Complex in flavor but not to prepare, a mound of golden and creamy, but healthy(!), spaghetti squash is crowned with the colors and flavors of the season in the form of dried cranberries and kale in this uniquely tasty recipe.
You could stop there, but why would you want to when you could spend just a tiny bit more time and push it right over the top with a sprinkling of crusty croutons!
In this recipe, the croutons are curried, but if those flavor notes seem discordant with you meal, by all means, choose another spice, but don’t deprive your friends and family of this mound of sweet-n-savory deliciousness.
Sorry, everyone, I almost missed the 5th Day of Christmas due to flight delays in Atlanta…errr. Tis the season!
But I am now safely at my family’s home in MS–after having to fly into a different town than originally scheduled, creating a longer drive for my family.
So, now, it’s almost midnight East Coast Time, and I have a mere 10 minutes before I turn into a pumpkin. Or maybe a sweet potato. This will be quick…or maybe not. The computer here is very sloooooow. Perhaps this is a sign that I need to slow down the pace a bit this week. Sound familiar?
Here goes: I adore sweet potatoes, but I was never a fan of those dessert-type dishes with brown sugar and all the rest. One Thanksgiving my sister and I came upon this recipe for Vegan Stuffed Savory Sweet Potatoes, which I easily veganized, and it quickly became a family favorite. These handsome spuds are just as appropriate for Christmas, and you may find that those who think they don’t enjoy holiday sweet potatoes, in fact do!
Beautiful bright greens deserve a special place on the holiday table. And my “creamed” version of my favorite winter green–kale–is practically virtuous, as its creaminess comes from pureed white beans. Rich and decadent tasting, your guests will be none the wiser.
As you can see in the photo, when I created the recipe initially, it was to stuff inside an enormous (vegan) tempura-battered onion ring from Ruth’s Chris in a “Restaurant Redux.” When you follow the link, you will not only discover the recipe but an explanation for why I was in a steak house. It wasn’t to eat steak, that’s for sure! And, sadly, not long after I created this recipe, Ruth’s Chris ditched their tempura battered onion rings in favor of breaded ones, which are not vegan. Probably just as well; those were a splurge.
But my “Creamed” Kale is just as tasty and far more healthy served in a pretty casserole dish, ramekins, or stuffed in the likes of acorn squash. Any way you serve it, you can’t go wrong with this delicious and nutritious–not to mention super simple–embrace of one of winter’s finest gifts.
With its heavenly–and earthy–star anise garnish and its anise-and-sage dressing, this simple and flavorful side-dish seems made for the winter holiday table.
My Cous-Cous with Grilled Butternut Squash feeds two birds with one cracker (as opposed to killing two birds with one stone!) because it is both starch and vegetable in one. And, never fear, you won’t find me outside grilling in December (or any time for that matter), as I am an indoor grill pan devotee and that’s all you need for grilling the squash–my trustee pan is made by Lodge–though you could roast it instead.
If sumac is new to you, you should be able to find it in Mediterranean markets. It is a beautiful golden reddish color and imparts a mellow tartness. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute just a little lemon zest, but its unique flavor makes it worth the hunt. I love nutty undertones this time of year, and the sesame provides just the right hint, and is especially compatible with the sumac and anise.
If you have the green part of your menu taken care of, this would be an excellent addition. (And, if you don’t, stay tuned, as greens are coming up!)
Ever since the year after we were married, Joe and I have enjoyed the annual privilege of hosting Thanksgiving for our respective families.
The venue has changed from our small first house to the roomier home we built 13 years ago as have the number of people gathered around the table, for family members and friends have come and gone through death, divorce, relocation, engagement, or just scheduling conflicts.
Everyone misses Joe’s now deceased parents and, this year, an engagement and a work schedule prevented one of our nieces and our nephew from coming. But, my parents and sister all joined us this year. (Impending knee surgery had kept my sister and mother home last year and my father, especially, felt guilty for coming without them, though they encouraged him.)
Both of Joe’s sister’s, one niece, and his married sister’s husband all were able to come, which made for a convivial group of 9 plus two hungry Great Danes.
I loved having my sister stay at our house, but I also loved visiting our parents at their beachfront hotel, and taking long (like 7 miles long) walks on the boardwalk with Joe’s younger sister from his families’ beachfront hotel.
There were lunches and dinners both in and out, movies, a couple of exciting football games (MS State vs. Ole Miss and Auburn vs. Alabama), dog walks, a bit of shopping with my mom and sister–we had to get Mom something pretty to wear for the holidays and she no longer drives (words I thought I would never utter)–planning for an SPCA fundraiser (more on that later), and lots of conversation, teasing and laughter.
Our tasty dinner–we usually eat around 6 p.m.–consisted of the following vegan dishes:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots
Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Dressing (see below)
Morel Mushroom Gravy (no real recipe)
Pear Chutney (not yet posted)
Everyone seemed to love it all, but the dressing was a particular favorite. I had found a recipe for Double Corn-Cornbread Dressing in the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I was excited that it incorporated spinach in a great enough amount that each serving included a healthy serving. So, I basically followed their recipe (substituting a vegan broth for their chicken broth). But, as a child, I loved my mom, Sallie’s, Double Corn Fingers, so I decided to use my veganized version of that recipe in place of the cornbread and it was absolutely scrumptious in this teen-to-adult-pleasing stuffing!
Vegan Double Corn Finger, Baby Spinach, and Caramelized Onion and Corn Stuffing
Serves 8-10 (with other side dishes)
1 cup vegan butter, divided
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1-15.5 ounce can creamed corn (which is vegan)
3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 large red onion, halved, and cut into thin wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups fresh baby spinach
2 to 2 3/4 cups no-chicken broth or vegetable broth (I think the no-chicken broth has a richer flavor)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place1/2 cup butter in a 9 x 13″ metal baking pan and slide into oven just until butter melts. Remove pan and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium size mixing bowl, combine self-rising flour and cornmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in creamed corn and the melted butter. Stir together with a fork until completely combined. Dough will be a little sticky. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. (Can be made a day ahead up to this point.)
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/2 cup butter in large cast iron skillet over medium high. Add corn, onion, and salt, and cook, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or so, until butter begins to brown and corn and onion begin to caramelize. Stir in pepper. Adjust heat as necessary. Remove from heat.
In a very large bowl, break up cornbread into bite size pieces. Add corn and onion mixture and spinach. Toss to combine well. Drizzle with broth to moisten and lightly toss to combine. Spoon into a greased 3-1uart baking dish and bake, uncovered for 40 minutes or until dressing is heated through and lightly browned on top. Serve warm. (Alternatively, dressing may be made up to to the point of baking, covered, refrigerated for up to a day, placed in a cold oven, and then baked at 325 degrees, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes and uncovered for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Recover if it appears to be browning too fast or drying out.)
Who 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.
As I noted in the original post of this recipe, it was here that my love affair with the humble parsnip began.
And how nice it is to be able to “whip” up a simple dish for a cooking-intensive holiday!
I am THRILLED to be one of a dozen invited contributors to participate in “Let’s Eat,” a new initiative of Eastern Virginia’s public TV and radio station, WHRO!
I had no more created this recipe than I received the invitation.
Since it is sponsored by Whole Foods, VA Beach, and our local chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local, a recipe that featured local produce seemed in order. At the time I submitted it, pattypan squash was in season, but the site was just launched and, alas, pattypan squash is no longer in season, at least not in Coastal Virginia. But the pesto would be luscious on grilled pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and much more. And my basil is still in full bloom!
Stay tuned for more tasty treats ready for their close-up. I will be posting regularly on “Let’s Eat” and will direct you from here to there!
Yield: 2 servings (easily doubles)
This quick, vibrant colored and flavored dish becomes a meal with the addition of tofu or tempeh cubes added during the last two to three minutes of cooking.
It’s my homemade version of one of my favorite dishes in Chinese restaurants. My secret ingredient? Chinese Black Bean Sauce!
1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed, lightly salted, and grilled over medium high in a grill pan for about 15 minute, turning periodically, or until lightly charred all over and very tender
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use a “lite” variety for less sodium)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sake (or mirin)
2 tablespoons Chinese Black Bean Sauce (available on international aisle of most grocery stores)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lightly roasted and salted cashews (or halves and pieces) + a few more for garnish
While green beans are grilling, heat oil in a cast iron skillet (or wok) over medium-high. Add ginger, and stir fry for about 1 medium, stirring continually, just to soften and turn slightly more golden. Lower heat if cooking to fast. Add garlic, and stir fry for 30 seconds, still stirring continually. Add remaining ingredients except green beans and cashews and cook, stirring continually until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add green beans and cook another 2 to 3 minutes or until beans are well coated and have absorbed some of the sauce. Avoid over-cooking or the sauce will become too syrupy and tar-like. During the last minute, stir in 1/4 cup cashews. Transfer to a platter or a shallow bowl and serve with additional cashews for garnish. This dish is fun and quite easy to enjoy with chopsticks.
Yield: 4 servings
Our favorite local sushi restaurant (vegan for me!) is Zushi, where Chef Kevin (Asian, despite the name) is not only a master of flavors, but also of exquisite, artful presentation.
We like to choose the Chef’s Tasting Menu and let him delight and surprise us with whatever he is inspired to make from that day’s freshest ingredients. He relishes coming up with vegan dishes for me. One of my favorites is quie traditional: Nasu Dengaku or long, thin Japanese eggplant, split lengthwise and broiled with a sweet miso glaze, as Kevin has a special way even with the tried and true.
My version is a slight twist on tradition, as I add a hint of soy sauce, no mirin (as this rice wine is similar to sake and seems like a duplication of it) and a hint of ginger. My version is not terribly sweet, though you may add a bit more agave if you choose.
Really quick and easy–no chopping is involved and the glaze is made while the epplant broils–this dish is lovely enough for a dinner party in its elegant simplicity, but fast enough for a snack.
2 Japanese eggplant, stem ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons light miso (available in Asian markets)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon agave nectar (you may add up to an addition 2 teaspoons for a sweeter glaze
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (I use a “lite” variety for less sodium)
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I use a microplan grater to make quick work of this task)
Garnish: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds + 1 green onion, thinly sliced (I use mostly the green part)
Preheat broiler. Place eggplant on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet (my preference to collect any glaze that runs over the edges of the eggplant. Make shallow diagonal slits in eggplant about 1-inch apart. Rub eggplant all over with sesame oil and broil 3 minutes on each side. While eggplant broils, heat sake in a small cup or bowl for 30 seconds in microwave. Whisk in miso, agave nectar, soy sauce and ginger until smooth. Taste and whisk in more agave if desired. Remove eggplant from oven, spoon 1 tablespoon of glaze atop each half, spreading to cover surface, and return to broiler for 2 minutes. Remove eggplant to a serving platter and spoon any glaze in the bottom of the skillet over the top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve immediately or at room temperature. It is even quite tasty cold!