Porcini Mushroom and Farro Stuffed Honeynut Squashes with Toasted Hazelnuts

honeynut-squash

A little Thanksgiving inspiration for you! I found these honeynut squashes at the store, they are like mini butternuts! They fit in the palm of your hand, the perfect size for a side dish. Add something unexpected, colorful, and delightful to your thanksgiving spread this year. They were pretty quick and easy to throw together.

Porcini Mushroom and Farro Stuffed Honeynut Squashes with Toasted Hazelnuts

Makes 6 servings

3 honey nut squashes (you could also just use one big butternut)

1 tbs olive oil

a couple tablespoons of brown sugar

a dash of cinnamon

a dash of salt

2.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms

1.5 cups farro

3 cups of vegetable broth

1 tbs olive oil

6 cloves of garlic

a few sprigs of parsley

5 big sage leaves

a few sprigs of thyme

a sprig of rosemary

1.5 tbs vegan butter (optional)

1/4 cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste

1 handful of hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squashes in half lengthwise and scrape out the stringy seeds. Place them cut side up on a baking pan and rub all over with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and salt. Sprinkle on a small dash of cinnamon. Bake until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of hot water until softened.

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot. Add the farro and cook until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain any excess broth away.

Chop the garlic and herbs and mushrooms finely. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan and sauté the mushrooms for a couple minutes, then add the garlic, herbs, and butter. Sauté for a few minutes until the moisture is gone things start to stick to the pan. Then add the white wine and stir it in, scraping the bottom as you go, and cook another minute or two.

When the squashes are done, pull them out and scoop some of the farro mixture into each one. Spread the chopped hazelnuts on a baking pan and pop them in the oven for a few minutes to toast. Keep a close eye because they can burn quickly. Then top the stuffed squashes with the nuts. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Cantina Style Tacos With Chipotle Crema

butternut squash and black bean cantina tacosI have been wanting to make these for a long time, because it dawned on me that this combination of ingredients would make great tacos, without trying to fake any meat or cheese. I love the combination of sweet, savory, spicy, smoky, and citrusy that you get with these, they are bursting with flavor! As with a lot of my recipes these days, they are a great thing to make on your day off and eat for the rest of the week, as the components all hold up quite well and make great leftovers. I really love the tiny organic corn cantina tortillas if you can find them, it’s usually the only size used by the Mexican food trucks here in Los Angeles, so it feels more authentic. I had been looking forward to the opening of this restaurant called Gracias Madre here in town for weeks, and in the meantime, I decided to try my hand at some fresh and flavorful plant based tacos. I actually made these the night before we went to try out Gracias Madre for my birthday, so I could get ideas and see if I wanted to change anything based on the experience. The food at the restaurant was fantastic! Nonetheless I think these tacos turned out great without any tweaks, if I do say so myself, Ole!

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Cantina Style Tacos With Chipotle Crema

1 serving of 4 mini tacos, easy to scale to your needs

1/2 cup butternut squash, cut into 1/4″ cubes

1.5 tbs organic raw sugar

1 tsp cumin

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Sprinkle of salt

2 tbs olive oil, divided

1 cup of cashews, soaked overnight in water on the counter or boiled in water for 20 min.

Juice of 1 lime plus 1 lime cut into wedges

1 tbs dried chipotle powder (or 2 whole chipotle peppers!)

1/2 tbs agave nectar

1/2 tsp sea salt (might need more after you taste it

1/2 cup water

4 mini organic corn tortillas, (4″ diameter)

1/2 cup cooked black beans

1 shallot

2 tbs olive oil

1 sprig cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 large avocado, cut into thin slices

Hot sauce as desired

Preheat oven to 400. Cube the butternut squash and put into a small bowl with the sugar, cumin, nutmeg, and salt, drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil, and toss to coat. Drizzle the 2nd tbs of olive oil onto the pan and spread it around, then throw the squash on there. Spread the squash out evenly, the farther apart the pieces are from each other, the better-  they will roast instead of steam this way. Cook this for 10-15 minutes, tossing about half way through. Keep an eye that they don’t burn with this tiny dice!

In the meantime, add the cashews, chipotle, lime juice, agave, and salt to a food processor and blend, slowly adding in the water a little splash at a time and allowing it to integrate. Keep adding the water until you get a saucy consistency; you want it to be thick, but you should be able to drizzle it off a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Slice the shallot very thinly, as thin as you can. Heat up the 2 tbs olive oil in a small pan and throw the shallots in there over medium heat and give the pan a few shakes. Allow them to just sit there for about 30 sec., then  scrape a stir them gently until they are caramelized and golden.

I think tortillas are best if you microwave them in a stack for about 15 sec, they get warm and soft.

Lay out each tortilla and add two tbs of the butternut squash and two tbs of black beans to each. Next lay a slice of avocado on each taco. Sprinkle on a few slices of the crispy shallots and a sprinkle of cilantro. Drizzle on a tablespoon of the Chipotle Crema and a splash of hot sauce if you like.

Serve with the lime wedges on the side and enjoy a tall cerveza while you are at it.

butternut squash and black bean tacos

Harvest Bliss Bowl

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A good salad is a work of art. While I love a big green salad with every color of the raw rainbow, there is no reason why a salad can’t also be a rich and decadent comfort food, making you feel full and cozy on a cold day. The Harvest Bliss Bowl is just such a salad. With an array of textures and flavors, this sweet and savory bowl is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of yum.

Plus, I have a bonus tip for you about the beloved vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which we all know leads to stronger bones. It also helps prevent cancer, improves your immune system, and prevents aging. If you are eating a well rounded whole foods plant based diet, you are already on your way to having much stronger bones that your dairy drinking friends. Crazy you say? Actually the newest research on dairy has shown that it creates an acidic environment in the body. Your body does not want to be acidic, so it draws calcium OUT of your bones to neutralize the acidity. This is why osteoporosis is so much higher in regions around the world that depend heavily on dairy, like the UK and North America; whereas in places where they do not consume dairy, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Think about who is telling you that milk ‘does a body good’, the company selling you milk? The government approved food pyramid created by representatives with ties to the dairy industry? Sorry to burst your yogurt bubble guys, but dairy is making swiss cheese out of your femurs.

Feel free to google it on your own. Here’s a  start.

Now back to that bonus tip I started to tell you about! We know that your body can create it’s own vitamin D just by getting a little sunshine, but guess what else does that? Mushrooms! If you leave 100 grams of fresh mushrooms out in a sunny spot, gills up, for 8 hours, they will increase there vitamin D content from 40 IU to 46ooo IU!!! Do you know what the average daily recommendation is? Only 800 IU a day! All the vitamin D you could ever ask for, just waiting to be activated in that cute little mushroom cap. This also means that leaving them out in the sun for even 10 minutes will give them a boost. And on top of that, mushrooms create an alkaline environment in your body, so not only do they not throw your PH off balance, they actually make it better!

I like to make all the parts of this salad ahead of time, then assembly is only a two minute process. This is great even if everything is served cold!

Harvest Bliss Bowl

Makes about 4 servings

for the quinoa:

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup rinsed quinoa

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for approx. 15 minutes. Fluff and set aside or refrigerate.

for the roasted veggies:

2 portobello mushroom caps (vitamin D turbo-charged preferred) cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 cloves garlic, cut in half

1/2 sweet vidalia onion, roughly quartered

3 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp each of crushed dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, dried oregano (or just a couple tsp of italian seasoning)

salt to taste

For the garlic croutons:

3 slices crusty bread, chopped into small cubes

1 tbs olive oil

a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder

for the roasted pecans:

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 tbs maple syrup,

salt to taste

1 tsp black pepper

Everything else:

3 cups of rocket arugula

2 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

a little squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 tbs balsamic vinegar reduction per portion, for drizzling (directions for reducing balsamic here.)

Assuming that you have already made your quinoa and it is waiting for you in the fridge, preheat the oven to 400. Toss all the roasting vegetables in a big bowl with the herbs, salt, and olive oil until evenly coated. Lay them out on a foil lined pan. The more you space them apart, the more they will caramelize, the more you cram them together, the more they will steam. I was in a hurry so I crammed, and they still came out great. Put the veggies in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, giving them a good stir every 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temp to 375. In a small bowl toss all of the crouton ingredients until they are well coated. In a separate bowl, toss all your pecan ingredients until well coated. These can go in the oven together on separate sides of a big foil lined roasting pan to save you time. Check on them about every 3 minutes and give them a toss. Both of these items toast up fast and burn easily, so I just commit to standing there watching and tossing until they are perfect, about 8 minutes.

Finally, in another bowl, toss the arugula and oil and lemon juice until well coated.

To assemble, scoop a big pile of quinoa into the bottom of your salad bowl. Top with the arugula, and then scatter the roasted vegetables, pecans, and croutons on top. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or eat as is. Cozy and delicious!

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