Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice

This dish is a great Entree alternative. Oil free, gluten free, whole food plant based and perfectly seasonal. We found these Honeynut Squash at our farmers market but I've seen them popping up at Trader Joes and local supermarkets as well. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 baby Honeynut Squash
  • 1 Cup Wild Rice
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Basil 
  • 1/2 Cup Cranberries 
  • 1 Cup Shredded Baby Spinach
  • 3 Tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped 
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional yeast 
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • 2 Tablespoons Cashew Butter (recipe on Plant Punk Kitchen website)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  
  2. Cut the Honeynut Squash in half, scoop the seeds out. Season the squash with salt, place in a baking dish cut side down, pour enough water to just about a 1/4 way up. Place in oven cooking for 35 minutes. The meat should tender but the squash should retain its shape. 
  3. Start Rice Mix.  Follow directions on package plus add the granulated garlic and dried basil to the water. 
  4. Once the rice is cooked, mix in the Cashew butter, Apple Cider Vinegar, Cranberries, Spinach and the nutritional yeast. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  5. Remove the cooked squash from the oven. Allow the squash to cool enough so that you can handle them. Carefully scoop the meat out, leaving a border around the edge about 1/4î thick. You looking to create a boat. 
  6. Mix the scooped squash into the rice mixture. Fill the squash with the rice mix. Place in the oven for 15 minutes until hot.

Notes:

  • You can easily use any squash you like for this recipe. Roasting time will vary depending on the size.
  • For the Wild Rice, we used a mix with lentils and amaranth. 
  • You can make this dish a day ahead of time. To reheat: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash in a baking dish with some water, cover with foil & cook for 35 minutes. Remove the foil cooking for another 15 minutes. The interior of the rice should be hot. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Brussel Sprouts come into season in the late fall and are said to be sweeter after the first frost. Perfect for holiday side dishes.

Brussels Sprouts seem to be a love or hate type of vegetable. I love them now but haven’t always. Growing up I would hide them in my napkin so it seemed like I was eating them and my Mom wouldn’t yell at me. Before I met Stefen, I never had them cooked quite right- they were to bitter or sour.  I don’t know how other people were cooking Brussels Sprouts but this recipe is very simple and I love the orange flavor in this dish. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Pound Brussels Sprouts 
  • 1 Naval Orange
  • 1 Yellow Onion, sliced thinly 
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Parsley, chopped 
  • 1 Tablespoon Rosemary, chopped 
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees 
  2. Bring a (preferably) cast iron saute pan to high heat, add the 1 teaspoon (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) Grapeseed oil (or broth for oil free), sliced onions and garlic, stirring to prevent the onions from burning or sticking. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook and stir until the onion are a deep caramel color and taste sweet. 
  3. Remove the stems at the bottom of the Brussels sprouts. Peel off any yellow or dark leaves. Cut into half's and quarters depending on the size. You're trying to get uniform sized pieces. 
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the sprouts, cooking until just tender. Drain and spread on to a baking pan allowing them to cool. Drain any excess water from the baking pan that has accumulated during the cooling.
  5. In a large bowl toss the Brussels Sprouts with the olive oil, place in the oven cooking for 30 minutes.
  6. Zest and juice the orange. 
  7. Remove the Brussels Sprouts from the oven. Toss the Orange zest, Caramelized Onions, chopped Parsley and the Rosemary with the Brussels Sprouts. Season with salt and pepper to taste (optional). Return to the oven to continue to cook until you reach a nice roasted color - about 15 minutes. 
  8. Just before serving add the orange juice which should be 3-4 Tablespoons.

Notes:

If you prefer to cook without Oil:

Caramelizing the Onions without oil:  

  1. Place onions into a pot along with salt and any seasonings you wish to use. Use approximately 1 teaspoon per large onion. The salt helps draw the liquid out of the onion and allow it to caramelize, rather than steam.
  2. Cover the pot and cook on medium-high heat to draw the majority of the water out of the onions. This will take approximately 15 minutes depending on the amount of onions added and their water content. (keep a eye on them to avoid burning them).
  3. Uncover the pot and continue to cook until the water reduces and the onions begin to caramelize. Stir to prevent the onions from sticking. Onions will begin to turn from a translucent white color to a golden color and will continue to darken as you cook them.
  4. Deglaze the pan with one-half cup water or broth when the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, but before they begin to burn. Scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly. Repeat until the onions reach your desired level of caramelization.

Oven Roasting: Without oil, roasting will take longer to achieve browning. You will want to coat the Brussels Sprouts with a little Vegetable broth or Soy sauce.  Also you will want to use parchment paper or a silpat baking mat so the vegetables do not stick to the baking pan.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

We continue to prepare for the holidays with more of our favorite side dishes. This week we have the classic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy.

Mashed Potatoes

The thing about most mashed potato recipes that makes me crazy is that we fill up a big pot of water add the potatoes, cook them and then drain the water!!!! The water that has all that great starch and potential flavor. In cooking I'm always looking for ways to layer the flavors and create more flavor. So when we cook the potatoes in the old way were basically tossing flavor down the drain. 

They key to these mashed potatoes is the cooking liquid. I want to flavor the liquid and use that same liquid to make my mashed potatoes. 

Another thing that seems pretty simple but we often fail at is the actual cooking of the potatoes. People tend to over cook the potatoes which will lead to a watery mashed potato which will never be creamy and rich. You are looking for a slight tenderness to the potato. When you pierce it with a knife tip you want the potato to just yield. It should keep its shape and not fall apart. 

The next key is the fat element. When I was kid my mom learned to make her mashed with milk, butter and mayonnaise. I know that might sound a little nasty but it made for some tasty mashers. So the point I'm making is the fat element is huge in creating a rich creamy mashed potato, after all fat adds flavor. Make a thick Cashew Butter with nutritional yeast and a heathy dash of apple cider vinegar to keep this recipe Whole Food Plant Based and Oil Free.

You’ll have more of the Cashew Butter than you need but it can be used as a spread. If you don't want to make the vegan Cashew Butter, you can use olive oil or a vegan butter such as Nature's Balance.

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Gravy

The key to this vegan Gravy are the caramelized onions. Again, we are building flavor with the Soy Sauce, Apple Cider Vinegar, Fennel and, of course, the Onions. 

Vegan Mashed Potatoes & Gravy Recipe

Mashed potatoes

  • 2 Cups Almond Milk

  • 3 Cups Water

  • 8 Cups Potato -Yukon gold, diced

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Yellow Miso Paste

  • 1 Garlic Clove

  • 1/4 Cup Chives, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Cut the potatoes into large equal size chunks. Place in the pot with the Almond Milk, Water, Miso Paste & the Garlic Clove. Bring to a slow simmer, cooking for about 20 minutes.

  2. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them over a bowl to keep the liquid.

  3. Now you have a few choices with this next step. A) Use an old fashion hand held masherB) Place in a standing mixer and whisk C) Use a potato ricer. All 3 work great the only difference is how smooth you like you mashers. The potato ricer will give you the smoothest texture.

  4. Once you have picked your method of mashing. Place the potatoes in a bowl and add some of the cooking liquid about 1/2 Cup. Then mash and mix, adding more as needed. You are looking for a firm yet creamy balance. Then add 2 -3 Tablespoons of the Cashew butter. Mix well

  5. Finish with finely chopped chives.

NOTES:  You can peel or leave the skins. However if you plan to use a potato ricer itís best to peel them. 

Cashew Butter

  • 1 Cup Cashews

  • 1/2 Cup Potato -Yukon gold, diced

  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast

  • 1/2 Cup Water

  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar

  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions:

  1. Boil Cashews and Potato until soft.

  2. Strain and add to a high speed blender or food processor with Apple Cider Vinegar, Nutritional Yeast and Salt. Blend until smooth.

  3. Add water as needed, up to a 1/2 Cup, for smooth texture.

GRAVY

  • 2 Yellow Onion, sliced

  • 2 small Yellow Potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds

  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce

  • 3 Cups Vegetable Broth

  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast

  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Almond Milk

  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 Cup Cashews

Instructions:

  1. Heat a sauce pan over medium heat add 3 Tablespoons of Vegetable broth or water and the sliced onions. Cook until the onions are a deep brown. Continue to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wood spoon to ensure that it does not burn.

  2. Setting aside some Onions for Garnish

  3. Add the fennel seeds to the onions continue to cook until the seeds become fragrant. Add the soy sauce, cooking until it is almost reduced to a glaze.

  4. At this point add the potatoes, cashews and vegetable broth. Cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender.

  5. Pour the mixture into you blender and puree until smooth.

  6. Return the gravy to a clean sauce pan, add the apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, chopped parsley and the remaining caramelized onion.

  7. Use the almond milk to adjust the consistency.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

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It's that time of year, you know what I'm talking about. If you’re a plant based eater, the Holiday Season can be a minefield of “issues”. 

Should I or shouldn't I go to so and so’s house for thanksgiving? Should I bring food or let them know that I have special dietary preferences?

Each person will work this out over time. We’ve reached a place in our house where we want to create a Thanksgiving dinner that supports our plant based lifestyle and allows others to experience what a non-traditional holiday can look and taste like. It's not that we won't go to Holiday parties but we feel that this is the perfect time to share and invite others to share in our beliefs. 

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about the side dishes. Candied yams, Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and of course Stuffing. The great thing is it’s easy to make all of these Vegan. At our house, the side are Thanksgiving, not to mention pie! 

We are going to do a series of recipes to prepare for the Holiday season. Check your inbox for the latest delights. 

This week we visit Stuffing. If it were up to our son Carson, we would have Stuffing weekly. This recipe is delicious and easy to prepare. You can prepare it up to 2 days in advance or whip it up the same day. 

Thanksgiving Stuffing

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 Cups Sourdough Bread, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic 
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Dill 
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 Cups Celery, diced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced 
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, cored and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
  • 1/2 Cup Parsley, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dried Sage 
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries 
  • 3/4 Cup Walnuts, lightly chopped 
  • 3 Cups Vegetable Broth

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees 
  2. Place the diced sourdough bread on a baking sheet, season the bread with the granulated Garlic and dried Dill. Cook until light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. 
  3. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of Broth, water or oil to the pan, add the diced onion, celery, garlic and salt. Cook until a light brown. Once light brown add the parsley continue to cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl, in the same pan add the diced apple cooking and stirring until light brown. Add walnuts, cranberries and Sage, cook for another 2-3 minutes then add to the onion mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Place half the bread in a bowl with half of the onion/apple mixture and 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Stir to combine, place in the oven proof baking dish. Repeat with the reaming ingredients. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes, pour another cup vegetable broth over the stuffing and cook for an additional 10 minutes. This step is important in creating a crisp top and moist tender interior.

Notes: 

Speaking of oil, it can change the flavor & overall complexity of the dish. We know that oil is not part of everyones diet, but if you want to add some to the dish the best palce to add it is in three places, first toss the diced bread with olive oil then toast. The second is in step 2 replace the broth with olive oil. The third is when you remove the foil in step 4, drizzle a genourse amount of olive oil over the top of the stuffing. This is going to create a crsip crust. 

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