(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)
Tonight we were discussing what to make for dinner, and my intention was to go to great lengths to lead my family to choose the butternut squash I had bought but let them think it was totally their decision. This is a skill that most mothers possess and I’m employing it tonight because I really want to make the Sage Scented Fettuccine with Butternut Squash.
Now what follows is a total breakthrough in this journey. I mention butternut squash and my husband says “Oh I saw a recipe for squash the other night that we can do. Where did I see that?” After a bit of thought he says “It was in that book you had out the other night when we had the zucchini.” No way! I swore I had hidden the book so well that night. So I ask innocently “what book?” “That vegetable book,” he says. Oh no!
I get the book out and, without showing him the cover, I turn to the Panko topped zucchini page. He takes the book and immediately checks out the cover and says “This is a VEGAN cookbook?!!!” See what I mean by “vegan phobic”?! So I grabbed the book and said “Oh my gosh, it’s just a book full of really good ways to cook vegetables. Remember the roasted cauliflower? Remember the awesome zucchini? You loved them!” I could see him really struggling with this, so I said “Let’s just find that recipe you saw for squash.” Crisis averted!
After that, we were flipping through the book together checking out different recipes. The one he had seen was for summer squash so we looked at two others for butternut squash and because neither of us wanted to go to the store for a can of black olives, we settled on the recipe I wanted in the first place!
He was more than happy to go watch TV while I cooked although he checked in every now and then. At one point he was looking over the recipe and saw Nutritional Yeast. (Now I had bought that on my last shopping trip so I could use it in this recipe.) “What the heck is Nutritional Yeast?” (ok, I paraphrased there). I admit I still don’t know so I mentioned that I think it’s a substitute for cheese. So he goes and gets cheese out of the fridge and sets it on the counter. Ok I get it. We will use cheese tonight but I will slip it into the next recipe that calls for it.
Now I am not a big risk taker when it comes to spices so I was super hesitant about the sage. I grow it in my herb garden but have never used it. Or so I thought. The minute I put it over the squash I knew where I had tasted it. Thanksgiving! I always buy the prepackaged herb stuffing mix that my mom always bought. That’s it! I love sage but didn’t even know it.
It got a little frantic towards the end pulling this recipe together. I had two frying pans and a pot going at the same time. (We joked later about how much easier cleanup was when we just stuck a veggie in the microwave.) Finally I got it all put together beautifully in a really pretty bowl and was about to take a picture and my husband points out that I had forgotten to add the cheese. So I scrape it off of the fettuccine and back into the frying pan to add the cheese. Then back onto the noodles. I decided last minute to add some Panko crumbs for garnish and it’s done!
Even though we treated this as a side dish, it truly was the star of the plate. Everyone agreed that it tasted amazing. I feel like tonight was a total breakthrough for me in this challenge. My family is losing some of their phobias about vegan cooking and I am actually enjoying preparing vegetables in a more creative way. Ok so I’m not enjoying the cleanup afterwards but at least my challenge is working and I’m happy.