Vegetarian dishes perfect for the season, including Annie’s pumpkin mac & cheese

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

As we move through fall and approach the winter, many of us crave soups and other comforting dishes. Of course, homemade soup is hard to beat, but sometimes pulling one together can be tough for busy parents or those who don’t own a crockpot. In September, Annie’s released a delicious new line of organic soups. Three of the five are vegetarian: tomato, creamy carrot & bunny pasta, and creamy tomato & bunny pasta. The carrot one has a nice sweetness and provides a lot of vitamin A, so it made my daughter and me happy. See end of article for a few more details on the soups.

I’m not vegetarian myself, but I know more and more individuals who are. I tried out a seasonal recipe from Annie’s recipe web site for pumpkin mac & cheese, and decided to make a vegetarian version by skipping the bacon-bit garnish (see my result in photo above). It didn’t taste like anything was missing; I’ll definitely be making this savory dish, which includes chard and apple, again. Because I had it on hand, I also substituted Annie’s organic vegan shells for the “shells with real aged cheddar” that the recipe called for. If you are vegan and want a quick recipe, Annie’s has one for spicy vegan bacon mac and cheese.

When searching for a few more vegetarian fall recipes, I discovered that Lundberg Family Farms has lots of options. I haven’t made these yet, but I look forward to creating kale and rice rolls and brown jasmine rice with pecans and orange honey glazed tofu, which is actually vegan. You can sort their recipes by vegan and/or vegetarian and/or course type (like appetizer), too. They also have recipes that feature their new American-grown organic tri-color blend quinoa, and their sprouted risotto. If you haven’t tried these yet you’re in for a treat. The sprouted risotto made with organic whole grain brown Arborio rice comes in three varieties including cheddar/pepper and sweet corn/bell pepper. They are good on their own, but it’s also fun to use a product you already like as an ingredient for a new recipe.

If you do have time to make some vegetarian soup from scratch, let me recommend a couple cookbooks I became familiar with when doing research for a Santa Cruz Sentinel article; they were both published in 2013. Mollie Katzen’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation” includes recipes such as Black-Eyed Pea, Squash, and Shiitake Stew and Yellow Split Pea Dal (the latter is perfect for beginning cooks). Before this book, Katzen was already famous for writing “Moosewood Cookbook” among others; The New York Times and Amazon both named “The Heart of the Plate” a best book of the year.

“Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden” by Diane Cu and Todd Porter includes Hearty Celery Root and Red Lentil Soup. If you’re not vegetarian, the Curried Kabocha Squash and Chicken Stew recipe is one that I’ve made and loved—it’s an easy recipe with only a few ingredients. Foodies out there might already know Cu and Porter through their food/travel/photography, blog WhiteonRiceCouple.com.

More on Annie’s soups: Both tomato varieties offer a half-cup of vegetables per serving, while the chicken-based soups use only organic chicken and broth with no antibiotics added. All varieties are made with NO artificial flavors, synthetic colors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.

More on Lundberg: All of their products use organic rice and/or quinoa.

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