Summer brings yellow squash, one of my favorite vegetables when locally grown and fresh. The smaller ones are sweeter and more tender than the larger ones, so I like to choose small squash at the farmers' market or farmstand. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is a custard casserole that has dill, goat cheese and eggs. I wanted to see if I could adapt the recipe into a vegan version, because by eating plant-based foods and reducing my consumption of animal products I am doing a little bit to help the planet. Animal farming contributes more to environmental degradation than plant farming does, especially when practiced on a large scale. A lot of material I have read recently also says that a plant-based diet is healthier, so I am trying to limit my consumption of animal products for that reason, also.
To adapt the original recipe, I substituted silken tofu, nutritional yeast, ume plum vinegar, and maple syrup for eggs, milk, goat cheese, and sugar. I wasn't sure how well it would work, as I am unfamiliar with cooking with nutritional yeast and ume plum vinegar, but I have read that these ingredients can enhance the flavor of dishes in a nice way, and that nutritional yeast has a cheesey flavor. I also have seen various "quiche" type of recipes that use silken tofu instead of eggs. I thought maple syrup might add a nice sweet flavor to complement the tang of the vinegar and nutritional yeast. I was very pleased with the result. I think I like this even better than the goat cheese and egg version! I found myself scraping the ramekin with my fork to get every last morsel. The nutritional yeast, ume plum vinegar and dill combine to make a slightly tangy flavor that makes me want more. I think this might be what they call "umami." This is pretty quick and simple. You can make it in a larger casserole dish, but using these smaller vessels allows you to save leftovers in a way that will present itself at the next meal as freshly made. If you decide to make the casserole in a single vessel, just bake it a little longer.
4 small yellow squash, sliced into rounds
1 small yellow onion, diced
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
11.5 ounce package silken tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup corn meal
handful of fresh dill, chopped (equivalent of about 2 TBS)
1 TBS ume plum vinegar
1 TBS maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or 375 degrees convection bake). Put yellow squash and onion in saucepan with water to cover. Add salt to taste. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until squash is tender enough to mash with a fork. Drain squash and onions (reserve broth for another cooking use that requires vegetable broth) and transfer to a bowl. Add tofu, nutritional yeast, corn meal, dill, ume plum vinegar, and maple syrup. Mash all together with a fork. Grind black pepper over all and mash together some more. Transfer mixture to individual ramekins or small loaf pans that have been coated with coconut oil. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Serves 4-5.