Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ category

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.


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.



Thai Red Curry with Tofu and Lentils

February 2, 2018

This dish is very flavorful and loaded with protein from the tofu and lentils. Its main flavoring is Thai red curry paste, which fortunately you can get already prepared. Making it yourself, which I tried once, is a huge hassle because it contains a lot of obscure ingredients such as galangal and lemon grass. But excellent commercial versions are available (I recommend the Mae Ploy brand) and you can freeze what you don’t use for another day. This recipe is flexible, for example, substitute parboiled green beans or broccoli for the snow peas, or perhaps add some cubed potato. I like this served on jasmine rice.

1 lb firm tofu
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers
6 oz snow peas
1-1/2 TB Thai red curry paste
1 TB red miso paste
1 c lentils (not red lentils, but pretty much any other kind will work)
3/4 c coconut milk
1/2 c fresh basil, slivered (use Thai basil if available)
1 TB lime juice
1/2 c slivered scallions

Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch slabs and place the slabs on a cutting board. Place another cutting board on top and weight it with a couple of books or cans of food. When much of the water has run out, cut the tofu into 1/2 cubes and toss with a bit of salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Trim and seed the pepper(s) and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Set aside. Take the strings off the snow peas and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 TB of vegetable oil and then add the curry paste. Sizzle gentle for a minute or so, until fragrant, and add the miso, lentils, and 2 c water. Stir well, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer slowly for about 1/2 hour until the lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed.

Add the coconut milk, tofu, peppers, and snow peas. Simmer for a few minutes until the veg are crisp-tender. Stir in the basil and lime juice and serve, topped with the scallions.



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
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.

Chili-cheese-egg toast

April 11, 2017

This makes a great breakfast or lunch or even a light dinner. A few slices of ripe tomato on the side wouldn’t be amiss.

2 relatively thick slices good quality white bread
1/2c green chili salsa
1/2c grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 TB minced onion, preferably red onion
2 eggs
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Put the salsa in a small strainer and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. Mix salsa with the cheese and onion and set aside.

Toast the bread fairly dark and spread both sides with butter. Smear one side with some mustard. Spread the salsa mixture evenly on the mustard sides. Broil until the topping is melted and maybe bubbling a bit.

While you are broiling, pan fry the eggs in a little butter until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Top each toast with an egg, season to taste, and there it is!

Chick peas with sesame and honey

December 7, 2016

There’s a definite oriental theme to these beans. They are quite strongly flavored and could make a meal on their own. Serve on plain white rice.

2 c dried chick peas (measure when dry) cooked, or 2 – 15 oz cans chick peas
1 medium onion chopped fine
4 large or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 c honey
2/3 c soy sauce (Kikkoman is excellent and widely available)
1/4 c toasted sesame oil
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 TB rice wine vinegar
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Optional garnishes: Toasted sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced scallions

Put all ingredients except chick peas in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring now and then. Add the drained and rinsed chick peas and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. If the sauce seems to be getting too thick, add a bit of water. Serve over white rice.

Denba zuke (daikon pickle)

October 25, 2016

The US was not the only country to send people of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps during World War II. Canada was just as bad. In one camp, the residents, who missed their traditional tsukamono (Japanese pickles), and could not get the required ingredients to make them, came up with this delicious substitute. It is called Denba Zuke (zuke = pickle) because the camp was near the town of New Denver in British Columbia (Denba = Denver).


This is a distinctive pickle because it uses daikon radish, which while not “hot” is still definitely a radish. It is a sweet/sour pickle that goes beautifully with many Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes.

4 medium daikon radishes, leaves removed
white vinegar

Peel the radishes and cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick. For fatter radishes you may want to halve lengthwise and cut into half-moons.

Estimate the amount of liquid that would be required to cover the sliced radishes. Make the pickling liquid as follows:

1 part salt (e.g., 1/2 c)
1 part white vinegar (e.g., 1/2 c)
4 parts sugar (e.g. 2 c)
Ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp per cup of sugar

Combine in a bowl and stir for a few minutes. The sugar will not dissolve completely, that’s OK. Put the sliced daikon in a bowl and pour the sugar slurry over. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring now and then. The water drawn from the radish will complete dissolving the salt and sugar. Pack pickles and juice into clean jars and keep in fridge for up to a month.

Tortilla eggs

October 24, 2016

Simple and tasty. Can be a nice lunch dish as well. Serves 4.

Four 6-inch corn tortillas
4 eggs
6 oz thinly sliced melting cheese, such as mozzarella or Gruyere
Sriracha sauce or salsa

Put a little oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add the tortillas. After half a minute flip over and sprinkle with salt. Break an egg on each tortilla, keeping the yolk intact, add a dusting of salt and pepper, and spread the cheese on top. Cover and cook gently until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve with hot sauce of choice.

Roasted sweet and spicy squash

November 29, 2015

My favorite squash for this is kabocha, but any orange-fleshed variety should do (acorn, butternut, delicata, etc.). In my experience the skin is perfectly edible although it has a slightly chewier consistency than the flesh.

  • One 2 lb squash, washed, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha or similar hot sauce
  • big pinch salt
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (peanut, canola, etc.)
  • 1-2 TB white sesame seeds
  • black pepper
  • cilantro leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, honey, hot sauce, salt, and oil together.  Add the squash to the bowl, grind some pepper over, and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until soft and starting to brown. While baking, toast the seasame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until lightly browned. When the squash is done, transfer to a serving bowl, top with the sesame seeds and cilantro, and serve.

Scalloped tomatoes

August 24, 2015

This is a true summer recipe, when the flavor-bursting tomatoes are in great abundance at the farmers market. I have adapted it from a recipe on the Smitten Kitchen website, which is worth a look if you can get past the way-too-many photos and the overly cutesy text.

You do not want second-class toms for this, the recipe depends on the excellence of the ingredients. This includes the Parmesan cheese. May the lord have mercy on you if you use the pre-grated sawdust in the cylindrical containers! Buy the real stuff from Italy, Parmesiano Reggiano, it tastes so good.

  • 3 TB of good olive oil
  • 3 c of bread cubes, about 1/2 inch on a side, from a  loaf of hearty white bread (such as a french boule), crusts removed. Please don’t give me this whole wheat nonsense, whole wheat it has its place but not here.
  • 3 c of your best most lovely and flavorful tomatoes in 1/2 inch dice.
  • 3 large or 4 small garlic cloves, minced finely.
  • 1 TB sugar.
  • 2 tsp salt.
  • About 10 grindings of black pepper. Maybe 12.
  • 1/2 c thinly slivered basil leaves, Thai basil is good as well as the “regular” basil.
  • 1-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oven to 350 f.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the bread cubes and toss until toasted, lightly browned, and crisp—perhaps 5 minutes. While the bread is toasting, toss the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. When the bread cubes are ready, reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato mixture. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes then stir in the basil. Pour into an oiled baking pan that will hold the mixture in a 1-1/2 to 2 inch layer. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and bake for about 30 minutes or until the ingredients are bubbling and lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature—the leftovers make a great omelet filling.

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