VT’s 2011 Reader Recipe Contest: The Main Event

Adorn your holiday table with one of these wow-worthy winners from our 2011 Reader Recipe Contest
VT's 2011 Reader Recipe Contest: The Main Event

For the 2011 Reader Recipe Contest, we asked for wow—holiday-style, pull-out-all-the-stops, everyone-goes-back-for-seconds wow. And boy, did this year’s winners deliver. From inventive enchiladas, savory stuffed mushrooms, and a nontraditional casserole (the winners) to luscious lasagna, hearty bourguignon, and an elegant eggplant dish (the honorable mentions), these amazing entrées have the looks and taste to delight both vegetarians and omnivores at any special occasion.

Presented By


1st Place

James McNulty, Whitsett, N.C. 
Prize: $500 

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
(pictured)
Serves 8

Right from the start, the originality and flavor profile of this recipe made it a standout for VT taste testers. “My wife and I eat this dish a lot in the fall and winter months. We make it when we’re having guests (vegetarian and not) because we know everyone will enjoy it,” explains James McNulty. “It can be made the night before and it travels well, so it’s great for a potluck or a holiday party.”

Sauce

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. Simply Organic chili powder
1 tsp. Simply Organic garlic powder
1 tsp. Simply Organic onion powder
1 tsp. Simply Organic dried oregano
1/2 tsp. Simply Organic chipotle chile powder

Filling

1 Tbs. Spectrum extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (3 cups)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 16-oz. jar prepared medium salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, drained and minced
1 15-oz. can Eden Organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12-oz. round queso fresco, divided

Enchiladas

Spectrum extra virgin olive oil, for brushing baking dish
16 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish, optional

1. To make Sauce: Bring all ingredients to a simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine, then remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

2. To make Filling: Heat oil in separate saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, chipotle chile, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Mash mixture with potato masher until combined. Add black beans, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in half of queso fresco, and remove from heat.

3. To assemble Enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 13- x 9-inch baking dish with oil. Spread 1/2 cup Sauce in bottom of dish. Fill tortillas with Filling. Roll, and pack close together seam-side down in baking dish. Top with remaining Sauce and queso fresco. Bake 15 minutes.

4. Adjust oven to broil. Broil Enchiladas 5 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, avocado slices, sour cream, and cilantro sprigs, if using.

PER serving (2 ENCHILADAS): 435 CAL; 13 G PROT; 15 G TOTAL FAT (5 G SAT FAT); 65 G CARB; 20 MG CHOL; 963 MG SOD; 11 G FIBER; 11 G SUGARS

2nd place
Chance Genovese, Alton, Ill.
Prize: $300

Natale Stuffed Portobellos
Serves 4

The inspiration for this recipe came from Chance Genovese’s Italian heritage. “I wanted a dish that used traditional ingredients of Italy but were easily found at the local market,” says Genovese, who adopted a meat-free diet at a very young age. “Above all, I knew the dish had to be easy to prepare in the chaos of a holiday celebration.”

Mushrooms

1/4 cup Bragg extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. Spectrum balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
4 large portobello mushroom caps

Filling

2 Tbs. breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. Bragg extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1/2 cup light cream or Silk soy creamer
10 oz. fresh spinach leaves (8 cups)
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped

1. To make Mushrooms: Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic in bowl. Brush mushroom caps with oil mixture, and place on baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.

2. To make Filling: Toast breadcrumbs on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes, or until light brown. Set aside.

3. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in cream, and cook 2 minutes. Add spinach, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Stir in cheeses, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon Filling into mushroom caps, and top with toasted breadcrumbs.

PER STUFFED MUSHROOM: 348 CAL; 14 G PROT; 27 G TOTAL FAT (10 G SAT FAT); 17 G CARB; 48 MG CHOL; 229 MG SOD; 5 G FIBER; 6 G SUGARS

3rd place
Rhee Lightner, Hagerstown, Md.
Prize: $200

Mini Mango and Black Bean Casseroles
Serves 6

When longtime vegetarian Rhee Lightner cooks for her omnivorous family, her goal is “to make food that is so delicious they don’t even think about what they’re eating.” She came up with this dish on a cold, rainy day when she wanted to eat “something sustaining, comforting—and wholesome, and the idea of making a nontraditional dish for the holidays appealed to me.”

Polenta

2 13.5-oz. cans full-fat coconut milk
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill polenta
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. Bragg nutritional yeast
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Simply Organic crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. Simply Organic ground cumin

Mole

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. minced unsweetened chocolate
1 Tbs. raisins, finely chopped
2 tsp. honey
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 tsp. Simply Organic crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. Simply Organic cinnamon powder

Casseroles

1 tsp. olive oil, plus more for ramekins and polenta
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 15-oz. can Eden Organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. lime juice
3/4 cup diced fresh mango
6 slices Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbs. dried cilantro

1. To make Polenta: Bring 2 cups coconut milk, 1 cup water, and remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until thick.

2. Coat 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Smooth Polenta mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate overnight.

3. To make Mole: Simmer all ingredients in saucepan over medium-low heat 3 minutes, or until sauce is smooth.

4. To assemble Casseroles: Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook 5 minutes. Add black beans, almonds, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and Mole. Fold in mango.

5. Preheat oven to broil. Brush 6 1-cup ramekins with oil, and place on baking sheet. Scoop 1/3 cup black bean mixture into each ramekin.

6. Unmold Polenta from cake pan, and cut into 6 rounds with 3-inch round cutter. Sauté Polenta rounds in oil in medium skillet until browned on both sides. Place Polenta rounds over bean mixture in ramekins, top with cheese, and sprinkle with dried cilantro. Broil 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

PER CASSEROLE: 380 CAL; 10 G PROT; 19 G TOTAL FAT (4 G SAT FAT); 45 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 617 MG SOD; 9 G FIBER; 10 G SUGARS

Honorable Mention
Ann Ambrose, Englewood, Colo.

Quorn Bourguignon
Serves 4

“My father loved Julia Child and French cooking,” says Ann Ambrose. “In this dish, I united my dad’s love of French cooking with my love of low-fat vegetarian food to create a veg version of classic boeuf bourguignon. After looking at Julia Child’s recipe, I thought Quorn would substitute nicely for the beef and enable me to reduce the cooking time.” Serve with wide egg-free noodles or brown rice pasta.

2 Tbs. Spectrum organic olive oil, divided
2 Tbs. Spectrum Naturals spread, divided
1 1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
1 750-mL bottle Côtes du Rhône or Beaujolais red wine
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
12 oz. Quorn “chicken” tenders
1 1/2 Tbs. Bob’s Red Mill organic unbleached white flour
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet
sour cream, for garnish

1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil and 1 Tbs. spread in medium saucepan over high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook in oil 3 to 4 minutes, or until they darken but still retain their moisture. Remove from pan, and set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Add onion, carrot, and thyme; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add wine, and increase heat to high. Simmer 5 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by half. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Add Quorn tenders and mushrooms with any liquid that has collected; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes.

4. Combine remaining 1 Tbs. spread and flour with fork. Stir flour mixture into stew. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, if desired; serve garnished with parsley and sour cream.

PER 11/2-CUP SERVING: 303 CAL; 15 G PROT; 15 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 30 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 619 MG SOD; 8 G FIBER; 12 G SUGARS

Honorable Mention
Lisa Grey, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Lisa’s Macadamia Lasagna
Serves 8

“I came up with this recipe because I usually avoid dairy foods and soy,” says nutrition blogger and vegetarian Lisa Grey. “I really miss cheese, particularly ricotta, so I experimented until I came up with macadamia ricotta.” When making this recipe for the holidays, Grey suggests topping the dish with spinach leaves and red bell peppers for a bit of festive color, then drizzling with 1 to 2 tablespoons walnut oil before baking to prevent the veggies from drying out.

Sauce

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Simply Organic dried oregano
1 tsp. Simply Organic dried basil

Macadamia Ricotta

1 Tbs. Spectrum whole flaxseeds
12 oz. unsalted macadamia nuts
2 Tbs. Bragg nutritional yeast
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried garlic flakes
1 tsp. Simply Organic dried oregano
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Lasagna

2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 lb. whole-grain lasagna noodles
1 small onion, finely diced (1 cup)
1 12-oz. pkg. Quorn meatless ground
2 cups sliced mushrooms

1. To make Sauce: Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

2. To make Macadamia Ricotta: Grind flaxseeds in spice or coffee grinder until finely powdered. Pulse nuts in food processor until chopped. Add all remaining ingredients and ground flaxseeds to nuts in food processor, and blend 30 seconds. Pour 1/4 cup water through feed tube with food processor running, and blend until smooth, ricotta-like consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. To assemble Lasagna: Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub 13- x 9-inch baking dish with 1 Tbs. oil.

4. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat; add onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat.

5. Spread layer of lasagna noodles in bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread thin layer of Macadamia Ricotta over noodles. Sprinkle with one-third portion each of Quorn ground, onion, and mushrooms. Cover with one-third of Sauce. Repeat layering until all Quorn, onion, and mushrooms have been used, then top with layer of noodles and Sauce. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until Lasagna is hot and bubbly.

PER SLICE: 639 CAL; 22 G PROT; 39 G TOTAL FAT (6 G SAT FAT); 59 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 415 MG SOD; 16 G FIBER; 8 G SUGARS

Honorable Mention
Nancy Toenniges, Wayzata, Minn.


Stuffed Eggplant Royale with Buttery Saffron Rice

Serves 6

“My grandmother once told me that if I ever wanted to make a man fall in love with me, I should make him this dish,” says Nancy Toenniges. “Of course, she was talking about a version with lamb; since I don’t eat meat, I reworked it—but it’s still a meal men can’t resist.”

Stuffed Eggplant

3large eggplants, cut into 3-inch-thick rounds
4 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling eggplant, divided
2 medium onions, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 12-oz. pkg. Quorn meatless ground
1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. Simply Organic cayenne pepper
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes

Rice

1/4-1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup broken angel hair pasta
2 cups Lundberg long-grain white rice
1/2 tsp. saffron
1 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Salt eggplant rounds on both sides, and place on large platter. Let sweat 20 minutes. Rinse off salt, and transfer to 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Drizzle with oil, flip rounds over, and drizzle with oil again. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and cook 20 minutes, or until onions begin to brown. Increase heat to medium-high, and add pine nuts. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until pine nuts are browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer onion mixture to plate.

3. Add remaining 2 Tbs. oil and Quorn ground to pan. Sauté over medium heat 7 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Stir in allspice, cayenne, and onion mixture; season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Use teaspoon to push shallow well into center of each eggplant round. Spoon 1 1/2 Tbs. tomato paste into each round. Divide Quorn mixture among eggplant rounds. Top each round with 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes; some should spill over into baking dish. Add 1/2 cup water to pan, cover with foil, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, reduce oven temperature to 300°F, and bake 10 minutes more. Cover loosely with foil, and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

5. To make Rice: Heat butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add angel hair pasta, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Stir in long-grain rice until coated with butter. Add saffron, salt, and 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until Rice is tender. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with fork.
6. Serve eggplant rounds on bed of Rice.

PER SERVING (1 EGGPLANT ROUND AND 1 CUP RICE): 502 CAL; 16 G PROT; 37 G TOTAL FAT (11 G SAT FAT); 37 G CARB; 31 MG CHOL; 511 MG SOD; 15 G FIBER; 12 G SUGARS

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comments

For the Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas, I used flour tortillas because the corn tortillas split open when I rolled them. 5 minutes of broiling left the top black. Otherwise, great recipe; definitely a keeper!

Austin - 2012-11-14 01:40:07