July 23rd, 2009

Ranch and/or Creamy Condiment/Veggie Dip Alternatives

A friend was asking me the other day about more healthy substitutes for ranch dressing. He is looking for something creamy with a similar taste that can be primarily used as a dipping sauce for vegetables. I've always disliked and avoided creamy condiments such as ranch so I really didn't have any suggestions for him, and the few things I could think of wouldn't be vegan. I don't even really know what ranch is usually made of, wiki tells me buttermilk or sour cream plus mayonnaise and spices.

So, what do y'all use for a ranch substitute? Are there any other creamy type condiments you like that are suitable as dips for raw veggies? Single ingredients, multiple ingredients, or full on recipes would all be appreciated.

TIA for any suggestions. :)

Ants Crawling Up a Tree

I present to you: Ma Yi Shang Shu AKA Ants Crawling Up a Tree, vegan style.



This is a traditional Chinese dish from Sichuan. I'm not from Sichuan, so I can't vouch for the authenticity. But hey, the real thing is made from pork, so there's no way it's authentic now! This is the version my veg*n family and I have been eating for generations.

What you'll need:
2 bundles of Chinese Vermicelli/Bean Thread
3 stalks of scallion
2/3 cup of veggie protein crumbles
2 tbsp soy-sauce (or soy-sauce alternative)
vegetable oil
water
Chinese chili sauce (optional)

1. Soak the bean thread in a pot of water until soft.
2. Chop the scallion into small pieces. Separate greens and whites.
3. Mix the soy-sauce mixture in a small bowl: 2 tbsp soy-sauce + 6 tbsp water.
4. Use scissors to cut the bean thread sparingly. This is to make it easier to pick up and eat later.
5. Heat pan and pour enough oil to lightly spread around. Add the veggie protein crumbles. Stir-fry until slightly burnt.
6. Add the scallion whites. Add soy-sauce mixture. Add chili sauce if desired. (I don't use it because I don't like spicy foods) Stir. Add water if necessary to prevent burning.
7. Drain bean threads and add to pan. Stir and add enough water to cover bottom of the pan. Cover pan with lid and let it sit until the bean threads are soft. This takes about 1 minute.
8. Turn off heat. Add scallion greens. Stir and serve with rice.


This makes about 4 servings.

More pictures and pointless rambling about the dish here: http://theveganabc.blogspot.com/2009/07/ants-crawling-up-tree.html