A Very Vegan 4th of July

If you’re the type who whines about vegetarian foods mimicking meaty dishes, skip on to the next post. This is not for you. But if you’re interested in some simple, kid-friendly, all-American-inspired vegan dishes to serve for July 4th, read on. Don’t worry, we’re not talking faux “chicken” nuggets or anything, but a Buffalo wing replacement and a sloppy joe stand-in are ahead.

photography courtesy of Oh My Veggies
photography courtesy of Oh My Veggies

SPICY CANTALOUPE AND CUCUMBER SALAD
via Oh My Veggies, serves 4
All the delectable innocence of melon and cucumber, kicked up a notch with hot jalapeño and fresh mint.

Ingredients
2 tb soy sauce
2 tb fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 small red or green jalapeno, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 c torn fresh mint leaves
1 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, flesh thinly sliced

Instructions
Whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, and ginger in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, combine jalapeno, mint leaves, cucumber, and cantaloupe. Add dressing and stir to coat.

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photography by Raya Ramsey
photography by Raya Ramsey

SPICY BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES
via PETA, serves 6
This is a seriously satisfying snack that I feed anyone who doubts the feasibility of being vegetarian. These bites are soft and dense with just a little cauliflower taste at the middle and lots of delectable wing sauce. If you’re vegetarian, serve it with ranch or bleu cheese. If you’re vegan, go for the ranch recipe below. Add carrot and celery sticks.

Ingredients
1 cup water or soy milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces
1 cup Buffalo or hot sauce*
1 tb melted vegan margarine

*Many Buffalo sauces contain dairy. Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce is my go-to.

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Combine the water or soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo sauce and olive oil or margarine in a small bowl.
Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
Serve alongside vegan blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

VEGAN RANCH DRESSING
adapted from multiple recipes, makes about 1 cup
I’m not really sure if this recipe makes ranch, bleu cheese, or some combination of both, but it’s good. It won’t taste identical to the real deal–nothing will–but it’s creamy and very complementary to the Buffalo bites.

Ingredients
1 cup Vegenaise (or other vegan mayo)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dill or dill seasoning mix
1 tsp salt

Instructions
Combine and mix.
Adjusting seasoning to taste.

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photography by Raya Ramsey
photography by Raya Ramsey

LENTIL SLOPPY JOES or “SLOPPY LOES”
via Chocolate Covered Katie, serves 6
Since I first discovered this recipe, I’ve been making it almost weekly. I love a good saucy sandwich and this fills the void of the original I used to love so much. Plus, it’s healthy.

Ingredients
1/2 an onion, diced
2 tsp oil
2 15-oz cans lentils, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups cooked lentils)
1 tb minced garlic
1 1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tb ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1-2 stevia packets (or 3-5 tsp sugar)
14 oz tomato sauce
up to 1 cup water
1 tb apple cider vinegar
2 tb soy sauce
6 hamburger buns*

*Whole wheat buns are acceptable, but they’re typically stiffer than their white counterparts, which are easier to stuff with sloppy joe filling.

Instructions
Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until onion is translucent.
Add lentils and spices, stir, then add all other ingredients and
Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick like sloppy joe filling. About 20 minutes.
Serve over buns.
Grab a napkin.

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photography courtesy of Cooking with My Kid
photography courtesy of Cooking with My Kid

WATERMELON STARS
via childhood
You can hardly call this a recipe, but the only thing more festive than watermelon during summer is watermelon cut into stars. (If you’re feeling chef-y, toss with minced jalapeño, cilantro, olive oil, and salt.)

Ingredients
Whole watermelon

Instructions
Slice watermelon into 1-inch slices.
Cut out melon with star-shaped cookie cutter.

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photography courtesy of Immer Wachsen
photography courtesy of Immer Wachsen

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
via Immer Wachsen
I’d really like to make this strawberry sorbet, but without an ice cream maker, I settle for the much simpler strawberry ice cream recipe below.

Ingredients
2 cans coconut milk
6 oz frozen strawberries OR 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries
1/3 c raw honey

Instructions
Using only the fat* from the canned coconut milk, blend all ingredients. Freeze the ice cream base (see options below) and process the ice cream.

Freezing and processing options:

  • Freeze ice cream base in ice cube trays. Once frozen process in a food processor until creamy.
  • Pour ice cream base into a large shallow dish (like a casserole dish). Once frozen, scrape the solid mass with a fork until soft enough to serve.
  • Freeze ice cream base in popsicle molds.
  • Use an ice cream maker.

More options here.

*Canned coconut milk will separate into fat and water. Do not shake the can and you will be able to remove the fat from the can while leaving the water at the bottom. You will need 2 cups of coconut milk fat for this recipe.