To paraphrase The Bard: What’s in a name? A Rose is a Rose; if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all; they’ve all got thorns.(Shakespeare… or Bret Michaels).
I have received feedback from several sources (including my Standard American Diet significant other [a.k.a. “The Big Guy”]) that vegetarian health-foods with familiar, S.A.D. names set an immediate expectation that will likely disappoint a reluctant taste-subject.
With that in mind, I am determined to exercise more discretion when naming and promoting my recipes… I will try to avoid phrases like “It smells just like a Rose!” when describing a Nightingale. Both may smell wonderful, but they are not interchangeable.
This week I have reimagined a baked dish, whose main ingredients are green beans, vegan cream of mushroom sauce and fried onions.
I know what you are thinking… and STOP IT RIGHT NOW! Don’t utter aloud the totally obvious dish that comes to mind, or it will confuse and draw ridicule from your S.A.D. audience.
Instead, allow me to set the stage: you are skipping along a forest path… perhaps you are carrying a basket of nourishing treats for your ailing Grandmother, or maybe you are following a trail of breadcrumbs… Shimmering rays of sunlight have pierced the canopy and are dappling the ground, illuminating the iridescent snail trails and the glittering dew-covered grass tuffets. Presently you come to a quaint, thatch-roofed cottage, where tantalizing aroma tendrils hook you up each nostril, gracefully lift you from the moss-covered forest floor, and bear you toward an inviting kitchen. There, a Faery Godmother delivers a steaming dish from the wood-burning oven and presents it to you on the smooth-worn table.
Vegetarian Hunter Casserole (vegan)
6 cups fresh green beans (ends trimmed off and cut to 1-1 ½ “ lengths)
4 cups water
2.5 cups black rice (well rinsed)
3 cups dried shiitake mushrooms (or 4 cups fresh)
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup raw cashews (soaked at least 4 hrs or overnight)
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
4 cups water (or vegetable broth)
1 Tbs pho seasoning (optional, but amazing)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Ume plum vinegar
1 Tbs vegetarian Worcestershire
2 cups fried onion topping (GF is available and even inexpensive varieties can be found at international grocery stores)
(Remember to cover your cashews with water and allow them to soak at least 4 hrs prior to making this recipe.)
Dissolve pho seasoning into 4 cups water (or vegetable broth) and prepare (rinsed) black rice according to package instruction. (I have a rice maker. I set it on “brown rice” setting and just let it do its thing. Works great!)
While rice is cooking, fill a large pot with about 4 cups of water, and add the mushrooms, allowing them to “reconstitute” for about 30 minutes.
Remove the (now soggy) mushrooms, reserving the water.
Dice the mushrooms and set aside.
Bring the reserved water to a boil and toss in the green beans. Boil for about 5 minutes (until tender and BRIGHT green.) Drain the green beans and flush with ice or cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
Sautee the onions, garlic and diced mushrooms in about 1 tsp olive oil. Once they are starting to brown, remove from heat and set aside.
Blend or food process the cashews, almond milk, pho seasoning, smoked paprika, sea salt, ume plum vinegar, vegetarian Worcestershire (most Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. Which are fish. And for the purposes of this blog: fish –> NOT VEGETARIAN. You can buy vegan “woosh” at a healthfood store, but now even some main-stream-cheaper-brands are choosing to omit anchovies as an ingredient. Or you can make your own! READ YOUR LABELS.) Blend until smooth and creamy.
Let oven preheat to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease your baking dish with oil of your preference.
Gently combine all ingredients EXCEPT the fried onions. Stir to evenly distribute the components of the recipe. Transfer to your prepared casserole dish and top with the fried onions.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minute, until the onions begin to toast.
This dish should be served and enjoyed warm, to the delight of lost and hungry children, fae-folk, woodsmen and merry forest bandits.