Creative Cook-off
By Elisa Bosley

Photography by: Zeva Oelbaum

Congratulations to the 2001 Delicious Living recipe contest winners!

This year's annual event, announced in the pages of our December 2000 issue, called for cooks everywhere to break out their bowls and spoons and tempt our taste buds with dishes that included at least one item from a provided list of natural products. It didn't take long for original recipes to pour in from all over the country—California to New York, Minnesota to Texas, Washington to Florida. Using an impressive array of ingredients and a healthy dose of culinary imagination, readers filled our mailbox with recipes for party-making appetizers, elegant entrées and stop-the-press desserts.

Recipes were judged on innovation, ease of preparation and, of course, taste. Selecting the finalists was a surprisingly daunting—and appetizing—process. The recipes that rose to the top deliciously displayed these readers' creativity and dedication to the best natural foods available, resulting in palate-pleasing, nutritious dishes. The payoff: Winners each receive a $150 gift certificate to the natural products store of their choice; runners-up each receive a $75 gift certificate. We salute all of you who submitted your favorites; your creative contributions boosted Delicious Living's enthusiasm for healthy, natural, great-tasting cuisine. To quote many of our contest entrants: EAT AND ENJOY!

1st place entrée

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

Lauren Silverman, Skokie, Ill.
Serves 12 / Bursting with color and flavor, this soup won high marks for its smooth, rich taste. Serve with a loaf of whole-grain bread and a big green salad.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with herbs
1 32-ounce box Imagine Natural Organic No-Chicken Broth
Croutons and grated cheese for garnish

1. In large stockpot, heat oil and brown onions. Meanwhile, roast peppers in toaster oven at 450° until skin is blackened, 15-20 minutes. Put roasted peppers in paper bag for 15 minutes until cool. Peel skin; cut pepper into strips.

2. Add peppers and remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes.

3. Purée soup in blender until smooth. Garnish with croutons and/or grated cheese, and serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 104 calories Fat: 2g % fat calories: 23% Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 18g Protein: 3g Runner-up entrée

Vegan Mushroom Crustless Quiche

Laurie Reaume, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Serves 8 / While a little labor intensive, this unusual and hearty vegan dish proved worth the effort. Be sure to drain the tofu extremely well so the quiche holds together.

21 ounces Mori-Nu Lite Tofu, extra-firm
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup mixed chopped red, yellow and green bell peppers (may use frozen)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon prepared mustard, Dijon or hot-sweet
1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon each dried coriander, marjoram and tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Paprika and nutmeg, for garnish

1. Place tofu in a shallow pan. Drain by pressing weighted cutting board on top of tofu. Let sit 15 minutes; pour off liquid.

2. Pour very hot water over sun-dried tomatoes. Let soak 5 minutes, until soft and plump. Drain water; finely chop tomatoes.

3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-low heat in large skillet. Sauté onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add basil, peppers and garlic, cooking for 10 more minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Sauté until all vegetables are soft and water has cooked off, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 325°. Using a hand mixer, beat tofu into fine crumbs, about 5 minutes. Add, one at a time, nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, tamari and dried herbs, mixing after each. Gently fold in sautéed vegetables. Season to taste with pepper.

5. Lightly oil a 9-inch glass pie plate. Spoon tofu mixture into plate, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with paprika and dash of nutmeg. Bake for 30­40 minutes, until edges start to brown. Remove from oven; cool 20 minutes until firm and serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 82 calories Fat: 3g % fat calories: 32% Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 7g Protein: 7g 1st place appetizer

Green Bean Paté

Alice Farber, Huntington Station, N.Y.
Serves 12 / This twist on traditional paté was a pleasant surprise. Innovative, nutritious and tasty, it makes an excellent dip for chips, crackers and fresh vegetables.

1/2 cup walnuts
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked green beans (reserve liquid)
8 ounces Mori-Nu Lite Tofu, firm, drained
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
Dash pepper
Dash nutmeg

1. In food processor, process walnuts until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients; process into paté consistency, 2-3 minutes, adding reserved cooking liquid if necessary. Serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 59 calories Fat: 4g % fat calories: 57% Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 4g Protein: 3g Runner-up appetizer

Jalapeño Tofu Squares

Cynthia Eliason, San Leandro, Calif.
Serves 24 / Versatile and easy, this dish can be served at brunch or dinner. For a cooler version, substitute green chiles for part or all of the jalapeños.

6 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
12 ounces Mori-Nu Lite Tofu, firm, drained
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
10 ounces cheddar Soyco Foods Rice Cheese, block style
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped jalapeño chiles, drained
Hot paprika

1. In food processor, mix eggs, tofu and salt until smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Grate cheese; add cheese and chiles to egg mixture. Stir well.

2. Spread mixture evenly in 9"x13" pan coated with cooking spray. Dust with paprika. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cut into bite-size squares and serve.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 49 calories Fat: 3g % fat calories: 48% Cholesterol: 53mg Carbohydrate: 2g Protein: 5g 1st place dessert

Lemon-Lime Tofu Crème Pie

Nancy Wellborn, Manitou Springs, Colo.
Serves 8 / Who could resist a tangy, velvety-smooth pie that's decadent but light? The whole-grain crust makes this confection especially yummy.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup raw rolled oats
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons minced walnuts or almonds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

24 ounces Mori-Nu Tofu, firm, drained
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. For crust, melt together butter and honey. Mix with remaining crust ingredients; press into bottom of 9-inch pie pan.

2. For filling, in large bowl combine tofu with remaining filling ingredients except almonds. Mix well. Transfer mixture to blender and purée until very smooth.

3. Pour filling onto crust. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, sprinkle top of pie with sliced almonds during last 5 minutes of baking. Let cool to set; chill if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 341 calories Fat: 19g % fat calories: 47% Cholesterol: 16mg Carbohydrate: 39g Protein: 8g Runner-up dessert

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding

Sherri Kaiser, Dacula, Ga.
Serves 8 / Comfort food at its best. Plump raisins and soy milk give this dessert a protein- and iron-rich nutritional boost. For a special treat, top with nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt.

1 organic apple, peeled and diced
4 slices organic, whole-grain, cinnamon-raisin bread, torn into small pieces
3 egg yolks
2 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup Soy Dream soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon soy margarine or butter

1. Place apple and bread pieces in 8-inch square glass baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and eggs and beat slightly; add syrup, soy milk, vanilla, cinnamon and soy margarine. Mix well. Pour egg mixture over bread and apple mixture. Let rest 15 minutes.

2. Stir mixture gently. Place baking dish in a water bath (a larger baking dish containing 1/2 inch water). Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until set.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 177 calories Fat: 5g % fat calories: 25% Cholesterol: 133mg Carbohydrate: 30g Protein: 4g