Beans and Cornbread

Homemade vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang. Get bean recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Baked beans can be a vegetarian’s guilty pleasure. Cans on the store shelf often make up for the lack of bacon by upping the sweetness factor, taking the beans out of the “healthy food” realm and putting them in the same category as store-bought granola and sweet potato fries. It’s unfortunate, because when cooked properly, vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang.

I’ve always found canned vegetarian baked beans to be cloyingly sweet. Then I got hooked on beans in tomato sauce when I lived in London. These navy beans stewed in tomato sauce and popped into a can aren’t exactly gourmet, but the first flavor on my tongue wasn’t corn syrup. The Brits are great fans of them as beans on toast. As filling as this meal was on a backpacker budget, a stand in Covent Garden went one better: for a few quid, I could get a giant, piping hot jacket potato smothered in these beans. Since then, I’ve upscaled the beans, but I still love to serve them in baked potatoes.
Learn to make Vegetarian Baked Beans and Baked Polenta

Squash and Rice

Squash and pumpkins keep far longer than you think and can be eaten from sunup to sundown. Get winter squash recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Our winter squash and pumpkin crop yielded little last year, and as I packed away other storage veg, I thought I would have to do without a cold-weather stash. But as daylight waned, friends and family kept sending me home with squash, most fearing it would spoil before they could use it or lacking inspiration for how to prepare it.

If you’re in that camp, this week’s post should both quell fears and inspire delicious meals. Winter squash and pumpkins keep far longer than people think, particularly if they’re properly cured and stored. And they can go in a range of meals, from breakfast to lunch to dinner to dessert. As a bonus, they’re easy to prep and cook ahead for multiple quick, unexpected meals, like risotto and curry.
Learn to make Thai Squash Curry and Squash–Mushroom Risotto

Sourdough Bagels

Many commercial operations make soft, fluffy bagels. You can do far better at home. Get sourdough recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
My first attempt at sourdough bagels followed our backcountry adventure last summer: it was a win for its poke bowl and huckleberry sourdough pancakes but a loss in the bagel department, when I had to resort to supermarket bakery “bagels.” Our county’s only bagel shop closed years ago, so the only local option was closer to squishy rolls than chewy, dense bagels. I started testing my own version as soon as we returned home.

Some research revealed the main problem: many commercial operations steam their bagels. It’s quick, cheap, and easy to automate for massive batches, but the bagels are soft and fluffy. (I’m not even sure the supermarket went this far; more likely, they took their hamburger bun dough and poked a hole in the center.) As with soft pretzels, bagels really want to be immersed in boiling water before baking. Boiling the dough lets its starches gel, forming a firm crust that surrounds a dense interior after baking. Without this step, you’ll end up with a texture and flavor closer to a bread roll. Although some bakers swear by a water bath spiked with honey and others go au naturel, I find a soda bath, similar to the one used for Sourdough Pretzel Bites, adds flavor and color.
Learn to make Sourdough Bagels and Bagel Breakfast Sandwich

Pumpkin Pasta

Pasta–pumpkin combinations are overlooked but fabulous weeknight or special meals. Get pumpkin pasta recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
When I told George I was planning to share pumpkin pasta recipes this week, his reaction was, “Nice, I always forget about pairing pasta and pumpkin.” It’s a combination even I tend to overlook. Growing up, pumpkin was reserved for jack-o’-lanterns and pie, and other winter squash was served “on the half shell,” drowning in butter and brown sugar. But these winter staples store so well you should have a collection to use in many sweet and savory dishes all winter: cookies, quick bread, soup, risotto—and pasta.

I offer two variations on pumpkin pasta here, one suited to a weeknight meal and a fancier plate that takes a bit more time to put together. I encourage you to look more at the techniques and think outside the ingredients listed in the recipes. Any firm-fleshed winter squash can be used in either recipe, and aromatics, alliums, herbs, cheeses, and pasta shapes can all be changed to suit your tastes. Whatever you use, orange winter squash creates a delicious pasta meal.
Learn to make Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin and Parmesan and Pumpkin–Goat Cheese Ravioli with Butter–Nut Sauce