BY Lindsay Reinsmith, Founder and CEO of Kaeng Raeng
One of the things I enjoy least is going to a restaurant the night of Valentine’s Day. What a nightmare. Mediocre food. High prices. Elbow to elbow with other patrons. AWFUL service. Yet everyone flocks to the nearest restaurant slightly more expensive than they’re used to and stuffs their faces with prix fixe menus only to go home and fall into a food coma.
Not us! My boyfriend, Jason, and I have never made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day (since we love each other the other 364 days of the year…), but we do like to stay in and cook together to honor the occasion. In past years, I’ve made a mostly vegan meal with a meat entree for him. But this year, as part of his (and mine) dedication to staying healthy, we did a total vegan dinner. What did he think of it? Drum roll….
He loved it! As a runner (and generally busy guy), Jason needs wholesome, filling meals and often gets hungry about an hour after eating an all-veggie salad. So I had to get creative to make him a great vegan meal that wasn’t a bunch of carbs. He was full before we even got to the entree!
Here was the menu (I apologize for the grainy photos – I took these pictures with my phone in low light and the quality isn’t great)
Organic asparagus, sauteed in a pan with a small amount of organic extra virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, and sea salt.
This is a super easy dish to make – just pick up asparagus at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, throw it in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil on medium heat. After you’ve cooked them for a little while, just drizzle some lemon pepper (or lemon juice plus pepper), and lightly salt to taste. You can also have it raw – just don’t heat above 118 degrees.
This is my go-to dish when I’m dining alone, but it also makes a great starter. Salads can be ruined by 1. not enough awesome ingredients, and 2. too much dressing. Our salad had spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, walnuts, and organic avocado. I added 1 tbsp of light balsamic dressing (Newmans) to the ENTIRE bowl of salad (not just my serving). The key to dressing is to always always always measure it out. Don’t just pour it all over the salad. You only need a light taste! Not salad soup!
Stuffed peppers! You can see the original recipe for this dish, but I usually just wing it. I made 4 of these so we could have two as left overs but one pepper serves one person just fine. The original recipe has many more ingredients – it’s totally up to you!
-4 red peppers (or however many people you’re serving)
-1 orange pepper
-1 yellow pepper
-squash or zucchini
-“butter” (I use earth balance)
-baking pan (bread size)
-large mixing bowl
Cook 1 cup of organic brown rice (a great whole grain!) with 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of Earth Balance “butter,” and some sea salt in the sauce pan. This can take up to 45 minutes to cook, so start this early!
Cut out the tops of the red peppers, wash them, set them in a cooking pan (a bread sized pan is fine). Set your oven to 350 degrees (this dish cannot be served raw).
In a wok, saute the olive oil, onions, squash (finely cut), mushrooms (finely cut), peppers (finely cut), garlic, and drizzle on salt and pepper for taste.
Pour the sauteed veggie mix in a bowl with the brown rice and stir. Using a spoon, scoop the mixture into the stuffed peppers. Cover with tomato sauce.
Heat in the oven for 35-45 minutes (this is really for heat preference, all of the ingredients are already cooked or can be eaten raw).
While the peppers are heating, enjoy your appetizer and salad!
I try to stay away from sugar (fruit) after noon, but I like to make an exception for holidays. I cut up organic strawberries, put tooth picks in them, and had them for dipping in Whole Foods vegan chocolate pudding. The pudding is pretty cocoa forward (I’m sure you can make your own but I got lazy) but it was delicious!
Overall a very successful vegan dinner – boyfriend approved!