Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

A Very Vegan Holiday

Written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Photos by Lisa Caswell 

It’s getting cold out, and you know what that means—The Holidays. That time of year when supermarkets promote, and friends and family gather around a big, dead piece of meat (ham, turkey, you know the deal).{multithumb full}

So what’s a vegan girl to do? She can gorge herself  on green beans and potatoes—or she can supplement the potatoes and green beans with awesome, warm, and amazing food. The latter option sounds better, right? So check out the recipes below. Because, what’s better than spending a winter’s eve with good food and good folk? (These recipes are great for non-vegans too!)
 
Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans
Porcini Wild Rice Soup
Baked Pumpkin Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping

Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans

Serves 4
A fun and simple salad. The candied pecans add a flavorful crunch, and the sweetness of the pear rounds out the delicate bitterness of the endive. It's a simple recipe but a smorgasbord of flavor and texture. We know that grapeseed oil isn't a common oil to have around, but we insist that you get it because it makes the best simple dressing for a salad. If you need to sub the vinegar, use red wine, not balsamic.

Maple Candied Pecans


Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup pecan halves
• about 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
• scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

1. Line a flat plate with parchment paper.

2. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over low-medium heat. Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes, tossing them frequently after the first 2 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetable oil and salt over the pecans, and toss to coat. Add the maple syrup and toss to coat again; the maple syrup will begin to bubble. Let it bubble for about 30 seconds, tossing the entire time. Transfer to the parchment paper and allow to cool completely (about 1/2 an hour). You can speed the process up by placing them in the fridge once they’ve cooled down a bit.

3. Once cooled, break apart the pieces, and they are ready to serve.

Salad
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Ingredients:

• 3 Belgian endives, sliced widthwise into 1/2 inch slices
• 1 very ripe D'Anjou (or other soft) pear, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
• 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
• 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

In a large bowl, use tongs to toss together all of the ingredients, making sure the endive and pears are coated with the oil and vinegar. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with the candied pecans.

Porcini Wild Rice Soup
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Serves 6
An earthy soup with rich mushroom flavor. Don't sub fresh thyme—dried would be good, but it just doesn't compare. If you've never tried fresh chervil, you should; it has a delicate herby taste that is not quite like anything else. It's hard to find though, so if you can't find it, use fresh parsley.

Ingredients:

• .5 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
• 2 cups boiling water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
• 1 teaspoon salt
• several dashes fresh black pepper (we use lots)
• 8 ounces (about 3 cups) cremini or baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 1 1/2 cups wild rice (try to find a wild rice blend with several kinds mixed together)
• 4 cups vegetable broth
• 1 peeled carrot, grated
• several sprigs fresh chervil for garnish

Directions:

1. Place the porcinis in a bowl. Measure out 2 cups of boiling water and pour over the porcinis. Cover with a plate and set aside.

2. Preheat a stockpot over medium-high. Add the olive oil and sauté the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook until brown, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes).

3. Add the sliced creminis (or baby bellas) and sauté for about 3 minutes. In the meantime, remove the porcinis from their broth (with tongs or a fork). Thinly slice them and add to the stockpot along with the porcini broth. Cook for about 3 more minutes.

4. Add the wild rice and stir for about a minute. Add the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down to low and simmer.

5. When rice is tender (after about 45 minutes), grate in the carrot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10 more minutes. If soup is too thick, add another cup or so of water or broth. Ladle into bowls and garnish with springs of fresh chervil.

Baked Pumpkin Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping

Serves 8 (generous servings)
Very rich and comforting. The pumpkin flavor is subtle but is complimented nicely by sweet caramelized onion and a hint of nutmeg. Serve alongside some lightly braised chard or a simple arugula salad.

If you’ve never made homemade bread crumbs before, here’s a reason not to throw out that old baguette or those stale ciabatta rolls. Simply tear up your old bread and process in your food processor till coarse crumbs are achieved. It really makes a difference in this recipe as the top layer of buttery, crunchy crumbs contrasts wonderfully with the chewy, rich layer of pasta underneath.

Tip: This pasta is somewhat drier than a lasagna-type pasta casserole. If you prefer a moister filling, stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth or an additional 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin into the mixture when adding the pureed pumpkin to the tofu blend. Be sure to taste the mixture and make any adjustments with lemon juice or salt.


Ziti

Ingredients:

• 1 pound uncooked ziti or penne pasta
• 1 large onion, sliced very thin
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
• 4 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces (approximately 4 ounces)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• white pepper to taste
• 2 cups pureed pumpkin (or 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree)

Topping


Ingredients:


• 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs, preferably fresh and homemade (made from about half a baguette or 4 medium-sized dinner rolls)
• 1/3 cup walnut pieces, chopped in a food processor till resemblant of coarse crumbs
• 1/4 cup margarine
• 1 1/4 teaspoons dried rubbed sage leaves
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
• fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a medium lasagna-type baking pan (or use two smaller pans) with olive oil.

2. Prepare ziti according to package directions and cook till al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and allow to drain of water again. Set aside.

3. While pasta is cooking, make caramelized onion. To do so, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a seasoned cast iron pan or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and fry, stirring occasionally till onion bits are very brown and caramelized, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

4. In a food processor, blend together cashews, lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, basil, and nutmeg till a thick creamy paste forms. Add mashed tofu to food processor, working in two or more batches if necessary till mixture is thick and well blended.

5. Empty tofu mixture into a large bowl and fold in pumpkin puree; mix till thoroughly combined. Finally, fold in drained, cooked ziti and caramelized onions, stirring to coat the pasta completely. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and press the top lightly with a rubber spatula.

Crumb Topping

Directions:

1. Melt margarine in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs and walnuts, stirring to coat completely with margarine. Sprinkle in dried herbs and paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Stir constantly and lightly toast crumb mixture, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle over ziti.

2. Bake for 25-28 minutes till top is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

These recipes originally appeared in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

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