Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Amazing Vegan Casserole (part 1)

That's what a vegan casserole looks like. No eggs, no milk, no butter - just amazing "fruit of the earth" goodness. The same way that vegan cookies and cupcakes fascinate me, so does this casserole, though it also inspires me.

Tonight's dinner was Chickpea Broccoli Casserole from VwaV. There are three things I remember about the first two times I made this:

1. How bizarre I thought it was, but how good Isa made it sound
2. How revolting my mother found it when I told her about it on the phone
3. How good it was the first time and how much better it was the second time

I mentioned when I provided my weekly menu that I had a few tricks up my sleeve for this third time. In addition to the delightful discovery that my food processor is much better at mashing chickpeas than I am, I found that this trick would really only be possible with Mr. CuisinArt's help. The recipe calls for 3 cans of chickpeas - this time, I subbed a can of cannellini beans for one can of chickpeas and it resulted in an even creamier, butterier taste. I didn't use nearly as much broth as the recipe called for, which resulted in this one being a little drier than last time. Even still, it was as tasty as ever and smelled so good!
Mine kind of fell apart in my zeal to get it out of the casserole and into my belly.
Mister's fared a little better than mine.

When I was at Whole Foods today, I did something I have never done before: I picked up a garnet yam. When I was little, I fell into the same trap I imagine most little girls fall into - if my daddy liked it, it must be good. So, until I grew some tastebuds, I followed my father in his love for canned candied yams and eggnog from a carton. I have since realized that eggnog is disgusting (probably more in thought than taste - just knowing what it's made of makes my stomach turn) and that there are probably better ways to eat a yam/sweet potato than soaked in brown sugar and out of a can.

I realize that yams and sweet potatoes are not actually the same thing, or even close, for that matter. Nevertheless, they are used interchangeably in most recipes which resulted in my ponderings. I don't know why, but I have recently developed an impressive desire to eat a yam or a sweet potato. A real one, one that I hand-selected at a market, took home, and cooked without sugar of any kind. I want to eat it as food, not dessert. The problem, however, is Mister's unadulterated hatred for this tuber, which without exception has caused me to substituted carrots where recipes called for sweet potatoes. So my plan is to roast it and let Mister decide if he wants to share with me. If not, I figure I can probably eat the whole thing by myself - it's not that big.

I have recently felt more adventurous than usual - I'm pretty sure I can blame it on VeganMoFo because all the other blogs I've been reading have really gotten my mind working. Also, my father sent me an email with a bunch of "famous" blogs about food, some vegan (VeganYumYum and some others were on there) and some decidedly not. I have come up with a list of things with which I am currently unacquainted (for the most part) but wish to know better:

1. Sweet Potatoes/Yams - I'll let you know how that goes.

2. Squash (specifically acorn or butternut) - My sister asked me for some butternut squash recipes because she participates in a CSA out in Arizona (Tucson) and she got a ton of butternut and doesn't know what to do with it. Neither do I. I made a butternut soup once and it wasn't terrible, but once again, Mister hates squash so we don't eat it, aside from the occasional zucchini.

3. Avocado - that Pasta della California recipe got me thinking...since I can't actually think of anything else to do with avocado, besides turn it into guacamole, and we're really not dip people, I'll probably just make that pasta again, but get a ripe avocado this time.

4. Brussels Sprouts - if anyone EVER told me I would eat these on purpose, I would have laughed my way to 6-pack abs. However, I've seen a ton of recipes sprouting up (yes, that was intentional) in magazines and my cookbooks, and when I stood in front of their bin today at WF, I had to admit, they are actually kind of pretty. Once again, it appears to be Isa winning me over to the dark side with awesome recipes for these little baby cabbages. Also, I remember my cousin going through a phase where she absolutely could not get enough of them, and she and I have very similar taste in food/diet. Besides, since I recently discovered that I enjoy big cabbages, I figure it's probably not all that different.

5. This weird-ass chocolate hummus spread - I have no idea why this is so appealing, but I really want to try it. Thanks, Dad.

6. Instant Coffee - not to drink, thank you very much. Anyone who knows me knows it's even a struggle for me to find happiness in pre-ground packages of coffee which is why I have a coffeemaker that not only can be programmed to wake me with my coffee, but also has the ability to grind big ol' beans immediately before brewing the coffee. Anyway, I want to bake with it. I've seen dozens of cookie, (cup)cake, and bread recipes calling for instant coffee, and I've never made them because I don't stock instant coffee because I think it's gross. Well, I did the best I could today and picked up International Coffee Suisse Mocha instant coffee. I really just couldn't bring myself to get regular - I have horrible memorymares about my dear mother drinking that Folgers crap when I was a kid.

Anyway, I'll let you know how the sweet potato/yam thing goes...

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