Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Delicata Squash Tart with Bloomsdale Spinach and Caramelized Onions

I was reading the always inspiring and ever handy Martha Stewart mag the other day, and there was a feature on a mostly vegetarian Thanksgiving. I say mostly because the family was vegetarian yet were preparing some non-vegetarian foods for their guests, but the majority of the meal was vegetarian. Obviously, my Thanksgiving is chock full of beautiful and satisfying dishes that are animal free and full of flavor and nutrition. I was inspired by a dish in the feature using these beautiful delicata squash rings on a tart, so after a trip to the farmers market I decided to make something similar. I bought the most beautiful, organic bloomsdale spinach, and one of my favorite combinations is winter squash and dark leafy greens.
I have to admit, I wasn't feeling like making a yeast dough from scratch, so I cheated a bit and bought the whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's. It works great if you haven't tried it before. So I sauteed up my spinach with a bit of garlic,  grapeseed oil, sea salt and pepper. (Keep in mind, you must always cook spinach! Spinach contains high amounts of oxalate which binds to nutrients that you need, and blocks their absorption. If you cook your spinach, you will inhibit the oxalate so that you can take in those valuable nutrients such as iron and calcium that are so rich in spinach). I also caramelized some onions for that touch of sweetness.
I sliced the delicata squash into rings (you can leave the skin on for this purpose, it adds some color and is not as thick as the skins of other squashes), and roasted the rings in the oven for 15 minutes. I layered the spinach, onions, and squash onto my par-baked dough. I finished it off in the oven for another 12 minutes to get that nice browning on top, and a crisp crust on the bottom. A drizzle of fresh olive oil, a pinch of salt and red pepper, and a fresh fall entree is on the table. De-lish. And thanks again to Martha for the inspiration.
In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my wonderful family: my husband and our sweet doggie, my parents and my brother and his wife, my in-laws and siblings in-law. My friends, my health, and the wonderful blessing of the journey of becoming vegan, and being in a position to share the joy and benefits of wonderful, healthy food with others.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homemade Coconut Milk Ice Cream

One of the best small appliance purchases I ever made was that of my ice cream maker. It was not expensive and is not fancy, but it sure does the trick. The experimenting to be done with vegan ice cream is endless. From the ice cream base: soy milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc... to the add ins: chocolate, (duh), peanut butter, cookies, cookie dough, fruit, spices, etc... First, however it is of utmost importance to nail a good vanilla ice cream to build from. And this is mine. I use a combination of 1 can of light coconut milk, and one can of regular coconut milk. With that, I use my vitamix blender to combine the milks with agave nectar, soy lecithin (a soy product that you can get in vitamin stores that is good for brain function, and also works to help bind non-dairy ice cream without eggs) and I use some vanilla extract, along with the seeds of one fresh vanilla bean.
From there, I refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes, then transfer to my ice cream maker. 30 minutes or so later, you have the most delicious homemade ice cream that does not compare to anything you buy in the store.