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March 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Beefless Stew

I debated posting this stew recipe, seeing that it is so last season and all. In the end, I decided it isn't too late. After all, if you're like me, you haven't been able to shed the winter coat yet. If you're like me turnips and cabbage keep finding their way into your shopping cart (there is nothing wrong with a turnip and cabbage obsession, by the way). If you're like me, you have a bag of frozen pearl onions that will succumb to freezer burn if they don't get into a stew, right. now. If you're like me you have always wanted the perfect crock pot meal that is easy to set up and can handle long cooking times while you are gone at work all day.

If you're like me, you'll make this stew, and you'll love it.

Slow Cooker Beefless Stew
Serves 6

16 oz traditional seitan chunks (homemade or store bought)
1 heaping cup of frozen pearl onions
2 ribs of celery, chopped into 1" chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks
2 cups of turnips, chopped into 1" chunks (or potatoes)
1/4 head of cabbage, cut into 3 or 4 separate wedges (do not separate layers)
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups vegetable stock (beef flavored veg stock would work well here if you have it)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tamari

Combine red wine, vegetable stock, garlic and herbs in a crock pot, whisk to combine. Add seitan, onions, celery, carrots, turnips, and cabbage wedges. The seitan and veggies won't be fully submerged in the cooking liquid, however if they are sticking out more than an inch add a little more broth. Cook on low for at least 6 hours. (I was away from home for 11 hours and was afraid the pot would have turned to mush, but it did not!).

Remove bay leaves. Ladle out 1 cup of the cooking liquid into a small bowl and whisk in the chickpea flour. Add back into the pot, along with the worcestershire sauce, tamari, and a bit of fresh cracked pepper. Stir to combine. Serve hot.

Not into seitan? Try my New Year's Stew, which features black-eyed peas and collard greens instead!

March 22, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Green Pea Pesto and Beans

Spring is here.. apparently. That is, if you go by the calendar. There have been some teaser days spent mostly outdoors, along with a few healthy thunderstorms. However, I am not measuring the change of seasons by this criteria -- the evidence that I seek is the vegetables! Oh, how I long to fill my produce bin with hearty stalks of asparagus, glorious globe artichokes, and the rare treat of fresh green peas. Any day now I will have my way. In the meantime I am cooking up the last of the winter squash and playing make believe with this green pea pesto of the frozen pea variety. I must say, dinners like this make the wait not so bad!

Spaghetti Squash with Green Pea Pesto and Beans
(Serves 4)

1 large spaghetti squash (3-4 lbs)

1 15 oz can cannellini beans (or chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, diced (or 1/2 cup red onion, diced)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
salt to taste

2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tbsp olive oil (or water for lower fat)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Halve the squash and scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub or spray the insides with a small amount of oil and place halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast for 60-90 minutes, until cooked through and starting to lightly brown at the edges. Set aside to cool. (I did this a day ahead).

Pesto: Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor and process for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. A few minutes before serving transfer to a small pot and warm gently over med-low heat.

Beans: Coat a skillet with cooking spray and saute shallots over medium heat until softened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, and about a tablespoon of water (to prevent sticking) and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Stir in beans and tomatoes and saute gently until hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Assembly: Use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti squash into strands. If necessary, reheat the squash in the microwave or on the stove top in a skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Divide up the squash into four servings. Top with desired amount of sauce (I found 1/4 cup each to be adequate) and divide up the beans among the four plates. Garnish with a few peas and fresh basil leaves if desired. Serve hot.