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Learn how to create delicious vegan-friendly holiday party recipes from cookbook author John Schlimm, profiled in our November-December issue

Italian Herb Burgers on Focaccia

Life doesn’t get much sweeter than a grill surrounded by good friends and laughter, and topped with these Italian-inspired focaccia burgers. Here, fresh mushrooms, red onion, bell pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, sundried tomatoes, and other ingredients belt out an opera of flavors we can all sink our teeth into.

Ingredients: 

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
1 to 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, as needed
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup vegan egg substitute
1⁄2 cup roughly chopped white mushrooms
1⁄2 cup roughly chopped red onion
1 carrot, shredded
1⁄2 cup roughly chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1⁄4 cup well-chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
Vegan focaccia bread, for serving

Note: If you can’t find focaccia, grill up some vegan whole wheat pita bread instead and proceed.

Directions:

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients, except the focaccia. Pulse until just coarsely chopped, adding more oatmeal as needed (start with 1 cup), until the mixture holds together when you make a patty. Chill the mixture for an hour. Shape into patties about 1⁄2 inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter. Chill the patties on a plastic wrap–covered platter for at least 3 hours.

Heat a broiler and a grill to medium-high. Broil the patties about 5 inches from the heat source for 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned (watch them closely, as times may vary), checking to make sure the ingredients are holding together well. Broiling first will help to prevent them from falling apart on the grill. Using a grilling screen if desired, transfer the patties to the heated grill and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once.

Serve at once, with the focaccia bread.

YIELD: Varies, but enough for 3 to 4 people

Party on South Peach Salsa

Soft, juicy peaches may seem delicate but with a little tender loving care, they prove opposites do attract when they meet a flame head on. One secret is to not remove the skins, which helps the peaches stay intact and firm, but be sure to remove the pits. And when you throw jalapeño, onion, and crushed red pepper into the mix for this salsa, the summit of sweet and hot accents will win over any crowd!

YIELD: About 3 cups, serving 4 to 6

Ingredients:

4 medium-size ripe peaches, pitted and quartered, skin intact
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the peaches
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced finely
1 small red onion, diced
Crushed red pepper (the more, the spicier!)
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste

Directions:

Heat the grill to medium. Brush the quartered peaches with the olive oil. Grill the peaches until nicely charred (or browned as desired), 3 to 5 minutes per side. Removing the skin is optional after grilling. Dice the peaches. In a medium-size bowl, combine the peaches with the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. The salsa can be served warm or after being refrigerated to let the flavors further set. Serve with tortilla chips, or as a tantalizing garnish for your favorite dish.

 

Carousing Cucumber Rounds with Rummy Hummus

These little ditties will have you and your guests spinning round, round, round while the good times roll. The crunchy cucumbers cool down the assertive and spicy, lightly rummy hummus, bringing balance and satisfaction to your tummy.

 Ingredients: 

1 (14-ounce) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly
2 canned chipotle peppers, stemmed if necessary, with a teaspoon of the adobo sauce they were canned with (add more peppers, if desired)
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini (mixed well before measuring)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white rum (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 large english (seedless) cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped at the supermarket)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet just until golden brown

Directions:

In a medium bowl, place the chickpeas, chipotles, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, white rum, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Puree with an immersion blender, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Or use a standing blender (see note below). Use a vegetable peeler to peel the cucumber skin lengthwise at 1/4-inch intervals to create a striped pattern around the circumference of the cucumber and slice it crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. If the cucumber skin is tough, peel the entire cucumber. Arrange the cucumber discs on a platter. To assemble, just before serving, lightly salt the cucumber rounds. Top each round with a generous teaspoon of hummus. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Yield: ABOUT 35 HORS D’OEUVRES

 *Note: don’t be tempted to use a food processor to make this spread because you won’t get that perfectly smooth texture.