Moroccan Stuffed Squash RELOADED!

Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash Reloaded with Quinoa - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Once in a while I have a recipe that I just keep coming back to and improving and evolving. Lately I’ve been enjoying lots of dinner parties and I’ve been cooking for friends very regularly. I’ve been cooking a lot of stuffed vegetables and experimenting with different fillings.

Just in the last few weeks I’ve cooked either my Tempeh Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Peppers, and Stuffed Squash about a dozen times. (These are all recipes from my vegan cookbook.) It’s just so fun to make a giant batch of tomato rice or spicy quinoa or couscous and mix it up with more spices and other delicious foodstuffs. And then of course to fill up the vegetables and throw them in the oven.

A few days ago one of my good friends gave me an enormous zucchini from his home garden. I totally laughed when I saw the 2.5 kilogram monster squash. Everyone at our picnic was quite amused when I passed around the homegrown gift. It took me a few days to figure out how to best honor the gigantic gourd. And then it came to me yesterday afternoon: Make a killer variation of my Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash!

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Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash

Moroccan Stuffed Squash - Couscous, dried apricots, herbs - vegan recipe from world travel

Last Thursday I found some great posts from travel blogger friends who also visited Morocco.

I started with Jaime’s Breakaway Backpacker post on the beautiful mountain town of Chefchouen, with breathtaking photos of the blue town. Soon, I found a similar post by Robert of Leave Your Daily Hell, and this post on Travels of Adam. One thing you’ll probably notice: travelers have mixed experiences in Morocco. It’s an intense place. You’re sure to find great food, meet incredible people, and see some fantastic sights. However, it’s also extremely likely some of the food, people, and places will provide material for great travel stories of misadventure and malady. That’s Morocco!

Isn’t it cool to read others’ blogs about places you’ve been, or dream of seeing yourself? For me, it’s a great way to relive and revive travel memories, and totally inspiring for future travel adventures.

All these awesome photos and stories got me thinking about my own travels in Morocco and the food I had there. It’s true: vegetarian and vegan options in Morocco are often limited to varieties of vegetable tagine and vegetable cous-cous. After eating these two dishes twice a day you might start to get a little bored, as I did, but you never have to look too far for an excellent, unforgettable veggie cous-cous or tagine.

For me, it was on one of my last nights in sleepy, chilled-out Chefchouen at a somewhat fancy restaurant decorated wonderfully with tiles, flowers, and plants. The night air was cool and refreshing, the view of the town and surrounding hills and valley: majestic. I can still smell and taste the fluffy cous-cous, the soft chickpeas bathed in a sweet and savoury stew of vegetables, and the delicate flavors of the dried fruits and nuts accenting the dish. In fact, nearly all of my kitchen adventures with Moroccan cuisine since then have been attempts to recreate the experience of that heavenly meal.

This recipe below for delicious, vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash can be used with just about any kind of big squash, or made on it’s own as a sort of vegetable cous-cous dish or vegetable tagine. Just increase the water or stock to make more of a vegan Moroccan stew (tagine) without stuffing and roasting anything. It’s your call if you want to use the squash interior you remove in the stuff itself. With larger squash, they’re often already partly hollow or the insides aren’t always that tasty anyway. Experiment!

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna with smoked tofu and mushrooms - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

One of the most embarrassing moments in my life involved a giant baked vegan lasagne and the evil oven of a Jersey Shore rental apartment.

I was seventeen, living in Ocean City, New Jersey with about 5 (sometimes 10+) friends in a one-bedroom apartment a block from the beach and the boardwalk. It was the summer before my first year of college. I’d invited a girl I’d just met and was eager to impress, and I’d prepared this mega lasagna — enough to serve the roomful of people hanging out, too.

As I was pulling out the oven tray to remove the finished, steaming-hot lasagna, the tray popped out of the slots, forming the perfect slope aiming my giant lasagna right at the floor. I watched in horror as it slid — in slow-motion and way too hot to grab — tumbled off the metal tray, flipped over and landed top down. On the carpet. In front of everyone.

Did we eat it anyway? Heck, yeah. It was like a lasagna upside-down cake. I had to trash of the top layer, but managed to save the rest. Once I got over my initial embarrassment, we all laughed. And if my memory is correct, the lasagna was pretty tasty and we all liked it.

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Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

I’ve been making variations of this vegan Carrot Ginger soup recipe for over ten years. The inspiration came from a former co-worker from South Africa that I met while working as an English teacher with Berlitz Language School in my early years in Berlin. The recipe she gave me after a dinner party was for Carrot Ginger Pumpkin soup. I’ve modified it over the years to include potato (for a vegan creamy texture) and use soy milk instead of cream. I often use other vegetables (in this case zucchini) instead of pumpkin.

I love to cook with what I have in the kitchen, and I change up this soup accordingly all the time. This is an all-year soup that you can vary in thickness and spice according to weather and whim. Like thicker soups? Easy: add less water. Not in the mood for thick wintery soup? No trouble: increase the water and/or soy milk slightly. It’s also easy to make a more Indian version by increasing the appropriate spices, and I’ve even turned this into a sort of dal (lentil) fusion soup using a cup or two of boiled red lentils along with the vegetables before puréeing. If you want a more European and less Asian soup, replace the cumin and coriander with fresh thyme, basil, rosemary and add some tomato paste or 1 chopped tomato.

This soup works great as a starter served along with a healthy salad (such as my Arugula Pear Walnut salad favorite) warming up to a nice, hearty meal. It impresses guests every time and everyone always asks for more. You can double the soup and have enough for several days (you won’t get bored of it, especially if you have plenty of good bread, tasty crackers, or your own tasty croutons.) It can also be frozen and kept for a quick, delicious future meal when you’re too lazy to cook.

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas? Share your thoughts and experiences!

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