Tuesday, May 30, 2017

broccoli pancakes with cheese sauce

This recipe is one of my favorite throwbacks and the discovery of a plant-based egg deserves all the credit for bringing it back to life. 

As many of you know, I didn't always follow a plant-based diet. I became a vegetarian at age eight and didn't make my first attempt at going full plant-based until about eight years after that at one of the least opportune times imaginable. It was around my sixteenth birthday, and in the middle of a massive kitchen remodel, that I decided to go all the way. 

With our oven and stove out of commission, and only a microwave and toaster oven at my disposal, you can imagine I found my new diet challenging to say the least. Instead of being able to cook anything from scratch, I spent hours in the grocery store scouring the ingredient lists of packaged food for anything that would work. I remember standing in an aisle reading the back of one granola bar box after the other being so confused why powdered milk was an essential component of each one of them. Within just a few weeks, I was back to eating dairy and eggs, which stuck for some time. 

Fast forward to post college when I was living in Palo Alto and working at my first full-time job. Facing the reality of a largely sedentary day spent in front of a computer, I quickly realized that unfortunately carbs could no longer be the answer to every meal.

While experimenting in my kitchen to create lighter options, I discovered these broccoli pancakes. They're super easy to make, and with broccoli as the main ingredient and only a couple tablespoons of flour, are the perfect filling but healthy option for any weeknight dinner. 

It wasn't until I stopped cooking with eggs about four years ago that I also sadly stopped making these pancakes. After trying all the vegan egg replacer options at the grocery store, as well as homemade recipes like flax eggs, I found that nothing seemed to bind these pancakes quite like the real deal. 

Lucky for me, advances in plant-based food are happening every day and we finally have a fully plant-based egg I can get behind. I discovered VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart when my mom included a carton in my Easter basket this year (love that she still does this even though I'm in my late 20's) and found that they can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking, as well as scrambled up solo. The first recipe I made with VeganEgg was these broccoli pancakes and I couldn't be happier with the result. All the ingredients bind together just like they should and the flavors remained the same, with the broccoli and spices in center stage.

Whether you follow a plant-based diet or are just looking to discover a new delicious recipe, these crispy pancakes with cashew cheese sauce won't disappoint. 

Ingredients (serves 2-4):
Broccoli Pancakes:
- 4 cups broccoli florets (or one pre-cut bag from Trader Joe's)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 VeganEgg
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Lemon wedges for serving

Cheese Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 4 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- About 1 cup warm water

Prepare Broccoli Pancakes: Steam your broccoli until tender, not mushy, using whichever method you prefer. If you buy the TJ's bagged broccoli florets you can steam them in the bag. Allow it to cool slightly and then roughly chop into small pieces that are recognizable, but small enough that you could form into a mound.

In the bottom of a large bowl, make your vegan egg by whisking 2 tablespoons egg powder with 1/2 cup cold water. Add the garlic powder, red pepper flakes, baking powder, flour, salt, and pepper. Then, add the chopped broccoli and stir to combine

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Then, scoop a two-tablespoon sized mound of broccoli batter into the pan, flattening the top with the back of your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving at least an inch between pancakes. Once browned (about 2 minutes), flip and cook until the other side is equally browned (about another 2 minutes). Repeat with additional batter, adding more oil if needed, until complete. Top with more red pepper flakes and serve with a squeeze of lemon and cheese sauce.

Prepare Cheese Sauce:
Add cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, chili powder, olive oil, and salt, to a food processor. While ingredients whiz together, slowly drizzle in warm water until you've reached a smooth and creamy consistency (you may need a bit more or less than 1 cup).

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