The disco music was in full effect at our Vegetarian Cooking Club with the our 1970’s cuisine theme. We all arrived on a cold winter’s night to share our recipes and to ponder, “Seriously, why was food so ugly and unappetizing in the 1970’s?” Perhaps it was the odd yellow tinge that photographs from that time had or perhaps because there was something in the water that made taste buds go numb.
To illustrate this point, I’m going to start with desert because it was truly brilliant. A member of our pot-luck crew discovered a recipe for “Watergate Salad”. Jell-O pistachio pudding, and this recipe, was introduced to the market in 1970’s and came into popularity around the same time the Watergate scandal was going on. The ingredients? Well, let’s just say it’s a mouth-watering combination of whipped topping, pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, nuts and marshmallows. (A note if you want to keep this veggie, then use vegan marshmallows without gelatin.) Best of all – it’s a nice florescent greenish color. Mmmm-mmm.
Now, working backwards through our meal – for the main event we had fondue. A 1970’s-themed dinner is not complete unless you’ve got hunks of food on a stick dipped into cheesy goodness. Our dinner host did not disappoint with several fondues including a horseradish dip, sharp cheddar and a mushroom sauce. It’s an interesting dinner idea and you get to observe how truly klutzy your friends are. Be prepared to dig random bits of practically dissolved bread out of the cheese that fall off the forks and to clean cheese off of your table, walls and your clothes.
We also had a green bean casserole that was thickened with a home-made cream of mushroom and fresh beans (rather than using canned soup and canned beans). I forgot to take a picture of it because it was so good. Although, the maker of this dish did note that after chopping up all the million of mushrooms and prepping the beans that she wished she had opted to grab the can opener…
And, finally, to open up our festivities I whipped up a ‘Lil Smoky Cheese Ball with Ritz Crackers and Vegetarian Adobo Meatballs with dipping sauce (recipe below).
I lightened both recipes by substituting low fat cream cheese and no fat sour cream. I’m sure these lighter options, including “egg substitute” were non-existent in the 70’s but I decided to throw authenticity out the window for non-clogged arteries.
Although we never solved the mystery of the weird foods of the 70’s, we walked away with very full stomachs impressed that we were able to successfully throw down this fascinating time capsule of food.
Adobo Vegetarian Meatballs
2 14-oz packages vegetarian ground beef product (Don’t use the frozen soy crumbles. I used the kind that comes in a “tube” – Gimme Lean Beef by Lightlife.)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute (or two eggs)
1 to 1 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper can)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic power
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon onion power
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Adobo dipping sauce
1/2 cup low/no fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, in a bowl. (A tip: Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray and then squish the mixture with your fingers.)
Adjust seasonings if you want the meatballs to be spicier, etc.
Roll into approximately 40-45 meatballs depending on size.
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan and add meatballs in pan over medium heat. Brown on all sides. You’ll probably need to do this step in a couple of batches.
Place browned meatballs into baking dish and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Don’t overcook or they’ll dry out a bit. While you’ve got the oven going, mix ingredients for dipping sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve (with frilly toothpicks of course!)