Savory Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini

Here’s what I had:

  • A beautiful heirloom round yellow zucchini
  • 4 ears of white sweet corn
  • 1 pt of fresh shelled lima beans
  • 1 lb. of baby purple-skinned potatoes
  • A few red onions
  • Leftover fresh baby spinach
  • Various pantry odds and ends

Here’s what I made:

Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini with Roasted Baby Purple-Skinned Potatoes

 

Here’s what I did:

I sliced the potatoes thin, coated them with oil and some Spike’s Veg Magic and baked them at 425F for 15-20 mins.  Wanted to get the taters done first so I could snack on them while cooking the rest!

While the potatoes cooked, I scooped out the middle of the zucchinis and mashed up the insides with 2-3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast and some Kosher salt.  I sauteed 2 small red onions and a clove of garlic in some coconut oil and then added the limas.  I put a lid on the pot and left them alone until the lima beans were bright green and tender (about 3-4 mins).  Once the limas were tender, I added the cheesy squash and the corn.  I let that get happy for another 2-3 mins before tearing up some spinach and letting it wilt in.  The zucchini and corn were both sweeter than I was feeling for dinner, so I had to taste and adjust the seasonings a few times.

Suffering Succotash! …Couldn’t help myself

Meanwhile, I gave the round zucchinis a massage in some evoo, Kosher salt, and black pepper.  I reduced the heat on the oven to 375F (the potatoes were long-since done and already being snacked on).

It’s like they were calling my name!

I baked the zucchini for about 15 mins, or until just short of tender.  Then, I stuffed the zucchini halves and baked them for another 5-7 mins, or until the squash were tender and juicy (but not at all mushy).

Little heirloom boats of awesome waiting for the oven

At the end, I layered the leftover potatoes in a casserole dish and topped them with the juicy leftover succotash.

 

What would you have made with these ingredients?  Do you prefer to plan out your meals or just jump in the kitchen and see what happens?  Does your cooking style change from season to season like mine?

 

Swiss Chard in a Chili in a Pepper in a Mushroom

I like to think of the following recipe as “Vegan Turducken.”  It’s completely unnecessary, more meta than the Matrix, and unbelievably delicious.

What inspired this dish?  Well, I have previously expressed my love of stuffed peppers, and I was looking in my fridge trying to figure out what I was going to do with the extra portobellos and poblano peppers I picked up at the market on Saturday.  And then the thought struck me, “Stuff all the things!!”  And so, the mega-stuffed mushroom was born, and O! how the bellies rejoiced!  Helpful hint: this dish has multiple components and it moves!  So read the recipe once through before  starting.

Vegan Turducken:

IT IS GLORIOUS! The greatest erection to come out of America since Newt Gingrich

Equipment:

  • Knife, cutting board, baking dish (13×9 or larger), large bowl, a spoon and a fork, wooden spoon, liquid measuring cup, med/large saucepan with lid, medium saute pan, metal spatula, range
Ingredients:
  • 2 large red bell peppers, halved and cored
  • 4 small/medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 poblano peppers, halved and cored
  • 2 small yellow onions, one sliced into 1/4″ half moons, the other diced (or divide up a large onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, 2 thinly sliced, the other 2 chopped
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2-3 leaves swiss chard, chopped into fine ribbons (or use a handful fresh spinach)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup evoo + more for cooking
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prep the bell peppers and poblano chilies.  Place them in the baking dish, drizzle with evoo, and sprinkle on a big pinch of kosher salt and pepper.  Rub the peppers inside and out to make sure they’re thoroughly and evenly coated.  Place the peppers cut-side down in the baking dish and bake 20 mins, or until peppers are soft.
  2. While the peppers bake, stem the mushrooms and gently scrape out their gills with a spoon, being careful not to break the edges.  Place the portobello caps in a large bowl.  Add the slivered onion and one of the cloves of chopped garlic.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup evoo.  Sprinkle in a dash of salt and a hit of ground pepper.  Whisk with a fork to combine.  Pour the marinade over the mushroom caps and veg.  Mix the portobellos with your hands, and let marinate 10-15 mins.  Make sure your caps are all touching some of the onions and garlic! Don’t let them just sit on the bottom!
  4. Add the veg stock and millet to a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the liquid is gone, about 15-20 mins.
  5. By now, your peppers are probably done.  Remove them from the oven, and reduce the oven heat to 350 F.  Let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle.  Revisit your mushrooms caps and swish them around to make sure they all get evenly marinated.
  6. Heat a drizzle of evoo in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the diced onion to the pan and saute 2 mins.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or until the onion is soft and translucent.  Stir in the chard ribbons, a big pinch of salt, some black pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired.  Saute and stir until the chard is thoroughly wilted, or about 5-7 mins.  Once it’s done cooking, add the millet to the saute pan and stir it around to coat it in the oniony, garlicky flavor.
  7. Ok, let’s build some stacks of awesome.  Select a mushroom cap, and layer it with 6-7 thin slices of garlic.  Place a roasted red bell pepper on top of the mushroom, and fill the pepper cavity with a small handful of the onions from the mushroom marinade.  Top that with half of a poblano pepper and spoon in 2-3 spoon fulls of the chard/millet stuffing.  Place in the baking dish and repeat 3 times or until everything is used up.
  8. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and return the veggies to the oven to bake at 350 F for 20 mins.  This will help make sure the mushrooms, onions, and garlic soften in the vinegar marinade steam.  After 20 mins, remove the foil and bake another 10-20 mins, or until all of the veggies are softened to your desired texture, and the top of the millet has started to toast to a golden brown.  Carefully remove the hot mega-stuffed monstrosities with a spatula.
  9. ENJOY!!

 

Mushroom, Garlic, and Millet Super-Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers, and it’s been a while since I made them.  So, after I read up on how to cook millet (and found that it’s very similar to rice), the first thing I thought was “what can I stick this in?”  Which after a some giggles landed me on the idea that it’s time for some over-stuffed peppers again.  I call them over-stuffed or super-stuffed simply because I like to pack in and mound on the filling.  The stuffing’s the best part!  The fact that you eat the vesicle it comes in is just a brilliant bonus.

This recipe ended up cooking super quickly and has a limited ingredients list, making it a perfect home-cooked ending to a long day.  Mushrooms and garlic might be my two all-time favorite ingredients, so for me this is a no-brainer.  Naturally, you can look in your pantry and crisper drawers to adjust this stuffing to your preferences.  This is just the basics of how to put together a vegan stuffed pepper recipe that’s super satisfying without cheese, cream, or sausage.

Mushroom, Garlic, and Millet Super-Stuffed Peppers:

These bad boys are surprisingly hard to photograph, or maybe that's just because I was trying to eat and snap at the same time

Equipment:

  • 1 9×9 baking dish (cookie sheet or baking sheet is fine too, just not any smaller), medium or large saute pan, large saucepan with lid, wooden spoon, knife, cutting board, small serving or large soup spoon, oven, stove top
Ingredients:
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored and halved
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cut into a large dice
  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • ~10 full sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • The leaves from 5-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Evoo
  • 1 Tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Drizzle the red peppers with evoo, and sprinkle on a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper.  Rub the peppers halves inside and out to make sure they’re completely coated in the oil and seasonings.  Place the pepper halves cut-side down in the baking dish.  Bake at 375 F for 30-45 mins or until the peppers are soft, the skins are starting to brown, and you can smell the peppers from outside the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, add the vegetable stock and the millet to the saucepan.  Over high heat, bring the stock up to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, or about 15-20 mins.  Fluff the millet once it’s done cooking.  Prep your veggies.
  4. Heat a small amount of oil in the saute pan over medium heat.  Add the red onion and saute for 1 minute.  Then add the garlic and the thyme and cook another 2 mins.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the pan.  Season generously with salt and pepper, and let the veggies cook until the mushrooms and onions are completely softened, about 5 mins.
  6. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cooked millet and the fresh parsley.  When everything is well combined, taste-test the filling and re-season as needed.  If your stuffing tastes too dry, work in a drizzle of evoo.  Remove the cooked peppers from the oven, and flip them over to make little bowls.  Turn up the oven to broil.
  7. Fill the peppers with the stuffing, and press down with the back of the spoon to ensure all of the cavity is being filled to maximum capacity.  Mound on any leftover stuffing.  Sprinkle on the crumb topping.
  8. Broil the stuffed peppers 1-2 mins, or until the topping is a crunchy, golden brown.  Serve hot.
  9. ENJOY!!

 

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

I had spaghetti squash for the first time a few years ago, and as a life-long loather of squash, I was stunned at how good it was.  Ever since then, I’ve been playing with this flexible recipe (as well as other squashy delights!), and am now a marrow enthusiast!  I particularly love this version of this recipe on busy days like today because it’s just so damn easy and doesn’t take a plethora of ingredients, but it’s still elegant and impressive enough to serve to guests.  Just chop everything up, throw it in the oven, and come back in an hour for lunch.

This is an especially great recipe for those of us who live alone and like to cook on the weekends for the entire week.  Depending on the size of the squash (and how crookedly I cut it at the beginning) I can get 4-6 servings from just one spaghetti squash.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash:

Seriously, who wouldn't be proud to serve this at a party? It's just so damn pretty.

Equipment:

  • Knife, cutting board, large sheet pan (lined with a Silpat, optional for easier clean-up), medium-sized bowl, spoon, aluminum foil, oven
Ingredients:
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely diced (~1/4″ dice)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10-15 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • Evoo
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut off the ends of the squash.  Stand the squash up on a flat end, and carefully slice it in half long-ways to make two oblong squash bowls.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any lose flesh on the inside.
  3. Place the squash boats on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the in-sides generously with evoo.  Sprinkle on 2-3 healthy pinches of salt and hits of ground black pepper.  Rub the oil, salt, and pepper all over the in- and outsides of the squash, making sure it is evenly coated.  When you’re seasoning at this point, remember that spaghetti squash is on the sweet side like most marrows.  This is the point where you have to decide if you want to enhance that sweetness (just a touch of salt) or try to mask it (salt away, baby!).
  4. Place the squash halves cut-side down on the baking sheet, and bake for 45 mins.  Meanwhile, chop the rest of your veggies.  Put all the veggies except the sliced mushrooms in a medium bowl (the mushrooms will turn to mush once the tomatoes and peppers start to sweat).  Drizzle with a little evoo, and sprinkle on a some salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with a spoon, and stir in the chopped parsley.  Set aside, and let sit until squash is done par-cooking.  When the squash only have 1-2 mins left in the oven, add the mushrooms in with the other veggies.
  5. Carefully flip over the squash – watch out that steam is hot!!  Fill the squash bowls with the chopped veg.  There will seem to be too much, but it’s supposed to be mounding out of the squash bowls (otherwise there would be way too much squash with not enough stuffing at the end).  Give the stuffing a press to make sure it’s in there good and to make room for any last bits of veg.
  6. Cover with an aluminum foil tent, and bake an additional 45 mins, or until the veggie stuffing has softened and the squash is thoroughly cooked through.  Carefully remove the aluminum foil tent, and carve the stuffed squash into desired serving size.
  7. Serve squash wedges/quarters whole.  To eat, scrape out the inside of the squash, and it will make long spaghetti-like strands.  Mix with the stuffing like it’s spaghetti and red sauce.

    Interactive Food - nuff said.

  8. ENJOY!!

Roasted Veg with Tofu over Polenta

This is the epitome of simple, seasonal, hearty food.  All you have to do is chop everything up, season it, and throw it in the oven.  And of course it’s easily customizable, making it market and late-summer garden friendly.  Just add what you’ve got!  Also, if you’re trying to find a way to use leftover roasted veggies, serving over polenta can make leftovers feel a little facier.  Oh, you fancy huh??

I still haven’t taken the time to figure out how to make my own polenta yet, but the varieties available at a local family market are low in sodium and really really flavorful – so I’ll stick with this until money gets tight again.  I used a basil and garlic polenta this time, and it freaking rocks.

Roasted Vegetables with Tofu over Polenta:

Warm, comforting, slightly spicy, and epically delicious - Like a hug from your attractive Latino neighbor

Equipment:

  • Knife, cutting board, Silpat (helpful for easier clean-up, but not necessary), large baking sheet, tongs or a spatula, oven
Ingredients: (what I happen to use this time around)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • 1 sweet white pepper (or Paprika), similarly chunked
  • 1 white onion, halved and slivered
  • 1 of the largest cherry tomatoes I’ve ever seen (or 1 plum tomato), cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ~1 doz crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pkg pre-made polenta, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • Dried basil
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Evoo
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and wash your hands.
  2. Prep all the veggies, the tofu, and the polenta.  Spread out the zucchini, red and white peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms and tofu on the sheet pan lined with a Silpat.  Drizzle with evoo.  Sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt, pepper, a small palm-full of dried basil (approx 1-2 Tbsp), a generous pinch of garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flake as desired.  Use your hands to mix the veggies and tofu in the oil and seasonings.  Make sure everybody’s feeling the love.  Wash your hands again.
  3. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 mins.  Remove the pan from the oven and use the tongs or spatula to turn the veg.   Lay the sliced polenta on top of the veggies.  Return to the oven and bake another 15-20 mins.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with tomato wedges.
  5. ENJOY!!

Flexible Vegetable Stock

A good vegetable stock recipe is a must-have for veggie and omnivore kitchens alike.  Fortunately, vegetable stock is extremely flexible, good with produce available all year, lasts up to 3 months when frozen, and is a great way to get use from trimmings, peels and scraps before they hit the compost bin.  As long as you clean your vegetables well (and yet another perk of growing your own/buying organically) you can easily include carrot/turnip peels and other trimmings you may have otherwise deemed useless.

Vegetable stock is very market friendly with its flexibility, but there are a few things that I always like to try and include in mine: celery, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, parsley, 2 bay leaves, and mushroom stems/gills.  The rest is up to whatever you’ve got on hand!  Also, if you’ve got the extra time, roast your veggies before throwing them in the stock pot and then cut the simmer time in half – the roasting adds a nice depth of flavor (and goes really well with 1/2+ cup of dry white wine for a really rich stock).  As written (without roasting), this recipe has no added fats or oils.

Some seasonal tips: in early spring, my stock is made primarily from sugar snap pea shells and asparagus tips.  In early summer, I add in tomato skins and pepper cores.  Come late July, I get a chance to make one of my favorite stock recipes with just basil, thyme, onions, garlic, and lots and lots of corn cobs!  In late fall, veggie stock can easily be based around leeks, broccoli stems, potato peels and squash And, in the wintertime, spinach, turnips, and other root veggies can still provide a nutritious soup base for cold winter nights!

Flexible Vegetable Stock:

Flexible Vegetable Stock (Spring Edition) - Before Cooking

Equipment:

  • Large stock pot, knife, cutting board, colander, peeler (optional), stove

Ingredients:

Must haves:

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 small-med bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3-4 carrots with stems, cubed with peels and stems included in the pot
  • 3-4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 small yellow onions with skins still on, quartered
  • 1 head garlic with skins still on, cut in half crosswise
  • Stems and gills of 2-3 portabello mushrooms (just scrape out the gills with a spoon)

Also included this time around (as shown in photo)

  • Asparagus tips
  • Sugar snap pea pods
  • Tips of a zucchini
  • Swiss chard stems
  • Scallion tips

Directions:

  1. If not roasting first, combine all the ingredients in a stock pot.  Remember when prepping that the smaller you cube your veg, the more surface area will be exposed to the water, and the more flavor you’ll get!
  2. Fill the pot with water.  Bring to a boil over med high heat.  Once the pot is boiling, reduce the heat to med low, and simmer for one hour.
  3. Strain into various sized containers (quart, pint, cup) and cool in the fridge.  Use immediately, refrigerate for 7 days, or freeze and keep up to 3 months.
  4. ENJOY!!

Roasted, Herbed New Potatoes

To round out the last side dish I served at Easter dinner, here was our main starch.  A quick and easy side that you can prep, put in the oven and forget about for 45 mins.  Tent with foil after baking and this dish will be ready to serve with no fuss.

The fresh herbs are not only pretty, but they take this easy potato dish to another level!

Roasted, Herbed New Potatoes:

Roasted Herbed New Potatoes

Equipment:

  • Large baking sheet, small bowl, knife, cutting board, oven

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pint-boxes of new potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 bunch chopped parsley
  • 1/2 bunch chopped thyme
  • 2 Tbsp evoo
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt (it sounds like a lot, but this makes 8+ servings)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prep the garlic first, and add it to the evoo in a small bowl.  Then chop the herbs and let them sit in the oil too and infuse while you prep your potatoes and let the oven heat up.
  2. Toss all the ingredients together on the sheet pan with your hands.  Make sure all the potatoes are well coated.
  3. Bake at 400 F for 45 mins.
  4. ENJOY!!