Tag Archives: cashew cheese

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash

I’ve always wondered about the first person who decided that squash were edible. I’m talking about any kind of squash. Most are hard on the outside and could probably be used as a zombie head-bashing weapon if needed. They come in all sorts of shapes and various colors. Some have bumps. Some have squash butts. Some are as smooth as porcelain. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

But for each various type of squash out there, just think….someone said— yeah, this is probably something I can eat. How did they know? Did they try to just bite into it, skin and all? Or did they hack it in half first? Maybe it was all just some pleasant accident.

In any case, I’m thankful to whoever ate the first squash. Because of them I’ve enjoyed butternut, delicata (or sweet potato squash), acorn squash and kabocha. The most recent squash in my I’m-gonna-eat-all-the-different-squash-out-there phase is spaghetti squash.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti squash is named for exactly the reason you think. It looks like spaghetti on the inside. You know how most squash have some stringy-ness involved? Well this squash’s stringy-ness is pasta-like. Even though I looked at like every single spaghetti squash picture online. It wasn’t until I actually scraped out the insides of my first spaghetti squash that I kinda gasped and was like — whoa…so that’s why you’re called spaghetti squash. 

I was inspired by Allyson Kramer to pair the light and delicate strands of spaghetti squash with a heartier, creamy mushroom sauce. Creating a surprisingly rich comfort food. The base of the sauce is nearly identical to the one I used for this “cheesy” vegan alfredo.  It’s an easy meal to put together as the sauce can be made while the spaghetti squash is in the oven.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti Squash with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

serves 2, print recipe here

Ingredients

Squash:

  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unroasted cashews (soaked for a couple of hours or overnight if not using a high speed blender)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbs chicken-free broth concentrate (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped chives + extra for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out seeds. Coat it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes until you can pierce the inside of the squash easily with a fork. 

While the squash roasts, make the sauce by blending together the almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and chicken-free broth. Set aside. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about another 4 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add the chives and parsley and cook for another minute. Then add the set aside sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper it to taste. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous VegansWhen the squash is done, scrape out the inside “noodles” into serving bowls, top with mushroom sauce and garnish with extra chives. 

I’ve roasted spaghetti squash whole and by cutting it in half before sticking it into the oven. Hands down, I prefer cutting it in half first before roasting. This results in squash strands that are moist, but not soggy. Which is perfect for this creamy not-pasta dish. 

Do you like spaghetti squash? What is your favorite squash during squash season?

Apples with Roasted Beet Tartare, Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

When I heard that this month’s Virtual Vegan Potluck featured ingredient was beets. I went against every instinct I had and signed up to bring an appetizer that uses beets. I don’t eat beets often. I don’t cook beets. And I rarely make appetizers. What can I say. I like a challenge.

But I do enjoy eating beets. That has to count for something right? My experience with beets growing up is all canned. So this month was the month of learning how to cook beets. Not to mention learning how to handle beet “blood”. Oh yeah, when dealing with beets….there will be beet “blood”. Just imagine Daniel Day Lewis saying that.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

What I’ve learned is that beets don’t need a lot of finessing. They have a great rich and earthy taste on their own. I’ve also learned to use parchment paper when cutting beets. Because beet blood on a wood cutting board is a nightmare. But beet stained hands aren’t that bad. Sure, I could use gloves. But having beet stained hands is somewhat satisfying to me.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

This appetizer is a deconstructed beet and apple salad (without the salad-y part). Fresh, tart slices of granny smith apples are topped with creamy cashew cheese and roasted beets coated with a sweet lemon dressing. It’s all sprinkled with crunchy, candied walnuts and chopped chives.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

All the goodies are on one end of the apple slice. The other end is for holdin’. I like to eat it all in one bite so all the flavors and contrasting textures meld together. But making it a two-bite deal works also.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Even though there are multiple components to this app, it came together easily because I made the components in advance. So all I had to do was assemble it before you guys came over. It can be served cold or at room temp (my preference).

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad

Adapted from Martha Stewart. Makes about 25-30 apple slices.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets, roasted and peeled (I used this method)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 tbs maple syrup (for walnuts) + 1 1/2 tbs maple syrup (for beets)
  • 1/2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice + extra for dipping apple slices
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 1 cup cashew cheese
  • handful of chives, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Directions

Toss the walnuts with the 1 tbs of maple syrup, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and stick them in the oven at 400F for 5 minutes (I did this when I roasted the beets to save oven power). Take them out and give them a shake and put in for another 4-5 minutes. Let them cool and then store in an air tight container if not using it right away.

Cut the roasted beets into small cubes and put in a mixing bowl. Make the beet dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice and the 1 1/2 tbs of maple syrup together. I put it all in a little jar and shake it up. Coat the beet cubes with about HALF of the sweet lemon dressing. Save the other half for drizzling over the finished serving plate.

Slice the apples into pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut those slices in half so you have bite-size pieces as shown. Dip both sides of the apple pieces in a small bowl of lemon juice mixed with a little water to prevent them from browning.

Now it’s time to assemble. I put about 1/2 tbs of cashew cheese on the end of each apple piece, followed by some beet cubes and then a sprinkling of crushed candied walnuts and chives. When plating, drizzle more of the dressing on top.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

I was worried that the beet juices would drip everywhere making this a nightmarish appetizer. But the juices just kinda settled into the thick creamy cashew cheese.  But don’t worry if you spill a little. Because that’s how we roll in this house (aka, the pups will eat it up).

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Hungry for more? If you just happenstanced on this post, there is so much more vegan food to be had. Go back and check out what Cadry is serving over at Cadry’s Kitchen.

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Or hop on forward to Ashley’s place at A Cook in the Making.

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Or start from the very beginning (at Vegan Bloggers Unite) and work your way through 100+ delectable vegan beverages, appetizers, salads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts!

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Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

 Do you like beets? What’s your favorite way to cook and eat them?

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Have you heard that phrase–anything you can eat, I can eat vegan–? I can’t remember where I saw it. On a t-shirt maybe. Perhaps on someone’s blog or instagram photo. But it really resonated with me because it’s true. There are so many tasty vegan dishes and recipes out there that do an excellent job of replicating non-vegan flavors. So much so, that I wonder why animals are even still used for food.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Take these twice baked butternut squash for example. It’s a beautifully creamy butternut squash topped with a smokey “bacon”. But no cows or pigs were harmed to create it. Cashew cheese was used for the creaminess. And coconut flakes baked with liquid smoke were used for the bacon.

Vegan Coconut Bacon

The coconut bacon I used is Cobi’s from Veggietorials. This is the first coconut bacon that I’ve ever made. And it will probably be the only recipe I ever use because it is the perfect combination of smokey, sweet, salty and spicy. Since the first time I made it (mentioned in my “picture an hour” post), I have made it several times.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon

adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 4 butternut squash (about 4.5-5 pounds)
  • 5 large kale leaves washed, tough cores removed and torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup cashew cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbs chopped chives
  • 3-4 tbs panko crumbs
  • olive oil
  • garlic and onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  • enough coconut bacon (or any vegan bacon) to top each squash half to your liking.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash the butternut squash and microwave them for about 3 minutes to make them easier to cut. Halve all the squash and sprinkle each half with a little salt and pepper. Place the squash halves (open sides up) in a pan (I ended up using two pans) with about 1/4 inch of water and bake covered for about 25-35 minutes (squash should be tender when pierced with a fork). While the squash is baking, steam or saute the kale leaves with the garlic and set aside.

Take the squash out when done baking and turn oven down to 425 F. When the squash are cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl leaving a small border of butternut squash in each half to help it keep its shape. Mash up the flesh with a fork. Then thoroughly mix in the cashew cheese, chives, kale and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the emptied butternut squash halves with this mixture. In a small bowl, mix the panko crumbs with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper. I used my hands to mix everything well to make sure all the panko was seasoned.

Sprinkle the panko mixture on the stuffed butternut squash and bake uncovered at 425F for about 20-25 minutes until warmed through. Finally, top with as much coconut bacon as you desire!

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon - Luminous Vegans

This dish is a combination of so many flavors that I love. Subtle sweet squashiness from the butternut squash. A slight cheesiness from the cashew cheese. And a touch of smokey saltiness from the “bacon”. It also has wonderful contrasty textures. From the creaminess of the butternut squash filling to the crispy panko and chewy coconut bacon.

This is one of those meals that I try really hard to eat slowly otherwise I might inhale it all at once. So with each bite, I close my eyes and let all the contrasting flavors and textures mingle awhile before I dive in for another. I may or may not make audible moans of pleasure while eating this dish.

What are some ways you like to cook/eat butternut squash?

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce

This dish was inspired by a few butternut squash recipes that we’ve made in the past (butternut squash lasagna and cheesy butternut squash stuffed shells). But I succumbed to internet peer pressure and used pumpkin in place of the butternut squash. The result was a comforting pumpkin lasagna with creamy basil sauce.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

I used canned pumpkin in this because (insert myriad of reasons here: I was lazy, I’m scared of hacking into pumpkins, I didn’t have a pumpkin on hand but I had cans of it, me and canned pumpkin go way back…). But by using canned pumpkin along with pre-made tofu ricotta and cashew cheese and no-boil lasagna sheets, we had an amazingly rich and comforting meal with very little effort. And those are the kind of meals I love.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

Creamy Pumpkin Basil Lasagna

Ingredients

Pumpkin Filling

  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 15oz cans of pureed organic pumpkin
  • 2 tbs vegan broth concentrate (I used this stuff)
  • 1/4 cup cashew cheese (recipe here)

Pumpkin-Basil Sauce

  • 2 tbs vegan margarine
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 tbs pumpkin leftover in can
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of basil leaves

Other stuffs

  • 2-2 1/2 cups of tofu ricotta (I used Isa’s recipe in Veganomicon. Don’t have Veganomicon? Just google “tofu ricotta” and pick a recipe that looks good!)
  • 5 square sheets of no-boil lasagna (I can’t remember which I used but it came with its own little baking tin)
  • oil, salt and pepper

Directions

For the pumpkin filling, saute the garlic in a little oil until the garlic just softens over medium heat. Add in the pumpkin, broth concentrate and cashew cheese and stir to incorporate everything. Taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat.

For the pumpkin-basil sauce, melt the margarine in a pot over medium heat. Then mix in the flour to make a roux to help thicken the sauce. Once the margarine and flour are incorporated (it’s okay if it’s a little clumpy), slowly whisk or stir in the non-dairy milk. The sauce should thicken (see this post for pics). Next, incorporate the pumpkin and salt and pepper to taste. Take about 1/2 of the sauce and blend it with the basil leaves. Pour this back into the pot with the portion without basil. Sauce is done.

Now just assemble everything. Make the layers however you wish. I think I did sauce, noodles, pumpkin, tofu ricotta, sauce. Just make sure to save enough sauce to pour on top, otherwise some of the no-boil lasagna edges might come out a little chewy.  I also crumbled more tofu ricotta on top. Then follow the cooking directions on the no-boil lasagna. I think we baked ours at 400F for about 40 minutes mostly covered with foil until the end.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Creamy Basil Sauce -Luminous Vegans

Layers upon layers of creamified pumpkin with sweet basil!

What’s been your favorite way to use pumpkin this fall so far? Are you sick of pumpkin or do you want it all day err’day?

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Creamy Mushroom and Eggplant Strudel that Tastes Stroganoffy

We recently discovered that we get the Food Network.  So I turn it on every now and then. As long as they aren’t showing something too overtly non-vegan, I can usually put on my vegan goggles and pretend everything they are making is vegan and cruelty free. It’s like vegan food cosplay.

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The other day I saw Ina Garten making crab strudels using phyllo dough. It looked easy so I decided to make my own. Instead of crab, I used what we had in the fridge which happened to be shiitake mushrooms and an eggplant.

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The creamy part of this comes from cashew cheese, though I think the roasted eggplant played a part too. When I began mixing everything together, it straight up looked like raw pork or sausage. I’m still not sure if this was cool because it wasn’t actually pig, or not-cool because it looked like it. *shrugs*.  I continued with it anyways because I was in too deep at that point. Kinda like Walt in season one of Breaking Bad.

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This recipe makes two strudel logs (about 18-20 pieces) and was easy to make. The phyllo dough was a bit annoying at first until I said *screw it* and stopped caring if the layers weren’t perfectly placed over each other or if some pieces broke. It all worked out in the end.

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The end result was pretty bad ass. Again, much like Walt from Breaking Bad. It tasted like cream of mushroom soup or stroganoff encased in a buttery flaky crust.  I couldn’t really pinpoint the eggplant in each bite…everything just kinda blended together into a comforting creamy and savory taste in my mouth.

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Creamy Mushroom and Eggplant Strudel

Ingredients

  • 9 oz of shiitake mushrooms with tough stems removed (this is about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion
  • small eggplant (peeled, sliced into disks and ends cut off)
  • 2 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs cashew cheese (click here for the recipe)
  • 10 sheets of phyllo dough
  • melted vegan butter to brush on phyllo layers
  • bread crumbs

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Directions

Throw the mushrooms, garlic, onion and eggplant into a food processor and pulse until it’s crumbly and resembles stuffing.  Stir in the green onions.  Transfer to a lightly oiled or buttered pan and cook on medium high for about 10-12 minutes cooking away most of the liquid. As it cooks, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the cashew cheese. Let it cool so it can be handled safely. I stuck it in the fridge while I worked with the phyllo.

Lay out a piece of phyllo. Brush with melted vegan butter and then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat this four more times, laying each phyllo sheet on top of the other. It’s okay if they aren’t perfectly lined up or if some crack. Then take the mushroom/eggplant mixture and form a log about an inch or so wide on one end and roll it up. Seal the roll with melted butter. Brush more melted butter on the outside and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Score the strudel into 1 1/2 inch pieces and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. The phyllo should be golden and crispy.

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This would make a great party appetizer or snack. Or just eat it straight up by itself like we did.

Eggplant Lasagna with Ricotta and Cashew Cheese

This dish was totes inspired by my desire to start liking eggplant. I don’t hate eggplant. But if someone said–here, you can have this eggplant for dinner or you can have this *insert almost any other plant here*.  I would no doubt choose the other plant.eggplantlasagna-7588-1 Part of my indifference to eggplant is that I just don’t know what to do with the big purple bulby plant. So my first, yes first, foray into cooking with it was to make the most clichéd eggplant-y dish ever. Cheesy eggplant lasagna. This dish is stacks on stacks of earthy, tender eggplant with basil ricotta, cashew cheese and tomato marinara sauce stuffed in between. A crusty layer of panko crumbs offers a nice textural contrast to the tender eggplant. eggplantlasagna-7521-2 Since I already had my cashew cheese made and used store bought marinara sauce, it wasn’t too difficult or time consuming to put this together.  And layering lasagna is always fun!

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Eggplant Lasagna with Ricotta and Cashew Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • about 5 1/4 cups of tofu ricotta (I did 1.5X the basil-ricotta recipe in Isa’s Veganomicon. Don’t have Veganomicon? Just google “tofu ricotta” and pick a recipe that looks good!)
  • 1/2 cup of cashew cheese
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • oil (for sauteeing eggplant)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce
  • panko bread crumbs for sprinkling on top
  • 3 tomato slices (optional)

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the tofu ricotta. Stir the cashew cheese and spinach leaves into the ricotta. Next slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin layers. In a pan lightly coated with oil, cook the eggplant slices until lightly browned and mostly soft on each side (~5 minutes each side). Now it’s time to layer everything in a 2.2 qt glass baking dish (7×11). This is how I did the layers: marinara on the bottom, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, marinara, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, eggplant, lots of marinara and panko bread crumbs. eggplantlasagna-7573-5 Then I placed three slices of tomatoes brushed with a little oil on top. I baked this for 30 minutes covered with foil and then about another 30 minutes without foil. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven and how thick your eggplants are sliced. I checked the tenderness by sticking a bamboo skewer in the eggplant slices. I considered it done when the skewer easily went through all the layers. eggplantlasagna-7593-6 Was this dish enough to change my mind about eggplant? Well I bought another purple beauty this week and I’ve got my mind set on some eggplant fries.

What’s your favorite way to cook eggplant?

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Blastin’ off Vegan Mofo with Cashew Cheese

This year’s Vegan Month of Food (or Vegan MoFo) is officially here. If you don’t know what Vegan MoFo is, it’s basically vegan-food-blogging on crack.  Bloggers all over the world commit to posting about vegan food at least 20 times in one month. TWENTY times!! If you’re a blogger, or anyone who has ever felt that there’s not enough time in a day, then you realize how intimidating this can be.

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I wasn’t initially planning on participating but somehow I ended up on the official list.  I have no theme. I have no plan. Unless flyin’ by the seat of my pants is considered a plan. I figure I’ll just do what I normally do but more of it. There. Plan done.

To start off my first EVER official Vegan MoFo post, I thought I would talk about one of my favorite recipes here at Luminous Vegans. One that I go back to all the time because it’s so tasty, easy and versatile…..cashew cheese!

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I’m a big vegan cheese lush but I can’t afford to always have Daiya around.  So I usually keep a batch of this savory cheese spread in the fridge to use throughout the week and it satisfies my cheesy cravings. It can be eaten alone, on bread, with veggies or in other dishes (like mashed cauliflower or stuffed shells).cashew_cheese-4672-2

It’s quick and easy to make and ready to eat right away.  The only part that takes planning is remembering to soak the cashews before hand. It’s softer and more spread-y immediately after blending, but firms up some in the fridge. These pics were taken right after blending it.

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Cashew Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 cups soaked raw cashews, drained (A couple of hours or overnight soaking is best. But it works just as well if you soak it in hot water for 30 minutes and use a high speed blender. I use my Vitamix)
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

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 Directions

Throw everything in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Store it in an air tight container for up to a week in the fridge.

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Fluffy, Creamy…Mashed Cauliflower?

It’s time for us vegans to take veganism to the next level. Making vegan foods mimic non-vegan foods…we got that covered. Now it’s time to make plants taste like other plants. Cauliflower? Boom! It’s now mashed potatoes. Boo-yah!

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I can’t take the credit for the idea.  I heard about it awhile ago through a few of my gazillion social media-app thingies. I just never got around to trying it out until now. The idea is simple. Instead of boiling potatoes and mashing them, boil cauliflower and puree them until they are mashed cauliflower posin’ as potatoes.

Why go to the trouble of trying to mimic a plant-based dish with, well, another plant? That’s a good question. One I don’t have the answer to.  But, it tastes delicious and it’s easy to make. That’s good enough for me (aside from the given that it has be cruelty free).

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The texture of pureed cauliflower is similar to mashed ‘taters though it’s a tad lighter. Like I could eat more bowls of mashed cauliflower without feeling as stuffed as I would if it were mashed potatoes…ya feel?

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To make my mashed cauliflower creamy, I added some cashew cheese and vegan butter. I think this is my new favorite way to eat mashed potatoes. Wait, no, cauliflowers.

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower pulled or cut into smaller chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs of vegan butter + another 1 tbs
  • 2 tbs of cashew cheese (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 stalks of chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper
  • vegan bacon bits (optional)

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Directions

Boil the cauliflower until tender (about 10 minutes) and then drain. While the cauliflower is boiling, sautee the minced garlic with 1 tbs of vegan butter on medium heat for about 30 seconds to a minute until you smell a garlicky aroma. Next add the drained cauliflower and the garlic butter to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add 1 tbs of vegan butter, 2 tbs of cashew cheese and salt and pepper to taste and blend some more. Move the mashed cauliflower to a bowl and stir in the chopped green onions. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with green onions and vegan bacon bits.

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Today it’s cauliflowers actin’ all potatoe-y. Next thing we know it’ll be corn going all squashy.

Cooking a Raw Dish: Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I like raw food. I do. But sometimes when I eat a raw dish, I think—hmmm, this would taste reeeeally good if it were hot! Like temperature-hot, not Shakira-hot because I’ve eaten some pretty sexy raw dishes before. I’ve made this sundried tomato and basil manicotti (*see footnote) from VegNews in its intended raw format in the past, but this time around I decided to forgo nearly slicing my fingers with a sharp knife trying to get thin zucchini noodles and just make baked stuffed zucchini boats.

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I made the sundried tomato and basil cashew cheese as-is and stuffed them in the zucchini. I also made the raw marinara as-is except I chopped up the scooped-out zucchini insides and stirred it in. I simmered the marinara until the zucchini was cooked and then I poured it over the stuffed zucchini and baked everything covered in foil for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

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I had no clue how this would come out because I’ve never tried baking a raw dish. While the zucchini baked, I kept thinking—this is so wrong, what am I doing?? But my apprehensions were unfounded because the dish came out creamy-dreamy delicious! The filling was just as full of sundried tomato-basil flavor as it was raw. The marinara was rich and tomato-y and the zucchini was nice and tender with a subtle bite. All the individual components melded nicely as a result of the baking.

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* To get to the actual recipe, scroll down until you see “raw manicotti”. The recipe calls for 4 zucchinis and I only had 2 so I had sauce and cheese leftover.

Baked Shells Stuffed with Cheesy Butternut Squash

These baked shells are packed full of creamy, cheesy, herby butternut squash goodness in every bite. This dish is easy to throw together and easy to customize.IMG_5250 _Snapseed

First I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. Then I sliced a whole butternut squash down the middle and de-seeded it. Wash the outside of the butternut squash and nuke it for 3 minutes to make cutting easier.IMG_5202 _Snapseed

I roasted the butternut squash for about 45 minutes (until tender). While it was roasting I prepared the macaroni shells, the big kind used for stuffing. I just followed the directions on the package.IMG_5212 _Snapseed

After the butternut squash got all tender and delicious, I scraped both sides all out into a bowl. I then mixed in 1/2 cup of pre-made cashew cheese (recipe below), a handful of chopped basil and chives and salt and pepper to taste.  You don’t have to use basil or chives, get crazy and try different herbs, use more, use less…don’t use any at all. I used what happened to be in the fridge. You also don’t have to use butternut squash, try pumpkin like I did here.butternut_squash_cheese_mix

Then I stuffed ‘dem shells and placed them in a baking pan. The amount of filling I made stuffed about 12-14 shells. I poured some store-bought marinara sauce over it and baked it at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.pre_bake_shells

And then I stuffed them stuffed shells into my mouth. These were so flippin’ delicious. It’s really the cashew cheese that brings this dish to that next creamy delicious level. The recipe (below) for the cashew cheese is based on Tal Ronnen’s but without having to prepare it for days because I don’t use probiotics.
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Cashew Cheese

  • 2 cups soaked cashews, drained (A couple of hours is best but it works just as well if you only soak it for 20-30 minutes and use a high speed blender)
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Throw everything in food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Stick it in the fridge and use in meals like above or as a veggie dip or cracker spread.