Tag Archives: comfort food

Vegan Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I recently stopped by my favorite fruit and vegetable stand  to pick up a few things for dinner. I had glanced at a few recipes earlier in the day for stuffed acorn squash and knew I had most of the ingredients at home, so I just picked up two acorn squash, an onion, some mushrooms, some herbs and hoped for the best. Of course, I didn’t get around to making it, so when I had to run to my hometown this weekend I brought all the ingredients with me so I would have some “real” vegetarian food to eat while I’m here. I made it quickly when I got into town and, thanks to my early-riser nephews, I  have time to write this blog this morning.  🙂

There were several recipes for stuffed acorn squash that sounded good. Usually I end up combining several recipes, but when I came across this one on Healthy Crush: A Love Affair with Living Well, I realized I had all of the ingredients, so I decided  to make it verbatim.

This would be a great recipe for vegan Thanksgiving — it’s beautiful, it looks like fall and it tastes great. AND, there is a ton of extra filling so any meat-eaters could try it — it’s already gotten the thumbs up from 5 meat-eaters who tasted it last night. This recipe proves that eating healthy and eating vegan don’t have to be boring or bland.

• 2 large acorn squash
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• sea salt and pepper to taste
• 2 c. quinoa, uncooked
• 1 med. yellow onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 c. chopped mushrooms (any variety)
• 1 pkg. organic tempeh or 1 c. chickpeas
• 1 c. chopped fresh basil
• 2/3 c. raisins (I used golden)
• 2/3 c. pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds (I had pepitas on hand, so I went with those — I think walnuts would be good too)
• A few splashes of soy sauce or tamari
• A sprinkle of cayenne (mom’s not into heat, so she didn’t have any and I didn’t bring my own — so I omitted)
• A sprinkling of chopped fresh sage (I imagine jarred rubbed sage would be just fine too)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds. Place in oven-proof baking dish face up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking — make the stuffing! First prepare quinoa according to package directions. Place 2 c. quinoa with about 4 c. water (I always do just under — maybe 3 1/2-3 3/4 c. water). Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

3. Dice/chop onions, mushrooms, garlic and tempeh and or chickpeas (I used tempeh because I had it on hand) and saute with a tiny bit of oil and a few splashes of soy sauce in a large saute pan. I actually started with the onions and garlic, then added in the mushrooms and tempeh. I sprinkled with salt and pepper, tasted and adjusted — adding a bit more soy sauce.

4. Add cooked quinoa to mixture and mix well. It seems like a lot — and it is. But the ratio ends up working really nicely together.

5. Add raisins, basil and nuts to the mixture.

6. At this point, the acorn squash should be just about done. (It really was perfect timing). Overfill with the mixture — I piled it as high as I could without it spilling over. If you’re aren’t vegan, Healthy Crush recommends topping with some goat cheese. I imagine feta or parm would be pretty good to. Place back in oven for 15 more minutes. The squash should be beginning to brown a bit and everything should be heated through.

7. Sprinkle with chopped/rubbed sage and dig in! There will be tons of stuffing leftover, but it’s delicious on its own too. If you like, the mixture will freeze easily for you to eat as a side dish another time.


Simple Butternut Squash Soup

This soup or a variation of it has become a fall staple in my house. It had been a while since I’d made it, but a client of mine handed over a couple of giant squashes so I got to work!

Get a loaf of crusty Italian bread and you barely even need a spoon.  This can be vegan or not — depending on what kind of stock, butter, etc. you use. It really is simple and delicious. You can doctor it up in any way you like — maybe add a little curry for kick. Add extra spices or herbs to it.  This is a hard one to mess up!

• 1 butternut squash (2-3 pounds), peeled and seeded
• 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I go with Earth Balance Buttery Spread, any variety)
• 1 medium onion, chopped/diced
• 6 c. vegetable stock OR (what I prefer) about 3 c. stock and 1 can coconut milk
• Nutmeg
• salt and pepper

1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. You can always buy frozen or pre-cut butternut squash (sweet potatoes would work here too, by the way), but I don’t find it all that difficult to peel. I just cut it in half or into manageable pieces, then slice off the skin with a good, sturdy knife. From there I slice and chop in various ways to try to make roughly 1- to 2-inch cubes.  It’s all getting pureed eventually, so no need to be exact. You just want it small enough that it will cook easily and quickly.

2. Melt butter in pot. May use half butter and half oil if you like, too.

3. Add onion and cook until translucent. I think I may have added a clove or two of minced garlic at this point as well. Now is also when I would add a little curry paste or powder if I were using it.

4. Add squash and stock (I believe the stock was covering the chunks appropriately, so I held off on adding the coconut milk until later).

5. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Remove squash chunks with a slotted spoon and puree in a blender. OR you can go the easy way — like me — and use your handy immersion blender. I use this regularly for soups, so I think it’s definitely worth the investment. I was given a Cuisinart one, which you can get for about $25 on Amazon.

7. Return squash to pot if you used regular blender. Add coconut milk until well blended, then stir and season with a few dashes of nutmeg and the salt and pepper.

8. Heat through and enjoy! This soup only takes about 30 minutes to make and is oh, so comforting. This one is totally doable even for those of you who “can’t” cook. Give it a try!

Dutch Oven Cannellini al Gratin

I continued my quest to find and create delicious, meat-free comfort food this weekend with a recipe out of my latest issue of Vegetarian Times (which is packed this month with all kinds of awesomeness).

I had only glanced at the recipe when I went to the grocery store, and, fortunately, I already had or bought almost all the ingredients and was able to pull it off. My squeeze loved it and so did I. Next time, I think I’ll pop some bread in the food processor to make chunkier bread crumbs for the top, as the finer, store-bought ones were a little…sandy, for lack of a better term. But make no mistake — this is serious comfort food at its finest.  This will feed five or six people easily, or it would freeze really well to eat some other time.

•  1 1/2 dried cannellini beans (I used 2 cans cannellini beans)
• 6 sprigs plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided (I didn’t have any fresh, so I employed some cheesecloth and lots of dried thyme)
• 3 sprigs plus 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
• 1/2 medium onion, unpeeled, plus 1 large onion diced (2 c.)
• 3 whole cloves (I used a couple extra)
• 1/2 large or 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds reserved; bulb quartered and diced (2 c.)
• 12 cloves garlic — 6 whole, 6 minced — divided
• 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 2 c. diced carrots
• 1 tsp. white wine vinegar (I was out, so I used apple cider vinegar)
• 3/4 c. coarsely grated parmesan cheese or parm substitute
• 1 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs

1. Soak beans in large bowl of cold water overnight and drain. Using canned beans, I drained in a strainer, but tried not to rinse them too well, so they wouldn’t be rinsed clean.

2. Put beans in a 6 quart Dutch oven,  and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

3. Do the following and add to pot:
• Tie thyme and parsley sprigs together and add to pot. In my case, I tied the dried thyme up in cheesecloth and tied the parsley sprigs to it.
• Fennel fronds and stalks, removed from bulb. This required me to cut some of them to fit.
• Pierce onion half with cloves. Because the onion stuck out of the liquid, I ended up putting the clove side face down.
• Halve six of the garlic cloves. It’s OK to leave the peel on.

4. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Turn oven on, to preheat to 400.

5. Uncover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, or until beans are just tender (not an issue if you use canned — they’re already tender. BUT they don’t soak up deliciousness as much as dried beans would).

6. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Discard herb bundles, onion, and fennel fronds. Here the directions said to wipe out the dutch oven… but I didn’t.

7. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots and diced fennel and season with salt a bit. Cover and cook 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown, stirring frequently.

8. Add diced onion, add more salt if you like (I didn’t) and cook, covered, 6 to 8 minutes, or until onion is soft and bottom of pan is browning, stirring occasionally.

9. Add minced garlic and cook one minute, or until fragrant, and remove from heat.

10. Stir in vinegar and deglaze the pan (use it to scrape up all the garbage stuck to the bottom of the pan).

11. Add beans, chopped thyme, 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, 1/2 c. cheese or cheese substitute and  1 1/2 to 2 c. bean liquid, and stir well to combine. The directions say the liquid should come up to 1 1/2 to 2 inches below top of beans, but I think I’ll put in more next time. I actually thought this direction was a mistake at first, but can’t find anything to back that up. I think more liquid would have bubbled up through the bread crumbs a bit, making the top crunchier and less “sandy” as it was.

12. Put bread crumbs and remaining 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley in a bowl and drizzle in that last 1 Tbsp. oil to moisten the crumbs. Perhaps, instead of more liquid in the previous step, adding a bit more oil or even some of the bean liquid here would have moistened the crumbs more and solved the problem. Yes, I think that’s what I’ll do next time. Thanks for talking that out with me…

13. Spread breadcrumb mixture over the top of the bean mixture and bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is browned and juices have bubbled down below the surface (see? doesn’t that make it sound like the liquid was supposed to be ABOVE the beans to begin with?), leaving brown rim around edge of crust.

Cool at least 20 minutes before diving in so beans can absorb a little more deliciousness.

According to VT, each 1-cup serving has only 285 calories, 17 g protein, 11 g of fiber, 5 g of fat (1 g sat fat), 43 g carbs and 150 mg sodium. Pretty good stats for a delicious and filling meal!

Vegan Lentil Burgers

I keep saying I’m going to make some kind of homemade veggie burger and I’m not sure why I never got around to it…until today! I meant for them to be black bean burgers, but somehow forgot the one thing I went to the store for (please tell me you’ve done that before). I was pretty sure I had some at home, but… I didn’t. Luckily, I found a bag of lentils in my pantry.

I glanced at a couple of random recipes, but really just threw together my own concoction. After a little trial and error with the cooking times, I think they both looked and tasted good. I think I’ll keep trying new additions (more veggies!) and different beans, but both my squeeze and I liked it, so I guess that’s all that counts.

I made the mistake of saying, “It was easy!” — now it seems this might be a weekly request… (but it really was easy, so that’s OK). I decided if I made the mixture sans egg replacer/flax mixture, you could make it a day or two ahead of time and add that at the last minute before frying.

Again, this isn’t scientific, but it worked so here’s what I did.

• 3 c. cooked lentils (I cooked the whole 1 lb. bag to be safe. Half would have been fine)
• 1 small cooking onion, cut into 4
• 1 medium red pepper, chopped into small chunks
• 1-2 cloves garlic
• 1 c. bread crumbs/3 slices of bread
• egg replacer for 3-4 eggs (4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and water in this case)
• salt and pepper
• olive oil

1. If you don’t have a container of bread crumbs (like me), I started by tossing 3 slices of bread (I was hurrying, or I think I would have toasted it first) into a food processor. It made 1 1/2 c. of crumbs and I ended up using a little over one cup. Set aside after processing (I chose a 2 c. measuring cup so I could see what I was working with).

2. I then processed the red pepper, small onion, garlic, salt and pepper until it was a liquidy mush. I may have added some fresh parsley at this point too. I took THAT out and set aside in the bowl that I would mix the whole thing in.

3. Prepare egg replacer or, in my case, whisk ground flax seed and water. It’s supposed to be 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 3 Tbsp. water per egg (I was planning on three), but I ended up adding an extra Tbsp. of flax when it wasn’t thickening up enough (perhaps I was just being impatient). So, it ended up being 4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 9 Tbsp. water. I whisked, let it sit for a bit, then whisked some more and was happy. It was kind of sticky and goopy — seemed like an egg to me!

4. I processed 3 c. cooked lentils (prepare about 8 oz. according to the package directions) with the egg mixture. About 2/3 of the mixture was pureed and the rest were still mostly whole lentils, which is what I had envisioned, so that worked for me.

5. Mix into pepper/onion/garlic mixture, then add bread crumbs until it’s as thick as you want it. I did this until it was like a thick, sticky hummus consistency. Spice accordingly (here’s where I’d add some hot sauce if you like it spicy).

6. Heat skillet over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. After much trial and error, I found that if you take a scoop of the batter and spread out to burger size, cover and cook over medium heat (or just under medium) for about 7 minutes, flip, then cook the other side for 4-5 minutes until browned to your likeness.

I was pretty happy for this first attempt and will definitely be trying this — likely with some variations — very soon!

Indian Pot Pie

This is one of the few original recipes I think I’ve ever posted to I Eat Veg! Of course, it happened by chance, as most of my creations happen on the fly.

When I first moved to Metro Detroit, I wasn’t very familiar with the restaurants in the area and had a tough time finding a good samosa. I lived in Lansing for close to a decade and, during that time, LOVED the samosas at Aladdin’s in Frandor. Then I moved on to Wisconsin, Chicago and eventually Detroit, going years without having one at all, I think.

I got a hankering for them one day and decided to make my own, using the following recipe but trying to stuff it into cannister rolls (like Pillsbury biscuits, etc.) and they were just OK. A few weeks later some friends in town from L.A. were coming over for dinner and, unexpectedly, they were in the neighborhood and ready to come over just seconds after we returned from a movie — totally unprepared to feed people!

As D, S and A enjoyed a cocktail, I was rushing around trying to get dinner ready and the filling was spilling out of the little biscuit pockets I made and I decided — forget it! I have pie crusts in the refrigerator (don’t tell my mom I now make a habit out of using store-bought pie crust — but not for pies!). SO, I decided to make a giant samosa, so-to-speak. I did a post on what I then dubbed Indian Pot Pie a while back, but thought it deserved a re-post since it’s been a long time.

This is definitely the new comfort food.  And better yet, there is no measuring and only a handful of ingredients. It’s pretty hard to mess it up! This recipe easily makes 4-6 entree servings and costs less than $10 to make!

Preheat oven to 425

• 5-10 redskin potatoes, depending on the size
• 1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
• olive oil
• 1/2 of one envelope Taste of Thai yellow curry paste (or 4 tsp. any yellow curry paste)
• medium white onion, chopped/diced
• frozen peas
• 2 pie crusts (store-bought or homemade – I usually go with this, which comes in a 2-pack and costs about $3)

1. Dice potatoes. I usually end up using roughly six potatoes — some small, some medium redskins — and cut them pretty small so they will cook faster. Heat oil in a pan and cook with onions until the potatoes are sticking so much it’s annoying (it’s science).

2. Shake can of coconut milk well and add, using it to deglaze the pan (i.e. scrape up the bits of potato that stuck to the bottom).

3. Add curry paste and whisk or stir in until it is well blended in the coconut milk. If you are using the packet of Taste of Thai curry paste, remove plastic packet and smooth out, laying flat. Cut in half with a knife or kitchen scissors, so you get exactly half. You can always add more or less, but after trying a few different amounts, I’ve found this to be a good, flavorful amount. If you don’t have paste and just have yellow curry powder, you can wing it. That’s what we did when we tried to create this dish for our friend in Nicaragua, but didn’t have all of the ingredients.

4. Cook this over medium heat for a while (maybe 5-10 minutes) until it cooks down to a consistency that isn’t watery and has just a nice, thick sauce — and not a ton of it! If you don’t cook it down to where it’s thick, the end result can be kind of runny.

5. Add frozen peas after it cooks down for a bit. Add as much as you want — I imagine I end up putting in 1-2 cups. I just play it by ear, adding the frozen peas until the ratio looks about right (again, it’s science).

6. Take 8×8 glass dish and place one crust in it, so it sits pretty evenly. Though I don’t think it’s necessary, I sometimes spray the dish first with non-stick spray to be safe. Spoon or pour filling into pie crust. Somehow, miraculously, it almost always ends up filling the dish up perfectly.

7. Place the second crust on top and squish the two together, sealing it as best you can. Somehow I always poke a hole in the top crust somewhere, but it never matters.

8. Bake according to the directions on the pie crust box — the inside already is cooked (or should be at this point) so you really just want to bake the crust. SO, bake for whatever time is on the crust box (20 minutes?) or until nicely browned. Allow to cool for a while because it will be molten inside. Spoon out and enjoy! I’m sure this would be good with some kind of chutney too, but I haven’t tried since I failed at making chutney with this dish a couple of years ago (the aforementioned original post of this recipe).

This recipe is super easy and fast and just plain delicious! I always forget how much I love it until I have it in front of me. I imagine this is one of those recipes you could easily freeze and thaw later too!