This classic grilled sirloin was rescued from the microwave, dusted with coconut oil, and topped with veggies and quinoa

With Paul Simon’s soulful ballad “Homeward Bound” flashing in my mind and my fingers crisscrossing the plates in my e-cup on Sunday night, I cooked up a steak in the mess hall at the…

With Paul Simon’s soulful ballad “Homeward Bound” flashing in my mind and my fingers crisscrossing the plates in my e-cup on Sunday night, I cooked up a steak in the mess hall at the Jefferson Boys and Girls Club in Southeast Washington.

Yum.

Right out of the microwave, the most tender part of the steak was center-cut medium sirloin. Fine-grained. Deep, juicy. I was in heaven, until I looked at the plate, which was loaded with huge, grilled sirloin tips. We expect a lot more with the grilled sirloin tips I’m looking for when I shell out for a steak like that. (While we were there, we shared orecchiette (browned pasta) and spaghetti with vegetarian options, as well as a good-sized plate of vegetables.)

To give those seconds of steak a new twist—I often like to add ground-up celery with bok choy for extra zing—I slathered it all over with a vegan flour-based cheese sauce and topped with crumbled fresh-out-of-the-oven quinoa. Maybe I ate 10 slices of cheese sauce and some dry quinoa.

Of course, I’ve been eating very nutritionally balanced meals at home. At the club’s dining room, I doused my sliced steak in soy-lacquered herbed olive oil and drizzled it with smoked-salmon butter. I grilled tiny sweet potato spears and laid a whole scallion on top.

I served a few slices of hot-sauce cactus bread—one of the three excellent vegan breads I like to use as an appetizer—on the side. And I capped it all off with a fresh handful of black olives, fresh from the Esters market in Old Town Alexandria.

The produce had been harvested two days earlier, and it came perfectly color-and-flavor-coordinated with the mix of spices in the baking soda mix. No salt, just enough to give it body and flavor.

These are my favorite elements of vegan cooking: The mingling of vegan food with the basics of our palates—crisp, sweet, salty—and the focusing on colorful, fresh ingredients. The sirloin was light and super-flavorful.

Lucky for me, the Jefferson Boys and Girls Club offers a ton of really good vegan meals. Here are some of my favorites:

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