Kabocha Squash Risotto

Kabocha Squash Risotto

1/2 large Kabocha squash, but into large cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large portobello mushrooms, cut into large cubes

1tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2tbsp olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 quart (give or take) chicken or vegetable stock

12 fresh sage leaves

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

 

You can either peel the squash before your cube it or do as I did and remove the skins after roasting, which is a bit messy – so next time I’ll peel before!

 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place squash on a large foil-lined baking sheet and pour over the olive oil. Use you hands to coat each piece. Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until browned and soft when you poke a knife in. Remove from oven and put aside. When cool, if you haven’t already, gently remove the skins and cut the squash into cubes.

Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a small skillet and fry the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Set aside.

 

Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and place on a low heat. You want to keep the stock warm for the duration of the cooking of the risotto – so make sure that heat is low enough that it won’t simmer or boil.

 

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet (I love my 360 skillet,) and add the onion. Fry gently until translucent then stir in the rice. Add the wine and stir on a low heat until it’s absorbed.

 

Now comes the stirring bit. You’ll need to add a ladle of stock and gently stir over a low-medium heat until its completely absorbed – then add the next ladle. Keep on going for about 20 minutes or until the rice has fully expanded and has a nice chewy texture. The texture of the rice is what makes a risotto great or mediocre, so make sure that it’s just past al dente – you obviously want it to be soft and chewy, but not overcooked into a mush.

When it’s ready, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Carefully combine the squash and mushrooms into the risotto – I say carefully because you want the squash to keep its shape and not get mushy.

 

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on a high heat and add about 6 sage leaves. Fry for about 1 minute on either side and then drain them on a paper towel.

 

Finely chop the remaining sage leaves.

Make sure your serving bowls are warm. Spoon the risotto into each bowl and top with the crumbled-up friend sage leaves and the freshly chopped sage.

 

 

KABOCHA SQUASH RISOTTO

When I saw the first leaves turning last week and felt a slight early morning chill in the air, I immediately had a yearning for a comforting risotto. Risotto is one of my favorite recipes to make because it’s so therapeutic. My mother who taught me how to make a pretty good one, never ceases to remind me that you can’t rush a risotto – she loves telling me this because she knows I’m a whirling dervish in my kitchen – always multi-tasking and hating to have to do anything slowly – but as usual – mama knows best! So once I’ve committed myself to a good 1/2 hour of leisurely stirring, I put on some relaxing music and go into a stirring-zone, which is very similar to meditating.

Out of all the risottos I’ve made in the last year, my husband thinks this recipe would definitely be in the top 2 – wow! So now you have his vote of confidence (and don’t forget he’s very spoiled when it comes to food), you may want to give it a try.

I got given a Kabocha squash, which is what prompted this risotto – you can really use whatever winter squash you want – Butternut works well too.

Kabocha Squash Risotto

1/2 large Kabochha squash, but into large cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large portobello mushrooms, cut into large cubes

1tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2tbsp olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 quart (give or take) chicken or vegetable stock

12 fresh sage leaves

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

 

You can either peel the squash before your cube it or do as I did and remove the skins after roasting, which is a bit messy – so next time I’ll peel before!

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place squash on a large foil-lined baking sheet and pour over the olive oil. Use you hands to coat each piece. Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until browned and soft when you poke a knife in. Remove from oven and put aside. When cool, if you haven’t already, gently remove the skins and cut the squash into cubes.

Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a small skillet and fry the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and place on a low heat. You want to keep the stock warm for the duration of the cooking of the risotto – so make sure that heat is low enough that it won’t simmer or boil.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet (I love my 360 skillet,) and add the onion. Fry gently until translucent then stir in the rice. Add the wine and stir on a low heat until it’s absorbed.

Now comes the stirring bit. You’ll need to add a ladle of stock and gently stir over a low-medium heat until its completely absorbed – then add the next ladle. Keep on going for about 20 minutes or until the rice has fully expanded and has a nice chewy texture. The texture of the rice is what makes a risotto great or mediocre, so make sure that it’s just past al dente – you obviously want it to be soft and chewy, but not overcooked into a mush.

When it’s ready, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Carefully combine the squash and mushrooms into the risotto – I say carefully because you want the squash to keep its shape and not get mushy.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on a high heat and add about 6 sage leaves. Fry for about 1 minute on either side and then drain them on a paper towel.

Finely chop the remaining sage leaves.

Make sure your serving bowls are warm. Spoon the risotto into each bowl and top with the crumbled-up friend sage leaves and the freshly chopped sage.

 

 

Tempeh & Kale Fusilli

Tempeh & Kale Fusilli

Serves 4

1 package of whole wheat fusilli

I package tempeh, cubed

1/4 cup tamari sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1tbsp canola or grapeseed oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1tsp fennel seeds

1 small bunch Russian Kale, stems removed and chopped

 

1/2 cup of chicken  or veggie stock

 

Place the cubed tempeh into a shallow bowl. Mix together the tamari, sesame, garlic and pour over the tempeh. Cover the bowl and allow the tempeh to marinate for a few hours.

 

Heat the oil in a large saute pan and fry the onion until lightly browned. Add the fennel seeds and mix well. Add the tempeh and as it fries and begins to brown, smoosh it so that the cubes break up.

Add the chopped kale and stir in the stock. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down low until the kale becomes tender. Remove from heat.

Simultaneously, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain and place back in pan with a little sesame oil. Add the tempeh and kale mixture and combine well, making sure the pasta is well blended.

 

Serve in warm bowls either with real or vegan Parmesan cheese.

TEMPEH & KALE FUSILLI

I was in the mood for a “meaty” tasty pasta sauce and wanted to throw in some beautiful Russian Kale, which I got in my Farm Fresh box. I used to make this exact recipe with sausage meat, which is delicious, but since I try to prepare vegetarian dinners as much as possible, I knew that tempeh would be the perfect substitute.

If you don’t know what the heck tempeh is (tem-pay) and many don’t, allow me to give you a brief explanation. Originating in Indonesia, it’s a fermented food made from soybeans. I’m a bit of a nut about fermented foods because they are so very healthy for your gut. If you think about it, virtually every traditional culture has a fermented food as a staple of their diet: sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles, tempeh, and the reason is that they provide healthy bacteria for your gut – so suffice to say that Tempeh is healthy and has a nutty taste and chewy texture. It also absorbs the flavors of whatever you’re cooking it with, so it’s very versatile.

I always go on about eating only foods, which my grandmother would recognize, and if she saw a piece of tempeh, she’d probably think is was a scrubbing brush for the sink, however, if my grandmother was Indonesian, she would know exactly what to do with it!

Okay – so let’s gone on with this quick, hearty supper.

Tempeh & Kale Fusilli

Serves 4

1 package of whole wheat fusilli

I package tempeh, cubed

1/4 cup tamari sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1tbsp canola or grapeseed oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1tsp fennel seeds

1 small bunch Russian Kale, stems removed and chopped

1/2 cup of chicken  or veggie stock

Place the cubed tempeh into a shallow bowl. Mix together the tamari, sesame, garlic and pour over the tempeh. Cover the bowl and allow the tempeh to marinate for a few hours.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan and fry the onion until lightly browned. Add the fennel seeds and mix well. Add the tempeh and as it fries and begins to brown, smoosh it so that the cubes break up.

Add the chopped kale and stir in the stock. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down low until the kale becomes tender. Remove from heat.

Simultaneously, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain and place back in pan with a little sesame oil. Add the tempeh and kale mixture and combine well, making sure the pasta is well blended.

Serve in warm bowls either with real or vegan Parmesan cheese.

 

ROASTED BEET & WATERCRESS SALAD

In my local Sunday Farmer’s Market there is a wonderful stall, Underwood Family Farms, that almost always (especially this time of year,) have a huge selection of beets. I go through phases with beets – sometimes I get really gung-ho and buy the magenta ones to grate onto salads and juice: sometimes I’ll buy the little golden ones to roast for a simple salad, but this week I spotted some giant pale pink ones. They looked like giant radishes, but Peggy (lovely farmer who is there every Sunday,) explained that they were candy-striped beats. I knew that they’d probably look pretty when cut open, so grabbed a bunch intending to put together a salad to beat all salads.

As far as I’m concerned a marriage-made-in-culinary-heaven is roasted beets and soft goat cheese or feta. What I love most about the salad is that aside from it’s exquisite complimentary tastes and textures, its also insanely healthy: walnuts, beets, sprouts and watercress are all in my top 10 healthiest foods category – so what a joy to be able to mingle them together into this perfect salad.

Make sure you buy enough of each ingredient so you can make this salad twice. I ate it 3 days-running for lunch this week.

 

Roasted Beet & Watercress Salad.

3 large beets (can be any color but the candy-striped makes it look spectacular)

I package of watercress

2-ounces of goat cheese that can crumble or feta

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup of sprouts (clover, alfalfa or broccoli is fine)

Dressing:

1/2 cup good cold-pressed olive oil

1tbsp apple cider vinegar

1tsp honey

1tsp dijon mustard

sea salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

Roughly oil the skins of the beets with any old vegetable oil and place the beets on a baking sheet covered with foil for about an hour or until a knife easily slips into the beet.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. I roasted my beets on Sunday and when they were cool, wrapped them up in the foil I’d cooked them in and put them in the fridge until the next day.

When you are ready to assemble the salad:

Take the beets out and slip off their skins – they should come off really easily. Slice the beets into 1/4″ slices.

Arrange a bed of watercress on a pretty plate and lay the beet slices overlapping each other on top.

Crumble the cheese and sprinkle the walnuts over the salad. Finally add the sprouts and dress.

 

Roasted Beet & Watercress Salad

Roasted Beet & Watercress Salad.

3 large beets (can be any color but the candy-striped makes it look spectacular)

I package of watercress

2-ounces of goat cheese that can crumble or feta

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup of sprouts (clover, alfalfa or broccoli is fine)

Dressing:

1/2 cup good cold-pressed olive oil

1tbsp apple cider vinegar

1tsp honey

1tsp dijon mustard

sea salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

Roughly oil the skins of the beets with any old vegetable oil and place the beets on a baking sheet covered with foil for about an hour or until a knife easily slips into the beet.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. I roasted my beets on Sunday and when they were cool, wrapped them up in the foil I’d cooked them in and put them in the fridge until the next day.

When you are ready to assemble the salad:

Take the beets out and slip off their skins – they should come off really easily. Slice the beets into 1/4″ slices.

Arrange a bed of watercress on a pretty plate and lay the beet slices overlapping each other on top.

Crumble the cheese and sprinkle the walnuts over the salad. Finally add the sprouts and dress.

Vegan Spanakopita

 

Vegan Spanakopita

2 tbsp grapeseed or olive  oil

2 large brown onions, chopped

2 cups Shitake or brown mushrooms, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped (seems like a lot but you need the flavor)

1tbsp fresh Oregano or 1tsp of dried

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stalks & spines removed

1 bag of baby spinach

1 14oz container extra firm tofu, drained

Grated zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped

Black pepper

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 box phyllo pastry dough

Olive oil for brushing the phyllo

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions, mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions are soft.

 

Steam and drain the greens together, and when they are cool, make sure you squeeze out any excess water and chop them well.

In a large bowl, mash the tofu, add the onion mixture and the greens, combining everything really well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, olives, black pepper and salt.

 

Grease a 3 ¼ quart baking dish.

 

Unroll the phyllo sheets carefully. Try pulling the first sheet off and add it to bottom of dish, brush with olive oil and then add the next sheet – continue up to 5 sheets.  Many of my sheets came apart and I made a total mess  - however, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfectly smooth/unbroken sheets – I PROMISE Add the filling. Finally, lay another 8 greased phyllo sheets on top of the pie.

 

Place in the oven for 60 minutes or until golden brown.

 

VEGAN SPANAKOPITA

I love the traditional spinach & feta Greek pie, but I wanted to have a go at making a vegan version, where I wouldn’t be using a couple of sticks of butter for the phyllo. I also love to substitute firm tofu for the feta as the textures are pretty similar. Preparing phyllo pastry can always be a bit fiddly, but this is sooooooo worth the effort. I made this pie, which serves 6 for the 3 of us (husband, daughter & I,) and there was a tiny square left. Also think about it.. a 10 year old eating spinach and chard?? (this pie is packed with it but fully disguised because of all the good flavors).

You can use any mushrooms, but because I spotted some lovely Shitake mushrooms at the market, I grabbed them as they have so many health benefits. As you can see from the photo, I barely had any light left to take the photo ( I always rely on natural daylight,) the sun was almost gone from the end of my yard, so I held up the plate in the last few golden rays – still you get the idea!

Vegan Mushroom & Chard Spanakopita

 

2 tbsp grapeseed or olive  oil

2 large brown onions, chopped

2 cups Shitake or brown mushrooms, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped (seems like a lot but you need the flavor)

1tbsp fresh Oregano or 1tsp of dried

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stalks & spines removed

1 bag of baby spinach

1 14oz container extra firm tofu, drained

Grated zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped

Black pepper

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 box phyllo pastry dough

Olive oil for brushing the phyllo

 

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions, mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Steam and drain the greens together, and when they are cool, make sure you squeeze out any excess water and chop them well.

In a large bowl, mash the tofu, add the onion mixture and the greens, combining everything really well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, olives, black pepper and salt.

Grease a 3 ¼ quart baking dish.

Unroll the phyllo sheets carefully. Try pulling the first sheet off and add it to bottom of dish, brush with olive oil and then add the next sheet – continue up to 5 sheets.  Many of my sheets came apart and I made a total mess  - however, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfectly smooth/unbroken sheets – I PROMISE Add the filling. Finally, lay another 8 greased phyllo sheets on top of the pie.

Place in the oven for 60 minutes or until golden brown.