A couple of summers ago, now, Sarah and I invited a vegetarian friend to come to dinner. I was really excited to cook for her, and planned an elaborate menu out ahead of time: soup, composed salads, pasta primavera from our garden, and crisp for dessert. It was going to be great.
And it was going great, too, until it came time to cook the pasta. By that point in the meal prep, the part of me that was committed to making a fancy dinner had taken over, leaving the part of me that was making a fancy dinner for a vegetarian far behind. The pasta water came to a boil. And without giving it much thought, I reached for the upscaliest noodles that I had on hand: squid-ink spaghetti from Claudio’s Specialty Foods in Philadelphia’s Italian market.
The pasta cooked up wonderfully — every bit as flavorful as you might expect, and a perfect complement to the fresh vegetables tossed with it. And I was feeling smug, self-satisfied, adding just a drop of white truffle oil to finish the dish, when Sarah walked in. Is that squid-ink pasta? she asked me.
And so, after a flurry of last-minute activity, there were two pastas on the menu that night: one non-vegetarian vegetable pasta, and a second that was appropriate to serve to our guest.
I tell this story because it illustrates almost exactly what’s up with the “mostly” in (Mostly) Vegan Green Berry Smoothie. The base of this recipe is silken tofu. The kale, blueberries, and strawberries are what they are. The whole thing was going swimmingly as a vegan breakfast experiment until, upon tasting it, Sarah asked me: Is that honey?
Fortunately, these particular green berry smoothies were designed to be vegan not because I was cooking for a vegan — not to accommodate a vegan breakfast guest — but because I was looking for a tasty, simple, non-dairy breakfast alternative. Because dairy, even low-lactose yogurt, doesn’t always agree with me, especially early in the day. And when it’s eighty degrees fahrenheit (twenty-six celsius) at seven in the morning, really: who wants a whole lot of dairy, anyway?
And so (dear readers!) I am okay with the honey. For me, honey in this smoothie is not only appropriate, it is delicious. And I wouldn’t choose to do without it.
But at the same time, I recognize that that’s not the case for everybody. I’d like to accommodate the folks out there who are vegans, or who are interested in vegan cooking more broadly. And so I’ll add this note: vegan honey alternatives abound. I’ve had particularly good reports about agave nectar, but I imagine that malt syrup or brown rice syrup would make delicious smoothie-fodder, too. Maple Syrup would significantly change the character of this recipe, but I imagine it would do so in a really tasty way.
If you do a lot of vegan cooking, I imagine that you already have a favorite honey substitute. So use it. And then please let me know how it went! I definitely want to know.
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, stemmed
1 1/2 cups Blueberries
1 cup Kale, stemmed
1/2 cup Silken Tofu
1/2 cup Unsweetened Soy / Almond / Coconut Milk
1-2 tbsp Honey (or agave nectar, or whatever other vegan honey alternative)
1 tsp Chia Seeds
Juice of 1 Lemon
10-12 Ice Cubes
Add all of the ingredients but the ice to your blender, and zap it on high for fifteen to thirty seconds, until the kale is mostly blended, and everything else is almost pureed. Then add a couple of handfuls of ice, and blend for another fifteen to thirty seconds, until the ice is mostly small chips and the kale is just about integrated.
Pour, and serve immediately.
This makes two pint-sized smoothies.