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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian recipes’

This recipe takes quite a bit of prep work as you neatly dice all the vegetables but the end result is well-worth the effort.  It is one of my favorite soups to make when fresh cannellini beans come to the green market.  This usually happens in the late summer or early fall.  I particularly enjoy the zen of sitting and shelling the beans.  If you have a rind of Parmesan cheese on hand, throw it in the pot.  It will add a lovely richness to the broth.

A version of this recipe will be found in my new book, The Mighty Bean, which will be published in February 2021.

Serves 6

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced leeks

2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

2 cups fresh cannellini beans

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup diced potatoes

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced zucchini or yellow summer squash

1 cup diced green beans or yellow wax beans

1 cup fresh peas

1 cup chopped Savoy cabbage

2 cups diced Italian plum tomatoes with their juice

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil for serving, optional

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, optional

Combine butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onions, leeks and parsley.  Lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the aromatics begin to soften.

Stir in the cannellini beans and add 2 cups of the broth.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Begin adding all the vegetables except the tomatoes, one at a time, and cooking each one for 3 minutes before adding the next one.  They should be added as they are listed in the ingredient list as this allows for the proper cooking time for each one.  

When all the vegetables have been added, stir in the tomatoes and remaining vegetable broth.  Season with salt and pepper, raise the heat and bring to a boil.

Immediately lower the heat to a bare simmer.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the soup is very thick.

Remove from the heat and serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.


			

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Eggplant Parm

 

Visiting our dear friends at their lake house I was designated the night’s cook.  I checked the fridge and found a couple of eggplant more than ready to be used.  At first I was just going to slice, bread and fry as my mom used to do – she insisted that fried eggplant tasted like fried oysters and who were we to argue – but then I remembered that I had brought a couple of jars of passata – that wonderfully rich Italian condensed tomato sauce so decided to look for enough other ingredients to make a version of eggplant parm.  However it was so hot, I didn’t want to turn the oven on so I thought why not give the grill a try……the eggplant would already to cooked and I would just need the heat to melted the cheese and give the flavors time to unite and give that delicious mixture of unctuous vegetable, rich sauce and melting cheese time to dance.

So, that’s what I did – I fried the eggplant, made a quick tomato sauce with the passata and fresh garlic and basil from the garden and sliced up a big hunk of mozzarella from the farmers market that I found in the cheese drawer of their well-stocked fridge.  Even found some pre-ground Parmesan to add that special sharp salty taste that gives that extra oomph to Italian dishes.  Put the mix together, heated up the grill, pulled the lid down and in less than a half flour we had a lovely almost Italian dinner on the deck.  Was my dish a classic – not really – but it sure was good.

Depending upon the amount of eggplant slices you have you can make a single layer, a double layer or even a triple layer of eggplant, cheese and sauce – always ending with a coating of sauce and a goodly amount of cheese to melt over it all.

You will also note that I don’t salt eggplant as many do – I’ve never found it necessary.  

By the way, just simply fried eggplant is a great easy dinner with the arugula on top and a bit of bread and cheese on the side.  And, you know what, the eggplant does kinda taste like friend oysters!

Just Plain Fried Eggplant

Serves 4 to 6 

2 large eggs

¼ cup milk

3 cups breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned, depending upon your preference)

½ cup Wondra flour

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 

2 medium eggplants, trimmed and cut, crosswise, into slices about ⅜-inch thick 

About ½ cup olive oil for frying

Lemon quarters for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  

 

Combine the eggs and milk in a shallow dish, whisking to blend well.

Combine the breadcrumbs and flour in another shallow dish.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to blend.

Working with one eggplant slice at a time, dip it into the egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off.  Then, dip it into the bread crumb mixture.  If you prefer a heavy coating, again dip into the egg and bread crumb mixture.  

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When very hot, but not smoking, begin adding the coated eggplant, without crowding the pan.  Fry, turning once, for about 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.  Transfer to a double layer of paper towel to drain.  If the oil gets too dark and filled with bits of the cooked coating, pour it out, wipe the pan clean with paper towel, and start again with fresh oil.

When all of the eggplant has been fried, transfer to a serving platter.  If you want to fancy it up, place a few handfuls of arugula in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon.  Season with salt and pepper and mound on top of the eggplant. Serve with lemon quarters for drizzling on the eggplant.

If you want to make Eggplant Parm, generously coat a baking dish with olive oil.  Coat the bottom of the dish with you favorite marinara sauce, followed by a layer of eggplant and then a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and continue making layers until you’ve made as many layers as you wish, ending with a coating of sauce and a layer of mozzarella.  You can sprinkle in Parmesan at any point including on the top of the final layer of mozzarella. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until hot, bubbling and the top layer of cheese is beginning to brown.

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The Mighty Bean

We are a family of bean lovers!  I wrote my first bean cookbook almost 30 years ago and I have a new one coming out this winter – The Mighty Bean published by Countryman Press. They both are filled with recipes we love. Refried beans are right up there with the top 5 favorites even though they are not as heart healthy as we should be eating – but you really do need that bacon fat for the depth of flavor good refried beans have.  This is about as close as I come to making a traditional Mexican refried bean.  I like to make a batch and keep it on hand for making a quick burrito, enchilada or tostada.  If you keep a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (which I find to be excellent) and some tortillas on hand you can have a tasty Mexican-inspired dish on the table in minutes!

Refried Beans

Serves 6

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked (see page 00)

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves – Mexican oregano is great if you can find it

Salt and pepper

1 cup bacon fat

Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 2-inches.  Add the onions, cilantro, garlic and oregano and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.  The beans should still be liquidy – if not, add water throughout the cooking process.  When the beans have softened, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the liquid.  Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and, with the motor running, add the cooking liquid a bit at a time.  The beans should be a bit rough – do not puree.

Place ½ cup of the bacon fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes incorporating the fat into the beans as you stir.  Cook until the beans are a bit dry.

Remove the beans from the heat and let cool.

Then, return to the heat and, using the remaining ½ cup of bacon fat, repeat the frying process.  You may not need to use all of the fat.  

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for tostadas or as a filling for burritos and/or enchiladas.

Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  May be frozen.  Reheat before using.

NOTE:  When frying the beans for the first go-round, you may add finely diced onions, tomatoes and/or minced garlic to the mix.

You can also incorporate 2 cups of shredded queso blanco or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about avocados —- well, you know, it is a time of isolation when our thoughts can run amok!!!!  Why avocados?  I don’t really know but I would guess it is because during this extraordinary time people have taken to cooking and blogging and social mediaing about their favorite or, often, most challenging dishes.  Among the top 2 have been avocado toasts and sourdough bread.  I have never done an avocado book but I have done a couple of classic bread books – The French Culinary Institute’s Fundamentals of Bread Baking and Master Baker Lionel Vatinet’s A Passion for Bread and you would think that I would have, by now, mastered not only sourdough bread but tons of others.  Instead I just make my own traditional white batter bread that my mom and probably my grandmother made.  So, that leaves avocados.

Even when I was a wee one, avocados were a favorite.  Before I had teeth, my mom would slather a saltine with mashed avocado as a treat.  I’m told I would lick off the avocado and hand the cracker back for more until the cracker folded….  I still love avocado slather on a saltine.  However, when our Aussie friends introduced us to their national breakfast dish, avocado toast, I took to it like that proverbial duck to water.  There are so many versions that it is hard to keep an up-to-date list but my favorite remains any that combine avocado, tomato and/or olives.

Another favorite is individual nacho-like avocado chips.  All you need is a fresh tortilla chip (I lie, you can use bagged tortilla chips.), mashed, well-seasoned avocado, some cooked chicken or pork, grated cheese and some kind of zesty salsa/sauce to drizzle as you snack.  A perfect nosh with a chilled margarita!

A note on the latter – fresh tortilla chips are so so so so so much better than packaged chips.  And, easy to make.  Cut small corn tortillas into triangles or even break them into random pieces.  Season with a little oil and salt, tossing to coat.  You can add some ground cumin, cayenne or chili powder if you like.  Lay them out in a single layer on baking sheets and bake at 300°F, tossing and turning occasionally, until they are crisp and lightly colored.  They are addictive!

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It’s that time of year — asparagus is filling the green markets and being plucked from home gardens.  There is nothing as delicious to see than those bright green heads peeking up through the softening earth.  When I was a little one – there I go again talking about when I was —- my mom and aunt would take me in hand as they scouted the edges of irrigation ditches looking for the first spring crop.  I have absolutely no idea why asparagus grew along the ditches but if any of you readers do please tell me.  We would have asparagus every night until it got too warm and the asparagus disappeared.  It would also be canned and pickled.

When I use it in risotto, I like to add the trimmings to the stock to deepen the asparagus flavor.  And, if you don’t have stock or broth on hand, just add the trimmings to water and that will give you a flavorful stock.  If you have any on hand, a small dice of fennel also works to add some complexity to the final dish.

Serves 4

Approximately 4 cups hot chicken stock or low-sodium chicken

broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup finely diced onion

Salt

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut, on the diagonal, into

thin pieces

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pepper

Place the chicken stock or broth in a large saucepan over medium heat.  If you have them, add the trimmings from the asparagus to the stock to add flavor.  Bring to a simmer; then, remove from the heat and keep warm.  

Place the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.  When melted, add the onion and season with salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or just until the onion begins to soften.  Lower the heat, add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the rice is shiny and has absorbed some of the butter.

Return the stock to low heat.

Add the wine to the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the wine.  

Begin adding the hot stock, about ¼ cup at a time, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, as each ¼ cup is absorbed and the rice is creamy but, al dente.

Stir in the asparagus and olive oil and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the asparagus is still crisp-tender.

Remove from the heat and stir in half of the cheese.  Cover and let stand for 3 minutes.

Uncover and pour into individual serving bowls.  Garnish with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and a sprinkle of pepper.

Serve immediately.  

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I am probably one of the few non-Southerners who loves okra.  I usually don’t buy it at the supermarket – only when it pops up at the green market in August does it make it to our table.  It is such an interesting looking vegetable, particularly when it is the purple variety. When I have time and the price is right, I will pickle a good amount of okra.  It makes a great accompaniment to charcuterie or cheese platters.  But, as often as not, I will give it a quick stir-fry all by itself or mix it up with some tomatoes and onions.  But occasionally – particularly when I’ve made cornbread or have shrimp on hand – I’ll turn them into my version of maque choux, that traditional Louisiana side dish that usually features just corn, bell peppers, and onion.  Cornbread makes a good dipping tool and shrimp can turn it into a sorta gumbo.  I never cook okra very long as I’m not a fan once it starts to get slimy.  Although recently someone told me that if you blanch it for a minute or so, it stays bright green and doesn’t get slimy.  I haven’t tried that method so can’t recommend it, but you might want to give it a try.

Maque Choux

Serves 4

2 tablespoons bacon grease (or any fat you like)

½ cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced hot green or red chile or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cup fresh corn kernels

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

2 cups sliced okra

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Hot sauce, optional

 

Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, chile, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until the onion is softening.  Stir in the corn and bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until just barely tender.  Stir in the okra and then quickly add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or just until slightly thick.  Don’t cook too long as you don’t want the okra to start oozing – you want it slightly crisp.

Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions and parsley.  Taste and, if necessary, season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Serve hot.

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beef-vegetable-soup
All during the NY winter months soup is often on the dinner table.  There is nothing better with a tossed green salad, some homemade bread or a crusty baguette, and, of course, a glass of red.  I normally make a non-meat vegetable soup, but I had just one beef shank in the freezer so thought I’d use it to add some oomph to the vegetables.  Beef shanks are less expensive than many other cuts of beef and, because they are a cross cut from the leg which is well-used muscle, shanks need a long slow braise to melt the connective tissue and tenderize the meat.  Whole shanks are often braised in red wine rather like boeuf bourguignon or cut into pieces for use in all types of stews.  For my soup, I first cooked the shank in a combination of water and stock seasoned with leek greens, a couple of cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper until it was beginning to pull away from the bone.  I used a fairly large soup pot so I can make a big batch, part of which can be frozen for another day. I lifted the cooked meat from the broth and then stained the broth, discarding the solids.  I returned the broth to the pot and added the following with enough extra water to cover the mix by at least an inch, but you can add or subtract anything and still have a terrific pot to feed your body and your soul.  The soup needs to cook for about an hour to allow the flavors to be extracted from the vegetables.

Makes a big pot

One 28 ounce can chopped plum tomatoes
4 large button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced into small pieces
¼ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
A few large handfuls of baby spinach I had leftover from a salad
Salt and pepper

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vegetable-chili

 

Everybody seems to have a favorite chili recipe, but I generally just wing it.  I do from time to time stick to my mom’s method (see a post from November 13, 2012) but as often as not I do some type of vegetarian chili.  Since the weather had cooled and I had a mess of cooked red beans on hand, I decided it was going to be easy to put dinner together.  I sautéed a big chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic in a little canola oil.  I added a large can of plum tomatoes (that I had squished), a medium can of tomato puree, a couple of dollops of tomato paste along with 4 chopped carrots, 2 chopped zucchini, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 minced jalapeño, and some mushrooms that were needing to be cooked.  To be honest the additions were based solely on what I had on hand.  Seasoned the mix with a good amount of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and, of course, salt and pepper.  Had I had some winter squash or sweet potatoes on hand I would have added either of those also.   I added the cooking liquid from the beans and then let the vegetable mix cook for a while before adding the cooked beans as they were already pretty soft and didn’t really need much more cooking.  I baked some corn muffins, quickly tossed a green salad, and Eh! Voila! dinner was on the table and we had lunch ready to go to our besties at Loupe Digital.

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Since the weather has cooled down – ranging from the high 40s to 50s, braises, stews, and soups have come to mind.  The other day Steve suggested some chili – not the Texas kind said he, but the kind with chunks of ground meat.  Told him he had to wait a day ‘cause I would have to soak some beans before I could put the chili together.  I always have dried beans on hand, usually from Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com), but they do take some extra time to soak so you can’t whip up a bowl of red in a few.  (Although if you are really desperate you can use canned beans and have a pot going pretty darned quick).  Lots of chefs disagree about the soaking part and boil dried beans for an hour and then proceed with a recipe.  I do not like firm beans, so I follow the old rule of soaking in cool water for at least 8 hours.

So, I soaked a pound of pinto beans overnight and then got the pot going the next morning.  I decided I would make the same chili I had seen my mom make hundreds of times – rich, filling, and aromatic.  Here’s what I did.

Drained the beans of their soaking water and then added enough cold water to cover them by at least 2½ inches.  Placed over high heat and brought to a boil; then, lowered the heat and kept them simmering while I tended to the other ingredients.

Using a one of my great nonstick Scanpan frying pans, I sautéed about 2 pounds of lean ground beef (You can also use ground pork, chicken, or turkey or big chunks of beef stew meat.  I’m not a fan of lamb chili, but if you like the flavors, why not?) along with a large diced onion, about half a head of chopped garlic cloves, and one jalapeño chile.  (If you like, you can also add some chopped bell pepper to the mix).  The pan was a little too full so it took a bit of time to get the meat browned and most of the liquid to evaporate.  This was good because it gave the beans some time to soften slightly.  I added the meat to the simmering beans along with a lot of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, and ground pure chile powder along with smaller amounts of cayenne, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.  All of these should always be done to taste – I like mucho heat and lots of seasoning, but you don’t have to agree with me.  I let the mix simmer for about 30 minutes and then I added one large can of tomato puree and one large can of diced tomatoes along with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.  Seasoned with salt and black pepper and let the whole mess simmer for another hour or so.  Then, I took the pan off the heat and let the mix cool down before putting it back on the heat to get very hot for dinner.

I always serve chili with some diced sweet onion on top – I love the contrast of the crisp, cool sweetness with the flaming hot chili.

 

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Okra_purple_IMG_0587
I bought a bagful of itty-bitty purple okra at the farmer’s market the other day and then just sat them in the middle of the table for décor so we could enjoy their slightly weird look.  Eventually I decided to cook them knowing full well that purple okra would become perfectly ordinary green okra once the heat hit.  That’s why you’ll get no photo of the finished dish – okra just ain’t real purdy when it has been cooked.  But, it is delicious – or it is to me.  Here’s what I normally do –
Heat a couple of spoons of olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add one chopped onion and a couple of cloves of minced garlic and sauté for a few minutes.  Then, I add a basket of cherry tomatoes along with the okra (stems removed and left whole if tiny, sliced, crosswise, if large), a few leaves of basil and a hint of fresh oregano.  I don’t cook it very long – just long enough to get the tomatoes to pop and the okra to soften slightly.  Too long and you get a kinda slimy mix – still delicious, but not the greatest texture on the palate.

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