This is going to be one of those posts. Because it has been one of those days. And one of those weeks.
I’ve got the leftovers of this recipe heating up on the stove and a quart of Talenti Salted Caramel keeping me company as we speak. Eventually, I think I’ll be alright. We said a final goodbye to our beloved family dog on Monday. We brought her home from the vet and we buried her in the box that Clark made for her, near the tree out back that always seemed to have a magnetic pull for her.
It’s only fitting that this post is accompanied by a recipe like this. The plan was to create a beautiful, layered casserole using portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, vegan alfredo sauce, goat cheese, and red peppers. As plans often do, this didn’t work out the way I imagined.
Upon removing the casserole dish from the oven, Clark and I looked at each other skeptically. And when we tried to “cut” into it and serve it, we just started laughing. The layers all melted together and it became a delicious, savory, soupy mixture. This is not a casserole. It’s not a ratatouille. It’s not anything really – I’ve Googled extensively with no luck. I have no idea what to call it and I still don’t know what it is. All I know is that it is GOOD and sometimes, that’s all that matters.
In some weird way that only a foodie could fathom, the recipe reminds me of Maggie. She was a mixture of things – sassy, cuddly, spunky, snappy, and comforting – all in one furry 8 pound package. She didn’t care what anyone thought of her and she refused to fit in with other dogs. Heck, she wouldn’t even chase a ball or a stick or anything or the sort. When she was younger, she loved to take off running whenever the door was left open, laughing to herself, I’m sure, as we tried to chase her down. She met Clark before I did. She was there when I left for college and she was there when I came home. We were never sure if she was a full bred Yorkie or not – and who cares, anyway?
She was just good. Such a damn good dog.
I think my mom always planned on us having a big dog; maybe a German Shepard or a lab. Instead, we ended up with this jumpy, yippy little thing named Maggie. And for a million reasons, she fit in so perfectly with our family. You know what they say about plans…
I will admit that I’ve been extremely blessed to not have seen very much death in my life. Any of the relatives that have passed since I’ve been alive have been too distant to have a terribly profound impact on me. Whether it’s a good thing or bad, I don’t know, but I’ve been sheltered from the pain of losing a loved one.
Losing a pet is not the same as a person, but it’s heartbreaking all the same. A huge chapter of my life has ended. My childhood dog is gone. I’ll never see her perky ears in the window as I walk up to the door. She’ll never hop down and run over to say hello when I get home. She won’t be barking at the fireworks this year. I’ll never get to take her outside again. She’ll never cuddle against the small of my back, keeping me warm all night. I’ll never give her another treat or sneak her another piece of popcorn.
I wonder if I’ll ever stop looking at her favorite spot, expecting her to be snoozing peacefully only to remember that she’s gone. I don’t think that I will.
Since you insisted on watching us shoot this recipe, this post is for you, Maggie Mae. Our yippy dog. Our Honey Badger. Our girl. For all you taught me, for all the times you were there, and for the best friend that you were, thank you.
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¾ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 minced red bell pepper
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 4 ounces chèvre goat cheese
- 3-4 large portobello mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with olive oil.
- Add coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and garlic to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Chop portobellos into large hunks and mince the red pepper.
- Add the portobellos to the dish, then pour the sauce over top. Next, cover the mushrooms with spinach. It may look like too much spinach, but trust me – it cooks down a lot! Crumble goat cheese over top of the spinach, then sprinkle the minced red pepper.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over top of the dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes, covering lightly with aluminum foil at the 20-minute mark.
- Remove from the oven and be sure to let it cool! Serve in bowls – this isn't your average casserole. If desired, serve it over quinoa.