VeganMoFo threw down the Chopped challenge this week with butternut squash, popcorn, apricot preserves and fresh rosemary as the four basket ingredients for the Brunch round.
So, since my VeganMoFo theme this year is Vegan Lunch Box recipes, I chose to lean toward the lunch side of brunch and make some tangy butternut squash nuggets with maple-apricot mustard dipping sauce. Yum! I think the kids are going to love these.
First, I ground up some stale popcorn (we had some leftover from our recent car trip, so I decided to be frutal and make breadcrumb-like crumbs out of stale popcorn).
I had about a gallon bagful of popcorn and it ground into 5 cups of popcorn crumbs.
Then I added the puree from a large roasted butternut squash. I ended up with about 3 1/2 cups of puree. Which is cool, because that’s about the amount of puree in a large can of pumpkin. You could totally substitute canned pumpkin in this recipe for an easier version.
I mixed up the popcorn and squash and decided it was still a bit wet, so I added a cup of quinoa-brown rice blend. Then I mixed in the apricot preserves, a few cloves of roasted garlic and some pan-roasted rosemary that I chopped up.
Then I pulled out my “cheese” powder (that I use for vegan mac and cheese and “cheesy” popcorn) and pressed nuggets into a powdered plate, flipping to coat both sides. Mainly I did this to give the nuggets a crisp nonstick coating, but I also thought the hint of cheesiness would be yummy with the squash. I added a bit more of the rosemary to the cheesy coating, too.
The batch made about 36 tablespoon-sized nuggets. I ended up baking them at 350 for about 45 minutes and they were still moist on the outside, but crispy on the outside. Tasty.
The dipping sauce was pretty simple. I added equal amounts of apricot preserves, maple syrup and mustard. Then I chopped up a couple more dried apricots and tossed those in for a little texture.
I totally love the show, Chopped, so I hope I’ve done this challenge proud. Enjoy!
Tangy Butternut Squash Nuggets
Puree of one large butternut squash (about 3 1/2 cups)
5 cups popcorn crumbs
1/2 cup apricot preserves (I made mine with dried apricots, similar to how I make my stone fruit jam)
1 cup brown rice-quinoa blend (like this)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, pan-roasted and divided
6 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 cup of vegan “cheese” powder
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
2 Tablespoons mustard
Mix ingredients thoroughly and coat with breadcrumbs.
Preheat oven to 350.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Mix sauce ingredients and use for dipping.
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