Vegetarian Seasonal Favourites

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Featuring fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, they are a well-balanced meal for vegetarians and other health-conscious family members. All ingredients have been chosen with an emphasis on high antioxidants and polyphenols, filling fibre, and much-needed vitamins and minerals.

Christmas is a time for fun and family, so there\’s no point slaving over a hot stove the entire time. This set of recipes is surprisingly simple, with many items that can be prepared a day or two before, like the Fruit and Nut Stuffing and the Chocolate \”Moose.\”

These recipes are very low in fat and sugar and contain no trans or saturated fats. Featuring fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, they are a well-balanced meal for vegetarians and other health-conscious family members. All ingredients have been chosen with an emphasis on high antioxidants and polyphenols, filling fibre, and much-needed vitamins and minerals.

Add even more nutritional value by dressing up these dishes with seasonal fruit garnishes such as pomegranate seeds, cranberries, and mandarin segments. And choose quality and the freshest ingredients, including fresh nuts that provide health-promoting oils.

You\’ll enjoy full flavour and satisfaction from these guilt-free, tried-and-true seasonal favourites. So gather around, and take time to enjoy great food, friends, and family this festive season.

Fruit and Nut Stuffing

This stuffing is perfect for filling baked vegetables such as Stuffed Zucchini.

3/4 cup (175 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onion
2 cups (500 mL) sliced celery
1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 mL) sea salt
Pepper to taste
3 tsp (15 mL) dried sage
1 tsp (5 mL) dried marjoram
1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) dried rosemary
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) apple cider vinegar
4 to 8 cups (1 to 2 L) of 1/2-inch (1-cm) whole-grain bread cubes
4 cups (1 L) chopped green apples (peel if non-organic)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) raisins
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) lightly toasted walnuts, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) vegetable broth

Cook onions and celery in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Stir in salt, pepper, and herbs and then add apple cider vinegar. Stir well and remove from heat. In a very large mixing bowl, combine bread cubes, chopped apples, raisins, and walnuts. Add cooked onion and celery along with all the oil and toss well until combined. Stir in half of the vegetable broth. Continue to add small amounts of broth until texture of mixture is soft and moist throughout. (You may not use it all depending on the dryness of the bread used.) Taste and add further seasonings as desired. Spoon into oiled casserole dish, cover well, and bake at 350 F (180 C) for 45 minutes.

Serves 10.

Stuffed Zucchini

This versatile recipe can be made fancier by substituting acorn squash (takes longer to cook, about 30 to 40 minutes), or simpler by using bell peppers (cooks in 15 minutes).

4 large zucchini
4 to 8 cups (1 to 2 L) Fruit and Nut Stuffing

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and place open-end down in oven dish. Pour 1/2 cup (125 mL) water into dish, cover well with foil, and bake at 400 F (200 C) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn zucchini and fill with stuffing. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until fork enters zucchini flesh easily. Serve each zucchini on a dinner plate with Mushroom Gravy, festive vegetables, and salad.

Serves 4 to 8.

Comforting Mushroom Gravy

The key to success with gravy is to keep stirring. Ignore the doorbell and the phone, and you\’ll end up with lump-free gravy.

2 1/2 cup (725 mL) water, divided
1 Tbsp (15 mL) tamari soy sauce
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped onion
2 cups (500 mL) finely sliced crimini mushrooms (or any large mushroom with a brown skin)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups (500 mL) hot water
1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic granules or powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp (1 mL) vegetable seasoning salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh ground black pepper

Heat 1/2 cup (125 mL) water with soy sauce in fry pan or large pot. Add onions and mushrooms. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Heat remaining water and mix with flour. Add to cooked onion mixture, then add seasonings. Stir constantly over medium heat until thick. For smoother gravy, blend using a blender or hand-immersion blender.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 mL).

Christmas Cranberry Rooibos Drink

Simmer this festive cranberry tea on the back burner and the house will fill with nostalgic aromas.

3 cups (750 mL) cranberry juice
3/4 cup (175 mL) orange juice concentrate
3 cups (750 mL) brewed Rooibos tea
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
Fruit slices or whole cranberries for garnish

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan or slow cooker. Warm through over medium heat and lower temperature to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves before garnishing with orange slices, pomegranate seeds, cranberries, or fresh mint.

Serves 6.

Chocolate \”Moose\”

Garnish this vegan dessert with mandarin orange sections and fair trade organic dark chocolate orange pieces.

1 Tbsp (15 mL) soy milk
7 oz (200 g) semi-sweet or dairy-free chocolate chips
2 10-oz (300-g) packages soft silken tofu
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 125 mL) soy milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) orange or coffee liqueur (optional)

Pour soy milk into heavy saucepan. Add chocolate and heat slowly over low heat, stirring frequently. In blender or food processor, blend together 2 packages of tofu. When chocolate is fully melted, pour into food processor with tofu and mix until thoroughly blended. Add up to 1/4 cup (60 mL) liqueur or flavourings (vanilla, hazelnut, amaretto). Pour into decorative glasses and chill for up to 2 or 3 days. Serve cold.

Serves 4 to 6.

Sally Errey presents vegetarian recipes every month in alive\’s Whole Foods Kitchen column.

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