Monday, August 24, 2009

Squash Blossom Crema, and my favorite summer cookbooks

I'm determined not to let a single squash blossom go to waste this summer. This is a recipe I've been looking forward to since I picked up Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen a few months ago. This soup is chock full of pumpkin blossoms from my brother and sister-in-law's garden, and garnished with some of my zucchini blossoms.

This recipe turned out great, and the handful of vegan replacement ingredients were excellent - I'm pretty sure most people would be surprised there's no dairy here. Almond milk and vegan chicken broth powder provide savory and creamy elements, along with a boiled potato - I blended the soup in the food processor halfway through, and the potato provides a silky texture when blended. Sweet corn, diced zucchini, and roasted poblano pepper give the soup additional heartiness.

Bayless's recipe calls for a half cup of cream, so I used soaked and well-blended raw cashews. Unless you have a really great blender, this is the only time-consuming part. After scraping the sides a few times, and adding just enough liquid to make a cream, soaked and blended cashews make a nice cream substitute.

Of course, the majority of vegan food doesn't need dairy or meat stand-ins to achieve delicious flavor. That's why summer is the perfect time for the two Donna Klein cookbooks in my collection - The Meditteranean Vegan Kitchen, and Vegan Italiano. In both books, Klein builds awesome vegan dishes around fruits, veggies, fresh herbs, seeds, grains, and nuts, without using dairy or meat replacements to mimic anything. I turn to these books often this time of year, because her approach really lets fresh ingredients play the starring role. Above is one of my favorite ways to prepare fresh greens - spinach with raisins and walnuts. This recipe works well with all kinds of greens - kale, chard, collards, etc.

This is another Donna Klein recipe - grape tomatoes from my garden, sauteed in olive oil just until the skins start to wrinkle, then tossed while hot with red basil, sweet green basil, cilantro, and Italian parsley. As much as I love snacking on tomatoes right from the vine, this tastes even better.

9 comments:

The Voracious Vegan said...

Oh my! All of these dishes look so fresh and beautiful, especially the grape tomatoes, simple and tasty.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

thanks for sharing what you subbed for the cream. I tend to skip recipes when I see that ingredient!

aredcardigan said...

Wow - your soup looks so inviting! Being the carby person I am, all that's missing is some soft dinner rolls to dip that awesome looking soup of yours!

Thanks for the tip - blending cashews to replace cream...like Lisa said, I tend to skip recipes that calls for cream cause I haven't a clue what to sub it with!

Great eats once again Mikey!

miss v said...

i love the squash blossom crema! what a fun twist on the typical stuffed/fried blossoms... i should check out his book - i love his ideas.

Bianca said...

I'm gonna have to try that tomato preparation. I just bought a big basket of grape tomatoes at the farmers market, and though they're yummy for snacking, I think that'd make a delicious side!

Also, the squash blossom soup looks very fancy. I like the blended cashews as cream sub idea!

Sal said...

everything looks great, that soup looks perfect.

vegan.in.brighton said...

Wow that soup looks great and I'm loving your grape tomato picture too.

caribbeanvegan said...

you are making my mouth water here. You are a really good cook and the colours and presentations really reminds me of summer even if I live summer 365 days a year :). Congrats to Rick Bayless for winning Top Chef.

Theodora said...

In my view one and all may read this.