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.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Green Salad with Runny Yolk Eggs, Avocado, and Lemon Dill Vinaigrette


That lemon dill vinaigrette from my last post was so good, I figured it would be tasty with other combinations of things.  Yesterday, I saw something that Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa) posted on Instagram that inspired me.  She posted avocado toast with runny eggs, and it looked super delicious.  Seems like avocado and eggs might be a nice combination, and I knew they would both be fantastic with my lemon dill vinaigrette.  So I built on that idea, deciding to try a green salad this time, with arugula and Boston lettuce, and added some veggies I had in the fridge: shredded carrots, diced sweet peppers, diced cucumber, frozen shelled edamame that had been defrosted. I layered them all, including of course the soft boiled eggs and avocado, and then threw on a handful of sweet cherry tomatoes, and drizzled that vinaigrette over everything.  Yum! A very satisfying lunch! Build a separate salad for each person in individual bowls.

For each individual salad:

handful each of arugula and Boston or Bibb lettuce
2 eggs, steamed for 9 minutes as instructed in my last post, peeled and halved lengthwise
a few spoonfuls of shelled edamame
a spoonful of diced red and green peppers
a spoonful of diced cucumber
half an avocado, diced
some shredded carrots (I use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of carrot from a whole carrot)
handful of cherry tomatoes
Drizzle lemon dill vinaigrette (see my last post for the recipe) over all

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Roasted Potato, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Runny Eggs, Tuna/Chickpeas, and Lemon Dill Vinaigrette



It is beginning to feel like summer.  A perfect summer dinner is filled with a variety of fresh vegetables, brought together with a sauce that complements and binds the ingredients. Since my family includes both carnivores and vegetarians, I love to figure out ways to satisfy both preferences with the same dish.  For this dish, you prepare the components of the salad and can mix and match ingredients according to individual preferences.  I happened to have some fancy looking dolphin-safe tuna in lemon, olive oil and pepper, in a jar, which I picked up at the start of this pandemic, thinking it would be a good pantry item if I had to survive on what I had in my cupboard.  That combined nicely with a mix of roasted and raw veggies, and was all pulled together with this scrumptious lemon dill vinaigrette (you'll want to lick the jar!) and the runny yolk of boiled eggs. The salad dressing and yolk pool together in the bottom of the bowl, so you will want to scoop it up with a forkful of veggies so all the flavors combine.  De-lish! For the vegetarian in your family, put together a salad that leaves out the tuna but includes chickpeas for some extra protein.  For the carnivore, include the tuna and leave out--or not--the chickpeas.  This was a big hit in our house last night! 

Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

Juice of one lemon (about 1 1/2 TBS)
1 TBS white balsamic vinegar
4 TBS olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, pressed
2 TBS chopped dill
1 tsp capers, drained

Mix all ingredients in a jar. Shake well.


Salad:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending upon how big they are
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into about 8 wedges (discard top of fennel)
Handful cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
6-8 eggs (2 per person)
6 oz. high quality tuna, optional
Cooked Chickpeas, optional (from a can is acceptable)
Olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (use convection roast if your oven offers this feature). Toss green beans with olive oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet.  Toss potatoes with olive oil and salt and spread on another baking sheet.  Toss fennel with olive oil and salt and spread on same baking sheet as potatoes.  Roast beans and fennel for about 20-25 minutes, tossing once or twice while roasting.  Roast potatoes for about 45 minutes to an hour, tossing several times while roasting, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, prepare a saucepan by putting a few inches of water in it and a steamer basket.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Place eggs in steamer basket, cover, and steam over low heat (so water is just simmering) for 9 minutes. Place eggs under cold water, then peel.  If possible, time the cooking of the eggs so that they are ready just before you are ready to put together the salads. Egg whites should be firm and fully cooked; yolks should be beginning to harden but still a little runny.

Build each salad serving in large individual salad bowls as follows:
Place roasted beans, fennel and potatoes on bottom. Sprinkle with a few cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices, then some diced red pepper. Add some pieces of tuna and/or chickpeas.  Place 2 boiled eggs halved lengthwise on top of each salad.  Drizzle vinaigrette on top.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Vegetable Stock


With good vegetable stock, you can adapt lots of soup recipes calling for chicken or beef stock to a vegetarian version.  Using canned vegetable stock or a vegetable bouillon cube is always an easy alternative, but the stock I suggest here is much tastier, and pretty easy.

Much of the philosophy behind GreenPlanetEating is that, to be kind to our environment, we need to reduce food waste and reduce our consumption of animals.  A great way to do this is to save vegetable scraps in a ziplock bag or container in the freezer and then simmer them with water to make vegetable stock.  I routinely save herb stems and deteriorating leaves; onion ends and skins; the dark green leek leaves that get trimmed off and thrown away with most recipes calling for the white and light green part of the leek only; the ends and skins of carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, celery, and parsnips. You can put all these scraps, along with a bunch of parsley and thyme, water to cover, salt and whole peppercorns, together in a pot, cover and simmer for an hour or two. Go ahead and taste the broth before you decide whether it is done or not.  If it tastes good to you, then pour it all into a large strainer placed over a large bowl or another pan to contain the broth.  You can use it right away, refrigerate it to use within the next couple of days, or freeze it to use later.  If you freeze it, try freezing some in an ice cube tray so that you can use small amounts of vegetable broth to make sauces in the future.

If you don't feel like waiting to have a ziplock bag full of vegetable scraps to make your stock, you can follow my recipe below.  If you make it as I write in the recipe below, you will need to be home while the stock simmers, but you can be doing other things.  Alternatively, you could dump all the ingredients in a slow cooker and just let it cook all day, then strain it when you get home, if you will be gone all day.

The recipe below uses some vegetable parts that might ordinarily be thrown away, but in fact some of those "waste" items contain nutrients that enhance our stock.  Raising animals for food generally uses more of earth's resources than raising vegetables for food, so by eating a hearty vegetable-based soup rather than a meat-based soup, we are consuming fewer resources and leaving more environmental resources for those who will follow us on this planet!

extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peels intact, cut into quarters
1 leek, end removed, cleaned, cut into large chunks (include dark green leaves)
6 carrots with tops, cleaned and cut into chunks
10 celery stalks, include all leafy green tops, cleaned and cut into chunks
stems from approximately 17 mushrooms, use a variety (example, shiitake and cremini)
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
handful (approximately 1 cup) of fresh parsley, including stems, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
bottoms and ends of 10 parsnips
5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
½ tsp sea salt
1 whole dried chipotle pepper (makes it spicy/omit if you don’t like the heat)
5 slices dried shiitake mushrooms


Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add all vegetables as you clean and chop them and stir while cooking.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare vegetables, then add about 10 cups water and remaining ingredients.  Cover and bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook for about 2 hours, then strain and use in soups.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday: Lentil Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday! These are the easiest tacos imaginable, especially if you happen to have leftover cooked lentils in your refrigerator.  That's what happened to me.  I cooked lentils for dinner one night, then the next night just loaded them into taco shells with traditional taco additions:  shredded cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, arugula (OK, maybe arugula is not traditional, but I didn't have plain old lettuce and the arugula tasted great in the tacos!), and a special sauce.  In this case, I made a quick sauce out of sour cream, lime juice, and ground chipotle chile, instead of using a red taco sauce.  Delicious creation! In case you don't have leftover lentils sitting in your fridge, I am supplying you with an easy recipe for lentils that can stand alone or go into these tacos.  But really all you have to do is boil some lentils and be sure to include cumin in the spices that go into them.
The Lentils:


1 carrot, diced,
2 celery stalks, diced
1 leek, chopped
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 TBS tomato paste
2 cups lentils, rinsed
6 cups water or vegetable broth, or a combination
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of Aleppo pepper (you can substitute cayenne pepper)
3 handfuls of baby spinach

Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add leeks and sautéed until they become soft and translucent.  Add pressed garlic clove and stir.  Add diced carrots, celery and tomato.  Sautée everything for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.  Add lentils, water and/or vegetable broth, tomato paste, cumin, oregano and marjoram.  Cover and simmer until lentils soften, about 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or so.  Stir in a pinch of Aleppo pepper and the baby spinach, cover and cook a few more minutes, until spinach is wilted. The longer you cook the lentils, the thicker they will get.  If you use them before they have thickened, and they are watery, just serve them with a straining spoon so that they are not too watery for the tacos. If you don't use all the lentils for the tacos, the water is good to store the lentils in because they will continue to thicken in the refrigerator, so don't drain the water out of the tacos and throw it away.


Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce:


1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/8 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Build Your Taco:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Arugula
Shredded cheddar cheese
Cooked Lentils
Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce

Monday, May 4, 2020

Eggplant Spread, Mushroom and Arugula Sandwich

With so many people working from home these days, perhaps your daytime environment is more conducive to putting together an interesting sandwich.  This is what I made for today's lunch.  I had made a batch of Barefoot Contessa's luscious eggplant spread for dinner a couple of nights ago and still had some left. I have always loved this eggplant spread as a sandwich spread with fresh veggies for lunch.  Today I went a little fancier and sautéed some shiitake and cremini mushrooms for the sandwiches.  Yum! I am posting an adaptation of Barefoot Contessa's recipe for the spread, below.


Sandwich components:
Bread
Eggplant Spread
Sauteed Mushrooms
Baby arugula

Eggplant spread (adapted from Barefoot Contessa):

2 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup Olive oil
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 TBS tomato paste


Toss eggplant, onion, garlic and red pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, tossing a couple of times while roasting. You want the vegetables to begin to caramelize but not burn (a little burn is ok, especially with the onions). Blend vegetables in food processor or blender with tomato paste.

Sauteed Mushrooms for 2 people

About 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
Sprig of thyme
Clove of garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and butter

Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium low heat with pressed garlic for a couple of minutes.  Add mushrooms, butter, thyme leaves (strip leaves from branches over pan), salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally,  until mushrooms are tender.

To serve, spread eggplant spread on both sides of toasted bread, pile sautéed mushrooms on top of one of the slices, then cover with arugula and place other side of bread with eggplant spread facedown to make a sandwich.