Peanut Sweet Potato Curry

So, if a fraction of the meals that I make this season are even half as delicious as tonight’s dinner, I will feel like it’s been a success.

Tonight, we had Sweet Potato Curry, using a recipe from Vegan Richa.

OH MY GOD. It was peanut buttery, salty, sweet, just a touch of spicy… everything that is good in this world. I subbed in broccoli for the cauliflower, I doubled the peas, I added some garlic scapes, and I added more coconut milk than called for. (I threw in the whole can, because it was thicker than I anticipated at first.) Most of the recipe was CSA-sourced. The bell pepper, garlic, and ginger were store-bought. The basil came from my windowsill. Everything about this was fresh, satisfying, and delicious. Even Little Chef loved it; he declared, “this sauce is delicious! I want to lick it forever!”

A successful meal. Yum. Tomorrow is the first pickup for Montclair-Bloomfield. Onward into the most delicious time of the year!

Squash Pasta Sauce

Life is so cozy at this moment. The snow is falling, there is vegetable broth simmering on the stove, I’ve got spaghetti sauce steeping low-n-slow in the crock pot, and the house is covered in Christmas decorations.

…also I’ve been forced to downshift because my son is sick. This is the second day in a row I’ve kept him home from school, so I’ve needed to focus on what I can do at home.

It occurred to me that I have a huge backlog of photos of recipes that I’ve made recently, but I haven’t taken the time to post about them. I’ll start here and then queue up some further posts for you to enjoy over the course of a few days, while I slide into the last-week-before-Christmas prepping madness.

Since I’ve got regular marinara sauce going in the crock pot right now, let me tell you about the delicious pasta sauce I made the other night.

I’ve still been working my way through the remaining squash from the stock-up share. For this recipe, I used the front-most squash in this picture, which I’m fairly certain is a hokkaido squash. The squashes in the stock-up share are tricky, because I don’t get the benefit of a label. There are SO MANY winter squash varieties! 

I roasted the squash. The easiest method (in my opinion) for roasting winter squash, when you are just aiming for puree, is to cut the squash in half, seed it, and put it cut-side down in a pyrex dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Cook the squash in a 400 degree oven until it is tender – usually about 45 minutes, though that varies with the size of the squash.

Once the squash was roasted, I started sauteeing some garlic in some EVOO. I then proceeded to make a roux… though I made it with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Almond Milk instead of regular milk. I’ve been shying away from dairy, and I had  this open in the fridge. The flavor combo seemed obvious, too.

You can make a vegan roux by using olive oil and almond milk instead of butter and milk. Follow the same method you would for a traditional roux.
This is delicious in coffee, as well.

I stirred in the squash puree, along with some spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika.

I’d intended to use diced tomatoes, but it turns out I’d run out of them. I used crushed instead, and it worked out fine. I used half of a large can of crushed tomatoes, and then added salt and pepper to taste.

The final product! I boiled some pasta – in this case, trio italiano veggie pasta. I also sauteed chicken and apple sausage in a chef pan before adding the pasta and sauce. If you forego the sausage, the meal is vegan. I recommend saving some of the starchy pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce; I did add a splash at the end.

This dinner was delicious, and my experiment actually yielded enough sauce to freeze some to use another time. It reheated well the next day, as well.

Celery Root and Beets

Celery root. Every year, it shows up near the end of the season, and every year, I wish I knew more to do with it than to make a soup or a mashed-potato-like side. This year, I did the leg work and came up with some new choices, and we tried one of them last night.

Celery Root Puree with Balsamic Roasted Beets and Pearl Onions

Now, I am not a fancy person. This should be obvious from my entire approach to this blog, down to the clearly-not-professional pictures. However, this is a recipe that looks and sounds fancy while being practical, easy, and delicious. I didn’t have any coconut milk, so I substituted almond milk, and it worked fine. We served it with flax tempeh that was marinated in garlic-ginger maple syrup and then roasted, as well as a loaf of sea salt foccacia, and it was a deeply satisfying chilly-night dinner.

The amazing maple syrup concoction came from Get Juiced, by the way. We visited them at the Pocono Garlic Festival, though they have a storefront in Sussex if you are local and an online store if that’s a haul for you.

Peanut Slaw

At some point during the summer, we got some red cabbage, and I finally tried Thug Kitchen‘s Creamy Peanut Slaw recipe. It was heavenly. Peanutty without being sticky and cloying. A welcome change from a mayo-based or yogurt-based slaw.

I was faced with a choice this week, as I stared at this beautiful, HUGE head of Napa Cabbage that came in our share.

I could do the tried-and-true thing and make my own summer rolls or egg rolls. I could make my own Pad See Ew. Or…. I could make a twist on the peanut slaw. The choice seemed pretty clear, especially with these beautiful scallions we also received:

First, I thinly sliced the cabbage

And the scallions

We haven’t talked about stock yet, but when you’re cutting most vegetables, particularly varieties of onions and garlic, you can save the scraps to make your own (healthier, basically free) vegetable stock for cooking. My ultimate reference point for vegetable stock is here, on Eileen’s blog. You’ll notice, as she recommends, that I did not set aside any of the cabbage. Adding cabbage to your stock is a one-way ticket to Stinkytown. I save my cuttings in gallon-sized plastic bags in the freezer and make stock mostly as needed. I’ve been known to can it when my freezers (3 of them; I’m ridiculous) get too full.

That’s all I used for veggies – if I’d had sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, or radishes hanging around, I would have added them, but I did not. I then made the sauce as per the recipe – peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, warm water, lime juice, ginger – and mixed it in with the cabbage. It always shocks me how much coverage you get out of what looks like such a small amount of sauce!

I added some sesame seeds for good measure, and ta-daa! A delicious side.

I had a ton of leftovers (it was only my son and I for dinner last night, and cabbage is one of the few things he’s not interested in… which I’d say is not surprising or terrible at three), so I got creative one more time this afternoon for lunch. I boiled up some tofu shiratiki noodles and made a cold noodle bowl with some of the slaw. I added some extra soy sauce to help the noodles to stop sticking together and distribute evenly, and then I decided to add some Sriracha for a kick. Hot sauce is actually in the original dressing recipe, but I omitted it out of toddler-mom-habit, not thinking about the fact that he would likely not eat the salad anyway.

I was not disappointed in my experiment. I would’ve liked some peanuts to top it with, but the whole point was that I was just working with things that were on hand, so beggars can’t be choosers.

Thug Kitchen

Hang around here long enough, and you may get sick of hearing about the one subject that dominates my conversations almost as much as CSA: Thug Kitchen.

Thug Kitchen is a series of cookbooks, blog, twitter account, etc. The authors live in LA and declare that their mission is to make eating healthy – and, specifically, vegan – accessible, affordable, easy, and delicious. They do this stunningly well, over and over and over again. I have two out of their three cookbooks, make meals from them regularly, and never have encountered a recipe that I’ve disliked. If you want healthy comfort food, Thug Kitchen is for you.

The one caveat is that you must not be offended by swearing. Their gimmick, from which the “Thug” in their name comes, is that all of the recipes are written in street-sounding language. There are a lot of f-bombs. Being from northeastern New Jersey (think Sopranos – it was shot nearby), I find this hilarious and endearing.

Below are some visuals for why this cookbook is worth every penny. Please, try not to drool on the keyboard.

Eggplant with Soba Noodles

 

Blueberry Buckle
Red Lentil Burger

This is not the last you’ll see of Thug recipes coming from my kitchen. Yum.