Herbivores are having their day in our cheesesteak-lovin’ town, with a new vegan spot or menu with vegan options popping up everywhere we look.
We’re sitting down to seitan and smoked tofu fajitas at Cantina Los Caballitos on East Passyunk Avenue, grabbing takeout at one of Nicole Marquis’s two HipCityVeg locations and sipping from the inventive cocktail list at Marquis’ Charlie Was a Sinner in the Gayborhood. And of course there’s the nationally lauded, upscale Vedge at 12th and Locust, from husband-and-wife team Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, and their upcoming V Street, opening in Rittenhouse next month.
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“Philadelphia has long been one of the great champions of vegan cuisine and plant-based eaters, from nationally renowned vegan restaurants to an array of markets offering the best ingredients for home cooks,” says Nava Atlas, the cook behind VegKitchen.com and the new book “Plant Power.”
But Atlas isn’t a veggie snob. “With so many choices for individuals to make, the most successful food scenes are the ones that are inclusive,” she says. “Their primary goal isn’t all or nothing, vegan or bust.”
Nava Atlas’s Lo Mein
Serves: 4 to 6
• 8 ounces udon or soba, preferably whole grain
• 1 tablespoon safflower or other high-heat oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
• 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (optional but recommended)
• ½ small head green or Napa cabbage, cut into long, narrow ribbons
• 2 cups small broccoli florets
• 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
• 3 to 4 scallions, white and green parts cut into 1-inch segments
• Vegetable broth or water for moistening
• Reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari to taste
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Cook the noodles according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat the safflower oil, broth or water and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil (if desired) in a stir-fry pan. Add the cabbage, broccoli and green beans. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms, if desired, and scallions and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender-crisp. Add a small amount of vegetable broth or water, just enough to keep the pan moist.
4. Add the cooked noodles to the stir-fry pan and toss together. Add the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, if using, then season with soy sauce and pepper to taste. Serve at once.
Substitute 8 ounces of preshredded coleslaw (preferably with carrots included) for the green or Napa cabbage if you’re in a hurry. Fresh, slender green beans are hard to come by for much of the year, so I give you my full blessing to use frozen organic whole baby green beans, which are consistently excellent — and also save you the time and trouble of trimming the ends.