Butter and barbecue—Tennessee is covered in it. After a recent trip down south, I came home a bit hungry, yet inspired. There weren’t many vegan options for me in Nashville and Memphis, but I knew that, once I returned home, I could easily veganize some classic southern dishes. They say the best revenge is living well, but the way I see it, the best revenge is eating well.
Elvis’ Famous Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
One of my favorite places to visit in Tennessee was Graceland, Elvis’ home, in Memphis. Unfortunately, as interesting as The King’s home was, I toured it awkwardly hungry. The only vegan offering at Graceland was a salad, and by salad I mean shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers with some Italian dressing.
Even Elvis’ favorite meal, a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich was off-limits since it was made with, you guessed it, butter. Of course, in the comfort of my own kitchen, butter is easily replaced with a little Earth Balance. This sandwich is super easy to make, but, as we all know, it’s not super healthy. If you want to fit into your favorite white jumpsuit, this sandwich should be saved for special occasions. All you need is two slices of bread (I cut mine from a beautiful flax and quinoa blend loaf from Whole Foods!), one mashed banana, peanut butter, and of course, your favorite vegan butter.
Just mash the banana in a small bowl. Take the bread and spread some peanut butter on each side (about 1 tablespoon per slice). Then spread the mashed banana on one side so that it’s between the peanut butter. Put a little Earth Balance in a frying pan, let it melt, and then put the sandwich in the pan. Flip carefully because it’s very likely that some mashed banana will fall out.
Once both sides are toasted, take it off the frying pan and dig in!
I had no idea what succotash even was before my trip to Tennessee. After reading a description of the corn, lima bean, and tomato dish on a restaurant menu, I figured it was vegan. However, after asking my server about it, he said it wasn’t because it contained dairy. After researching this deceptive dish online, I found that the culprit was, once again, butter. (Oh, butter, I know that Julia Child loved you, but you are getting on my last nerve.)
Luckily, it wasn’t difficult to find a vegan version. This recipe was super easy to follow and comes together in about ten minutes. It’s the perfect southern side dish to add to any dinner, no matter what part of the country the rest of the meal is from.
The most difficult part of making BBQ tempeh was getting the package open. (Vegan struggz, am I right?) It’s so quick and simple, it’ll be your go-to quick meal every night. All you have to do is cut a piece of tempeh into eight equal pieces, pour a cup of barbecue sauce over them, and let them marinate for ten minutes. If you really want to go all out you can make your own barbecue sauce, but if you’re in a hurry (or…uh…lazy like yours truly), you can always use a commercial brand. I made this twice and used two Tennessee inspired sauces, Memphis Original and Tennessee Whiskey, from Sticky Fingers. After marinating them, all you have to do is pour the bowl into a frying pan and leave them in it for ten minutes, flipping them every few minutes.
You can eat these savory slices by themselves or make a barbecue sandwich.
Either way, it’s crazy delicious and totally meatless!
Sweet Potato Mash
I have a bit of a sweet potato obsession. Luckily, sweet potatoes were the one food I was able to eat in Tennessee, for which I am eternally grateful. Sweet potato fries and roasted sweet potato chunks were the highlight of my trip. (Sorry Elvis.) However, my favorite sweet potato dish is, without a doubt, sweet potato mash. Unfortunately, this dish is always made with some sort of dairy, usually butter. Once again, Earth Balance to the rescue!
This recipe for sweet potato mash was crazy easy. I just replaced the butter with Earth Balance, and it came together perfectly. My only recommendation with this recipe is that if you want really smooth sweet potato mash you should put the mashed mixture into a food processor or blender to make it really creamy. Like succotash, sweet potato mash is a great side dish for any dinner, but goes especially well with some BBQ tempeh…
No dessert represents Tennessee to me more than Pecan Pie. It was on every dessert menu of every restaurant my family and I visited. Obviously, I wasn’t able to eat any of this classic treat, but I ain’t even mad. I discovered a raw, vegan, and gluten-free version, which also makes it a much healthier option. And since it’s full of chia seeds, it’s the only pecan pie that packs a powerful Omega-3 punch.
Paula Deen, eat your heart out.