Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Big Event

Recently, I planned the food for 100+ people at my church for the kick-off to our annual pledge drive. I was approached about helping with vegetarian and gluten-free options for the event and proposed a primarily Vegan and Gluten-free menu (we ended up with two non-GF items: breadsticks and breaded shrimp - the one non-vegan item as well.) Both of those items were purchased at Costco, and were basically the only things I didn't "make" for the dinner (FYI - the desserts were made by another member). Here's the menu, and below the photo are the recipes. Enjoy!
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on veggies (cucumbers, carrot chips, etc.)
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers
- Twice Baked Potato Bites with Pesto & Asparagus
- Breaded Shrimp with Balsamic Drizzle
- Zesty Tomato Soup
- Breadsticks
- Rustic Polenta Pie

Rustic Polenta Pie
1 1/2 cups Polenta (Corn grits)
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large butternut squash
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 zucchini, sliced thinly
2 cups fresh spinach or kale, coarsely chopped
1 large package mushrooms, sliced (about 1/4 inch thick, can be white or portobello)
1 frozen package artichoke hearts, defrosted and minced
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and minced
Pesto -OR- Marinara sauce
Fresh basil
Red Pepper Flakes

Lightly oil a 9” springform pan (for a fancy torte) or lasagna/casserole pan.

Roast the squash: heat oven to 375 and halve squash, scoop out seeds, and wrap in aluminum foil (or place cut-side-down on a cookie sheet). Bake for 45 minutes or until very soft. Remove and allow to cool.

Prepare polenta layer: Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and olive oil, and slowly whisk in polenta (add in a stream, not all at once, stirring constantly). Continue to stir frequently, adding water if it gets hard to stir, and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t stick. Simmer about 20 minutes, until it is thick, sort of coming away from the sides of the pan when you stir it, and thick enough for a spoon to mostly stand up by itself in it. Remove from heat and pour into prepared pan. Cool to room temperature and put in fridge for 20 minutes or so, while you are prepping the other layers.

Squash: Scoop out squash into a large bowl and add balsamic vinegar, salt. and pepper.
Leafy green: wash, dry, and coarsely chop.
Mushrooms: clean with damp paper towel and trim stems. Slice.
Zucchini: wash and slice thinly.
Artichoke hearts: mince and mix in bowl.

Remove polenta from fridge (should be fairly solid by now). Spread squash over entire surface evenly, then top with layers of greens, mushrooms, zucchini, and artichoke hearts. If using pesto, spread it in a layer between zucchini and artichoke hearts. Cover pan with foil and bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes. Let cool down a bit (at least 10 minutes) before removing spring-form and slicing for best presentation. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, and pepper flakes, and serve topped with marinara sauce if using.

Quinoa Stuffing (for stuffing Mushrooms and Bell Peppers)
2 cups quinoa
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried basil
Stems from 1 package of mushrooms

Rinse quinoa well and put in a pot with 4 cups of water, a splash of oil, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince the onion, garlic, combine in a microwave-safe covered dish with tablespoon of olive oil. Microwave for 5 minutes. Mince mushroom stems, and zucchini. Add to onion mixture and microwave for another two minutes. Add salt, pepper, spices, and minced sun-dried tomatoes. Mix into quinoa, and use to stuff mushroom caps and halved bell peppers. Bake stuffed veggies for 15 minutes (or until veggies are tender-crisp) at 400 degrees. If desired, top with bread crumbs before baking the mushrooms and peppers.

8 oz Fresh Basil
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Almond Butter

Put all ingredients EXCEPT almond butter in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add almond butter and pulse just until well-mixed. Keeps in fridge for a looooooooong time.

Red Pepper Hummus
2 cans (15.5 oz.) of garbanzo beans, drained
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water, adjust as needed

Put all ingredients EXCEPT garbanzo beans and water in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add beans and pulse to desired consistency, adding water as needed. Keeps in fridge for a week, but tastes yummiest the first day.

Potato Boats w/Asparagus
1 lb Asparagus
3 lbs Small red potatoes
1/4 cup Pesto
Plain Soymilk

Boil potatoes until done, 5-10 minutes depending on size. Cool.

Blanch Asparagus (Trim, submerge in boiling water for 3 minutes or so until crisp-tender). Chop into 1/2 inch lengths.

Halve potatoes and scoop out insides with a melon baller, leaving a 1/4 inch or so of potato on the skins to give it shape.
Mash potato innards with pesto, salt, pepper, and soymilk, using just enough soymilk to make them creamy. Stir in asparagus, and re-fill potato skins. Bake at 400 degrees until hot all the way through.