christmas

FESTIVE STUFFED PEPPERS/SQUASHES with MARSALA CREAM SAUCE

FESTIVE STUFFED PEPPERS/SQUASHES with MARSALA CREAM SAUCE

Christmas presents wrapped. Fridge and pantry bursting with food. The house is looking very festive. We are ready for some chilling, celebrating, eating and socializing. Christmas Eve day will be all about cooking for the evening. I love spending hours in the kitchen, pots on the cooker, gorgeous smells coming out of the oven. No rush. Yes I cook loads on Christmas Eve and just reheat and scoop on Christmas Day. Just as we did at home.

Kids love it, they can enjoy their presents without much of an interaction, me and my husband love it as we can spend time with them. And there are no mountains of dishes to wash and no feeling too stuffed to move. Perfect.

If you are still struggling to decide what to make for a veggie festive meal here is an idea. My stuffed peppers or if you prefer individual squashes. Nuts and cranberries with a hint of orange make a perfect festive combination! To make it easier, you can go for a wild rice mix, however those are usually made with white rice. I prefer brown rice therefore I went ahead with cooking my own wild and brown rice separately. The sauce is so yummy, my daughter said she could drink it! I will admit there was a bit of a fight over the last spoonful. it feels very luxurious. The best thing this meal will not make you feel heavy at all. Enough room for pudding.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xmas-stuffed-peppers


FESTIVE STUFFED PEPPERS/SQUASHES with MARSALA CREAM SAUCE

Serves 4-6

stuffed peppers/squashes
80g (1/2cup) wild rice
90g (1/2 cup) brown basmati rice
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 tsp dried thyme (2 tsp fresh)
60g (1/2 cup) macadamia nut halves
60g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries
40g (1/2 cup) flaked almonds
1 orange, zest and juice
3 large bell peppers, red or yellow
or 4 small squashes

marsala cream sauce
125ml (1/2 cup) Marsala wine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs tomato puree
sprig of fresh thyme
125mml (1/2 cup) vegetable stock
70g (1/2 cup) cashew nuts
250ml (1 cup) water

baby spinach 100g per person

  1. Cook the wild rice and brown rice according to package instructions in separate sauce pans.
  2. If you are using squash, slice the tops of and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Wrap them in some aluminium foil, leaving the top opening exposed. Place in a 180C oven for 30min.
  3. Next prepare the stuffing.
  4. In frying or saute pan heat about 60g (1/4c) water, add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and thyme. Saute till softened about 10min, adding more water if needed. Place in a bowl.
  5. Add the nuts, cranberries, juice and zest of the orange and both the wild and brown rice. Mix together.
  6. If using peppers, cut them in half lengthways, remove the core, membranes and seeds.
  7. Stuffed the peppers, try to get couple of flaked almonds or macadamias on the top.
  8. Place the peppers in a baking dish, add 80ml (1/3cup) of water to the dish, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 25min at 180C. Uncover and bake further 5min to get the nuts on top browned.
  9. If using the squash: after baking them for 30 min remove from the oven, stuff and cover in aluminium foil. Place back into the oven and bake for 20 min, uncover and bake further 5 min.
  10. While the peppers or squash are baking prepare the sauce. In a medium saute pan, bring the Marsala wine to simmer, add the thinly sliced onion and a thyme sprig. Cover and cook for about 20min or until the onions are soft.
  11. Add the tomato puree, cook for 1 min. Next add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer. Switch the heat off.
  12. In a high speed blender combine the onion mixture (thyme and all), cashews and water. Process till smooth. Pour back into the sauce pan and bring to a boil, turn down and let the sauce thicken, adjust seasoning. Don’t let this cook too long the sauce will thicken too quickly.
  13. Wilt the spinach in a large saute pan.
  14. Place a portion of spinach on the plate, top with the pepper and pour some sauce around (or over the top of the pepper). If serving the squash, serve the spinach on the side.
  15. Enjoy :)

xmas-stuffedpumpkin


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TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

Christmas Eve is the BIG day in the Czech Republic, we have a Christmas dinner and open our presents in the evening. In my Czech/English family we mix customs from both countries. We still have our main meal on Christmas Eve, usually inviting few friends over. Presents, however, we open on Christmas day, as it is customary in the UK.

The same applies to our food, we mix some Czech traditional dishes (split pea soup, braised red cabbage. potato salad), few English ones (bread sauce, sprouts, cranberry sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots) and as there is no turkey or carp (Czech traditional Christmas meal) on our table, we are free to try a new dinner centre piece each year.

Traditional Czech pea soup has definitely earned its place on our international menu. I have had it made the same way, on the same day, for last 40 years! In our house it happened to be purely vegan. The only change I made was the addition of frozen peas, for color and sweetness. Every year I wonder why I only make this delicious soup on Christmas Eve.

splitpeasoup

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP
You may have to increase the cooking time (each batch seems different), the peas should be very soft before the soup goes into the blender. If you are making the soup ahead make sure you have some water on hand, it thickens as it stands.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a light meal

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup (250g) split green peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 medium to large carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, with the leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
6 cups (at least) of water
2 tsp of vegan stock powder ( I use Marigold)
1/2 cup (125ml) frozen peas
bread for making croutons about one small slice per person ( I used a spelt and sunflower loaf, but any good quality bread will do, no pre-sliced white!!!)
1 Tbs of canola or olive oil


splitpeasoup2
method
  1. In a large saucepan (stock pot) combine the split peas, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, marjoram and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the hear and simmer, covered, for about 1 hr. The peas should be very soft.
  3. After the hour of cooking add the stock powder and cook for further 10-15 min just to let flavors combine.
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and add the frozen peas, heat up only.
  6. While the soup is cooking cut the bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Place into a bowl and combine with the oil.
  7. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking tray and broil ( grill ) until golden brown, about one on each side. You can make the croutons well ahead.
  8. Serve the soup with the croutons on top.

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