An Ode to Moosewood

I am a cookbook junkie. I know, I know, you can find a recipe for just about anything on the internet but cookbooks are special. I love to sit down on a Saturday morning with a stack of cookbooks and a cup of tea to plan out meals for the week ahead. My most well-loved cookbooks have cracked spines, notes in the margins and splatter stains on the pages. The problem is that most of my cookbooks are not well-loved. Sure, they look pretty all lined up on my counter but when it comes down to it, the recipes just aren’t for me.

In my house, we don’t eat meat but we do love fish (technically, we’re pescatarians but no one seems to know what that means). And on top of that, I prefer not to eat gluten and my husband avoids dairy. Oh and then to add yet another layer, I’m a ridiculously picky eater – a childhood habit that I am slowly breaking by forcing myself to eat one new vegetable at a time. My most recent success: Brussels sprouts.

Sure, there are great vegetarian cookbooks out there but too often the recipes in them are complicated and filled with ingredients that you have to source from a specialty store (I’m looking at you Thug Kitchen and your obsession with Liquid Smoke). And in my experience, many of the gluten free cookbooks on the market rely heavily on meat protein as do most standard cookbooks. One exception that I’ve recently added to my collection is the Minimalist Baker cookbook – more on that loveliness another day.

Only my Moosewood cookbooks continue to impress with healthy and delicious pescatarian recipes including plenty of dairy and gluten free options.

Moosewood is a restaurant in Ithaca, New York that I have never been to. I’m sure it’s great and all but it’s the cookbooks that have my heart. Thanks to a gifted copy from a pescatarian family friend, these cookbooks have had a place in my kitchen since I was a child. When I first moved out of my parents’ house, The Moosewood Cookbook (first published in 1977 and revised in 2000) was a housewarming gift from my mom and I spent many an evening whipping up Gypsy Soups and Broccoli Casseroles with my foodie roommates.

Today, I use the Moosewood Simple Suppers, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics and Moosewood Restaurant favourites most frequently and I’ve included one of my favourite recipes below.

I’m still working on filling the gaps in my Moosewood collection and you can often find me poking around for used copies at bookstore and garage sales. I’ll take a well-loved copy of a Moosewood cookbook over a shiny new bestseller any day of the week!

THAI BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP RECIPE

This recipe has been slightly adjusted after years of making it in my kitchen and I’ve subbed in fresh squash for frozen but you can find the original recipe here

Ingredients:

. . . for the soup part

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 2.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I use homemade – click here to learn more)
  • 1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed
  • 1 lime
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)

. . . for the tofu part

  • 1 350g package firm tofu – pressed (click here to learn about pressing tofu)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil

Directions:

  • In a soup pot, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, salt, and broth – bring to a boil.
  • Add squash to the pot, reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender (approximately 15-25 minutes depending on your stove).
  • While simmering, prepare the tofu by cutting it into small cubes and putting it in a bowl with soy sauce and curry paste. Toss to coat.
  • Heat oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat, and when the oil is hot, add the tofu and cook, flipping the pieces occasionally, for about 5 minutes and then set aside.
  • When squash is tender, remove pot from heat and blend using an immersion (wand) blender. You can also mash by hand with a potato masher if you don’t have a blender – this will heave you with a chunkier (but no less delicious) end product.
  • Return pot to low heat and bring soup to simmer.
  • Lightly grate the lime peel and juice the lime.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of the zest and 2 tablespoons of the juice to the simmering soup.
  • Stir in the spinach and tofu and cook just until the spinach wilts.
  • Add more sugar and salt to taste.
  • Serve the soup garnished with cilantro if you like.

Find more Moosewood recipes at www.moosewoodcooks.com

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