Meatless Monday – Harvest Vegetable Tart

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As you can see, I’m still on a tart kick.  You might say I’m ‘practicing’ for Thanksgiving, but in my defense, when the air gets cold outside, I love to be bundled up inside with a steaming casserole (or hot bowl of soup) and a tart is really just a fancy casserole.  This beauty takes advantage of the exquisite red/orange palate of fall by using colorful root vegetables cut into small leaf shapes using cookie cutters to create an Autumn motif. It happens to be savory and delicious too!

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The original inspiration for this recipe was filled with three kinds of cheese which sounds delicious but I was looking for something less caloric and more savory.  I opted to braise the leftover bits of veggies in olive oil and vegetable broth with shallots and garlic for a flavorful, lower fat tart filling.  I also added coconut milk for creaminess and parmesan for its nutty and salty flavors, but of course, that is optional or there are some great vegan cheeses that could be used.  For the creamy, three cheese recipe, check out Crafty Baking.

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I have had this set of leaf cookie cutters for so long that I don’t remember where I got them but they are still available for sale: 7 Piece Leaf Cookie Cutters. William Sonoma and other gourmet kitchen and restaurant supply stores have a good selection too.  They are worth having in your kitchen arsenal to decorate pies, casseroles or yes, even to make cookies.

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Root vegetables are decidedly homely from the outside, but once you remove their rough exterior, they are positively lovely, an entire array of jewel tones.  I chose my veggies for their variety of colors and flavors. In fact, their brilliant colors show us what a storehouse of nutrients they are.  Since they grow underground, they absorb a tremendous amount of nutrients directly from the soil which includes a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Click through for 5 Reasons To Eat More Root Vegetables

Parsnips are a funny veggie and actually get a little bit sweet when cooked.  If you don’t like them, substitute another veggie or regular potatoes, especially in the tart filling. Actually, you can use any combination of root vegetables that you like.  Just beware that red and purple veggies may stain wood cutting boards and fingers… heads up.

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TIPS:  I found it helpful to use a potholder to protect my hands when pressing the cookie cutters into the veggies.  Also, I opted to not use the purple carrot ‘scraps’ in the tart filling as it leaches pink liquid turning the whole filling pink and unappetizing. (Yep, found out the hard way)  Other options would be to omit the coconut milk and parmesan and dot with goat cheese or ricotta before topping with the leaves.

 

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HARVEST VEGETABLE TART

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 1 butternut squash*
  • 1-2 purple carrots*
  • 1-2 parsnips*
  • 1 large sweet potato*
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2+ cup shredded parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Pre heat oven to 375. Peel and slice squash neck into 1/4 inch rings.

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  • Using a cookie cutter, press firmly into squash. I recommend using a potholder to make pressing down easier on your hands.

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  • Peel and slice remaining root vegetables, using various leaf shapes.  Reserve veggie ‘scraps’.

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  •  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the leaves on the baking sheets. If your cookie cutters have large and small shapes, separate them as they may have different cooking times. Spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. My cookie cutters are small and I had about 70 leaves.

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  • Prebake the leaves until they are tender enough to pierce with a knife tip, but not so tender that they fall apart, about 15 minutes.  Larger leaves may need another 5 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Saute shallots until lightly browned in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic.

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  • Gather the veggie scraps and dice. You should have about 6 cups of veggies. Don’t include purple carrot scraps as they will turn everything pink. Add to the shallots along with vegetable broth.  Simmer 10 minutes with the lid off.  Add more broth if necessary but liquid should mostly evaporate.

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  • Veggies should be soft but still somewhat firm.  They will cook again in the tart pan.  Stir in 2 tsp of flour and then add coconut milk, herbs and parmesan (if using).

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  • Roll out pastry dough and place it in a tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom.  Roll the pin over the top to cut the dough to fit the pan.

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  • Pour vegetable filling into pie crust and spread evenly with a spoon.

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  • Arrange the leaf shapes onto the top of the filling, covering any gaps until entire tart is covered.  Spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with more parmesan, if desired.

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  • Bake tart for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with a crisp green salad.  Enjoy!

Harvest Vegetable Tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 single pie crust
  • 1 butternut squash*
  • 1-2 purple carrots*
  • 1-2 parsnips*
  • 1 large sweet potato*
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2+ cup shredded parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 375. Peel and slice squash neck into 1/4 inch rings.
  2. Using a cookie cutter, press firmly into squash.  I recommend using a potholder to make pressing down easier on your hands.
  3. Peel and slice remaining root vegetables, using various leaf shapes.  Reserve veggie ‘scraps’.
  4.  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the leaves on the baking sheets. If your cookie cutters have large and small shapes, separate them as they may have different cooking times. Spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  5. Prebake the leaves until they are tender enough to pierce with a knife tip, but not so tender that they fall apart, about 15 minutes.  Larger leaves may need another 5 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Saute shallots until lightly browned in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic.
  7. Gather the veggie scraps and dice. You should have about 6 cups of veggies. Don’t include purple carrot scraps as they will turn everything pink. Add to the shallots along with vegetable broth.  Simmer 10 minutes with the lid off.  Add more broth if necessary but liquid should mostly evaporate.
  8. Veggies should be soft but still somewhat firm.  They will cook again in the tart pan.  Stir in 2 tsp of flour and then add coconut milk, herbs and parmesan (if using).
  9. Roll out pastry dough and place it in a tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom.  Roll the pin over the top to cut the dough to fit the pan.
  10. Pour vegetable filling into pie crust and spread evenly with a spoon.
  11. Arrange the leaf shapes onto the top of the filling, covering any gaps until entire tart is covered.  Spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired.
  12. Bake tart for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with a crisp green salad.  Enjoy!

 

 

Meatless Monday -Thai Red Curry Soup

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So you might have noticed that I am still on a soup kick.  It may have something to do with the constant deluge of rain blown sideways by strong gusts of wind.  This soup, in particular, is designed to use winter veggies like sweet potato, squash and mushrooms with fresh ginger  in a deliciously spicy red curry, coconut milk broth. I added tofu for extra protein and millet, brown rice ramen noodles to make a pretty hearty meal in a bowl.

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I love the spicy but comforting flavors of this soup. It’s loaded with vegetables that make it a nutritional feast but also provide interest.  Each spoonful is a different culinary adventure, from the creaminess of the sweet potato, to the earthy mushrooms and the just tender bok choy all swimming in a yummy coconut curry broth.

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What really makes it though, is the garnishes of sliced red onion and fresh cilantro (or parsley if you’re not a cilantro lover), so don’t skip this step. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  Japanese eggplant would be a good choice.  Just keep in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook.

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TIPS: I used whole grain ramen noodles which I was trying for the first time.  They had a good flavor and texture but broke into small pieces which made it easier to eat but not quite as pretty as intended.  Rice vermicelli or spaghetti would hold it’s shape better.

This recipe calls for several Thai spices which are easy to find in my grocery stores. I’ll admit that the list of ingredients is pretty long but each adds an important flavor to the mix.  If you don’t have the ingredients or can’t be bothered to buy them, you may be lucky enough to find a curry soup base in your market.  Just add the fresh ingredients and you’re done.

Draining the tofu isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if you are pressed for time, since it’s going into a liquid base, but I prefer to squeeze out the water it was packed in to allow the flavors of the broth to be absorbed.  It makes the tofu more flavorful.

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THAI RED CURRY SOUP

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles (GF)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion

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  • Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more

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  • Add sweet potato, tofu and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.

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  • Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thai Red Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  1. Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more
  2. Add sweet potato and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.
  4. Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

 

Meatless Monday – Summer Vegetable Chowder – Fully Loaded (Vegan)

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Sometimes in Summer you just have to step away from the salad bar and belly up to a big bowl of creamy comfort food.  Last night, the Maine skies were filled with Mother Nature;s fireworks.  Lightening  made a dramatic light display across the night sky, quickly followed by booming thunder, while we sat and counted the seconds on our fingers. If my dog was here, she would have been hiding under my bed.  This was a perfect night for Summer Vegetable Chowder, fully loaded, or more specifically, topped with tasty brown onion bits (instead of bacon), scallions, flaked parmesan and cilantro.  Yum!   This thick, creamy chowder is filled with seasonal veggies; zucchini, summer squash, potato and sweet corn simmered in a light vegetable broth with creamy coconut milk.

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I have been trying to experiment with more vegan recipes and using fewer animal products in my cooking.  This recipe is vegan except for the addition of parmesan as a topping which, of course, is optional). When I was sauteing the onions and celery, I forgot to stir for a few moments and some of the onions turned brown on the edges.  I started to pick the brown bits out and then tasted one and realized I had hit paydirt!  The browned onions were just the flavor that my vegetarian chowder was missing, so I decided to take the other half of the onion and make them on purpose to use as a topping.  Loved them! I used to be a big bacon lover and I am always looking for good substitutes.  These onion bits don’t get crispy like actual bacon does, but they have that same umami that we love so much.  Of course, toppings are optional, but… why not?

TIPS:  I used unsweetened coconut milk (fresh from a carton not a can) but any kind of milk would work, vegan or regular.  I also made it creamier by pureeing half of the cooked vegetables and putting the mixture back into the soup.  It’s a great way to add creaminess without adding heavy cream.  If you prefer a more brothy soup with more vegetables, then skip this step.

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SUMMER VEGETABLE CHOWDER WITH BROWNED ONION ‘BACON BITS’

1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped celery, diced
2 Tbsn coconut or olive oil (or vegan butter)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound yellow summer squash, diced
1 pound zucchini, diced
3-4 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk (or other milk)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
TOPPINGS (Optional):
Browned Onion ‘Bacon Bits’ (*See directions below)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
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  • Saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter in a large stockpot for about 10 minutes or until tender.

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  • Add potatoes and vegetable stock and cook until softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, corn, thyme and coconut milk and simmer until vegetables are soft.  Season with salt and pepper.

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  • For a thicker soup puree half of the potato/onion mixture in a blender or food processor and return to the stockpot. (This can also be done after cooking the potatoes instead if you want more chunky veggies.)

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  • While soup is cooking prepare Browned Onion ‘Bacon Bits’, if using, and set aside (Directions below).

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  • Prepare toppings, if using. In addition to the onion bits, I also served fresh herbs, shaved parmesan and sliced scallions.

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  • Ladle soup into bowls and allow guests to ‘decorate’ their dish with desired toppings.

BROWNED ONION ‘BACON BITS’

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  • Chop one half large onion and brown in 1 Tbsn olive oil or coconut oil and 1 Tbsn butter, vegan butter (optional) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until browned, about 20 minutes.

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  • Transfer to a paper towel and let cool.  They won’t crisp like bacon but add that great salty, fatty flavor.

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  • Place in a small serving bowl when cool.

Summer Vegetable Chowder

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped celery, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound yellow summer squash, diced
1 pound zucchini, diced
3-4 ears fresh corn
1 quart vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups coconut milk (or other milk)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
TOPPINGS (Optional):
Browned Onion ‘Bacon Bits’ (*See directions below)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter in a large stockpot for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  • Add potatoes and vegetable stock and cook until softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • For a thicker soup puree half of the potato/onion mixture in a blender or food processor and return to the stockpot. (This can also be done after cooking the squash)
  • Add squash, zucchini, corn, thyme and coconut milk and simmer until vegetables are soft.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • While soup is cooking prepare Browned Onion ‘Bacon Bits’, if using, and set aside (Directions below).
  • Prepare toppings, if using. In addition to the onion bits, I also served fresh herbs, shaved parmesan and sliced scallions.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and allow guests to ‘decorate’ their own bowls with desired toppings.

BROWNED ONION ‘BACON BITS’

  • Chop one half large onion and brown in 1 Tbsn olive oil or coconut oil and 1 Tbsn butter, vegan butter (optional) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer to a paper towel and let cool.  They won’t crisp like bacon but add that great salty, fatty flavor.
  • Place in a small serving bowl when cool.

Wheatless Wednesday – Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

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Craving rich and creamy but not the calories?  Would you believe me if I told you that coconut milk is a good diet food? Coconut Milk has gotten a bad reputation for it’s high saturated fat content but that doesn’t mean it will make you gain weight. Research has shown that not having enough fat can make  you fat. Crazy, right?  The trick is to eat healthy fats like coconut milk and avocado.  Fats help us feel satiated so we eat less and feel full longer. In addition, the fats in coconut milk and oil may actually increase our metabolism which increases our bodies’ use of calories. Coconut milk also provides nutrients that support our immune systems and heart health as well as giving us pretty hair and skin, and it tastes delicious too. Win-Win!

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Nothing hits the spot on a chilly day like a piping hot bowl of creamy soup.  This soup gets it’s creaminess from coconut milk (you knew that was coming), which also adds a subtle  but delicious flavor when combined with roasted butternut squash, ginger and red curry paste. I also love using winter squash because each is hiding a little treasure trove inside, their seed stache.  Pumpkin seeds get all of the attention, but they aren’t the only squash seeds that can be roasted. Other winter squash seeds like butternut,  squash or spaghetti squash can also be roasted.  So next time you’re roasting squash, roast the seeds as well and use them as a garnish or as a tasty and nutritious little snack.  I roasted mine with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, curry, cayenne pepper and salt but you can use any spices you enjoy. You’ll be addicted!

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I also dry toasted unsweetened shredded coconut until it was golden and aromatic to use as a second topping.  All I can say is, Wow!  I have to admit to going back for more…

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TIPS:  I think roasting the squash in the skin gives it a richer flavor and it is much easier than peeling it since the skin is so tough, however, if you are pressed for time, you can peel the squash, cut it into chunks (or even buy it from the store pre-cut into cubes which is not a crime) and add it to the onion, garlic mixture along with the vegetable broth.  Then follow the recipe from there.  You will notice that my CSA squash is the size of a three month old baby!  Normally I can fit both halves in the same pan but this behemoth squash required two pans.  Don’t skip the step of roasting the seeds.  You won’t be disappointed! In fact, you’ll wish there were more…

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COCONUT CURRY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP 

1 large butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 Tbsn freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsn Red Curry paste (or curry powder)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

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  • Preheat over to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until very tender. The squash should have a creamy texture. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the peel using a spoon.

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  • While the squash is cooking toast the coconut in a small pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.  Put in a small serving dish and let cool.

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  • Pick through seeds, if using, and remove any stringy bits.  Rinse and dry with paper towels.  Let air dry in a single layer on a baking dish.  Once the squash has finished cooking, lower the oven to 300 and roast seeds by following the directions below.

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  • In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook until aromatic.

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  • Stir in the vegetable broth, coconut milk and squash. Simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary.

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  • Puree soup with a hand mixer or in a food processor until silky smooth.  You may have to do it in batches.

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  • Serve garnished with toasted coconut and roasted squash seeds.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

 Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup14

 

1 large butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 Tbsn freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsn Thai Red Curry paste, more if you like it hotter
4 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

  • Preheat over to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until very tender. The squash should have a creamy texture. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the peel using a spoon.
  • While the squash is cooking toast the coconut in a small pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.  Put in a small serving dish and let cool.
  • Pick through seeds, if using, and remove any stringy bits.  Rinse and dry with paper towels.  Let air dry in a single layer on a baking dish.  Once the squash has finished cooking, lower the oven to 300 and roast seeds by following the directions below.
  • In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook until aromatic.
  • Stir in the vegetable broth, coconut milk and squash. Simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  • Puree soup with a hand mixer or in a food processor until silky smooth.  You may have to do it in batches.
  • Serve garnished with toasted coconut and roasted squash seeds.

Roasted Winter Squash Seeds

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup raw squash seeds
1 Tbsn oil (olive, coconut or avocado)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

  • Separate the seeds from the pulp, place in a colander and rinse thoroughly. Spread them out in an even layer to air dry. Seeds roast better when they are completely dry.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drizzle seeds with oil and sprinkle with spices.  Toss to combine and spread in a single layer on a glass baking dish or a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until seeds are golden brown. If seeds aren’t browning, increase oven temperature to 325 or 350 degrees but check every few minutes.

Wheatless Wednesday – Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup

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Time for soup… It’s raining!  Our parched flowers and trees are enjoying a much-needed drink of water but for those of us indoors, the weather is gray and gloomy.  Throw in with last night’s storm which was quite a doozy, complete with lightning and thunder, also known as nature’s fireworks, and just like that, winter is here.  I think the only remedy for this wet weather is a hot and spicy bowl of soup to warm us up from the inside out.  Over the last couple of weeks I have travelled from warm and sunny California to unseasonably cold and rainy Virginia, on to warm and balmy Exuma and Florida, then crisp and snowy Maine before coming back to a wet and gray California. Perhaps my laptop dislikes airports and so many changes of venue because it died.  I first lost my mouse but not the touch screen (thankfully) but then, in complete protest, my laptop went on strike, refusing to go on.  So my last three posts (including this one) have been on borrowed computers, which means I’m back to the dark ages of figuring out how to upload photos and use my widgets so be forgiving.  I’m staying put for a while and hopefully, after a visit with a computer technician, my  laptop will forgive me so we can get back to work.

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Last night, at the beginning of the storm, I decided to make a vegetarian Tom Kha soup, which is one of my son, Eric’s specialties.  Tom Kha Gai, the most traditional of Thai soups, is made of chicken (Gai) cooked (Tom) in coconut milk which has been infused with galangal (Kha), lemongrass, and often, kaffir lime leaves. There are other versions of tom kha but these seem to be the most common; made with seafood (tom kha thale), mushrooms (tom kha het), pork (tom kha mu) and tofu (tom kha taohu).  Now you’ll think of me next time you’re looking at a Thai menu.  I wanted to make a vegetarian version, so I substituted mushrooms for the chicken which technically makes this soup Tom Kha Het, however, if you want a boost of protein, you can also add cubes of extra firm tofu and then you will be eating Tom Kha Taohu.  This particular recipe, as are most of Eric’s recipes, is not written down anywhere and resides as memories of past soups in his head (like mother like son).  So, knowing the basic ingredients, we went to work and came up with a delicious and fairly easy Tom Kha Het which is easy to adapt to what you have on hand.

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TIP:  I used the last of the cayenne peppers which I collected from my drenched and bedraggled garden.  They were pretty waterlogged and not as spicy as I would have liked, so I added two dried bird’s eye peppers (which can be found in supermarkets in the Asian food aisle) which I crushed with my wooden spoon before adding to give it the proper kick. The galangal root, lemon grass and hot peppers are added to infuse the broth with flavor so make sure you let it simmer long enough for the flavors to develop.  In slicing the galangal root and lemon grass, slice them in large pieces to make it easier for the diner to pick out, as they are very woody and not really eaten. You can also strain them out before serving but I think they add character. Only the truly fearless eat the hot peppers (unless you slice them into thin circles).  If you want them  hotter, slice each one down the middle but still leave intact. If you can’t find galangal substitute fresh ginger root.  There is no good substitute for lemongrass but sometimes it’s available as a paste or spice. For a vegan version, omit the fish sauce. I added baby corn to add fullness to the soup but it can be omitted or substituted with any vegetable that sounds good to you. Serve with cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and Sriracha for additional kick.

VEGETARIAN TOM KHA

2 16 oz cans coconut milk
3-4 cups vegetable broth (depending on desired thickness)
1 stalk lemongrass Use only the bottom white part (about 6 inches of the stalk part) and discard the woody grass part. With a flat edge, pound and mash the lemongrass so it releases the flavor. Cut into 2 inch segments.
4-5 slices of fresh galangal or gingerroot (about a 1 inch piece)
1 yellow onion
1 red serrano or jalapeno pepper (thinly sliced) or5-6 tiny whole cayenne or other small red pepper (or dried bird’s eye peppers)
1-2 cups mushrooms (button, baby bella or cremini)
1 cup whole baby corn(optional)
1 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1-2 fresh limes (1 – 2 Tbsn to taste)
1 Tbsn sugar
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of the broth)
Cilantro and Sriracha (optional)

GMD8

  • Chop the onion into large pieces and slice the galangal into thin rounds.  Lightly pound the stalk of lemongrass and slice into 1 or  2 inch pieces, slicing on the diagonal to release the most flavor.

GMD7

  • In a large soup pot, saute the onion in 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil until softened. Add the galangal, lemon grass and hot peppers and saute a few more minutes.

GMD6

  • Pour in vegetable broth and coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, salt and fish sauce, if using and let simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to absorb into the broth.
  • Adjust seasonings, if necessary. If it’s not spicy enough, slice open the peppers and/or add a couple of crushed dried birds eye chilis.  If it’s too spicy, remove some of the peppers from the soup. You can either strain all the solids out of the soup or leave them in for added interest.  Add corn and mushroom and cook another 10 minutes.

GMD4

  • Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, chopped cilantro and sriracha sauce, if desired.

GMD3

 

Vegetarian Tom Kha

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

GMD2

2 16 oz cans coconut milk
3-4 cups vegetable broth (depending on desired thickness)
1 stalk lemongrass Use only the bottom white part (about 6 inches of the stalk part) and discard the woody grass part. With a flat edge, pound and mash the lemongrass so it releases the flavor. Cut into 2 inch segments.
4-5 slices of fresh galangal or gingerroot (about a 1 inch piece)
1 yellow onion
1 red serrano or jalapeno pepper (thinly sliced) or5-6 tiny whole cayenne or other small red pepper (or dried bird’s eye peppers)
1-2 cups mushrooms (button, baby bella or cremini)
1 cup whole baby corn(optional)
1 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1-2 fresh limes (1 – 2 Tbsn to taste)
1 Tbsn sugar
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of the broth)
Cilantro and Sriracha (optional)

  • Chop the onion into large pieces and slice the galangal into thin rounds.  Lightly pound the stalk of lemongrass and slice into 1 or  2 inch pieces, slicing on the diagonal to release the most flavor.
  • In a large soup pot, saute the onion in 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil until softened.
  • Add the galangal, lemon grass and hot peppers and saute a few more minutes.
  • Pour in vegetable broth and coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, salt and fish sauce, if using and let simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to absorb into the broth.
  • Adjust seasonings, if necessary. If it’s not spicy enough, slice open the peppers and/or add a couple of crushed dried birds eye chilis.  If it’s too spicy, remove some of the peppers from the soup. You can either strain all the solids out of the soup or leave them in for added interest.  Add corn and mushroom and cook another 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, chopped cilantro and sriracha sauce, if desired.

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