We invited a few friends over for a welcome party when she arrived, and the vegans were definitely outnumbered. I'm happy to say though that all the food was a hit, eaten with relish by my sister and our omni friends. I made a large batch of these spicy Sesame-Soy Meatballs, which were completely devoured and raved about, even by a certain omni friend who often balks at having to go to vegan events with his vegan girlfriend.
I also made a few platters of crostini with caponata, for which I'll print the recipe below. I found a pretty easy recipe for caponata online that was already vegan, so I didn't have to change a thing. I also love making things like this for parties, to remind people that many of the things they eat are already vegan. It takes the foreignness out of what people often think of as "strange" vegan food.
And of course, it's always good to have some assorted olives around for people to nibble on. I also served Faux Gras with crackers, fresh baguette, and cornichons on the side, and I also made a bunch of the Tempeh (crab-like) Cakes with Spicy Remoulade from Vegan Celebrations, which were also a huge hit, but I forgot to take a picture of those.
Caponata (recipe originally published in Gourmet September 2006 issue)
makes 3 - 4 cups
2 lb. small Italian eggplants (about 4)
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
4 medium celery ribs, cut crosswise into very thin
1/3 cup large green Sicilian olives (1 3/4 oz.), pitted and coarsely chopped
1 3/4 oz. Italian capers
2 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1 (14- to 15-oz.) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (1 cup)
1. Peel eggplants, leaving some strips of peel, then cut into 1-inch cubes and spread on half of a kitchen towel. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, then cover with other half of towel and weight with a baking sheet topped with 2 or 3 large cans for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, stirring, until pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add celery and cook, stirring, until onion and celery are deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add olives, capers, and 2 tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir in vinegar and tomatoes.
3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. If sauce is very acidic, add 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste). Transfer to a bowl and keep warm, covered.
4. Rinse eggplant in a colander under running water, then squeeze dry in small handfuls.
5. Heat remaining cup oil in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant in 2 batches, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender and browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer as cooked to paper towels to drain, then transfer to a large shallow serving dish in an even layer. Spoon sauce on top, spreading evenly, and let stand, covered with a kitchen towel, at room temperature, at least 8 hours (for flavors to develop). Stir before serving.