Saturday, 13 November 2010

Baked Heaven on a Fork

This started off to be Veganomicon’s Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelised Onions and Sage Crumb Topping but became something similar that was like heaven on a fork. Their recipe was meant to serve 6-8 so I was trying to half it and I had to make major changes owing to what I had.

First the recipe called for tinned pumpkin. The only brand I can find here is Libbys and they are owned by Proctor and Gamble--a company we boycott because of their excessively cruel animal testing. So I subbed some baked sweet potatoes. The halved recipe asked for 1 cup pumpkin but I kept it doubled and used 2 “man’s naughty bit” sized sweet potatoes. (about 1 cup each when baked and squished out) You get the picture.

Second, the recipe called for onions. I couldn’t find any locally grown onions when I went to the shops but leeks are in season so I bought those. And I had some red peppers that needed using up so I roasted some of those along side the sweet potatoes. Next time I think I’ll roast the onions next to the peppers to save a step, but the leeks were good.

Thirdly, the recipe called for a HUGE amount of pasta and we try to not over eat on pasta so I cut it back to our standard serving which is ¾ cup dry pasta each.

Lastly, you were meant to use fresh breadcrumbs and a little walnut but I used lots of walnut and some gluten free sage and onion stuffing mix I had lurking in the back of my pantry. After all, it was just breadcrumbs, dried onions and sage.

So I may have changed loads of stuff, but the result was baked heaven on a fork. It was a wee bit time consuming with having to roast the sweet potatoes, but it was worth it. It was so rich that it would be good for a holiday dinner.

Heaven on a Fork

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
2 red peppers, chopped
1-2 onions, chopped
2 -3 tsp olive oil
Black pepper

Roast 2 sweet potatoes at 180 C/350 F for 1 hour. After 15 minutes add the pepper/onion in oil and pepper mixture to the pan, bung it back in the oven and carry on. Now make the cashew ricotta.

Cashew Ricotta
¼ cup cashews
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB olive oil

Whiz this in your food processor until as smooth as you want it to be. Then add:

1 box firm silken tofu that has been put in a tea towel and SQUEEZED for all its worth and lots of the liquid drained out. It should look like a crumbly ball. Zoosh it all together until it is mixed. This makes and *amazing* rich dairy free ricotta cheese. I plan to try it in a lasagne soon.

When the sweet potatoes are cooked and soft and the onions and peppers are caramelised take them out of the oven and let cool until you can scoop all the lovely orange potato guts out. Mix the potato guts with the cashew ricotta and the roasted veg. While you are waiting for the potatoes to cool--boil your pasta.

Boil 1 ½ cups whole wheat pasta shapes (I used wholemeal spelt rotini) until al dente and the drain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Then drain really well and mix with the sweet potato/ricotta/roasted veg mixture.

Then add to the mix:
1 TB unrefined sugar (I used Demerara)
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch cayenne

Spread it all into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Then do the topping.

The Topping
½ cup walnuts--coarsely ground
½ cup sage and onion breadcrumbs (I used gluten free)
 OR ½ cup breadcrumbs and some dried sage if you are more Martha Stewart than me.
2 tsp margarine
Melt the margarine in a non stick skillet and then stir around the walnut crumb mixture until, all coated and toasty. Spread the crumbs evenly on top the sweet potato/ricotta/roasted vegs.

Bake at 190 C/375 F for 25-27 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to firm up before you slice.

Yes, that was a bit of trouble--but it was worth it. It really was Heaven on a Fork and I think this will join the ranks of Christmas meals along side nut roast.

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