Vegan Jamaican Patties and Watermelon Strawberry Cooler

As I mentioned in a previous post, I subscribe to a CSA program, which means that once every two weeks, I get a ridiculously large box of vegetables that is way too much for one person to eat, and then I spend the next few days trying to give away as much as possible. When it’s time to drive out to pick up another box of vegetables I don’t really need, I have to move all of the previous vegetables around to make room. The good news is that these vegetables last forever. That’s also the bad news. I just am not keeping up.

I signed up for this program last year, when I still was part of a two-person household (not that the other party was big into vegetables, but at least it made a little more sense). At that time I still maintained the fantasy that I would be cooking regularly despite the fact that I taught a yoga class every night.

Now things are different, and my schedule is just plain weird, and although I love cooking and miss it terribly, most of my meals involve a restaurant, a smoothie, or peanut butter and pretzels. And yet my bi-monthly pilgrimage to the farm goes on, because I can’t seem to bring myself to cancel the program. Yet once in a while I rally myself to cook up a bunch of these vegetables in an actual meal, and that’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.

This week I’m enjoying these Jamaican Veggie Patties from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. If the recipe looks familiar, that’s probably because you saw it on 101 Cookbooks, where Heidi did a lovely job covering the recipe. I’m going to go ahead and share it again with my own notes and changes, but you can definitely make it as stated in the book (and on 101 Cookbooks) and you should be quite happy!

I made a few changes to accommodate the veggies that I had in my CSA box this week (black eyed peas, kale, corn, red onion, carrots), and I also used coconut BUTTER (as Bryant suggests), not coconut oil, for the pastry. Coconut butter*  is made from the meat of the coconut and is thicker, sweeter, and a little grainier. Heidi used coconut oil in her version, and sounds like it all worked out well for her, but I do like the rich sweetness of coconut butter in the pastry.

I’m also including a sort of non-recipe that I threw together for a delicious watermelon strawberry fresca-style drink, which was utterly refreshing after two hours of the Ashtanga Primary series at noon in my backyard. In June. In Florida. Right, hot’s the word.

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Vegan Jamaican Patties (based on Bryant Terry’s Jamaican Veggie Patties Recipe) 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Coarse sea salt
2 larges cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup coconut milk (note: I substituted plain almond milk, plus 2 T coconut butter for flavor)
1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced carrots
1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas… I used fresh black-eyed peas, which were awesome.
1/2 cup sweet fresh corn (or frozen)
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup coconut butter
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

Take a few minutes to chop up your vegetables first. For this recipe, you want them to be 1/8″ dice, which is nice and small. Heat your coconut oil in a saute pan and, when hot, add the onions and spices. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and kale and cook for 2 more minutes. Now, add your carrots, sweet potatoes, and milk, and cook until vegetables are tender- 5-10 minutes. If you’re using black eyed peas, add them here. Otherwise, once your vegetables are tender, add the green peas, corn, and thyme. After another two minutes or so, your vegetables should be cooked. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside so the flavors can, as the recipe’s author says, “marry.” Isn’t it nice when your food gets along so well?

If you don’t have a food processor: Combine flours, turmeric, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the coconut butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingertip until the mixture resembles fine sand, about 10 minutes.

Combine the vinegar and water and mix well. Then, without overworking the dough, add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon, while stirring, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and begins to coalesce. Squeeze into a tight ball, flatten, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

If you do have a food processor: Lucky you! Put your flours, salt and turmeric in the food processor and whir to blend. Drop in the coconut butter and pulse until you get that fine-sand texture. Separately, combine the vinegar and water, mixing well, and then add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon to your pulsing food processor until the dough comes together a bit. Remove, squeeze into a ball, flatten to make a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F and remove the dough from the refrigerator.

With the reserved flour, lightly dust a clean surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut six 6-inch circles from the dough (Bryant says you can use a bowl. Have fun locating a ruler and then measuring all the bowls in your kitchen. Many are 5.5″, I found!). Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the center of one side of each circle, leaving about a 1/8-inch border. Fold the other half over to make a half-moon, press to seal, and make ridges around the edge using a fork.  I prefer to use thumbs to seal- I just like the way it looks better than fork marks- but it’s up to you. You may need to add a little water to the edges to help the seal come together.

(Note: In reviewing the comments over at 101 Cookbooks, some folks recommend brushing the patties with olive or coconut oil before baking to encourage a golden crust, but I’ve never tried this and have been happy enough with the results). Transfer the patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately with some hot sauce.

Watermelon Strawberry Cooler: 

1/4 large watermelon
6 frozen strawberries (or use fresh and add ice)
juice of one lemon- or, even better, one frozen lemon cube (I do this when I have lemons that are about to go bad. What joy to discover a frozen lemon cube at the back of the freezer just when you need one for a delicious frozen beverage!)
two pinches of ginger (to taste)
two pinches of cardamom (to taste)
a healthy dose of honey or sugar (you choose how decadent you want to be)

If your watermelon has seeds, cut it into smaller chunks as needed and press it through a mesh strainer into your blender. Add strawberries (and maybe 2-3 ice cubes, if you’re using fresh berries), lemon juice, and spices. Blend thoroughly and then taste for sugar. Enjoy!

*you can buy coconut butter at your local hippie natural-foods store, online at Vitacost, or, I just discovered, you can make it yourself, which is really awesome because it’s not a cheap product. Check out this cool post over at chocolate-covered Katie.

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