Meatless Monday Celebrates Fall Harvest

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Meatless Monday published my Harvest Vegetable Tart in their Fall Harvest recipe  roundup.  Check out my recipe featuring root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple carrots and butternut squash cut into leaf shapes using small cookie cutters.  This is a savory vegetarian pie with a creamy rich filling of vegetables braised in vegetable broth, coconut milk and parmesan cheese, although goat cheese would work well too for the filling.  Harvest Vegetable Tart Recipe on goodmotherdiet  By the way, goodmotherdiet has 99,771 hits to date.  Who is going to be the 100,000?

Meatless Monday has compiled a nice assortment of recipes from bloggers like me, pastas, curry, lentils, squash, beets, enchiladas, etc. For the full list of Fall Harvest recipes click HERE

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Join me in supporting the Meatless Monday movement.  Even if you’re not ready to skip meat altogether, going meatless one day a week helps.  Choosing to go Meatless Monday can help fight diseases, reduce the risk of diabetes, and improve heart health. It also conserves land, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves water, and saves energy. Meatless Monday is in over 40 countries and over 20 languages.  Check out their website for more information. Meatless Monday Website

Meatless Monday Infographic

Graphic Image created by Danielle Russell for Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday – Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

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20161207_194811 Risotto is so rich and creamy that it seems fancy and somewhat decadent.  Well this version is no different, even though it is made without meat or dairy and I used barley instead of the traditional Arborio rice which adds flavor and interest. If you are intimidated by making risotto at home, don’t be.  It’s actually a pretty easy (mostly) one pot dish.  Yes, you do have to stir it but not constantly.  You don’t have to be a slave to the stove but it is the technique of slowly adding broth and allowing it to absorb into the barley which creates the rich and creamy almost sauce-like texture which is the result of the barley releasing starch into the broth. Starch is that magic ingredient that helps marry the ingredients.  (This is same reason I always save a cup of cooking water when making pasta). The barley risotto is a wonderful, slightly chewy consistency and the butternut squash is sweet and perfectly accented by the lovely ‘sauce’ and fresh tangy sage. The end result is worth the extra attention, however, I have a short cut in TIPS below for those who can’t be bothered but still like the idea of butternut squash and barley.

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Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice which lends itself to a creamy consistency but I decided to use pearl barley instead to give my risotto a heartier, winter ‘stick to your ribs’ feel and to boost the nutrition. So what exactly is pearl barley?  Pearl Barley, or pearled barley, is barley that has been processed to remove its hull and bran. All barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran layer.  Although pearl barley is not a whole grain, it still has twice as much fiber than white and brown rice. Adding fiber to your diet helps prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes and keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Pearl barley also has almost four times the amount of calcium than white rice but white rice, surprisingly has a bit more iron and more protein.  Go figure. You can also buy hulled barley, which still has the bran, for even more nutrition.  It may not make as creamy of a dish and will take about 20 minutes more to soften.  To read more on Livestrong, click HERE

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TIPS:  If you like this combination of ingredients but don’t have the patience to add the broth a half cup at a time, just saute the onions and squash, then add 3 cups of broth, the squash and half the sage, cover and cook on low heat about 25 minutes. Stir in parmesan and remaining sage.  It won’t be as creamy but should still taste pretty good.  Since the squash will continue to steam, it may fall apart but that is probably okay.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY RISOTTO

  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

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  • In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Heat oil in a medium sized pot and saute onion over medium heat until tender.

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  • Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes.

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  • Add barley and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

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  • Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.

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  • Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and remaining sage.

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  • Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

 

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low.
  2. Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté until tender.
  4. Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add barley and stir for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.
  7. Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Penne with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms & Spinach

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There is a reason pasta is a fan favorite.  It’s fast, versatile and oh so satisfying.  It’s easy to adapt ingredients to feature the best of the season when you know the most abundant fruits and veggies are at their peak freshness and also their least expensive, due to good old supply and demand. Right now winter squashes and mushrooms crowd our supermarket shelves and dark leafy greens are still readily available. So stock up and do yourself a favor; whip up a quick batch of this yummy pasta. You won’t be disappointed.

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I love the colors of this dish.  As you know, via the concept of Eating the Rainbow, the more colors you can include in your food, the more likely you are to have a vast array of vitamins and minerals.   Any time you can sneak dark, leafy greens into meals, you’re adding important vitamins and minerals, but did you know that both butternut squash and spinach are good sources of fiber and Vitamin C and excellent sources of Vitamin A?  Mushrooms also add great nutritional value and help provide the feeling of fullness without adding unnecessary calories, fat or cholesterol.

20161101_195227TIPS:  Whatever you do, don’t forget to scoop out the pasta water which is a magic elixir.  It turns non-tomato based pasta sauces into velvety deliciousness and ‘loosens’ up a dry or too thick sauce.  Regular water just doesn’t give the same results.  Feel free to substitute the spinach for any dark leafy green.  Swiss chard or kale are good choices but may take a bit longer to wilt.

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PENNE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH

  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multigrain penne
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (or other winter squash)
  • 6-8  crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, small dice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Scoop out 1 cup cooking water and set aside before draining pasta. Leave pasta uncovered to prevent overcooking.  If it looks sticky, add a bit of pasta water.

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    • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the squash in a tablespoon of olive oil with half of the salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

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    • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and saute the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the plate and set aside.

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    • Add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes, adding a bit more oil if necessary . Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

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    • Stir in the spinach and saute about one minute until slightly wilted.

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    • Add the pasta, squash, mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the spinach/onion mixture. Cook, stirring, until heated through,1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan and the oregano. Add more of the cooking water, if desired, to make a juicier sauce.

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    • Serve with remaining parmesan and fresh oregano.

    Penne with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Spinach

    • Servings: 4
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print
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    • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multigrain penne
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (about 8 ounces)
    • 6-8  crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
    • 1 medium shallot or 1/2 onion, small dice
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
      • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Scoop out 1 cup cooking water and set aside before draining pasta.
      • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the squash in a tablespoon of olive oil with half of the salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
      • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and saute the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the plate and set aside.
      • Add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes, adding a bit more oil if necessary . Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
      • Stir in the spinach and saute about one minute until slightly wilted.
      • Add the pasta, squash, mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the spinach/onion mixture. Cook, stirring, until heated through,1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan and the oregano. Add more of the cooking water to make a juicier sauce.
      • Serve with remaining parmesan.