All the world is nuts about
What's in The Nut Gourmet
for a Delectable Easter Meal
Awe-inspired holidays like Easter enrich our lives in so many ways. Spiritually, Easter's origins reach far into our souls with long established rituals and traditions that for many provide completeness and fulfillment. Socially, the occasion is often shared with others, not only our close family and friends but also with global communities uniting to observe the holiday's ceremonial practices.
And isn't it impossible to imagine celebrating any holiday without the sharing of a delectable meal rich with flavor and bursting with color. While many Americans may have established the long-standing habit of always serving ham for Easter, vegetarians consider a healthier and more humane option, one with inviting eye appeal, tantalizing flavor, and wholesome satiety. The featured dish focuses on legumes and freshly harvested spring vegetables laced with robust seasonings.
Carpe diem! Seize the day by presenting your family with a sumptuous entrée of wine-infused Ragout that can be made the day before and quickly warmed before serving over creamy Polenta that can also be prepared ahead.
A crisp Over the Rainbow Slaw with its grand array of brilliant colors and fresh vegetables reflects Mother Nature's best seasonal offerings. Marinated in apple cider vinegar and complemented with sweet dried cranberries, this coleslaw boasts its beauty as it stands tall on a bed of delicate Boston lettuce.
Easy side dishes may include lightly steamed asparagus, fresh snap peas, or baked and mashed butternut squash. Perhaps a fruit salsa might be your choice for an entrée accompaniment.
The dinner guests unfailingly await the grand finish with anticipation. Dessert time arrives and you're ready with a stunning sweet finish that quickly earns WOWS. Watch their eyes sparkle and their smiles stretch wider as you serve the ultra-decadent Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie.
Perk up the salad course with a welcome departure from the uninspired, obligatory plate of lettuce and tomatoes. Excite the celebrants with a visual feast to begin the meal. Colorful foods not only entice, but also nourish the body and the soul. Enjoy every morsel from the first crunchy taste to the last pleasing mouthful.
OVER THE RAINBOW SLAW
Yield: 6 servings
1/4 head of small green cabbage, shredded, about 5 cups
1/4 head medium-size purple cabbage, shredded, about 4 cups
1 large broccoli crown, coarsely chopped, stems shredded, about 3 cups
1 small acorn or sweet dumpling squash, peeled and coarsely shredded, about 2 cups
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup (80 ml) dried cranberries
1/3 cup (80 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 heads Boston lettuce
1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Combine all the ingredients except the Boston lettuce and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and toss them thoroughly to distribute the flavors evenly.
- Tear the Boston lettuce into salad-size pieces and line a large platter or individual salad plates with the pieces. Spoon the slaw onto the platter, mounding it into the center, and garnish with the cherry tomatoes.
NOTE: To highlight the crunch, add 1/3 cup (80 ml) of toasted sliced almonds to the slaw or sprinkle them over the slaw as garnish.
Ragout's origins emerge from the French ragouter meaning to stimulate the appetite. The typical French ragout usually consists of a thick, highly seasoned stew of meat and sometimes vegetables. The traditional Italian version, ragu, is also a thick, well-seasoned meat stew laced with dry red wine, milk, or cream and sometimes served over pasta. Borrowing from the European master chefs who created ragout, we stray from their high-fat, meat-based tradition to offer an appetizing, full-bodied, wine-infused and low fat stew that features vegetables and beans served over creamy polenta.
POLENTA GOES RAGOUT
Yield: 6 servings
4 cups (1 liter) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240 ml) whole-grain fine or medium grind cornmeal
1 pound (450g) Brussels sprouts, quartered (about 12 to 13 sprouts)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large sweet onion, sliced vertically
1 large portabella mushroom, chopped or 8 ounces (225g) sliced button mushrooms
1 15-ounce (425g) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) dry red wine
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
1 or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 or 2 tablespoons water
- TO MAKE THE POLENTA, have ready a large, round or oval platter. Combine the water, soymilk, and salt in a 4-quart (1 liter) saucepan.
- Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and add the cornmeal. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cornmeal is fully cooked and reaches the consistency of thick oatmeal. It is now polenta. Turn the polenta out onto the large platter and refrigerate it about 1 hour to firm it up.
- TO MAKE THE RAGOUT, combine the Brussels sprouts, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, wine, water, and soy sauce in a deep 12-inch (30 cm) skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts are tender.
- Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir well to form a thin paste. Add the paste to the simmering wine sauce a little at a time, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until the sauce is thickened to desired consistency.
- To serve, cut the polenta into pie-shaped wedges, place a serving on each dish, and spoon a generous portion of the warm Ragout over the top.
Peanut butter and bananas are such good friends--a relationship that began when they teamed up to please the peanut butter and banana sandwich crowd. The friendship blossomed through many pairings, sometimes in smoothies, cookies, and even ice cream flavors. Their ultimate goal was to become a tantalizing gourmet dessert that's creamy rich, decadently sweet, and memorably delicious. Have they attained their aspirations? You be the judge.
PEANUT BUTTER BANANA CREAM PIE
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 prepared 9-inch (23 cm) graham cracker pie crust
1/3 cup (80 ml) chunky peanut butter
1 small banana, sliced
1 12.3-ounce (340g) box extra firm silken tofu
1 small banana, cut into coarse chunks
1/2 cup (120 ml) organic sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest
Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
2 ounces (56g) unsweetened chocolate (2 squares)
1/2 cup (120 ml) soymilk
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped dry roasted peanuts
- TO MAKE THE PIE FILLING, spoon the peanut butter into the prepared pie crust and spread it to the edges with the back of a spoon. Arrange the banana slices over the peanut butter and set it aside.
- Combine the silken tofu, coarse chunks of banana, organic sugar, vanilla extract, butter flavoring, and lemon zest in the blender and process until smooth and creamy. You may have to stop the machine and redistribute ingredients once or twice.
- Pour the creamy filling over the banana slices and smooth the top, spreading it to the edges. Protect the top of the pie with a dome-shaped cover or tented aluminum foil, and refrigerate the pie for several hours or overnight.
- TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE, melt the chocolate squares in a 1-quart (1 liter) saucepan over very low heat. Stir continuously for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Add the soymilk, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract to the chocolate and stir frequently for about 2 to 4 minutes to dissolve the sugar and blend the ingredients thoroughly. Set the sauce aside until ready to serve the pie.
- To serve, briefly warm the chocolate sauce over low heat, place a slice of pie on each dessert dish, drizzle the warm chocolate sauce over the top, and finish with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.
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