Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook

Just a little after Christmas, my parents insisted on buying me an air fryer. My dad had gotten one for my mom for Christmas, and in just a few weeks, the appliance had become indispensable in their lives. They were literally cooking EVERY meal in the air fryer! And when I say "they," I mean my mom and my dad. My dad who never bothered to cook anything that couldn't be microwaved had suddenly become quite the chef. Months later, my dad — who is semi-retired and stays home most days — now cooks dinner in the air fryer every night and has a meal on the table when my mom gets home from work!

Suffice it to say, the air fryer has been a game changer in their lives. And since my parents bought me one, it's been pretty handy in my world too. I don't use it every day like they do, but it certainly helps me get dinner together quickly (and healthfully) several times per week. I use it for so much more than "frying"! Most often, it serves as an oven, offering a speedy way to roast veggies, bake kale chips, and heat frozen plant meats.

While I know lots of air fryer tricks already, I'm still learning. And no resource has been greater in that effort than JL Fields' The Vegan Air Fryer — the first totally vegan, air fryer cookbook. I've made a number of JL's recipes so far, but I started with this Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce.

I often air-fry marinated tofu without any sort of breading. When you do that, it gets a texture similar to the fried tofu in Asian dishes. But JL's recipe is different because you dredge the tofu in cornmeal, cornstarch, and spices, creating a crispy breading. When prepared this way, the tofu is best eaten right away (I found the the breading got a little dried out in the fridge overnight). But when fresh, it's so amazing! A perfect little appetizer to dip in rich, creamy peanut sauce. I brought this to a party of non-vegans, and they loved it.

From the sides chapter, I just had to try JL's Hasselback Potatoes. My friend Nicole bought an air fryer after learning how much I love mine, and she'd told me that the insides of whole potatoes get super-creamy in the air-fryer. These hasselback potatoes lived up to that hype!

By thinly slicing the potatoes part-way through, you get super-crispy edges and creamy insides, plus the potato just cooks more evenly. JL only calls for a tiny bit of oil in these plus a little fresh, grated garlic for flavor. I didn't add any extra oil or butter, but I did add a nice sprinkling of nooch upon serving (oh, and ketchup!). I didn't miss the fat at all! That's one of the coolest things about the air fryer — lower fat cooking is still so full of flavor. I had the potato with some peanut butter tempeh from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook and some collard greens from Cookin' Crunk.

I wanted to try one of JL's main dishes, and I'm trying to encourage Paul to eat more vegan foods. So on Monday night, we made the General Tso's Soy Curls.

For this, you rehydrate Soy Curls and then toss with a little flour and spices before air-frying. The air-frying gives the curls a meatier texture while drying out some of that rehydration water. After air-frying, the Soy Curls are quickly sauteed in a little spicy-sweet sauce. I served ours atop some steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, and rice (brown for me, white for Paul).

Well, the omni partner LOVED it! He finished all of his Soy Curls and went back in for seconds. You know a recipe is a winner when the omni goes back for seconds.

I have many more recipes bookmarked to try. The Tofu Bacon Wraps will be next for sure! These are slabs of bacony tofu, wrapped in rice paper, and air-fried until crispy. JL also has a very impressive-looking recipe for a Slider & Bacon Bloody Mary where you air-fry tempeh bacon and vegan sausage patties and make little sliders to garnish a Bloody Mary. Will be making!

Other faves to make include Doughnut Holes, Spicy Mac & Cheese Balls, Soy Curl Fries, Beany Jackfruit Taquitos, Poutine, Mixed Vegetable Fritters, Buffalo Cauliflower, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Hot Dogs (yes!!!), Corn Dogs, Chick'n Fried Steak, Calzones, the Cake for One with Coco Whip (because it's always just me eating cake), and the Fried Ginger-O's (using the Newman's Own brand).


panda vegan said...

I don't want another appliance on my already full counters, but I'm starting to cave! Looks great.

Sarah said...

I really really want an air fryer! I can't justify it yet and I have no space for it but one will be mine at some point! Everything looks amazing!

SheDevilBiker said...

I felt like I didn't reeeaally need it, and definitely didn't want anything more on the counters.

So I ditched the microwave. Glad I did. I've been using myfitnesspal and cutting calories (and actually losing weight, without having to get super-depressed and go off my feed), and this has helped. It's great for the things you want crispy without frying in a ton of oil, but even things like broccoli and cauliflower - spritz with a bit of oil, or toss in a light marinade, some garlic powder or cajun seasoning, roast 'em quickly in the air fryer.