Creamy Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Chickpea Casserole

Hello everyone! I write this post still full from eating this recipe for dinner. I was looking to use the squash I bought last weekend, and I had a vision of making something like Mac & Cheese, only using vegetables instead of pasta. This recipe was delicious for a Sunday night dinner, paired with some herb-infused quinoa.

1/3 cup cashews, soaked*
4 cups peeled and cubed squash, such as butternut or kabocha
2 cups brussels sprouts, bottoms removed and halved
1 small onion, sliced or diced
2 tbsp oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
3-4 tbs nutritional yeast (or more)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups bread crumbs** (if using a finely ground bread crumb, 1 cup may be enough. Mine were fresh, and as such there was more air in my measuring cup)
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste

*Tip: forgot to soak your cashews? Simply pour boiling water over top of them for a few minutes, drain, and you’re good to go.
**Tip: freeze the ends of your bread and throw them in a food processor when you have enough to make a bag of bread crumbs. I keep a bag ready to go in the freezer.

I started by preheating the oven to 400*F. I placed the raw squash, brussels sprouts and onion in an oven-safe casserole dish and tossed them with the 2 tbsp oil, and about 1 teaspoon of salt. This mixture baked uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes, and I occasionally stirred the vegetables so that the top didn’t burn.

While the vegetables were in the oven I used my blender to puree the soaked cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. This is a simple cashew sauce that can be played around with.

In a small bowl I mixed together the bread crumbs, 1 tbp oil, and some pepper.

When the squash was tender (a fork inserted easily), I removed the dish from the oven and stirred in the chickpeas and cashew sauce, and baked the casserole for another 10 minutes. I decided that I didn’t want to risk the chickpeas drying out over the 40 minute roasting period, so I added them later.

I spread the bread crumb mixture on the top of the vegetables and broiled the casserole at 500*F until the top was golden.

Another one-dish delight.


Curry Hummus

Well, hello! Nice of you to stop by. Today I’d like to present to you a delicious gem of a cookbook I found at a second-hand book store. The book is called Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by the Canadian Queen of Vegan, Dreena Burton.

I had no intentions of buying any books as I went into the shop Fair’s Fair, located in Calgary. Tom was looking for a particular book that he knew they had, and I immediately bee-lined it for the cookbook section while waiting for him to find his book. My jaw dropped when I saw one of Dreena Burton’s books, as I have wanted to own one for a long time. I was first introduced to her cookbooks two years ago, when I lived with a woman for a short while, who owned the book Let Them Eat Vegan. I poured over this book and drew a lot of inspiration from her. You can find blog posts of mine from 2013, when I experimented with the recipes from that book.

I have since discovered that she has written several books, has an amazing website, and is soon to release a new cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. One of the many things I admire about her is raising a vegan family. I think it is important for children to learn about veganism early in life: to normalize it and promote its lifestyle.

I already knew that every recipe would be a total hit, but I am completely amazed by the creativity and variety of recipes in this book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. There are some really tasty-looking tofu recipes, and the hummus recipes look to-die-for. That’s why I started off with this lovely variation on a classic dip.

Here is my experience with the recipe Curry Chickpea Hummus with Pappadums.

2 cups chickpeas
Lemon Juice from 1 medium lemon (classic me, adding way more lemon than called for)
2 tbsp seed butter (original recipe called for cashew butter)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flax oil (or olive oil, as the recipe calls for)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp agave nectar (sweetener)
Pepper, to taste
4-5 tbs water (I found I needed more like 7-8)
2-3 tbsp raisins or currants (don’t skip this!)

I blended all the ingredients, except for the raisins, in a blender until smooth. I added the water little by little until the hummus was at the consistency whereby a cracker would dip in without breaking. I added the raisins and pulsed the blender to break them up a little.

I made my own pita chips by baking pita bread in slices, drizzled with olive oil an dashed with salt, at 350*F for 5-7 minutes on each side. I do this whenever my pita bread is stale and about to go bad. It’s a great way to quickly use it up without throwing any away.


Again, this humus is fantastic. I’d have no trouble at all polishing off one batch to myself in a few days. I would never suggest that you don’t double it!

Christmas Feast 2013

Christmas at my house traditionally involves my stepfather pulling off a giant turkey dinner for the family; it wouldn’t be Christmas without bacon roasted on the turkey and sausage in the stuffing. This was the first Christmas since I became flexitarian (vegan with exceptions here and there), and I wanted to make a festive vegan dish to contribute to the plant-based options on the table. I decided to make a Festive Savoury Tart with Mushroom Gravy. I got the recipe for the tart from Dreena Burton, who I follow on Facebook. She included this recipe in her cookbook called Let Them Eat Vegan. I do not own this cookbook yet, but had access to it over the summer while living with another vegan. Here is my adaptation of her Festive Chickpea Tart recipe.

Festive Savoury Tart
Ingredients for the pie shell
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature
4-7 tbsp cold water

Ingredients for the filling
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups chickpeas, with 1/3 cup reserved
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce (ideally tamari instead, but I don’t know where to find it)
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, toasted (ideally use walnuts)
10 oz spinach, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Fresh parsley

Ingredients for the topping
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce (again, ideally tamari)
2 tbsp pecans or walnuts

Mushroom Gravy
2 shallots, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3-4 tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp thyme
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper

First off, I made the pie dough. It is important to note that this recipe needs some tweaking, as it was quite difficult to roll out, and I ended up pressing it in with my fingers. While the crust stayed together when the tart was being served, I am still not convinced that this recipe is the best approach to vegan pie crust.

To make the dough I tossed together the four, sugar, and salt, then cut in the coconut oil with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembled sand. I added the water little by little until the dough easily forms a ball. I think I required a little extra water to do so. I formed a ball with the dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap, flattened it into a disk, and refrigerated it for an hour.

Next came the filling for the tart. I began by toasting the pecans for 8-9 minutes in an oven of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and let them cool. Next, I sauteed the onion, celery, garlic, and salt and pepper in a pan with the coconut oil. I let them cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion was soft and golden.

In a food processor, I pulsed the chickpeas (not including the reserved 1/3 cup) with the lemon juice, soy sauce, sage, and sauteed mixture, leaving the mixture slightly chunky; you do not want it to look like hummus. I added the toasted pecans and briefly pulsed it to break up the nuts. I transferred the mixture to a bowl and stirred in the spinach, cranberries, parsley, thyme, and reserved chickpeas. Then, I transferred the filling into a pie shell, with the pie dough pressed in evenly.

On the top of the tart I sprinkled the topping ingredients. The pecans will toast in the oven, so there is no need to toast them beforehand.

The tart was baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Next came the mushroom gravy. I sauteed the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, then added the sliced mushrooms and browned them for 10 minutes. I added the flour, reduced the heat, and cooked for another five minutes. Little by little I whisked in the vegetable stock and added the thyme. The gravy simmered for 30 minutes, then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. If the gravy had been too thin for my liking, I would have added more flour by mixing it with water in a little bowl, then adding it to the mixture (this reduces the likelihood of lumps in the gravy).

The savoury tart was eaten by all at the Christmas meal, and I was able to enjoy the festive flavours without having any turkey. Even though this time of year has proven to be more difficult to eat vegan (with all the family get-togethers and all), it was nice to share this dish with my family.


Chickpea Curry

I originally tasted this curry recipe when my friend Kristy Benz made it back when we lived together during spring school at Bishop’s [insert nostalgic moment]. It turned out that not only did I own the same cookbook with the recipe for that curry, but I used to be obsessed with it back when I was a pre-teen vegetarian. The thing that is so great about the cookbook is that it has pictures of the dishes, allowing your eyes to decide what looks good. It also has recipes varying in difficulty, making it a really useful book for any cook. It is called The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, and many of the recipes just so happen to be vegan.

My dad had a pot luck at work this past week, and asked me to make a casserole of some sort. I opted for this chickpea curry, and served it on top of a bed of rice, but the recipe claims that it is also delicious inside of a wrap. It could make a good main dish, or a side dish. Also keep in mind that this recipe is saucier than it looks!

2 onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil (I used a bit more)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 tsp garam masala

I chopped the onions into small pieces, and peeled and crushed the garlic. Meanwhile, a pan was heating with the oil in it, and I sauteed the onions and garlic until they were clear and tender. I added all the spices, except for the garam masala, and let the mixture cook for one minute. I added the chickpeas and the tomatoes and gave the pot a big stir to combine all the ingredients. Covering the pot, an stirring occasionally, it simmered on low heat for 20 minutes, until the chickpeas were soft. Lastly, I added the garam masala and let the curry cook for another 10 minutes.

Curry without a worry.