Roasted root vegetables with roasted garlic-lime dipping sauce

Guys, I’m bringing Vegan MoFo back from its monthly end with this post. See, this was to be my last post for Vegan MoFo, but it wasn’t meant to be due to timing. And thus, here we are.

My last round of conquering food fears was three-fold: parsnip, rutabaga and turnip. So autumn it hurts.

I wanted to get a root veggie-heavy recipe to be a part of this challenge because despite the fact that I’ve eaten them in many forms in restaurants (parsnip soup, rutabaga and turnip in pasta dishes, etc.), I’d feared cooking them because they always seemed rough to prep. I also felt that they would not come out as well at home as at a restaurant that was used to seasoning them and cooking them thoroughly, so this trio was the perfect test of all three at once. So much to mess up…or get deliciously right!

I picked up my beloved, well-used copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen prior to heading to the store and immediately gravitated to the Roasted root vegetables with roasted garlic-lime dipping sauce recipe. I mean, can you count all the delicious-sounding foods in that recipe name? There are many, friends.

I’ve never made a recipe by Bryant Terry that I hadn’t absolutely adored, or that hasn’t wowed a group of people, so I knew that this would be a fitting recipe to try and knock out three cooking fears in one go. So I got to work making it, alongside some Roasted Rosemary Tofu (recipe also from Vegan Soul Kitchen).

Turnips education via Super Mario Bros. 2. Image by GameCola.net.

I went to Central Co-Op to grab these veggies for the recipe, and felt like an awful vegan. I literally had to ask the produce lady to help me differentiate between many of these vegetables, and I only knew what turnips looked like due to childhood memories of playing Super Mario Brothers 2, (nerd alert).

Parsnip, rutabaga and turnip, at your service.

I honestly had to look up online how to prep all of these veggies, minus the parsnip, because it basically looked like a bigger, white carrot. Peeling and chopping these took a minute. Once they were chopped, I set them aside and got to work on making the sauce.

Ready for roastin’.

The sauce was composed of fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, olive oil and a whole head of roasted garlic cloves (mmm) among other spices. After roasting the beautiful garlic, my apartment smelled lovely.

Heaven, slightly burnt.

I then threw all the other sauce ingredients together into my trusty Vita-Mix, and it whirred together into this vivid sauce:

After this was complete, I got back to the veggies. I mixed them together with some olive oil and spices before roasting:

Here’s the finished plate, including tofu:

I made this dish a few weeks back, but the flavors are still memorable in my mind. The roasted veggies came out semi-sweet, but still nutty and autumn-inspired. Soft due to roasting and enhanced by the addition of the creamy olive oil/cilantro/lime sauce, this side dish was spectacular. A touch of saltiness in the sauce melded well with the near caramelized roasted veggies, and the roasted rosemary tofu ended up being this dish’s perfect partner. Honestly, these two sides would be perfect additions to your Thanksgiving table if you’re looking to switch things up from the traditional. I promise you won’t regret it.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy parsnips, rutabagas and turnips?

 

Spaghetti squash with mushroom cream sauce

My goal of one post per week was set slightly too high guys, as I missed my Vegan MoFo post last week. Laughably ridiculous, I own up to this. Thus, I’m combining two food fears into one post this week: white mushrooms and spaghetti squash.

Prior to this weekend I’d never experienced spaghetti squash, either by cooking or dining out. Last year was the year of conquering cooking squash, but there are a lot of squashes out there! I tapped the surface in 2011, but I will try them all in time.

My co-workers and the Internet love to sing praises of spaghetti squash. Some pro arguments I’d heard:

1) It’s really easy to make, hard to screw up (great news for me)
2) It’s a nice substitute for heavy pastas
3) It’s versatile
4) It’s delicious

All good things that made me feel better about attacking this gourd.

Mushrooms and I, we have a history.

They’ve always been one of those “I’ve hated these since I was little!” types of foods, (except fancy ones. I love me some Shiitake and portobello mushrooms and yes, I realize how weird this is). If they were covered in cheesy pizza or well-hidden in something, I didn’t mind them much. But whenever I bit into the rubbery, odd texture of one, I immediately gagged. I thought them to be flavorless, awkward and not worthy of my attention.

Then last month I was reading Eat to Live and thought that I should give mushrooms another try as, you know, I’m an adult. And I like trying “new” things now. We slowly worked them into our lives in the forms of salad toppers. And I didn’t hate it! I realized that their flavor/textures weren’t that weird, and I’ve enjoyed them. But I still hadn’t cooked them.

So I set out to find a recipe that integrated both of these ingredients into something delicious.

Most spaghetti squash recipes that I found were of the ‘add red sauce (replicating actual spaghetti) and be done’ sort. I didn’t want to make a different sort of spaghetti, so I searched for something hearty and creamy with mushrooms. And Daily Garnish‘s Spaghetti Squash & Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce fit the bill perfectly. So I got to work.

I cut the squash in half and covered it in olive oil, 5 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and roasted it an hour.

It comes out looking like this, with the tender flesh pulling away with the swipe of a fork.

Then I began work on the so-easy-it’s-silly cream sauce. First I sauteed them, and realized that it was the first time I’d smelled earthy, rich mushrooms cooking in vegan butter. I was missing out.

I changed this recipe up slightly by adding spinach towards the end, because I like a little green in my meals. I absolutely loved the result of the finished product.

I’m so glad we have leftovers.

Have you tried spaghetti squash? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?

 

Vegan MoFo 2012: Conquering my cooking fears

Yes, October! For many there’s excitement because fall starts getting into full swing, (though not here in the PNW with its 70-ish degree days and sunny skies – but I’m not complaining) and pumpkin everything is everywhere,  and for others there’s the impending fall activities such as apple picking, cider pressing and obviously – Halloween. But for us vegans, there’s MoFo.

Last year I participated in Vegan MoFo for the first time ever, and I was so happy that I did when the month was over. And this year isn’t very different, all except for the fact that oh yeah, I started grad school last week.

Full-time work and full-time school, plus new school blog and this blog and some semblance of a social life and trying to be a good cat owner = I don’t know, I hope some shreds of sanity?

In light of my new crazy schedule and life, I’m going to have to scale back majorly in terms of MoFo this year. Last year I successfully posted each weekday for the month, making that 20 full posts. Now I just shake my head at the idea of having that much “free” time.

This year, my goal is so low, it’s silly: one post per week, more if I can. One of the greatest things about Vegan MoFo is you can truly do what you want with it and make it your own month. So thankfully, I think I can handle that. I’m hoping there will be some weeks where I find extra time to dedicate to killer posts here, but I’m not counting on it.

For 2012, I have a central theme: cooking the foods that scare me. This was inspired by a few posts from last year’s MoFo, where I successfully cooked both acorn and butternut squashes. There’s still a whole lot of food out there that scares me for a few reasons, a few of which are: because I’ve attempted cooking them before and it came out horribly, because I’ve never cooked it myself, or because I’m just plan scared to try. Also, Halloween, boo, scary? Horrible joke, but I had to try. I often find myself cooking the same things because I know I make them well and they’re delicious, but every once in a while I need to kick myself out of my ruts and find new favorites. That’s what this month is all about for me.

And the first food that scares me for VeganMoFo 2012 is…eggplant!

I love eggplant. I love it in the spicy Indian dish Baigan Bharta, grilled, in creamy baba ghanoush, and any other way it can be prepared. The thing is, I’ve only had these amazing dishes in restaurants, and not in my home. I tried to roast eggplant once, and it was a sad, sad, attempt. Rubbery, dry and not at all appealing, I wouldn’t have fed it to an enemy. Pretty and bearing one of my school’s colors, I figured this vegetable a great place to start.

So tonight, I made the Eggplant-Chickpea Curry from Appetite For Reduction – a book that I love and utilized a ton during last year’s MoFo.

I didn’t remember what it was like to cut into an eggplant (rough, hard to slice through, squishy?), but thankfully the two I picked up from Central Co-op were perfect – not too hard, not too soft, and I sliced through them with ease.

Adding in some of my favorite all-time spices – garam masala, curry, cumin – tomatoes and a few other ingredients, my apartment started to smell pretty wonderful.

Tasting this dish for salt, I called it a success. The eggplant cooked down softly and created a sauce with the tomatoes and veggies. It was the perfect Monday night dinner for us when paired with some brown basmati rice and steamed kale.

Verdict? Eggplant accomplished.