Foodie Fridays: Vegan Holiday Kitchen
The holidays are SERIOUSLY just around the corner. It’d be hard for me to believe, except I’m actually super busy getting a bunch of giveaways together for my readers, so I’m getting up to speed on what’s out there for the holiday season pretty darn quickly.
Anyway, to help prepare you for the season, I bring you the theoretical last of my Foodie Friday posts. One of the few sad things about being a vegan is having to find alternatives for major feasts – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, to name but a few occasions where meat is a main dish, and dairy is its playmate.
And that’s where veteran vegan cookbook author Nava Atlas comes in. Her new book Vegan Holiday Kitchen is jam-packed with 200+ recipes for pretty much every occasion under the sun, kicking off with Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner if you’re American (and a surprising number of my readers are). Beyond not-so-turkey day, there are recipes that’ll have you covered for Christmas, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Easter, Canada (/Independence) Day, and brunches, appetizers, and potluck dishes for those more informal gatherings. Bonus points for including options to adapt recipes to be soy, gluten, or nut free – depending on your personal dietary needs or desires.
What I particularly love about this book – beyond the mouthwatering photos – is that there isn’t just one menu for each holiday. It’s not like you’ll be confined to making Spiced Vegetable Peanut Soup, Green Chili Corn Bread, Baked Thanksgiving Risotto, Walnut-Apple Stuffing, and Cashew Chocolate Mousse Pie every year (although um, I don’t think I’d complain if I was). No, nearly every chapter offers you multiple choices for soups, breads, appetizers, side dishes, entrees, and desserts – allowing you to mix and match each and every year to find your favourites. And isn’t that a little exciting compared to yet another plate dry turkey, fatty butter-mashed potatoes, and sugar-glazed yams?
Yeah, I thought so. Gift-giving hint: try making a dish from the book and gifting your Thanksgiving hostess with both the book and your dinner contribution. You’ll have something to eat, and share the yumminess of vegan cooking with a friend.
Vegan Holiday Kitchen is on bookshelves as of Tuesday of next week, but I’m so gosh darn excited about it I thought I’d hook you up with not one, but two recipes – one from the Thanksgiving set, and one from the summer entertaining section (but really, it’s tres yum any time of year).
Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
GLUTEN-FREE, SOY-FREE, NUT-FREE (if coconut is safe for you)
Once you’ve got the squash baked, this soup comes together quickly. The mellow flavors of squash, kale, and red onions synergize delectably and look gorgeous together as well.
1 large butternut squash (about11/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil or other healthy vegetable oil
1 large yellow or sweet whiteonion, chopped
1 medium apple, any variety,peeled and diced
2 cups prepared vegetablebroth, or 2 cups water with1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 teaspoons good-qualitycurry powder
2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger, or more, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg or allspice
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 good-size bunch kale (about 10 to 12 ounces)
1. To bake the squash, see the instructions in the sidebar below.
2. Heat about half the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the apple, squash, broth, and spices. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the solids to a food processor with a slotted spoon, in batches if need be, process until smoothly pureed, then transfer back to the soup pot. Or better yet, simply insert an immersion blender into the pot and process until smoothly pureed.
5. Stir in the coconut milk and return the soup to a gentle simmer. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until well heated through. Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two, then heat through as needed before serving.
6. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the red onions and sauté over low heat until golden and soft.
7. Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves off the stems and cut into thin shreds. Stir together with the onions in the skillet, adding just enough water to moisten the surface. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the kale is bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes.
8. To serve, ladle soup into each bowl, then place a small mound of kale and onion mixture in the center.
SQUASH BAKING TIPS:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
2. Cut away large stems from squash, then cut it in half (you’ll need a good knife for this). Place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined, shallow baking dish and cover tightly with more foil.
3. Bake for 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. For this recipe you’ll want to puree the squash, so bake it until it’s easily pierced with a knife.
Israeli Couscous Summer Pilaf
Can be made GLUTEN-FREE by replacing couscous with quinoa (use 1 cup raw quinoa)
Can be made NUT-FREE by omitting nuts
8 TO 10 SERVINGS
Israeli couscous is one fun little pasta. It’s round and quick cooking, and has a very pleasant mouth feel. Look for it in bulk in natural foods stores, or in the Middle Eastern section of the international aisle in well-stocked supermarkets. Combined with herbs, raw veggies, and lush stone fruit, it makes for a light and refreshing foil to grilled foods or well-seasoned plant-based protein dishes. It also makes for a lovely dish to share when you’re invited to a summer potluck. Make sure to use a firm, flavorful cucumber with a minimum of seeds.
11/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 heaping cup cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
10 to 12 basil leaves, thinly sliced, or more, to taste
4 medium-firm, ripe apricots or 3 medium-firm, ripe nectarines, pitted and diced
1 heaping cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes (red or yellow, or a combination)
1 medium-firm, ripe avocado, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or less if you’d like a lower- fat dish)
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Mixed baby greens, as needed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the Israeli couscous and cook at a rapid simmer for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water until the couscous is at room temperature.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients except the last two. Toss well to combine.
3. Line a large serving platter with some greens. Mound the salad over them, letting some of the greens show along the edge. Sprinkle the top with the toasted nuts. Serve at once or cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Kitchen © 2011 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photographs by Susan Voisin.