Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Roasted Green Beans with Spicy Rose Harissa Sauce



I adapted this recipe from one developed by Yotam Ottolenghi for roasted carrots.  I made his recipe but had sauce leftover, so the next day I decided to toss it with some green beans and see how it tasted.  It was delicious and a bit spicy! This is an easy way to put an exciting and different vegetable side dish on the table. You most likely do not have rose harissa in your pantry, but it is worth buying a jar for this recipe.  

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 TBS rose harissa (note that rose harissa is different from plain harissa; look for it online)
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Bunch of green beans, trimmed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If you have a convection roast feature on your oven, you can use that function here.  Combine all ingredients except green beans and pomegranate molasses in bowl.  Add green beans and toss well to coat.  Spread green beans on baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes. Drizzle a little pomegranate molasses over beans to serve.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Baked Mushroom Farro "Risotto"


One of the challenges to transitioning to a plant-based diet is that some people do not feel satisfied after a vegetarian meal.  Here is a dish that will satisfy a hungry appetite, as farro is filling and mushrooms provide a meaty flavor and substance in the absence of meat. I served this with lentils and roasted carrots for a well-rounded meal.

Farro is an ancient whole wheat grain that has a chewy, nubby texture and is hearty, filling and nutritious.  It is unrefined and needs to be soaked before cooking.  It is high in fiber,  vitamin B3, magnesium and zinc. I wanted to make a risotto-sort of dish incorporating mushrooms and farro, but I wanted to bake it because baking is easier than tending to a pan on the stove. The result follows.  I served it to dinner guests who said they liked it and would make it themselves, so it is worth trying yourself!  Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy baking time.  You can do other things while it is in the oven! I used a combination of shiitake and cremini mushrooms in my dish, but any kind of mushrooms will be delicious in this.  

1 cup farro, rinsed then soaked in water for at least 3 hours (overnight better)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small or medium onion,diced
4 Tbs butter
3 garlic cloves, pressed
8 cups vegetable broth, heated
1/2 cup white wine
Pinch of saffron
3/4 tsp salt
Sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 cup freshly grated reggiano parmigiano


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium low heat. Sauté onions and salt until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic and saffron, stir and cook for about 3 minutes, then stir in drained farro, coating all kernels with butter. Strip leaves off of thyme sprig into the pan and stir. Add wine, raise heat to medium and stir continuously until liquid is mostly absorbed. Transfer farro mixture to oiled 9”x13” baking pan. Pour vegetable broth over farro and spread mixtue evenly. Bake for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until liquid is absorbed (check it periodically). If it is still soupy, cook longer. When it seems almost finished, stir in parmigiano, spread evenly and bake a few more minutes. Sprinkle additional parmigiano over the top after you remove it from the oven.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spicy Potato Soup (vegan)


I enjoy learning about unusual ingredients that can transform recipes from bland to scrumptious.  Sometimes it takes using the ingredient in a variety of recipes to get a feel for how to use it spontaneously.  The first time I used rose harissa was a little over a year ago, and the first thing I made with it was absolutely delicious.  I tried another dish that again had people asking for the recipe, so I realized this was a wonderful ingredient to have on hand.  I have found that adding a bit of rose harissa—which I had to buy online, as I could not find it in a store—can really transform a dish with its fantastic, complex flavor. Recently, I was experimenting with the development of a recipe for a rutabaga soup.  When I tasted it, I thought it was terrible!  I decided to see if the addition of some rose harissa might improve it a bit.  I found that it transformed the soup from something I absolutely did not want to eat into a soup that I could not get enough of!  So today I thought I would try to make a potato soup with rose harissa that was delicious.  And I succeeded!  This soup is easy to make in about 45 minutes, including time to prep vegetables.

2 TBS olive oil
1 small/medium yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
4 small/medium Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
1 quart vegetable broth
2 TBS rose harissa (note that rose harissa is different than harissa)
Salt to taste
Fresh lemon juice (optional)
Chopped cilantro or parsley to garnish


Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add celery, then carrots, and saute for about a minute, stirring.  Add broth and potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover pot and cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.  Puree with hand blender.  Add 2 TBS rose harissa.  Blend thoroughly. Add salt to taste. After serving soup, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into each bowl and stir (optional), then garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley. Serves 2-4, depending upon how hungry you are!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Banana Mango Spicy Smoothie




Craving a healthy snack to get you through the afternoon?  Or maybe just a light, healthy breakfast to get you started in the morning? This smoothie will fit the bill.  I owe the idea of adding nutmeg and allspice to a smoothie to my son, who has spent many hours experimenting with various flavor combinations in his concoctions.  Freshly grating a whole nutmeg is way better than shaking dried nutmeg from a spice jar.  It's really not a big deal to do, so I encourage you to go buy a whole nutmeg if you haven't tried it.  If you don't have a nutmeg grater, use the grater with the finest, smallest holes that you have in your kitchen.  The fruit in this smoothie provides all the sweetness you need--you do not need to add sugar, honey or any other sweetener!

1 apple, core removed
1 banana, peeled
4 ice cubes
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp vanilla
30 seconds of grating fresh nutmeg (go back and forth with a whole nutmeg on a grater while counting to 30)
1/8 tsp allspice
1 TBS flaxseed oil

Blend all together until smooth.


Makes 1 tall glass smoothie, possibly with a little leftover.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vegetarian Moussaka


I love moussaka, but it usually has ground meat in it.  I wanted to see if I could capture the special flavors of moussaka in a vegetarian version.  I took a recipe that I used to use, before I cut meat from my diet, and tweaked it a little, mainly substituting mushrooms for the meat! While I combined cremini and shiitake mushrooms, I think any mixture of various mushrooms would be good.  Here is my version, which I think is quite delicious. I don't miss the meat at all.

2 eggplants, cut into cubes
extra virgin olive oil
salt
1 1/5 lbs. cremini mushrooms, sliced 
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. oregano
26.5 oz. chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
6 eggs, beaten

Toss eggplant with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally while roasting. Use the convection roast setting if available on your oven. Eggplant should be golden brown but not burnt.

Meanwhile, sauté onions over medium high heat in more olive oil until translucent.  Lower heat, add garlic and toss for a few seconds (do not burn the garlic).  Add mushrooms, more olive oil, thyme and salt.   Saute until mushrooms are tender, tossing occasionally so that everything gets mixed together and cooked evenly.  Add cinnamon and chopped tomatoes.  Simmer for about a half hour.  Stir in 1 cup parmigiano just before assembling the moussaka in a baking dish.

Beat eggs in mixing bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and cook for a few minutes, continually stirring.  Slowly whisk in milk, continuing to stir.  Cook until thickened while continuously stirring.  Add salt, nutmeg and 1/2 cup grated parmigiano.  Scoop out about a cup of this sauce and whisk it into the eggs, then whisk the beaten eggs into the sauce and continue to cook while whisking until sauce is thick and smooth.  Remove from heat.

To assemble, coat a 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread half of eggplant evenly over bottom of dish.  Next pour the mushroom-tomato mixture on top of that and spread evenly.  Put remaining eggplant over that, then pour the creamy egg sauce over that (you might have too much sauce; if so save it to use on another baked vegetable dish later). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until topping is light golden brown. 

Makes about 12 servings.





Saturday, January 5, 2019

Tofu Shawarma

This is a great recipe that is sure to please.  It is also a quick and easy dinner (except for pressing the tofu, but you could skip this step if necessary; the tofu will just break apart more).
Inspiration came from epicurious.com, which published a recipe for chicken shawarma that my husband loves.  Since I don't eat chicken, I wanted to see if I could substitute tofu with good results.  The results are more than good, they are excellent!  If you have a combination of carnivores and vegetarians at the table, you could make the baked tofu for the vegetarians and use a duplicate spice mixture with diced chicken for the meat eaters (bake on a separate cookie sheet for the same amount of time in the same oven). You can make the yogurt tahini sauce ahead of time, if you like.  If you make everything at the same time, start with preheating the oven and let the tofu sit in the spice mixture for the longest possible amount of time, while you mix the other items together.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce:

1 cup yogurt
1 TBS tahini
1 clove garlic, pressed
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 TBS lemon juice
Handful of fresh dill, chopped (about 2 TBS)
Handful of fresh mint, chopped (about 2 TBS)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Tofu:

1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To press tofu, put block of tofu on top of several layers of paper towels on a plate. Lay several layers of paper towels folded on top of tofu, then place something heavy, such as a cutting board or some canned goods on top of a plate, on top of that. Leave for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Cut tofu into 1”-2” cubes.

Mix other ingredients in a bowl.  Add tofu cubes and gently toss to coat all sides of each cube with spice mixture.  Let sit for about 15 minutes (or longer is even better).

Bake tofu cubes on greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Pita Bread:

8 small pita bread pockets

Wrap pita in foil and warm in oven with baking tofu for 5-10 minutes.

Salad:

2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 cucumber or 1/2 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/4”-1/2” slices
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup sliced or chopped red onion
2 cups baby salad greens or chopped lettuce


Toss all salad ingredients together, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, preferably freshly ground, and toss again.
To serve, cut pita in half, fill each half with tofu cubes, salad and yogurt tahini sauce.


Serves 4.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Quinoa Salad


The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warning about the necessity of making rapid changes in order to prevent catastrophic effects of global climate change is sobering.  It is also frustrating, as an individual, to lack control of many elements contributing to climate change.  One thing we can control is how and what we eat.  Agricultural practices relating to meat production lead to large amounts of carbon emissions.  One big reason is because the earth cannot absorb all the animal waste concentrated on large farms.  By eating less meat we reduce the demand for large scale animal farming and create a higher demand for plant production.  These actions, if taken by many people, can have a positive impact on carbon emissions.  That is what I am trying to help along with this blog, by providing ideas for people to prepare meals using less meat.

Quinoa is a high protein grain that can act as the base for a vegetarian entree because it is filling and nutritious.  When cooking quinoa, always rinse it first in a fine mesh strainer, as this will remove some of the bitter coating.  I find that, in salads, quinoa tastes best when combined with some ingredients which have natural sweetness, such as fruit.  This salad is hearty enough to act as a main course, but you could also use it as a side dish.




2-3 cups cooked quinoa (I used leftovers--if making fresh, use 3/4 or 1 cup dried quinoa and cook according to package instructions)
½ yellow pepper, diced
2 scallions, diced
½ orange, pith removed and sections cut into smaller bite-sized pieces
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TBS fresh Italian parsley, chopped
approximately ½ cup peeled diced jicama
½ cup toasted pine nuts

Dressing:
1 small shallot, chopped
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander (preferably freshly ground)
freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup orange Muscat champagne vinegar (I use Trader Joe’s)

Toss all salad ingredients together.  Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad and mix everything up together.  Serves 2-3 as main course.

Note:  to toast pine nuts, place in dry cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring, until nuts just begin to turn brown, about 5 minutes or so.