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Amy’s kabocha squash + chestnut soup with kale sesame “leaves” (+ a book giveaway!)

kabocha + roasted chestnut soup w/ kale sesame "leaves" // via @thefirstmess"at home in the whole food kitchen" by Amy Chaplinkabocha + roasted chestnut soup w/ kale sesame "leaves" // via @thefirstmessoutside my door // @thefirstmess
Perhaps you have an inclination already, but I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s a built-in bookcase wall in our office upstairs with at least a hundred stored away, always within reach for reference. I have a bunch of selects on my coffee table because they blur that line between practicality and aesthetic experience. We have a little shelf-style cabinet in the kitchen for a small rotation of cookbooks or magazines that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment–for inspiration or outright line-by-line recipe following. A lot of spaces for a lot of different styles of cookbooks, all enjoyed in their own way.

I’ve had Amy Chaplin’s first published cookbook At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen for about a month and it travels with me all over the house. As soon as it arrived, I excitedly ripped the box open on my porch and flipped through it right then and there. First it sat on my coffee table, readily available for browsing while I caught up with the early morning news or while I half-watched football with Mark on Sundays. It sat on my desk in the office as a relevant distraction while I edited photos or worked on other recipe-related projects. Now, it has a permanent home in my kitchen bookshelf, the most reached-for and beloved place for any book celebrating food in my home. It’s full of recipes to better your own connection to food, but also ones that are special enough (and still accessible) to bring your people together for real nourishment.

I’ve always trusted Amy’s voice on her blog because she’s worked in food professionally in a variety of ways–as a renowned Chef, teacher, and recipe developer for a number of publications that I respect. Her sensibility, approach to food and combinations always appeal to some deeper part of me–not just the part that’s hungry for lunch. Her work and style makes perfect sense on a different level of awareness. I love when a book lies at a very particular intersection, the one that joins beauty/inspiration, practicality, and knowledge/curiosity. This is a vegetarian cookbook that I will refer to for the rest of my life. There are breakdowns of pantry staples, recipes you can make from those staples, whole meals, salads, desserts (with a particularly gorgeous section on tarts), but also notes on tea and cleansing. It’s a vision of healthy living that is complete, accessible and inspiring.

I made the kabocha and roasted chestnut soup since we’re deep into the season for all of those things. The ingredient list is pretty minimal, which I love. Just buttery roasted chestnuts enhancing the sweetness of the squash and a little finish of tamari to keep it perfectly savoury. We had it with some potato and herb focaccia for dinner the other night. Just right, but especially good because of the crunchy “leaves” on top. I love a whimsical and seasonal touch that evokes the goings-on of the outdoors in my food. It’s all about connection. Other recipes from the book that I’m eager to try: the date pistachio praline tart, heirloom bean bourguignon with celery root mash, beet chickpea cakes, kale slaw with creamy mustard dressing, and the plum millet muffins.

Rather generously, Amy’s publisher sent me an extra copy to give away here. I’m thrilled to send this out to one of your homes because I know it will make a big difference in your food life. All I ask for entry is that you comment on this post with your favourite one pot/soup/stew kind of meal for this time of year. For me, it’s the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas that I posted last year. Proper cozy-making. I will have to limit this giveaway to my pals in North America, guys. The deadline for entering will be Sunday November 5th at 9pm EST. And one more note! I did a guest post about my morning routine, true nourishment, and some quinoa porridge at my pal Elenore‘s blog last week, which was so fun because I love that woman way too much. Click over to Earthsprout to see :) xoxo

making the kale sesame leaves // @thefirstmesskale sesame "leaves" // @thefirstmesspeeling chestnuts // @thefirstmesskabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup via @thefirstmesskabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup via @thefirstmessfrom "at home in the whole food kitchen" by Amy Chaplinkabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup via @thefirstmess
kabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup with kale sesame “leaves” recipe
from Amy Chaplin’s At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen
serves: 6
notes: Amy’s original recipe calls for sheets of nori seaweed brushed with a mirin + sesame oil mixture brushed on top for the “leaves.” I only used kale because in the midst of throwing this together, I realized that I didn’t have any nori! Anyway if you have nori, you can tear the sheets into pieces and brush them with a mix of the following: 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp mirin + 1 tsp sesame oil. Sprinkle the nori with sesame seeds and bake in a 300 degree F oven for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through.

soup ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, choped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 cups roasted + peeled chestnuts (method described below–you’ll need roughly 1 pound)
7 cups filtered water
1 large sage sprig
3 bay leaves
2 tsp tamari
ground black pepper

kale sesame “leaves” ingredients:
1 small bunch of lacinato kale
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
salt + pepper
small handful sesame seeds

First, prepare the chestnuts. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place the chestnuts flat side down on the cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut a little slit into the top of each one. Place the cut chestnuts into a medium sauce pan and cover them with filtered water. Bring them to a boil and then drain. Transfer drained chestnuts to a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until shells are coming away from the innards. Once cool enough to handle, peel chestnuts and set aside, discarding the shells.

Lower the oven heat to 400 degrees F. Wipe out the sheet pan used for the chestnuts. Tear kale leaves into slightly larger than bite-size pieces. Drizzle them with the olive oil and maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Toss and massage the leaves until they are thoroughly coated. Arrange them in a single layer and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until the kale has crisped and curled up just a little bit (these burn so fast, so be careful). Remove the kale leaves from the oven and allow to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until quite soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. To the pot, add the salt, squash, chestnuts, water, sage, and bay leaves. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a blender and return to the large pot. Add tamari, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve hot with kale sesame leaves.

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Averie @ Averie Cooks29/10/2014 - 4:07 am

I love kabocha squash….so much! This looks so good and with the kale, awesome. Pinned!

My favorite one-pot soup is one I put in my cookbook with sweet potatoes and pumpkin!

valentina - sweet kabocha29/10/2014 - 5:11 am

I have her book in my wishlist for christmas, I can’t wait :(
And this soup seems just perfect to me : I am addicted to kabocha, I love chestnuts and kale is my new friend :D

Shaughn29/10/2014 - 5:48 am

Fantastic photographs and that soup looks amazing. I haven’t found the courage to master the chestnut…in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even tried it and believe me, most foods find a way to be in my stomach!
My favorite go-to stew was beef bourguignon, but now that I’m eating vegan I have to find a new replacement. Generally anything with north african chickpea yumminess will do!

Jessica29/10/2014 - 6:14 am

My current favorite seasonal meal is a recipe you shared earlier this month – the Cauliflower, Kale + Chickpea Curry Pot! I love it over a bowl of brown basmati rice, the flavors all melt together. I’ve added some additional spices (cinnamon, paprika) to add a bit of sweetness to the recipe, but it’s so simple and delicious. Prior to that recipe, my favorite fall soup was from Donna Hay – a roasted pumpkin soup with chickpeas, seasoned with honey, Dijon, and some cumin. Also very tasty!

Hope to find chestnuts at the market today and make this squash soup!

Ali @ Farmers Market Vegan29/10/2014 - 6:17 am

I’m kind of completely smitten with creamy pureed roasted parsnip soup.

Cindi29/10/2014 - 6:26 am

So funny that you mentioned the Moroccan style soup with the sweet potato and chickpeas because this is one of my favorites and I just made it this week. Had it last night for dinner. Delish!

Claudia29/10/2014 - 6:31 am

that sounds like a very yummy soup! I might have to try it this weekend. One of my favorite soups (need to dig up the recipe) is a red lentil, curry soup with chili.

Hannes @woodlandhalo29/10/2014 - 7:05 am

Did a really similar version a couple of weeks ago, this one is a keeper. But I topped it with some caramelised apples.

Erica29/10/2014 - 7:11 am

This time of year I crave stews with warming spices and legumes, with the addition of a sweet orange vegetable like carrots or squash. They’re chunky and very filling! Soul food :)

Maureen Sutherland Weiser29/10/2014 - 7:42 am

I love all things Amy Chaplin! She is amazing and I would love, love, love her new book! My favorite warming soup is typically a start of onions, garlic and rosemary. I then toss in whatever veggies I’ve got on hand and make sure I add some good bone broth and tomatoes. Topped with some freshly made croutons and warm cheese!
I can’t wait to try this Kabocha Squash deliciousness, as well as your Moroccan Stew!!
Cheers,
Maureen

Shoshana29/10/2014 - 7:43 am

As soon as the weather starts getting cooler, my husband starts to incessantly ask when I am going to make my vegetarian chili. The secret ingredient is dark chocolate :-)

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar29/10/2014 - 7:48 am

This soup sounds unreal! And that book looks awesome too. Love this recipe.

Hannah M.29/10/2014 - 7:55 am

That Moroccan-style stew of yours is a staple in my house as well. I’m also a fan of tomato-y lentil soups with lots of carrots and onions, and a bit of spinach wilted in at the last minute. We might get snow on Sunday (!) so I guess it’s time to haul out the big soup pot :)

Jackie29/10/2014 - 7:59 am

Lentil soups and stews are a staple for this time of the year and your recipe for Smokey lentil soup is a favoite!

Fiore29/10/2014 - 8:00 am

My favourite stew during autumt/winter is a squash-red lentils-cocco–tumeric-ginger. It is warm and delicios. Perfect with some
sourdough bread….
Zour new recipe sounds interesting -will try it soon.
Thank you for all you are doing!!!

Sonia29/10/2014 - 8:01 am

Ooooh, this looks so good! I’ve had this book in my Amazon cart debating it….think I might have to go for it. Love your site, it’s one of my bookmarked blogs!

shelley @ sevengrams29/10/2014 - 8:02 am

This sounds amazing. Spotted chestnuts at the market and didn’t know how to tackle them.
This time of year, I’m all about the home-cooked thai curries — finally found a kick ass red curry paste in chinatown!

Sonia29/10/2014 - 8:15 am

Forgot to leave my favorite one pot meal! This is my favorite time of year for cooking…so many soups, butternut squash soup with apple, chili with butternut squash, of course…pretty much anything with butternut squash!

Donna29/10/2014 - 8:19 am

This recipe looks so interesting. I love squash soups but have never tried it with roasted chestnuts…a must do. This time of year we eat almost weekly some version of shakshuka or as I first heard it…’eggs in pergatory’. Recently I made it with roasted squash, tomatoes and those glorious providence herbs. We have our own chickens and seeing those lovely eggs floating atop that warm nutritious veggie goodness warms my heart. Thanks for all the great recipe ideas.

Morgan29/10/2014 - 8:22 am

It’s too hard to pick just one soup this time of year…but this one is a great pureed one. Love the fall!

Claire29/10/2014 - 8:23 am

My favorite warming nourishing fall soup is curried buluga lentils, Jerusalem artichokes, coconut milk and spicy Turkish paprika.

Emily Love29/10/2014 - 8:51 am

this sounds amazing!! my favorite one pot stew is a root vegetable Moroccan spiced stew with crunchy chickpeas on top!

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan29/10/2014 - 8:55 am

I confess, I’ve never tried chestnuts, but this soup is intriguing me into going for it! This cookbook looks like one I’m going to need to add to my collection! Also, glad I’m not the only one who has cookbooks scattered EVERYWHERE in the house. I think of them as decorations : )

Sarah29/10/2014 - 8:56 am

This looks amazing, like everything else on your site! And so does Amy’s book! Wow. Recipe pinned and your website followed.

My current favourite one-pot dish is a simple shepherd’s pie with roast beef – an homage to comfort food and a nod to the casseroles I grew up with.

Alison29/10/2014 - 8:57 am

White bean chili with spinach or kale!

Katherine Call-Morin29/10/2014 - 9:04 am

We like Jane Brody’s lentil and carrot soup (heavy with tomatoes and onions), but I also have a vegetarian chile we call frijole mole, with cocoa. It is a great cold chaser too! Love The First Mess.

Smadar Brandes29/10/2014 - 9:07 am

That soup looks too good. And the pictures are stunning, as always.

I have to steal your pick, Laura – the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas is easily my all-time favourite.

Tania Seagrove29/10/2014 - 9:13 am

So glad you reviewed this book! Can’t wait to check it out! It’s hard to choose a fall favourite…..so many yummy comfort foods at this time of year! Two soups that are calling out to me right now are Coconut white bean soup, ( a moosewood classic)! and roasted cauliflower soup! I have so many squash from my CSA right now, I will be trying this recipe for sure!

Lauren K29/10/2014 - 9:15 am

Love Amy’s cookbook – and she’s a lovely person too! This recipe looks delicious…perfect for cold fall nights :)

Aaron Rishell29/10/2014 - 9:18 am

This time of year im a big fan of potato and leek soup.

diana @ veggienextdoor29/10/2014 - 9:19 am

In Fall, I cannot get enough of Dreena Burton’s Sweet Potato Peanut Stew with Chickpeas! http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/sweet-potato-peanut-stew-chickpeas-vegan-gluten-free/

leslie29/10/2014 - 9:21 am

My favorite one pot meal is “everything but the kitchen sink chill” which is basically all the veggies i can find in the fridge (must include some kind of peppers and lots of onions) plus whatever i can scrounge up. Best is sweet potatoes and corn if I’m lucky and any left over grain like quinoa or faro. I recently made a pot and added too much coriander which tasted brilliant and I’ll make sure and add “too much” next time. I love to add different combos of spice and try not blow my head off with too much heat. Perfect for fall. :)

Jenny29/10/2014 - 9:21 am

Wow! Looks amazing :), thanks for another giveaway. My favorite one-pot, pure comfort meal for this time of year is my mother-in-law’s lentil soup, paruppu. It starts from a fragrant base of garlic, onion, cumin seeds and black mustard. When the black mustard seeds start popping, you pour in the red lentil, water to cover and a teaspoon of my aunt’s very spicy curry powder. Once soft and starting to fall apart, you cook the lentils down to your desired thickness, season to taste with salt and – if serving as soup – a good squeeze of lemon. Pure comfort.

Laura: Thanks for sharing this, Jenny! It sounds amazing and I just scratched out a rough note of your instructions so I can try it this week :)

Carter29/10/2014 - 9:24 am

This looks divine, thanks for sharing! I dare say I might end up eating all of the kale sesame leaves before they make it to the soup. I’ll have to practice self control (or not…) when I make this!

My favorite one-pot meal is a spinach-and-sweet-potato red lentil dal, made with the spiciest curry blend I can get my hands on.

Shilpa29/10/2014 - 9:30 am

Thanks for the giveaway Laura! I have been eagerly waiting for Amy’s book to come out.
You’re right, this soup is absolutely perfect for this time of year! I love the simplicity of it.
My favourite soup would have to be a simple bowl of dal with popped mustard seeds, topped with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lemon and a spoon of yogurt.

p.s. I loved your post about your morning routine on Earthsprout. I cannot wait to try your Quinoa Apple porridge!!

Betsie29/10/2014 - 9:31 am

My very favorite is a white bean kale stew, with a slice of crusty bread and a poached egg on top. So satisfying and comforting! I’m excited to try this one kobacha chestnut soup as well!

Tova29/10/2014 - 9:32 am

Fave right now would have to be vegetarian chili with sweet potato and butternut squash! That recipe looks so good.

amanda29/10/2014 - 9:56 am

Above and beyond, my very favorite one pot meal for winter is a giant vat of vegan chili. I clean out the entire kitchen, and add extra beans so that it’s thick and stew-y, and can be scooped up with tortilla chips and topped with homemade sour cream. Between that and kimchi fried rice, all my cold weather food lives happily in bowls :).

Thank you for another gorgeous recipe!

Lisa29/10/2014 - 10:12 am

I have over 200 cookbooks, but this is one I definitely need to add to my collection. My favorite one pot meal is probably ribollita (a vegetarian version of course).

Carly29/10/2014 - 10:14 am

I fall back in love with celery root every fall. Lately, I’ve been working it into a soup with fennel, leek and orange: http://carlydefilippo.com/blog/2014/3/4/edible-outcast-celery-root

Laura: Carly, celery root is one of my favourite vegetables and your soup sounds so delicious with that zesty, fragrant bit of orange. Yum.

Ashley29/10/2014 - 10:15 am

These are most definitely some of my favorite photos of yours. The chestnuts in the pot of water!? Gah. I have never thought to use chestnuts in a recipe but can almost taste the flavor in this soup just thinking about it…SO GOOD. Thanks for reviewing this cookbook! Putting it on my list! And my favorite one-pot meal for this time of year? Gosh…that is tough! Probably something simple like potato broccoli soup.

megan29/10/2014 - 10:16 am

My favorite one-pot meal is ever-changing and completely improvisational. Saute an onion and some garlic and go from there, adding water and/or tomatoes, a legume I soaked the night before and a handful of noodles or a grain. Yummm!

I actually bought Amy’s book for my mum for Christmas, but I have been flipping through it LOVING it ever since it came last week and I would love a copy of my own…..

Michele29/10/2014 - 10:31 am

I love to throw stuff in the slow cooker and see what comes out. It’s usually good. This is especially appreciated on exhausted rushed weeks. Can be anything (I am not vegetarian) so, meat fish, tofu, quinoa or rice, some tomatoes fresh or preserved, coconut milk, herbs & spices. Nice hotpot results.

anagha29/10/2014 - 10:33 am

I love roasted red pepper – tomato soup. The blend of flavors and the color are just perfect!

lynsey29/10/2014 - 10:34 am

Oh I have kabocha squash that has been sitting in my kitchen for a few days now! This looks perfect. Favourite one pot wonder definitely has to be some coconut sweet potato soup warmed with some thai spices to ward off the cold. xo

Maria Adams29/10/2014 - 10:37 am

This sounds delicious!

One of my favorite meals this time of year comes from my cherished Moosewood cookbook: http://www.mwcooks.desirepathdesign.com/Recipe/navajo-stew

Sarah Nikolovska29/10/2014 - 10:38 am

I’d have to say that my favorite one pot meal is a variation on chicken soup that I picked up in Spain. It is loaded with vegetables like roma tomatoes, carrots, and green beans. The blend of bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cumin balance the saltiness of black olives and finally the soup is thickened by adding oat groats. When they are fully cooked and the starch is released the soup takes on the consistency of a chowder but without any dairy. It is so rich and aromatic on a chilly day. I simply love this soup!

Christine29/10/2014 - 10:39 am

My go to soup this time of year is a hearty curried lentil vegetable soup with whatever veggies I have on hand! Yum and stick to your ribs sort of dish!

Heidi Hess29/10/2014 - 10:39 am

Gotta use kabocha this time of year. I love Japanese braised chicken with kabocha and chestnuts.

Weezie29/10/2014 - 10:52 am

No fooling, the cauliflower, kale, and chickpea curry pot you posted earlier this fall has been a complete lifesaver. It’s a great repository for CSA veggies, is so delicious and is SO customizable. Swoon.

Kerianne29/10/2014 - 10:55 am

I adore this book – it is so inspiring! I would love to gift it to a friend as I already have a copy that I will cherish as you do :)

Our Fall/Winter one pot staples are tortilla soup, chili and i’m recently loving your cauliflower chickpea curry pot!

Thanks for the inspiration and giveaway.

cynthia29/10/2014 - 11:03 am

These photos are freaking beautiful. I’m so in love with all of these vibrant dishes from Amy’s book — thanks for sharing it! (And I loved that gorgeous guest post, too!! It was really such a treat to read.)

Sarah29/10/2014 - 11:03 am

This looks like pure fall comfort :). My fall fav is a creamy pumpkin soup that includes caramelized onions, roasted garlic, a touch of maple syrup, and toasted walnuts.

Lauren Bair29/10/2014 - 11:14 am

Laura! I love your blog so much. Every image and post is so inspiring ;) You are incredible. Thanks for this giveaway! I’m a huge fan of things you can cook in a pot and kind of forget about (for a little bit), especially in Autumn. I always pretend it’s cooler than it is in Los Angeles, because I grew up with real seasons on the East Coast. Anyway, my favorite one-pot meal is spicy sausage, white beans and a ton of spinach. It’s like a hug for your insides ;)

Julie29/10/2014 - 11:14 am

My favorite winter/fall meal is the Moroccan stew that you mentioned in this post. Before i tried making that I’d tell anyone who asked that i hated stews! Soggy veggies, stringy meat, discolored food. That stew is one of my favorite meals now and has opened me up to trying different variations. Thanks!!!

Karina29/10/2014 - 11:16 am

Thanks ! Lentil soup is one of my favorites.

Brianne29/10/2014 - 11:24 am

I’ve been overwhelmed with the cookbooks coming out this fall, but this one sounds like a real stunner. I love the nori garnish, and I’ve always wanted to try roasting chestnuts.

Christina29/10/2014 - 11:30 am

My go-to fall dinner is 101 Cookbook’s Pumpkin and Rice Soup. This recipe changed the way I looked at soups as a meal- the idea of pouring the soup over brown rice for texture and garnishing with a lemon-rosemary-ginger brown butter…so good!

Amy29/10/2014 - 11:35 am

Ah, this book looks beautiful! I’m kicking myself for not adding it to my last Amazon order. Last year I made and LOVED your Moroccan-style stew, so it’s definitely getting made again. I also love a soup I got from the PPK blog- a creamy (from cashews) stew with chickpeas, brown rice, and kale. Simple and so comforting. :)

Kristin29/10/2014 - 11:37 am

My favorite fall stew is Sweet Potato Peanut from Joy of Cooking. I have made with all kinds of variations and keep coming back to it every fall.

Annie29/10/2014 - 11:45 am

At this time of year, I love making homemade ravioli, with kabocha, homemade ricotta, leeks, and toasted walnuts, with a sage brown butter sauce :) There’s not really a recipe, I just make it up as I go along…

Jo29/10/2014 - 11:54 am

This book looks amazing! I’ve been reading her blog for years so I know it’s good.

My favorite soup recipe is one I make on a minimum of a biweekly basis during the colder months – it’s a simple red lentil soup with onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and whatever leafy green I have on hand. Now I think I have to make it tonight.

Julia j29/10/2014 - 12:18 pm

My favorites for this time of year any anything butternut based, or the same tortilla soup my family has been making since I was about 5 (I know it sounds rather run of the mill). I’ve never tried any soup including chestnut but this looks delicious!

Dina29/10/2014 - 12:21 pm

Love the post and recipe Laura! These days my favorite one pot meal is adapted from a soup recipe I got from Whole Foods called “Better than Chicken Soup”. The basic parts I try to keep are shiitake mushrooms, greens, miso, a squirt of lemon juice and a starchy veggie like butternut squash. From there I improvise :)

Laura: Dina, I have a similar recipe to yours that I make all the time! Definitely a healing chicken soup-ish quality to it with the texture of the shiitakes and the miso in there :)

Sherri29/10/2014 - 12:22 pm

Your soup sounds pretty good. My family has several favorites this time of year but white bean chili has been the go to soup this season so far with lots of cilantro on top.

clara29/10/2014 - 12:23 pm

My favorite soup is the typical french onion soup with grilled cheese on top with a nice sourdough bread!
thanks

Emily29/10/2014 - 12:24 pm

I have been pining over this cookbook! Your Moroccan stew is actually one of my favorites too, although lately I’ve been making a very simple and comforting soup from potatoes and kale and whatever else is in my CSA box.

Tessa Dillon29/10/2014 - 12:26 pm

Well, here I am shamelessly commenting because I am really hoping to win that cookbook!! Being a retired person now on a fixed income does rather curtail my spending! I have to say I have many one pot, warming favorites but the soup I made this last weekend may just be my go-to favorite now. My husband and I were out in the rain and cold doing chores outdoors (we live in the country and have a small property with two horses) and when we came in for lunch we needed something warm but it needed to be on the table relatively fast – we were hungry!!! So I looked in the fridge and realized I had the ingredients for a soup – left over zucchini that had been partially mandolined(sp??) for a previous recipe, plus one rather old zucchini, some onion, garlic, a small can of coconut milk, frozen broth in the freezer. I sauteed the onion and garlic, then added curry spice, cumin, coriander, salt and continue to gently saute. Added the chopped zucchini and sauteed til soft (the broth was in the microwaves, thawing while this was going on) Broth and coconut milk were added and simmered – pureed til somewhat smooth/still chunky, then grilled bread, torn and put in the bottom of the bowls, soup poured over and voila!! we were in heaven! My husband had grilled baguette and I had gluten free bread grill. It was hot and nourishing and sooooo good! The best part was that it truly was a left-over in the fridge and pantry meal and it came together very fast! (if I had an apple, would have added that!)
And last but not least, I have to say I love your blog! I have been reading it for more than several years now. I spend my mornings with coffee (this is after I have fed the horses) beside my computer, catching up on emails and checking my favorite blogs for inspiration and recipes – you never fail to disappoint!
Sorry I rambled on so much! I never make comments to food blogs, so this is a new one for me!
Cheers, Tess

Laura: Thanks so much for this, Tess! Your soup sounds so delicious too. So glad you’re enjoying the blog :)

Sofia29/10/2014 - 12:26 pm

Beautiful soup + pictures :)
My one-pot fave is lentil soup. I do all sorts of seasonal combos of ingredients/flavours. It’s so hearty and delicious!

Stacy29/10/2014 - 12:30 pm

What a lovely tribute to this book – I keep hearing such good things about this one. I have been loving a simple ribollita or even simpler bread soup this autumn – so cozy and wholesome and easy to throw together with whatever is on hand. But I do love that Moroccan stew you mention! I will have to make that soon, too.

Laura: Stacy, I’ve been really into ribollita too! It’s become a weekly thing in our house ;)

Amy (Wooden Spoon Baking)29/10/2014 - 12:37 pm

Love those kale leaves! I was just thinking about a topping for a roasted garlic & white bean soup–these would do the trick, especially w/ a little nutritional yeast. Yum.

Sonja29/10/2014 - 12:39 pm

Fall stews and soups are my favourite meals. I love big bowls of earthy warmness so choosing a favourite is very hard. I probably would have to go with something based on coconut and curry spices with lots of great fall veggies thrown in – yams, brussel sprouts etc AND of course I am mad for chickpeas so they would be in there somewhere.

alwayshungry29/10/2014 - 12:47 pm

Mushrooms, Pumkins and Chestnuts!!!!
My three fall favorits!
A actually made a version of this soup last night, it was delicious!!
In the fall I really do love a good bowl of creamy/ earthy mushroom soup with some nice crusty bread on the side.

I just descovered you blog through Earthsproot and I’m really looking forward to going through all your old posts!
Yeah!!! :D
Thank you for the giveaway it would be totally awesome to have this book one day!…I live in France but I have family in the US that could reception any potential win for me, hint, hint, hint! ;)

Thanks in any case!!! I’m so exited to get to know your work, so far: beautifull.

Have a fabulous day!!

I love soups and stews so much. My current favourite is Sarah Britton’s creamy broccoli soup.

Erika29/10/2014 - 12:54 pm

Woo! My favorite one-pot winter meal would have been a giant pot of quinoa chili, thick and spicy with adobo peppers and three types of beans…but last week I just tried making Japanese curry for the first time, and I have to say that it might be my new favorite. I made a gluten-free curry roux, sweetened the whole mess of carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and peas with grated apple and ate it over brown rice and quinoa. So satisfying! Thanks for doing this giveaway and I adore your beautiful photos as always!

thefolia29/10/2014 - 12:54 pm

Nothing messy about this dish…simply beautiful! Happy Nesting.

thefolia29/10/2014 - 1:02 pm

Oops almost missed the details of the giveaway. I have to agree with you the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas is unbeatable for me. I cannot get enough of sweet potatoes (I have been eating them practically everyday!) and you can never go wrong with chickpeas…simply delicious!

Kate29/10/2014 - 1:09 pm

At this time of year, I look forward to mushroom barley soup with carrots, parsnips, and dill. You can make it with vegetable broth or beef stock… either way it’s so hearty and full of promise for the season of comfort food ahead. Love it!

Vittoria29/10/2014 - 1:15 pm

This squash soup with coconut milk is SO easy and the most incredible texture: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2013/11/but-soup.html

Kris29/10/2014 - 1:19 pm

Laura, you’re totally right. That book looks amazing! Also, I’m really interested in trying this soup recipe, simply because I’ve never added chestnuts to soup. The combination sounds bang-on! One of my favourite soups this time of year is also a kabocha squash soup. It’s one that I entered into a contest at school (and was a finalist for) last year. It has harissa and orange in it, and it’s perfectly spiced. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about putting it on the blog in the next couple of weeks, actually. :) Gorgeous photos, as always. xxoo

Sarah Moncks29/10/2014 - 1:31 pm

I love having homemade Cream of Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons! Tomato soup is one of my favourite meals!

Sara29/10/2014 - 1:35 pm

You can never, ever, go wrong with the classic leek & potato soup. It’s always the first one pot meal I make when the cooler weather hits because there’s something so grounding and warming about it. Either rustically chopped or blended. The first recipe I ever used was Jamie Oliver’s leek & potato soup and it also makes an excellent base for whatever you’ve got in the fridge. Favourite additions being white beans & kale or simply amped up with coconut milk or cashew cream.

Shannon29/10/2014 - 1:45 pm

I adore curried carrot soup this time of year. Even better, it was a banner year for my garden carrots, so I just pull a few from the ground whenever I want. I love the bright orange color and delicious flavors of curry, ginger, and tumeric.

Jennifer29/10/2014 - 1:48 pm

This looks beautiful! As for one-pot meals, is there anything better than butternut squash bisque with roasted chickpea croutons?

Cate Capsais29/10/2014 - 1:57 pm

I can’t get enough of my roommate’s butternut squash soup! The basics- a whole, oven roasted butternut squash, a can of coconut milk, veggie broth, cumin, cayenne, rosemary, all boiled together and pureed with an immersion blender! I top with toasted pepitas or roasted chickpeas. YUM. It’s gone before anyone even dreams of leftovers!

Lauren P.29/10/2014 - 2:01 pm

This recipe looks delish. My go-to soup for autumn and winter is a garlic squash soup that’s been passed down through the generations in my family. No recipe – done by memory and taste :)

Dani29/10/2014 - 2:01 pm

My most favorite one pot meal for this season is a hearty bowl of borscht. You just can’t beat it.

Bouncingsonia29/10/2014 - 2:02 pm

Wow this soup sounds amazing using a combination of foods I would have never thought. Around this time of the year, when it starts to get cold here in montreal, I love to make split pea soup. I made a big pot just last weekend. So comforting.

Beth29/10/2014 - 2:04 pm

My favorite one-pot meal is split pea soup. So hearty! And it makes for great leftovers to keep me warm at lunch throughout the week.

Kim29/10/2014 - 2:13 pm

I’ve really been enjoying thai flavors in chunky stews this fall: my current favorite is red lentil-lentil lemongrass with sweet potato, spinach, corn and a touch of miso at the end.

Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming29/10/2014 - 2:49 pm

chili! with alll the veggies and quinoa and beans and maybe some pumpkin puree!

Kate29/10/2014 - 3:08 pm

Cooking with chestnuts tends to intimidate me! But will definitely try this soup! I only came across Amy’s blog in the last year or so. Her thai lentil soup/stew with coconut milk, lemongrass, warming ginger and some kaffir lime leaves (if handy) is delicious! You can mix it up with different veggies. Nice and versatile recipe:)

jaime : the briny29/10/2014 - 3:41 pm

this soup looks incredible. i’ve never had roasted chestnuts but i’d like to change that as soon as possible and this looks like a perfect way to goa bout it.

i admire your mindfulness so much. i love that you have a different places for different cookbooks and i really appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you interact and describe amy’s book. it’s a beautiful endorsement.

i don’t think i have a favorite fall one-pot jam but one oft-recurring staple is a simple red lentil dal. it happens around here almost weekly.

Dusty29/10/2014 - 3:49 pm

I have never heard of Kabocha but am excited to try it. I love any kind of squash and have just made my first pumpkin/butternut squash soup this very day. Great idea to add kale. I’m hungry just reviewing all these comments. Great ideas ladies.

Abby29/10/2014 - 4:06 pm

Marcella Hazan’s chickpea and rice soup. It is more of a stew/very loose risotto, but it is 100% comforting and delicious. Made with arborio rice, tomatoes that cook down into a glossy tomato oil, rosemary, and chickpeas, it cooks quickly and can easily be a pantry meal. I’ve even made it over a campfire! Delicious, delicious, delicious.

Heather29/10/2014 - 4:41 pm

Lentil soup, mexican style, loaded down with dried chile paste, cumin, mushrooms, onions, and big chunks of tomato. OR your lovely mushroom and chickpea ragout….I swoon at the thought.

Eileen29/10/2014 - 4:53 pm

This soup sounds so rich and satisfying! My favorite one-pot fall dish is probably a huge vat of pasta fagioli — hearty and delicious and bursting with lots of veg. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

MBridges29/10/2014 - 5:09 pm

North African sweet potato stew with coconut milk, cilantro and chiles. Rich, satisfying and flavorful!!

Jane29/10/2014 - 5:10 pm

Pumpkin and sweet potato soup

S Lauren | Modern Granola29/10/2014 - 5:38 pm

My favorite stew is anything with sweet potatoes or butternut squash!
Your photography is just perfect. Seriously, and the recipe looks incredible. I haven’t tried chestnuts in a soup before, so I am looking forward to trying the recipe out soon! Thanks for sharing!

Charlotte Lanoue29/10/2014 - 5:42 pm

My favorite soup of this time of the year is a rich and hearty one, like your lentil soup or morrocan-style stew. I love tasty pots during winter, which is why I often do all sorts of spicy stews which have a lot of warming flavours!

Abby29/10/2014 - 5:45 pm

Every fall/winter I go on a huge roasted squash binge. My favorites are kobacha, butternut, and delicata. They make their way into monstrous bowl meals with other veggies, grains, and beans. Drizzle with a sauce, dressing, or olive oil and I am one happy couch potato.

Amy29/10/2014 - 5:53 pm

Those leaves are so pretty! I love me some gypsy soup (from Moosewood).

Jennifer29/10/2014 - 5:58 pm

I make a red lentil stew with lots of root vegetables and peas, and warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and lots of fresh ginger. It’s warming and tasty and also very beautiful with lots of golden colors and a bright green pop of peas floating in it. Yum!

Jade Sheldon-Burnsed29/10/2014 - 6:17 pm

I make this stew during the chilly months using chorizo, yellow lentils and onion that is just divine!

Becca F29/10/2014 - 7:10 pm

I love making smoked paprkia lentil soup this time of year! It’s so hearty, warming, and filling

Maia Dickerson29/10/2014 - 7:35 pm

A curry sop…roasted winter squashed, coconut milk and curry as a base then add ins such as rice, farro, etc, maybe some chickpeas, roasted red pepper, cilantro, whatever I have on hand to throe in.

kelli29/10/2014 - 7:51 pm

i am loving a bowl of soup …
breakfast
lunch
and dinner
the soup is a bubbling pot of anything that sricks me
anything that needs using up
a half an onion, a bit of rice, a chicken wing, a potato, an egg on top
whatever
it goes in the pot and always comes out nourishing and comforting
and economical too

Erin @ MouthfulBlog29/10/2014 - 8:15 pm

Butternut Squash and Sage Soup! And chili. And my grandma’s chicken noodle soup….I have a problem!

Michelle29/10/2014 - 8:19 pm

My absolute favorite is baked sweet potato wedges. I make it the same way each time – a little coconut oil, a lot of cinnamon. It’s the easiest thing to make especially since I’m a student, but still comforting and healthy.

Yoojin Lee29/10/2014 - 8:48 pm

yummm, chestnuts bring me back so many childhood memories!
my favorite one pot recipe has to be a big pot of roasted vegetable and tomato stew with chickpeas.. so comforting and filling, and can have tons of variations!

Celina Lima29/10/2014 - 8:50 pm

i loveeee african peanut stew or ehussi, a nigerianred pepper stew w egussi,or, melon gourd, from nigeria. i toss in spices and spinach and it’s my comfort food!=)

Nadine Joy Kurland29/10/2014 - 9:44 pm

I have been looking each week for this sqash and can’t find one!

Hefeden29/10/2014 - 10:44 pm

Our weekly “go to” meal is burrito stir fry. It’s some kind of grain, beans and lots of whatever veggies we have sautéed together. We top it with avocado, sour cream and hot sauce and eat it out of a bowl. Delicious!

jacquie29/10/2014 - 11:02 pm

a big pot of lentils w/ carrots, mushrooms and broccoli

Thia29/10/2014 - 11:34 pm

This soup looks delish, and I see what you mean about the tarts!!

One of my favorite Autumn dishes is a butternut squash curry, with spinach, chickpeas, and diced tomatoes. I add garlic, coconut milk, fresh cilantro, black pepper, cumin, curry powder, and extra cinnamon for a little more sweetness. Sometimes I switch up collard greens or kale for the spinach. Sometimes I add sriracha, for a little kick. I like to serve it over brown basmati rice. It’s really warming on chilly, gray days.

Anna30/10/2014 - 12:05 am

My favorite go-to fall/winter soup is Borsch. It’s a very rich soup, originally from Ukraine. It can be based on meat broth or be vegan using only vegetables. It’s excellent for the winter season. Serve it with a scoop of sour cream and garlic toast. Delicious!

Daisy30/10/2014 - 12:15 am

Thanks for the giveaway- I was not much a veggie cook – this book will be a great start and inspiration, fingers crossed. My fav one pot meal is done in a rice cooker – rice with ginger and soy sauce marinated chicken and rehydrated shitaki mushrooms – I am sure it will taste just as delicious with tofu for a vegetative option

cristina30/10/2014 - 1:05 am

nothing beats a butternut squash soup thick with mushrooms and nut. yeast for me :)

CL30/10/2014 - 1:42 am

My favourite one-pot meal is eggplant curry – it can be tomato based or coconut based, and it works thickly as a stew or thinly as something more soupy.

Kaley30/10/2014 - 1:47 am

My favorite soup right now is definitely that Bali stew recipe you posted a few months back! I’ve been making it once a week since then!

Meghan30/10/2014 - 3:58 am

Both yours and Amy’s photos are absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never seen chestnuts in soup, but now have no doubts that the combination is stellar.

My favorite things to make this time of year are hearty stews that can barely be classified as proper stew, with loads of spices and verdant veggies. This year, the apples and butternut squash have been good to me, making a frequent (and delicious) appearance in the kitchen.

Millie l Add A Little30/10/2014 - 6:10 am

This looks delicious – kabocha and chestnut are my favourite foods! gorgeous styling Laura!

Krispy30/10/2014 - 6:14 am

Fall weather equals lentil soup in my kitchen. Today I made a big batch to share with beluga lentils with loads of onion and garlic. I sat out on the front porch and enjoyed a big bowl.

Kate30/10/2014 - 7:39 am

Hey Laura! My favourite fall time food is assuredly warm morning oatmeal, still steamy and soft from the stove top. I add whatever I have on hand – some mornings, frozen raspberries smushed into a gooey jam, sometimes pecan or almond butter. It always starts my day off on the right foot…it’s almost meditative.

Liliana30/10/2014 - 8:37 am

My favorite soup recipe is roasted garlic soup. I would love thhis book.

Kimberly30/10/2014 - 8:54 am

I love a beef stew. Its simple and comforting this time of year.

Spring30/10/2014 - 12:31 pm

My favourite type of meal in the fall is soup! I like a tuscan white bean soup with rosemary and kale.

Marlee30/10/2014 - 1:03 pm

My favourite one pot meal has to be veggie pot pie. Mmmm with flakey crust baked right on top. Perfection.

Brooke30/10/2014 - 1:30 pm

This time of year, I find myself eating Shakshouka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s just too delicious! I make a large portion of the tomato sauce mixture and just heat it up and add the eggs when I’m ready to eat.

As a vegetarian, I’ve been eyeing “A Home in the Whole Food Kitchen” for awhile and would love to add it to my collection.

Melanie30/10/2014 - 3:51 pm

The cookbook sounds wonderful. A favourite soup at the moment is carrot, ginger and coconut milk, so tasty and warming. Thanks!

Madeline30/10/2014 - 4:23 pm

I love making coconut curries this time of year, with lots of ginger and lime :)

Rebecca31/10/2014 - 1:08 am

This looks so lovely and Amy’s book sounds truly amazing! For me, the colder months brings on a strong craving for warming, spiced food in bowls, like curry, and dal, and bean-y vegetable-filled soups.

fall veg + lentil bowl w/ goji ginger tahini cream

fall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessgoji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessfall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessfall goods // @thefirstmess
I love sauce (not to be confused with a love for hitting the sauce). I love the taste-as-you-go nature of making one, re-working classics, coming up with wild new versions, and smothering my food with it, always. Most importantly, I like that I can make a jar-full and have some on hand. I think we’ve been over this before, but I tend to make large runs of basic elements (quinoa, rice, lentils, chickpeas) for combining throughout the week with whatever greens we have, maybe a steamed or raw vegetable, and a healthy swipe of whatever sauce/dressing we’re going on at the moment. I think a lot of you might also eat this way, if Instagram is any indication. Those little anticipatory movements are ingrained at this point and our bodies seem grateful so far. Bowl life livin’ pals. Eating well is 95 percent preparation and just making an effort to buy only the good stuff when you’re at the store. Tasty whole foods in the house = a healthy life that comes naturally.

I’ve been trying to make a delicious and velvety goji berry-based sauce for a while now. The idea of that shocking colour on some cold weather veg was too tempting. One version I tried with vinegar soaked shallots was too tart, burying the sweetness of the dried fruit. Another version with dijon didn’t really mesh with the sweet-sour taste of goji berries at all. And yet another one that was carefully calculated with rosemary and blood orange tasted mostly like goji berries pureed with room temperature water and twigs. So frustrating! The other night it came to me out of nowhere–tahini, ginger and lemon. It would be creamy, a bit bitter, fresh and spicy–all good compliments to the slightly herbal finish of gojis (sauce-centered thoughts popping into my head around bedtime aren’t terribly unusual lately). I like using dried fruit in blended concoctions because they add their own sweetness, of course, but they also make for a creamy consistency surprisingly enough.

This goji cream is really well balanced and works for the hearty vegetables that are currently everywhere. I think it would be excellent on a kale salad though. I wanted to roast some of my celery root in the garden for this, but it was so muddy out. I knew it would be like quicksand once I reached for the shovel to dig one. I always have carrots around, but especially now because my dad grew some mighty fine ones this year, so I used those instead. So sweet and lovely! I can never resist a romanesco when I see one, but you know some cauliflower would be just the same. I used black lentils as the base because I had just enough left in my storage jar and thought it would look all contrast-y and good. The texture of the darker lentils tends to be more my pace because of the bite. There’s za’atar and sesames too.  Anyway! Not too much to say today, just some inspired, easy and healthy eats with hot orange saucy splashes. Eating all the colours never gets old for me :)

fall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessfall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessfall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmessfall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream // @thefirstmess

fall veg + lentil bowl w/ goji ginger tahini cream
serves: 2
notes: I cook lentils sort of like how I cook pasta–tons of water and then I just drain when they’re done. Also, any fall vegetables you like would be fine here. After I finished these photos, I added a scoop of cooked quinoa to my bowl and it was extra nice. If you’re a dairy eater, I don’t think a handful of crumbled sheep feta would be out of bounds either :)

veg bowl ingredients:
3/4 cup french or black lentils, rinsed
salt and pepper
2 cups romanesco florets
6 small carrots, scrubbed + cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil
fat pinch of za’atar spice
1 leek, dark green part removed + hairy end trimmed
1 small beet, peeled + sliced paper thin
1 small apple, cored + sliced paper thin
1/2 ripe avocado
toasted sesame seeds
handful of flat parsley leaves

goji ginger tahini cream ingredients:
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
salt + pepper
1 tbsp tahini
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled + rough dice
1 tsp maple syrup
2-3 tbsp olive oil
big splash of filtered water (2-3 tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils to the water and simmer until just tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the lentils and then scrape them into a bowl. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix and set aside.

Place romanesco florets, carrots, the tablespoon of olive oil, za’atar, salt + pepper on the lined baking sheet. Toss it all to coat and slide into the oven. Roast until you start to see brown edges on the romanesco, about 15 minutes. Slice the leek down the middle lengthwise and then slice the halves into half moons. Remove the tray of veg from the oven and carefully toss the leeks in the mix. Slide the tray back into the oven for 5 more minutes.

While the veg is cooking, make the goji cream. Place the goji berries in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit a couple minutes to soften. Then, drain the gojis and toss them into a blender. To this, add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt + pepper, tahini, ginger, maple syrup, olive oil, and filtered water. Blend until you have a creamy mixture. Taste it and see if you need more sweetness, acidity or salt. Adjust and set aside.

Divide the lentils and roasted vegetables between two bowls. Place the thin slices of beet and apple on top. Cut the avocado into wedges or dices and place on top of both bowls. Drizzle the bowls with the goji ginger cream, and garnish with some toasted sesame seeds and parsley leaves. I like an extra wedge of lemon on the side of mine too.

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While reading your recipe I’ve been mentally checking off all the ingredients and I happen to have everything at home to make this tonight :) This is just the sort of thing I love for a healthy dinner that also takes care of my over-buying at the market haha. Also the sauce! I love topping my meals with something super flavourful too and I can’t wait to try this with gogis!

Maria22/10/2014 - 8:22 am

It’s like you’ve read my mind / pantry! I soaked puy lentils this morning and in the fridge we have carrots, beets, cauliflower and half an avo! Amazing recipe, thank you so much. Looking forward to dinner already :)

Laurie22/10/2014 - 9:12 am

Interesting idea re. the dried goji berries. I’ve been wanting to try a tahini dressing so may give this a try —thanks.

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth22/10/2014 - 9:15 am

The color of the sauce is beautiful and the warmth of ginger with the tahini sounds splendid!

Ashley22/10/2014 - 9:41 am

The colors are truly beautiful!! Love love.

Millie l Add A Little22/10/2014 - 10:07 am

This looks amazing – SO delicious and comforting without weighing you down!

Karishma22/10/2014 - 11:09 am

One of my roommates is like the queen of healthy salads. I am definitely showing her this one! It looks so satisfying and fresh!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar22/10/2014 - 11:57 am

Loving all those colours! This is such a pretty bowl!

SLauren @ Modern Granola22/10/2014 - 3:22 pm

Wow! Gorgeous photography and styling!

ALE22/10/2014 - 4:33 pm

Amazing! Gonna try it!

kristie {birch and wild}22/10/2014 - 9:23 pm

I just posted a bowl recipe on my blog? Bowl life livin’, for sure
:) And can I just say : goji sauce!? You constantly raise the bar for all of the health bloggers out there with your recipes that utilize healthy, creative ingredients. Thank you!

Nik@ABrownTable23/10/2014 - 3:07 am

You’ve given me a new and wonderful use for goji berries! When you shared the tahini cream picture on Instagram, I was eagerly waiting to see what you were up to. You always come up with the tastiest and most innovative dishes.

[…] This fall veg + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream is just about the dreamiest thing I’ve seen all […]

Caroline23/10/2014 - 9:25 pm

I love this colorful and fresh bowl. I could eat this any time of the day…every day. Lovely.

hannah24/10/2014 - 11:13 am

Laura this looks phenomenal! I can’t wait to try it!
Quick question – did you make this in the vitamix or do you have a mini-blender for these smaller quantity sauces?

Renee H.24/10/2014 - 2:09 pm

I never would have thought to combine goji and tahini! Brilliant. You are right, I eat in a similar way. Make big batches of quinoa or beans and mix with veg through out the week. It really makes things so much easier.

Your photos are beautiful- do you mostly use natural light?

Laura Wright24/10/2014 - 2:17 pm

Hey Hannah! I did mix this dressing up in the Vitamix. I find as long as I’m about one inch above the blade with liquid/ingredients, I can get the blade going.
-L

Laura Wright24/10/2014 - 2:18 pm

Hi Renee! Thanks for your lovely comment and yes, I always photograph food right by a window or outside. I find it’s the most flattering way to showcase food :)
-L

Katy24/10/2014 - 9:12 pm

I was just looking for some salad inspiration! Thanks! I’m definitely going to be making this! :)

[…] veggie lentil bowl with ginger tahini cream. those […]

[…] to end, laura’s beautiful roasty fall vegetable + lentil bowl with goji ginger tahini cream. i love her ideas about sauce. and making big abundant meals out of a few simple, make-ahead parts. […]

Kathryne25/10/2014 - 4:36 pm

I’m a saucy girl myself but never, ever would have thought to make a goji sauce! You genius, you. I have always looked at romanesco with suspicion—looks like alien babies—but it’s probably about time to get over that, huh?

Bec26/10/2014 - 5:16 am

You’re so right – ensuring you have delicious healthy stuff on hand really makes the lunch time choice much easier. Here’s to eating the rainbow :)
Bec x
http://www.dancingthroughsunday.com.au

Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen26/10/2014 - 7:13 am

It’s like this dish is singing to me! Gorgeous and a downright genius way to include goji berries in our diet!

ATasteOfMadness26/10/2014 - 1:04 pm

This looks amazing! This looks like the perfect fall meal!

Love CompassionateLee26/10/2014 - 2:23 pm

A festival of colors! This dish looks vibrant and tasty. Enjoy a restful Sunday, Laura :)

Carly26/10/2014 - 4:17 pm

I’m making this right now, but in hopes of keeping it in the work fridge all week I’m also roasting the apples and beets. Fingers crossed!

hannah26/10/2014 - 4:55 pm

Thanks Laura! I might give it a go in there then with your reassurance I’m not gonna lose it all in the corners ;) although I do have a Tribest personal blender that I usually whip out for bits like this. Also are you a raw or roasted tahini kinda a girl?

Laura Wright26/10/2014 - 8:35 pm

Hey again Hannah, I’m an unhulled + raw tahini gal if I can get it. But mostly raw just so I can mute any strong sesame flavour if I need to :)
-L

Emily28/10/2014 - 12:47 am

This sounds like such a great recipe! So many healthy and beautiful ingredients.

Musings #8 | bean + nash28/10/2014 - 4:51 pm

[…] Fall foods, aka brussel sprouts, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, are some of my faves, and this vegetable and lentil bowl does a great job of mixing them all up and adding ginger and tahini to make it […]

Kate29/10/2014 - 12:53 pm

I made this for dinner last night, subbing butternut squash for the beet. Absolutely delicious — thank you for the recipe and inspiration!

crispy eggplant polenta bites w/ honey + lime from “Green Kitchen Travels”

crispy eggplant polenta fries with honey + lime // @thefirstmesscrispy eggplant polenta fries with honey + lime // @thefirstmessGreen Kitchen Travels
I have a big moleskine notebook where I messily jot down things I want to create in the kitchen: ideas I have for combining whole foods to get a certain effect, flavour combinations, sticky notes with ambiguous notation, restaurant dishes I want to have at home, simple techniques with big results that I want to share with you, and the like. Some of it is blog fuel in the form of (vegan, grain + legume-based faux) chicken scratch, but most of it I’ve filed away for future use. I’ve always, always had plans and strategies for an intentional career in food hidden away, and then I shy away from it all, thinking it’s too big, too much right now. What if I had to quit my job to really do it right? What if things don’t go according to plan? What if there are very real financial repercussions? What if my life changes course?

I think if something has you asking “What if?” with excited/nervous/scared shitless undertones, and with increased frequency as well, the timing may be just right. Another step towards focusing up and unlearning the fear that it can’t be done: the new cookbook from the Green Kitchen Stories crew arrived at my door about a month ago. Just looking at the cover of Green Kitchen Travels stirred up inspiration on the visceral level for me. There are beautiful photographs of food, yes, but also captures of the worldly places that inspired each dish. I always say that a good cookbook should take you somewhere, whether it’s a new frame of awareness with food, or the photographs and voice have the ability to transport you in as much as possible. This one accomplishes both handily. There’s nothing about it that I don’t love.

I was deciding what recipe I would share with you all here when I realized I had cleared out almost all of my vegetable garden, save for two slowly yellowing eggplant stalks and some greens. I flipped to the “Street Food & Snacks” section of the book and knew I had to have these crispy eggplant bites with honey and lime. Addictive is the only adjective you need to know, but here are some others: crunchy, salty, sweet, tender, and fresh. Everything I’ve ever wanted in a snack and they couldn’t have been simpler to throw together. I used some rather coarse polenta and the degree of crunch was so crazy satisfying. Drizzles of honey and fresh lime juice right out of the oven are just too good. They taste convincingly deep fried. ‘Nuff said.

Other things from the book I’m excited to try: vegetarian pho, halloumi veggie burgers, ribollita, lemongrass and coconut summer rolls, no-noodle pad thai, almond butter blueberry cookies, the green yoga smoothie, and the chermoula baked cauliflower. Lots of things to turn the wheels no matter what level you’re at with whole food + vegetarian adventures. You can buy it here (and you should seriously). One little quick note before I go too: I made some soft-baked style pumpkin cookies with tangy cream-cheesy glaze for BAKED this week. You can check that out by clicking here. Weeee!

the last bit of eggplant // @thefirstmesspre-trim // @thefirstmesscrispy eggplant polenta fries with honey + lime // @thefirstmess
crispy eggplant polenta bites with honey + lime
from Green Kitchen Travels
serves: 2-4
notes: I think these would be equally good with a fat pinch of nutritional yeast stirred into the polenta mixture and a little warm marinara for dippin’, just an idea though! ;););)

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch batons/wedges
3-4 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (I used coconut)
1-2 cups organic, non-GMO corn grits/polenta
a fat pinch of fine sea salt
olive oil
zest of 1 lime (once you have the zest, cut the lime into wedges)
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
runny honey or agave nectar if you’d like to keep these vegan

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and smear a bit of olive oil on it. Set aside.

Place the eggplant pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cover the pieces with the plant-based milk. Let the eggplant sit for an hour so that the bitterness can draw out.

Pour the corn grits/polenta into a shallow dish. Stir a good pinch of salt into the polenta. Arrange the soaked eggplant, dish of polenta, and lined baking sheet beside each other. Shake off excess milk from eggplant pieces and roll/press them in the polenta. Transfer coated pieces to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Drizzle the coated pieces with olive oil and slide the sheet into the oven.

Bake eggplant bites for 15-25 minutes, flipping them over once. Mine took the full 25 minutes, but I think this varies greatly on the actual eggplant and hotspots in your oven. Once done, remove from the oven and sprinkle bites with lemon zest, flaky sea salt, honey and lime juice. Serve hot!

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Katie @ Whole Nourishment16/10/2014 - 6:54 am

I can’t wait to get my hands on this cookbook. These eggplant bites look like a winner!

Hannes Woodlandhalo16/10/2014 - 7:11 am

Got it a few weeks back, it really is extremely beautiful. Love the chocolate-chili they have.

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan16/10/2014 - 7:28 am

Oh goodness, so I don’t usually like eggplant, but these could be a game changer!

Brian//A Thought For Food16/10/2014 - 7:44 am

This was the second recipe I had tagged from the book. From your pics it looks like it was a HUGE success.

I knew from chatting that we both had a mutual love for this beautifully crafted creation from GKS. It really is a gem.

Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)16/10/2014 - 8:40 am

Oh my goodness, these look incredible! Eggplant is one of my favorite foods, so it can do no wrong, but polenta coated?! Yes!!

Nataliya M16/10/2014 - 8:47 am

Wow, so simple and looks so tasty! Very unique idea, looking forward to trying this recipe. This cookbook is definitely on my to buy list.

Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen16/10/2014 - 9:07 am

Yes!! This was one of the first recipes I fell in love with, although, I still haven’t actually made it. I’m also thinking of substituting eggplant with squash, as there’s a fried pumpkin dish that I’ve once had in Beijing and that I’ve been craving lately. What a beautiful post to celebrate an inspiring cookbook!
Also, I can only imagine all those thoughts that go along with taking that big leap and seriously getting into food business. You’ll make it, Laura. Believe me, you’re one of the most inspiring souls out there, although, I don’t even follow a vegan / vegetarian diet myself. You have the power to make people see food in new ways, to get them excited about cooking, and to encourage following a healthier lifestyle. Dream big, girl. Dream big.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar16/10/2014 - 9:31 am

Mmm these look fabulous. NEED that book!

Ashley16/10/2014 - 9:35 am

These sound so freaking good! And the eggplant photos? Luuurve. Must buy this book!

valentina - sweet kabocha16/10/2014 - 9:39 am

I’m waiting for Christmas to buy all the books I have in my wish list, and obviously Green Kitchen Travels is in there. And your eggplant bites seems so crunchy outside and soft inside *___*

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth16/10/2014 - 9:47 am

Great choice to select from their cookbook now that we’re in football season — such a great (and healthier) finger food than regular fries to snack on!

Sarah Mac16/10/2014 - 10:34 am

These look heavenly, like pretty much everything from GKS. Thank you for sharing Laura :)

They serve a similar dish of crispy aubergine fries at the wonderful Morito in London, but with whipped feta and pomegranate molasses. Similar sweet and sharp vibe to the honey/lime pairing I suppose, but ramped up a notch. I’ve been wanting to recreate it at home since forever, but have always been put off by deep fat frying – this baked version could be just the ticket! Would probably work just as well with tahini in place of feta, for those skipping dairy.

Laura Wright16/10/2014 - 10:41 am

Hey Sarah! I love the idea of smothering these in a salted tahini dressing/sauce situation. Sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing that :)))
-L

Christine16/10/2014 - 12:04 pm

I stopped at the photo of these in the book too – they sound delicious! I think the corn meal might be pretty difficult to sub out with something else though, and I have an intolerance. I might experiment ;) On your other thoughts – you’re such an inspiration and honestly, I think you’d find success. We’d be lucky if you were to start something new here in Niagara!

jaime : the briny16/10/2014 - 12:38 pm

this eggplant recipe looks stellar and is perfectly timed, for me — i just unloaded a few globe eggplants from my CSA bag this morning. i find recipes like this are so inspiring; simple flavors, and just a few of them, arranged in a brilliant, bold, unafraid manner. i love it. thanks so much for sharing.

Kyla16/10/2014 - 12:48 pm

Love your site. I read this entry particularly close – as I too feel a deep yearning to set aside my fears and follow my food passion full-time. (I read cookbooks with such a sense of longing!). What is fascinating – is that even though I write a food blog, and we (my hubby) runs a local restaurant- I somehow still don’t feel like I am really connected to our local food culture. Because I make my “bread and butter” from another industry (read: office job!), I feel that I am outside the industry looking in. I can’t seem to quiet that voice. Ahh, but the fear that can hold one back! Heading into the unknown. Trusting oneself. Believing it can happen. These are the emotions that can so easily flood over and cloud one’s dreams.

There. I just put it out there. Hanging.

Maybe, as you say, the timing may just be right.

Kris16/10/2014 - 2:40 pm

I just got 3 little eggplants in my CSA share this week. Eggplant polenta bites are on!

Millie l Add A Little16/10/2014 - 3:00 pm

Looks amazing girl! I love eggplant, I love polenta and your gorgeous photography is ridonkulous!

Eileen16/10/2014 - 10:21 pm

Those eggplant look so beautiful and fresh! And the polenta crust is such a great idea — sounds like the perfect contrast in textures.

[…] Have you seen these crispy eggplant polenta bites? […]

Dina17/10/2014 - 3:52 am

I first heard about eggplant and honey in Spain when I spent two moths there earlier this year. It was a treat. I just came back from Israel where they serve eggplant with date syrup they call Silan. Exquisite. Love your version.
Thanks for sharing.

Kate17/10/2014 - 4:43 am

I’m completely obsessed with their recipes, both from this new Travel book and the original Greek Kitchen. Have you tried the baked bananas too? They taste seriously deep fried and delicious but are totally healthy too. Love the photos in this post too.

[…] Crispy Eggplant Polenta Bites with Honey and Lime from The First Mess […]

[…] Crispy Eggplant Polenta Bites with Honey and Lime from The First Mess […]

kristie {birch and wild}17/10/2014 - 11:04 pm

I am so excited to add Green Kitchen Stories to my carefully curated collection of cookbooks. I love everything they do.
As usual, your photos beautifully capture the essence of the seasons and the spirit of whole food living.

[…] crispy eggplant polenta bites. ummmm […]

Kasey20/10/2014 - 4:18 pm

I’ve long been impressed with that couple’s creativity. I’m really excited to check out the book — and make these! Eggplant is one of my absolute favorite veggies.

Laura, your kitchen is gorgeous! I keep noting that every time I read your posts. I would kill for such a great photography space like that! Did it come like that or did you create it? Would love to see a kitchen tour post.

[…] Une autre façon de manger des aubergines – j’ai très envie d’essayer! […]

Laura Wright21/10/2014 - 8:40 am

Hi Tessa! Thanks for your compliments. We actually gutted the kitchen completely when we got the house about a year ago. So everything you see in the photos is stuff we’ve done ourselves. It’s a smaller kitchen, but we definitely designed it to be a workhorse. I would like to share more kitchen photos of the space in the future, but there’s still just a little bit of work left to be done. Soon though! :)
-L

[…] honestly so beautiful so make sure to check them out: Vegetarian Pho by Kelsey from Happyolks. Crispy Eggplant Polenta Bites with Honey + Lime by Laura from The First Mess. No Noodle Pad Thai by Anya from Golubka. Lemongrass & Coconut […]

[…] Crispy Polenta Eggplant Bites with Honey + Lime by, The First Mess {{via Green Kitchen Travels}} […]

Judie Keech29/10/2014 - 7:36 pm

I love roasted veggies with a lemon Rosemary sauce drizzled over. That is my favorite fall meal. I believe I got the recipe here from you!