Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (can use gluten free)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
Dallop of Sour cream (optional)

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Avocado Pasta Salad

Avocado Pasta Salad 1

I came across a post the other day for this Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing from Simply Scratch and knew I had to make this as soon as possible!  Not only would this be delicious on a salad with some ice-cold, crisp romaine lettuce, but I thought it would taste great in a pasta salad, too.  So I started thinking about the half box of Ditalini pasta I had left from making the Peas and Pasta recipe and just started putting the pasta salad together in my head.  I wrote down my list of ingredients and headed out to the grocery store to pick up the few items I didn’t have on hand.

This Avocado dressing comes together very quickly (I used my NutriBullet to blend it) and can be adjusted for your personal taste and consistency.  I simply boiled the rest of the pasta and drained it, then tossed it in a large bowl with my other ingredients, topped it with the dressing and stirred until everything was nicely coated.  I topped it off with a few turns of the pepper mill and it was ready to serve.  (I ate it right away and it was delicious, but of course you can place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if you prefer it to be nicely chilled).

You can alter this salad to include any ingredients you like, it’s very versatile.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I hope you’ll give a try at your next Summer gathering.  And then stop back by and let me know how you liked it.

Avocado Pasta Salad 2

Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves: 8 – 10
Prep Time: 20 -30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours (optional)

For The Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
water

Directions
1.  In a mini food processor add the peeled clove of garlic, avocado, lime or lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

2.  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with a little bit of water until it reaches a desired consistency.

For The Pasta Salad
Ingredients
1/2 box small pasta such as Ditalini, Elbow, or Bowtie (can use Gluten free pasta) cooked to package directions
1 – 2 avocados, diced
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob or 1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 container grape tomatoes, sliced
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 batch of Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing (see above)

Directions
1.  Place everything in a large bowl and stir to combine. Top with a few turns of the black pepper mill.

2.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve and enjoy.

Can be served alone or on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.

Peas and Pasta

One of the things I enjoy about eating a Vegan diet is taking ordinary non-Vegan recipes and adapting them so they are Vegan.  I receive emails and subscribe to newsletters from some online recipe sites that are not Vegan-specific sites because I can still find truly delicious looking meals that just need a few tweaks.  And I’m always up for the challenge.  So when I saw this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, I knew it was one I had to make!

I love peas!  And I also love pasta.  So this one was right up my alley.  It’s easy to make, comes together quickly, can be served either hot or cold, and tastes divine.  You probably have most of the ingredients on-hand already, and the few that you don’t aren’t going to break the bank or have you running all over town to find them.  Simple, easy, perfect.

The sauce is made with peas, combined with shallot, milk and a few spices, and it transforms into this luscious, creamy sauce bursting with pea flavor that clings to each little noodle.  Each bite is a mouthful of pea heaven!  So I hope you will give this one a try, and that you love it as much as I do.

Pasta and Peas 2

Peas and Pasta

Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 2/3 to 1 cup macaroni
Yields: 4 cups
Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup dried ditalini pasta (can use gluten free pasta)
2 cups shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 shallot, peeled and quarted
1/4 cup finely shredded Vegan parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil (I used Magic Vegan Bacon Grease – found here)
1/4 cup Vegan milk/cream (I used regular, unsweetened, unflavored soy creamer)

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 cup peas the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture; return to pan.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the remaining peas*, the basil, shallot, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add milk/cream to skillet; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, blended pea mixture, and the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet. Toss gently until heated through. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Notes
* If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes before processing.

Jerk Chicken Wrap For One

Recipe yields one wrap. To serve two, double each amount per ingredients.

Ingredients:

For Wrap

  • 1 Agave tortilla
  • 4 oz. pre-cooked Jerk seasoned chicken
  • 2 leaves of lettuce
  • 3 sliced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fruit salsa

For Fruit Salsa

  • 1 small pineapple diced
  • 1 small star fruit diced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro

Instructions:
1. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl and let sit. If needed, it can refrigerate for up to 2 days.
2. Place lettuce on wrap followed by sliced tomato, salsa & chicken.
3. Roll up and cut in half or to desired size.

Makes 1 Wrap/Sandwich

Courtesy of Chef James Harris of Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts

Ingredients:

Base

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter at room temperature

Peanut butter filling

  • ½ stick butter, softened
  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Mousse topping

  • 1 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp packed soft brown sugar
  • 1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Chop nuts, sugar and cinnamon in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until well combined.

3. Press nut mix into bottom and up sides of 9” pie plate or springform pan. Bake for 15-20  minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool.

4. In a bowl with an electric mixer or in a food processor, mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla essence.

5. Mix in powdered sugar until well blended. Add milk, if necessary, to make it more spreadable.

6. Spread into cooled nut crust.

7. Heat cream, sugar and vanilla in sauce pan or microwave until nearly boiling.

8. Add chocolate, leave for a few minutes and then stir until totally smooth. Let cool.

9. Pour 2/3 of chocolate mix over peanut butter layer and leave in fridge to chill and set.  The mix will not harden like a bar of chocolate, but will be firm enough to cut.

10. Once the remaining sauce has cooled (at least 1 hour in fridge, quicker in freezer; don’t attempt to whisk if it is not cold), whisk with an electric mixer until thickened like whipped cream. This will happen very quickly.

11. Pipe the stiffened chocolate mix around the edge of the pie and serve.

For presentation, reserve 2 Tbsp of the peanut butter mix. Add some milk to make it thinner and pour into a snack size Ziploc bag. Snip a corner off the bag and pipe a continuous circle of peanut butter mix radiating out from the center of the dish. Take a toothpick, knife or skewer and gently drag the tip through circle from outside to the center to form a pattern. Refrigerate to set.

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Greek-Style Gluten Free Pasta Salad

Greek-Style Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free penne, ziti or rotini
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. of the green of green onions, washed and scissored thin
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped, fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or lemon flavor
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 6-8 oz. can artichoke hearts in brine, drained, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. black olives, drained, rinsed and sliced (optional)
  • ½ lb. grape tomatoes, washed, dried and quartered, or 4 large Campari tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into ¼” to ½” dices
  • 2 Tbsp. gluten-free finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into small dice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking and chill pasta.
  2. Place zest of lemon, salt, pepper in mixing jug. Add yogurts and whisk or use immersion blender to form an emulsion.
  3. Add mint, parsley, dill and green onion to jug and mix.
  4. Place pasta in large bowl. Stir in vinaigrette.
  5. Add artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, pickle and red bell pepper.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Chill before serving, but it is better at room temperature.)
  7. Sprinkle with Feta cheese upon serving (optional).

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches

I had been wanting to try a recipe for jackfruit barbecue for a while now, so when I visited my local Asian market and saw they had the canned jackfruit, I decided now was the time to give it a go.  There are many, many recipes for jackfruit barbecue out there, but I decided to go with this one from More Vegan Blog and it did not disappoint.  It does have a few steps but they aren’t difficult at all.  It just takes a little time to gather your ingredients, measure, and prep.  I promise you it is worth it.

This recipe calls for 3 cans of jackfruit in brine or water, but I only used two and it made enough for three people to eat their fill and still have enough for three more sandwiches the next day.  It will keep in the fridge for several days, so if you would like to have more leftovers or are feeding a larger group of people, you may want to go ahead and use the three cans.  I didn’t adjust any of the other ingredients and it still came out absolutely delicious.  I think if I were to make three cans I may even increase the amount of barbecue sauce as I prefer my barbecue to be a bit wet and this was perfect with just the two cans.  It may mean that it would be a bit drier if I had used three cans, so just use your own judgment to adjust it for your own taste.

aroy-d-young-green-jackfruit-in-brine

These 20 oz. cans of jackfruit were only $2.59 at my local Asian market and the rest of the ingredients are common pantry staples, so this recipe does not cost a lot to make and goes a long way.  Be sure to get the young or green jackfruit in brine or water and not the ripe jackfruit in syrup.  If you cannot find jackfruit locally, you can order it online through a number of sources but be sure to check out your local Asian markets first as they are likely to carry it.  And if they don’t have it, they can probably tell you where you can find it .

The jackfruit has this amazing combination of texture where the core is more solid and the edges are striated like gills so they shred or pull apart perfectly while you still get the meaty chunks from the core.  You may have to sort of squeeze through the pieces of jackfruit a bit to pop out the seeds, but it’s not necessary as they are edible.  It may change the texture of the pulled jackfruit a bit if you leave them in, but it will still taste amazing.  That is up to personal preference but I went ahead and removed as many as I could.  I mean, just look at this meaty pile of awesomeness!  Enjoy!

Jackfruit BBQ 2

Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit (canned)
Prep Time:  10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time:  55 mins
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
3-20 oz. cans jackfruit in water or brine
1 tsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1½ tsp. liquid smoke
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup vegan and/or gluten-free BBQ sauce (your favorite store bought or homemade kind)
Buns for pulled pork sandwiches (for gluten-free use either GF hamburger buns or bread)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain and rinse the jackfruit, squeeze and separate the “gills” of the jackfruit.  As you do this, remove the seeds.
  3. Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and saute a minute or so longer.
  4. Add the jackfruit, sugar, spices, and liquid smoke. Stir until the jackfruit is evenly covered.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
  6. Use a spatula or two forks to mash and divide the jackfruit until it looks similar in appearance to pulled pork.
  7. Spread the jackfruit out on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cover with bbq sauce.
  9. Return the jackfruit to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the jackfruit is lightly browned.
  10. Serve and enjoy!