While I was in one of my wine classes a few months ago, I found myself sitting beside a woman who was noisily suffering from what our teacher was saying. We were onto food and wine pairing and we were in deep red wines which go well with meat. Apparently, our teacher was a hardcore meat lover and sometimes he gets carried away in describing some popular Italian meat dishes which he obviously loves and my squirming neighbor finds terrible.
My squirming neighbor was a vegetarian with an inclination to being vegan I think. When the food was placed in front of us, on our little tables, she was stuck between making the most of her wine class or skipping what she definitely didn't want to see in front of her and she had to pop in her mouth. She pinched a minute-sized piece, that even an ant would complain, from one of the hams in front of her. As I watched her, I wondered if she actually tasted anything from that microscopic piece she ate with the wine.
I engaged her in a conversation about being vegetarian and vegan. She's vegetarian, and no, she's not vegan although sometimes, she would like to but she likes cheese, so, it's a no-no. Then I thought about myself. I love meat, fish and all kinds of food that to restrict myself to just vegetables would make my world crumble. Besides, I still have two growing kids who need all the nutrients they can get from balanced diets. I do cook more fish for them and the meat that I serve them is almost always the white meat of the chicken so I hope that makes things better for them.
I may be the last person to become vegan but I do admire how vegans completely abandon anything related to animal products. I think it takes a herculean determination to attain it. One of the recipes I was asked to create for Thanksgiving is a vegan pumpkin pie. Not being vegan, it took me a long time to deal with the task in front of me. I wanted to make sure that every single ingredient I put is agreeable to this special kind of diet. A little bit of trial and error here and there and finally, I was faced with what I was hoping for - a delicious vegan pie or in this case, mini vegan pies.
Since I have a lot of pistachios from my trips and my in-laws' trips from Sicily, I decided on using pistachios for the crust mixed with extra virgin olive oil. I used fresh squash for the filling since that is the only kind I can use in Italy. As for the whipped cream, I thought of using more pistachios with rice cream as the base. The rice cream has a neutral taste so the pistachios gave it quite a flavor.
If you are interested in learning more about this Mini Vegan Pumpkin and Pistachio Pie recipes, you can get it at Thanksgiving. This is another idea for Thanksgiving if you haven't decided yet what to prepare for that special day. Buon appetito!