Vegan Cooking Class: A Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Dinner!

A couple months ago, Unny Nambudiripad, the co-founder of Compassionate Action for Animals asked me if I’d be interested in teaching one of the vegan cooking classes they regularly host. I agreed immediately, thrilled to have the opportunity. Once it was determined that February would be the best month for me, Kelly, the organizer of the event, wisely suggested I might want to theme the class around Valentine’s Day. My theme-loving heart was eager and aglow!

I was fortunate enough to have my friend Shannon–(you may remember her as the Vegan Chili Cook-Off Winner I featured on the blog earlier this year)–as my trusty assistant.

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I knew the menu had to be full of Valentiney goodness, so I brainstormed all things pink and red, and also dug a little deeper to think about the symbolism behind some types of food. To start, we did a Kale and Pomegranate Salad with Citrus Ginger Dressing. Pomegranates are said to represent love, fertility, and abundance…and, in general, they’re kind of a sexy fruit, don’t you think? A perfect ingredient for a V-day feast. This recipe is simple: simply chop and massage your kale, add the pom seeds, then mix up your dressing (recipe below).

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I knew right away what I’d do for the main course….My Creamy Tahini Quinoa with Beets and Greens was the perfect choice because the beets make this dish a lovely shade of pink!

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Before getting his sample, one audience member said he’d never had a quinoa dish that he liked….Guess what changed his mind? ; )

Finally, it was time for dessert. I decided to go with my raw Decadent Cherry Brownie Parfait, because I knew a raw dessert with so few ingredients and no sugar would blow people’s minds….

I was right. Everyone loved it! We didn’t get a shot of the fully-plated dessert, but here’s an action shot of Shannon scooping out the sample portions.

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Here’s the audience enjoying the food and asking questions. We talked about how to afford going vegan, how to live without cheese (ha! such a common beginner question, right?!), and how I transitioned from a more processed vegan diet to a whole food, clean-eating diet.

Picture 8[photos courtesy of an awesome CAA volunteer; see more on Flickr]

And here’s a picture of me with two of the audience members (who happen to be two of my good pals—including another great vegan cook/baker, EG from Hay Gurl Hay Cafe!).

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I had such a blast doing this demo. The audience was filled with both vegans and omnivores-considering-veganism, which meant there was a lot of opportunity for teaching and learning. People shared stories, asked questions, made jokes, and created community over delicious food. What could be better?

Last but not least, since I didn’t have a link for the recipe, here’s how I made the dressing.

Citrus Ginger Dressing

juice from 1/2 small orange

1 tsp. olive oil (optional)

1/8 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1/2 in. piece of ginger grated

It’s tangy, bright, and makes sweet, sweet love with the kale and pomegranates. ; )

Also, check out this post on Accidentally Meatless—one of the audience members made all the food at home and wrote about it on her blog! So cool!

What’s the best (or worst) Valentine’s Day dinner you’ve ever had? (Bad date stories welcome ;)).

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19 thoughts on “Vegan Cooking Class: A Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Dinner!

  1. Jess says:

    Congrats—this looks like such a fun night! After 3 years avoiding it for GI reasons, I only recently discovered that I can eat quinoa if I soak it first. I love the idea of adding tahini to it. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. FoodFeud says:

    That’s awesome! How exciting for you! I’m glad it went smoothly. I love the kale and pomegranate salad idea…going beyond the food itself to what the food means and represents. It’s not just the typical Valentine’s day meal.

  3. Lou says:

    Oh you are too cute for words – your apron! Oh and I love your tattoo. You would be so brilliant teaching a vegan class – your menu sounds brilliant…. I’m definitely going to try that salad, YUM.

  4. frugalveganmom says:

    It really was a terrific class! I’ve been eating massaged kale salads all week (after trying and disliking them a few years ago) and even bought beets (which I never do) to make that quinoa salad. The idea of mixing the tahini right in is sooo nice for a one-pot meal. I don’t have any v-day dinner horror stories, but v-day 2 years ago was pretty special because I was due any day with Jane – and I made a recipe from that year’s CAA v-day class, taught by Betsy Born! Details here: http://frugalveganmom.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/pregnancy-week-39-v-day-and-vegan-mushroom-stroganoff-recipe/

  5. Shannon says:

    Raechel, you are a natural! Such an informative, friendly class with such a positive message! Plus, the food was ROCKIN’ good. I cannot believe the difference it makes to massage kale. Although it has always been one of my favorite veggies when cooked, I never cared for mature kale raw–until now! And pomegranate seeds are just perfect with it. More use for poms!! All three dishes were amazing, healthful, and easy to do. Great job!! :)

  6. nikki says:

    Looks like the class was a fun success. All of the dishes sound delicious. Especially that salad dressing. I usually go for creamy dressings, but this one looks like a perfect match for kale. Also, cute-cute apron!

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