I think at least a few of my friends are scratching their heads at my new obsession with vegan cooking. Here is the truth; it isn’t exactly the vegan I am obsessed about, but more just having an in-depth go at figuring out how much essential nutrition I can get from a vegan meal; the kind of nutrition that one would normally think can only be obtained from an animal. And then there is another fascination that comes with vegan cooking- to see where you can find the essential “comfort” ingredients. That brings me to my current dating spree with nuts, especially the rich, oily ones. I am about a recipe away from being convinced that nuts take the healthy lead in providing the comfort essentials we all love and our tastebuds count on. Move over butter, cheese, and cream, because I just made an entree that takes the “comfort” of creamy mushroom ravioli filling, and turns it on its gluten free, dairy free, vegan ear.
roasted zucchini with “creamy” mushroom stuffing
Makes 4 entrees
1 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped white onion
¼ teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup chopped leek, white and pale green parts
½ pound crimini, morel, chanterelle or other wild mushroom, chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
Paprika for garnish
Put the cashews in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover and let soak at least two hours and as much as overnight in the refrigerator. When you are about ready to prepare your meal, take your zucchini halves and scrape out the seedy center with a teaspoon or melon baller, until you are left with four long zucchini “boats” that can be filled with the stuffing. Brush with a little olive oil (optional) and roast in a preheated 350F oven for about 10 minutes or until they start to become just barely tender. Set aside.
Sautee the onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, and mushrooms in one tablespoon of the oil, until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned. Try not to brown the onions too much as it will overpower the flavor too much. Drain the cashews, and blend in a food processor along with the water, remaining oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend until it is smooth and creamy, but still has a little grainy texture. Add the mushroom mixture and pulse just until well incorporated. Stuff the zucchini “boats” with a generous amount of stuffing and sprinkle with a little paprika for color. Return to the oven, and roast for another 10-20 minutes, or until stuffing is warmed through and starting to brown on top. NOTE: If you just warm the stuffing and don’t over cook, it remains more nutritious, you essentially have a raw nut stuffing. Let cool for a minute, cut zucchini halves into two pieces or leave whole. Serve with tomato sauce, over warm tomato-basil concasse, or just by itself. I served mine over a vegan cauliflower and white bean succotash.
TIP: you can save the seedy insides of the zucchini in an airtight container and add to a smoothie for some extra nutrition.