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November 12, 2014

Creamy mushroom gravy {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Creamy mushroom gravy, #vegetarian and #glutenfree.

Uh-oh. You just found out a couple of vegetarians are coming for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, the most turkey-centric holiday of the year. Do not be afraid; you really can provide your non-meat-eating guests with the same great holiday experience as the carnivores. After all, Thanksgiving is about the side dishes: mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce. And all of those are basically meatless, except the gravy. Here's a great vegetarian alternative, one I always serve in addition to traditional turkey gravy. A mix of wild mushrooms gives this gravy the "meaty" richness of turkey drippings; cream and a cornstarch slurry add the requisite viscosity to slither over mounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Make this a few days ahead, and store in the refrigerator in a tightly-closed container. Reheat before serving, and season as needed with salt and pepper. (For more vegetarian-friendly holiday recipes, including main dishes that everyone will enjoy, check out my e-cookbook, Meatless Holidays.)

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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October 26, 2014

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks. #meatlessmonday #glutenfree #vegetarian

In my house, we're big on breakfast-for-dinner. We also love breakfast in the morning, at brunch, and for light lunches. Whether I'm feeding a crowd, or just want to cook once and make enough for several breakfast portions during the week, I love egg and cheese casseroles. Mix in any vegetables you have on hand (use up leftover steamed or roasted vegetables, if you have those). Stir in some beans, or shrimp, or roast chicken. Play with color. For this casserole, I started with half of a butternut squash left from a soup-making day. Using the large-holed side of a box grater, I (carefully!) shredded the squash so it would cook quickly and evenly. Red bell pepper added sweetness and color, and the one leek (also left from soup-making) contributed its own sweet onion flavor. In my egg casseroles, I often prefer a store-bought low-fat Italian cheese blend; you can swap in shredded mozzarella and provolone mixed with a bit of parmesan cheese. Served with crusty bread and a simple green salad, this vegetarian dish would be perfect for Meatless Monday.

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October 1, 2014

Pear and pluot chutney with raisins and ginger {vegan, gluten-free}

Turkey and cheese roll-ups with pear and pluot chutney.

In my house, Thanksgiving comes twice a year: once in mid-October, when we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with my husband Ted's family, and again in November, when the Americans take their turn. It wouldn't be Canadian Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law's decorated baked potato turkeys, maple-leaf printed napkins, little paper Canadian flags on toothpicks scattered here and there, and moose-shaped cookies. We do love our traditions. Every year, I cook turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie, and from the harvest from our pear trees, I make mildly-peppery tart chutney to serve alongside the more traditional cranberry sauce. A few weeks ago, I found some wonderful pluots at the market and thought they'd make a sweet counterpart to the pears. A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot; sometimes they're sold as plumcots. If you can't find them at your market, substitute ripe plums in this recipe. Chutney, an Indian condiment often served with curries, likes to "bloom" for a few weeks in the refrigerator in order to reach its peak flavor. Make it now, and it will be perfect for whichever Thanksgiving you celebrate. (In the photo above, I've slathered it on a turkey and provolone roll-up.)

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September 24, 2014

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens. #vegetarian #glutenfree

In high school chemistry class, my lab partner, Bill, did all of the experiments, and I handled the write-ups. This division of labor served us well, as it had the previous year in biology lab, except that I had the hardest time describing the colors of whatever concoction was reacting in the test tube. Orangish-yellow? Reddish-purple? Bill and I struggled over what to name our colors. (Obviously, neither of us grew up to work for Benjamin Moore paints or J. Crew, where we could have gotten a whole lot more creative with color names.) I don't know how to describe the color of this roasted beet risotto, either. Red? Pink? Salmon? Reddish-pinkish-salmon? It's gorgeous, I'll say that, and the photos really do show its beauty. However, for the taste, which is also glorious and and creamy and a bit sweet from the roasted beets, you'll have to make it yourself. If goat cheese isn't your thing, you can substitute feta, but feta doesn't melt, so your risotto will be more red. Reddish-purple. Oh, you know.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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