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.

Ingredients
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.

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Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

What is Puttanesca, you might ask? I found myself wondering the same thing when I was flipping through “The Everyday Squash Cook” by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight, and Kerry Knight. This Canadian cookbook covers many uses for squash and includes vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous dishes. It wasn’t until I had made the recipe that I discovered that puttanesca apparently means whore, so this dish translates to Spagetti Squash made by a whore…. I don’t find that very flattering, but the dish is great. Spaghetti Puttanesca is traditionally tangy, made with olives and capers.

The exciting part about this cookbook is learning tips for cutting squash. I had a bad experience while I was at Cordon Bleu, when I was doing my 4 hours of “sous-chef-ing” for their signatures restaurant. I was involved in the prep, and was told to cut 3-4 GIANT squashes in pieces (the squashes were at least a foot long each ). I had such a hard time getting the knife to pierce into the squash, let alone get it to move. Long story short, another chef eventually helped me, but I really could have used the tips from this cookbook back then.

Here is the recipe – keeping in mind that I report on my blog what I did, so the recipe is often at least a bit different than the original recipe. I like to do things like double garlic and herbs/spices.

Serves: 3

Ingredients
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28oz) tomato sauce
1/4 heaping cup chopped and pitted mixed olives (black and green)
2 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
2 tbsp chopped basil (I used the entirety of a store-bought package)
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted spaghetti squash, forked into noodles (I used two small squashes)

First I cooked the squash. I preheated the oven to 400*F. I cut a small piece off of one face of the squash so that I could place the squash on it’s back and not have it roll. Next, I cut the squash in half length-wise by piercing the squash, then hammering the knife with a meat tenderizer (aha! one of these does come in handy in vegan cooking!), which let the blade cut while I hammered. I made sure to hammer the flat part of the blade, rather than a handle. If it wasn’t obvious, a big knife is necessary here.

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Next, I scooped out the guts with a spoon. I lightly oiled the exposed flesh and placed each half face-down onto a cookie sheet. The squash was baked for 20 minutes, until a fork inserted easily. Depending on the size, the squash may need about 5-8 extra minutes. The squash cooled for about 10-15 minutes, and I pulled out all the flesh with a fork, dragging it long-wise down the squash, and letting the noodles fall into a large bowl. I set the squash aside.

In a medium sauce-pan, I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onion until soft, then added the garlic for one minute. I added the tomato sauce, olives, capers, basil, hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I re-heated the noodles in a non-stick frying pan, and served the tomato sauce on top of the noodles. I served this dish with a spinach salad and a baguette.

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