Friday night I went to a Meet-up hosted by Anika, of Seattle Vegan Score (which blog, by the way, was a primary inspiration for starting Northwest Herbivore, and if you’re not following it I can’t imagine why not). It was a gathering of local vegan food bloggers–most of whom I’d never met, at least in person. I settled on taking BBQ sliders made with Soy Curls, even though I’d a) never cooked with Soy Curls b) never made sliders c) to the best of my recollection never eaten a slider.
But I wanted to eat a slider, and this is how my brain works. Despite the apparent lack of wisdom in not making a favorite, practiced dish when short on time (and perhaps trying to impress some new acquaintances), I rarely make the same thing twice and rarely follow recipes, so I often look at situations like this as a chance to push myself a bit more and try something that inspires me rather than something that feels familiar. This time it worked out; other times it totally flops, but I always learn a lot.
So. Here’s my learn-as-I-went version of Barbecue Sliders with Coleslaw (with just the one picture since I was running late enough as it was!). They went over really well with the group, and although a bit time-consuming, you could easily split up the work to make them easy for a party or other gathering.
If you’re doing this all at once, start with the buns. Normally I’d make buns from scratch (there’s a great sandwich bun recipe in The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook), but with all the other stuff to do and limited time I just used blobs of pizza dough out of the Whole Foods refrigerated section, and they worked great.
Slider buns (Makes 32 buns about 1-1/2″ across)
2 11-oz. packages refrigerated pizza dough (I used whole wheat from Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s makes several delicious vegan pizza doughs that are cheaper and would work just as well here). If you use frozen, you’ll need to thaw it well in advance, per package instructions.
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (Optional. I used half white and half black.)
Take the dough out of the packages and knead briefly to mix in any dry areas or sticky spots. The Whole Foods dough didn’t need any flour on the surface for this; Trader Joe’s dough is stickier and definitely would need some flour. With a dough scraper or sharp knife, cut each ball of dough into 16 pieces, as equally sized as you can. If you want slightly larger buns, you might try dividing into 12 instead. Cover dough pieces with plastic wrap (or a clean towel or an overturned bowl) and let it warm up to room temp (this would be a good time to make the coleslaw).
Roll/pat/stretch each small piece of dough into a disc about 2″ across and 1/4″ thick. Arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. These actually pull in a bit as they bake and rise into more of a ball shape, so you can put them very close together. Brush tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if the dough is somewhat sticky when you’re shaping it, you can do what I did and just dip the shaped pieces into a little bowl of seeds before putting on the tray).
At this point, preheat the oven to 450 F.
Let sit in a warm place until the oven preheats, or at least 10 minutes. Bake on the bottom rack about 10 minutes, or until puffed up into little balls and golden brown. Cool before slicing most of the way through each bun with a bread knife.
Barbecue Soy Curls
1 large onion, diced (I used a sweet white one)
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 package Soy Curls
16 oz. barbecue sauce (I used my own Chipotle-Peach Barbecue Sauce that I canned this summer.)
Extra seasonings to taste, which will depend on your sauce. I used a couple tablespoons each of soy sauce, cider vinegar and unsalted tomato paste, a teaspoon or so of smoked salt, and maybe 1/2 tsp. powdered chipotle.
In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, cook the onion in the oil until very soft and starting to brown. While that’s cooking, soak the Soy Curls. I used very hot (almost boiling) water and soaked them longer than you normally should, which produced very soft curls that worked well for this dish. When they’re as soft as you want them, drain thoroughly and then chop coarsely to get the long strips down to something that will fit on a slider.
When the onions start to brown, add the Soy Curls to the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, to evaporate some of the liquid that remains after draining. Add the barbecue sauce and stir well. Cook another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and taste to adjust the seasonings. By the time it’s done, it should be very moist but not have liquid spots in the mixture, so it will hold together on the buns without immediately making them soggy.
I’m thinking this would work great in a slow cooker, which could also really manage the prep time needed before serving, and you could use the cooker to keep the mixture hot on the table.
1/2 head cabbage, cored and quartered (Purple makes for some nicely festive slaw, or you could do a mix of purple and green. Savoy would work, too.)
1 medium carrot, scrubbed and trimmed
1/4 of a large, sweet onion
1/3 to 1/2 cup Vegenaise
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2-1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. whole celery seed
1/8 tsp. salt
Shred the vegetables (I used the grating blade of my 7-cup food processor, which was a bit too fine for my taste, but it certainly did the job quickly and easily) and mix with the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste and keep chilled until serving.
Put a tablespoon or so of barbecue on a bun, top with a teaspoon or two of coleslaw, and pin it together with a party frill or just shove it in your mouth.