One of the things I love the most about blogging is the blog community. I’ve shared that before, especially in posts like the monthly feature I began in October, Blog Love.
I don’t feel like the blogging world is competitive or filled with envy or bloggers trying to ‘one-up’ the others. To me, it’s an encouraging atmosphere, where we learn from each other and cheer each other on through good and bad times – and recipes! When another blogger adapts one of our recipes, we’re thrilled at their creativity rather than irritated that they didn’t use ours word-for-word.
Well, I had friends over for dinner last Saturday and what I loved most about it was adapting and using some recipes from some of my favourite blogs, combining those recipes with my own, and putting together a menu that would impress while still being healthy and, of course, vegetarian and naturally sweet.
As a starter, I went for a trio of dips – from left, hummus (store-bought, though I’m sure there are some excellent recipes out there), my roasted red pepper dip, and Tandoori Mmmm Sauce from Mama Pea over at Peas and Thank You, served with plain pita chips, lime rice chips (we had a gluten-free guest) and chopped veggies: carrots, celery and red pepper.
For my main, I worked on a butternut squash risotto recipe that used pureed butternut squash as part of the ‘sauce’, if you like, rather than cubes of butternut squash added to a plain risotto.
Using pureed butternut squash produces a really creamy risotto without adding calories and fat. This is easily made vegan by simply omitting the Parmesan cheese at the end – and because the Parmesan is added at the end, you can add it to some people’s risotto and not to others, if you only have a couple of people who are vegan or dairy-free.
I served this with balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Mmm….recipes for both the risotto and the veggies are at the end of this post!
For dessert, I was determined to make Angela’s Chilled Double Chocolate Torte. I’ve seen this recipe over at Oh She Glows a gazillion times and drooled over it, so it was about time I made it! It’s a no-bake chocolate torte that uses avocados in the filling to give the recipe a rich, creamy texture without unnecessary dairy and fat. I used 76% chocolate melted throughout so the sugar content was minimal. It is sweetened with maple syrup, and you can also cut down on the amount you include if you are okay with very dark chocolate and its bitterness. If you’re serving to guests who are used to sugar I would keep the maple syrup quantities as suggested.
Quick rundown of changes I made to Angela’s recipe:
- Not really a ‘change’, as Angela just says to use 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips without specifying a percentage, but just as an FYI I used 76% chocolate chips to keep it dark and low in sugar.
- I forgot to put the coconut oil in the crust, so there was no oil in mine, but it stuck together fine!
- I swapped arrowroot powder for tapioca, as Whole Paycheque was out of arrowroot when I went. Tapioca acted great as a thickening agent.
- I used almond butter instead of peanut butter.
- I topped mine with a few tablespoons of melted 76% chocolate chips, drizzled over the top of the cake, and then I took one of my always-in-my-cupboard Lindt 85% chocolate bars and, using a vegetable peeler, shaved the sides to sprinkle the torte with chocolate shavings.
It was a great night, and inspired me to create another menu – we’ll be having friends over for Christmas dinner this year, so it’s going to be an elaborate menu!
- Do you have any ideas/suggestions for a Thanksgiving/Christmas vegetarian meal? It’s always tough to come up with vegetarian alternatives that won’t make people miss the turkey!
- What’s the most elaborate dinner party you’ve ever planned? I remember working on a murder mystery dinner party with my college roommates. It was so much fun and so complicated as there wasn’t just food and drink to work out but costumes and characters to play too!
Butternut Squash Risotto
INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6):
4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 400g package frozen butternut squash cubes, or 1 medium butternut squash, chopped into cubes
1 tbsp butter/margarine/Olivina (I used Olivina, an olive oil-based margarine)
3 tsp minced garlic
4 shallots, chopped small
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3 tsp dried sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely (for garnish)
1. Steam butternut squash cubes for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Mash and add to saucepan with the vegetable stock. Keep warm on low heat.
2. Melt butter/margarine in a large Dutch oven and add shallots and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, until the shallot begins to get soft.
3. Add rice and dried sage, stir until rice is lightly toasted. Add wine and salt and pepper. Stir well.
4. Adding a ladleful at a time, slowly add stock and squash mixture to rice. Stir well until stock is absorbed by rice and then add another ladleful. This process will take around half an hour.
5. Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve topped with sprinkled fresh parsley.
Nutritional information for risotto if serves 6:
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 bunches asparagus tips
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, for glaze
1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Peel the outer layer of sprouts off, trim ends and chop them in half. Place them in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.
3. Transfer to an oiled roasting pan; roast for 15 minutes.
4. Toss asparagus tips in the same bowl with the oil and vinegar mix and add to the roasting pan as you turn the Brussels sprouts.
5. Roast all veggies for another 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and toss in the remaining olive oil vinegar mixture in the bowl, then transfer to a serving plate.
7. Over a low heat, heat the balsamic vinegar for the glaze. As it heats it will begin to thicken.
8. Once it has thickened to the consistency of a glaze, take off the heat and drizzle over the vegetables. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information for roasted vegetables if serves 6: