzz, maybe heat up the collards a bit while the patties where frying.  Believe me all the recipes out there and none made sense to me with tofu as if you don't get the water out, you are going to have a tofu that is going to blow up in the hot oil!    Happy Eating as Life is too Short to Eat Badly!!


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