Twice-Baked Honeynut Squash with Brown Butter

Overhead photo of twice-baked honeynut squash with breadcrumbs and brown butter

I’m sliding into the holidays with a solid side dish idea, sure to start a conversation. These twice-baked honeynut squash are not only delicious but have a fun story about this newer squash variety.

What is honeynut squash?

Honeynut squash was developed through a challenge between Dan Barber and Michael Mouzarek. The goal: grow a better version of the butternut squash. Amazingly enough, not only did the honeynut squash come from that challenge but a new seed company focused on cross breeding vegetables (called Row 7). I have dreams of growing quite a few different varieties.

In terms of the honeynut squash, think of what a butternut squash taste like but intensify the flavor. It has a warm sweetness that the traditional butternut squash just can’t rival. The honeynut squash was bred with taste in mind, and it definitely lives up to that goal.

Squash alternatives

Of course, it’s not always easy to find these delightful squash and that’s okay. This recipe would work just as well with regular butternut squash, delicata squash, or acorn squash. You could always switch mediums and try a twice-baked sweet potatoes.

Serve this with these recipes

Obviously, this would make a great addition to your holiday meal. It’s the perfect way to add color to your meal. Plus, these twice-baked honeynut squash can easily be prepped ahead of time and baked the second time right before serving.

Beyond the holidays, this recipe is great as a side with a solid salad (like this recipe), quinoa or brown rice cakes, or with a quiche/egg bake.

Make it Vegan

Swap the butter out for olive oil. The flavor won’t quite be the same but it will work just as well. You could also go with a flavored oil like walnut oil. Using walnut oil would add a nice added flavor of the walnuts, working well with the rosemary and sage.

Side shot photo of twice-baked honeynut squash with breadcrumbs and brown butter

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Many of you were enthusiastic about the lentil soup recipe I posted a few weeks back. Today’s split pea soup recipe is similar in spirit. It’s a delicious, healthy, textured soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Seriously, just five! No ham hocks in this version, simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, partially pureed, seasoned and flared out with toppings.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Like many lentil soups, this one delivers many of the same nutritional benefits – a good amount of vegetable protein and plenty of staying power. It is hearty and filling, and even better reheated later in the day. You can find dried split green peas in many natural foods stores, I picked these up in the bin section at Whole Foods Market.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup: Finishing Touches

I like to finish each bowl with a generous drizzle of golden olive oil, a few flecks of lemon zest, and a dusting of smoked paprika to give the soup some smoky depth. If you have scallions or toasted nuts on hand (pictured), great! Toss some on as well.

Hope you enjoy the soup, and for those of you who have never tried split peas, this might be the time to give them a go! 

Continue reading Vegetarian Split Pea Soup on 101 Cookbooks

Vegan Lentil Nut “Meatloaf”

Vegan Lentil Nut “Meatloaf”

Friends, it’s been a long time coming, but my take on a vegan “meatloaf” is here (just in time for the holidays)! And it’s so very delicious. Let’s do this!

This recipe is simple, requiring just 10 ingredients and simple methods. I relied on canned lentils (don’t judge) to save time and dishes! Feel free to do the same and proceed to act like you made everything from scratch (I won’t tell).

Vegan Lentil Nut “Meatloaf” from Minimalist Baker →

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot & Balsamic Reduction

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot & Balsamic Reduction

This may be one of my favorite salads to date! And that’s saying a lot considering we have heavy hitters like our Loaded Kale Salad and Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas (both of which are total home runs).

This seasonal salad relies on winter squash, my favorite 5-Minute Macadamia Nut Cheese, pepitas, and dried currants for ultimate flavor. And the 1-ingredient dressing? Yeah, it’s that easy (and utterly delicious).

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot & Balsamic Reduction from Minimalist Baker →

A Vegetarian Holiday Meal Guide

Vegetarian Holiday Meal | @naturallyella

There is nothing quite like holiday meals. Family, food, and conversation. However, it can be a extremely stressful trying to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs. Whether you’re going with a full plant-based meal or just hoping to get a dish or two to add to the table, this vegetarian holiday meal guide is here to help.

How to plan a vegetarian holiday meal

When thinking about the meal, I like to think about a few different elements including but not limited to:

Greenery: even though salad isn’t a traditional holiday dish, it’s become one for me. I find a fresh salad can balance all the rich food that often finds it’s way to the table. The salad doesn’t have to be overly complicated either! It could be a bit of greens, a sprinkle of nuts, and a nice dressing.

Beet Salad with Broiled Feta and Sesame Sunflower Seeds
Romesco Potato Arugula Salad
Kale Risotto with Feta
Sweet Potato Salad with Butter-Hazelnut Dressing

Protein: this is important. One of the things I find lacking in most vegetarian dishes at a non-vegetarian event is the concept of protein. For meat-eaters, it’s easy but for vegetarians, it’s not always obvious. Bulk up on beans, don’t shy away from nuts/seeds, and remember even some grains, like quinoa, carry a nice bit of protein.

White Bean Masala Smothered Sweet Potatoes
Radicchio Salad with Lentils and Roasted Acorn Squash
Stuffed Delicata with Chimichurri Black Beans

Richness Balance: Going back to the idea of adding salad to the table, not everything has to be overloaded with cheese, butter, and cream. The beauty of a vegetarian holiday meal is that the vegetables can really shine.

Easy to include vegan/GF

When planning for a vegetarian holiday meal, you might need to include some vegan or gluten-free options. This shouldn’t be a huge deal! Most of the vegetarian dishes I’m listing in this post have vegan/gluten-free alternatives.

Most vegetarian-friendly dishes can make the leap to vegan with a few simple swaps. And as for gluten-free, it’s often a matter of switching grains and using a solid 1:1 gluten-free flour. I find if I’m trying to accommodate different people’s dietary needs, I go with something that is gluten-free/vegan.

A few favorite gluten-free/vegan recipes:

Harissa Roasted Carrots with White Beans
Bean Bake with Greens and Turnips
Quinoa and White Bean Risotto with Brassicas

Overhead shot of cauliflower on a sheet tray, tossed and roasted with mole sauce.

Going Non-Traditional

I think one of the biggest challenges with holiday meals is convincing family that it’s okay to switch things up! If your family has their favorites, try just adding one or two new dishes into the mix. We definitely keep the green bean casserole around but add in a couple dishes of roasted vegetables and salads. This way, everyone is happy!

You don’t need to overhaul all of the holiday dinner. Strike a balance between traditions and new ideas. If something doesn’t work out, that’s okay!

A few of my favorite non-traditional adds to the table include:

Roasted Mole Cauliflower with Chickpeas
Grilled Pear Halloumi Salad
Red Kuri Squash Curry with Chard
Potato Green Curry

Main Course

Over the years, I’ve seen my fair-share of sad, want-to-be turkey main courses for a vegetarian holiday meal. I’m not a huge fan of the 1:1 replacement. I’d rather make something that is beautiful and delicious, even if it doesn’t fill the turkey void.

If you wanted to stick with a main that looks almost as impressive as a turkey, the whole-roasted cauliflower route can work. There are also things like this butternut squash vegducken or this pre-made celebration roast. Full disclosure about the vegducken: it looks beautiful but I’ve never made it!

I prefer to stick with easy items. Quiche, pasta, risotto, or squash topped with beans. This is just the beginning. A few of my go-to main-course holiday recipes:

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Whole Roasted Tikka Masala Cauliflower
Roasted Carrot Polenta with Sage and Walnuts
Farro Risotto with Walnut Cream and Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Cannellini Bean and Spinach Salad

It can be all about the sides

Of course, with a well-planned menu, a meal can also be all about the sides! If there’s three to for solid side options, I can easily be happy. Best of all, this is a great way to appease everyone! Upgrade your sides to be colorful and vegetable-heavy while keeping some of your traditional items! A few side options:

Beet Wild Rice Salad with Pistachios
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Manchego
Garlicky Yogurt Green Beans with Walnuts
Pan-Fried Turnips with Thyme and Breadcrumbs

Just go for it!

Whether you’re looking to completely overhaul your meal or just add a couple veg-friendly dishes in, just remember it doesn’t have to be hard. Keep it simple. Lead with produce. And don’t be afraid to add a new tradition into the mix!
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A Really Great Mushroom Casserole

I had one favorite thing to eat when I was a kid – mushroom casserole. It was the one dish I was loyal to above all else. I would request it when I was recovering from the flu, pneumonia, or strep throat. I would request it weeknights, weekends, and holidays. It was a simple dish, and one of four (maybe five) recipes my mom had in her culinary arsenal. She combined rice, mushrooms (or creamy mushroom soup), and cheese in a casserole dish, and baked it until it was creamy, melty, and golden at the edges. Simple enough. 
A Really Great Mushroom Casserole

My Version of Mushroom Casserole

I made a healthier, from-scratch remix of my mom’s classic the other night using brown rice, sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and onions -all made creamy with a blend of cottage cheese and a bit of yogurt or sour cream.
A Really Great Mushroom Casserole

Variations on Mushroom Casserole

You can certainly use whatever cooked grains you like. I suspect this would be delicious with barley, wheat berries, quinoa, whole grain rices – or even a mix of grains. I love it made with wild rice.

Add-ins: My mom used to hide all sorts of things in this casserole (pre-cooked chicken breast or pork chops), but because we don’t roll like that anymore (vegetarian), I sometimes play around with other ingredients. Anything from chopped leafy greens, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, or pre-cooked lentils are great as add-ins. But, honestly, the simple version is really good – just like I’ve written down below.

A Really Great Mushroom Casserole

A Really Great Mushroom Casserole

A Make Ahead Recipe

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time! You can prepare the rice and mushroom mixture up to a few days in advance, and then simply bake it off when you’re ready. 

Continue reading A Really Great Mushroom Casserole on 101 Cookbooks

Easy Vegan Gravy

Easy Vegan Gravy

We’re inching closer to Thanksgiving and I couldn’t leave you all hanging without a good gravy recipe.

For a while now, I’ve been dreaming up this version, which utilizes dried mushrooms for a richer, more intense flavor and color, and it seriously paid off. Let me show you how easy it is!

This 9-ingredient, 15-minute recipe starts by rehydrating dried mushrooms in vegetable broth. We went for porcini because their flavor is more woodsy and intense.

Easy Vegan Gravy from Minimalist Baker →

California Green Ripe Olive Cauliflower Salad

Post sponsored by California Ripe Olives. See below for more details.

If I had my way, I’d eat a big bowl of roasted vegetables for lunch, everyday. This cauliflower salad is another recipe that allows me to do just that. Shallot-roasted cauliflower tossed with salty olives and parmesan along along with sorghum. It’s filling and delicious!

California Ripe Olives

When you think California produce, you might only think about the items that hit the produce aisles in your grocery store. Sure, the state grows a lot of that kind of produce. However, there are also some other magical kinds of items that are grown with the same kind of care. This cauliflower salad was inspired by a recent trip down to Fresno to learn about California Ripe Olives.

There are two types of olives that are grown for table olives: Manzanillo and Sevillano. These two varieties have a nice buttery flavor and work great as both the green and black olives. Interestingly enough, all the olives come off the tree green. It’s only in processing, when oxygen is added to the process, that green olives turn black. Same olives, same flavor- just different colors!

Olives are a great crop in California. They don’t have too many pests (if you’ve ever tried an olive right from the tree- it’s super bitter!) Olives also don’t require a large amount of water and can grow in a variety of soil. Plus, sustainability in the olive industry is important. Every part of the olive is used. Olive pits can be used in everything from making fuel to synthetic field material.

California Ripe Olive Uses

I almost always have a can of olives on hand. Beyond being a solid snack, these olives make for a lovely salad or pizza topping. I also love making a salty batch of tapenade to use on sandwiches or as a simple weeknight pasta sauce.

Green Olive Cauliflower Salad

As for this cauliflower salad, I think all the ingredients come together for a delicious lunch dish. The roasted cauliflower is warming while the olives and parmesan brings the salt. The sorghum and sunflower seeds really bring the texture.

Don’t have sorghum? Use another grain you might have on hand. I love the chewiness sorghum brings to the overall texture of the dish. Try cooked farro, einkorn, or barley. Quinoa would work well but I’d add a few extra sunflower seeds to boost the texture.

Parmesan, the veg-friendly kind

Finally, my note every time I use parmesan. European parm is made with animal rennet (it had to be to be labeled ‘parm’). However, there’s some American cheese producers making vegetarian-friendly parm. Double check your parm and when in doubt, ask the cheesemonger- they should know!

[tasty-recipe id=”37287″]

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with California Ripe Olive. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.

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Perfect Mashed Potatoes with Saffron Garlic Butter

I posted these mashed potatoes years ago, and hundreds of you have cooked them! But, seeing as mashed potato season is just around the corner, I thought I’d update the recipe with a few notes and suggestions. The bottom line? These are pretty darn close to mashed potato perfection. Buttery peaks and cloud-like potatoes are drizzled with a saffron garlic butter, and topped with a toasted almond, coriander, sesame sprinkle. Incredibly delicious. Simple, but with a enough of a twist to make them special.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes with Saffron Garlic Butter

Best Type of Potato to Use

People really dig in with opinions about what type of potato is best when it comes to making mashed potatoes. I like the creamy texture most waxy “new” potatoes bring to the party. Yukon golds or yellow finns are my go-to. That said, many people use russet potatoes. Russets have a higher starch quantity, and can contribute to a beautiful, fluffy bowl of potatoes for sure. But my secret weapon is smaller, waxy potatoes. They’re so creamy, and lend a beautiful, naturally rich texture you can’t get otherwise.

Skin off or Skin on?

This is completely a personal preference. If you’re serving a crowd that appreciates a rustic mashed potato, by all means, leave the skins on. If your people like uniform billowing clouds of mashed potato, get out the peeler. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two.

The Secret Drizzle Magic

The thing that takes these mashed potatoes over the top is the special butter. It’s the simple combination of butter, garlic, saffron, and a pinch of salt. When you drizzle it over the potatoes, it smells incredible, and is the perfect way to finish your beautiful potatoes. As a last touch, a dusting of almonds and herbs brings an updated accent to classic mashed potatoes, but you can skip of you’re more old-school, and like your potatoes straight.

Continue reading Perfect Mashed Potatoes with Saffron Garlic Butter on 101 Cookbooks

Roasted Pumpkin Polenta with Pinto Beans

Close-up overhead photo of pumpkin polenta topped with chipotle pinto beans and cilantro

When it comes to fall cooking, polenta is a staple in our house. This comforting dish has cold-weather/dark nights written all over it. Best of all, this isn’t just an ordinary polenta. Rather, it’s a creamy pumpkin polenta using freshly roasted pumpkins.

Roasted Pumpkin

Sure, you can buy the canned pumpkin but I don’t think you’ve experienced all fall has to offer until you roast a pumpkin. The flavor and texture is a bit different from the canned counterpart. I find the flavor to be a bit more mellow and the texture to be not as thick. For this reason, I cook this pumpkin polenta version a bit more firm than I normally would and then add the pumpkin.

If you decided you didn’t want to use pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, or pureed sweet potatoes would all work well. I like to make dishes like this if I have leftover whipped sweet potatoes. Of course, you can always use canned pumpkin (especially if you have leftovers!)

Polenta Options

Making polenta is one of the base cooking items I recommend you get in your repertoire. It’s not tricky once you get the feel for the steps and being patient is worth the time. I like cooking polenta for at least 30 minutes over really low heat. This mellows out the corn flavor and really makes for a rich-tasting polenta (even before you add any butter or cream!)

Another option, use millet in place of the polenta. This is one of my favorite tricks for people who try to avoid corn. Millet is a seed that, when cracked, has similar properties as polenta. The millet cooks up creamy and can even be cooled, cut, and fried the next day.


In terms of beans, cook them at home. I love dried pinto beans that are cooked with a sizable helping of onions, garlic, and herbs. Cooking them at home sets the second round of cooking, with the chipotle, even more tasty.

Don’t have pinto beans? Swap them for black beans. Both work well with the flavors in the polenta and they both make for a gorgeous final plating.


If you happen to have leftovers, I recommend you store them separately, primarily for the benefit of the polenta. To reheat the polenta, warm on low in a small pot or heat in the microwave. Heat the beans in a similar fashion and combine like you would in the recipe.

[tasty-recipe id=”37315″]

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