Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cashew Crusted Butternut, Cannellini Bean, and Leek Stacks

These stacks were our vegan main dish for Thanksgiving dinner. They take a bit of prep, but once that's done, they're easy to put together and bake off in about 20 -25 minutes.

Open-ended baking molds work well for individual-size portions, or you can use spring-form pans to make larger stacks.

The bottom layer is a herbed cashew crust, followed by a layer of butternut squash...any sturdy winter squash should work...then a layer of cannellini beans and porcini mushrooms, topped with thick rounds of  leek.

Squash Layer

Note: I was a little disappointed with the squash layer; I found it a bit bland. Next time, I think I'd make a squash mash instead and incorporate more flavors into it, but this is how I did it this time, so I'll post it as such.

Slow roast the squash in a preheated 325 F oven:

Peel and slice a large butternut squash lengthwise into 1-inch slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, drizzle with olive oil and allow to roast slowly until just tender--about 40 minutes in a 325 oven.

When the squash is tender, remove from oven and allow to cool. If you're using individual-sized molds, use them to cut out mold-size peices of squash after it has cooled. If you run out of full-sized peices for the cut outs, just slice and dice as needed.

While the squash is roasting, you'll have time to prep the rest of the ingredients.

Cashew Crust
(Makes enough to fill the bottom of two 8-inch spring-form pans)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh, sprouted grain bread, made into coarse crumbs
( I blitzed about 3 slices of fresh Genesis Bread  in the food processor)
1 cup raw cashews, chopped medium
fresh chives ~ 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped (to taste)
fresh parsley ~ 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and Earth balance until tender. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients with the sauted garlic/onion mixture until well incorporated. It should look something like this:

Bean Layer

Note: I didn't measure the amounts when I put the bean layer together, so this is just an estimation of what I remember doing. I recommend using this as a guide and subbing any flavors or proportions  according to tastes.

3 cups cooked cannellini beans
1.5 cups porcini mushrooms, chopped medium (I used  reconstitued dried ones)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (~ 1/2 cup chopped)
splash of sherry vinegar,  ~ 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how much acid you like)
fresh thyme to taste
fresh oregano to taste
any other herb of preference  to taste
salt and pepper to taste

If you're using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in some warm water or warm white wine. Saute the celery, shallot and garlic in the olive oil until tender, toss in the mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes. (If you use reconstitued mushrooms, be sure that the mushrooms are well drained and aren't harboring too much liquid. ) Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients and saute for another minute or so, stirring well to mix in all flavors. Remove from heat and set aside. It would be a good idea to taste the bean mixture at this point  and adjust flavorings as necessary.

pictured above: reconstituted porcini mushrooms

Leek Layer
2 large, fat leeks, sliced into 1-inch rounds
olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup dry sherry

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan, and heat to medium-high, lay leek flat in the pan and allow to sear off for about a minute. Keeping heat on med-high add 1/4 cup of the veggie broth, and allow to simmer vigorously for 10-15 minutes, until the leek is just tender, adding more broth as necessary. After 10-15 minutes, you want all the cooking liquid to be evaporated, so don't add too much broth. When leeks are just tender, but still holding shape, and all the broth is evaporated, deglaze the pan with the sherry. Remove from heat and set aside.


Line a baking tray (if using molds) or spring-form pans with parchment paper. Set the molds on the baking tray and spoon in the cashew crust patting it in gently to make a 1/2 - 3/4 inch crust. Stack the squash layer on top of the crust, followed by the beans, then the leeks.

When the molds/pans are filled, bake in a 375 F oven for 25-30 minutes. You want the crust to bake off and get nice and crunchy. After removing from the oven, allow to set for a few minutes before serving.

The molds were easy to handle; I was able to pick them off the parchment in one peice and put them on the plate before removing the molds.

Individual molds assembled, before baking:

Spring form pan assembled, before baking:

Out of the oven:

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin


  1. Rose,

    Great directions. I feel like I was in the kitchen with you.

    I couldn't understand why you thought the squash was bland but now I get it. Another option you could try would be thinner slices of squash and season and stack the thinner layers to make one thick layer. I don't think it will shift easily when unmolded, but am not certain. Other than your mash idea this is the only other thing I could think of.

    I love the sound of the cashew crumb bottom layer.
    The entire dish sounds wonderful and very creative. :)


  2. Thanks Alicia,

    Your expert input is always appreciated. :)

  3. Rose,

    It was just a guess on the squash. I appreciate the compliment but I am not an expert. I have just spent more time in the kitchen than most, hence I have made more mistakes. At least I don't repeat my mistakes often. ;)

    talk to you soon,


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