Monday, October 24, 2011

Weeknight Mushroom Stroganoff

Stroganoff is one of those deeply warming, classic winter dishes, but even in its vegan form it can be time consuming and high in fat and calories.

To make an authentic-tasting vegan stroganoff, I like to use homemade seitan and plenty of tofutti cream cheese/sour cream, a kick of salt and a gob of earth balance. But as per usual, I am on the mission to make my favorite vegan even dishes lighter and healthier without sacrificing taste or the warm fuzzy feeling I get from eating them :)

My lighter take on this stroganoff is easy enough to whip up on a weeknight and doesn't skimp on flavor.

Instead of using dairy-free cream cheese and sour cream, this recipe uses just a touch of soy creamer and spinach to give it that creamy, thick texture that is so satisfying.

It is served over spaghetti squash instead of the traditional semolina pasta and paired with a "three beet salad" :)

Weeknight Mushroom Stroganoff (Serves 2 hungry people)
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
  • 12 oz mushrooms (I used baby portabellas but you can also use crimini or button)
  • 1 full sweet yellow onion
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy creamer (I used Trader Joe's brand!)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (dissolved in broth/wine!)
  • 1/4 cup veggie broth or white wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard (I used honey mustard)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
  • 3 GIANT handfuls of spinach (imprecise measurement; I buy spinach in bulk and never ever measure it. Put it this way: you can't have too much, it will cook down a ton)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
Begin by stabbing your spaghetti squash with a fork 5 or 6 times and sticking it in the microwave. It takes about 12 minutes to cook, rotating every 2 or 3, so I just did it while I was making the rest of the stroganoff. It comes out hot so make sure to give it enough time to cool slightly so you can shred it with a fork.

In a large skillet, saute the garlic, onions and mushrooms in the oil over medium high heat. After about 5-6 minutes, add in the soy creamer, cornstarch, veggie broth/wine, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and mustard (and hot sauce if you so choose). Reduce heat to low and allow ingredients to simmer, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5-6 minutes.

Finally, add in spinach, fresh herbs and curry powder, stir together, and allow to all cook down for just a minute or two.

Pull the spaghetti squash out of the microwave and cut in half. With a fork, remove the seeds from the center and discard. Then, shred the flesh of the squash over a large bowl. It'll look something like this when you take a fork to it:

Spoon out a portion for each person and top with hot stroganoff! It looks and tastes surprisingly like noodles. Only gluten free, low calorie and high fiber! Woo!

The salad along side this dish was simple mixed greens tossed with beet juice, canned and seasoned beets and fresh beets! Triple beet salad! Full of anti-oxidants. And it will make your pee really red so don't freak out! My step-mom is an advice nurse and people call her all the time with concerns about red urine. The first question she asks them is whether or not they recently ate beets. It's okay, it's good for you ;)

Live long and prosper! And find a way to eat the food you crave, any night of the week!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ratatouille and Collards over Creamy Polenta

My garden's production level is declining rapidly.

As the days grow shorter and brisker, my lovely fruits and delicate tomatoes shrink back to their pre-spring states and my herbs begin to wither.

The one upside to the start of autumn? Autumn fruits and vegetables!! Unfortunately, most autumn-season fruits require slightly more robust roots (usually in the form of trees) that my garden is just not quite equipped for, but I have been absolutely smitten with the wide and colorful smattering of pears and apples that have cropped up at the farmers market.

But the best part? Eggplant! Squash! Corn! Pumpkin! Potatoes! Alright, so those are multiple parts, but they are all equally exciting and the emergence of cooler weather means a BUNCH of new veggies to cook with.


I decided to make a dish that would cram in as many autumn veggies as flexibly as possible: Ratatouille

Isn't it pretty?

And to pair it with? Not rice! Not pasta! Not bread!

POLENTA!! It's like the oatmeal of dinner. I absolutely adore polenta.

The ratatouille is a pretty flexible dish. This version is actually more of a ratatouille ni├žoise, but there's no need to get too formal.

The main thing that makes a ratatouille and ratatouille is the tomato and herb base, paired with some combination of squash vegetables, garlic, and onions.

I used eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and carrots, but you could virtually use any type of squash and root vegetable combination.

Beets perhaps?!

Here is a rough recipe (You can cook your polenta according to the directions on the backburner!)

Ratatouille (serves 2)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 4 carrots, chopped or shredded
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1/2 - 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 large handful fresh basil (chiffonaded)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Begin by caramelizing your onion in the olive oil (medium low heat) in a large skillet. After about 6 or 7 minutes, add in the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the eggplant, zucchini, carrots and bell peppers along with about 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Stir it all together, turn the heat to low and place a top on. Allow to simmer and the veggies to soften for 6-7 minutes.

After the veggies soften a bit, crank up the heat to medium high and add the rest of the ingredients (except the vegetable broth).

Saute all ingredients together for an additional 6-7 minutes, adding vegetable broth if it gets too dry (but you don't want it to be soupy either!)

What I like to do is, while the Ratatouille is cooking, chop your collard greens and then when the Ratatouille is complete, dump it into a big bowl and use the same pan to cook your collards. They only take a few minutes so just cook em' up and serve both the Ratatouille and the Collards over a big ol' bowl of polenta.

A perfect autumn evening meal!


Live long and prosper! And enjoy autumn's bounty!