Squash

Impulse Buying: Air-Fried Zucchini Sticks

Zucchini Sticks

I know I have a problem when it comes to kitchen equipment, so I really try to avoid “impulse purchases”. I consider how much I will use it, how much space it will take up and if it will just end up on the Island of Misfit Toys (i.e. my basement). Once I decide to add another appliance to my arsenal, I usually read as many reviews and compare costs to make sure I’m getting the best one to suit my needs. I happened to be shopping for waste baskets at Bed, Bath and Beyond and thought I’d just “check out” what they had in the way of air fryers. Right on the top shelf was one made by Phillips.What really made it stand out was the face of Gordon Ramsey plastered on the box. He usually wears a scowl, so I figured this must be a good piece of equipment if he’s smiling about it. The air fryer already had a hefty markdown, and combined with my 20% coupon and Chef Ramsey’s endorsement I decided to bring this baby home. I’m happy I did. So far, I’ve made French fries, sweet potato fries, glazed tofu and these Breaded Zucchini Sticks — all without one drop of oil. The air fryer is so easy to use and clean. Just load up whatever you’re “frying” into the basket then set the temperature and timer. The only other thing you need to do is shake up the basket half way through. That’s it! For this recipe, I simply dipped the zucchini sticks in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chick peas) then coated them with seasoned bread crumbs. I “fryed” them at 350F for 25 minutes. To my surprise the coating did not fall off the surface and “fryed” up nice and crisp. If you don’t have or want to buy an air fryer, you can bake the zucchini in the oven. I served the zucchini sticks with some left-over red pepper sauce I had in the fridge, but I would probably just use some marinara sauce the next time I make these. The only impulse I have now is to create more recipes to make in my air fryer. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Breaded Zucchini Sticks

1 zucchini squash (about 1 lb.), cut into ½” thick sticks
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano or other herb
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon tomato powder (optional)
Aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder and tomato powder in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip zucchini sticks in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place zucchini sticks in a single layer on baking sheet.

To cook in an air fryer:

Place zucchini sticks in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the zucchini sticks and continue cooking.

To bake in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

08 May 2017

Celebrations of Life: Savory Butternut Squash Cheese Tart

Butternut Squash Cheese Tart

New Year’s Eve is not what it used to be. Those days of lavish dinners, endless cocktail parties, drinking and dancing to the wee hours of the morning are just fond and fun memories now. We’re at a point in our lives where we like quiet celebrations at home. The older I get, the more I realize that it’s more important to have little celebrations of life throughout the year and not wait for December 31st for one, big blow-out. I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago with New Year’s Eve in mind because, after all, some of you may be looking for something unique to make for your guests or to bring to a party. I had just experimented with butternut squash stuffed shells which were kind of a flop. I liked the filling, but coming up with a complementary sauce was a problem. That’s when I came up with the idea of a savory cheese tart. The filling is made with roasted butternut squash, non-dairy ricotta and raw cashews. You can make the butternut squash for dinner the night before and save two cups to make the tart the following day. The raw cashews create a cream cheese-like creaminess and the non-dairy ricotta lends a light texture to the tart. (I used the almond milk ricotta from the Nuts About Almond cookbook, but you could also use this recipe.)  I added summer savory, but you can use whatever dried herb you have on hand. I made the crust by grinding Breton’s multi-grain crackers in a food processor. Baking the tarts in a bain Marie creates a steamy environment to prevent them from cracking. The tart makes a nice appetizer to serve before a main course or as an addition to a cocktail party. We’ll be kicking back with an assortment of nut cheeses and this savory tart on New Year’s Eve and on many other eves throughout the years to come. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Savory Butternut Squash Cheese Tart
Makes two 6” tarts

1 cup cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons coconut oil or almond butter

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped

8 oz. non-dairy ricotta
1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
Savory or other herb, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the squash, onions and garlic on top. (You can toss the vegetables with a little olive oil if you like.) Set the sheet pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is lightly caramelized and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Reduce oven to 350F. Wrap the bottoms of two 6” spring form pans with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Place cracker crumbs and coconut oil in bowl of food processor and process until crumbs are finely ground and the oil is evenly distributed. Press into the bottom of the two spring form pans. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Prepare a bain marie by pouring hot water into a baking pan large enough to hold the two spring form pans.

Measure 2 cups of roasted squash and place with the remaining ingredients into container of a high speed blender or food processor. Process on high until super smooth. Divide the mixture between the two spring form pans. Place the pans in the bain marie. Bake at 350F until firm, about 45 minutes. Let cool in oven with the oven door cracked a few inches, then remove and place in refrigerator to cool overnight.

26 Dec 2016

Well Seasoned: Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

I am lucky to live in an area of the world that has four seasons. I love the ebb and flow of the seasons, the promise of change at the beginning of a season; the gradual weather changes throughout; the winding down that opens up to the next season. Autumn is coming to a close, but its abundant harvest of winter squash will be with us well into early spring. It’s a chilly day in my part of the world making it the perfect day for turning on the oven or for making soup. I decided to do both today and looked around to see what ingredients I had to work with. Acorn squash, carrots and parsnips. I love the idea of roasting vegetables because it adds another layer of flavor to a recipe.  Unlike it’s close cousin, the butternut squash, acorn squash is hard to peel and cut into chunks for roasting, so I cut it in half and baked it in it’s skin. The piquant taste of the parsnips provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of carrots and squash. I also love how ginger, garlic and Singapore curry fill the house with an exotic aroma. The coconut milk stirred in at the end gives the soup a creamy, bisque-like finish. This bisque would make a nice first course for a holiday meal or you could serve it as a main course with some warm naan bread. Winter squash can be stored for a few months, so you can enjoy this bisque for a few seasons to come. Thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Roasted Squash & Vegetables

Roasted Squash & Vegetables

Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque

1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
2 large carrots
2 parsnips
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed
4 thin slices of ginger root
Singapore curry powder
1 can reduced fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place acorn squash, cut side up on baking sheet. Cut carrots, parsnips and onion into large chunks. Place next to the squash on baking sheet along with garlic and ginger. Sprinkle everything with the curry powder. If you want to use oil, you can lightly coat the surface of the squash and toss a little with the vegetables. Place in oven and roast until vegetables start to brown. Remove the vegetables and place into stock pot. Remove and set aside. Place squash back in oven and continue roasting until tender, total time is about 1-1/2 hours. Scoop the squash out of the skin and add to stock pot. Add enough water to cover, about 5 cups. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Add coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or using an immersion blender. Return to pot and heat until boiling. Season with additional curry powder if desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro.

06 Dec 2016

Thinking Outside of the Squash: Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

A popular way to make spaghetti squash is to serve it with tomato sauce or bake it in a fashion similar to lasagna. Well, I think it’s time to think outside of the squash. I’ve been hanging onto a recipe for Fideos Rossejat for a few years. Fideos Rossejat is a paella-style dish that’s made with fried fideos (broken spaghetti). The original recipe has chicken and chorizo and I’ve also seen versions that include lobster. Besides the fact that chicken,chorizo and lobster are a thing of the past for me, I also didn’t like the idea that the fideos are fried in oil. Well, I guess there are too many aspects of this recipe that don’t fit in with my way of cooking that it didn’t make sense to salvage it. However, there is one aspect that is worth saving — the sofrito. Sofrito is a sauce used as a cooking base in Spanish cuisine consisting of garlic, onion, paprika and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. For this recipe I left out the oil and added a charred red pepper to give it another layer of flavor. I baked the squash with fresh garlic and stirred together the sofrito while the squash was in the oven. The squash “noodles” were then added to the skillet. You can serve the squash at this point, or you can place it in the oven to crisp it up a bit. Many of the Spanish restaurants we used to go to would serve thick slices of fried potatoes as a side dish, so I served the squash with some not-so-fried potato slices. It seems like you can get spaghetti squash year round in any grocery store the US, but now this is the time of the year to pick them up from a local farm stand or farmers market. It’s also time to think outside of the squash. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise & seeds removed
3 to 4 garlic cloves, pressed
Olive oil (optional)

Sofrito:

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch of saffron
½ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350F. Place squash cut side up on rimmed baking sheet. If using oil, lightly coat the cut side of the squash with oil. Rub surface with garlic. Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender and shreds when scraped with a fork.(This could take about 1-1/2 hours.)

While the squash is baking, prepare the sofrito. Lightly coat a deep skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat. Add preppers and cook until beginning to char. Add onions and continue to cook until the onions turn golden brown, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, paste and saffron and continue to cook until the tomatoes turn dark red. Add the wine and cook until it is almost completely evaporated.

Using a fork, scrape out the contents of the squash. Add to skillet and toss until the sofrito is well distributed. Optional: Cover the skillet, place in oven and bake until it begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and serve.

Not-So-Fried Potato Slices

Slice potatoes 1/4″ thick. Lightly coat a non-stick electric griddle with olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and set it to the highest setting. Place potatoes on griddle in a single layer and cook until they are browned on both sides. This takes a long time, so be patient. If you don’t have concerns about using oil, you can pan fry them in a deep skillet with about 1″ of vegetable or peanut oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Nov 2016

A Little Plate of Heaven: Vegetable Fricassee

Vegetable Fricasee

Vegetable Fricassee

I remember hearing about chicken fricassee when I was a young girl. It sounded silly (actually, it was referenced in a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon) and fancy all at the same time. Many years later I had my first taste of fricassee, appropriately at a fancy restaurant. It was not the traditional creamy chicken stew, just a vegetable side dish made with julienned zucchini, carrots and onions and cooked with butter and cream. It was heaven on a plate. I don’t even remember what else it was served with (maybe fish or chicken), but the fricassee is what I remember most about that meal. So I thought about how to pull off a plant-based version that didn’t use non-dairy butter or a soy-based cream that contains oil. Lately, I’ve been using a combination of soy or almond milk yogurt and cashew cream in my recipes, so I figured I’d play around with that some more. (I like this combination because cashew cream, when used on it’s own, has a tendency to dry up. The addition of the non-dairy yogurt helps keep it fluid.) The recipe came together quite easily. The vegetables are sauteed, seasoned with herbs then finished off with the “cream”. As an afterthought, I might add a splash of dry white wine before mixing in the cream. I served the fricassee over a whole grain medley (half quinoa, half Trader Joe’s brown rice-black barley-daikon seed medley), but you could also toss it with a small pasta like orzo or gemelli. Whip up a dish of Vegetable Fricassee and get yourself a little plate of heaven. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegetable Fricassee

½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
½ cup non-dairy yogurt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)

vegetable broth
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1 small yellow squash, julienned

Dried tarragon or other herb, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cooked grains or pasta

Drain and rinse cashews. Add to blender container and add enough water to barely cover them. Process on high until smooth and creamy. Add yogurt and nutritional yeast and set aside.

Heat two tablespoons of broth in non-stick skillet. Add onions and carrots and cook for about two minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash and continue to cook until softened, stirring frequently. Add tarragon, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds. Add cashew cream-yogurt mixture and simmer until sauce thickens.

Serve over your choice of grains or pasta.

 

 

 

09 Nov 2016

Make Mei Fun Your Fun: Singapore Squash

Singapore Squash

Singapore Squash

Singapore Mei Fun is one of my favorite Asian dishes. I usually order this spicy noodle dish when we’re at Little Teriyaki and I’m not in the mood for sushi. Mei Fun is a stir-fry made with a variety of vegetables and rice noodles. What makes it “Singapore” is spicy curry powder. I kept putting Mei Fun on the back burner mostly because I didn’t have the curry powder on hand. I’m not savvy on the differences between curry powders, so I decided to go with one labeled as “Thai Curry Powder.” I wanted to use spaghetti squash instead of rice noodles in this recipe for a few reasons. One: this is the beginning of squash season, so all kinds of locally-grown squash are available. Two: I’m trying to eat more vegetables and less starch. Three: I’m becoming quite the fan of spaghetti squash. As in my other spaghetti squash recipes, I started out by seasoning and baking the squash before mixing it with other vegetables and seasonings. I sprinkled minced garlic, ginger root and curry powder on the squash and baked it for about an hour and a half. After one taste of these sultry strands, I wasn’t sure if they would make it into my wok! Since I already had the peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms already cut up, I proceeded with the recipe. All I can say is that this recipe was fun cutting board to table. Why not make Mei Fun your fun today? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Singapore Squash

1 extra large spaghetti squash
Canola oil (optional)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2” piece of ginger, minced
Thai curry powder

Vegetable broth or water for sauteeing
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Reduced sodium soy sauce, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut spaghetti squash in half from stem to blossom end. Scoop out seeds. Place in baking pan. Lightly coat the surface of the squash with oil if using. Sprinkle with garlic, ginger and curry powder. Bake for about 1-1/2 hours until surface is golden brown and you’re able to scrape the spaghetti “strands” out of the skin. When cooled, scrape squash out of skin and set aside.

Heat a non-stick wok or large skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until browned. Remove from wok and set aside. Add a few tablespoons of broth to wok, add onion, peppers and carrots and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Return mushrooms to wok along with the spaghetti squash and toss, allowing the vegetables to brown slightly. Add soy sauce and additional curry powder to taste.

13 Sep 2016

Every Day is Princess Pasta Day: Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Who remembers the Prince spaghetti commercial that declared Wednesday as Prince spaghetti day? If you watched TV during the 1960’s you probably saw it. Some years later they changed their slogan to “every day is Prince spaghetti day.” (I wonder if this was to protect their products against the anti-carb movement that was made fashionable by the Atkins diet.) In our home we always had pasta on Sunday. That was when pasta was called macaroni or spaghetti and the sauce options were either tomato or clam sauce. Boy, how things have changed. I googled “whole food plant based pasta recipes” and came up with 1,910,000 results. That’s good news because I could eat pasta every day for lunch and dinner. I don’t have the patience to read through all of those recipes, so I decided to come up with another one of my own. I was in the mood for something creamy, not too heavy and with plenty of vegetables. Luckily I had everything I needed to make Pasta Primavera:  fresh peas, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and scallions from our local CSA; raw cashews for cashew cream and gemelli pasta in the pantry; and homemade pesto in the freezer. I wanted to get the right size and shape on the vegetables to make it easy to get a little bit of everything on the fork. To do this, I used a ribbon grater for the carrots and squash. The vegetables were sauteed, then simmered in a light vegetable broth and finished off with cashew cream and a few spoons of pesto. I had enough primavera for about one pound of pasta and only two of us for dinner, so I spooned just enough sauce over the pasta in individual bowls and saved the extra sauce and pasta separately. If you have a big crowd, just go crazy and mix it all up in a big, pretty pasta bowl. If every pasta dish was as tasty and nourishing as this Pasta Primavera I would say with certainty that every day is Princess Pasta Day. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pasta Primavera

1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 large carrot
1 cup peas (if using fresh peas, blanch before using)

1-1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth (or Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base)
¾ cup thick cashew cream
2 tablespoons pesto (or more to taste)

1 lb. cut pasta (ziti, penne, gemelli)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. If using fresh peas, add them to boiling water and blanch for about 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce to simmer while preparing vegetables.

Grate zucchini, yellow squash and carrot using a ribbon grater or cut into matchsticks. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and saute scallions until they start to soften and brown slightly, adding broth 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add zucchini, squash and carrots and continue to cook until fork tender. Add peas and stir.

Return water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain. Add 1-1/2 cups of broth, cashew cream and pesto to vegetables and heat just until it starts to bubble. (Add more broth or cashew cream to achieve desired consistency.) Add pasta to skillet and mix until coated. You can also portion out the pasta into individual servings and spoon the vegetables over top. Store any left over pasta and sauce separately.

30 Jun 2016

No More Sufferin’: Succotash

Succotash

Succotash

Succotash started out as a dish made up mostly of corn and lima beans. Over time other ingredients like tomatoes and bell peppers were added to get us to today’s popular versions. Succotash became popular during the Great Depression because the ingredients were inexpensive and readily available. This combination of grains, legumes and anti-oxidant-rich vegetables was and still is a life-sustaining food. This recipe has zucchini, yellow squash, onions, garlic, lima beans and corn as the main ingredients. I seasoned it with marjoram, an herb related to oregano, and black pepper. The recipe comes together quickly and makes a nice week-day dinner with plenty of leftovers. It’s nice on its own or paired with a baked white or sweet potato or hush puppies. There’ll be no more sufferin’ going on with all that goodness on your plate. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Succotash

1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow squash, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup cooked lima beans or edamame
Dried thyme or marjoram to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, peppers and garlic in non-stick skillet adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. (You can use olive oil sparingly if desired.) Sauté until peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add  zucchini and yellow squash and sauté until are just tender and lightly browned. Add corn and lima beans and cook for a few more minutes. Season and serve.

 

04 Jun 2016

It’s All Good: Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

You know the saying, “you have to take the bad with the good?” Well the bad thing is that I had several winter squash hanging around the garage that were, literally, going to go bad. The good thing is that it’s still cool enough to turn on the oven. I also have a small convection oven on my pseudo-outdoor kitchen (aka covered patio) that makes warm-weather baking do-able. I have one squash that looks like a small basketball, a few buttercup squash and one spaghetti squash. I baked the basketball and buttercup squash and finished them off with maple syrup and Chinese Five Spice seasoning. Keeping with the Asian theme, I used the peanut sauce recipe from the Forks Over Knives cookbook for the spaghetti squash which calls for the sauce to be tossed with broccoli and rice noodles. Roasting the spaghetti squash with minced garlic just adds another layer of flavor. Oh boy! This dish turned out great. This is a nice way to add more veggies to my plate and still enjoy one of my favorite sauces. If you want to have more room on your plate for something like sauteed greens, you can fill the buttercup squash with the spaghetti squash. Anyway you serve it, it’s all good. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Makes 2 servings

  • One spaghetti squash, about 2 to 2-1/2 lbs.
  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Lightly coat cut surface of squash with olive oil, if using. Sprinkle the minced garlic on surface. Place in large baking pan, cut side up, and bake until tender, about 1 hour.

While squash is baking, prepare the sauce. Combine coconut water, peanut butter, syrup, soy sauce minced ginger and red pepper flakes in small saucepan. Heat over low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

When squash is ready, scrape out the flesh with a fork, working from the stem to the blossom end of the squash. Place into shallow serving bowl and toss with sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

19 Apr 2016

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