Dana Slatkin

Tal Ronnen’s Crabless Cakes (Vegan)

This week, I was invited to attend a special dinner featuring Chef Tal Ronnen, vegan visionary and owner of Crossroads Kitchen here on Melrose, who presented a spectacular four-course dinner featuring Gardein (rhymes with protein) delectable meatless products.

Having been a fan of Gardein since it hit supermarket shelves in 2009, I was excited to taste what Ronnen could do with it. Though a devout carnivore might find any meat analog a rather sad substitute for a savory chicken cutlet or juicy steak, I knew Ronnen, with his classical training and pitch-perfect technique, could transform a hunk of soy protein into haute cuisine.

At Gardein’s groovy Marina del Rey tasting kitchen, the feast began with small bites: Crabless Cakes with Granny Smith Apples, Beets, and Horseradish Aioli; Sweet Chili Chick’n Satay with Julienned Cucumber; Ponzu-Glazed Crystal Rolls with Gardein Chick’n, and Kite Hill Cheese.

Now I’ll be honest…anything called Chick’n makes me think of a mysterious nugget made of questionable parts of an ill-fated bird. But I knew Gardein’s products were a far cry from junk food. Made from non-GMO soy and only a few other wholesome ingredients, the vegan line has impeccable pedigree: its creator, legendary meatless maven Yves Potvin, founder of Yves Veggie Cuisine, was the original inventor of the tofu dog!

The Farmgirl meets Yves Potvin!

After schmoozing with a tony group of entrepreneurs and fashionistas, we sat down to an elegantly-appointed feast: a rich Roasted Cauliflower Bisque with Fried Capers, a gorgeous Baby Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts, Almond Cheese and Balsamic Gastrique; a luxurious Chick’n Scallopini with Chanterelles and Braised Romaine, and an addictive Carrot Cake Ice Cream with Toffee Brittle.

Seriously? Domestically-grown, mercifully meat-free and good for you, too? No one could believe the entire meal was plant-based. This recipe was one of my favorites. It packs all the savory goodness of a crab cake and even tastes of the sea (thanks to the clever addition of toasted nori powder). I’ve simplified Chef Ronnen’s restaurant version so you could easily make a double or triple batch for Superbowl nibbles.

By the end of the swanky soirée, there wasn’t one disbeliever in the house. So for those of you who are trying to eat less meat, try Gardein. Dine at Crossroads. Get yourself a copy of Tal Ronnen’s beautiful cookbook. And see how easy it is to go vegan…even just for one delicious meal.

Great thanks to Stephanie Johnson, Yves Potvin and SetSipServe  for all their hospitality. They had me at “hello.”

Disclaimer: This post may contain totally benign and well-intentioned affiliate links. All content is unsponsored, uncensored, and undeniably honest.

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