Vegan, or not vegan, this dish is delicious – Berkshire Eagle

Restaurant News

By Robin Anish, Eagle Correspondent

Even if you don’t know what it means or where it came from, everyone has at least heard, if not quoted, William Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be, that is the question” — one of the most famous lines in English literature. It’s a line from Shakespeare’s drama “Hamlet,” in which Hamlet is trying to decide if living or dying is best. He was pondering a choice and so, when someone has to make a choice, one might make a parody of Hamlet’s infamous words, such as “to buy a new car or not to buy a new car, that is the question,” or “to eat cake or not to eat cake, that is the question.”

Well, now I am in a quandary about the recipe for this column; to be vegan or not to be vegan, that is the question.

I recently enjoyed a delicious roasted vegetable dish seasoned with a terrific marinade of both sweet and savory spices, made by a dear friend who happens to be vegan and who eats no fats of any kind. Sans any oils or meat, the dish was so good; good enough to have a second helping.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to recipes. I loved the vegetables roasted and the flavors of the dish, but I wasn’t sure how non-vegans would like tofu, so I pondered a bit about a non-vegan version and decided that the fat and fennel flavor in sweet Italian sausage would contribute some great flavor to the vegetables.

It turns out that both versions are equally good; thus, my quandary … to be vegan or not to be vegan, that is the question.



2 large white potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes

2 sweet potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes

2 carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch slices

1 large sweet onion, cut into wedges

1/2 head of savoy or regular cabbages, cut into 1-inch chunks

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced

2 red sweet bell peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks

Vegan version: 7 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed

Not-vegan version: 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch slices


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

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2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1 scant tablespoon molasses

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes


Thinly sliced scallions

Cooked brown or jasmine rice to serve


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss vegetables and tofu or sausage together in a large bowl. Whisk together marinade ingredients and pour over vegetables, tofu or sausage. Toss well to coat. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Be sure sausage is cooked through if using.

Garnish with scallions and serve with rice. Brown rice is a nice, nutty accompaniment. Jasmine rice is very fragrant and compliments the sweet and salty flavors of this dish. You can’t go wrong with either.

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