TGIF! Short weeks are the best- waking up on a Friday realizing you don’t have an alarm awakening you, lingering in your PJ’s slightly longer than you consider to be a normal amount of time, and sipping your morning bevvie so long that you need to reheat it.
So now you know how my mornings unfolded 🙂 and why this post is getting to you a little bit later than I had anticipated. I hope you have had your own bliss this morning.
As promised, I have put together a collection of recipes for a vegetarian holiday meal. We have all been to numerous dinners or hosted our own gatherings over the years and understand they can be over-whelming sometimes…even as a bystander. Perhaps adding a new twist into your family tradition is needed, since it can turn into an all day event that requires too much time in the kitchen and not enough time with our family and friends. The “twist” might just be to simplify. I have learned over the past few years from the dinners I have hosted, that simplicity really is the key! There is no need to make 10 dishes and lay out a buffet-style spread that would have a cruise line buffet envious. Nobody wants (or needs) to leave feeling overfed and stuffed to the brim. I have found that putting together a plate for my guests works best. Sure, no everyone loves everything but source out the allergies or bonefided dislikes and then serve a beautifully laid out plate that you can be proud of.
Disclaimer: I have found this only works up to about 10-12 people, after that it gets too much for one person to do so disregard if you are in charge of feeding a small army this weekend.
Aside from the “main” dish at most holiday dinners, the rest is typically a gorgeous variety of vegetables and grains. So going vegetarian is really not that much different. Replacing the bird or roast can be quiet simple if you have the right recipe…and the added bonus is that it frees up alot of oven time! Putting together a menu should not be just about using seasonal vegetables but more importantly (for the chef) a collection of dishes that do not overlap in the oven or on the stovetop. Being able to prep ahead of time can make a huge difference on the day of your event.
Some of these recipes I have put together and a few I have found from others sources and have proven to be “fool-proof”.
In combination to this spread you can include your own appetizers and desserts. I like to ask one of my guests to bring dessert (since I am not a baker…and my oven is occupied) and generally people invited to a dinner party love to help out in some way, so delegating is a win-win!
Whatever your plan is this weekend, I hope you relish in the amazing and delicious vegetables that we have this time of year…asparagus, Brussels sprouts, peas. And when you are not inhaling your food, I hope you are able to take a moment to inhale gratitude. Gratitude for your loved ones joining you at your holiday dinner, gratitude for the changing seasons and maybe even gratitude for a new holiday tradition!
Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cinnamon sticks
3lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbsp shelled roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
- Preheat oven to 425. Combine maple syrup, vinegar, 1/2 cup water, oil salt and cinnamon sticks in 13 X 9-inch baking dish. Add sweet potatoes and stir to coat.
- Cover dish with a glass lid or baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 30-40 minutes more, basting potatoes every 15 minutes with maple mixture, until maple mixture thickens and potatoes glisten and begin to brown. Remove from oven, season with salt and pepper and stir in sunflower seeds.
* I have found that prepping the sweet potatoes early in the morning and allowing them to marinate in the maple mixture adds flavour and saves time before dinner prep
Roasted Cauliflower, Spinach and Pecan Torte
Serves 6-8 people
Both the cauliflower puree and the spinach mixture can be made the day before and placed in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the torte on the day of the dinner. Do not forget to read the instructions on the phyllo pastry for the amount of time needed to thaw.
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
2tbsp Olive Oil
2 leeks (white part only), chopped
1 head of garlic
2tbsp Earth Balance (or your butter of choice)
1tbsp coconut oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms (approx. 15-20), chopped
4 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup raw unsalted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup white wine
4tbsp olive oil for brushing phyllo pastry
1 box (1lb, 454g) phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
- Preheat oven to 425. Toss cauliflower florets, and leeks in olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Spread of large baking sheet. Cut off tops of garlic heads and drizzle with olive oil. Wrapped garlic head in parchment paper to create an enclosed pouch. Place garlic pouch and cauliflower-loaded baking sheet in oven and roast 35-45 minutes, stirring cauliflower occasionally until cauliflower and leeks are browned and garlic feels soft.
- While garlic is still warm, squeeze garlic pulp from each clove into bowl of food processor. Add cauliflower mixture and Earth Balance and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside or in fridge over night.
- Sautee onions in heated coconut oil until translucent (approx. 7-10 minutes). Add chopped mushrooms and contiunue to cook down for another 7-10 minutes. Add spinach and and sautee for 2 minutes. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan. Add in the nutritional yeast, thyme and chopped pecans. Remove from heat and set aside or in fridge overnight.
- For assembly of this torte start by greasing a pie pan with olive oil and gently laying 2 sheets of phyllo pastry on the bottom. Using a pastry brush, brush on a layer of olive oil to the pastry. Add another 2 sheets of phyllo pastry and another layer of olive oil. Repeat two more times for a total of 10 pastry sheets, alternating the corners of the pastry to overlap.
- Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for approx 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
Quinoa Salad with Pine nuts
2 cups quinoa, cooked according to packaging, let cool
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp Herbamare (or salt)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 dry pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
4-6 green onions, chopped
- Combine oil, molasses, Herbamare, lemon juice and chili flakes into a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate.
- Add quinoa and remaining ingredients into bowl and toss together. Refrigerate for at least an hour but overnight works best.
Kale Salad with Sesame Dressing
1tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 pound of kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
5 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp toasted sesame oil
crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish
1 scallion, thinly sliced, for garnish
- In a large bowl, toss kale with salt and 1 tbsp oil and rub into kale to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and toss well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and remaining oil. Pour dressing over greens, add sesame seeds and toss well. Garnish with red pepper flakes and scallions and serve.