Jazz Up the Holiday with Nuts and Spice!
It’s that time of year! Time to find something that’s not a big fat roasted bird to put in the center of the table. You may well be sharing a table with folks who are going to be carving one up, but the best way to enjoy the occasion is to make yourself a dish so cute and enticing that EVERYONE wants it.
Of course, you made plenty, and they can have some. They might just like it so much that the turkey ends up as a garnish to your fabu fancy entree.
So what might be so appealing? I’m betting that these stuffed squashes will. Imagine, there among the drab green bean casseroles and brown gravies, your brilliant, orange mini squash orbs. Everything else is sage-y and meaty, but from your entree, the scent of curry and coconut wafts alluringly.
Sure, folks may veer toward the familiars at first, but they will feel the pull of crunch cashews and creamy roasted squash. I promise. And when they do, they will be eating gluten free, whole grain millet, healthy squash and antioxidant rich turmeric and spices.
For another take on the Thanksgiving main course, scroll down for my Stuffed Mock Turkey Roast. It’s the best one I have ever had, more tender and less rubbery that the store bought versions. It’s a vegan mainstay, packed with umami and savory flavors.
This stuffed squash recipe is from my book, Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat No Dairy All Delicious, published by Chronicle Books. For your convenience, I also included the Stuffed Mock Turkey Recipe From Big Vegan, and a great Big Salad Recipe from The New Vegetarian.
So go ahead, make enough for everyone. They will thank you later!
Nutty Curry-Stuffed Squashes
These colorful, single-serving squash halves are speckled with golden millet, green jalapeño, and crunchy nuts. Redolent of spice and a touch of coconut, they will draw your guests to the table by scent alone.
3 small sweet dumpling squash or mini pumpkins (about 13 oz/370 g each)
1 tsp canola oil
½ cup/60 g chopped onion
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 medium jalapeño, chopped
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup/50 g millet
½ cup/120 ml coconut milk
½ tsp salt
½ cup/55 g raw cashews
½ cup/55 g whole almonds, toasted
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F/200° C/gas 6. Cut the squashes in half from the stem to the tip, or if you are using pumpkins that sit flat, cut off the tops as shown in the photo above. Scoop out the seeds and place them cut-side down on oiled baking sheets/trays. Bake for 10 minutes (they will not be completely cooked). Take the pans out and flip the squash halves over. When they have cooled, use a spoon to cut into the flesh, loosening it in spots but leaving it in the shell. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F/190° C/gas 5.
2. In a 2-qt/2-L saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion, ginger, and mustard seeds. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapeño, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon and stir until they are fragrant. Add the millet and stir to coat, then add the ¼ cup/60 ml water, the coconut milk, and salt and bring them to a boil. When it boils, cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the nuts, then stuff the mixture into the squashes. Sprinkle each with 1 tsp of coconut.
3. Bake the squashes until the filling is set and bubbling and the squashes are easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Let them cool slightly before serving.
- The Pepitas and Pomegranates Make it Pop!
Homemade Mock Turkey Roast with Stuffing
For those of you who miss the turkey on holidays, or just want a home-style vegan meal anytime, this is a good way to mock up a bird. It’s really not much trouble, now that we can use gluten flour to make mock turkey with no kneading required—and lots of tasty, chewy goodness. Serve it with Basic Mushroom Gravy and all the traditional trimmings.
It’s great fun to share your vegan food with family and friends, so go for it. The salad will certainly win some converts. Enjoy!
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup/60 g minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups/255 g gluten flour
1 cup/115 g chickpea flour
½ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
6 oz/170 g reduced-fat or regular firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 cup/240 ml vegetable stock
¼ cup/60 ml tamari
½ tsp ground sage
1 cup/55 g cubed bread
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup/60 g chopped onion
¼ cup/60 ml vegetable stock
½ tsp ground sage
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
The Mock Turkey in a Wide Loaf Shape
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C/gas 4. Oil a 3- to 4-cup/720 to 960-ml metal bowl or a small loaf pan. Put a teapot of water on to simmer for the bain marie later.
2. To make the mock turkey: In a small sauté/frying pan, heat the oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until soft and sweet, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix together the flours, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the tofu until very smooth. Add the stock, tamari, and sageto the tofu and blend. Add the onions and all the oil from the pan and puree. Stir the contents of the blender into the flour mixture until smooth. Scoop about two thirds of the dough into the oiled bowl.
3. To make the stuffing: Put the bread cubes in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a small sauté/frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft and clear. Add the bread, stock, sage, thyme, and salt and stir until the bread is soft. Stir in the nuts.
4. Press the stuffing into a ball (or if you are using a loaf pan, into an oblong) and press it into the center of the mock turkey dough, then cover it with the remaining dough. Flatten the top, brush it with oil, and cover with foil. Put the bowl in a baking dish and pour in boiling water to make a bain marie. Carefully transfer it to the oven and bake for 2 hours. When the “turkey” is quite firm, take it out of the water bath, then put the bowl on a rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the edge to loosen it, then invert it onto a cutting board or platter. Slice the “turkey” and serve it with gravy and trimmings.
Big Salad with Caramelized Pumpkinseeds, Pears and Pomegranate
From The New Vegetarian (Chronicle Books)
This is a great wintertime salad, with the pomegranates that only appear around the holidays and pears and pumpkinseeds. To take seeds out of the pomegranate, cut through the skin from stem to tip, dividing the fruit in quarters. Hold it over a bowl and pull apart the sections, then tear apart the pieces, gently freeing the seeds.
- Score the skin in quarters, then break open
1 cup pumpkinseeds, raw
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 large bosc pears, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh mint, optional
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted pumpkinseed oil
1 small pomegranate, arils (seeds) removed
- the pith around the arils floats in water….
1. Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful-it will burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an air tight container until ready to use.
2. Make dressing in processor by mincing garlic and mint. Add pomegranate concentrate, lemon, honey and salt and pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in oil with machine running.
3. Wash and dry romaine, then slice across the leaf in 1/2 inch wide strips. Arrange on plates or in bowl. Top with shallots, pears. Drizzle over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.