Most days I know what I want to eat for lunch and that usually consists of some type of vegan salad. I’m not talking about your basic iceberg lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo, either. I’m talking a nice salad loaded up with vegetables, colors, vitamins and nutrients, but not with calories.
But some days I’m not sure what I want and one of those days recently, an idea fell into my lap. We had just come from the grocery store where I found turnips with some lovely greens on top so I yanked the tops off of a few more bunches because that’s totally allowed here (and its free) and decided I would make some turnip greens at some point in the future. Then my mother-in-law showed up with a big bag of Monk’s Rhubarb, which I had honestly ever heard of before. But my father-in-law had already rinsed them so I nibbled on a leaf and realized I could add them to the turnip greens for more dark leafy greens.
From there, this vegan soul food lunch plate was born.
Why is it a lunch plate? That’s simple. If you find a soul food restaurant near you, chances are good there will be a lunch plate special that allows you to mix and match your favorite soul food menu items for one yummy lunch. In some areas, you might even find a entrepreneur offering them up around the neighborhood for a very good price.
So what do you need to re-create my vegan soul food lunch?
Greens (turnip, collard, mustard or now…monk’s rhubarb)
Turnip greens & Monks rhubarb (also known as rumex patientia)
Corn on the cob
Dehydrated soya (AKA TVP)
Since you know I do a lot of oil free cooking, I’ll let you know right up front that I used about 8 grams of peanut oil so I could get the TVP nice and crispy in my handy air fryer. For the greens, I sautéed them in a water & soy sauce slurry.
Greens: Add onions to the hot stock pot first and cook about 5 minutes, until they start to turn clear. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then you can start adding the greens and stems in small batches. Let them soften a little before you add more, tossing/stirring frequently. Season as you go along and keep tasting because I find that greens can go from bland to salty very quickly.
Corn: Season and boil or wrap in aluminum foil (don’t forget to recycle) and pop in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes.
Mash: For the potatoes I wanted to go with something a little different, so I boiled potatoes and turnips together, drained them and mashed together with butter, salt, pepper, smoky paprika and garlic granules. I used to think I didn’t like turnips but this blend gives the vegan mashed potatoes a unique earthy flavor that’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. If you’re not sure how long to boil them, give them the fork test after about 10 to 15 minutes.
Crispy Tofu: Season the tofu and toss with the peanut oil, giving it about 12 minutes in the air fryer. While that’s cooking, mix together herbs and spices, ketchup and barbecue sauce. If you’re feeling your soul food roots, add some hot sauce to the mix and stir. Toss the tofu in this mixture straight from the air fryer and serve up good and hot!
If you have it, I recommend washing this down with a tall glass of iced tea. My grandmothers might recommend sweet tea but regular iced tea is easier on your teeth!