Savor and Flavor
Here’s an old standby that never fails to please — a savory spread based on creamy white beans, accentuated with sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with raw vegetables and crispbreads. Make the sliceable version of Smoky Cheddar Cheez and serve with crisp red grapes for a lovely array of appetizers. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.
If ever there is an award for Most Underappreciated Kitchen Staple, I fully intend to nominate vinegar. And my love of vinegar has only increased over the years, using it in everything from marinades for grilled veggies, salad dressings and cleaning products. As it turns out, I was actually underutilizing this culinary powerhouse myself, simply because I didn’t know just how amazing it can be.
Enter herb infused vinegars, which are so simple to make that there really isn’t a reason not to. For years i’ve been using vegan* red wine vinegar, olive oil, with rosemary and garlic as my go-to grilling marinade for eggplant, zucchini and summer squash. This combination has served me well for years, but then I infused my vinegar with the rosemary and garlic for the first time, and I will never go back to not using herb infused vinegars again. The depth of flavor and earthiness you get from the herbs is so much more pronounced once they’ve infused with the vinegar. It’s really a night and day comparison. The flavors are so much richer, fuller and brighter.
The process of making herb infused vinegar is incredibly simple, and the guide below handles pretty much everything you need to know. Below the guide I’ll list some of my favorite combinations, but I highly encourage everyone to try out their favorite herbs.
*Just a note: as many of you likely know, not all vinegar is vegan. Some vinegars, like Balsamic vinegar and malt vinegars, are refined and filtered using whey or isinglass, both of which are made from animals or animal products. It’s always worth digging into the specific brand you like using to make sure it is a vegan vinegar.
Preston’s Favorite Herb Infused Vinegar Combinations
- Apple cider vinegar, rosemary and thyme
- Red wine vinegar, pear rind and rosemary
- White vinegar, lemon peel and thyme (My go-to for cleaning)
- White vinegar, sage and mint
This bright green pea and arugula appetizer or sandwich spread will bring springtime to your palate, but it can be enjoyed year-round. Serve as an appetizer with sliced baguette or bruschetta; as a sandwich spread with sliced cucumber and/or radish. Alternatively, you can also use this is a dip for raw vegetables — try a mixture of cauliflower florets, red bell pepper strips, baby carrots, and snap peas. This makes about 2 cups. more→
There’s a well-known aphorism that states; “Life is too short to stuff mushrooms.” One can make that argument, but honestly, stuffing a couple dozen mushrooms is not really a lot of work and it produces a perennially pleasing appetizer. This makes two dozen mushrooms; 3 or so make a nice appetizer serving, especially if serving with other appetizers. more→
If you’d like some protein in your guacamole and chips, blending the prime ingredient — avocado — with edamame (fresh green soybeans) is a great way to do so. If you don’t care for soy products, you can substitute baby lima beans or even green peas. Make the dip smooth or chunky, as you prefer. Photos by Evan Atlas. more→
Similar to the delectable appetizer often found on Japanese restaurant menus, this pan-sautéed teriyaki eggplant couldn’t be easier to make. For heartier appetites, allow more than just one mini eggplant per serving, as this has an addictive flavor and goes down easy! Serve as an appetizer or side dish. Photos by Evan Atlas.
This luscious vegan cheez-y sauce makes vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, brussels sprouts) more appealing to the finicky, but even veggie lovers will enjoy this cheesy treat. This makes about 2 cups. Photos by Evan Atlas.
Despite the gluten-free trend, and apart from the Paleo phase, toast seems to be making a comeback. Judging by a spate of magazine spreads and books on the subject, it’s once again considered the best thing since sliced bread. Here are 8 simple vegan toast toppings that make a quick route to a snack, breakfast, or lunch. Use whole-grain bread to boost nutrition; and of course, there are plenty of decent gluten-free breads out there if that’s your preference. No need for recipes; just some good ideas, a few minutes, and a spreading knife. Photos by Evan Atlas. more→