Tag Archives: Autumn recipes

Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

8 Nov

I owe you a wrap-up post for October Unprocessed, but the cooking bug caught up with me tonight, and I decided to go for it and share this recipe with you instead.

First, let me say this: I’ve always hated seafood. With the occasional exception of tuna in childhood sandwiches or casseroles, even in my meat-eating days I wanted nothing to do with fish or shellfish. Which is why it’s sort of odd that my reaction today, upon reading a reference to Italian-style shellfish soup, was immediately, “I need to veganize that!”

I’ve never had shellfish soup, and other than a mention that the soup in question was made with tomatoes–and clams and mussels–I really had no idea what I was doing. But a few minutes with Google fixed all of that, and a stop at Whole Foods on my way home had me ready to go.

Ready for some fish-o’-the woods soup!

Here’s what I came up with, and I’m pleased to report that I’m quite happy with it. It’s kind of exactly what I wanted. I have no idea whether it resembles any traditional shellfish soup, but it’s really good in any case–warming against the cold front that just showed up, full of vegetables and tangy tomato and lemon, and with just a hint of seafood flavor that could be played up for those who don’t share my aversion. The soup is relatively light, so round it out to make a meal. Some blackened tempeh and avocado would be great with this.

No shells–just tasty soup

Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

6 large cloves garlic, minced and divided
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced, ends and any leaves reserved
1 medium bulb fennel: green tops cut off and set aside; white bulb quartered, cored and thinly sliced.
1 large leek: green tops cut off, washed well and set aside; white part quartered, washed well and thinly sliced.
4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 lb. oyster mushrooms: thick/tough stems trimmed off and set aside; remaining parts chopped in small bites
1/4 lb. lobster mushrooms (more if you like fishier flavor), minced and divided
3 sprigs thyme or 1/4 tsp. whole dried thyme. Lemon thyme would be great if you have it.
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. yellow mustard seed
1/2 tsp. dill seed or 1 tsp. dried dill weed
olive oil
1 tsp. Herbamare (or 3/4 tsp. salt)
1-1/2 tsp. fish seasoning
1/2 tsp. aji amarillo paste (optional–adds a little heat and a nice, fruity flavor. I found mine at Big John’s PFI)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (if the tomatoes are salted, you might want less salt in the recipe)
good handful flat-leaf parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon
black pepper

First, make a “fish” broth based on many of the trimmings from your soup vegetables. If you have a pressure cooker, this won’t slow you down much. If not, you should build in another 30-60 minutes. In a pressure cooker, combine half of the garlic; the ends and leaves trimmed from the celery; half of the tops trimmed from the fennel, coarsely chopped; the leek tops, coarsely chopped; the stems from the oyster mushrooms and about 1/3 of the lobster mushrooms; and 1/4 of the shallots. Add the thyme, whole peppercorns, mustard and dill. Add 1 quart water and seal the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure; lower the heat and keep at pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure release naturally. Strain and set aside. Without a pressure cooker, start with a brief sautéing of the vegetables, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30-60 minutes before straining.

Straining the broth with my handy nut-milk bag

While that’s cooking, chop the rest of your vegetables and start them cooking.

Shallots, leeks and fennel, chopped and ready to go

In a Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the remaining garlic, celery, fennel, leek, and shallots. Saute 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still have some texture.

While those vegetables are cooking, on another burner heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and then the lobster mushrooms, stirring until about half tender. Add the oyster mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and reduced in volume by roughly half–about 4-6 minutes.

When the vegetables in the Dutch oven are ready, add the fish seasoning, the chili paste (if using) and the Herbamare or salt. Cook for one minute more. Add the white wine and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly evaporated. Add the cooked mushrooms, the broth and the tomatoes. Cook another 5 minutes, not allowing the soup to get above a simmer. Add the parsley, the lemon juice and several grinds of black pepper. Check for salt and other seasonings and adjust as needed. If you really want it fishy, you’ll probably want to add some dulse, nori, or kelp to the broth or the finished product. Makes about two quarts, which should serve 4-6.

October Unprocessed

1 Oct

Last week I came across a link on Facebook, posted by Seattle Tilth. A blogger named Andrew Wilder was inviting people to join his challenge, October Unprocessed 2012. The idea is very simple: commit to eating only unprocessed foods in October (or at least commit to doing your best toward that goal).

Yes to potatoes!

I was immediately drawn to the idea. I’ve always liked personal challenges like this and have tried many of them over the years. For me, they’re a way to bump myself out of routine, to question assumptions about how I live and interact with the world, and to learn which pieces of a different approach to living I might want to adopt as longer-term ways of life.

October is always a very demanding month for me at work, so I’m going to be a little extra forgiving with myself on exceptions when I really think I need them. But what the heck? I’m going to give it a try.

I like Wilder’s definition of unprocessed, and in general, I’ll follow his approach, with tweaks as they make sense to me. So no white flour, no white sugar (and limited sweeteners like agave or maple syrup), no Daiya, no seitan. I will include oil (anyone who knows me knows I need every calorie I can get!), but during October I will pass on delicious, greasy sandwiches from Highline or Wayward or donuts from Mighty-O. Good thing I had all of those things this past weekend ;-)

Really, though, I have confidence that despite all the things I’ll be cutting out, in so doing I’ll also be forced to try new things and in many ways expand my food choices and cooking repertoire, just like when I went vegan. Although I won’t be making any effort to restrict gluten, I expect I’ll be eating significantly less of it because I’ll be avoiding many of the things that contain it.

What’s there to miss?

I’m hoping to eat more healthfully, to reduce the amount of packaging I buy with prepared-food shortcuts, to eat more locally produced food, and to learn some new tricks.

And periodically throughout the month, I’ll blog about it here!

Here’s what food has looked like for day one:

Breakfast: Rice cakes with sunflower seed butter and an MacIntosh apple
Snack: Hazelnuts with cacao nibs (you didn’t think I was going to skip chocolate, did you?), and homemade nectarine fruit leather

(Brown rice with broccoli and black beans, topped with raw pepitas and dressed with olive oil, vinegar, smoked salt and red chili flakes)

Snack: Banana and cashews

(Pumpkin-crusted tempeh with baked sweet potato, topped with parsley-lemon sauce)

With a demanding schedule I won’t promise much in the way of stellar food photography, but I’ll try to include representative photos as I go, plus recipes when I find ones worth recommending. If you have recipes I should try, I’d love to see them! And if you have suggestions for making my pumpkin-crusted tempeh less dry, I’d love to hear about those, too.

Roasted beet salad with avocado, hazelnuts and smoked salt

9 Dec

I recently discovered smoked salt, and it’s been even more revelatory than smoked paprika (Seattleites, you know you can get both in bulk at Big John’s PFI, right?). I’m pretty sure that there are few things in life that aren’t improved when you add a little (or a lot) of smoked salt to them.

If you’re looking for an excuse to buy or use some, you could make this salad.

Roasted beet salad with avocado, hazelnuts and smoked salt

On a bed of lettuce or mixed greens (frisee would be pretty with this, if you want to be one of those people who force others to try to eat frisee without making a mess of their faces and clothes. It is a hardy, winter salad green), arrange roasted, peeled beets, cut in 1/4″ slices. If you use cylindrical beets (easy to find at farmers’ markets now) you’ll get lots of consistently sized discs from each beet. Top with a sprinkling of shallot, cut in very thin rings*, and a small mound of perfectly ripe avocado cubes. Drizzle with high-quality olive oil and a light-colored, sweet vinegar (I used an oak-aged, apple-based “Rocksalmic” vinegar I got recently from Rockridge Orchards, but a golden balsamic would be just as good.) Sprinkle with a generous pinch of smoked salt and a few grinds of fresh black or white pepper. Toast and skin some hazelnuts (or use toasted pecans or walnuts), and chop them coarsely. Sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.

* Some people might find the dark grey color of smoked salt on fresh avocado unappealing, since it winds up looking a lot like the spots that show on overripe avocado. If you want to avoid that, you could add the salt to the beet-and-shallot layer, before adding the rest of the ingredients. I didn’t think to do that, so judge for yourself from the photos whether it’s a problem.

Seitan roulade in puff pastry

26 Nov

Over the week or so before Thanksgiving I was busy dreaming up a dish to take to the annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck hosted by some close friends of mine. Even though I knew there would be Tofurky and some Field Roast grain-meat items, I couldn’t resist the idea of making my own seitan roulade, from scratch. And there needed to be puff pastry involved (not from scratch–my mom is that patient and focused, but I am not!). I was still researching Thanksgiving-appropriate seitan recipes when a certain tweet filtered through the intertubes and onto my screen. Shiitakes are the one kind of mushroom I don’t like, and I was already mulling a squash-and-kale filling, but Isa’s seitan recipe and roulade technique? Exactly what I needed.

Here’s how I modified her excellent recipe. I apologize for the very minimal (and not very good) photographs. The timeline was tight, and I didn’t take as many photos as I should have!

Puff Pastry:

1 package (two 9″x9″ sheets) vegan puff pastry. I used Aussie Bakery brand from the co-op, but Pepperidge Farm is also vegan and widely available.

Thaw it well in advance! Ideally, this would be overnight in the fridge, but you can also thaw on the counter. Separate (but keep wrapped against drying) the two sheets of pastry as soon as you can without damaging them if you need to complete the thawing more quickly.

Vegetable filling:

16 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cut in small (less than 1/2″) dice
Oil (I used canola; olive would be good)
1 good-sized shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. kale, stemmed and finely chopped (any kind)
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar (or white wine or golden balsamic or even apple cider vinegar: something light-colored, relatively mild and a little fruity)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat the oven to 350 while you chop the squash. Toss with just enough oil to coat, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 20 minutes, stirring once, or until the squash is tender and starting to brown. While the squash is baking, heat another tablespoon of oil in a medium or large skillet over medium-low heat, and add the sliced shallot. Saute 7-10 minutes, until the shallot is very soft and starting to brown. Add the kale and water. Stir to combine, then cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes, until kale is just tender. Add cooked squash to the skillet and gently mix.

Combine remaining ingredients and whisk to blend well. Add gradually to kale and squash, tasting as you go. I found I had about an extra tablespoon of dressing, but you might want to use more. Set aside mixture to cool.

Roasted garlic cashew creme:

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup water
4-5 cloves roasted garlic, peeled (About 1/3 of a good-sized head. I’d suggest roasting the whole thing, then using the other cloves for other recipes*)
1 tsp. Champagne vinegar (In this case, I’d sub with something minimally sweet like white wine vinegar or white vinegar)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until thick and very smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. If you’re using a smaller food processor, you might want to add only half the water at first, and add the rest as the mixture comes together to avoid liquid splashing out. This recipe will make more than you need for the seitan recipe, but the extra creme would be delicious spread on crackers, as a dip for raw vegetables, or thinned just a bit and added to soup, either stirred in or dolloped on individual servings. Or you can just eat it with a spoon.

* Leftover roasted garlic? Coarsely mash it with a fork along with a generous splash of good-quality olive oil, another splash of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and some crumbled rosemary. Serve with bread. It won’t last long.


Once you’ve got all of that made, scrape out the food processor and follow the instructions to make Isa’s seitan. It goes together quickly and easily! Here are the dry ingredients:

I followed the shaping method of another blogger who had quickly posted her step-by-step instructions for making the recipe, spreading the seitan dough directly onto the tin foil, and rolling it up like a sushi roll, using the foil to help hold the shape as you go. With the dough spread out, I spread about a cup of the cashew creme in a thick layer near the bottom of the dough, forming a rectangle maybe 4″ deep and going to within an inch of each side. In the center of that, I put a strip of the greens and squash, gently pressing them together as I went, maybe 3″ wide and an inch tall, and within an inch of each side of the cashew mixture. Then just roll it up, making sure that by the end of rolling you have seitan mushing against seitan, and not overambitious filling. Reach in through the foil ends of the roll and pinch the seitan together to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will help.

The one hitch I ran into in Isa’s recipe, which she’s since addressed in the comments and an edit, is that the original posted cooking time was not nearly enough for me. It appears it was for many others who rushed to make this recipe when it came out, but for several of us the seitan was still gooey at that point. I don’t remember the final count, but it was at least 90 minutes before it was done baking for me. Check it at an hour, poking the roll for firmness. It should be noticeably firm and not squishy, so bake it longer if you need more time. Also, if you take it out and unwrap the foil for a closer look to determine doneness and decide it needs to go back in, try to re-roll it tightly. Otherwise, the roll will flatten/spread/expand like mine did. Not the end of the world, but not quite as symmetrical for a fancy presentation.

My roulade wound up being about 13″ long, which is far too long to cover with a 9″x9″ piece of puff pastry. Once the seitan was cooked and cool enough to handle, I just sliced it in half and used each pastry square to cover a half. Here’s the roll and one square of pastry, pre-cut:

Per instructions I found somewhere online, I rolled the puff pastry to make it about an inch wider, which left me a bit of extra dough to cut out some decorations for the top.

Here’s the seitan freshly cut in half, ready to wrap in puff pastry dough:

You can cut and wrap the seitan while it’s still fairly hot (but cool enough to handle safely), or you can cool it if you’re spreading out the prep time on the dish. When you’re ready to go, make sure the oven is at 350. Center each half of a loaf on a piece of puff pastry. Fold the top and bottom over on the long dimension. The dough should overlap slightly on the seam; press gently to seal. Fold the short ends just like you’re wrapping a present, and press them against the ends to seal. If the seitan is warm, the pastry dough will tend to melt a bit and stretch while you’re working with it, so be very gentle and work quickly.

Put each wrapped roll, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. I recommend lining it with parchment, foil or a Silpat to make it easier to transfer the finished loaves to a serving platter or cutting board. The puff pastry is very delicate once baked, so you’ll want to handle it as little as possible. Decorate the top with cut-out shapes of pastry, if you want (brush with a bit of water to help glue them into place), and bake 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned all over.

Without tooting my horn too much, these were a huge success at the Thanksgiving potluck. The seitan has great flavor and texture, and the fillings and pastry worked well with it. The pastry will fall apart pretty thoroughly when you slice it, so if you’re going for visual wow, make sure your guests see it before you slice it! The slices still look nice with the contrast of the seitan and the different colors of filling, though.

Here’s what else we devoured on Thursday!

Finding room on the crowded table for new additions to the meal

Dessert! Apple crisp with pecans, and Flourless Chocolate Tart from

Autumn salad with apple and avocado

6 Nov

After a weekend of super-delicious food that was not super-big on fresh fruits or vegetables, I decided tonight called for a dinner centered around salad.


Red leaf lettuce
1/4 Honeycrisp apple, cored and thinly sliced
Several shavings from a small bulb of fennel
Several very thin slices of white onion
1/4 avocado, sliced
Handful raw pecans, coarsely chopped


2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. canola oil
1-2 Tbsp. agave nectar, to taste
1/2 tsp. finely ground golden flax seed (optional; you can also use some flax or nut oil with the canola)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed
1/8 tsp. powdered ginger (or use fresh if you have it)
1/8 tsp. white pepper, ground
pinch salt

Whiz the dressing ingredients together in a mini blender/food processor until homogenized, and taste to adjust for sweetness and spices.

Obviously, salads are the ultimate improv food, so change this up any way you like. Try adding or substituting raw or cooked beets, different nuts, pears or dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds or orange segments, different greens for the lettuce, etc. A little lemon juice or zest in the dressing would be great.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

29 Oct

A couple weeks ago PCC tweeted this recipe from the Detroit Free Press for “Enchiladas Calabaza.”

Here’s my tweaked and veganized version of it, which turned out great. It made a lot (the original recipe calls for WAY more squash than you’ll need. I’ve scaled it down here, but you’ll still have enough for lots of servings). Feed a crowd or freeze individual portions for quick lunches and dinners later. I used canned sauce but made the tortillas from scratch. The recipe could easily be gluten- and soy-free with the right sauce.

Makes: about 22 small enchiladas


3-4 pounds butternut or favorite winter squash
3-4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 cups diced onions
1 cup sliced green onions
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Cashew Cream
(I have always hated cream cheese, so this is the sub I used rather than a more direct vegan replacement for the cream cheese. If you like it, feel free to use 8 oz. of your favorite brand of vegan cream cheese instead.)

1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 cup cold water
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste

22 corn tortillas (4 to 5 inches in diameter)

14 oz. can red enchilada sauce (Be sure to check ingredients, as not all commercial sauces are vegetarian. This amount made for minimally saucy enchiladas, which I liked because it let the flavor of the filling really come through. If you want them saucier, you might want as much as double this.)

Equivalent of one package Daiya cheese (we used a combination of cheddar and pepperjack flavors.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the filling: Peel and seed the squash. Cut squash flesh into 1-inch pieces and spread the pieces out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and toss to coat.

Bake about 30-45 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven (leave oven on) and transfer squash to a large bowl. Mash up the squash a bit, then set aside.

Roasted squash cubes, ready to go. In the background, purple cauliflower for a side and chopped green onion for filling and garnish.

While the squash is roasting, blend the cashew cream ingredients together into a smooth, thick cream. You can save a bit of loud blending time by doing a quick grind first for 30 seconds or so, then letting the tiny cashew pieces soak in the liquid until the squash is nearly ready before blending the rest of the way to a silky consistency.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sauté the diced onions. When soft and nearly transparent, add the spices and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Onions and spices, smelling fantastic.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mashed squash, green onions (reserve a few for garnish), and cashew cream.

Filling is a just few stirs away from being ready to go.

Pour a thin layer of sauce in a large, shallow baking pan (a lasagna pan works well). Freshly made tortillas will be ready to go, but if using store-bought ones, steam or microwave them to soften so they don’t split when you roll them. Place about 1/4 cup (more if using larger tortillas) of squash filling in the center of the tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Pour sauce evenly over enchiladas. Bake 30 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake ten more minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve.

We went a little crazy with the sides, but they were all great! From the left, there’s purple-cabbage slaw with sriracha-Vegenaise dressing and orange slices, garlicky black beans spiked with Flameboy XXX hot sauce (which has a nice smoky note in it) and topped with counter-ripened tomato (amazingly juicy and flavorful!) from a neighbor’s yard, and roasted cauliflower with chipotle-flavor Yumm! sauce. Both sauces are made by Oregon companies and highly recommended if you can get them!

Autumn White Lasagna

2 Oct

What with all the autumnal weather and winter squashes on sale, it seems high time for lots of warm, filling, comforting food. I said “acorn squash”; Jud said “lasagna?” and we were off.

Served with Jud’s signature roasted-beet salad with fresh dill.

The lasagna turned out great, and it’s a recipe that would be easy to make soy free and/or commercial-cheez free, if needed or preferred.

Autumn White Lasagna
Makes a 9″x13″ pan, easily serving six

12 lasagna noodles, precooked (I wouldn’t recommend the no-boil ones for this recipe since the dish might turn out dry. Bonus if you can find whole-wheat noodles)
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. oil
pinch of salt
2-1/2 lbs. winter squash, peeled and roasted until very tender (cutting in pieces first will speed up this process and help avoid excess moisture in the finished product, but if you have precooked squash or want to just throw the thing whole into the oven to peel and seed once cooked, go for it.)
1 lb. chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/3 cup Earth Balance or oil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
1/2 cup flour
3 cups unsweetened soy or other milk (important to use unsweetened here, since the other ingredients are already fairly sweet)
dash nutmeg
salt to taste
1 tsp. dried whole thyme (or rubbed sage, or a mixture of two)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1-2 tsp. garlic salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 package Daiya mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400. Combine cauliflower, onion and oil and pinch of salt in a shallow pan and roast until tender and starting to brown. We roasted the squash at the same time. Stir once or twice during cooking. When done, reduce oven temp to 350.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the béchamel sauce. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté the garlic in the margarine or oil 1-2 minutes, not allowing the garlic to color. Add the flour and stir well, cooking mixture while stirring until the color deepens slightly to a light golden brown. Quickly whisk in the soy milk and continue whisking to smooth out any lumps while the sauce thickens. Add the nutmeg and a dash of salt, then check seasoning. Cook until sauce is the consistency of heavy cream.

When the squash is ready, mash it coarsely together with the spinach, thyme, pepper, garlic salt and lemon juice or vinegar. Check seasonings and adjust as needed.

To assemble, pour a couple tablespoons of béchamel into the bottom of the pan and spread thinly to coat. Lay down a layer of noodles (three fit perfectly for us, but trim noodles as needed to fit), then carefully spread on 1/3 of the squash mixture followed with 1/3 of the cauliflower and onions.

Top with 1/4 of the sauce, drizzled on as evenly as you can. Lightly sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzarella.

Repeat with two more layers of noodles, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Top with a final layer of noodles, thinly coated with sauce and sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Bake 45 minutes at 350, or until bubbling around all the edges and just starting to brown on top. A glass baking pan will make it easier to see when it’s done.

Rich, velvety, vegetable-filled lasagna.


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