I have a friend who has recently decided to try being vegan due to some health issues. I learned how to cook from a vegetarian, so I'm comfortable working with veggies (other than mushrooms, which I don't know how to cook at all because I don't really care for them). I want to cook dinner for my friend and her husband, and frankly, I'd like to show off how good vegan food can be. What better time than now, with all the farmer's markets beginning to open?
So, topic of discussion: what kinds of vegan main / side dishes are out there that make use of all the produce that will soon be headed our way?
For my money, I'm not as interested in dishes that use tofu/seitan/etc because I want to focus on veggies as the star. For the same reason, I'm not as interested in a lot of asian cuisine, since ingredients like curry paste or soy sauce drown out a lot of fresh flavor, imho. I'm open for input on ways to mitigate that, though. Also, I'm willing to start learning how to cook mushrooms (and how to eat them, lol), since it would please the wife quite a bit if I did so. :D
Anyway, ideas I've got include:
All sorts of southwest-ish applications for corn (raw, sauteed, grilled - it's all good) combined with red onion, tomato, jalapeno, lime, cumin, etc - but how to make this into a main dish?
Soups are top-notch, and I think they can be make a successful dinner with a good salad and some bread. Gazpacho wouldn't be much of a main course, but avocado soup could hit the mark, hmm? Does dinner need something hot?
Tomatoes - I love sauteing some garlic & onion in olive oil and tossing in some halved cherry tomatoes, some herbs, and a splash of lemon, and tossing it all with a short pasta. It's like a warm pasta salad. But what else can I do with tomatoes?
Things I'd love to have any ideas for:
Potatoes - I have no idea how to make these into a main dish without involving butter, cheese, or bacon. Perhaps a potato leek soup (or something similar)? Would it be too bland without cream/milk?
Fruit - there have to be ways to use fruit as or in a main course, right? (Bonus points for an idea involving corn and blueberries, which are awesome together.)
Ways to use polenta as something other than to dump sauce or grilled veggies on - I've baked it off and made rounds to use as a base for mini-shrimp & grits appetizers, but I just don't have an idea for a similar vegan application...
Beans - I've ordered stuff from Rancho Gordo before and loved their product. But so much of what I've used the beans for (huevos rancheros, tacos, tostadas) isn't vegan; it all tastes so much better with some queso fresco, and obviously, huevos rancheros requires eggs. :D
Anyway, I'd love to discuss ideas for making spring & summer veggies shine on their own, and I appreciate any suggestions you all have!