The other day I was bemoaning the sudden prevalence of gourds on the food blogs, like even though it’s been around 90 every day at home, and San Francisco is finally having objectively warm afternoons, September must mean “autumn” so let’s all pretend we’re ready for ovens again. Nonsense, I said. Do not come to me with your pumpkin projects until October.
Then I saw this squash chart.
Now, who wants to share their favorite cold-weather squashy recipes? We know Laura’s all over this pumpkin mac ‘n’ cheese! I just got this julienne peeler and have been making noodley zucchini-and-carrot salads, but what if I julienne-peeled a butternut and made, like, squash hashbrowns? Or potatonut pancakes? Kind of brilliant, right?
Get ready for the Super Bowl (JK, you know what I’m watching) with Vegan Yack Attack’s Squash Queso Dip! I want this almost as much as I want the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Watch the video below or check out the site for the recipe!
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
Fall food porn!
I followed Tofu666’s recipe for delicata squash with onions, and I served it over collard greens that I’d cooked covered on medium-low with salt and water for five minutes, then uncovered with a splash of lemon juice on medium-high for maybe two minutes. SO GOOD. No duh, right?
I really love What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat, Anyway, but often I feel like their recipes are wayyyyy too complicated and fancy for me. They’re so gourmet! I don’t think I’m right to be so intimidated, though, this was extremely simple and ridiculously tasty.
Vegansaurus NYC: Dirt Candy! »
Hey young world! My brother and I went to Manhattan’s Dirt Candy last week and it was pretty awesome. It’s called Dirt Candy because, like, vegetables are the candy of dirt. So all the dishes are like, “carrot” and then it has insane stuff made with carrots in the description (“steamed barbecue carrot buns, cucumber & sesame ginger salad”). The whole place is vegetarian but almost every dish can be made vegan; there was just one dessert that couldn’t be vegan when we were there. It would be a lot cooler if the whole place were vegan, but nobody besides me is perfect.
My omni brother was sweet enough to get vegan stuff too so that I could try more dishes. For our appetizers, we had squash: “butternut squash broth, squash dumplings, delicata coconut cream” and mushroom: “portobello mousse, truffled toast pear & fennel compote.” The mushroom dish (pictured above) is one of their most popular but we both actually preferred the squash dish. The mushroom plate was very good though and looked pretty with it’s crazy cube of portobello mousse.
For our entrees, we had zucchini: “mint & tarragon pasta, squash blossom relish, yogurt & saffron sauce” and cauliflower: “buttermilk battered cauliflower, waffles, horseradish, wild arugula.” The cauliflower was a truly great concept; it’s the veggie take on chicken and waffles. I applaud the idea, but the execution was not good. Though waffle was good of course, the battered cauliflower was pretty much gross. I assume it was supposed to taste smoked or something but it basically tasted like charcoal. We couldn’t finish it. The waitress was very nice and asked if anything was wrong (“usually the plates are licked clean!”) but I am such a nancy, I just couldn’t complain about it. I know, I’m not doing anybody any favors but I hate complaining about stuff while I’m actually in a restaurant. Outside of a restaurant, it seems I’m totally fine complaining! Oh well. The zucchini dish was really great though. We both enjoyed it. It had miniature falafel balls in it and now I wonder why ALL falafel balls aren’t mini; they are great and adorbs.
My favorite part was dessert! I got the chocolate beet cake! BEET cake! Can you imagine? It was actually like a chocolate lava cake which happens to be my favorite dessert ever. You couldn’t taste any sort of beet flavor, which was fine by me. Maybe it was just sweetened with beets. It wasn’t super-chocolaty but the gooey inside was great! I would definitely go there just for dessert sometime. And wine! You know I love dessert and wine—a little combo I like to call, “reason to live.”
[Photo by Scaredy_kat from flickr!]
Vegansaurus NYC: Counter! »
Counter kind of rules—75 percent of my meal was off the hook! It’s just vegetarian but most of the items on the menu are vegan. They have “snacks” where you can get any three for $15—I love that sort of thing, small bites and whatnot. We got the white bean hummus, cornmeal-pepita-crusted kabocha and the roasted butternut and broccoli raab crostini. The crostini was very good but the kabocha was AWESOME. The hummus: meh. It had a bit of a fennel taste and I mother-loving HATE anything that tastes like licorice. Licorice can die in a fire for all I care! Yeah, I said it.
I got the soup of the day, a white bean soup, and it was pretty good but nothing special; the side of brussels sprouts, though, goddamn they were good. I love brussels sprouts! They were the beets of 2006 and I’m still on that groove train. The 25 percent of my meal that I didn’t like was the brown rice salad. It was really hard, the kabocha in it was kind of tough, and the brown rice was minimally cooked. That was a downer, but the rest of the meal was great.
My waitress kind of blew. She was nice enough but she just wasn’t around even though the place wasn’t even a third full. It’s not a big deal; I just could have gotten several more glasses of organic wine, if she’d given me the opportunity! We wanted to get dessert too but she took so long to come over to us that we lost interest in it. I showed her! I only tipped her 15 percent instead of my standard 20!* I think she got the message.
I would definitely recommend this place for drinks and tapas (“tapa” is foodie for “appetizer”!). They have an impressive drink menu and wine list—and you know I like to get my drink on!
[Sorry for the generic picture from Counter’s website but I couldn’t get any food shots! Damn mood lighting! Man, I need to get out for brunch more instead of dinner. But, alas, I like the nightlife!]
Christmas at the Rascals’! »
I got it the recipe for this squash stuffed with apple cornbread dressing from that Philadelphia Inquirer article, and it became the center of the vegan part of our Christmas dinner! Well, we ended up just buying vegan cornbread from Whole Foods. It was supposed to be delicata squash but we couldn’t find that so my mom got this carnival squash instead; it had a sort of pumpkin-y flavor. The cornbread-and-apple stuffing—OH! the cornbread-and-apple stuffing! It’s what stuffing dreams are made of. And one squash is very filling, I could only eat half with all the sides we had. Oh, I should warn you, at one point in the cooking process I got really cranky because cutting the squashes and scooping out the innards was like totally hard and annoying. But in the end, it was worth it! So keep calm and carry on.
Not all my vegan dreams went so well; my vegan popovers didn’t pop! I always get pouty when the omnis eat my mom’s Yorkshire pudding (it’s the food of my people!) so this year we tried to make a vegan version but, alack, it didn’t work. I let my mom make them (I’m so nice to her!) and she’s notorious for adapting recipes, so we can’t be sure what exactly went wrong. Next year, though! Meanwhile, if someone has a killer vegan Yorkshire pudding or popover recipe they want to share with me, COME FORTH AND BE COUNTED!
Here’s my favorite present of the year: Mitsy! Just kidding; I’ve had little Mits for years (and we didn’t really wrap her up)! How many kitties out there went crazy for the wrapping paper and ribbons and boxes? Mitsy was not at all impressed with her kitty-grass seeds from her grandparents but the PAPER they were wrapped in was apparently out of this world.
Another holiday surprise: it snowed! The holiday being Boxing Day of course—it was not a white Christmas. I’ll still roll a snowball in your honor, West-Coasters! Happy holidays to all my pals!
How to be a fancy and demanding vegan! »
Sometimes you may think to yourself, “Gosh, is that Megan Rascal fancy!” but there are fancier members of my family: my brother and sister-in-law are like the New York couple—so hip and chic. They love to go to nice restaurants and when they invite me along, they are always really cool and send me the menus beforehand to check if they’re vegan friendly. However, more often than not, the restaurants they seem to choose are like meaty-meat-meats-a-lot. I don’t know why! There are many meat-centric, yet vegan-friendly restaurants in this big city but they don’t seem to like them. So I’m always like, “I guess I can ask for this one salad without bacon?” And they are like, “great!” And I’m like, “great.” But this last time, when they wanted to go to Savoy in Manhattan and I saw that there were possibly zero vegan items on the menu, I put my foot down. Well, sort of. I said, “I can make do with the salads I think! Also we have to try this thing people do, like at nice places, sometimes the chef will make a vegan dish that’s not on the menu just with what they have that day. We should try it! I’m scared. Maybe [your wife] will know how to do it.” See, I’m always telling you, I’m shy! So I’m nervous to bother chefs but my brother is not! He called the restaurant before we got there to see what they could do for me. According to him,
I said something like, “And we have one vegan in our party—do you have options for her?” And she said “Yes, we can accommodate that no problem. I’ll make a note of that on your reservation.” And I said, “OK great! Thank you very much,” and that was it!
Easy peasy! When we got to the restaurant, my brother informed them that he had called earlier and I was the vegan, etc. and the waitress was very nice. She said that two items in the starters could be made vegan and that for the entree, the chef would make something special. I was so happy! I love special stuff. She asked me if there were any vegetables that I didn’t like, but there aren’t really so I told her not to worry about that.
I got a polenta dish without butter for my starter. It was very good. It was kind of like a breakfast cereal, like Cream of Wheat or something. It was good though. But the real excitement came with my entree! The chef made some crazy squash I had never heard of, stuffed with another, mushed-up squash and a bunch of vegetables, topped with a citrus salad and surrounded by kidney beans and these crazy roasted black olive things that were good even though I hate olives. It was AWESOME. And more importantly, it was FANCY! Then I finished with a scoop of chocolate sorbet. AWESOME AND FANCY!
When the waitress came out later and asked me how everything was, I was like, “It’s amazing! Tell the chef it’s great and I really appreciate it.” Damn, I’m classy. You should thank your chef, after all.
So friends, don’t be scared to go into those nice places and make your vegan needs heard! Just make sure you thank them so we keep our good name.
Steamed acorn squash with cashew nut dressing (recipe included!), oh and is that kimchi in the background? Hello, my first favorite food.* So simple, so good. I bought three different squashes yesterday you guys, I am ready for the delights of the autumnal kitchen. Just substitute agave for the honey and you’ve got an actual 30-minute meal.
OH MAN, YOU GUYS. Everyone at your Vegansaurus is busy or dying or has fallen off the planet or some combination thereof, and no one is around to tell you about amazing things like Thor the amazing pit bull who saved his family’s life when their home caught fire—he even pulled the baby in the bassinet to the front door while the parents were still getting themselves together. That we should all be so lucky as to have such a dog.
What we can do today is show you this begging-to-be-veganized recipe for summer squash risotto from Blake Royer of The Paupered Chef. It looks amazing, it sounds delicious, and all you CSA-subscribers should be receiving metric tons of squash in your boxes these days, so get to it and cook something wonderful, already. Soon you’ll be well fed and we’ll be posting like gangbusters again.
[photo by Blake Royer]
Recipe For a Cold Winter’s Night: Moosewood’s Squash and Kale Risotto »
Risotto is so fucking great. It’s the best food. It’s hearty like a casserole, gluten-free, and you can throw basically anything into it and it tastes great. It’s my new favorite thing; I had such a great time making the pumpkin apple risotto from Bust magazine (recipe in the Oct./Nov. 2009 issue) for Laura’s thanksgiving potluck, that all I want to do now is throw everything in sight into a giant pot of olive oil, onions and arborio rice.
This recipe is perfect for mid-December, when the CSA box is full of squash, kale, lettuce, apples and citrus. I just happened to have everything on hand, which made it a lot easier. I highly recommend (1) making yourself a bourbon with bitters and a squeeze of lemon to start, and (2) throwing the latest Hood Internet mix #4 on the speakers because dang, THOSE ARE THE JAMS. You won’t even feel like risotto is labor-intensive or takes a long time.
- 5 cups of vegetable stock. I dissolved two Rapunzel Bouillon cubes in five cups of water. It worked great. Fancy european vegan veggie broth, FTW.
- 1 cup chopped onion (about one big onion?)
- Olive oil. As much as you want, baby. But probably like 3 tsp on average.
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice.
- 1/2 cup white wine. Whatever’s rotting in your fridge. You’re cooking it anyway.
- 2 cups cubed peeled winter squash. (For me, this was about one whole squash like the kind pictured here.)
- 3 cups (or about a big bunch) stemmed and chopped kale.
- Shake of nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
- A lemon (which you should already have, from the bourbon drink.)
- Salt and pepper. Duh.
Moosewood's recipe calls for some shaved cheese, but it seriously does not taste any different without it, so don't worry about needing something to make up the flavor or texture. This risotto is totally off the hook with just what's listed above. The Moosewood recipe is also pretty loosey-goosey about the details (like stovetop temp, whether or not you should pre-cook the kale, etc.) so I’m just going to tell you what I did.
First, I roasted the squash yesterday. So, maybe you should have started this yesterday. But, preheat the oven to like 375 F, quarter the squash and rub it with Earth Balance and salt and pepper, and go do something else for a while. When you have soft cool squash later, chop it into cubes and peel off the outer skin, and that’s what you’ll use for the risotto.
To start, get your broth or bouillon water simmering. Mince the onion and chop the kale. In another big pot, heat up a couple tsps of olive oil, and throw in the minced onion. Enjoy that amazing fragrance. I like to throw a tiny pinch of sea salt in there too. Saute the onions for a few minutes.
Throw in the rice, and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is all oily and mixed with the onions. Then, stir in the white wine and watch it absorb/evaporate. I enjoy watching this liquid absorption into arborio rice in a science class kind of way, which hopefully you do too, because you’ll spend the next half hour watching it.
Then, you start ladling in about a half cup of the veggie broth at a time, about once every two to four minutes. You wait for it to mostly absorb each time. You should be stirring constantly, although you can take breaks if you have a nonstick pot.
When you have about two cups of broth left in the other pot, stir in the cubed squash and the raw kale*. This seems kind of crazy be cause it adds a ton of bulk to the pot contents and makes it hard to stir, but it will cook down. Just keep ladling in broth periodically, and it’s good if you give it a few minutes with the lid on, too. Heat should be about medium to slightly high. Keep stirring and mushing together.
When you’re getting to the tail end of the broth and the dish looks pretty mushed/cooked together, season it with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and grate about a tsp of lemon zest into it, and stir. I also squeezed in the lemon juice liberally, which the recipe did not call for, but turned out to be a good decision.
Eat while it’s hot. Also, reheat it for lunch the next day, like I’ll be doing.
*The recipe did not say to pre-cook the kale at all. Just stir in the raw kale and let the broth and rice cook it for you. But, kale is kind of a beast, and the dude thought it was a little tough in the risotto. So next time, I might pre-cook it a bit, in a saucepan with a little water and oil?