PGM In Season | Vegetarian Ventures
Photo by Anna Powell Teeter
AS THE WINTERTIME SETS IN, there's a chill in the air and a greater desire for warmer more nourishing dishes to fill up our bellies. Luckily, with the holiday season approaching, we get the chance to share these foods with family and friends at parties and festive holiday gatherings.
It's a slow but steady transition from fall to winter that brings much anticipation, and we are happy to celebrate this interim with a PGM In Season submission period that combines late fall and holiday. However, it wouldn't be PGM In Season without our beloved community leaders and kicking it off is Shelly West of Vegetarian Ventures. Read Shelly's q&a below and draw inspiration from her fall recipe that perfectly captures the essence of the season.
5 Questions with Shelly
WHAT 3 WORDS DESCRIBE YOU BEST?
Motivated, clumsy, vegetarian. I’m totally that friend who will get so absorbed in an idea in my head that I’ll trip over my own feet or will be so pleased with how the cake looks when coming out of the oven that I’ll throw the dish towel onto the hot stove and catch it on fire. I always speak of it as a cute quirk but my boyfriend is certain that my clumsiness is going to be the cause of our house burning down one day.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENT?
That is super tough! I’ve been on a huge pistachio kick lately. It’s such a beautiful nut that adds a pop of green that is perfect as garnish and also looks so beautiful speckled throughout baked goods.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST KITCHEN ACHIEVEMENT OR FAILURE? OR BOTH!
Oh my – so so so many! I recently tried to make a vegan angel food cake that was made out of chickpea water and it was a total fail. The cake batter was nothing but light and fluffy going into the oven and then completely deflated by the end.
As for achievements, I’m about to host my first Thanksgiving this year (!!!) and have had some huge success with the recipes I’ve been testing. My secret ingredient has basically been to top everything with coconut bacon!
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY INTO YOUR LIFE?
My boyfriend and I live very simply. We carpool to work in the winter, walk in the summer, and basically walk or bike anywhere that doesn’t involve having to carry a bunch of groceries home. The winter months are pretty brutal here in the Midwest but there is still local produce to be found and we purchase most of our groceries from the farmer’s market or local grocery co-op.
I also try to make as many homemade staples as possible to avoid unnecessary packaging – cleaning products, condiments, and deserts. It doesn’t always happen due to time restraints but we do what we can!
WHAT DOES EATING LOCAL, ORGANIC, AND SEASONAL FOOD MEAN TO YOU?
It’s everything when it comes to vegetarian cooking. The freshest produce (which also happens to be seasonal and local since it travels the least distance) is essential for flavorful and nutritious vegetarian dishes since it’s the star ingredient.
Every time you consume something, you are making a statement about your beliefs and whom you are willing to support through giving that person (or industry) money. By eating seasonally / locally / organic, you are letting everyone know that you believe in reducing your carbon footprint, you care about supporting local community members (local farmers!), and that you want to continue to see these organic avenues grow. I think about this every time I’m in the grocery store and have to decide between saving a dollar or buying an organic piece of vegetable – that extra dollar is saying more than just that I’m saving money.
CORBNBREAD, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, SWEET POTATO, & POMEGRANATE STUFFING
Yield: 6-8 servings
*Notes: vegan. If possible, make the cornbread one to two days ahead of time so that it’s slightly stale when making the stuffing.
- 2 cups non-dairy milk
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 Tablespoon sage, chopped
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 celery ribs, diced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400°F. Pour the lemon juice into the milk and let sit for at least five minutes. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture, oil, and sage. Whisk together the wet ingredients and then slowly whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely before dicing into 1-inch-thick pieces.
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss together the brussels sprouts, potatoes, 1 Tbsp olive oil, rosemary sprigs, and transfer to a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are just barely softened. Remove from heat and lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
In a very large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium. Add in the onions and celery, and sauté until soft, about five to seven minutes. Next, add in all the cornbread pieces (the entire loaf) and carefully sauté until browned. Add the vegetable broth and continue sautéing until the broth has completely absorbed, about three minutes. Transfer onto the baking sheet with the roasted vegetables, toss to combine, and flatten into a single layer as evenly as possible. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and toss in the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and pepper.