Sunday, June 05, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

A healthy "lasagna" made from layers of butternut squash! This dish was inspired by a recipe my sister-in-law sent me from her local newspaper. I made it nutritarian and vegan by leaving out the oil, salt, and cheese.

The sweeter the squash, the better this dish will be!

1 medium onion, diced
1 large bunch kale, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 large butternut squash
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
Salt and black pepper (optional)
Olive oil (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Water-saute the onion in a skillet on medium heat until soft. Add the kale and a little water, cover, and steam until kale is tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the kale mixture of all excess water (if it's very wet, place the kale mixture in a colander and use a spoon to press out the water) and set aside.

Meanwhile, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and slice as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch.

Cover the bottom of the baking pan with an overlapping layer of squash slices.

Top this layer with the cooked kale mixture. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Add another overlapping layer of squash. Top this layer with the diced tomatoes and fresh sage.

Cover the tomatoes with a final layer of squash. Optional: you can drizzle the top layer with olive oil and some more salt and pepper if you like.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cabbage Rolls

These tasty little cabbage parcels are filled with a vegan loaf mixture made from nuts, beans, and rice. It makes a fantastic healthy vegan centerpiece dish during the holidays.

This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated; it reheats well.

makes 10 cabbage rolls

1 cup walnuts
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup oat bran
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
18 to 20 large cabbage leaves
1 cup tomato-vegetable juice blend
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the walnuts into very small bits. Pour out the walnuts into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the garbanzo beans and brown rice to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture forms a coarse mash. Add to the mixing bowl along with the oat bran, marjoram, thyme, onion powder, soy sauce, and mustard. Using your hands, knead the mixture well until it is thoroughly mixed and holds its shape. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage leaves and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (the leaves should be limp enough to roll but not cooked through). Drain the leaves thoroughly.

Divide the bean and rice mixture into ten equal pieces. Form each piece into a tiny round loaf.

Place a cabbage leaf on your work surface (if there is a rip in the leaf, cover it with another small cabbage leaf; if the leaf has a tough middle stem that won’t roll, cut it away and overlap the remaining leaf). Place a loaf at one edge of the cabbage leaf and roll it up, folding in the edges as you go. Repeat with the remaining bean and rice loaves.

Place the cabbage rolls seam side down in an oiled baking dish. Use a knife to shred the remaining cabbage leaves and pieces you have left over. Sprinkle the shredded cabbage over and around the cabbage rolls.

Mix the tomato juice and lemon juice together and pour evenly over the rolls. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the rolls for 45 to 50 minutes, until gently brown on top.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sunny Wholegrain Sushi

I’ve always been crazy for vegan sushi; in fact, I used to joke that I was "addicted" to my weekly avocado roll. It turns out, though, maybe I was! I have the hardest time with sugar addiction, and regular white sushi rice is seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and lots of sugar. Happily, I came up with this recipe for healthy, wholegrain sushi that lets me enjoy my tasty nori rolls without all that sugar and salt.

When preparing this sushi for your lunch box, include a container of low-sodium soy sauce or Ponzu Sauce for dipping (see recipe below), and a bit of wasabi if you like the heat. When it comes time to fill and roll your sushi, there are dozens of delightful vegan fillings you can choose from. Avocado is my favorite, but you might also like blanched asparagus, red pepper strips, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, grilled shiitake, or fresh mango.

Sunny Wholegrain Sushi

As I was experimenting with healthier sushi rolls, I found that brown rice alone did not get sticky enough to spread well on nori like traditional white sushi rice. I solved the problem by adding tasty millet and tiny amaranth to my brown rice. I found that cooking the three grains together resulted in perfect sushi rice, along with extra flavor and nutrition. A hint of lemon and the crunch of sunflower seeds add flavor and interest.

makes 4 rolls, to serve 2

¾ cup shortgrain brown rice
1/8 cup millet
1/8 cup amaranth
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
4 sushi nori sheets (sheets of dry, toasted nori seaweed)
Avocado slices or other filling of your choice

Put the rice, millet, and amaranth into a medium pot and add 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, still covered for another 10 minutes.

Transfer the rice mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and sunflower seeds with a wooden rice paddle or spoon, tossing the rice with light strokes to aerate and help cool the rice. Set the rice mixture aside to cool completely.

When the rice is cool, spread ¼ of the mixture on a sheet of nori laid out on a sushi rolling mat (keep a small bowl of fresh water handy to dip your fingers and keep the rice from sticking). Leave a 1-inch strip at the top of the nori sheet uncovered. Arrange the avocado or other filling down the center of the rice. Use your fingers to lightly moisten the top strip of nori with a dab of water, then use the rolling mat to roll your sushi up and seal it shut.

Transfer the roll to a cutting board and cut into 6 pieces with a sharp knife, wiping the knife with a damp cloth between cuts.

Ponzu Sauce

This makes a refreshing, lower sodium alternative to plain soy sauce for dipping sushi.

makes about ¼ cup

1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

Combine all ingredients. Adjust seasonings to suit your taste.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Picnic Potato Salad

I love this mayonnaise-free version of potato salad. It makes a great potluck or picnic dish.

serves 6 to 8

8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (3 pounds)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 Tbs. capers
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
4 stalks of celery, chopped

Boil potatoes in their jackets 20 to 25 minutes, until tender but still holding their shape.

As soon as potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skins off with the back of a knife. Dice potatoes, and place them in large mixing bowl. Add cider vinegar.

Heat olive oil in sauté pan, and cook onion, stirring often, 3 minutes, until barely soft.

Add onions to potatoes along with mustard, capers, bell pepper, and celery. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Homemade "Maple Syrup"

A lot of vegan recipes call for maple syrup. Here's an inexpensive recipe for those times when you can't afford the real thing.

makes 2 cups

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon natural maple flavor (like this one)

Put the brown sugar into a medium saucepan. Put the cornstarch into a small bowl or cup and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the water. Stir or whisk with a fork until the cornstarch is dissolved, then add it to the saucepan along with the rest of the water.

Stir or whisk constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil one minute, still stirring.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool completely. When it is cool, stir in the maple flavor.

Store in the refrigerator.