Essentially Raw Pumpkin Bites

Essentially Raw Pumpkin Bites

Every autumn when pumpkins are in season, I make sure to make a few trips to purchase some small pie pumpkins and roast them so I have pumpkin purée all year long. I keep 1 cup quantities in the freezer in small sealed bags that I can simply thaw before I want to use purée in a recipe. The small pie pumpkins have a sweeter flavor and retain less moisture than large pumpkins that are really more for decorative purposes around Halloween than for cooking or baking. And don't forget to harvest those pumpkin seeds — when roasted they are a wonderful salty yet healthy treat.

And on the subject of treats, as pumpkin happens to be in abundance, a fair amount of it is used in my kitchen even before freezing it. Healthy treats containing nuts and dried fruit are pretty much a staple in my kitchen and here I've topped a chocolaty base of naturally sweet dates and prunes with a topping of protein rich cashews, pumpkin purée, a small amount of maple syrup and aromatic spicing. These squares are surprisingly reminiscent of a layer cake or an upside down cheesecake as the top layer has the crunch while the bottom layer is moister with that melt-in-your-mouth element. No baking is required either, just a bit of patience with the food processor.

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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Much like popular Italian baked pasta dishes such as cannelloni or lasagna, this vegan Mexican baked tortilla dish is wonderfully rich despite the total absence of meat and dairy. There is only one drawback to this meal — it's so absurdly delicious and wholesome that it presents a challenge to the cook to come up with something that has as much flair and finesse for the next dinner. Thankfully there were leftovers.

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Spiced Teff Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

spiced teff patties

With my recent forays into Ethiopian cooking, I've become interested again in revisiting teff for the first time in many years.

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No Croutons Required - Early Autumn Edition

Welcome to the September 2015 edition of No Croutons Required, a monthly event featuring vegetarian soups and salads, alternately hosted by my good friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and myself. This month we have 9 recipes to share. Perhaps because September was warmer than usual, we have a good selection of salads this time around. As always, a special thanks to all who took the time to submit a recipe. Without further ado, settle in and have a look at these creative dishes.

pickle and green bean potato salad
Recipe: Pickle and Green Bean Potato Salad

Chef: Janet
Blog: The Taste Space
Location: Ontario, Canada

First up is Janet with this delightful salad that surely would make for lovely picnic fare or a main salad dish anytime of year. Potatoes and green beans are dressed up with olive oil, diced pickles and some pickle juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, shallots, seasoning and filled out further with white flageolet beans to make a main course salad. Yes please. When asparagus is in season, consider using that instead of the green beans.

creamy potato salad
Recipe: Creamy Potato Salad

Chef: Cate
Blog: A Travelling Cook
Location: Germany

Up next is another potato salad and it also happens to include pickles. This intriguing creamy salad features potatoes, pickled cucumbers, green onion and baby peas. Another mayo free dish, these mouthwatering vegetables are dressed with avocado, pickle juice, chipotle chilli flakes, lemon juice, fresh dill and mint. Another salad that would be delicious anytime of year, for any occasion.

Recipe: Quinoa, Cashew and Honeyed Carrot Salad

Chef: Johanna
Blog: Green Gourmet Giraffe
Location: Australia

What a way to honour your father. A long time contributor to NCR, Johanna shares this substantial salad featuring mighty quinoa, roasted carrots with honey and cumin and toasted cashews. Dressed all up with olive oil, more cumin, paprika, honey, lemon juice, fresh mint and garnished with lemon rind and crumbled feta, you'll be dreaming about this salad even before you try it.

Chickpeas, carrot and watercress salad
Recipe: Chickpeas, Carrot and Watercress Salad

Chef: Haniyah
Blog: No Fussy Eaters
Location: UK

Chickpeas please. In a salad, they certainly shine. Here they come together with grated carrots, watercress, spring onion and parsley. This beautiful bowl is lovingly smothered with mayonnaise and Greek yogurt and seasoning. You never can go wrong with chickpeas. Even the most avowed bean snubber will admit to enjoying chickpeas.

Green (Runner Beans, Peas) and Yellow (Courgette and Sweetcorn) Minestrone
Recipe: Green (Runner Beans, Peas) and Yellow (Courgette and Sweetcorn) Minestrone

Chef: Shaheen
Blog: Allotment 2 Kitchen
Location: UK

A wonderful way to incorporate homegrown golden yellow courgette and runner beans, this warming dish is certainly appealing to me. Along with those treats, we have onion, garlic, fennel, mint, basil, arborio rice, peas and sweet corn. Fresh and tasty indeed.

Recipe: Chopped Egg, Avocado & Tenderstem Broccoli Salad

Chef: Jacqueline
Blog: Tinned Tomatoes
Location: UK

I don't eat eggs very often but if I did this salad would be served up right way. Offered up by dear Jac, salad leaves, tenderstem broccoli, avocado, cucumber and hard boiled eggs are dressed with a salad cream. If you like, dress it all up with avocado dressing instead or anything you like.

urad dal tomato soup
Recipe: Urad Dal Tomato Soup

Chef: Lisa
Blog: Lisa's Kitchen
Location: Canada

My contribution this month is a nourishing and easy creamy urad dal soup with fresh tomatoes from my garden. A long time favourite of mine, red pepper is added, along with chilies and this lovely soup is tempered with cumin seeds, dried red chilies, ginger, asafetida and garnished with fresh parsley. Just what I want when the deep freeze sets in.

Recipe: Tender Ridge Gourd Salad with Nuts

Chef: Lata
Blog: Flavours and Tastes
Location: Lomé, Togo

Tender ridge gourds are featured in this salad, along with cherry tomatoes, sour grapes, mixed toasted nuts and some chilli flakes for a bit of heat. Feel free to add any vegetables you like drizzled with some fresh lime juice. Easy to prepare and surely delicious.

Recipe: Butternut Squash, Chilli and Ginger Soup
Chef: Amy
Blog: Lush Eats
Location: UK

We don't have a picture of this dish, but that doesn't matter because this autumn soup is sure to get your tastebuds going with just a recipe. Butternut squash is surely a fall staple, and here it is combined with onion, garlic, fresh ginger and chilies. A bit of coconut milk would be nice here and surely a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.

And that concludes the September 2015 edition of No Croutons Required. Jacqueline will be hosting for October. Check her site for details.