Down Home goes Vegan.

I am West Virginian.

West Virginian food is to Southern food as cerulean is to blue. Still the same color, but a unique shade.

West Virginians love hot bologna. They top their hot dogs with chili, cole slaw and raw onions. The state even boasts a unique restaurant franchise whose menu revolves around – wait for it – biscuits.

As in other southern states, being vegetarian in West Virginia is a little bit tricky, because it can be difficult to order from the existing menus at most restaurants, and many people have little respect for a diet that does not include bacon.

There is a stereotype of West Virginia as culturally backward and a stereotype of southern food as entirely meat-centric, neither of which are entirely accurate. West Virginia boasts some fantastic food and arts destinations; southern food, though frequently made with meat or meat by-products, can often be made vegetarian or even vegan by simply swapping pan drippings or stock for something plant-based.

Following are a couple of recipes for two of my favorite dishes, which are delicious eaten together.

Brown Beans and Fried Green Tomatoes

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For beans:

Ingredients

1 lb pinto beans, soaked overnight

1 ½ cups vidalia onion, diced

4 cups vegetable stock

8 cups water

Salt to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients except salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low. Soup should simmer at a lazy bubble – no hotter, no cooler – for a 3-4 hours. When beans are tender and creamy and broth is thick and reduced, salt to taste and serve, preferably over a bowl of crumbled cornbread.

For Tomatoes:

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1 green tomato, sliced into 4 or 5 slices, 3/8-1/2 inch thick, and seeded

¼ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Red pepper

1/3 cup medium-coarse yellow cornmeal

3 Tbsp. Oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. It is best if your skillet is large enough to hold all the tomato slices at once. Mix flour, red pepper and ½ tsp. salt on a small plate.

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Spread cornmeal on a small plate and pour a small bowl of water. One at a time, dip tomato slices in flour mixture, then water, then cornmeal. Coat both sides with each ingredient. Place slices in pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until batter is light golden brown. Remove slices from pan and season with salt and black pepper.

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About veggiegoodness

If I tried to tell you how I feel about food, I'd never be able to explain it in a concise and original way. So let me just tell you this: I love to cook and I love to eat. I make good food, and I want you to try it. View all posts by veggiegoodness

2 responses to “Down Home goes Vegan.

  • tampatlanta

    There are a lot of charming things about WV. You’ve reminded me that some of my favorite Southern dishes are vegetables. Have you come up with any good substitutes for bacon or fatback that still provides a nice heartiness and smoky flavor? Great blog!

  • veggiegoodness

    I haven’t given much thought to trying to find a direct substitute for bacon/pork used as a flavoring in recipes. I often use something to add umami to a dish to make it more satisfying (top choices: parmesan, veggie bullion, tomato paste and soy sauce). I know that you can buy vegetarian liquid smoke, and I sometimes use adobo sauce for something spicy-smoky. Also, Hambeens, a company which makes a 15-bean soup mix, has recently come out with a vegetarian ham-flavored version, which I haven’t tried but the seasoning packet might be something to try in various dishes. Thanks for the complement on my blog – I do my best!

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