in season now: cauliflower + 5 ways to use it

Purple romanesco cauliflower green vegan

Cauliflower is everywhere at the market right now.  It’s so beautiful with its tightly packed, creamy florets and tender green leaves.

Cauliflower is a member of the brassica family, otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables.  Others members of the family: broccoli, brussels, arugula, bok choy, radish, turnips, collard greens, watercress and cabbage.

Cruciferous vegetables basically have superpowers- they’re one of the top vegetables for cancer prevention.  They boost and activate our immune system receptors in the gut, they contain high levels of antioxidants, and eating them regularly appears to boost detoxifying enzymes in the liver.  Food is SO amazing.

Back to cauliflower, though.  It’s in season and you should totally be eating it.  Not only is it super healthy for you, it’s delicious and super versatile.  You can keep it raw or roast, steam, purée, sauté it.  When you cook it, it turns into this slightly sweet, creamy bank canvas to soak up really any flavors you want.  You can even turn it into grain free, nutrient dense “rice“.

At the market, choose cauliflower with nice dense florets, bright in color, heavy for its size, with fresh looking leaves.  If the ones you see have brown discoloration on them, they’re not as fresh, but you can cut it off at home and underneath it will be fine.

Purple graffiti cauliflower vegan meal

Cauliflower is quite hardy and tends to store very well in the refrigerator.  I usually just store mine loose in the produce drawer of my fridge, and it does just fine.  You may like to cut it up + store it in a bowl with a lid in the fridge to make it easy to grab and use later in the week.  If you’re not using it up fast enough, you can steam it and freeze it- it’s actually great in a smoothie (really! read this if you’re curious).

There are so many vibrant colors of cauliflower- green, purple, orange, white.  The colored ones are even better for you than standard white because of the antioxidants.  There’s even romanesco, an Italian broccoli-cauliflower-ish veggie that comes in a gorgeous natural fractal shape.  I die over these!  They are soooooo beautiful.

Romanesco cauliflower broccoli recipe vegan

I first tried cauliflower and squash together in a soup when I made a recipe from the lovely Loni Jane’s second ebook.  It’s so perfect-  the cauliflower makes it super velvety and creamy!

I made a few tweaks but really this is such a simple recipe, you can customize it however you like.  It’s especially good with some crusty bread to dip or a dollop of quinoa and rice added when serving.

After the recipe, I’ve also added links for 4 other recipes to use cauliflower in to give you more ideas on how versatile it can be.

cauliflower squash soup vegan creamy dairy free plant based chickpeas

winter squash + cauliflower soup with harissa chickpeas

for the soup

1/2 a medium cauliflower, cut into large florets

1/2 a large kabocha or butternut or pie pumpkin, (or even sweet potato!), cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, smashed

5 cups veggie broth or 5 cups water + veggie bouillon

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon harissa spice or less depending on how spicy your harissa is (you can also omit or sub curry powder)

3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (optional but boosts the savory flavor)

for the crunchy chickpeas

2 cups or 1 can of chickpeas, drained

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon harissa spice or curry powder

salt and pepper

 

method:

Crank the oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

Add everything to the pot except the nutritional yeast.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer until the veggies are very soft.  A fork should be able to go through with no resistance when you poke them.

While you wait for the veggies to soften, dry the chickpeas on a kitchen towel so they’re not soggy.  Transfer to baking sheet and drizzle over coconut oil and salt.  Mix with hands to evenly coat.  Spread the chickpeas out so they’re in a single layer with plenty of space between them.  Pop in the oven and roast till crispy, 15-20 minutes.  When they’re done, sprinkle the harissa over them and stir to coat.

Transfer soup to a blender, using a ladle and add the nutritional yeast, then purée till very smooth.  Alternatively, add the yeast to the pot and blend with an immersion stick blender.

Ladle/pour into bowls and top with the chickpeas, cilantro and green onions.  Finish with chili flakes and any crunchy nuts or seeds you like- I used my DIY everything bagel spice blend but use whatever you like- roasted cashews, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, anything that adds a little texture.  Enjoy right away!

This freezes and reheats perfectly too.  I freeze in mason jars and then take on out in the morning, put it in the fridge during the day, and then heat it up at night for dinner.

+ 4 other ways to enjoy cauliflower:

kung pao cauliflower: this looks amazing!  Obviously leave out the bacon, though, because grosss.

cauliflower cashew curry: curries are a perfect easy weeknight meal as they go so fast yet deliver big flavor.  Cauliflower is perfect in curried with its soft, tender texture.

cauliflower “gnocchi” with pesto:  this is such an easy trick I learned a long time ago from one of Kim Snyder’s cookbooks.  Cut off the ends of the florets, reserving the stems for another use, so that you’re left with bite size roundish pieces.  Steam them and then toss with your favorite pesto.  UNREAL.  So tasty and lightning fast.

cauliflower buffalo “wings”: I’m sure you guys have tried of these or heard of them before, but I still had to mention them because I’m in love with wing sauce and can eat a whole pan of these guys.  It’s just cauliflower dipped in batter and baked, then coated with wing sauce.  Perfect texture and a great healthier replacement for chicken wings.

easy pasta with cauliflower + greens: this has a Sicilian flair with the raisins, vinegar, and chili flakes and it’s so yummy.  Add in chickpeas or use chickpea pasta to make this a hearty, one dish meal.

ENJOY your cauliflower this week!  I hope I’ve inspired you to work it more into your rotation- it really is such a wonderful vegetable.

xx Amanda

hearty tuscan white bean stew

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As you guys know, soups are my jam in fall/winter.  I wanted to share this hearty white bean stew today, I’ve made it twice so far and the kids really loved it.  I put it in Carmela’s lunch (in a thermos) and one of the teachers at the school emailed me asking for the recipe!  It’s like a warm hug: creamy, herby, filling and nutrient packed.  J and the kids enjoyed it with toasty garlic bread, I had mine with a scoop of my favorite gluten free pasta stirred through.

tuscan white bean stew (adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)

ingredients:

1 pound(2.5 cups) dried cannellini beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 small fennel bulb, core removed, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (omit if you don’t like fennel)

8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced (OPTIONAL)

5 cups water

3 cups veggie broth

2 bay leaves

1 pound kale, stemmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups canned diced tomatoes (approx 1 14.5 ounce can), drained

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh thyme

TO SERVE: chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and crumbly vegan parm

method

  1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in a large bowl, add beans and soak at room temp at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot until shimmering.  Add onions, carrots, fennel bulb and celery and cook until softened and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in water, broth, soaked beans, and bay leaves.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, let boil for 1 minute.  Cover pot and transfer to oven, cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 mins-1 hour.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and continue to cook in the oven until beans are fully tender, about 30 minutes
  5. Stir in kale and continue to cook in oven until kale is tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Remove pot from oven.  Discard rosemary sprig, thyme sprig, and bay leaves.  Season soup with salt and pepper.

VARIATION: QUICKER SOUP- Skip step 1, reduce water to 2 cups and sub 4 cans cannellini beans, rinsed, for the soaked cannellini beans called for.  Add water, broth, beans, bay leaves, kale, and tomatoes to pot at the same time and simmer gently until veggies and greens are fully tender, about 20 minutes.

+ über simple garlic bread loose “recipe”:

slice a baguette in half lengthwise.  Preheat the broiler.  Mix up EVOO, crushed garlic, minced parsley, salt, pepper and brush or spread over the baguette surface.  Place under broiler for a few minutes until toasty.  If you’re not a raw garlic fan, use garlic powder instead.  If you’re oil free, THIS recipe is soooo good.

ENJOY and have a wonderful weekend!  xx

 

package free: veggie broth

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Fall and winter here mean lots and lots of soup for our house.  They’re fast, nutritious, + one batch lasts for a few days of lunches and dinner.  Making this many soups, I go through a LOT of veggie broth.  I used to buy broth in those Tetra Paks (ugh) or buy the Better than Bouillon Veggie Broth Paste (suspicious ingredients).  Now I love to make our own broth from scraps by saving peels and odds/ends of veggies in the freezer in a brown paper bag.  Then, when it gets full, I simmer them in a big pot with water, herbs, salt and black pepper.  This method is FREE and uses up every bit of produce we buy.  Tough ends of leeks, outer tough layers of onions, peels or stem ends of carrots, butts of celery, peel of celery root, tough cauliflower stems, herb stems, mushroom stems all work great for stock.  I strain the stock after boiling and I store in glass mason jars* in the freezer.

BUT sometimes I don’t have time to make stock or I don’t have enough scraps yet!  That’s why I keep this awesome VEGAN stock concentrate in the freezer.  Super quick and easy to make, this stock is tasty and convenient.  There’s no weird ingredients or preservatives in it like store bouillon pastes or powders.  Just regular, real food ingredients.

vegetable broth concentrate (recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook )

1/2 small celery root, peeled + cut into 1/2 inch pieces (3/4c or 3 oz)

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (2/3c or 3 oz)

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped + washed thoroughly (2.5c or 5 oz)

1/2c fresh parsley leaves and tender stems (1/2 oz)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons dried minced onion

3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1.5 tablespoons tomato paste

OPTIONAL: dried shiitake or porcini mushroom powder, or a spoon of miso.  This adds another layer of umami to the broth BUT is not necessary- the broth is great without!

Place the celery root, carrot, leek, parsley, onion, and kosher salt in a food processor.  Process until it becomes as fine as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor as needed. Add tomato paste and process for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of bowl twice.  Add soy sauce and continue to process 1 minute.  Transfer paste to a jar and tap firmly on counter to remove air bubbles.  Freeze up to 6 months.

TO USE:  For 1 cup broth, stir 1 tablespoon of the concentrate into 1 cup boiling water.

*Tips on freezing in glass: Use canning jars (Ball/Mason/Kerr) which are designed to withstand both very hot and very cold temps.  Jars that are straight up and down (wide mouth) are best for freezing in.  Leave about 2 inches of space and don’t put the lid on until its fully frozen.  Make sure the liquid is totally cool before freezing, too.  I’ve never had breakage before!

Hope you guys make and love this stock.  I’ll be posting a delicious soup recipe Friday, so have some stock ready 😉 xx

bomb veggie chili

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Chili is such a perfect fall and winter meal, you can make a large pot and be set for the entire week. Or freeze half the pot for another time and enjoy a homemade meal twice!  We served this chili over baked sweet potatoes with lime cashew crema and guac and it was BOMB.  All of us were in love, the kids especially.  Don’t be put off by all the ingredients, this chili isn’t hard to make but it needs some different items for a nice deep flavor.  Also,  chili always tastes best the second day so if you can stand waiting, make it the day ahead or prep it on a Sunday.  Corn goes really well in here too but I couldn’t find any without plastic this time :/

bomb veggie chili

INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 small stalk celery, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon chipotle chili en adobo, minced (canned chipotle in sauce)

28 oz canned tomatoes- chunky or smooth, however you like it

2-3 cups veggie broth, start with two and add more depending on how thick/thin you want your chili

1 large zucchini, chopped

4 cups pinto beans, cooked (or about 2 cans drained and rinsed)

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

All the fixings, like cashew cream, lines, jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, whatever you enjoy on your chili.

METHOD:

Saute the onion about 5 minutes until softened, then add in the carrot and celery and sauté another 5 minutes until aromatic and softened.  Add in the bell peppers and garlic and continue to sauté about 5-7 minutes until the peppers have wilted a bit.  Add in all your spices, including the chipotle en adobo and sauté 2 minutes, stirring to fully combine.  Add all the rest of your ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and let cook about 20 minutes.  Serve with all the fixings and enjoy!  Keeps well in the fridge and you can freeze the leftovers easily, even in single serving jars if you like.

Hope you guys enjoy and share with me if you make it! @mamaeatsplants on Instagram xx

at the market: winter squash + 5 ways to use it

IMG_1993Winter squash is abundant this time of year- so many colors, textures and flavors to choose from.  I always buy a bunch and keep them on the table as a sort of “fruit bowl” type centerpiece because they are so pretty.  My favorites are kabocha, red kuri, delicata, and butternut.  These all have dense, sweet flesh that get caramelized when roasted and blends up creamy for soups.  I also love spaghetti squash as whole food, gluten free noodle replacer- just cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and steam.  Delicata is great because it has tender thin skin (no need to peel)- cut in half, scoop out the seeds, cut into half moons, and roast.  I especially love roasting it with brussels, beets or other veg for a colorful side.  Kabocha has edible skin, too- I like to cut into wedges and steam in a kombu-lined pot with a few tablespoons of mirin, splash of water, and some tamari and green onions to finish- a technique I learned from this post.

When choosing squash, look for ones that have bright and vibrant skins and that feel heavy for their size.  I like to choose smaller ones because I find them less likely to be stringy.  If you do end up getting a stringy squash, just blend it up into a soup or puree it for a side/ add to breads, pie, etc!  Store squash in a cool, dry place- thinner skinned varieties like delicata only last a few weeks, but other squashes can last a month or more in a cool area like the garage.

Here’s my favorite squash soup recipe, plus 4 other ways to use up those gorgeous gourds.

squash soup

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or use broth/water for oil free)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large sweet apple, chopped

1 large squash or pumpkin, any type, peeled and cubed, seeds reserved ~5-6 cups

2 teaspoons fresh thyme or sage, minced

1 can coconut milk

2-3 cups of vegetable broth (depending on how large your squash is and how thick/thin you prefer your soup)

salt + pepper, to taste

any toppings you like, here i used sage leaves crisped up in a hot pan with a touch of olive oil + toasted pecans.

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 400.  Toss the squash seeds with a little oil, salt and pepper and place in the preheated oven and bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot.  Add in the onion and apple and saute until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the thyme and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add in the squash and stir to coat.  Add in coconut milk and broth.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer, uncovered, until the squash is completely tender, about 20 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree or carefully transfer to a blender to puree.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the roasted seeds, and any other toppings- a scoop of quinoa, some avocado, breadcrumbs, dollop of cashew cream, toasted pecans, fried sage leaves, anything you desire.

+4 other favorite squash recipes

creamy kabocha pasta : I omit the cheese and meat in this recipe, subbing crispy sautéed mushrooms (sear in a pan with thyme and shallot, only stirring once or twice so they get crispy)

roast squash and bean tart : impressive looking and delicious vegan main, GF, perfect for thanksgiving or holiday gatherings.

chili and sesame roasted squash : so so good, easy, and a totally different taste profile than the usual recipes.

butternut lasagna with sage-tofu ricotta : another delicious and beautiful vegan main, just add a green salad and you’re set!

+ 1 bonus recipe: pumpkin cheesecake // I’ve been wanting to try this baby forever, it looks so good and would be perfect to bring to a dinner or holiday party.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and that it inspires you to work more squash into the meal rotation this week.  Have a lovely weekend! xx