This plant-only recipe may look like it required a lot of fuss, but it comes together easily. Tender zucchini is loaded with a hearty and satisfying bean mixture and then finished off with a drizzle of cheesy tasting sauce.
Not to be confused with brewer’s yeast or the active dried yeast used to make bread and pizza crust, nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of a micro-organism that is dried into flakes with an abundance of naturally occurring glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that interacts with specific taste cells in the tongue to unleash an umami, cheesy wave of flavour. Blend it with silky tofu and some seasonings and … bingo … vegan cheese sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Slice top and bottom knobs from each zucchini, then slice in half lengthwise. Use small spoon to scoop out centre seeds of each squash, creating a crevice that will hold the black bean filling. On large baking sheet, arrange squash halves, cut side up; brush with 1 tsp (5 mL) oil and bake until very tender, about 20 minutes.
While zucchini is baking, in large skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) oil and sauté onion, pepper and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and heat another minute. Stir in cumin and chili powder; heat for 30 seconds. Add in black beans and corn and continue cooking until everything is heated through.
In blender container, place tofu, nutritional yeast, vinegar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and blend until smooth.
To assemble, divide bean mixture among zucchini halves and drizzle on sauce. Garnish with cilantro.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.