“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau
In preparing for the Thanksgiving week of feasting, I recently found an absolutely addictive and delicious vegan version of a white bean, kale and sausage soup recipe from Veggie Society using puréed acorn squash and leek as the broth base, and I have happily made four times already! Like me, most people are familiar with sweet roasted butternut squash tossed with fall spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, but to my surprise the acorn squash purées into a very smooth and surprisingly buttery soup base with a mild sweetness which pairs really nicely with fresh Italian spices like rosemary and thyme. I love the simplicity of cooking with ten ingredients or less, and I especially love a good soup to stock up the fridge all week, and this is one is going to be my new standby this year!
- 1 acorn squash, seeded and diced into chunks
- 1 bag or bunch of Tuscan kale, chopped
- 15 oz can Cannellini beans, extra can if you like it chunkier
- 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
- 1 package of any vegetarian Italian sausage (we prefer Trader Joe’s brand but also enjoy Lightlife brand), sliced
- 2 TB Better Than Bouillon soup base OR 10 cups vegetable broth
- 1 TB fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 TB olive oil
Sauté leeks with olive oil and garlic in a soup pot on medium heat until wilted and started to caramelize. Toss in acorn squash along with rosemary, thyme and bay leaves then add vegetable broth or 10 cups water with Better Than Bouillon and stir everything together. Once boiling, turn down to simmer and let cook for 25 minutes, or until squash is soft. Remove bay leaves then use hand blender to purée everything into a very smooth thick consistency. Stir in the beans, sausage and kale, then let simmer for another 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. According to original recipe your can also add lemon, red pepper or liquid smoke for additional flavor. So easy!
Merry Christmas and Mazel Tov on spending quality time with your families! Yesterday we hosted an impromptu Christmas Eve complete with homemade hot cocoa and a Costco-sized Bulleit bourbon (thanks Mark Zar!) and I finally got to try out a new recipe that I’ve been meaning to make since our flop of a Thanksgiving. I had heard rave reviews about Costco’s 7 Superfoods salad in a bag concoction and let me tell you this rivals it tenfold! This raw kale and brussel sprout salad does best marinating in the dressing a few hours before serving. I also threw in some sliced red pepper for a festive theme and have thus dubbed it it’s aptly named title.
CHRISTMAS KALE SALAD
1 bunch black kale, sliced thinly
12 oz brussel sprouts, finely grated
1 cup slivered almonds toasted in a pan for 3-4 minutes on medium heat
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan or Asiago cheese
2 red peppers, julienned
Juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Use a hand blender to purée the salad dressing. Toss all ingredients with dressing in a large bowl and let sit in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. I used a food processor with the grater attachment for the brussel sprouts.
Well Thanksgiving was a bust this year. Asher started morning preschool two weeks ago, and by the end of his first week he had a raging fever which quickly spread throughout the house and resurged in some new capacity every few days until we were all forced to raise the white flag and give up on seeing the outside world for six days. Both boys developed inner ear infections and were miserable, and Robby and I stayed up every night comforting, cradling, medicine dosing, and crying ourselves into sleep-deprived naps on the floor next to the crib. Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted on white bread and whiskey with baby monitors and Advil on hand, and we were feeling mighty sorry for ourselves.
While being home with sick little ones especially on a long holiday weekend really blows, it was also kind of the best and I have a lot to be grateful for this year. In just this one week, our soon-to-be-one-year-old Everett is now crawling, eating, and blubbering like a real toddler. He hates the sight of baby food, and he only wants to play with legos, crawl through tunnels, and haphazardly shovel an entire banana into his mouth. What happened?! Are we just too busy to notice the small changes that happen every day? Or did he really just wake up and decide to literally develop overnight? As a family, we were able to heal and grow together this past week, and my husband and I were reminded that we can pull through the worst of days relying only on each other. What a concept and test of marriage!
Last night was the first night all four of us slept well and happy, and in celebration I finally cooked a meal! This kale chickpea red pepper stew is so delicious and nutritious, and is best served on top of a bed of quinoa. The entire cost to serve 4 people is around $5.
KALE CHICKPEA RED PEPPERS
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 bunch kale, roughly torn from stems
1 red pepper, julienned
In large pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Stir in kale and cook for 5-6 minutes. This fry will give the kale a little bit of a roasted taste. Then add vegetable broth, red peppers and chickpeas and cook another 7 – 8 minutes. Serve over quinoa, pasta, or cous cous for a delicious side dish or main entree. You can also top with red pepper flakes or parmesan for a bit of Italian flavor.
There is nothing quite like a fresh tomato: whether it be the crunchy, sweet cherry tomatoes of early summer or the hearty colorful heirlooms of fall – they are a staple year-round in our household. While tomatoes are botanically a fruit, they are used as vegetables in the culinary world which means they cross over into a variety of dishes! This week the grocery store had some enticingly large beefsteak tomatoes and I couldn’t resist trying this new recipe for Italian stuffed tomatoes. The recipe yielded 8 very large stuffed tomates, and the total cost was around $11. Asher loves beans and pesto, so the stuffing also doubles as a great vegetarian toddler meal! I usually use green peppers for “stuffed” dishes, but these were SERIOUSLY good. You could also make this as a cold salad dish for lunch by keeping the kale leaves fresh and not baking the tomates.
ITALIAN STUFFED PESTO TOMATOES – VEGAN!
8 large beefsteak tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans
1 can artichoke hearts in water
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup pesto (either fresh or store-bought)
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Drain the cannellini beans and arthichoke hearts and toss in a mixing bowl along with the pesto. Slice the tops off your beefsteak tomates about 1/4” down. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides of the tomatoes then add to your bean mixture. Remove ribs from the kale and roughly chop the leaves, then cook in a large saute pan on medium heat for 5 minutes. When the leaves are wilted, add the pesto bean mixture and cook for another 5 minutes. Use a tablespoon spoon to stuff the tomatoes until they are overflowing, then bake in a casserole dish for 15 minutes. You want the tomates to stay firm enough for serving, but the cook time allows the flavors to marinate nicely.
Today’s post is not about smoothies but here is a funny picture of Asher drinking with 4 straws.
Today’s recipe is actually for a vegan green shepard’s pie that I invented a few years ago and dammit I think I deserve an award for it. If I were to audition for a vegetarian Masterchef, it would be with this recipe. “Spectular, local, fresh, delicious!” The kale makes this dish creamy and light enough for summer but also a hearty dish for the winter.
I love kale. It can be eaten raw, sauteed, pureed, or baked into chips. Nutritionally, it is amazing for you. It is dense with iron, has enough vitamin A, C and K for an entire day, and has more calcium than a glass of milk. I hope this becomes a favorite go-to recipe for you too.
GREEN SHEPHARD’S PIE
1 bunch of green kale
1 can of artichoke hearts in water
1 bag of frozen soybeans
1 medium onion
2 large potatoes
1/2 stick of butter (optional)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes). Mash then add salt and butter to taste. Dice the onions and saute in with olive oil or cooking spray for 3 minutes. Roughly tear the kale from the stems into small pieces and add to pan and sauté until wilted. Drain the artichoke hearts and slice hearts into quarters. Then add entire bag of frozen soy beans and artichokes to pan and sauté for another 5-10 minutes until greens are tender. Pour the kale mixture into a casserole dish and distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top then bake for 30 minutes. I like to turn on the broiler the last 2 minutes to ensure the top gets a nice crunch.