Food is about so much more than nutrition—it’s one of the most personal expressions of our cultures, values, and traditions. Our series, Behind the Recipe, profiles a different healthy cook every month to explore the personal, untold stories of their favorite dishes. This month, Charity Morgan, who provides vegan meal prep for NFL players and celebs, shares her personal recipe for vegan truffle creamed corn—the dish a room full of NFL players gobbled up so fast there was none left over for herself. It's just one delicious recipe from her new book, Unbelievably Vegan ($21).
I have always loved cooking, starting when I was just three or four years old. Some of my earliest memories are of me in the kitchen with my mom, helping her cook. Well, I thought I was helping—she probably had another word for it. She would give me a task that would take my little hands a while, like grating cheese, so I wouldn't be completely in the way. I'm not sure why I loved it so much. I think because it was a way for me to get my hands dirty and be with my mom at the same time.
Even though I am known for vegan cooking now, I did not grow up eating that way. My husband [former Tennessee Titians linebacker Derrick Morgan] and I decided to give it a try in January 2015. We were so ready to commit to eating fully vegan for two weeks. We started off strong the first few days. But then about a week in, I added sour cream to my tacos. I couldn't help it! That's when my whole experiment with veganism ended—until 2017.
At this time, my husband decided he wanted to go plant-based to support his athletic performance. I was experiencing some digestive issues and was curious if eating vegan could help. I got really into it, experimenting with different ways to veganize some of our favorite meat- and dairy-filled meals. (Yes, including taco night with vegan sour cream.) During the off-season, it was relatively easy for us to both stick with it because I was making our meals at home. But when the football season started, my husband was eating most of his meals at the Titans' training facility and they didn't have great vegan options. So, I started making meals he could bring with him.
You know in the school cafeteria how there's always that one kid who pulls something amazing out of their lunchbox while you're struggling to get down the hot lunch mystery meat? That's kind of what happened with my husband. Some of the other players saw what he was eating, got jealous, and asked if I could cook for them too. So I did. Over time, the number of football players I was making vegan meals for kept growing.
One Thanksgiving, we decided to invite anyone on the team over who couldn't go home for the holidays. About 14 players took us up on the offer. I didn't announce this or anything, but I decided to do a fully vegan meal. Once everything was cooked, I put the dishes out on our big kitchen island and everyone started helping themselves. One of the dishes I made was a vegan truffle creamed corn. Normally, creamed corn is full of dairy, specifically butter, evaporated milk, and cheese. My version is just as decadent, but it's 100 percent vegan.
One key part of the dish (besides the corn) is a homemade béchamel made with vegan butter, flour, onion, cloves, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and nutmeg. The other secret ingredient is vegan cream cheese. And adding a tablespoon of truffle oil makes all the flavors come alive in the richest way. Sounds delicious, right? That's why I myself was looking forward to a big 'ol spoonful of it but when I finally got my turn to get my food, it was completely gone—those football players ate it up!
If a room full of football players (most of whom definitely aren't vegan) in the heart of Tennessee loved this completely vegan dish, I feel pretty confident you and your family will too. It's especially a great dish to make on cold January nights—the dreariest month of the year in my opinion. Just learn from my mistake and serve yourself first. Otherwise, you might miss out!
Vegan truffle creamed corn
For the béchamel:
1 bay leaf
1/2 small yellow onion
2 whole cloves
1/4 cup plant-based butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
2 1/2 cups unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
1 tsp fine pink Himalayan salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
For the truffle creamed corn:
1 cup béchamel
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp plant-based cream cheese
2 tsp organic sugar
1 tsp truffle salt
1 Tbsp plant-based butter
1 Tbsp truffle oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Freshly shaved truffle, for garnish (optional)
For the béchamel:
1. Place the bay leaf on the flat side of the onion half. Secure the bay leaf in place with the cloves and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to make a paste (called a roux). Cook, whisking constantly, for one to two minutes to cook the flour, being careful not to let it turn golden (turn the heat down if you need to); otherwise you’ll have a brown sauce rather than a white one.
3. Continue whisking vigorously and begin to slowly pour in the milk. Whisk until smooth, then add the prepared onion half. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, four to five minutes. Turn off the heat. Season with the salt, white pepper, and nutmeg (if using). Remove and discard the onion. Use immediately or cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
For the truffle creamed corn:
1. In a large saucepan, combine the béchamel and corn over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for five to eight minutes, until the corn is tender and heated through.
2. Stir in the nutritional yeast, vegan cream cheese, sugar, and truffle salt. Mix well. Stir in the butter.
3. Transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with the truffle oil, garnish with parsley, and truffle (if using), and serve.
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