Vegetarian Festivus

By • November 26, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: The vegetarians in my family usually get macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm trying to come up with a more vegetable heavy dish and also want a festive, special occasion dish like a turkey but without the meat. I came across a dish in "A Year of Pies" by Ashley English that started with a quiche like custard and collard greens topped with a cornbread top crust. I added roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash, goat cheese and Parmesan for a more elaborate dish with traditional ingredients. The cornbread is from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything", my most consulted cookbook.luvcookbooks


Serves 8-10

Vegetable Custard

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into one inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into one inch cubes (no need to peel)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 rosemary branches
  • 1 sage twigs
  • seeds from butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • half teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 bunch collards, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • half cup grated Parmesan
  • 12 eggs
  • three fourths cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Corn Bread Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Toss the squash and sweet potato cubes (3-4 cups before cooking) with olive oil, salt and pepper, rosemary and sage and roast at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. Check from time to time and add a tablespoon or two of water if starting to scorch or stick. The cubes should be soft but not mushy and glazed on the outside. Taste for seasoning.
  2. At the same time that the sweet potato and squash are baking, toss the butternut squash seeds with oil, a little salt, and a little cayenne and bake until crisp, 10 or 15 minutes. Refrain from eating them all, you need them later.
  3. Cook the chopped onions in a saute pan over medium high heat with the olive oil until caramelized and almost crisp. Add garlic, Jalapeno pepper, cumin, salt and pepper, paprika and oreganor. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Stir in collards. Add half a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the collard is tender, about 15 minutes. The mixture should be moist but not at all wet. Uncover and cook off extra liquid if necessary. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Beat eggs and cream together with another teaspoon of salt.
  5. Start to construct your dinner. I used a ten inch deep dish pie pan, brushed with olive oil. Pour in the egg and heavy cream custard.Spoon in a layer of sweet potato and squash. It should be one vegetable cube thick, no more. Sprinkle Parmesan over the custard. Spoon over a layer of collard greens and dot with goat cheese. You may have leftover custard, squash and sweet potato mix and collards depending on the size of your dish, squash and bunch of collards. Worse thigs have happened. You must leave room for the cornbread top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until custard is set.
  6. Mix the dry ingredients for the topping. Beat in the buttermilk and egg and stir in the melted butter. Combine only until blended and pour over the vegetables, spreading with a spoon so that the vegetable layer is completely covered. Sprinkle the squash seeds over the top of the cornbread layer. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until cornbread is lightly browned and pulls away from the side.
  7. Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a relish or pickle on the side. It's quite rich.

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