Adobo Acorn Squash, Crispy Quinoa, and Jalapeño Chimichurri

When it comes to roasted squash, I’m all about big flavors. Give me all the spices and herbs. This adobo acorn squash is the perfect example. The squash is roasted in a great mix of spices and finished with one of my favorite herb sauces. Perfect as a side or add a cup of pinto beans or chickpeas to make it lunch.

Acorn Squash or Bust (not really)

One of my favorite sections in the grocery store is the section that houses winter squash. Some stores have the standard: butternut, spaghetti, and acorn while other stores branch out with red kuri, blue hubbard, and delicata. I love them all for many different reasons and honestly, acorn is usually towards the bottom of this list.

However, acorn works really well for recipes like this adobo squash. I find that acorn, when not overcooked, holds it’s texture well. The flavor is mild enough to support a bit of character in pairings. And, it’s one of the easier squashes to find at regular grocery stores. However, if I were to sub it for something else, I’d choose red kuri (because you don’t have to peel) or butternut squash. You could also make this recipe with sweet potatoes!

 

Crispy Quinoa

Crispy quinoa is one of those items that is easy to do and can make a big impact on the overall texture of the dish. Over the years, I’ve changed the ratio of components in this recipe. Originally it started as a quinoa bowl with acorn squash but it’s now become acorn squash with a smattering of quinoa. I like to make quinoa for dinner one night and find a way to use crispy quinoa in the next day’s meal.

If, however, you don’t want to mess with frying quinoa or you’re not working with leftovers, a few toasted seeds will do. Swap the quinoa out for toasted pepitas or almonds.

 

Chimichurri

Easily one of my favorite components, I make chimichurri quite regularly. It’s a great way to use any leftover herbs you might have from your week of cooking. It’s also a major reason why I grow oregano and Mexican oregano. Make a regular-sized batch and use on tacos, grain bowls, morning eggs, or as a finishing sauce for soups.
 

Make it Vegan

Finally, to make this recipe vegan, drop the yogurt and use either a tablespoon or two of olive oil. You could also swap in your favorite, non-flavored dairy yogurt or use a cashew cream. I like the coating the yogurt provides so I’d be more likely to go with the latter.

Adobo Acorn Squash, Crispy Quinoa, and Jalapeño Chimichurri

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Adobo Acorn Squash, Crispy Quinoa, and Jalapeño Chimichurri

Adobo Acorn Squash, Crispy Quinoa, and Jalapeño Chimichurri

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2-4
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: international

Description

Spiced-roasted acorn squash tossed with crispy quinoa and chimichurri for a lovely side dish or simple vegan-friendly lunch.


Ingredients

Squash

1 acorn squash

1/4 cup plain, whole milk yogurt

Adobo Seasoning

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons sucanat or brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoons sea salt

Quinoa

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

2 teaspoons olive oil

Chimichurri

1 recipe for chimichurri


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Peel the acorn squash, cut in half, and remove seeds. Take each half and slice each half into 1/2″ slices. Alternatively, cut into slices then cut off peel (either way works- just depends on preference). Place in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine spices, sucanat, salt, and pepper. Add the yogurt and give a good stir. Scrape the yogurt mix into the squash and toss until squash is well-coated. Place squash in a single layer on one to two parchment-covered sheet tray and roast until tender, 30 to 40 minutes (depending on thickness of slice- they should be tender but not falling about).
  3. While squash is roasting, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add quinoa and stir until liquid has evaporated and quinoa is lightly browning and crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Make chimichurri according to directions then serve squash with quinoa and a few spoonfuls of chimichurri,

Keywords: roasted acorn squash, chimichurri, crispy quinoa

Roasted Delicata Squash with Honey Butter and Pistachios

This recipe is in partnership with Nugget Markets. See below for more details.

Constant inspiration is one of my favorite things about food. It takes one bite to take you down a road you might not have explored before. This is one of the reasons I’m always game to try something. You never know what will ignite your next love.

Those are strong words for a recipe about squash but I mean it. On a harvest in October, a restaurant catered lunch in the grove. The location was ace but it was the first dish they brought out that put it over the top. Roasted delicata squash smothered with a whipped butter. It was magical and everything I wanted in one bite. This recipe is a nod to that dish.

This recipe is the perfect companion on your holiday table. It’s minimal on ingredients but the overall flavor has a big impact. Of course, you don’t have to wait for your holiday meal to enjoy this dish- I’ve happily eaten this for dinner on a few occasions!

Roasted Delicata Squash

Of all the winter squash, I lean towards using delicata more often than not. It’s a versatile little squash that requires no peeling and tends to be a bit more quick cooking compared to other varieties. Delicata works well as a side, like in this recipe but I love it in tacos, on top of pizza, and stuffed.

Nuts

Pistachios are not usually my go-to nut but this side dish was inspired by a recent meal I had that featured something similar with delicata/butter/pistachios. I loved how the pistachio flavor melded with the roasted delicata squash.

I know pistachios are a bit on the expensive side, especially shelled. This roasted squash would also work well with toasted pecans or walnuts. You could also swap out the pistachios for pumpkin seeds. This would keep the beautiful green pop of color.

Crushed Red Pepper

It’s probably pretty obvious if you look at my recipes but I’m obsessed with adding crushed red pepper to things. I love a bit of heat to my meals and this honey delicata squash is no different. However, you don’t necessarily need it. You could also add a sprinkle of aleppo pepper (also borrowed from the aforementioned side dish I had).

Roasted Delicata Squash with Honey Butter and Pistachios

Nugget Markets Fresh to Market honey

You may remember that a few months back I took a trip out to the honey farm where Nugget Markets sources their honey. After that, I stocked up on the honey and have been using it on everything from crepes, in dressing, and in dishes like this roasted delicata squash!

Nugget Markets

I’m excited to partner with Nugget Markets to bring you this simple holiday side dish. I have a slight obsession with Nugget Markets. It’s like all my favorite grocery stores came together under one roof. I can pick-up things from bulk, grab some organic produce, and find all the cheeses I would ever need.

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Roasted Delicata Squash with Honey Butter and Pistachios

  • Author: Erin Alderson

Ingredients

Squash

2 medium delicata squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Butter

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup pistachios

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

¼ teaspoons salt


Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 425˚F. Rinse the squash and cut the squash into ¼” thick slices. Using a cookie cutter or a paring knife, remove the seeds from each squash circle. Place on a sheet tray and toss with the olive oil and salt. Spread into a single layer and roast, turning once, until tender and browning, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a small pan and add the pistachios. Cooking for 1 minute then add the honey, crushed red pepper, and salt. Swirl the pan a few times, remove from heat, and let rest until the squash is done.
  • When the squash is done, transfer to a bowl and toss with the melted butter mixture. Serve with more pistachios sprinkled on top if desired.

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Nugget Markets. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.

When it comes to the holidays, I get most excited about the parties (and the food at them!) With a little inspiration, your holiday party can be rocking some wonderful veg-friendly snacks. While you can start with a solid cheese board and some olives, step your game up with the help of some dips, bites, and flatbreads.

Pecan Roasted Beet Dip with Sage | Naturally Ella

Dips

I love a good dip and it’s amazing what you can make with a few vegetables and some legumes. Puree cooked carrots or beets for a beautiful color. Toss in handfuls of fresh herbs. And when all else fails, go for a delicious cheese sauce (that could even be vegan!)

Avocado White Bean Dip
White Bean Carrot Dip
Pecan Beet Dip
Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip
Vegan Butternut Squash Queso (c/o The First Mess)

Berbere Roasted Pistachios with Lemon | Naturally Ella

Nuts/Popcorn

I feel like everyone could use a few easy recipes to reach for when guests are coming over. For fun snacks, popcorn is one of my go-to items. It’s easy to whip up and the flavor combinations are endless. This also goes for nuts too. So many ways you can spin such simple ingredients.

Berbere Roasted Pistachios
Coconut Curry Popcorn
Honey Mustard Roasted Nuts
Adobo Popcorn
Bloody Mary Popcorn (c/o 101 Cookbooks)

Pumpkin Ricotta Crostini with Arugula | Naturally Ella

Crostini

There’s nothing I’ve really run into that I don’t love on toast. During the cooler months, whipped vegetables and cheese are usually my go-to. Below is just a start and if you’re looking for something similar but non-bread based, I love how easy endives are!

Pumpkin Ricotta Crostini
Buttered Radish and Ricotta Toast
Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Crostini
Endives with Roasted Beet and Avocado
Cheese Crostini with Fig Jam (c/o Snixy Kitchen)

Fig Jam Flatbread with Roasted Garlic and Blue Cheese | Naturally Ella

Flatbreads

Finally, for a little more work, you can whip up flatbreads. Make these recipes easier by using premade dough. Look for this dough in the freezer or cooler sections of your local grocery store.

Mediterranean Flatbread
Fig Jam Flatbread
Olive Pizza Flatbread
Broccolini Charred Lemon Flatbread (c/o Sprouted Kitchen)

Post sponsored by Frontier Co-op. See below for more details.

One of my first jobs cooking was in the kitchen at a local country club. The chef quit and they needed someone to sling breakfast for the golfers. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I jumped in. It was quite the experience that taught me many things but I also realized how much I love cooking on a griddle, especially with pancakes.

So, when my new oven came with a griddle top, I knew pancakes were going to become more prominent in my breakfast repertoire. While my base for the pancakes doesn’t change much, the toppings are constantly new. These whole wheat pancakes showcase one of my fall favorites: persimmons with a bit of cinnamon.

Whole Wheat Flour

I’ve chatted a bit about different varieties of whole wheat flour before but I always feel like it’s worth revisiting. My go-to wheat flour for pancakes is almost always whole wheat pastry flour. Using pastry flour keeps the texture of the pancake lighter than a more traditional hard wheat flour would be.

In addition to pastry flour, I’ve also found I love using Einkorn flour as a 1:1 substitute for the pastry flour. Einkorn is such a warm, light flour. Of course, you can always swap in all purpose or your favorite gluten-free mix!

Frontier Co-op Vietnamese Cinnamon

Frontier Co-op has a few different varieties of cinnamon that range from the slightly sweet, like this Vietnamese cinnamon to Korintje cinnamon, which is a bit on the spicier side. Each cinnamon has root in different cuisines and I’ve started to use different varieties for different uses. A far cry from the three year-old cinnamon I’d often find pushed back in my cupboard.

Cinnamon Persimmons

I realize I’m pushing towards the end of persimmon season since we’re officially in hoshigaki time. However, if you can land your hands on fresh, persimmons make for such a lovely pancake topping.

Of course, you can always swap them out for another firm, cooler-weather fruit such as apples or pears.

Nuts

Finally, the walnuts are optional but I’m a texture person who almost always needs a little crunch. Toasted pecans would work well as a substitution or go with sunflower seeds for a non-nut crunch.

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Cornmeal Pancakes with Cinnamon Persimmons

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings
  • Category: breakfast
  • Method: stove-top
  • Cuisine: international

Ingredients

Pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Persimmons

2 fuyu persimmon

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon Frontier Co-Op Vietnamese Cinnamon

Pinch of salt

¼ cup toasted walnuts, for topping


Instructions

  • Combine pastry flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the milk, egg, melted butter, and maple syrup. Give a good stir, until everything is just combined but there might few small lumps left. Let rest while heating the griddle or pan.
  • Heat a skillet or griddle over low to medium-low heat and grease with butter or oil if need be. When skillet is hot (if you flick water onto the skillet, it should sizzle), take a scant ¼ cup of batter and pour onto skillet. Let cook for 1-2 minutes (until the pancakes begins to bubble slightly. Flip and let cook for another 1-2 minutes until pancake is cooked through.
  • To make the topping, cut or cube the persimmon into slices or pieces. Melt the butter in a pan and add the persimmons along with the maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the persimmons are starting to soften but still have a bit of firmness.
  • To finish the pancakes, top with the persimmons, a sprinkle of the toasted walnuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Keywords: whole wheat pancakes, persimmon pancakes

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Frontier Co-op. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.

Close-up, overhead shot of pita stuffed with beet burgers, arugula, and whipped feta

During the busy holiday months, I’m always looking for extra quick ways to eat well. It always feels like lunch is my weak area. It’s easy to ditch cooking and head out with friends. But, I feel it when I do.

And so, I like to have a few lunches that feel a bit extra but take very little work. This is one of the reasons I love working with Dr. Praeger’s. I know I can keep a few veg burgers on hand for quick and filling lunches or dinners.

Greens: Arugula, Spinach, or Lettuce

I love the flavor arugula adds to any sandwich or burger. The baby arugula you find in most stores in mild, with just a hint of pepperiness. This is the version I prefer with this stuffed pita. However, you can also use the spicier arugula you might find at the farmers market.

If arugula isn’t your thing, swap it for baby spinach. You could also use lettuce (like a nice leaf of butter lettuce!)

Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Heat Beet Burgers

I like keeping a few premade items on hand. In an ideal world I’d make everything from scratch but the truth is, I’m not there in my life. And so, I turn to companies I know use minimal but solid ingredients.

These Sweet Heat Beet Veggie Burgers from Dr. Praeger’s are new and now one of my favorite options. They have a good flavor, six types of veggies, and have 19g of protein in one patty. Plus, they are vegan and gluten-free.

Vegan-it

Obviously, using feta is a no-go if you want to make this vegan. However, since the burgers are vegan, I want to give you an alternative. You could use a vegan feta but frankly, it’s more work than it’s worth. I’d recommend going with a nice layer of hummus instead!

Ditch the Bread, Make a Salad

Finally, if you want to ditch the pita: turn this into a salad. Cooking up a veg burger as salad topping is one of my favorite things to do. It’s an easy way to make a filling salad without reaching for a ton of ingredients.

Overhead shot of pita stuffed with beet burgers, arugula, and whipped feta

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Beet Veggie Burger Stuffed Pita with Whipped Feta

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: lunch
  • Method: stove-top
  • Cuisine: international

Ingredients

Whipped Feta

4 ounces feta, room temperature

2 tablespoons whole-milk, plain greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Stuffed Pita

2 Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Heat Beet Veggie Burgers

2 pita pockets

2 cups arugula


Instructions

  • In a small food processor or blender, combine the feta and yogurt. Pulse to combine then add in the lemon juice and parsley, pulsing a few more times. Alternatively, place the feta and yogurt in a bowl and stir/mash until well combined. Add in the lemon juice and parsley.
  • Cook the beet veggie burgers according to the package. Once done, slice in half. Warm the pita slightly over a gas stove flame or in a dry skillet. Slice in half and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the whipped feta on the inside of each pocket half.
  • Place one half of each veggie burger in the pocket and finish by stuffing the arugula on one side. Serve immediately.

Keywords: stuffed pita, whipped feta, vegetarian lunch

{Sweet Chili} Roasted Sweet Potato Spring Rolls

This is one of those recipes that has found a way into the rotation every winter. It’s a lovely mix of fresh ingredients with the feeling of a hearty lunch. Best of all, these spring rolls can be made up to 24 hours in advance making them perfect for lunches or even get-togethers.

Rice Papers

Rice papers are a pantry staple in my house. I want to know that if I have produce on hand, I could easily whip up a batch of spring rolls. I usually prefer these brown rice wrappers but they aren’t the friendliest version to start your rolling journey.

There are also discrepancies among different brands of regular rice papers. Some are too thin and tear easily while some have other ingredients outside of tapioca and rice. This older post about the differences can also be super helpful.

 

Older version: Noodles

This recipe has actually lived on the site for years but was one that needed a solid update. The original version called for using rice noodles with the sweet potatoes. While I still like this version, it’s heavier than these all veg and green version.

If you want to add rice noodles, cook according to the package, drain, and then rinse. Add a about ¼ to ⅓ cup of noodles to each other. I really like Annie Chun’s Maifun brown rice noodles. Beyond adding these noodles to the sweet potato rolls, they also work well as the basis for veg-heavy noodle bowls.

 

Heat Level

One thing to watch with this recipe is the spice-level. I like these spring rolls pretty spice so I use what feels like a decent amount of crushed red pepper. You can obviously use less or you can switch up the source of the heat.

If I have sambal oelek or a garlic-chili paste on hand, I’ll often use that as a substitute. If you’re not a fan of spice, ditch the crushed red pepper all together or go with ½ teaspoon.

 

Make into a Salad

If you’re not feeling confident in your rolling ability or can’t find the rice papers, turn this into a salad. The sweet potatoes and spinach make for a great salad combination. Use a ginger-based dressing to boost up the flavor.

 

Save for later/Make-ahead

Spring rolls can be made ahead of time, up to 24 hours. When I do this, I wrap them in a damp towel and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Sweet Potato Spring Rolls with Spinach

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{Sweet Chili} Roasted Sweet Potato Spring Rolls

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings
  • Category: lunch
  • Method: oven

Description

These sweet potato spring rolls make for a delicious and vibrant lunch that is gluten-free and easily vegan.


Ingredients

8 rice papers

4 cups shredded spinach

1 medium sweet potato, peeled

1 bunch (8-10) scallions

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons chili flakes

2 tablespoons honey or vegan-friendly sub

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

pinch of salt

soy sauce, for dipping


Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chili flakes, garlic, honey, vinegar, and salt. Cut sweet potato into long and thinner sticks (1/4″ thick). Slice the scallions lengthwise into quarters and roughly the same length as the sweet potatoes. Toss sweet potato and onion with the chili mixture. Place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes- sweet potato should be just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before assembly.
  • Roughly chop the spinach and place in a bowl.
  • Set up an assembly station with the slightly cooled sweet potatoes, spinach, sesame seeds, a bowl of warm water, and a cutting board.
  • Soak the rice paper for 10-15 seconds (you don’t want it too soft when taking it out of the water.) Place rice paper on a cutting board and load with spinach and sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds then roll, tuck, and fold in sides as you go. Continue with remaining ingredients.
  • Once done slice in half and serve with a little bowl of soy sauce.

Notes

The key with the rice papers is to not overly soak them before laying on the cutting board. They will continue to soften as you stack ingredients.

Keywords: vegetarian spring rolls, sweet potato spring rolls

 

 

I love a good breakfast, doubly so during the holiday months. There’s something special about sharing a freshly brewed cup of coffee and delicious breakfast with people you might only get to see occasionally.

My love of this also might stem from a deep love of breakfast. It always feels less fussy than holiday dinners but just as special. I like to keep it simple and go for easily scalable recipes. Below are 21 breakfast recipes to get you ready for feeding the family during the holiday season.

Kale Baked Eggs with Dukkah with Toast | Naturally Ella

For the Crowd

One of the major adjustments to life with my husband was life visiting family with my husband. For any occasion or holiday, we’d all pile into one given house. At first I was completely overwhelmed (this was not a trait of my family) but now, it’s something I love about holidays.

Of course, when your house goes from 3 people to 12 people, it’s time to pull out the recipes you know easily scale. For this I turn to granolas, pancakes, waffles, and beautiful (easy) eggs bakes.

Blueberry Chia Jam with Yogurt and Sunflower Crunch
Oat Teff Pancakes
Kale Baked Eggs with Dukkah
Spelt Waffles

 

Enchilada Skillet with Eggs | @naturallyella

Gluten-Free

If you’re not used to dealing with special diets, it can be kind of intimidating. But, with a bit of prep and knowledge, you can rock an delicious gluten-free friendly breakfast. For grain-based items, use quinoa or millet. Look for recipes that are naturally gluten-free (like the tostadas). Finally, for many recipes, you can swap a 1:1 flour in for all-purpose and have delicious gluten-free pancakes or waffles.

Spinach Millet Egg Bake
Enchilada Skillet with Eggs
Breakfast Tostada
Gluten-Free Cornmeal Waffles with Sorghum Strawberries

 

Grain-Free Granola | Naturally Ella

Vegan

Similar to the gluten-free recipes, I shoot for recipes I know everyone will enjoy. Porridges with alternative milks are a great way to go. I actually prefer my porridges with almond or oat milk. Granola is also a great way to go. Pick up regular and vegan yogurts to please everyone!

Cracked Einkorn Porridge with Stewed Blood Oranges )(use alternative milk + non-honey alternative
Grain-Free Granola
Garlicky Bean Toast (leave off the feta)
Vegan Carrot Waffles

 

Pumpkin Bread with Oats

Baked goods

When all else fails, baked goods are a good thing to have on hand. There’s nothing quite as perfect as a hot cup of tea and a slice of the pumpkin bread. Best of all, many baked goods, like scones and muffins, can be made ahead of time and frozen. I like to keep a batch in the freezer and pull them out when I need something extra.

Pumpkin Bread with Oats
Savory Scones with Chives and Feta
Pistachio Chocolate Chip Muffin
Lemon Poppy Seed Scone

 

Broccoli Melt with Fried Eggs | Naturally Ella

Eggs

Finally, my favorite category: egg-based breakfast recipes. Baked eggs, frittatas, and quiches are an easy go-to. But I don’t stop there. Toast and veg-cakes are also great when topped with eggs. Best of all, for the egg toppings, you can use soft-boiled eggs (which can be all cooked at once!)

Quinoa Chard Frittata with Balsamic Onions
Broccoli Melt with Fried Egg
Sunchoke Latkes with Poached Egg
Kale Quiche with Garlic
Sweet Potato Hash Egg Skillet

Close-up overhead shot of a chard frittata in a black cast iron pan with a pink napkin.

Post sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. See below for more details.

I know most people obsess over the holiday dinners. There are schedules and multi-day prep routines. Depending on your personality, it can feel energizing or it can feel completely overwhelming. So what happens when you also have to think about having guest stay over, which includes feeding them breakfast?

It can feel like ‘one more thing.’ But luckily, there are some solid breakfast recipes that everyone can enjoy. For starters, wow them with a beautiful chard frittata!

Eat your greens

One of the biggest pushes for sharing this recipe is to chat about chard. Whenever I ask people what one thing they wish they cooked more with, I get an overwhelming amount of ‘chard’ as the answer. It can be a tough green to like but it’s one of those ‘get to know’ type items. Meaning, once you get to know it, you become good friends.

To get you started, I’ll let you in on my relationship with this greenage. I like chard just barely-cooked OR completely cooked, beyond recognition. Chard, when cooked to an in-between stage, has an unappealing, almost slimy texture. It’s just not my thing.

And so, for this chard frittata, I cook the greens well. Beyond well, really. It melts into the onions and it’s the perfect companion for the quinoa and feta.

 

All the onion flavor

I love the flavor of caramelized onions but I’m in the camp that you can’t have true caramelized onions without a solid amount of time. Anything labeled as such but only tells you to cook onions for 20 minutes is just wrong. You need the gift of time to really get that perfect, sweet flavor.

However, I have a cheat and it’s perfect for when I want flavorful onions in less than 20 minutes. I cook the onions until soft and add a splash of balsamic vinegar. It’s definitely not the same flavor but cooking the onions a bit longer in the vinegar allows the vinegar to reduce and become a bit sweeter, helping the onions out.

You could always use pre-cooked caramelized onions (if you’re into batch/prep cooking). You could also just use regular cooked onions or shallots (equally as nice in this recipe).

 

Grains, grain, and more grains

Grains aren’t a normal frittata addition for most but they are almost a necessity in my kitchen. I don’t like an overly-eggy frittata. It’s why I don’t use a ton of milk in the base (in fact, you’ll see I use cream instead of milk too). Using grains really helps balance the egg to extra ratio.

So why Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa? It’s my dependable, quick-cooking grain. It cooks in the amount of time it takes to make the onions. But really, more often than not, I already have a batch cooked in my refrigerator making this chard frittata even easier.

Overhead shot of a quinoa chard frittata on a wood countertop

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Quinoa Chard Frittata with Balsamic Onions

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: breakfast
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: international

Description

Whether you’re looking for a solid weekend breakfast or a meal that can feed your holiday house guest, a frittata is the perfect go-to. It can easily be adapted to use whatever you have on hand including herbs, vegetables, grains, and plenty of cheese.


Ingredients

Quinoa

½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa

1 cup vegetable broth

Pinch of Salt

Onions

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 cups shredded chard

Frittata

6 large eggs

3 tablespoons heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper


Instructions

  • Combine quinoa, vegetable broth, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 to 13 minutes. After that time, remove the pan from the heat and let steam until ready to use. Alternatively, use about 1 cup leftover quinoa if you have that available.  
  • To make onions, cut into ⅛” thick half circles. Heat over low the olive oil in a skillet. Place sliced onions in skillet and cook until they begin to brown, 10-15 minutes. Once onions are cooked, stir in balsamic vinegar and continue to cook until vinegar reduces down, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard and continue to cook until wilted, another 5 minutes or so.
  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. While the onions are cooking, combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  • When the chard is cooked down, pour the eggs over the mixture and stir. Let cook for a couple minutes, just to let the bottom set. Sprinkle with the feta
  • Transfer the frittata to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The frittata should be puffed and browning.

Notes

Prep ahead: Precook the quinoa and onions ahead of time. Then day-of, cook the chard and add the onions/quinoa before adding the egg mixture.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the frittata
  • Calories: 330
  • Sugar: 2.7
  • Sodium: 619
  • Fat: 21.9
  • Saturated Fat: 6.4
  • Carbohydrates: 19.8
  • Fiber: 2.5
  • Protein: 13.7
  • Cholesterol: 291

Keywords: chard frittata, vegetarian frittata

Bob's Red Mill Quinoa | Naturally Ella

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.

Overhead photo of twice-baked honeynut squash with breadcrumbs and brown butter

I’m sliding into the holidays with a solid side dish idea, sure to start a conversation. These twice-baked honeynut squash are not only delicious but have a fun story about this newer squash variety.

What is honeynut squash?

Honeynut squash was developed through a challenge between Dan Barber and Michael Mouzarek. The goal: grow a better version of the butternut squash. Amazingly enough, not only did the honeynut squash come from that challenge but a new seed company focused on cross breeding vegetables (called Row 7). I have dreams of growing quite a few different varieties.

In terms of the honeynut squash, think of what a butternut squash taste like but intensify the flavor. It has a warm sweetness that the traditional butternut squash just can’t rival. The honeynut squash was bred with taste in mind, and it definitely lives up to that goal.

Squash alternatives

Of course, it’s not always easy to find these delightful squash and that’s okay. This recipe would work just as well with regular butternut squash, delicata squash, or acorn squash. You could always switch mediums and try a twice-baked sweet potatoes.

Serve this with these recipes

Obviously, this would make a great addition to your holiday meal. It’s the perfect way to add color to your meal. Plus, these twice-baked honeynut squash can easily be prepped ahead of time and baked the second time right before serving.

Beyond the holidays, this recipe is great as a side with a solid salad (like this recipe), quinoa or brown rice cakes, or with a quiche/egg bake.

Make it Vegan

Swap the butter out for olive oil. The flavor won’t quite be the same but it will work just as well. You could also go with a flavored oil like walnut oil. Using walnut oil would add a nice added flavor of the walnuts, working well with the rosemary and sage.

Side shot photo of twice-baked honeynut squash with breadcrumbs and brown butter

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Overhead photo of twice-baked honeynut squash with breadcrumbs and brown butter

Twice-Baked Butternut Squash with Brown Butter

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: international

Description

A stunning side dish ready for the holidays or Sunday dinner, these twice-baked honeynut squash are light on ingredients but not on flavor.


Ingredients

2 to 3 small honeynut squash

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoons fresh minced sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ to ¾ cup breadcrumbs

5 sage leaves, fried


Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 425˚F. Slice the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and place cut-side down on a sheet tray covered with parchment paper. Bake until the squash is tender, 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Remove from the oven, remove the seeds, and scoop the remaining squash into a bowl.
  • While the squash bake, place butter in a warm skillet. Let the butter melt and continue stirring while butter foams up. Once brown flecks appear at the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and stir in the rosemary and sage. Let rest for a few minutes then stir into the bowl of squash. Add the salt and stir to combine everything.
  • Transfer the butternut squash filling back into the squash shells. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, just enough to brown the tops. Remove from oven and sprinkle with crushed fried sage.

Notes

Tips & Tricks: To fry the sage, heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Add the sage and cook until the sage changes color, flipping once. Remove from the skillet and let cool/crisp.

Keywords: twice-baked squash, honeynut squash

Vegetarian Holiday Meal | @naturallyella

There is nothing quite like holiday meals. Family, food, and conversation. However, it can be a extremely stressful trying to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs. Whether you’re going with a full plant-based meal or just hoping to get a dish or two to add to the table, this vegetarian holiday meal guide is here to help.

How to plan a vegetarian holiday meal

When thinking about the meal, I like to think about a few different elements including but not limited to:

Greenery: even though salad isn’t a traditional holiday dish, it’s become one for me. I find a fresh salad can balance all the rich food that often finds it’s way to the table. The salad doesn’t have to be overly complicated either! It could be a bit of greens, a sprinkle of nuts, and a nice dressing.

Beet Salad with Broiled Feta and Sesame Sunflower Seeds
Romesco Potato Arugula Salad
Kale Risotto with Feta
Sweet Potato Salad with Butter-Hazelnut Dressing

Protein: this is important. One of the things I find lacking in most vegetarian dishes at a non-vegetarian event is the concept of protein. For meat-eaters, it’s easy but for vegetarians, it’s not always obvious. Bulk up on beans, don’t shy away from nuts/seeds, and remember even some grains, like quinoa, carry a nice bit of protein.

White Bean Masala Smothered Sweet Potatoes
Radicchio Salad with Lentils and Roasted Acorn Squash
Stuffed Delicata with Chimichurri Black Beans

Richness Balance: Going back to the idea of adding salad to the table, not everything has to be overloaded with cheese, butter, and cream. The beauty of a vegetarian holiday meal is that the vegetables can really shine.

Easy to include vegan/GF

When planning for a vegetarian holiday meal, you might need to include some vegan or gluten-free options. This shouldn’t be a huge deal! Most of the vegetarian dishes I’m listing in this post have vegan/gluten-free alternatives.

Most vegetarian-friendly dishes can make the leap to vegan with a few simple swaps. And as for gluten-free, it’s often a matter of switching grains and using a solid 1:1 gluten-free flour. I find if I’m trying to accommodate different people’s dietary needs, I go with something that is gluten-free/vegan.

A few favorite gluten-free/vegan recipes:

Harissa Roasted Carrots with White Beans
Bean Bake with Greens and Turnips
Quinoa and White Bean Risotto with Brassicas

Overhead shot of cauliflower on a sheet tray, tossed and roasted with mole sauce.

Going Non-Traditional

I think one of the biggest challenges with holiday meals is convincing family that it’s okay to switch things up! If your family has their favorites, try just adding one or two new dishes into the mix. We definitely keep the green bean casserole around but add in a couple dishes of roasted vegetables and salads. This way, everyone is happy!

You don’t need to overhaul all of the holiday dinner. Strike a balance between traditions and new ideas. If something doesn’t work out, that’s okay!

A few of my favorite non-traditional adds to the table include:

Roasted Mole Cauliflower with Chickpeas
Grilled Pear Halloumi Salad
Red Kuri Squash Curry with Chard
Potato Green Curry

https://naturallyella.com/butternut-squash-stuffed-shells/

Main Course

Over the years, I’ve seen my fair-share of sad, want-to-be turkey main courses for a vegetarian holiday meal. I’m not a huge fan of the 1:1 replacement. I’d rather make something that is beautiful and delicious, even if it doesn’t fill the turkey void.

If you wanted to stick with a main that looks almost as impressive as a turkey, the whole-roasted cauliflower route can work. There are also things like this butternut squash vegducken or this pre-made celebration roast. Full disclosure about the vegducken: it looks beautiful but I’ve never made it!

I prefer to stick with easy items. Quiche, pasta, risotto, or squash topped with beans. This is just the beginning. A few of my go-to main-course holiday recipes:

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Whole Roasted Tikka Masala Cauliflower
Roasted Carrot Polenta with Sage and Walnuts
Farro Risotto with Walnut Cream and Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Cannellini Bean and Spinach Salad

It can be all about the sides

Of course, with a well-planned menu, a meal can also be all about the sides! If there’s three to for solid side options, I can easily be happy. Best of all, this is a great way to appease everyone! Upgrade your sides to be colorful and vegetable-heavy while keeping some of your traditional items! A few side options:

Beet Wild Rice Salad with Pistachios
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Manchego
Garlicky Yogurt Green Beans with Walnuts
Pan-Fried Turnips with Thyme and Breadcrumbs

Just go for it!

Whether you’re looking to completely overhaul your meal or just add a couple veg-friendly dishes in, just remember it doesn’t have to be hard. Keep it simple. Lead with produce. And don’t be afraid to add a new tradition into the mix!

Post sponsored by California Ripe Olives. See below for more details.

If I had my way, I’d eat a big bowl of roasted vegetables for lunch, everyday. This cauliflower salad is another recipe that allows me to do just that. Shallot-roasted cauliflower tossed with salty olives and parmesan along along with sorghum. It’s filling and delicious!

California Ripe Olives

When you think California produce, you might only think about the items that hit the produce aisles in your grocery store. Sure, the state grows a lot of that kind of produce. However, there are also some other magical kinds of items that are grown with the same kind of care. This cauliflower salad was inspired by a recent trip down to Fresno to learn about California Ripe Olives.

There are two types of olives that are grown for table olives: Manzanillo and Sevillano. These two varieties have a nice buttery flavor and work great as both the green and black olives. Interestingly enough, all the olives come off the tree green. It’s only in processing, when oxygen is added to the process, that green olives turn black. Same olives, same flavor- just different colors!

Olives are a great crop in California. They don’t have too many pests (if you’ve ever tried an olive right from the tree- it’s super bitter!) Olives also don’t require a large amount of water and can grow in a variety of soil. Plus, sustainability in the olive industry is important. Every part of the olive is used. Olive pits can be used in everything from making fuel to synthetic field material.

California Ripe Olive Uses

I almost always have a can of olives on hand. Beyond being a solid snack, these olives make for a lovely salad or pizza topping. I also love making a salty batch of tapenade to use on sandwiches or as a simple weeknight pasta sauce.

Green Olive Cauliflower Salad

As for this cauliflower salad, I think all the ingredients come together for a delicious lunch dish. The roasted cauliflower is warming while the olives and parmesan brings the salt. The sorghum and sunflower seeds really bring the texture.

Don’t have sorghum? Use another grain you might have on hand. I love the chewiness sorghum brings to the overall texture of the dish. Try cooked farro, einkorn, or barley. Quinoa would work well but I’d add a few extra sunflower seeds to boost the texture.

Parmesan, the veg-friendly kind

Finally, my note every time I use parmesan. European parm is made with animal rennet (it had to be to be labeled ‘parm’). However, there’s some American cheese producers making vegetarian-friendly parm. Double check your parm and when in doubt, ask the cheesemonger- they should know!

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Green Olive Cauliflower Salad

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 side servings

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower (1lb)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 to 4 small shallots, peeled and sliced

¼ cup butter

½ cup sliced California Green Ripe Olives

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

¼ cup parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 cup cooked sorghum

½ cup shaved parmesan


Instructions

  • Heat oven to 425˚F. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Place on a sheet tray and toss with olive oil, shallots, and salt. Roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is golden, 30 minutes or so.
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, melt butter in a small skillet. Add theCalifornia Green Ripe Olives, herbs, and salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, just to warm the olives. Turn off the heat and add in the lemon juice.
  • When the cauliflower is done, place in a bowl along with the sunflower seeds, parsley, and sorghum. Add the buttery olives and half the parmesan. Toss well to combine then top with the remaining parmesan before serving.

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with California Ripe Olive. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.

Close-up overhead photo of pumpkin polenta topped with chipotle pinto beans and cilantro

When it comes to fall cooking, polenta is a staple in our house. This comforting dish has cold-weather/dark nights written all over it. Best of all, this isn’t just an ordinary polenta. Rather, it’s a creamy pumpkin polenta using freshly roasted pumpkins.

Roasted Pumpkin

Sure, you can buy the canned pumpkin but I don’t think you’ve experienced all fall has to offer until you roast a pumpkin. The flavor and texture is a bit different from the canned counterpart. I find the flavor to be a bit more mellow and the texture to be not as thick. For this reason, I cook this pumpkin polenta version a bit more firm than I normally would and then add the pumpkin.

If you decided you didn’t want to use pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, or pureed sweet potatoes would all work well. I like to make dishes like this if I have leftover whipped sweet potatoes. Of course, you can always use canned pumpkin (especially if you have leftovers!)

Polenta Options

Making polenta is one of the base cooking items I recommend you get in your repertoire. It’s not tricky once you get the feel for the steps and being patient is worth the time. I like cooking polenta for at least 30 minutes over really low heat. This mellows out the corn flavor and really makes for a rich-tasting polenta (even before you add any butter or cream!)

Another option, use millet in place of the polenta. This is one of my favorite tricks for people who try to avoid corn. Millet is a seed that, when cracked, has similar properties as polenta. The millet cooks up creamy and can even be cooled, cut, and fried the next day.

Beans

In terms of beans, cook them at home. I love dried pinto beans that are cooked with a sizable helping of onions, garlic, and herbs. Cooking them at home sets the second round of cooking, with the chipotle, even more tasty.

Don’t have pinto beans? Swap them for black beans. Both work well with the flavors in the polenta and they both make for a gorgeous final plating.

Leftovers

If you happen to have leftovers, I recommend you store them separately, primarily for the benefit of the polenta. To reheat the polenta, warm on low in a small pot or heat in the microwave. Heat the beans in a similar fashion and combine like you would in the recipe.

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Roasted Pumpkin Polenta with Pinto Beans

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2 large servings
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stove-top
  • Cuisine: international

Ingredients

Pumpkin

1 small sugar pie pumpkin

Polenta

½ cup polenta

2 cups water/broth

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

Beans

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans (with liquid)

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Toppings

¼ cup toasted pepitas

Cilantro, for topping

Feta/Cotija, for topping


Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. Slice the pumpkin in half and place cut-side down in a roasting pan. Place in the oven and bake until the pumpkin is soft, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, scoop out the seeds, and measure out about 1 ½ cups of the pumpkin.
  • Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a medium pot. Add in the polenta, whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (full technique can be found here). Once the polenta is done, add in the pumpkin, stirring well to combine.
  • While both the pumpkin and polenta are cooking, heat a small pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil along with the minced garlic. Cook for a minute, until fragrant. Measure in the pinto beans with liquid, chipotle, cumin, and salt. Cook until the beans are warm and most of the liquid is gone.
  • Divide the polenta into two bowls and top with beans along with the pepitas, cilantro, and feta (optional).

Keywords: pumpkin polenta, roasted pumpkin

Overhead photo of pumpkin polenta topped with pinto beans, pepitas, and feta.

overhead shot of walnuts in different stages including in the hull and cracked.

When it comes to ingredients in your kitchen, it can be easy to forget that non-produce items come with ‘best by’ dates. I’ve witnessed many a spice cabinets with bottles dating back years, if not decades. Olive oil that should went rancid ages ago. And nuts that are questionable at best.

And so, I’m working on a series based around the notion that all ingredients in your kitchen should be treated as if it were kale or tomatoes. Fresh is best and care needs to go into all ingredients you keep on hand. Knowing how to store and use in a short order is everything!

First up: walnuts! While I use these nuts year-round in my house, I find an uptick during the cooler months. They also pair so wonderfully with the earthy flavors of fall. Use walnuts to make a solid cream sauce, make nut-milk, or add in granolas and toppings.

Walnuts: The Varieties

There are two overarching kinds of walnuts: English (Persian) and Black Walnut. The English variety are the common, store varieties. These walnuts are thought to originate in the Middle East but thanks to English traders, spread throughout the world (and also picked up the ‘English’ name).

Black walnuts are actually native to the United States. I actually grew up with a beautiful black walnut tree in my backyard in Illinois. These types of walnuts were a staple in diet and medicine by indigenous people.

The difference? English walnuts are more mild in flavor and easier to shell. This combination is why almost all walnuts sold in stores are a variety of English walnut. However, if you have a chance to try a black walnut, do it. One of my favorite desserts is a chocolate chip cookie made with black walnuts.

Walnuts: The harvest

99% of all walnuts grown in the United States are grown in California. Walnut harvest happens primarily in September/October. There are 30 different varieties grown from the English walnut family but you wouldn’t be able to tell once all the walnuts hit the market. Walnuts are a fresh produce item. This means they hit shelves only a 5 to 6 days after being harvested.

The harvest process is straightforward. Large harvesters shake the walnuts from the trees which then get swept up and sent to a drying facility. At the facility, the walnuts are stripped of their outer green hull, rinsed, and dried to an 8% moisture level. This stabilizes the nut and makes it ready for processing.

After the drying process, walnuts are sold in their shells or processed out of the shell into halves or pieces. These are the walnuts you can find in your bulk bins and on store shelves.

Of note, very few walnuts are grown organic. Many California farmers use cover crops/grasses to amend the soil but when it comes to the trees, soft/targeted pesticides are used for a specific type of insect. However, because of the green hull and the tough brown shell, pesticides are unlikely to end up on the final product (unlike items that often find themselves on the dirty dozen list).

Buying and Storing Walnuts

Once walnuts end up in your care they need to be in cold storage. Walnuts have a high fat content which leads to a rancid product fairly quickly. Plus, the cold storage helps keep in the flavor you would lose at room-temperature storage.

Walnut halves/pieces can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a year. I prefer to cycle through them a bit quicker and will keep a container in my refrigerator no longer than six months.

When shopping for walnuts in the store, look to see if the bag has a harvest date or best-by date. If the nuts are over a year old or if the best-by date is coming soon, I’d look elsewhere. If you’re buying from the bulk bins at your local co-op, ask for a sample that you can taste/smell. You want a walnut that has a warm, kind of sweet flavor.

How to tell if a Walnut is rancid?

Tasting and smelling a walnut leads to: how can you tell if a walnut is rancid? This is one of those times you need to trust your instinct. If the walnut has a sharp, oxidized smell- it’s bad. If it smells bad, it’s probably bad. As for weight, fresh walnuts should have weight/firmness to them while older walnuts are lighter/dried out.

Walnut Topping

Using Walnuts in Cooking

Toppings/Salads: The most obvious but still delicious, walnuts make for a solid companion to grain bowls and salads. Walnuts add a nice crunch and bit of warm flavor. Try toasting the walnuts beforehand to keep a good crunch in salads.

Walnut Cream/milk: As with most nuts and seeds, walnuts make for a wonderful nut-cream/milk. Walnuts, when blended with a bit of water, take on a nice, nutty flavor. The sauce is definitely a star in any recipe, a bit different from the mellow cashew cream.

Texture/’Meat’: Walnuts add a perfect texture to replacements for meat. they are a key player in my favorite lentil bites, nut burgers, and occasionally my favorite crumble recipe. I usually use walnuts and pecans interchangeably/together in these recipes.

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Walnuts - Nuts and Seeds - Stock a Pantry

Walnuts | In the Pantry

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauces
  • Method: raw
  • Cuisine: international

Description

An easy cream made from soaked walnuts pureed with lemon, garlic and water. A lovely swap for cashew cream.


Ingredients

1 cup raw walnuts

1 cup water

1 garlic clove

Juice and zest from half a lemon

¼ teaspoon sea salt


Instructions

  • Place walnuts in warm water and let soak for about 2 hours.
  • To make the walnut cream, drain the soaking water and rinse. Place the walnuts in a blender. Add the water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until smooth, adding a splash or two more water as needed, depending on the usage of the cream. For pasta sauces, I tend to use more water (around 1 ¼ cups) and for creams/spreads, I use around ¾ cup water.

Notes

Walnuts are already fairly soft. If you’re pressed for time, soak walnuts in really hot water for about 20 minutes then puree in a good high-speed blender.

Keywords: walnut cream

Close-up shot of a butternut squash farro risotto.

Post sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. See below for more details.

There’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of risotto. There are endless seasonal flavors and thanks to a myriad of whole grains, many bases you can use. A creamy, vegan risotto is within reach thanks to help from a bit of farro and an easy walnut cream sauce.

Whole Grain Risottos

Traditionally, risottos are made with arborio rice. This variety of rice has a high level of starch which translates into a creamy risotto everyone knows and loves. However, it’s rare I have arborio rice on hand. This has led to a lot of exploration into whole grain risottos.

Whole grains, such as spelt, farro, and einkorn work well after they’ve been cracked slightly. By cracking the grains, a small bit of flour forms which simulates the creaminess of the arborio rice.

Alternatively, pearled grains like barley and farro work without the cracking. These are whole grains that have had some of the outer layer removed which means they aren’t true whole grains, but are still delicious!

Farro for everything!

For this risotto, I’m using Bob’s Red Mill Farro. This pearled farro makes for a delightful warm and creamy risotto. Farro does take a bit of time to cook but if I’m using it in salads or grain bowls, I’ll make a large batch ahead of time. Farro holds shape and texture well even a few days after cooking.

Beyond risottos, I like to use farro in hearty salads, grain bowls, and even vegetable bakes. Try this cheesy zucchini bake, Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pecan Vinaigrette, or as a base for this Berbere Chickpeas and Chard.

What’s with Walnut Cream?

Beyond just the arborio rice, risotto’s creaminess often comes from a bit of added cheese. However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. For this farro risotto, I’ve swapped cheese for an easy to make walnut cream sauce.

This cream sauce is a lot like the ever-popular cashew version. I love using walnuts, though, for their unique flavor. It’s the perfect fall treat and butternut squash companion. Best of all, walnuts softer texture purees into a lovely smooth cream sauce.

Squash or Sweet Potatoes

Finally, if you’re not in the mood to tackle peeling butternut squash, there are alternatives. Swap butternut squash for sweet potatoes, carrots, or another variety of squash that doesn’t peeled, like delicata. All of these work well with a good farro risotto.

Side-angle shot of farro risotto with roasted butternut squash.

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Farro Risotto with Walnut Cream and Roasted Butternut Squash

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stove-top
  • Cuisine: none

Description

A hearty farro risotto made vegan with a delicious walnut cream sauce and rosemary roasted butternut squash. Perfect for fall!


Ingredients

  • Walnut Cream

  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice and zest from half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red or white onion
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Farro
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth and/or water
  • Walnuts, for topping
  • Thyme, for topping
  • Butternut Squash

  • 1lb butternut squash (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Place walnuts in warm water and let soak while making the risotto.
  • Start the risotto. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the onion. Cook until the onion is fragrant and soft; 8 or so minutes. Stir in the farro and cook for one minute, letting farro toast. Add in the wine and continue to cook for about 2 minutes until most of the wine has cooked away.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the stock and stir. Let risotto cook until nearly all the stock broth has been absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup and let absorb again, repeating the add broth/let absorb, stirring frequently, until the farro is just about tender, about 40 minutes. You might not use all four cups- just taste along the way until the farro is tender.
  • Heat your oven to 425˚F. While the farro is cooking, peel and cut the butternut squash into ½” cubes. Place on a sheet tray and toss with the rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Toss until the squash is well coated. Roast until the squash is tender and starting to brown, around 30 minutes.
  • Finally, make the walnut cream. Drain the soaking water and place the walnuts in a blender. Add the water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until smooth, adding a splash or two more water as needed.
  • Once the farro is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in ¾ of the butternut squash and the walnut cream sauce. Stir and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the cream sauce has thickened a bit and the risotto looks creamy. Divide into four bowls and top with remaining butternut squash and freshly cracked black pepper.

Keywords: farro risotto, vegan risotto, walnut cream, roasted butternut squash

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.