If you’re looking for a fun alternative to burgers for your next summer party, Makini Howell, the owner and chef at Seattle’s Plum Bistro, has a spicy idea: Jerk Tofu and Roasted Yam Sliders. At Plum, Howell serves these sandwiches to the happy hour crowd topped with pickled cabbage and a schmear of homemade vegan mayo to cut the spice.
What we like about this idea is that you can get fancy and make your own pickled cabbage and soy cream sauce, or just use jarred condiments to make things quick and easy. The vegetarians and vegans will be especially thankful they don’t have to face another frozen veggie burger.
You can find this recipe and more vegan recipes from the popular restaurant in Howell’s new cookbook, Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro.
Jerk Tofu and Roasted Yam Sliders
We make our own Jamaican tofu, which is sold at our locations and some national markets, but if you can’t get ours, you can substitute any national brand of spicy tofu. Note that you’ll need to start the pickled cabbage at least 12 hours in advance, but it will keep, refrigerated, for a few weeks. —Makini Howell
Makes 4 servings
1 small red-skinned yam, unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package Jamaican spiced tofu, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick by 2 inches wide
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise or Savory Soy Cream (recipe below)
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon sweet relish
8 mini burger buns, split
1 cup Pickled Purple Cabbage (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Coat the yam slices lightly in about 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and put them in a small roasting pan. Cook them until they’re quite tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Sauté the tofu slices for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they’re warmed through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and relish. Spread a dab on the top of each bun, then add a slice of yam to the bottom. Top with a slice of sautéed tofu and 1 or 2 tablespoons of cabbage, depending on how much kick you prefer. Sprinkle some parsley over each, add the top buns, and serve.
Pickled Purple Cabbage
Makes about 2 cups
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
Juice of 1 small lime or lemon
1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice (sugar) or agave syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 head small purple cabbage, shredded (4 to 5 cups)
In a large bowl, combine the onion, vinegar, oil, lime juice, cane juice, basil, jalapeño, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cane juice is completely dissolved. Add the cabbage and stir until it’s well coated. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, depending how strong you want the taste, mixing it once or twice. Refrigerate until ready to use. (To make a batch of pickled red onions, simply omit the cabbage.)
Savory Soy Cream
This thick “cream” is something like a vegan mayonnaise. It’s versatile enough to handle any number of flavorings, so feel free to play with seasonings other than the suggested garlic. Make sure to add your oil quite slowly and stop when the mixture is the thickness you want, even if you haven’t used up all the oil. The amount of vinegar you use will vary depending on how thick you want the cream to be. Makes about 3 cups
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 cups canola oil
1 to 1 1⁄2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Minced garlic, for seasoning (optional)
Put the milk in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix, if you have one. (The more powerful the blender, the creamier the consistency of the final cream.) With the machine running, drizzle in the oil very slowly, until it is thoroughly blended with the milk. Continue blending for another minute or so, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream. (Note that it will become more like a light whipped cream after you add the vinegar.)
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in the vinegar and garlic to taste.
Store the cream in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. It will firm up to about the consistency of mayonnaise. Re-whip it with a whisk to return it to its original texture, adding a little more milk if need be.
Follow Makini Howell on Twitter @Plumbistro.