Sunday, January 04, 2015

Waterless Acorn Squash and Potato topped with Vegan "Cheese" Sauce (Almost No Added Fat)

I have never cooked squash in a waterless fashion (put in a high quality Saladmaster pan with no water, oil, or anything else; bring to medium high heat, covered, until the vapor lock starts to rattle; then reduce heat to low so the lock doesn't rattle) and decided to try it tonight. As I started working on this dish, I was reminded of the vegan "cheese" sauce that I described this past April, and thought it would go well atop the vegetables. I ended up making a one-course meal, as follows.

Ingredients - Vegetables
  • Acorn squash cut into half, seeds removed from central cavity, then each half quartered for a total of eight pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion cut into approximately 1 1/2" x 1/2" strips
  • 10 broccoli florets (I could have used 15 or 20, but this was all that I had)
  • 4 small Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes

Ingredients - Sauce
  • 1/8 cup raw cashews
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t onion powder (I didn't have this, so skipped)
  • 1/4 t garlic powder (I didn't have this on hand, so used an equivalent amount of dried minced garlic)
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 1/6 cup roasted red bell pepper (we had a red bell pepper, useful for adding to the "cheese"'s color, but my wife had chopped and stored it so I didn't initially find it; instead, I used yellow bell pepper that I roasted and only later when I found the red pepper slices did I throw a few slices in for color)

  1. I put all of the vegetable ingredients into my large Saladmaster stainless stock pan in the order above, with the squash skin-side down, and heated the pan on medium high, covered.
  2. Within a few minutes, the vapor lock started vibrating; I then reduced the heat to low until the vapor lock was quiet, and cooked for about a half hour.
  3. In the meantime, I prepared the sauce. I started with a raw yellow bell pepper, so roasted it over my gas burner by placing it directly on the flame and periodically turning it till it was fairly uniformly charred black. I put it in a brown paper bag, closed the bag, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then put it under running water, gently rubbing it to get the charred skin off. I cut it open and put the requisite amount in a blender, discarding seeds and internal membranes.
  4. I added the rest of the sauce ingredients to the blender and blended on high for maybe 15 seconds till homogenized.
  5. I then had my daughter help create the magic of thickening the sauce by heating on a medium heat and constantly stirring. In the past, 2 or 3 minutes later I had a nice and thick sauce, but for some reason it took maybe 4 or 5 minutes this time.
  6. I served the vegetables with sauce on top (my Dad doesn't eat garlic, so I served him the vegetables without the sauce), and put three thin strips of the roasted pepper on each of the plates.

Dinner came out better than I expected. My wife, daughter, and I loved the cheese sauce, as we have in the past. My wife really liked the meal and my daughter ate reasonably well. I thought that the vegetables could have had a bit more inherent flavor, even though the sauce compensated. I didn't know if the slow cooking would have made the squash skin enjoyable to eat, but it wasn't the case, so each piece of squash required an easy cutting away from the skin with the fork. The squash and potato were fine but could have been a bit softer; we had seconds after letting the waterless cooking go another 10 minutes or so, and that made a good difference.

The cheese sauce was quite good. Though the meal wasn't a no-added-fat one, the only significant fat source was the 1/8 cup of cashews. As I discussed last April, this only contributes about 7g of fat, and that for 3 servings (really more, as I saved some for my daughter's lunch). Therefore, I feel justified, at an addition of about 2g of fat per serving, to call this "almost no added fat". The sauce is, after all, a Food for Life recipe!

Ideas for the future

I need to keep garlic and onion salt in stock! I don't enjoy peeling winter squashes, so next time, for me, I'd favor frozen squash pieces or otherwise prepared pieces. It would be fun to use a variety of squashes and perhaps pumpkins, and maybe even serve with some roasted pumpkin seeds. Doubling of the broccoli would be nice and ingredients like black beans, chestnuts, and/or a bit of corn would, I think, enhance the meal.

I should make this sauce more often. It would go well with many ingredients. My wife, who doesn't like "cheese" in general (she didn't like cheese before she was vegan), likes this kind of nut-based cheese.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home