Category Archives: Vegetarian

Grilling Up a Storm… of Vegetables

There’s often so much focus on MEAT when we talk about grilling and I thought a little primer on grilling vegetables was in order.  Here’s my general rules for prepping and cooking the good stuff over a hot fire.

grilledvegetables

Red, Yellow and Green Bell Peppers – Grill the peppers over high heat until charred all over, about 12-15 minutes. Then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest for ten minutes, then rub off the charred skin with a paper towel.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds.

Mushrooms – Begin by trimming off just the bottom of the stem and brushing them free of any loose dirt.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over high heat until tender and slight wrinkly on the outside, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash – Cut into 1/4″ wide slices.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium-high heat until tender and grill marks appear, about 6-8 minutes.

Scallions – Begin by trimming off the root ends.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium-high until tender, about 4 minutes.

Eggplant – Halve lengthwise and and cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ chunks.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium heat, covered until soft, 5-8 minutes.

Potatoes – Cut into 1/2″ wedges and precook by steaming for 10-15 minutes or just until tender.  Let cool.  Then brush with olive oil and and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium heat until grill marks appear, about 8-10 minutes.

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

I’ll be celebrating this Mexican holiday with a feast of small plates tonight and wanted to share my guacamole recipe.  It’s not super traditional, but yields delicious results!  Let me know if you like it!

guacamole-with-cornGuacamole with Corn
2/3 cup fresh cooked sweet corn
3 ripe, but firm avocados
1 medium red onion, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors.  Makes about 4-5 cups of guac.

Enjoy!

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In Print: Clips from Food Sections

460368125. – The Chicago Tribune Easter Ham: What to buy, How to carve “The three most important things to consider are your party size, whether you want soup and your abilities with a carving knife.”

4. – The Boston Globe Meat me Halfway “But lately the food world has seen a slight retreat from this meaty fervor – a step back, a measured gaze, and a thought bubbling up: Perhaps less is, after all, more. This isn’t polar opposition to the carnivorous lifestyle. People still love their meat. They are simply moving toward balance.”

3. – The LA Times Homemade Easter Candy, An Old-fashioned Treat “This year, I’ve decided to make three of my favorite candies for our Easter baskets: sugar-dusted marshmallows, cream cheese mint straws and hand-dipped chocolate eggs with almond butter centers. The contents of my basket settled, I bring out the ingredients I’ll need to make them, for the most part, pantry staples — sugar, chocolate chips, peppermint extract and honey among them. Almost instantly, I notice, the kitchen begins to smell like a candy store.”

2. – The NY Times Building on Layers of Tradition “They start by reinventing the banh mi — the classic street-vendor Vietnamese-French sandwich. They are taking it back to its roots with house-cured meats that blend French, Vietnamese and Chinese influences, but also nudging it forward with cross-cultural fillings (Polish sausage), local breads (crisp rolls from Parisi Bakery in Little Italy), and American influences like the sloppy Joe.”

1. – The Washington Post Bring on the Feast “But first, before anyone can fill a plate, they all must play the traditional red egg game. Twelve dozen bright-red hard-cooked eggs are passed out to the nearly 175 adults and kids. The color of the eggs represents Christ’s blood. The idea is to bang your egg against someone else’s, pointy end to pointy end, with one person calling out “Christos anesti” (Christ is risen). After the eggs hit, the other person responds, “Alithos anesti” (Truly he is risen). Then you repeat, using the opposite end of your egg. The object is to crack the other person’s egg while leaving yours intact. (For obvious reasons, kids adore this tradition.) Another benefit to the game: You can nibble on the egg while waiting for your meal.”

photo from The LA Times

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Mushroom Burgundy

mushroomSince my husband is traveling for work this month, I’ve been indulging in all the dinners that he wouldn’t necessarily love and one without any meat falls into that category.  When searching for a good use for all the mushrooms I had in the fridge I came across a recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon on Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to have it!  I am a sucker for anything that’s “braised” and includes wine and sour cream.  This dish reminds me of the Beef Stroganoff that my mom is masterful at whipping up in a hurry. So, put on some good music, get a glass of wine and prepare to indulge.

Mushroom Burgandy
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices – I used button, cremini and portabello
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cipolini onions
Egg noodles, for serving (or I used whole wheat rotini to be healthy)
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

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Tip of the Day: Roasting Carrots

Roasted carrots have a great caramel complexity to them that serves as a great accompaniant to many Fall-inspired dishes.  It only takes a few minutes to prep and looks great when served whole.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place carrots on a lined baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  PLace in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Enjoy!

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A Good Use for those End-of-Summer Tomatoes

Ramona over at The Houndstooth Gourmet is having a little “You say tomato, I say tomahto” contest to celebrate the abundance of tomatoes in all of our gardens right now. This is one of my absolute favorite recipes…  EVER.  If you’ve never had Tomato Bread Salad, you must must must try this… You’ll be hooked… But be warned, it’s only incredible when you use the ripest, freshest tomatoes right out of the garden (or farmer’s market)

And the other secret to a great Tomato Bread Salad is you can’t be shy with the olive oil – and use a good olive oil as the simplicity of the ingredients really warrants the best in each of the ingredients.

Tomato Bread Salad (aka Panzanella)

2 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs ripe tomatoes, hacked into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
6 basil leaves, shredded
1 loaf day old French bread (baguette works well too!)
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut bread into about 1 inch cubes.  Toss with olive oil and garlic.  Place on a baking sheet and cook until gold brown and slightly crunchy on the outside.  Remove from oven and immediately toss in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Another key is to get as much of the tomato water into the bowl with the bread, as it’s so delicious when the olive oil soaked bread absorbs the juice from the tomato. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Christmas Lima Beans & Quinoa Salad…

with avocado, beets and lemon honey dressing!

Last week I did a recipe testing of this for The Washington Post and I’ve been dying to post the pictures of the process, but had to wait until the article came out today!  When I picked up the beans I was so excited as they are like no bean I’ve ever seen before! When dry they were a little more charcoal in color than the red that comes through in this photo, which I took when they were wet AND they are BIG!  We’re talking after soaking and cooking, they are about 1 – 1.25″ in length.  Now that’s a serious legume!

The process of cooking dried beans starts with giving them a good wash and then soaking them for several hours…

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In Print: Clips from Food Sections

5. – The Boston Herald Palate Initiative “Who will you vote for come November? Sometimes you just need to go with your gut. You’ve weighed the candidates’ positions and heard them speak, but perhaps you’ve failed to take into account one of the most important issues: what they like to eat. A politician’s relationship to food can say a lot about him or her. Forthwith, a voter’s gastronomic guide to the candidates, plus dishes from their hometown chefs.”

4. – The Chicago Tribune Gateway to Asia “Asian cuisines offer myriad exotic flavors and techniques that are accessible to the home cook. Ethnic enthusiasts have always combed the aisles of Asian stores for great equipment values and exciting ingredients, but the stacks of woks and strange jars and bottles can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated.”

3. – The LA Times A Mayo Clinic: Basic Homemade Mayonnaise “Eating homemade mayonnaise is the kind of luxurious pleasure — like eating chocolate in the bath — that shouldn’t require apology. Rich yet subtle in flavor, with a pillowy texture, homemade mayo is nothing like the pale, cloying stuff you get out of a jar.”

2. – The NY Times The Local Food Movement Reaches into the Breadbasket “Today, nearly all of the nation’s wheat is grown on vast fields and milled in factories in the Midwest. Over the past few years, though, farmers and millers like Mr. Earnhart and Mr. Lewis have begun restoring wheat fields and reviving flour mills around the country.”

1. – The Washington Post You don’t know beans… “Beans, even heirloom varieties, are no easy sell. In America, according to food historian Ken Albala, beans have long been stigmatized as a cheap protein for people too poor to afford meat. It doesn’t help that canned ones tend to be mushy, while dried varieties take hours to cook, something that doesn’t jibe with the American apotheosis of the 30-minute meal.”

Photo from The NY Times

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Borscht (or Chilled Beet Soup for the English Speaking)

For dinner last night whipped up a refreshing chilled beet soup last night to cool off from the humidity and “oven-ness” of swampy DC. I pulled the beets fresh from the garden and quickly turned them into soup!

Chilled Beet Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 1/2 pounds red beets, scrubbed and stalks trimmed to 1/2 inch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots
1 leek, trimmed of tough green ends and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, loosely packed
1/4 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and seeded

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Easy Tomato Salad

Out of avoidance of the grocery store during “rush hour” (you know what I am talking about – the swamped aisles when everyone’s just left work and is buying everything just because their hungry after a long day), I whipped together this healthy tomato salad for dinner last night.

The recipe is simple… Tomatoes from the garden, a drizzle of olive oil, thinly sliced red onion, a crumbling of feta and some fresh basil.

Enjoy!

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