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Fresh Strawberry Pie, Anyone?

Even though I have a huge blackberry bush growing in my yard, with loads of fruit ripening as I write, my heart belongs to strawberries. My favorite strawberries are the ones I pick myself, still warm from the sun, each one sweeter than the last.
So it’s no wonder that my favorite strawberry dessert is Fresh Strawberry Pie. I like this pie for it’s simplicity, because it’s basically a “raw” pie made with a no-bake crust, so the flavor is pure strawberry. While this pie needs no embellishment, it’s really good topped with vegan vanilla ice cream or whipped topping. If you want something a bit more decadent, you can also use a prebaked regular pie shell and add a layer of sweetened tofu cream cheese under the strawberries.
In a few weeks, when my blackberries are ripe and bursting with flavor, I’ll transform them into coulis and cobbler, all the while reminiscing about my beloved strawberries. Which berry has captured your heart?

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Use the sweetest ripest strawberries you can find. To experience the full flavor of the fresh berries, serve this pretty no-bake pie within four hours of preparing it. This recipe has been adapted from The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Filling:
5 cups sliced strawberries
6 pitted dates, soaked 10 minutes in warm water and drained
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. In a food processor, coarsely grind the almonds or walnuts. Add the 1/2 cup dates and the vanilla and process until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into a pie plate.
2. Arrange 4 cups of the sliced strawberries on top of the crust in a circular pattern and set aside. 3. In a food processor or blender combine the remaining 1 cup of strawberries with the 6 dates, agave, and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce mixture over strawberries and refrigerate the pie for 1 hour before serving.
Makes 6 servings
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Enter the VegCooking.com ‘Fire & Spice’ Contest

I was so pleased to learn that Vegcooking.com is having a “Vegan Fire & Spice Cookbook Contest.” Enter the contest to win the Grand Prize — a set of three of my cookbooks: Vegan Fire & Spice, Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes, and the Proggy Award-winning (all vegan) Quick-Fix Vegetarian. Two runners-up will each receive a copy of Vegan Fire & Spice. It’s easy to enter – here’s the link: Vegan Fire & Spice Cookbook Contest

Roasted Vegetable Towers


As you may have guessed from my previous post, I’m obsessed with roasting vegetables. Here’s one of my favorite ways to make them — it looks fancy, but it couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is roast slices of your favorite “stackable” veggies and then — you guessed it — stack them up! The photo shows a variation on the Vegetable Towers with Red Wine Sauce from my Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook, (served here with pesto instead of wine sauce) and a side of roasted asparagus.

Roasted Vegetable Towers
Much of the prep work can be done in advance and the delicious results are worth the time it takes to assemble the ingredients. This recipe is adapted from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook.

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 8 slices total (about 1/2-inch thick)
Olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into 4 slices (about 1/4-inch thick)
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into rings (about 1/4-inch thick)
4 large Portobello mushroom caps
1 large ripe tomato cut into 4 slices (about 1/2-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray or brush the potato slices with olive oil and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Place the potatoes in the oven and bake until soft and golden brown, turning once, about 20 minutes.
2. On a separate baking sheet, follow the same procedure with the onion slices. After turning the onion slices, place the bell pepper rings on the same baking sheet with the onions and return to the oven until the vegetables have softened, about 20 minutes total for the onion, and about 12 minutes for the peppers.
3. With a sharp knife, remove the dark brown gills from the underside of the mushroom caps. Lightly oil the mushrooms and place on a third baking sheet and bake until softened, about 10 minutes.
4. When all the vegetables have been cooked, allow them to cool slightly, then assemble the towers, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. First, arrange 4 large potato slices in a lightly oiled shallow baking dish. Top each potato slice with an onion slice, followed by a pepper ring. Top with another potato slice, followed by a tomato slice, and top with a mushroom cap.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake until hot, about 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Using a metal spatula, carefully remove the towers and place one in the center of each dinner plate. Surround with sauce of choice.
Serves 4