Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jo Jo Potato Poutine, The Akron Vegan Way

Part of me wishes I had tried poutine before taking the vegan plunge 4 years ago. Then again, the amalgamation of deep fried potatoes, brown gravy and cheese curds probably wouldn't have sat well with me. I didn't even know what poutine was until my little brother made several trips north of the border and came back raving about it. Since I had been thinking about veganizing the Canadian specialty for a while, a vegan Super Bowl party in Akron seemed like a perfect time.

What makes this poutine different from all other poutine? Well aside from the fact it's vegan, made with Field Roast Chao cheese and Vegan Sausage Gravy (see recipe below), it is also a special type of French fry known only to Akronites and Summit County Ohio dwellers as Jo Jo potatoes. Ok, the potato wedge isn't exactly unique to Akron, Ohio, but I can almost guarantee you that Jo Jo Potatoes have never made their way into vegan poutine before this. And now it's time to share with the world. 

The recipe is not hard to put together. To mimic the deep fried, egg covered Jo Jo's found in pizza and chicken shops in my hometown, I parboiled potato wedges and coated them in cornstarch, spices and a little olive oil before roasting them. The result is a crispy outside and a moist steamy inside. The poutine is assembled in separate bowls topped with the savory sausage gravy and a sprinkle of fresh sage. You can serve as an app, side or main dish. Enjoy!


  • 4 large russet potatoes (2.5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Gravy Ingredients:
  • 1 small onion, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup plain soymilk or almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cubed Field Roast tomato cayenne chao cheese (or other vegan cheese of choice)
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine 


Jo Jo's: Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut them, lengthwise, into 10 to 12 even wedges.

Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them soak for 10 minutes (aka parboil).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel or paper towels. Evenly toss the potatoes with the cornstarch, than add the oil, salt and pepper.

Arrange the fries in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip them. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about another 20 minutes longer. In the last 5 minutes, remove the pans and add the cheese on top. Allow to melt before removing. Time serving so these are hot!

Sausage Gravy: Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Add the onions and cook for three minutes, until starting to soften. Add the crumbled sausage and cook for five minutes, until starting to brown. Add the flour and stir well. After two minutes, add the remaining ingredients, whisking well to combine. It will thicken and be ready rather quickly. 

To serve: Place fries in a bowl or on a plate and sprinkle with cheese. While still warm, pour gravy over fries and cheese. Top with fresh sage and enjoy!

Parboiled taters in cornstarch
Coated taters ready for the oven
Crumbled sausage
MMMMM graaaaavyyy

Jo Jo's
The final product

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weeknight Vegan Mac and Cheese

The football offseason is officially upon us but that doesn't mean we should stop making epic foods! I understand many people, including myself, are crunched for time after work. Easy and delicious recipes are tough to come by, especially those with a wow factor.

This recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and will blow you away with how good it is.  Here is where it definitely pays to have a Vitamix or else you'll need to soak the nuts and work at it in a regular blender. Pair this with some bbq seitan cutlets (that I like to keep in the freezer) and a steamed veggie side. While similar to past mac and cheese dishes found on this website (Tailgate Mac and Cheese and Chili Mac and Cheese), this version is much simpler without losing any of that creamy delicious flavor. 

If you don't have sunflower or sesame seeds feel free to use all cashews. If you a nut allergy, use all seeds. Gluten intolerance? Use your favorite gluten free pasta as this sauce is naturally gluten (and soy) free. You can make everyone happy this week for dinner, enjoy!

Prep 10 mins ∙ Cook 20 mins ∙ Makes 8 servings


  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Water or veggie broth to cover
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ⅓ cup raw sesame seeds or tahini
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 16 oz whole wheat pasta of choice
  • 1 jalapeño chopped and quickly sautéed (optional)
  • A handful of greens, chopped (optional)


1. Toss the sweet potato, carrots, onion and garlic in a small pot and barely cover with the water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minuted or until soft.
2. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to the directions. I like to add a large handful of greens during the last 5 minutes of cooking to make it more healthy!
3. In a vitamix (if not using a high speed blender, please soak your seeds/nuts accordingly) add the cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, spices and the contents of the veggie pot, including water or broth. Blend until creamy.
4. Mix together the cheesey sauce and drained pasta. Toss the jalapeño if you want so kick or serve with your favorite hot sauce.