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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Zucchini can be bad, just bad.  I’ve had bad before and I’ve made bad before.  One thing I’ve learned is to always salt my zucchini and let it sit for ten minutes releasing water before blotting it with a paper towel.  Less water = tastier zucchini and better texture.  Another thing I’ve learned is that I don’t think this vegetable needs much cooking time at all.  I steer away from any recipes that have you roast for long periods, opting for barely cooked options that highlight the grill or a quick saute.  Oh and lastly I’ve learned that zucchini and lemon are like husband and wife.  Never should they be separated (in my kitchen).

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So now that I’ve told you my zucchini recipe criteria you can pretty much guess that I liked this zucchini salad.  Short cooking time?  Check.  Lemon?  Check.  Added salting and blotting step?  Check.  Extra almond crunch?  Mmmh.  And this recipe is so durn quick that I’ve only thrown it together oh about 4 times in the last month.  And anything that appears even once a month in my kitchen can be considered a staple.

Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Almonds and Parmesan
Taken from Love and Olive Oil
Makes 4 side servings

1 medium lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 lbs small zucchini, cut into lengthwise slices
1/2 cup sliced (or chopped) almonds, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Zest the lemon and set aside the zest. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl. Add oil, pepper, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat until hot. Oil the grilling surface and grill zucchini slices, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Arrange the zucchini on a platter and drizzle with the reserved lemon dressing. Serve sprinkled with almonds, cheese, and lemon zest.

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This is a rustic dinner at it’s best.  It’s what I might imagine myself eating if I were wandering through the vineyards of Tuscany and someone invited me into their humble home.  A one bowl dish of hearty and healthy fare.  This with a glass of chianti and some new friends would make for a full and satisfied stomach and a feeling of warm content.

Alas I’m not in Tuscany and this was made in my kitchen with ingredients from the super market as opposed to a homegrown garden.  And yet it is still chock full of flavor and texture, enough to satisfy me anytime of year.

Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes
Originally from foodnetwork.com
Servings: 4

1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
Freshly ground pepper
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 2 pounds) (I used red Swiss chard)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 7.5-ounce package farmer cheese, crumbled (I used feta instead)

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large ovenproof skillet. Roast in the oven until the tomatoes are charred around the edges, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 but keep the tomatoes inside.

Meanwhile, bring 5 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta until smooth and creamy. Add 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Slice the chard leaves into wide strips and the stems into 1-inch pieces. Boil the stems until almost tender, about 5 minutes, then add the leaves and cook until both are tender, about 3 more minutes. Drain the chard.

Remove the skillet from the oven and place over medium-high heat. Push the tomatoes to one side, add the butter and swirl until the butter is golden brown. Add the chard and toss to coat. Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Top with the tomatoes and chard. Season the cheese with salt and sprinkle over the top.

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Lately, I’ve got a few too many people in my life calling me a food snob.  Okay, so maybe I do believe a wedge of quality brie, camembert, or port salut will top a slice of American EVERY day.  And maybe it’s true that I’ve been known to say something along the lines of, “People who consider lasagna a company meal must live sad, culinary lives.”  And maybe I’ve turned up my nose at many a greasy burger or gravy covered chunk of meat.  Well, OKAY, maybe I do like the finer side of food.

But for those who put me undeniably in the category of food snob I give you this.  Bear with me because I know you are thinking that stuffed mushrooms with good cheese are not example of the down-homeness needed to prove my point.  And normally it might not be.  But last night I had some regular button mushrooms and some leftover brie.  What I did not have was fresh parsley or any green onions.  And if I didn’t have either of those two things, why should I bother dirtying a pan just for some fresh garlic?  So you know what I did?  I made these anyway.  I went straight back to the 70’s and pulled out my onion powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley.  And after I had sautéed the mushrooms in butter and a splash of white wine I sprinkled these sad little substitutes all over my mushrooms.  And then I ate them.  And I liked them.  So there.

These were good, but really, truly I’m pretty sure they would be about 10x more delicious if you made them the right way.  You know, the fresh herbs and aromatics released in the pan instead of out of the can way.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie
Originally from thepioneerwoman.com/cooking

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

1 package White Button Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
4 whole (to 5) Green Onions, Sliced (up To Middle Of Dark Green Part)
Splash Of White Wine (optional)
1 slice (wedge) Of Brie Cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish.

In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and splash in wine, if using. Stir around until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie.

Top mushrooms with parsley/garlic mixture.

Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted.

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After finally finishing off all the pots of leftover soup from Soup Night, which were much needed during a week when sit-down dinners were nonexistent, it was time for something different.  And by different I mostly mean a fresh, home cooked meal placed on a real plate, on a real dinner table.  I was happy to get into the kitchen and pull out my favorite knife.  Nate was happy to eat anything that didn’t consist mainly of liquid and microwaving.

The whole time I was prepping this recipe it kept sending me to the Olive Garden.  It must have been the combination of garlic and parmesan that brought this to mind, though I use this particular combination quite frequently.  Either way, I am happy to report that this dish does not end up tasting anything like the pre-fabbed meals that are served at the Olive Garden.  It was intensely flavorful and aromatic, infused with the sweetness of the sundried tomatoes and balsamic reduction, and the tanginess of the artichokes and goat cheese.  It’s the kind of dish that makes you realize vegetarianism is not the saddest plight to happen.  (Well, at least for the night.  Until you come across a recipe for cranberry-glazed, bacon-wrapped apricots.  Then you remember how glad you are that you aren’t vegetarian, that your husband isn’t vegetarian, and that no one in your immediate families is vegetarian.)

Stuffed Portobello with Balsamic Reduction
Adapted from loveandoliveoil.com.  Originally adapted from Epicurious.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
4-ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste

4-6 portobello mushroom caps

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh thyme

Directions

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add onion; sauté until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted.  Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Chop and transfer to large bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add spinach, 1/4 cup Parmesan, sundried tomato, artichoke, goat cheese, and breadcrumbs to onion mixture; toss to distribute evenly. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover filling and let stand at room temperature.

To make balsamic reduction, combine vinegar and thyme sprig and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until reduced by half. Mixture should be thick and syrupy. Simmer longer if necessary. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer mushrooms to rimmed baking sheet, gill side up. Divide filling among mushrooms. Sprinkle remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over and bake until heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 15 minutes.

Drizzle mushrooms with balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

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