I’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news is this week I’m sharing a recipe that is not only yummy, but also paleo, AND vegan, AND seasonal even in the dead of winter in Maryland.
The bad news is the recipe used up the last of my foraged black walnuts, so after this we’re back to exploring new and exciting ways to eat sunchokes!
Just kidding… maybe…
Normally I don’t jump on the “plant based protein” bandwagon because too often that phrase actually means “cheap-oil-dependent, industrially-produced food that real people can’t create at home in their own kitchen”. I have eaten food like this myself, in the distant past. (Show of hands – anyone here been reading the blog since that long ago? … I didn’t think so!) But eventually I realized I was bothered more by eating highly processed vegetarian or vegan imitations of meat products than by just eating the actual meat products themselves.
This week’s recipe, by contrast, gets its plant-based protein directly from, you know, plants. Black walnuts have 24 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, the highest protein content of any tree nut. When I made black walnut veggie fritters a few weeks ago, I was struck by the meaty texture and knew I’d have to try black walnuts as a meat-substitute at some point.
The recipe includes my favorite seasoning secret weapon: Magic Mushroom Powder. If you try sneaking cauliflower into cream-based soups and sauces, or replacing some amount of melted cheddar with mashed butternut squash – increasing the amount of veggies your family eats and cutting calories & fat content in the process – Magic Mushroom Powder helps offset the subtle sweetness the vegetables often impart. It’s a powerful punch of umami flavor, which helps the black walnuts stand in for sausage crumbles in the following recipe. You can omit the Magic Mushroom Powder if needed, but it’s really worth the extra time and effort to make a batch. It also lasts a really long time, as I generally only need to apply a half teaspoon or so at a time.
It’s easy to make this recipe not vegan – not even vegetarian – depending on which fat you chose to cook with. I opted for olive oil (even though olives don’t grow in Maryland) to keep it animal-product-free, but feel free to use whatever works for you.
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp fennel seed
- ½ tsp sage
- ½ tsp Magic Mushroom Powder
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Black Walnut Stuffing
- 2 c black walnuts, chopped
- 2 c cauliflower florets
- 1 Tbs maple syrup
- ½ c sundried tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 medium to large acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
- Sage, rosemary, salt
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 medium cooking apple, chopped
- 2 Tbs flax meal
- ½ cup water
- Cooking fat of choice
- Blend all sausage seasonings in food processer.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pulse all ingredients (except the walnuts) in the food processor with the sausage seasoning until the mixture is evenly ground, then add the walnuts and pulse together. Transfer the black walnut crumbles to a greased baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, brush the cut faces of the acorn squash with cooking fat of choice, and sprinkle with sage, rosemary and salt. Bake the acorn squash face-down at 400 F for 30 minutes. (This can be done on a different rack in the same oven.) Do not overcook; they should still be slightly firm.
- While the black walnut mixture and acorn squash are baking, sauté onion and celery in cooking fat of choice until soft. Add chopped apple and continue to cook for a few additional minutes.
- Toss the onion, celery and apple with the black walnut mixture and flax meal. Add ¼ cup water and mix thoroughly. Add more water, 2 Tbs at a time, until the stuffing begins to cling to itself.
- Stuff each acorn squash with a quarter of the mixture, and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.