This dish is a plant-based showstopper, with tender mushrooms in a sweet-and-sour glaze soaking into ultra-thick roasted parsnip purée. The parsnip is extra savoury and sweet thanks to a quick dunk in a pot with baking soda, whose alkaline nature makes for a stronger Maillard reaction, a.k.a. more caramelization when the parsnips are roasted.
Pomegranate molasses or Turkish or Iranian grape molasses are excellent replacements for balsamic vinegar and don’t need to be reduced before using.
For parsnip purée, preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
In medium saucepan, bring water, baking soda, and parsnips to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Drain parsnips, but don’t rinse. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 3 minutes.
In large bowl, combine parsnips with remaining ingredients for purée. Spread on baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Turn and roast for 10 minutes more, or until tender and caramelized. Transfer to large bowl and mash with potato masher or immersion blender, or transfer to food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
For oyster mushrooms, in medium saucepan, boil balsamic vinegar until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. If using aged balsamic vinegar or glaze, skip this step.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. When hot, add mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Flip mushrooms and add balsamic reduction, 1/4 cup (60 mL) green onions, and thyme and stir to coat mushrooms. Lower heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender, adding 1 Tbsp (15 mL) water to prevent sticking, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve, spread parsnip purée on bottom of large platter. Place mushrooms on top. Top with toasted pistachios and garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or green onion.
Pears and chocolate make for a very natural friendship and play together beautifully in this plant-based, dairy-free cake. This cake is dense and rich, with a medley of spices, and enhanced by just a hint of espresso powder, which allows that chocolate flavour to shine through. In addition to slices of pears being laid on top, this cake employs some pear purée to add moisture and sweetness to the slightly nutty texture provided by the whole wheat flour. Pear primer A firm pear such as Bosc, recognizable by its distinctive dusty brown skin, is perfect for this dish. When eaten raw, Bosc pears are crisp and not too sweet. When baked, this variety softens up and its flavours are enhanced, but it maintains its characteristic long-necked, graceful shape. Unlike a Bartlett pear, which turns from green to bright yellow when ripe, Bosc pears don’t change much in colour when ripe. Give it a little nudge with your thumb near the neck of the pear and it will give slightly—that’s how you know you’ve got a ripe one. Compared to other pears, Bosc will still be quite firm.
Many flavours that complement pears—sage, ginger, maple syrup—also go well with butternut squash, so it makes sense to bring the two together. For this autumn salad, mixed greens are tossed with marinated squash ribbons that serve to dress the salad with spicy, gingery brightness. A juicy yet firm medium-sweet pear, such as red Anjou, works well here, and its vibrant red skin makes a pretty plate alongside butternut squash. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of crispy sage and maple syrup-toasted hazelnuts. Refrigerator tip Treat butternut squash ribbons as you would a dressing, keeping them in the refrigerator until ready to use. They will last a few days in the refrigerator, and you can have them on hand to dress small amounts of lettuce. If, rather than making one large salad, you want to serve individual amounts of this salad, just dress a few leaves with some ribbons; cut up pear and fry sage leaves as you serve.
Luscious figs loaded onto hearty flatbread make a satisfying breakfast or brunch. They’re sweet and delicious when paired with savoury cinnamon-flavoured crunchy pumpkin seeds and tart goat cheese. And, with a dough enriched with whole wheat flour, hempseeds, and nigella, these flatbreads are sure to be satisfying. They’re also chock full of fibre and protein, and with 6 mg of iron, you’ll be on your way to 31 percent of the recommended daily value. A freezer favourite By making dough in advance and freezing, you can make these individual flatbreads part of your routine for days when you don’t have much time. Simply portion dough individually right after mixing, allow it to rise in the fridge for 8 to 10 hours, and then freeze in individual containers. To thaw an individual ball of dough, 24 hours before you wish to use it, remove the container from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. At least an hour before baking, allow dough to come up to room temperature outside of the fridge.