Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ category

Braised leeks and fennel

May 15, 2020

An easy and tasty side dish that goes with many meals.

2-3 leeks
1-2 fennel bulbs
2 TB butter
1/2 c dry white wine

Cut the whites and light green parts of the leek in half lengthwise and then into 2-inch pieces. Halve the fennel bulbs and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a 10″ skillet and stir in the vegetables. Cover and cook slowly for 10-15 min. Add the wine and S&P to taste and cook uncovered until the wine is almost all evaporated. Serve hot.

Ramja (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce)

May 14, 2020

Ramja is a Punjabi-inspired stew of kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. It’s adapted from a NY Times magazine. I like to serve it with white rice and/or a flatbread such as naan.

Preheat oven to 350o

1 large red onion, peeled
1-2 green chilis (serrano, jalapeño, etc) or 1 tsp green chili powder
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
½ tsp red chili powder
big pinch powdered cinnamon
½ tsp cumin seeds
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, not drained
2-15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 c diced mozzarella
¼ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c chopped cilantro

Cut the onion into quarters lengthwise. Slice 1 piece thinly and set aside in a small bowl. Put the other 3 pieces in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and red and green chilis. Process until not-quite pureed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and/or add a bit of oil.

Heat 2 TB of oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the blended mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 min until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and stir. Salt to taste and scatter the cheese over the top. Put, uncovered, in the oven and bake (without stirring) until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 30-40 min

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water. Pour boiling water over the onion slices and drain after about 20 sec. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Serve, passing the onions and cilantro at the table.

Caramelized onions

April 27, 2020

This is a very useful and tasty ingredient to keep on hand. It freezes perfectly well and can be used in so many ways–in omelets, on pizza, in salads, a topping for steaks and burgers, etc. It’s easy to make although you must be attentive to get good results. The long slow cooking completely removes the hard onion taste and results in a slightly salty, slightly sweet relish with plenty of umami.

The cooking process reduces the volume by quite a bit, as the photos show. From 2 qts raw onion expect about 1-1/2 c caramelized onions. You’ll need a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet with a cover. Allow about 45 minutes for the cooking.

2 quarts yellow or white onions peeled and sliced into thin half-rings
1/4 c butter, olive oil, or a combination
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients in the skillet and bring to a moderate simmer. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until most of the water is gone. Uncover, reduce the heat, and continue to cook. Regulate the heat–it will depend on your stove–to maintain a very gentle simmer. The water will soon be gone. Continue a very slow cooking action, stirring about every 5 minutes. The onions will continue to reduce and start to slowly turn brown. This is the danger zone–too-high heat or not enough stirring and the onions will burn, ruining them. Cook until the desired level of brownness is achieved. The photo shows a medium brown but you can cook a bit longer for a deeper brown with more intense flavor.

Gazpacho

June 22, 2019

A wonderfully tasty and refreshing cold soup, perfect for the summer when the markets are bursting with super-fresh produce. There are jillions of recipes, here is mine. All proportions and amounts are approximate. The soup benefits from sitting for a few hours before serving, in the fridge, but it is not strictly necessary.

4 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium or 2 small cucumbers
1 small or 1/2 large sweet bell pepper, yellow preferred (for the color)
1/4 red onion
1 clove garlic
Jalapeño pepper, to taste (or omit)**
4 c tomato or V-8 juice
2 TB sherry vinegar
1/4 c best olive oil
Pepper

** An option to the jalapeño is to allow each diner to stir in hot sauce to their liking at the table.

Halve the tomatoes along the equator (not thru the stem) and remove seeds and pulp with a spoon. Set pulp aside in a strainer and save juice. Dice the tomatoes and put in a large bowl.

Seed and dice the cuke and sweet pepper, put in the same bowl.

Thinly slice, then dice, the onion. If it smells harsh, soak in hot tap water for 10 min, drain, then add.

Finely mince the jalapeño, if using, and add.

Peel the garlic and put thru a press into the bowl.

Add the tomato/V-8 juice plus the reserved juice, the vinegar, olive oil, and pepper. Stir well. Add salt if needed. Chill, preferably for a few hours, and serve.

 

 

Farro salad

April 12, 2019

Farro is marketed as an ancient type of wheat—supposedly, it is the same as wheat was before humans started domesticating and hybridizing it. Be that as it may, it’s a tasty and useful grain. This is one of my favorite ways to use it. I prefer the variety called einkorn with its smaller grains, but you can use any farro.

Farro

1 c farro
½ c sliced radishes
½ c halved cherry tomatoes
½ c cucumber halved lengthwise and then sliced
1 c arugula or other salad green in small (1-2″) pieces
3 TB (about) olive oil
1 TB (about) balsamic vinegar
S & P to taste

Note: If you are making the salad ahead of time, hold the arugula and add just before serving.

Rinse and drain farro. Add to 3 c boiling salted water and simmer for about 30 min, until done to your liking (it should be a bit chewy, I think). Drain, rinse to cool, drain again, and toss with remaining ingredients. Tastes better if allowed to sit for a while before serving.

 

Cream of mushroom soup

January 4, 2019

During my childhood this was a favorite, out of the red and white can. Now I make my own, and it’s much better (as you might imagine). The mushrooms you use will make a difference; if you use only the standard white supermarket ‘shrooms it’ll be tasty, but adding some “wild” ones makes a big difference. I am not suggesting you go out in the woods and start picking, that can be dangerous, but many different varieties are now cultivated and available in markets. Some are available dried, as well, and I particularly recommend dried porcini for their great flavor.

2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 – 1.5 lb fresh mushrooms
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
A few grinds of black pepper
1/2 stick butter
4 c vegetable stock
1 c heavy cream (preferred) or half’n’half
2 TB dry sherry
Chopped parsley or chives

Cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and soak for at least 15 min. Trim the remaining mushrooms, washing if needed, and chop coarsely.

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot and when hot add the fresh mushrooms, potato, onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring. The mushrooms may give off some liquid, that’s OK. Add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid and the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 min. Let cool slightly and then use a blender to puree completely. Return to pot and stir in the cream and sherry. Serve garnished with the parsley or chives.

 

 

Eggplant Parmesan

August 9, 2017

Like most simple dishes, this is dependent on highest quality ingredients. If you use pre-grated cheeses your result will be meh. Be sure you have a chunk of fresh, preferably local mozzarella and some real Parmesan (that is, from Italy). Breading and browning the eggplant gives a better taste and texture than simply using the bare eggplant slices.

2 medium size globe eggplant, as fresh as possible.
1 quart best marinara sauce, I like either Nellino’s or Rao’s (see Note 1 below)
10 oz fresh mozzarella
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg
flour
fine dry breadcrumbs
About 2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and set in a colander for an hour or so. Rinse and pat dry. You can omit the salting step with super-fresh eggplant.

If you did not salt the eggplant, sprinkle with salt; then dredge in flour followed by beaten egg and then crumbs. Brown both sides in 1/8″ of olive oil. You do not have to cook it thru, just a browning.

Working a few at  time, roll the basil leaves tightly and slice thinly (see Note 2 below).

Cut the mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices and then into stick-of-gum sized pieces.

Spread a little sauce in a 12″ square baking pan. Layer half the eggplant, half the basil, half the cheeses,  and half the remaining sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 min until cooked thru and bubbling a bit at the edges. Let sit for 5-10 min before serving.

Note 1: I find some jarred sauces, such as the ones I mention, to be every bit as good as almost all homemade sauces, and better than many. They certainly are convenient! The downside is price – you are not going to get really good sauce for a few bucks a jar.

Note 2: It’s a common misconception that one should tear basil leaves rather than cut them for best flavor. This is not so. If you are interested in the details, click here.


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