Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Butternut and Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas of various types are unfailingly well-received around here, and this seasonal interpretation is no exception.  Comforting yet fresh, substantial without being stodgy, this casserole comes together relatively quickly, and is loaded with enough protein and veggies to be a complete meal on its own (although a green salad, fresh salsa, and/or some guacamole never come amiss).

Butternut and Black Bean Enchiladas
The Sauce
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
~ 1 cup mashed, cooked squash, sweet potato, or pumpkin
~ 2.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 large, roasted red bell pepper, chopped
~ 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
~ 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 tsp. each: garlic powder, chili powder, adobo seasoning, marjoram

~ In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Set aside.

The Filling
~ 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 medium yellow onion, diced
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 small bell pepper, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, oregano
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, white pepper, paprika
~ 1 15 oz. can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
~ 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
~ Juice of 1 lime
~ 10 flour tortillas
~ 1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the cubed butternut squash on the baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and make sure the cubes are coated with the oil (I do this with my hands).
~ Roast the squash for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender but still intact. Remove from the oven and set aside.
~ While your squash is roasting, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. Sauté the onions, garlic, and bell pepper for about 5-7 minutes, until softened.
~ Add the seasonings, cook for about a minute, and stir in the tomatoes. Stir to combine, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
~ Add the drained black beans and continue cooking 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens.
~ Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

~ Coat a large casserole or baking dish with cooking spray, and ladle a cup or so of the sauce into the bottom. (I place the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet to catch any leaks.)
~ Place about 1/3 - 1/2 cup filling in the top third of each tortilla and roll up into a tube.
~ Place the filled tortillas snugly up against each other, seam side down, in your casserole until all of the filling is used up and the dish is full (this took 12 tortillas for my pan).
~ Reserve 1.5 cups of the sauce, and pour the rest over the whole business, making sure to let it ooze down into the filled tortillas, and smoothing the top. If possible, set the assembled casserole aside and allow it to sit for awhile before baking, so all the elements can get better acquainted.
~ Cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees about 25 minutes, until bubbling.
~ Raise the heat to 400, remove the foil, pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas, and sprinkle the top with the fresh cilantro.
~ Return to oven and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for another 15-20 minutes, until browned and lovely.
~ Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mushroom and Spinach Tart with Walnuts

This ridiculously delicious tart owes its creation to the popularity of the previous night's enchiladas (butternut squash and black beans: watch this space). Which is to say that the leftovers I'd counted on failed to materialize, necessitating a Whole New Dinner. A quick scan of available supplies revealed a plethora of mushrooms, a package of vegan cream cheese, and some frozen puff pastry I'd been meaning to use; the addition of caramelized onions, a bit of spinach, and a handful of walnuts resulted in what I can only describe (albeit immodestly) as a triumph of MacGyver cuisine. My only quibble was that I wished there were twice as much of the stuff; next time I'll remedy that problem by doubling the recipe.

Mushroom and Spinach Tart with Walnuts
~ 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
~ 1.5 lbs. mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, sliced into thin crescents
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, tarragon
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ 1/4 cup white wine
~ 1/3 cup chopped, fresh sage
~ 1/2 lb. chopped frozen spinach
~ 1/4 cup each: flour, nutritional yeast
~ 8 oz. vegan cream cheese
~ 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
~ Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and sauté the sliced mushrooms over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have released their liquid and browned. Transfer to a plate.
~ In the same skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until soft and golden.
~ Add the garlic, salt, tarragon, pepper, and cook another minute or so. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom.
~ Add the spinach and fresh sage and continue cooking just until the spinach wilts.
~ Stir in the flour, nutritional yeast, and cream cheese, and continue cooking about 5 minutes more, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the cooked mushrooms, remove from heat, and set the mixture aside to cool at least 10 minutes.
~ Arrange the thawed puff pastry sheets on the baking sheets; gently fold in the edges to make a rim and crimp slightly with your fingers.
~ Divide the vegetable mixture equally between the two sheets of puff pastry, smoothing with a spatula to get the filling right to the edges.
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, and then sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly over the two tarts.
~ Continue baking another 10 minutes, until the crust around the edges is puffed and golden brown and the walnuts are giving off a toasty aroma.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stuffed Shells Redux

Yes, it's more comfort food - that's why Mother Nature invented fall! (And thick, baggy sweaters.) Anyway, it doesn't get much more reassuring than a big pan of shells stuffed with cashew ricotta and baked under a blanket of red sauce.

Today's version is a new twist on an old theme, with mashed sweet potatoes and fresh arugula adding interesting sweet and sharp notes to the filling. I used jarred sauce because A. I got the idea to make this dish late in the day, and B. I was feeling a bit lazy. It turned out great, but if you'd like to use your favorite homemade version, I'm sure it would make this good thing even better.

Stuffed Shells Redux
~ 1 lb. extra large pasta shells
~ 5 cups marinara sauce, jarred or homemade
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water at least an hour
~ 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
~ 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
~ 2 cups chopped, fresh arugula (or other leafy greens)
~ 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, basil, adobo seasoning (with pepper)
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large casserole with cooking spray.
~ In a food processor, puree the soaked, drained cashews with the soy milk, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth.
~ With the food processor running, gradually add the crumbled tofu, sweet potato, arugula, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, garlic, and seasonings. Puree to a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
~ Prepare and drain the shells according to package directions and set aside for a few minutes to cool.
~ Spread about a cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the greased casserole.
~ Carefully stuff the tofu/cashew mixture into the shells and arrange them in the casserole dish, open side up.
~ Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with the reserved 2 tbsp. of nooch and a little extra oregano.
~ Cover tightly with foil, and bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
~ Remove the foil, raise the heat to 400, and cook another 15 minutes until slightly browned.
~ Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes before serving.