On the 3rd Day of Christmas…Vegan Pumpkin Pie Espresso

It is supposed to chill down today through at least Christmas in much of the US that isn’t already frigid or frozen, so my Pumpkin Pie Espresso seemed the perfect way to start this morning, Christmas morning, or any winter morning!

(Please note: when you click on the link, it will take you to the recipe that I posted in 2011 with a cookbook giveaway but the giveaway is not a current offer.  Sorry!)

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #2: Vegan Turks Turban Squash with Pepita-Sage Pesto (Delicious with Any Pumpkin or Squash)

Turks Turban Squash with Pepita-Sage PestoWho knew that those pumpkins and squash at the farmers market–with their fanciful forms and all of their beautiful color, strips and spots–were not just for decoration?  Many, if not most, are seriously good eats.

What better to top my roasted version with than my Pepita-Sage Pesto?  I make a lot of pestos out of all kinds of ingredients, but this glistening version  is an all-time favorite!

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #5: Vegan Fresh Pumpkin, Pecan and White Bean Shooters (or Dip or Spread)

Pumpkin, Pecan, and White Bean SpreadThis is the perfect little nibble to stave off I-don’t-think-I -can-wait-any-longer pre-Thanksgiving Feast hunger pains!

I recently created this dip or spread and love serving it as a “shooter” with tiny little spoons a friend brought me back from a trip to India.  But any small spoon will do–or mini-spreader with a side of crostini.  My serving secret?  My “glasses” are actually votive holders!

Food  just doesn’t get much more delectably fall-like than this simple spread, so it is perfect for Thanksgiving.  You really can taste the contribution of each autumnal ingredient: fresh(!) pumpkin, pecans, white beans and sage.  Be sure to cook the pumpkin ahead of time so it’s cooled and ready to go when you are.  (See my easy microwave directions below.)

Bind it all together with your favorite vegan creaminess–sour cream, mayo, or unflavored cashew cream–and you have a fabulously flexible shooter, dip for raw veggies or crackers, spread for a bagel, or even a filling for non-traditional quesadillas, stuffed peppers, etc.

(Where’s Minnie?  Can anyone spot our female brindle Dane who is never far away when food is out?)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup pecan pieces

Sea salt

1 cup diced onion

2 large cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoon dry rubbed sage

2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup diced cooked fresh pumpkin (see super simple microwave directions below)

4 to 5 tablespoons vegan sour cream, mayo, or cashew cream

Accompaniments: raw vegetable strips or slices or crackers

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add pecans and a pinch of salt, and toast, stirring continually, for a couple of minutes.  Add onion and a pinch more salt, and continue sauteing and stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add garlic and sage and continue for another minute.  Stir in beans, pumpkin and vegan sour cream or mayo and heat through, stirring continually.  Serve warm with the accompaniment of your choice.

How to Microwave a Fresh Pumpkin (The Time-Pressed Woman’s Way)

1-2 pound pumpkin

Wash your pumpkin, pierce several times all-over with a sharp knife, place on a microwave-safe dish, and microwave on high for about 7 -10 minutes.  Check for tenderness, by piercing with a knife.  It if goes in easily, the pumpkin is ready.  Allow to cool, then slip off the skin, ct in half, and remove seeds and pulp.  If you prefer, you can halve and deseed the pumpkin first, but I find it puts up more resistance that way.

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Vegan Smokey Pumpkin Grits with Maple-Roasted Pepitas

Yield: 4 servings

This golden and delicious dish personifies fall.  Whether you serve it for breakfast or brunch, as tapas, or as a side dish, it is sure to satisfy as a warm and comforting ode to autumn.

When I was growing up, my family probably ate cheese grits for breakfast on more Sundays than not.  When I became vegan, I learned that cheesy grits need not be a faint and distant childhood memory, thanks to nutritional yeast.

For this recipe, I make the grits even more creamy and golden, with just a hint of smoke and savory sweetness, by incorporating coconut creamer, smoked paprika, vegan butter, and pureed pumpkin.  The creaminess of the grits is perfectly set off by crunchy pepitas lightly toasted with more nutritional yeast, salt, and just a hint of maple syrup.

For some recipes, the garnish is nice, though not necessary.  But for this one–though I would still make the dish even if I didn’t have fresh sage growing in the garden–I feel that tiny, tender and very young sage leaves add the perfect finishing touch to balance and accent all of the other flavor notes.

Find the simple and simply addicting recipe HERE at One Green Planet!


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Spicy Vegan “Beef,” Zucchini, and Pumpkin Chili

Yield: 4 servings

I will admit that this non-traditional chili came from very humble beginnings–a zucchini from the farmer’s market that needed used and soon and some textured vegetable protein, which keeps forever and that I had had on hand for about that long–but it is glorious!

It is also simple to prepare, mouth-watering, a beautiful golden color, nutritious, filling-but-not-too, and delightfully perfumed.

“TVP?” you may wonder.  Believe me, I did too.   I suppose I ate it at some point–probably in school lunches back when its cost effectiveness as a cheap source of protein led to it being camouflaged in a variety of dishes–but I know I have never cooked it.  I purchased it quite a while ago out of curiosity.  Turns out that I really liked both its texture and flavor, namely whatever it is cooked with.  Something about its appearance and texture reminded me of chopped clams (from back in the day), so stay-tuned for some kind of yummy chowder.

In the meantime, enjoy this chili!

2 cups textured vegetable protein (TVP) or crumbled vegan ground meat substitute, e.g. soy crumbles or tempeh

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Sea salt

4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

2-8 inch zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced vertically, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 stick cinnamon, broken in half

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or 1 teaspoon of a milder chili powder like Ancho)

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup pureed pumpkin

Optional garnishes: vegan sour cream, broken cinnamon sticks, and/or roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine textured vegetable protein (TVP) and stock.  Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the stock is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

In a large skillet (cast iron is always my preference), heat olive oil to shimmering over medium-high heat.  Add onion and a pinch of salt, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring, until softened.  Add zucchini, and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add textured vegetable protein, wine, cinnamon sticks, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and chipotle chili powder, and stir well.   Stir in coconut milk and pumpkin and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 10 minutes or until flavors marry.  Thin with a little water or white wine if necessary.  Check for salt and stir in more if necessary.  Serve warm in bowls garnished, if desired, with vegan sour cream, a piece of a cinnamon stick, and a few roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds.

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Vegan Smoky Nooch-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds–THE Best Snack with a Glass of Wine or to Give as a Holiday or Hostess Gift

It would be beyond selfish not to share my super-simple, absolutely addicting new snack with you asap!

You see, I LOVE popcorn–lightly buttered (with vegan Earth Balance)–and sprinkled with nutritional yeast (nooch).  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  You know nooch, yes?  It has a rich, cheesy flavor that can take on almost mushroomy notes in, say, a pot pie.  A favorite recipe I make starts with a roux made of toasted flour, nooch and vegetable oil, and its aroma while cooking…oh my-heavenly.  But I digress.

One day, craving a big healthy infusion of nooch, but not having any popcorn on hand, my eyes lit on Trader Joe’s roasted and lightly salted  pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in the pantry.  A mere 5 minutes later, I was munching on the most delicious snack to enjoy with a glass of white wine.  They are also delish sprinkled on a whole range of other dishes.  And poured up into little jars, they make very festive gifts.

Can I just tell you how many times I have burned my mouth on this snack because I simply couldn’t wait?  Sad, I know.  But I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, only with a little more self-control!

Yield: 1 cup

1 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)

*1 cup roasted and lightly salted pepitas (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (Red Star brand contains B12)

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch sea salt

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and smoked paprika, and toast, stirring constantly, for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until nutritional yeast coating is golden and lightly toasted.  The buttery yeast may smoke a little while toasting, so just watch the color and avoid overcooking.  Remove the pan from the heat, stir in just a pinch of salt, and pour into a small bowl to cool.

Note:  Feel free to try it with pumpkin seeds removed from a fresh pumpkin, but I love the green color and narrow size of the variety Trader Joe’s sells and have never seen them in any pumpkin I have ever purchased.  Since Trader’s brand is already roasted, you’ll probably need to toast tfresh dried pumpkin seeds longer than my recipe calls for.

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What Bloomed on Our Platters for Vegan Thanksgiving 2011–First Up: Vegan Roasted Pumpkin with Pepita and Sage Pesto

Thanksgiving 2011 Hosts: Betsy & Joe DiJulio

This Thanksgiving was surely one of the best in recent memory, if a bit bittersweet.

In 1991, the year after my husband and I got married and moved to Virginia, we began a tradition of hosting the Thanksgiving celebration for both of our families.  Over the ensuing two decades, our families changed and grew with everyone welcome, though busy lives, blended families, and family responsibilities to aging relatives meant that not everyone could come every year.  However, some years, we happily picked up an aunt or two and a good family friend.  More recently, both Joe’s and my mothers experienced increasing health issues to the point that his couldn’t travel for the last two years and mine couldn’t travel last year, so we went to our respective homes for the holidays in 2010.  Sadly, Joe’s mother passed away last April (and had been predeceased a few years by his father), but my mother rebounded.  So this year, nine of our clan once again gathered here to revive the tradition.

It was a joyful day of cooking and visiting.   Our niece Gabriella and Joe’s Aunt Cathy stayed with us, with everyone else in beachfront hotels.  Before everybody woke and/or came over, I sprung out of bed and cleaned out our kitchen and garage refrigerators so we would have a clean slate.   The result was two sparkling fridges and an entire dishwasher load of food storage cartons.   Cathy dried every single one of them (I don’t run the heated dry cycle on the fridge to save energy) and she somehow kept up with the food prep dishes and tools all day, as I hand wash a lot of them either because they are special or because they will be reused.


Minnie Quickly Had Mom Trained

With the great fridge clean-out and a nice dog walk with Gab and Cathy under our belts, my parents and sister arrived and we all eased into a nice leisurely five hours of food preparation.  Joe and his sisters went to the gym, stopped by to say “hi,” and then headed to their hotel suite, complete with kitchen, to see about their contributions, returning around 4 p.m. with them in tow for the feast.

Meanwhile, at home, our house guests and my family were wonderfully helpful and conversant kitchen companions, easily moving in and out to offer help as needed.  And plenty was needed, as the only preparation my sister and I had done the day before was to make the dessert–Cranberry Crunch, a longtime family favorite–and a pan of cornbread for the dressing.  My dad turned out to be the ace pumpkin cleaner and peeler.  Doing that for a crowd is a bit of a chore, but was so much more enjoyable with my papa.

When we sat down to dinner my husband said he was surprised that there was nothing green on the menu.  He was right: there were no green vegetables!  But that was somewhat by design, as there simply wasn’t anything other than collards and broccoli at my go-to farmer’s market, and I didn’t have a particular hankerin’ for either.  But the market did have beautiful pumpkins and butternut squash, so I served both. 

Let’s begin with a recipe I’ve featured here on The Blooming Platter before:  Roasted Pumpkin with Pepita and Sage Pesto.  It is loved by many, including former pumpkin haters.  And, after introducing it to our Thanksgiving guests this year, it has even more fans.  Simply click on the link to access the recipe.  Note that, for Thanksgiving, I used six small striped pumpkins about 6 inches in diameter (see photo below) instead of a Turk’s Turban Squash and doubled the pesto recipe to serve 10 to 12 people (with other side dishes).  But we prepared the pumpkins the same way: roasting them for a little bit before removing the seeds, pulp, and peel; cutting it into chunks; and then roasting the chunks again for 17-20 minutes, or 8-10 minutes on each of two sides.

These Beauties Are as Tasty as They Are Pretty

Be sure to check out my three remaining Thanksgiving posts for my Apple-Roasted Pecan Dressing and Barley with Sauteed Butternut Squash and Baby Bellas plus my sister-in-law’s Cranberry-Orange Relish with Ginger and Walnuts and Aunt Cathy’s Caponata.

And for even more seasonal specialties, I hope you will check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook, great for everyone on your holiday gift list.

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Vegan Thai Red Curry, Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Sauce with Fresh Peanut Butter-Roasted Pumpkin and Tofu Recipe

My Thanksgiving Day post is coming up, but–and I bet it is no different in your household–there is no time for carefully staging food photographs in the midst of the convivial holiday hubbub.  So, before the throngs gather today–and, in any event, with less going on in the kitchen–I hope to photograph the components of our meal.  I made one recent recipe and two brand new ones that received rave reviews, so I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

In the meantime, though, I am excited to offer this Thai-inspired pumpkin dish.  If you follow The Platter, you know that I am all about fresh pumpkin this year, including in Asian preparations, like this one and my Vegan Miso-Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu over Udon Noodles which was featured on OneGreenPlanet.org.

Pumpkin is so agreeable to rubs, and this peanut butter riff is no exception.  Enjoy it with creamy white chunks of tofu over my silky, golden, and pleasantly spicy melange of red bell peppers, onions and chard in a coconut-red curry sauce thickened with pureed pumpkin.  Its subtle tang is courtesy of fresh lime juice and vegan fish sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Fresh Peanut Butter-Roasted Pumpkin:

2 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian fish sauce” in Asian markets)

1 teaspoon prepared Thai red curry paste

1 1/4 pounds pumpkin (this weight is with seeds and pulp removed, but the skin still on) , peeled and cut into about 3/4 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Oil a large metal baking dish and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vegan fish sauce, and curry paste until smooth.  Add pumpkin and toss gently to coat.  Transfer to the prepared baking pan, spread out, place in the oven and roast for about 8 minutes.  Stir gently or flip chunks, and roast an additional 8 minutes or until lightly caramelized.  While pumpkin roasts, make sauce.  When pumpkin is finished cooking, remove the pan from the oven.  If sauce isn’t quite finished, cover pumpkin to keep warm.

Vegan Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Curry Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 of a large onion, cut into 1/4-inch wide slivers

Pinch sea salt

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch wide slivers and then cut in half crosswise

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups finely chopped Swiss chard–I use the food processor for this task (about 1 bunch with thick stems removed; you may use kale or spinach instead, but the chard was lovely at our farmer’s market recently)

2 tablespoons prepared red curry paste (feel free to adjust the amount to your taste)

1-15 ounce can coconut milk or lite coconut milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce

Juice of one lime

Sea salt to taste

Optional, but recommended:  1 tablespoon each finely chopped Thai basil and cilantro or to taste

Accompaniments: 12 ounces regular tofu cut into 1 inch chunks (baked, broiled or simply heated and kept warm until serving time); and 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice

Garnish: chopped peanuts,  sliced green onions, and optional lime wedges

In a large cast iron skillet or wok, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and saute, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until onion begins to soften.  Add bell peppers and continue sauteing for about 2-3 more minutes or until it begins to soften.  Add garlic and chard and saute for one to two  minutes or until chard is tender, but still bright green.  Add curry paste and saute, stirring, just until smooth and incorporated.  Add coconut milk and pumpkin puree, and cook until heated through.  Add fish sauce and lime juice, and stir to combine.  Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.  Stir in optional Thai basil and cilantro and remove from heat.  Serve sauce over cooked Jasmine rice topped with roasted pumpkin and tofu.  Garnish with chopped peanuts and sliced green onion.


For 150+ more specialties of the season, I hope you will check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook.

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Vegan Silver Dollar Pumpkin-Espresso-Oatmeal Pancake-Fritters

Yield:  Approximately 8-10 silver dollar pancakes

Here in America, Thanksgiving approaches.  It is so many people’s favorite holiday, and for good reason.  Non-denominational and, in fact, not necessarily religious in any direct way, it tends to be a gracious gathering of friends and family who come together to share a traditional meal of fall favorites while giving thanks to anyone for anything they choose.

Pumpkin dishes typically take center stage on the menu, but I crave them before, during and after.  If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving late in the day, you might enjoy these pancake-fritters for breakfast; or if your clan breaks bread earlier in the day, try these treats the morning after.   Or, heck, go ahead and make them today!

I call them “pancake-fritters” because they are a hybrid, but not by design, at least initially.  Rather, the pleasant “stickiness” of the batter and the amount of sugar meant that my first batch, cooked as regular pancakes, had to be put down the disposal!  I discovered that they have to be small, and they have to be pan fried in a bit more oil than what pancakes require to prevent them from sticking to the skillet and scorching.

So don’t be tempted to make these as larger pancakes or use less oil or yours will meet the same fate as mine.  My second try is what you see pictured and well worth the failed experiment.   The resulting pancake-fritters are a little oilier than a pancake, like a fritter or even a fried cake doughnut, with a crispy exterior and a soft and tender interior.

Pumpkin pancakes are a dime a dozen, so while a half-cup of leftover pumpkin initiated the recipe, the desire for a twist on a classic resulted in the addition of oatmeal and espresso powder inspired by my Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with a cup of coffee.   Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose)

1 cup old fashioned oats

4 tablespoon natural sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch sea salt

1/4 cup soymilk (I use unsweetened, but plain is fine)

2 teaspoons instant espresso

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional garnish: maple syrup plus a dab of vegan sour cream and a walnut piece per pancake


Preheat the oven to warm and line a plate with a double thickness of paper towel.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 7 dry ingredients and make a well in the center.  In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk and espresso powder to dissolve the latter.  Then whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla.   Pour the wet ingredients into the well and whisk all together just until combined.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat about 1/8 inch of canola oil over medium-high.   Make pancakes-fritters, 4 at a time, using 1 rounded tablespoon of batter, gently smoothing the  top.  Cook for about 2 minutes per side, loosening each pancake from the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula after a minute or less of cooking, just enough time for the pancakes to be set enough to gently lift.  Reduce heat if cooking too fast.  Remove to the lined plate, cover with more paper towel, and keep warm in the oven while you continue with the remaining batter in the same manner.  Serve each garnished with maple syrup, a dollop of vegan sour cream and a walnut piece.

For 150+ additiona recipes perfect for this and every season, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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