Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Veggie-ful Fall Cassoulet

Guys. Guys. This is heaven in a garlicky, beany, herby, butternutty bowl. (Yes, I'm making up words- it's that good!) Remember I went on and on earlier about how I needed to vegetarianize some French dishes? Well, cross one of the list, folks: cassoulet! 

What in the lord's name is cassoulet? Cassoulet is a French dish that originated in the south of France, typically brimming with various sausages, pork skin, and white beans. The cincher is that it is all cooked in a traditional, somewhat funnel-shaped, earthenware vessel called a "cassole". I obviously do not have a cassole, nor do I eat meat, so you may be asking yourself what rubbish mockery I am posting here. Well, fear not! After intense cassoulet research, I realized that there are a.) a number of veggie versions, and b.) many of them have no need for oven cooking (a.k.a. no need for a cassole). Win.

What you do need, however, is white beans. I purchased these beauties from Rancho Gordo. They are the classic cassoulet bean, grown from tarbais seed (see package above). Tarbais beans are IGP (Indication of Protected Geographical Origin), so Rancho can't call them Tarbais because they are actually grown in California, but I digress. They are delicious, authentic, and hold up terribly well when simmered in a pot for hours. They may be my (*gasp*) favorite bean so far. Big words, coming from me. Yes, I am a bit bean-obsessed, my friends. Welcome to life as a vegetarian foodie. 

This vegan version of cassoulet is packed with white beans, tomatoes, butternut squash, provencal herbs, and garlic. The butternut squash gives this dish a seasonal touch, and lends it a distinct sweetness. 

To top our bowls of cassoulet (I was eating with the boyfriend), I prepared garlicky bread crumbs. A salad of butter lettuce and raddichio with a simple vinaigrette made for a bright contrast of a side dish.

Veggie-ful Fall Cassoulet
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 
Serves 6-8

  • 2 cups dried white beans (I used these)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup frozen leeks, defrosted
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (use only if you are not using spiced cider)
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 cups veggie broth
  • 2/3 cup spiced apple cider (or more broth)
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  1. Rinse and sort dried beans. Soak beans in about 8 cups of water for at least 8 hours. Drain water.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and optional cloves. Cook until softened, about 15 minutes. 
  3. Stir in soaked beans, diced tomatoes, butternut squash, tomato paste, broth, and apple cider. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and cook covered for 40 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced by a fork and beans are tender.
  4. While the cassoulet is cooking, prepare the breadcrumbs, below.
  5. When the breadcrumbs and the cassoulet are both done, spoon out hearty bowls of the stew, and top with the garlicky breadcrumbs. Devour.

Garlic Breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs (see note)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sautee pan on medium-high. Add breadcrumbs, parsley, and minced garlic.
  2. Once the oil is absorbed, add the remaining 4 tbsp olive oil and stir well. Keep stirring the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until toasted to your liking. Add salt to taste. 
Note: I found whole wheat breadcrumbs at Whole Foods for a few bucks, and I highly recommend them!

This is the perfect fall comfort bowl to dive into on a chilly night. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Papaya Breakfast Boat

Today, I have a quick and easy breakfast idea for you. Personally, I know I always fall into the same breakfast routine: smoothies and yogurt bowls. I struggle to call it a rut, because there are so many ways to shake both of those meals up flavor-wise, but regardless, this recipe is a welcome change to the rotation. 

Don't the starfruit look adorable? Like they're sliding down a yogurt slide! Love it. (Yes, I am a 5-year-old at heart. Speaking of such, this would probably be a cute breakfast idea for your young ones.)

The idea is simple: Take a chunk of papaya, size depending on your appetite. I used about 1/4 of a large papaya. Squeeze some lime juice over the coral-colored flesh. Mound on some greek yogurt of choice. I used 0% plain, but vanilla, or even key lime, if you can find it, would be wonderful. Then sprinkle on some ground flax for a punch of omega-3s, and some raw oats for texture, and line up your starfruit slices. Layer on some almond butter, or your favorite nut-butter (macadamia or coconut butter would be fun to keep with the tropical theme), and drizzle on some honey or agave. Bam- your Papaya Breakfast Boat is ready! 

If you can't find star fruit, which is also known as carambola, kiwi slices or banana slices should also go well with the papaya.

Speaking of papaya, this fruit is extremely good for you. 1 cup contains 144% of your daily Vitamin C, 31% of your daily Vitamin A, 13% of your daily folate, and 10% of your daily potassium. In addition to having these micronutrients, papaya also contains something very unique, an enzyme called papain, which helps digest proteins. Because of this, papaya has been used as a meat-tenderizer for thousands of years by the peoples of South America, and is used in creating digestive enzyme supplements. Also because of this, I sometimes develop a (very short-lived) skin rash if I do not immediately wipe off papaya juice from my hands when I am slicing and dicing them. Guess the papaya is trying to tenderize me! Clearly, this does not discourage me from being a papaya fiend.

Papaya Breakfast Boat
Serves 1


  • Chunk of papaya, seeds removed
  • 1/2-1 lime
  • 3/4 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp raw oats
  • 1/2 starfruit, sliced
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  1. Juice the lime over the papaya.
  2. Scoop the yogurt into the papaya "bowl". Sprinkle on the flax and oats.
  3. Line up the starfruit slices, and top it off with almond butter and honey. Add more lime juice on top, if desired. Have a happy breakfast!
Notes: Feel free to use your favorite greek yogurt. I highly recommend sticking with greek, though, because traditional yogurt would be too runny to stay in the papaya. If you do not have starfruit, kiwis or bananas would go well. Coconut butter or macadamia nut butter would be a fun almond butter replacer, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. You can substitute agave for the honey.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spiced Pumpkin Oat Squares

As my dear friend Nikolai knows, this recipe is a bit late in coming. I have been scheming away for a few weeks, trying to think of an innovative pumpkin dessert recipe. This has been a huge challenge, given the pumpification of everything under the sun lately. So what was left to pumpify? I settled on these soft, oaty bars, after ruling out various cakes, puddings, tarts, cheesecakes and many more (everything's been done, man!). I also wanted to keep them vegan, as I was not sure if my dear Nikolai was looking for a vegan recipe or not, and work-friendly, as he wants to bring them in for his colleagues. 

So, voila! Here they are. I worked off of Angela's Healthy Strawberry Oat Square recipe, modifying the topping, changing up the flour for the base, and adding warm fall spices to both layers. 

They are moist and tender, with hints of cinnamon and a nudge of pumpkin, and are perfect as is partnered with a cup o' joe, or how I have been enjoying them: warmed up and slathered in pecan butter (recipe coming soon!) and a drizzle of maple syrup. 

I brought some in for my coworkers and they were a big hit. Sometimes I am a bit fearful of vegan dessert reception, but no one could even tell they didn't have eggs/butter/milk- woot, woot! Every one of them got gobbled up.

Good thing I saved a few for myself ;) 

Spiced Pumpkin Oat Squares
Serves 12-16, depending on how large you slice them

Instant Pumpkin Butter Ingredients

  • 1 15oz can pure pumpkin puree (not sweetened)
  • 1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp water
Oat Base Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp chia or ground flax + 4 tbsp water
  • 1.5 cup oats
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or nondairy milk
  1. Make a chia or flax egg by combining 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax with 4 tbsp water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish with oil. 
  3. Prep the pumpkin topping. Mix all pumpkin butter ingredients together in a pot over medium heat. When the mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and let cook while you prepare the oat base, stirring periodically.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 oat base ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine the last 4 ingredients and the chia egg. Mix the wet into the dry. Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat mixture for the topping.
  5. Pour the oat base into the baking dish and smooth out. Then pour on the pumpkin topping and smooth out. Crumble on the 1/2 cup of oat base that you set aside. You may want to do tinier bits than I did in the pictures- or if you want big chunks, go for it!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing and removing from the dish. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy cold, room temp, or my favorite, warmed.
Notes: You may be able to sub maple syrup with agave if that is what you have on hand. You could also probably substitute the spelt flour with whole wheat pastry flour (pastry- not regular!)or just good ol' all-purpose flour. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ring Around the Kale, with Butternut Squash and Romesco Sauce

Squash-fest is officially here! Woot, woot. Or, at least, that is what I like to call October and November ;) I absolutely adore winter squash. And I'm not just talking pumpkin, people. I roam around in the supermarkets and farmer's markets and hunt for the weird stuff. The knobby ones, green-striped ones, blue-shelled ones, dusty ones, 10-lb-er ones. The ones you think are just for decoration. I view it as my duty to roast 'em up, and eat them with a slather of almond butter and maple syrup. Ahhh, dreamy.

But, alas, don't worry. This recipe doesn't call for any strange squash (although, I fully support you if you want to use up a hubbard or fairytale pumpkin)- it calls for the ubiquitous butternut squash. The sweet creaminess of the butternut jives beautifully with the oniony rice (which is buried beneath the mound of squash), and the steamed kale. 

Here is the ring before it is properly dressed. (Cover the children's eyes!)

I made an amaaaaaazing sauce to drizzle on top: romesco sauce. I'm talking highly addictive, I-will-1000%-make-again, I-want-to-eat-with-everything kind of sauce. So what is it exactly? Romesco sauce is a traditional Catalonian (a.k.a. Spanish) sauce made of almonds, tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic. As with any traditional recipe, there are a thousand variations, some using mint, hazelnuts, dried peppers, bread as a thickener, more oil, etc. 

In my romesco research, I just stumbled across something called a calcotada, which is an event that celebrates the harvest of the spring onion, or calcot. People flame roast the calcots and then dip them in romesco sauce. Mmmm. Maybe I will do that...

The romesco I made was adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe. I reduced the oil (by a ton!) and excluded the parsley. The sauce is made of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, roasted almonds, garlic, EVOO, smoked paprika, cayenne, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. A seemingly odd combo, but I promise, this sauce is what dreams are made of.

I served this dish with lentils and pinot noir. And it's Boyfriend approved, too!

Ring Around the Kale, with Butternut Squash and Romesco Sauce
Serves 4


  • 1 medium butternut squash (only use half)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 10 oz bag of chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt + pepper
Romesco Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (don't leave out!)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Spray with oil and salt and pepper. Bake cut-side down for 40 mins, or until a fork can easily pierce down to the skin. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is baking, start the rice. Mix rice, stock, and onion in a medium-size pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer, covered, for 45 mins, or until rice tastes done to your liking. Add salt and pepper.
  3. While the rice and squash are cooking, prepare the kale. Over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large sautee pan. Add kale when oil is heated. Stir to coat with oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for 10 mins, or until kale is tender.
  4. Make the romesco sauce. Add first 7 romesco sauce ingredients to a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Take half of the cooled butternut squash. Save the other half for other uses (soup? snack? smoothie?) Scoop the squash out of the shell, or if the squash is very well-cooked, peel off the skin. Slice it into half moons.
  6. Assemble all of your hard work. Using a large round serving platter, mound the rice in a circle in the center of the dish. Spread out so that it is 3-4 inches from the edge. Take the kale and line it around the edge of the platter. Cover the exposed rice with the squash. Drizzle on the romesco sauce. Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIAW: October 8, 2014

Hey there! Long time no blog. I have taken a lovely hiatus from blogging for the past week after my month-long Vegan MoFo sprint. However, I am back and energized, and wanted to kick off October by joining the What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) party

Here is a run through of a day of my eats from last week. Enjoy, fellow food oglers! 

As has been par for the course these past few weeks (a.k.a. ever since I could get my grubby hands on the stuff), I have been kicking off my days with a steaming mug of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice coffee. It is heavenly: full of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other autumnal spices. (Excuse my picture repeat from last WIAW.)

For breakfast, I had a giant bowl of pumpkin yogurt (1/2 cup pumpkin puree + about a cup of 0% greek yogurt + a hefty shake of pumpkin pie spice), topped with a diced pear, brown rice krispies, apple butter, a scoop of flaxseed, and almond butter galore. I also sprinkled some unpictured stevia on top. This bowl kept me full and powered up until 1:30 pm, which is a big deal for someone whose tummy starts growling at 11:50 am most days.

For lunch, I was in the soup and salad kinda mood, and had a salad of butter lettuce, radicchio, and tomatoes and some unpictured red wine vinaigrette that I had left in my work fridge. On the side, I heated up some homemade black beans, as well as a bowl of roasted tomato soup (recipe to come soon!). 

This juicy orange and these salted & roasted walnuts tided me over until dinner time.

When I got home from work, I chowed down on this bean and grain bowl. I had a big scoop of leftover farro cooked with tomatoes and broth, sauteed greens (collards, kale, mustard greens), and kidney beans. I spooned some basil pesto over top for some healthy fats and a flavor ka-pow. I keep a jar of pesto stashed in the freezer at all times to come to the rescue whenever needed. It freezes wonderfully.

For dessert, I had two unpictured scoops of TJ's Cookie Butter Ice Cream. Just buy it. Your nights will be full of happiness, I promise.

Hope you all have a beautiful and energized Wednesday!