Mom’s German red cabbage – veganized! (Sorry not sorry, mom)

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Holiday dinners are so evocative. They’re steeped in tradition and emotion (hopefully happy) and help us measure the rhythm of the seasons and years. For vegans, it can be a hard time sitting at the table and having to forego old family favourite recipes that use animal products.

For me, red cabbage is one of those dishes. My mom made it at every holiday dinner, and only at holiday dinners. I can’t even see a red cabbage in the grocery store without thinking it’s a holiday.

My mother’s recipe calls for 4-6 strips of bacon to be rendered and crushed. Then the apples and cabbage are braised in this fat/pig-belly mixture. Ewww.

With just a bit of tweaking, I’ve figured out how to simulate the savoury, salty, smokiness of the bacon using miso, margarine and liquid smoke. The results are my mom’s recipes taken to the next level of delicious compassion.

Ingredients

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1 red cabbage – remove the outer leaves and then cut out the core. Chop the cabbage into roughly 1 to 2 cm pieces

3-4 apples (I used MacIntosh apples – use a variety that is not sweet). You want a 2:1 ratio of cabbage to apples so adjust how many apples you use based on the size of your cabbage. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1 cm pieces (see image).

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1 tsp liquid smoke

1 Tbsp miso paste

1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar

3 Tbsp cider vinegar*

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

½ cup water

1 tsp salt

1-2 bay leaves (optional)

A few grinds of pepper (optional)

Directions

Melt the margarine in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the miso and liquid smoke and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and apples and water. Stir everything together to get the cabbage apples coated in the margarine mix. Add the vinegar, salt and brown sugar and stir again to combine all. Add the bay leaves if using. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. When it’s cooked, the cabbage volume will have reduced by about a third and the cabbage will be soft but not mushy). The apple will be pretty much impossible to spot. Fish out the bay leaves if you used them and serve the cabbage.

This recipe is also great with vegan sausages, perogies or “white” dishes such as tetrazzini, béchamel or alfredo-sauced pasta or mushroom stroganoff.

*Fun fact – you MUST add vinegar or some sort of acid to red cabbage when you cook it or it will turn the most unappetizing blue-gray hue that’s roughly the colour of sadness.

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Spread it on thick! A creamy, herbed cheese

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Growing up, my nickname was Mäuschen or Little Mouse because I loved cheese so much. So could I have just one go-to vegan cheese recipe? No way! I have several. Here’s another.

This creamy, spreadable cheese is flavoured with herbs and is wonderful on crackers or as shown here on toasted bread with a topping of braised onions and apples.

Ingredients for the cheese

1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-4 hours

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

½ cup water

½ tsp miso paste

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

½ to ¾ tsp sea salt

¾ tsp dried minced onions (you can substitute 1 Tbsp fresh, minced chives if you have them)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 -2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

1-2 tsp fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Add the cashews, hemp seeds, water, miso, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and minced onion (do not add fresh chives if you’re using these!) to a blender and process until very smooth. Have patience and persistence – the smoother the better.

Add the fresh dill and any other fresh herbs you’re using and stir to combine

Store the cheese in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let it sit for a few hours before serving to let the flavours blend. This cheese will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can find two more vegan cheese recipes – for a ricotta and a mozzarella-style cheese in my easy 3-cheesey lasagna recipe.

To make the braised onion and apples

1 onion sliced

1 ½ apples cored and diced – do not peel. You can use any kind of apple, but I would go for a less expensive variety for this dish.

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or other wide-bottomed sauce pan. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the apple and maple syrup and continue to sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. The onions will become golden and the apples will be soft but still in pieces – you don’t want to make an apple sauce!

Serve on top of the spreadable cream cheese or you can even mix it into the cheese and then spread on bread or crackers.