This post is sponsored by FBC2015 Gold Sponsor, Ricardo Magazine.
Fall is one of my favourite times of the year. While many may relish the joys of sweater weather and pumpkin spice everything, my autumn thrill is the fresh, seasonal bounty that inspires me in my kitchen.
Sure, hearty stews and warm chilies are par for the course during the colder months—and essentials in your regular recipe rotation, of course—but I use the fleeting time when the trees are dressed in red, orange and gold to play around with vegetarian meals. After all, when the seasonincludes show-stopping squash, succulent beets and silky leeks, how can I possibly resist?
As you leaf through our latest issue of the magazine, you’ll see fall colours and hearty, veggie-friendly recipes that won’t have you missing meat. That’s the message I want to convey to you all: You can still whip up creative dishes in the kitchen without reaching for beef, chicken or pork. This month’s issue will have even the most ardent carnivores vegging out!
If you’re looking for other ways to shake up your autumnal table, I love incorporating protein-rich grains to my meals. It might sound boring but adding an It grain to your meal can be a game-changer (think: our Barley and Bean Soup or Wheat Berry Risotto with Mushrooms, Roasted Vegetables and Hazelnuts—see below).
And if you’re not already eating tofu, your should try it. We share the seven commandments of tasty tofu on page 77 of our Fall Issue to make the most of this versatile ingredient. Not only is it a good meat and cheese replacement, but a quick marinade can infuse it with bursting flavour (see our take on the Montreal smoked meat staple—Beet and Tofu Deli Sandwich—on page 90).
As you pick your pumpkin for Halloween, grab a butternut or acorn squash for your weeknight dinner. Or as you prepare your menu for Thanksgiving, consider an unexpected twist and go for a vegetarian option that’ll have your guests talking. Think of our Fall Issue—on newsstands now—as the ultimate inspiration for living on the veg. Prepare to be surprised!
But for now, try my Wheat Berry Risotto (see below). It’s a hearty main that makes mushrooms, acorn squash, carrots and hazelnuts sing—it’s simple to put together, and I know your family will love it. Mine sure does.
- 1 cup (200 g) wheat berries (see note)
- Water, for soaking
- 4 cloves garlic, halved
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
- 4 onions, finely chopped
- ½ lb (225 g) white mushrooms, halved
- ½ cup (125 ml) red wine
- 4 cups (1 litre) water
- Salt and pepper
- 12 small carrots of various colours, peeled
- 1 acorn squash, skin on, seeded and cut into thin wedges
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 6 oz (170 g) oyster mushrooms, trimmed
- 1 shallot, chopped
- ¼ cup (11 g) flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ cup (50 g) roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- In a large bowl, place the wheat berries. Cover with water and let soak for 12 hours (or overnight) at room temperature. Add water, if needed, to make sure the grains are always well covered. Rinse and drain.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the garlic in the oil. Add the onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until well caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the saucepan with the wine and reduce until almost dry. Add the water and wheat. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the liquid is entirely absorbed and the wheat is cooked but still slightly firm to the tooth. Adjust the seasoning.
- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 425°F (210°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On the baking sheet, coat the carrots and squash with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the vegetables and bake for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are well roasted. Keep warm.
- In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown the oyster mushrooms in the remaining oil (2 tbsp/30 ml). Add the shallot and cook for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- Onto 4 serving plates, divide the risotto. Top with the roasted vegetables and the oyster mushrooms. Garnish with the parsley and hazelnuts.
Ricardo is a cook, author, television personality and entrepreneur representing a brand that stands for a contemporary family lifestyle.
His eponymous magazine, RICARDO, is a phenomenal success in Quebec. The English edition launched last September in the rest of Canada and is gaining momentum by the day. Hundreds of thousands of fans follow his every move on social media. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).