Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Yes, I tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte (before I went vegan), yes it was only once, I’m so sorry I just couldn’t resist!

I love the last two seasons of the year. Of course, I love summer and the heat, coming from the land of eternal summer, but, forgetting the fact that I’ve completely lost my golden tan, there’s something about autumn and the colours of this season that just warms the cockles of my little heart. And of course, there’s the fact that Christmas is around the corner but don’t even get me started on Christmas (I’ve already spotted a mini table Christmas tree that I intend to get for my room and I had to be dragged out of M&S to stop me from getting it right away.) But at the moment I’m obsessed with all the fallen leaves and the knitted sweaters and of course, the pumpkins.

Now that Halloween has come and gone I have to confess that I did buy a pumpkin. Two actually, which I fully intended to carve and put little fake candles in (because I can’t have real candles in my flat – something about a fire hazard). With essay deadlines approaching and falling ill on Halloween weekend, sadly, I never got around to the (I assumed) terribly satisfying activity of sticking a knife into a pumpkin and hacking away. Now to be honest, I’m totally the kind of person who would throw caution to the wind and start carving pumpkin faces in the beginning of November but I figured it was best not to.

So, instead, having plunged myself right into the deep end of the vegan pool, I found two AMAZING savory vegan pumpkin recipes that I tried and I absolutely adored. It was day one of my pledge and I was already quite impressed with myself. I did get to hack a pumpkin into tiny bits (which I can confirm right now is very satisfying for that pent-up university frustration), and after a few hours of scavenging the halls for a blender (because my planning skills missed this teeny tiny crucial detail) I finally managed to make something not half bad, if I may say so myself.

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These recipes were so easy and took hardly any preparation and believe it or not, cost less than £11. The pasta with the mushrooms was divine if you’re a fan of mushrooms but if I had to change one thing about it, I would add some wallnuts and dare I say it, more mushrooms. I would make the ratio of pasta to mushroom tend towards more mushroom and less pasta just because the pumpkin sauce is very filling. I didn’t end up using all the sauce with the pasta and decided that on its own it made a fantastic soup if diluted with a bit more water or non-dairy milk.

The lasagne was my favourite part because of the creamy spinach and cashew milk (homemade – super easy to make) and I was so surprised because you couldn’t even tell that there was no cream, butter or cheese! It tastes just as good, and on the plus side its healthier! Both dishes individually took 15 mins to prepare so it’s perfect if you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Or rather if you don’t have too much time to spend prepping.

If you’re keen on the Vegan Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce and Sautéed Mushrooms I’ll put the link for the blog where I got the recipe here.

For the Vegan Pumpkin and Creamy Spinach Lasagne, I loved it so much that I had to put the recipe* below:

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INGREDIENTS

  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles (if you’re going full vegan on this one make sure it’s not egg based)
  • 1 potato, zapped in the microwave for a minute, then peeled and grated and mixed with 1 tsp olive oil (this will go on the top instead of cheese, you could also use breadcrumbs)

FOR THE PUMPKIN BECHAMEL:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • A generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk like almond or soy
  • 2 tsp olive oil

FOR THE CREAMED SPINACH:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts, blended with 1/2 cup of water until very smooth and creamy
  • 8 ounces of fresh spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

MAKE PUMPKIN BECHAMEL:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan. Over medium heat add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour glistens, about two minutes.
  • Add the non-dairy milk, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Add the pumpkin puree and continue to whisk. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes. You want it to be thick but fluid, about the consistency of pancake batter. If the sauce gets too thick, add some more non-dairy milk.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg. Stir well.

MAKE CREAMED SPINACH:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic
  • Sauté over medium heat until the onions turn translucent. Add the flour.
  • Cook, stirring, about two minutes until the flour glistens. Add the cashew cream and stir well.
  • Add the spinach and continue cooking about two minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add some water. Add salt and ground pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
  • Turn off the heat.

ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA:

  • Spread a ladleful of the pumpkin béchamel on the bottom of a 8 X 5-inch baking dish with sides that are at least 3 inches deep.
  • Arrange a layer of no-boil noodles on top of the sauce, then pour half of the pumpkin sauce on the noodles and spread evenly.
  • Place another layer of lasagne noodles on the pumpkin mixture, pour the spinach mixture on top and spread evenly.
  • Place a final layer of lasagne noodles on top of the spinach and spread the remaining pumpkin sauce over the noodles.
  • Top with the grated potato or breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a preheated 180-degree oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes remove the tinfoil and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Then turn on the grill and grill until the potatoes turn golden-brown and crunchy, about 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the lasagne at this stage because you don’t want the top to burn.
  • Remove from the oven. Serve the lasagne hot or at room temperature– it’s perfect either way.

* https://holycowvegan.net/vegan-lasagna-for-two/

If you do try out the recipe be sure to let me know how it goes. Those two dishes took me through one of my two pumpkins and I’m thinking of doing something sweet with the other one so if you have any vegan pumpkin desert ideas please do let a girl know!

Until next time, sit back, grab some Oreos and let’s see what life has to offer us next.

Love,

Vadz

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