Vegan sous-vide recipes #1

Sous vide immersion cookers (I use the Anova) have become cheap and easily available - under $200, clamp on to the side of your pot, life is happy.  The Internet abounds about tales of meat cooked for hours until perfectly tender;  eggs cooked to perfection in a dozen ways.  But what about our dear vegetable friends?

I'm keeping a little journal of my journey through sous vide veggies - hope it's useful!

The Wins Thus Far

The biggest win has been ... starchy roots!

Following Kenji @ The Food Lab's suggestion, I threw three sweet potatoes, three potatoes, and three large beets in individual bags for about 2h at 150F.  After that, I removed them from their bags, and diced them into small dice and roasted them at 350 for about 45 minutes, tossed with a mix of salt, MSG, better than bouillon no-chicken base, and canola oil.  Fantastic!  The two hours at 150F really bring out the natural sweetness of the roots, and the results had great happiness.

A surprising benefit of this approach was that dicing the veggies was easy -- even the sweet potatoes.  The toughness of sweet potatoes normally makes a fine dice a test of patience and hand discomfort, but the two hours at 150 took the edge off enough while leaving them firm that it was really a pleasant experience.  As you can see from the photo, I had quite a pile to deal with.

Building upon that success, I next tried overnight beets.  Washed, trimmed, and bagged three beets and left them for 8h overnight at 145F.  Removed from the sous vide, peeled off the skin with a vegetable peeler, sliced into 3/8th inch rounds, and threw in the oven at 425 for about 10 minutes with canola oil on both sides.  Threw a little salt on the top.

I tried eating the beets directly out of the water, because they were pretty cooked by that time -- no go.  They were edible, but really missing something.  But after the roasting, they had a fantastic combination of crunchy, beety, and sweet.  They may be the best beets I've ever cooked.

Chocolate has a lot of promise, but I haven't finished exploring it yet.  We whipped up a batch of
the Brooklyn Brownies from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and to melt the chocolate chips, I bagged them and threw them in the sous vide instead of my usual fake-double-boiler-microwave-trick.  At 130F, they melted fast, with no annoyance.  (You can also throw a metal pot in, but the bag was faster.)  Pipe the chocolate out of the bag, presto.  I'd do it again, but I'm not sure I'd heat up the sous vide just to melt chocolate.

The Not Again

I tried a buttery-spiced sous vide apples recipe from the New York times, and the unanimous conclusion was that it lost too much from the caramelization induced by baking.  The spice combination involved was nice, and I'd use it again, but the recipe overall didn't excel.  It's possible that finishing them off with a blowtorch and creating a sort of apple brulee would restore the awesomeness, but just sous vide didn't do it.

I also tried one of Anova's suggestions for butternut and apple soup.  The plus:  easy peasy!  The minus:  It really lost out on flavor from the squash not being roasted.  This one I won't do again.  I rescued the soup for the most part by topping it with candied walnuts and fried sage, but the core soup lacked the depth of flavor that a good butternut squash can have.  Again - probably possible to pull some of it back by, e.g., broiling the cooked chunks or sauteeing them, but I didn't see any benefit from the sous vide on this one other than the very trivial clean-up.

Can't let the sous vide be exclusively for the carnivores. :-)  Coming up in the next week or two:  Carrots, brussels sprouts (high bar - I'm a big fan of them just roasted), and something TBD.


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