Vegan Wonder

Elevate Your Plate: Reinventing Classic French Vegan Dishes

Wine-soaked mushrooms. Creamy, dreamy béchamel. Crunchy, flaky croissants. These are just a few of the mouthwatering staples that come to mind when thinking of French cuisine. But what if you’re vegan and want to indulge in these classic dishes? It’s time to reinvent these French classics with plant-based ingredients.

Mastering the Vegan Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel is the base of many French dishes. It’s the savory white sauce that serves as the foundation for classics like lasagna, moussaka, and croquettes.

To make a vegan béchamel sauce, you’ll want to use a blend of cashews and nutritional yeast. The cashews will give the sauce a creamy texture, while the nutritional yeast will add a cheesy flavor.

First, soak the cashews in water for at least four hours. Then, drain and rinse them before adding to a blender with unsweetened plant milk, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.

If your sauce is too thick, add more plant milk until you reach your desired consistency. If it’s too thin, add more nutritional yeast or cook it on the stove over medium heat until it thickens.

Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste.

Now you have a vegan béchamel sauce that’s perfect for any French-inspired dish.

Reinventing the Croque Monsieur

The croque Monsieur is a classic French sandwich made with ham, cheese, and a creamy béchamel sauce. To make it vegan, you can use vegan cheese or even mashed potatoes as a cheese substitute.

For a ham substitute, try using cooked seitan or tempeh. Slice it thin and cook it in a pan with a little bit of oil until crispy.

To assemble the sandwich, layer the seitan (or tempeh) on one slice of bread. Top with a thick layer of vegan cheese (or mashed potatoes). Spread a thin layer of béchamel sauce on the other slice of bread. Press the two slices of bread together and grill in a pan with a little bit of oil until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted.

For a more authentic texture, you can also bake the sandwich in the oven.

Serve the croque monsieur with a side of frites (French fries) and a green salad.

Flaky Vegan Croissants

Making vegan croissants requires a little more work than the other dishes on this list, but trust us, they’re worth it.

To make vegan croissants, you’ll need to use vegan butter. You’ll also want to master the lamination technique, which involves folding butter into the dough to create layers.

First, make the dough by combining flour, water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a stand mixer. Knead the dough for about ten minutes until it’s smooth.

While the dough is kneading, grate about six ounces of vegan butter. Once the dough is ready, add the grated butter to the bowl and knead until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Now you’ll want to fold the dough over itself several times to create the layers (this is called laminating). Roll the dough out, fold it in thirds like a letter, then roll it out again. Repeat this process about six times.

Once the dough is laminated, let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then roll it out and cut it into croissants.

Brush the croissants with plant milk before baking and enjoy them fresh out of the oven.

For a fun twist, you can also make chocolate or almond croissants.

Vegan Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is a French stew made with chicken, red wine, mushrooms, carrots, and onions.

To make a vegan version, you can substitute the chicken with sliced mushrooms. Cook them in a pan with oil until they’re tender and browned. Then set them aside.

Cook onions and garlic in the same pan until they’re softened. Add red wine and simmer until it reduces by half. Then add vegetable broth, sliced carrots, sliced mushrooms, and thyme. Let it simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Add the cooked mushrooms back to the stew and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the coq au vin over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Crêpes Suzette Reimagined

Crêpes Suzette are thin pancakes that are typically filled with a buttery orange sauce and flambéed at the table.

To make an egg-free crêpe batter, combine flour, water, sugar, salt, and oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. Let the batter rest for at least one hour.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and lightly grease it with oil. Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges start to curl and the surface looks dry. Flip the crêpe and cook the other side.

To make the orange sauce, cook orange juice, sugar, and orange zest in a pan until it thickens. Stir in vegan butter until melted. Remove from heat and stir in brandy (or another alcohol of your choice) before serving.

To flambé the crêpes, heat a pan over medium heat and add a small amount of brandy. Once the brandy is hot, use tongs to dip one edge of the crêpe into the brandy. As soon as the brandy ignites, use the tongs to lift the crêpe and tilt it so the flames travel over the entire surface. Serve the crêpes drizzled with the orange sauce.

If you prefer not to flambé the crêpes, you can simply drizzle them with the orange sauce and serve.

Fold the crêpes into quarters and serve garnished with orange zest.