Category Archives: Vegetarian

meatless mondays: fresh from the farmer’s market…

Only one more day until the official start of SUMMER!  I started celebrating early this weekend, despite the rain and gloomy weather.  In the morning moments of sunshine, I headed out to my favorite farmer’s market.  If it isn’t going to act like summer outside, then I can at least pretend by shopping and eating like its already summer.

My best friend in NYC was out and about in her warm, sunny city (I’m jealous) and was inspired to make gazpacho.  She asked me to send her my recipe, which made me realize that I had yet to share it here.  It also planted the seed and made me crave it,  so I mixed up my first batch of the season!  On Sunday morning, I set out to collect my ingredients.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed with the early summer market pickings.  I got what I could and stopped by my food co-op to supplement where necessary. This recipe will turn out even more delightful once the heirloom tomatoes start to ripen.  I was lucky enough to get a few from a greenhouse farmer.   Here is my market bounty and what I made with it:

 

 

Recipe:  Mango Gazpacho

3-5 large tomatoes (preferably a variety)
2-3 mangoes (peeled and cored)
1 cucumber
1 red pepper
1 small red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed (or more if you like it spicy)
2 garlic cloves
juice from 1/2 lemon (more to taste)
1 tablespoon vinegar (balsamic, rice, apple, or white)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional:
tomato juice or water to thin
sriracha or other hot sauce for extra spice
watermelon, green onion, carrots, or any other fruit/veggie that sounds good

Finely dice ingredients and mix in a bowl. If you like it soupy/saucy, you can take half of the vegetables (before all of your hard dicing work) and puree them in a blender or food processor.

Serve cold.
Top with a good balsamic, truffle oil, or just eat it up!
Hint:  It tastes better if you make it ahead of time and let it mingle.

meatless mondays: lentil madness…

March Madness? Nahhh. I could care less about basketball. I’m suffering from my own form of madness…Lentil Madness!

I must be low on iron or some crazy old wives’ tale. I have been craving lentils lately. Maybe because I’ve been experimenting with delicious lentil recipes this past month, I’ve just rediscovered how much I love these little pods of protein. I just can’t get enough. I’ve been eating them at least once a week!

Lentils come in a multitude of varieties: red, yellow, orange, green, french, basic brown, etc. Most are interchangeable, but you’ll want to use a more firm variety, like french/green, for beans cooked for salads or side dishes. You can also achieve a firmer lentil by reducing the cook time.

Lentils are super easy to cook. Start with dried beans, rinsed and sorted (look for small stones that could be mixed in). They don’t require any pre-soaking as other legumes do. Mix one cup of lentils to 3 cups of liquids (I prefer to make them using vegetable broth instead of just water, although either or a combo of both works just fine too). Bring to a boil and then let simmer, adding more fluids if needed. They take 20-30 minutes to cook.

Lentils are not only easy to make, their nutritional stats read nicely too. They are high in folate, magnesium, and vitamin B1. They are well known for their high fiber too, which helps contribute to lower cholesterol. Fiber also helps manage blood sugar disorders by preventing levels from rapidly rising after a meal.

Lentils are a good source of iron and protein, especially the amino acids isoleucine and lysine. Add to the list that they are also low in fat and calories (unlike animal sources of protein and iron), and hello, we are talking “super food” here! To top it all off, they are very filling and satisfying.

Lentil soup is always a favorite of mine (especially with mushrooms added in), but I have also been enjoying spiced lentils with spinach, cold lentil salad, and Indian Dal lately.

Recipe: Spiced Lentils with Spinach

1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and sorted
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
2 tsp tumeric (you could use curry powder as a substitute)
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your desired heat)
salt and pepper to taste
~1 pound fresh spinach, washed and lightly chopped

Saute onion in olive oil, for about 3 minutes. Add lentils and all liquids. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Add seasonings and mix well. Add spinach, wilting it into the mixture. (Add an additional 1/2 cup of water if needed to absorb the spinach into the lentils.) Simmer until most of the water is gone and the spinach is soft, about 10 minutes.

Serve with naan or any other desired bread. Could also be served over rice or quinoa. (Feel free to add garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, or any other spices to this dish). This makes quite a large pot of beans, so if its only for one or two people, you might want to halve it. Unless you love it as much as I do!

meatless mondays: i love you mark bittman…

Today I’d like to share a video from my favorite food journalist, Mark Bittman. Although it is a little dated, it is more relevant than ever. What he says just makes plain and simple sense.

He is not a vegetarian and is actually a great lover of meat. But he understands that we can’t overconsume animals, for our own health or the well-being of the planet. He calls himself a “Less-meatarian”. Less quantity, better quality. What a great concept!

Over the years, I have thoroughly enjoyed Bittman’s New York Times column, The Minimalist which he recently brought to an end. He has a blog and continues to write for the NYT weekend magazine though, so I am still able to cyberstalk him. 🙂

He has written several incredible cookbooks. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian gets the most use of any book I own. His newer Food Matters Cookbook is on my buy list. His style is more of a base recipe with ideas of all kinds of variations and substitutions. Plus he explains how to choose, store, and prepare different items, which makes experimenting in the kitchen less intimidating.

I love his views on food and our consumption of meat. He breaks it down in such a no-nonsense way. Instead of trying to emulate his eloquence, I’ll just let the man speak for himself:

Here is a recipe from Mark Bittman, in his own words:

Recipe: Braised and Glazed Butternut Squash

This is your go-to recipe for everyday winter squash; it will work with any variety, but I usually turn to butternut because it’s so much easier to deal with than all the others. Once you peel and cut the squash, you braise it in a small amount of liquid, then boil off the remaining moisture to glaze it. Other vegetables you can use: any winter squash (except spaghetti), though they will all be more difficult to cut and peel than butternut.

Quick Info:
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
11/2 pounds butternut or other winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley leaves for garnish

1. Put the oil and garlic in a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. When the garlic begins to color, add the squash and stock and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally and stirring somewhat less often, until all the liquid is evaporated and the squash has begun to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat back down to low and cook until the squash is as browned and crisp as you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish, and serve.

meatless mondays: veggie appetizers

Sometimes I like to have appetizers for dinner or make a spread of snacks for guests to graze upon. I’ll make an array of hummus with veggies and pita bread, 7 layer tex-mex dip with tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa for even more tortilla chip dipping, and a variety of cheeses with crackers and bread.

Put out a few olives, a dish of almonds or candied pecans, some grapes and apple slices, and Voila! Food for the masses.

Recipe: 7-Layer Tex-Mex Dip
(photographed before the last layer of cheese)

1st layer:
Large can refried beans (or 2 small cans)
1 tsp chopped jalapeños
Spread on a large platter or a 9×11 rectangular glass casserole dish.
(halve the recipe if you use a regular size plate or smaller dish)
2nd layer:
4 Avocados mashed with 2 Tbsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, onion salt (or garlic)
Spread on top of beans.
3rd layer:
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo (optional-makes it a better spreadable consistency)
1 package taco seasoning
Mix above 3 ingredients together in a separate bowl. Spread on top of avocado mix.
4th layer:
1 cup chopped green onions
5th layer:
1 cup chopped black olives
6th layer:
1 cup chopped tomatoes
7th layer:
Lots of grated cheddar cheese (at least an 8 oz package or more if you’d like)
Refrigerate and let mingle! Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe: Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans (or 1 1/2 cups freshly cooked chick peas)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs tahini (optional-the sesame paste gives it a nuttier flavor)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove chopped garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Drain garbanzos, keeping 1/2 the liquid reserved to the side. Put all ingredients in food processor and blend for about 2 minutes. You can thin the mixture with water, the liquid reserve from the beans, or additional olive oil. Adjust salt, garlic and lemon to your taste. Serve with pita bread and chopped veggies.

Optional additions for flavors are: roasted or fresh red peppers, chili powder, black beans, feta cheese, pine nuts, walnuts, cucumbers, etc.