Friday, January 21

Cook Book Challenge Week #2

Tonight's Menu:  Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping

This dinner was the real deal, grown-up meal!  I've heard lots of raves about this, so I was looking forward to trying it myself.  Also, being that it was the last thing I made this week, I had to made some adjustments and substitutions.  The first thing I made was the cashew ricotta.  We picked up a bag of raw cashews at Trader Joe's last month, so I was good there.  The rest of the recipe was pretty much thrown together... no lemon- so I subbed water and a squeeze of grapefruit, and I accidentally bought silken instead of firm
tofu.  I think it still turned out okay, considering it was my first attempt. 

don't let the picture fool you, it's delic!
Next, the caramelized onions.  The recipe called for two, but as Chad "detests" onions, I reduced it to one.  They smelled so good, and surprisingly right around the 12-15 minute mark, they began to brown.  This was easier than I expected.

The final step, where I cheated the most, was the sage breadcrumbs.  The recipe tip said that these "make the recipe," but as we didn't have a crumb of bread in the house to start with, I had to use the boxed ones we had in the pantry.  We were out of walnuts, so I used pecans (which were pretty amazing).  AND finally, I couldn't bring myself to use a full 1/4 cup of margarine, so I just tossed in a "healthy" spoonful and away toasted my "homemade" sage breadcrumbs. 

I tossed the pasta in the pumpkin mixture, spread it into the pan, sprinkled generously with breadcrumbs, and let it bubble away in the oven... while I cleaned my now disastrous kitchen (dirty food processor, dozens of mixing bowls, spatulas, pans and crumbs galore).  The first bite made all the work well-worth it!  The cashew-ricotta-pumpkin mixture was rich and creamy, the onions were a sweet contrast, and the flavorful breadcrumbs added just the right crunch.  I'll definitely make this again, and maybe I'll even use all the right ingredients and make my own bread crumbs... maybe!

Now that Veganomicon week is over, I'm happy with my selection of recipes.  Even though I played it safe (BBQ and Mac Daddy), I'm looking forward to trying some more adventurous recipes from the book.  There's so much left to explore!

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