Improve Your Plant-based Meals with These Easy Culinary Hacks
Cooking skills are developed over time, but who wants to wait? We’ve created a quick guide of some of our favorite kitchen hacks to instantly improve your plant-based cookery. By incorporating these tips and tricks into your culinary repertoire, you’ll see major progress in your ability to develop delicious and healthy plant-based meals that will make the whole family drool.
Preparing plant-based ingredients isn’t hard, but it might require some extra know-how. When making food without animal products, you can use creative and easy solutions to recreate creamy textures, meaty flavors, and moist and fluffy baked-goods.
This Monday, read through our list of cooking hacks and tips to make your plant-based meals taste even more delicious.
Freeze Tofu for Better Texture and Flavor
If you’ve cooked with tofu before, you know that it can be pretty watery, depending on the firmness. Freezing tofu causes the ice crystals to expand, which, when thawed, results in a layered and pleasantly spongy texture that is more capable of absorbing flavors and sauces. Frozen-and-thawed tofu is drier and crisps up much better when cooked in a sauté pan or roasted in the oven, like in this recipe for pistachio crusted tofu.
Save that Chickpea Water for Aquafaba “Egg Whites”
When life gives you chickpea water, make egg whites. When whipped with an electric mixer, chickpea water — also known as aquafaba — gets light and fluffy, making it an ideal substitute for egg whites. Use it to make plant-based chocolate mousse or meringues.
Get an “Eggy” Flavor with Black Salt
Black salt, or kala namak, is actually pink in color and a rather underutilized ingredient, but sprinkling some on top of a savory dish instantly boosts its depth and complexity. The flavor of black salt can be described as savory or umami, but its sulfurous aroma makes it a useful way to capture the scent and taste of eggs. It makes this tofu scramble taste like the ‘real’ thing.
Make Your Own Nut Milks and Creams
Sure, you can buy the store-bought stuff, but making your own nut milk (and nut creams) is easy when you know the proper ratios. For nut milks, use a 3:1 ratio, such as 3-cups water to 1-cup nuts. Blend water and nuts (soaked overnight) together in a high-speed blender, strain and serve. Add vanilla for flavored milk or try Vanilla and Bean’s cashew milk recipe. To make nut creams, start with a 2:1 ratio of nuts to water, such as 1-cup nuts to ½ cup water. For a thinner cream, add more water as needed 1 tablespoon at a time to thin it out. Check out Detoxinista’s cashew cream recipe. Use your newly created nut-milk to bring moisture to these yummy vegan chunky monkey overnight oats.
Recreate Parmesan “Cheese” with Nutritional Yeast
Parmesan elevates anything from pastas and risottos to soup and roasted vegetables. Recreate the sharp umami flavor of Parmesan with a combination of nutritional yeast, walnuts (or cashews), salt, and garlic powder. Give the mixture a couple of pulses in the food processor and you’re good to go. Nutritional yeast is also a good source of protein, antioxidants, and vitamin B12.
Embrace Chickpea Flour for Batters and Omelets
Gluten-free and protein-packed, chickpea flour is a great addition to your pantry. Besides being a flavorful flour alternative, chickpea flour is especially suited to being used in batters and fried foods. Mix it together with some seltzer or nut milk, and use to coat French toast, fishless filets, or tofu “wings” for a crispy crust. Chickpea flour also makes wonderful plant-based omelets with the addition of black salt.
Bake with “Eggs” from Plants
Chicken eggs are an integral component of many recipes, especially for pastries and baked goods, but you can recreate the taste and functionality of eggs using only plant-based ingredients. Whether it’s using banana, flax and chia seeds, tofu, or a vegan egg replacement, the alternatives to eggs are endless.
Experiment with Chicken-free Poultry Seasoning
You can capture the salty, garlicky flavor of roast chicken without any poultry required. Creating a poultry seasoning is easy and a great way to tap into your spice rack. We recommend using a combination of dried sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper and nutmeg (remember to go easy on the last three), but you can customize the mix to your liking.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.