The idea for the Replacement Dinner Project was born of a desire to feed people healthy, whole, mostly plant-based food and educate them about it in a most delicious way. It can be intimidating being invited to a vegan/whole food/plant-based potluck, so I decided to take the nerves out of it for my feasting companions and make the dinner myself… but with a twist – replacement!
I create the menu ahead of time and select certain ingredients that I ask people to bring – to replace the ones I use to cook the dinner.
Folks have to search out the ingredients like sleuths on a scavenger hunt. Or something. I’m sure it’s much more romanticized in my head than in real life. “Think of how exciting it will be, they’ll hunt down the tempeh like pirates”!
There was some tempeh resentment at our first dinner. It seems I had given my guests a real challenge! But who doesn’t love a good challenge?!
Our guests had to scour the town for tempeh, and there were muffled mutters of “this tempeh stuff looks gross”, “how is it any different than tofu?”, and “what is so good about it anyway?”.
Enter Maple Balsamic Tempeh for the win. This stuff is downright delicious.
And of course, there is an educational experience hiding in finding an ingredient you don’t know about or where to get… or eating it in a new way.
The way it works in my head is like this:
1. Send them out to find the ingredient (now they know where to get it)
2. Feed it to the most delicious way you can think of (creativity points count here)
3. Tell them what’s so good about it
Our menu for the first Replacement Dinner Project was packed. with. yum.
Fried Plantain Chips sprinkled with lime and salt
Super-powered Superfood Salad with kale, goji berries, and hemp hearts
Beet Gratin with a trio of beets, Thyme, and Gruyere
We’re gearing up for round 2 in a couple weeks here. I’ve got lots of ideas for foods that some people aren’t up on yet… things like coconut sugar, raw cacao powder, hemp seeds, lotus root, daikon radish, raw cashews, fresh shiitake mushrooms, miso paste, wheat-free tamari, teff, goji berries, the list goes on.
Hopefully my guests will enjoy the scavenger hunt as much as I enjoy putting them through it. At least I can be sure they’ll enjoy dessert!