Posts Tagged vegetarian recipes
You know you’re having a lazy Monday when you look for inspiration on the back of boxes in your pantry. I happened to have a box of couscous mix on my shelf—specifically a mango salsa couscous mix from Marrakesh Express (yeah, it’s a Hormel brand… sue me). I know, mango salsa and couscous isn’t exactly the flavor pairing I would have chosen, either. But, it was part of a set of six boxes I bought at Costco, so I was kind of stuck with it. And, it’s great with shrimp! (at least that’s what the front of the box shouted at me in annoying pseudo cursive font).
The back of the box had what sounded like a great meatless Monday recipe. And, besides the box of couscous, I had the ingredients on hand… so, why not? After I finished descrambling the ridiculous font (Seriously, why would a company use a lowercase j look like an upside down question mark? If I were any older or crankier, I’d be might peeved off.), I got down to business with this might fast recipe.
Southwest Couscous Cakes
- 1 (6.1 oz) box of Marrakesh Express Mango Salsa CousCous (you know, the one I was holding in my hand reading the recipe from)
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (11 oz) can corn, drained
- 1 (4.25 oz) jar diced green chilies, drained
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 T chopped fresh cilantro
- 2-3 T all-purpose flour
- 3 T olive oil, divided
- Salsa and sour cream for serving
Prepare couscous according to package directions. Stir in next six ingredients. In large skillet, over medium-high heat, in 1 T oil, spoon couscous mixture (¼ C at a time) and gently press into a circle using the back of the spoon.
Cook 1½-2 minutes per side until lightly browned and crisp. Repeat twice with remaining couscous mixture. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.
While nice in theory, poor in execution. The flavors are all there, and taste great combined, but I was thwarted by the cake-i-fying of this recipe. Here I present the only three cakes that actually came out looking like cakes.
I was going to serve them over lettuce as a bit of a salad topper, but they just did not hold up to the frying. No matter how little or long I let them fry, they crumbled upon flipping. (I even tried a two-spatula method… no luck). Plus, on the gross side of my thought train: The black beans reminded me a little too much of rabbit turds.
But, this recipe isn’t a complete loss. If you kept this as a salad (so omit the eggs, flour and olive oil from the recipe), it would make a great side to fish or veggie tacos. Or, if you love carbs like I love carbs, just throw the salad on top of our tacos.
As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Moo loves his carbs. Recently, he has started to really dislike eating fruits and vegetables unless they come in yogurt form. And, as all adults know veggies in yogurt is kind of nasty. Ergo, I’m always trying to cram more vegetables into the little man’s diet.
Enter vegetable breads… specifically, carrot, zucchini, and pumpkin/squash. I found this easy, remarkably flexible recipe in my Joy of Cooking.
Carrot Nut Bread
- 1½ C all-purpose flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- ¼ t ground cinnamon
- ¾ C sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ C vegetable oil
- 1 t vanilla
- ½ t salt
- 1½ C grated carrots
- 1½ C ground pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan. Whisk the first four ingredients together. In a separate bowl, blend together the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, and salt.
Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Blend the carrots and nuts in with a few strokes. (Don’t over mix, but make sure that everything is evenly combined.)
Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes (mine took about an hour). Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.
Here are a few variations that I’ve found to work:
- Add ½ C raisins to the carrot bread for additional sweetness. (Soak the raisins in a bit of water or orange juice to plump them up before mixing them in.)
- Replace the carrots with 2 C grated zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture.
- Replace the carrots with 1 C pureed pumpkin, squash, yams, or sweet potatoes. When making this change, use ¼ t baking powder (instead of the full teaspoon) and then add 1 t ground ginger, ½ t ground nutmeg, and ¼ t ground cloves in addition to the cinnamon.
- If you have a nut aversion, this recipe still works if you just leave them out.
Now, I’m not saying that this bread recipe is the best vegetable delivery mechanism, but when you’re dealing with a picky toddler, it’s a bit better than just serving up plain bread. For grown-ups, it holds up pretty well in the morning with coffee.
I like radishes. There, I’ve said it. I like them in salads and even steamed whole (radish leaves are a little bit bitter, but taste super yummy with a touch of garlic and olive oil). Anyway, after a while, all radish lovers need a change from the regular sliced salad fun.
Then, my veg box came containing a lovely (and huge) daikon radish. What to do with just one? I found a ridiculously easy recipe at allrecipes.com. This makes a great cold side dish for Asian-inspired meals.
- 1½ C daikon, chopped
- ¾ t salt
- 1 T rice vinegar
- ¼ t ground black pepper
- ¼ t sesame oil
In a mixing bowl, toss daikon with salt. Cover, and refrigerate until 1-2 T of water is released, about 30 minutes. (Mine was more like two hours since I kind of forgot I was “making” this recipe.)
Drain and rinse daikon, removing as much salt as possible. Pat dry with a paper towel, and return to bowl. Stir in rice vinegar, black pepper and, if desired, sesame oil. Cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Tangy, tasty, and a little bit bitter. The original recipe said that the sesame oil is optional. But, I think it’s mandatory. If not , you just have salty radishes in vinegar. The sesame oil adds a depth to this remarkably easy recipe.
I try to go meatless a few dinners a week (much to my meat-loving husband’s chagrin). But he’s hard pressed to argue when the veg box arrives with gorgeous portobello mushrooms such as these:
You can easily make these bad boys into portobello bugers. But why squish them between bread and slather them in cheese when they are so absolutely lovely? Instead, I decided to marinate and grill the heck out of them. Mostly because I wanted to keep them intact rather than super chopping, and with the holidays upon us… well, cutting carbs where I can makes me feel like I’m actually being healthy or something.
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 3 T balsamic
- 1 T olive oil
- ½ t dried basil
- ½ t dried oregano
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Veggies for the salad (I had purple cabbage, leaf lettuce, and radishes handy.)
Remove the stems from the portobellos and chop.
Whisk the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Marinate the mushrooms for at least 30 minutes, turning over a few times to make sure everything is coated.
Grill portobellos for 5 minutes each side. If you live in a cold weather climate and have stupidly put your grill away for the season (sigh), you can do these on an electric grill or stick them under the broiler. I used my George Foreman, so lacked that on the grill flavor. But, since the Foreman cooks on both sides, it was an easy 5 minutes.
While the mushrooms are grilling, chop your lettuce and veggies. Toss them (don’t forget the chopped mushroom stems) with the leftover marinade. If your salad is a wee bit dry, add a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve the salad topped with the mushroom cap.
A super easy one bowl type of meal. It could have used a bit of an extra crunch. Next time, I’ll add some toasted walnuts or pine nuts. And, this would definitely have tasted better if had been grilled over charcoal. But, Midwestern beggars can’t be choosers. (Quite frankly, I’m just glad that it’s still warm enough here in Chicago to not need a hat with ear flaps… because when it gets that cold and Paul busts out the ear flap hat, my tongue gets a bit sore from all the biting…)
Well, it certainly is healthy and made me happy to eat it.
Have you ever had that awesome culinary moment when you’re watching a cooking show and you start to think, “Boy, this looks good. I think I’m going to make this.” So you grab a pen and a scrap piece of paper you have lying around and write down the recipe, getting a little smug with your old school cooking know-how. (“This is so how they did it before the interwebs,” you snicker to yourself… thinking of all those housewives jotting down notes as Julia Child drinks fake wine and whisks like a mad woman.) And, you realize that you have all the ingredients so you walk over to the kitchen after the show is over and you start making that recipe for dinner. It’s going to be awesome.
Even though you know that the program was taped or a rerun, you don’t even think about looking over the recipe a second time. Bah, with the cookbook! Double bah, to checking your measurements online.
To you, dear stupid fool, I say: DON’T FORGET THE F-ING FLOUR!
To my credit, I wrote down the flour in the ingredient list. I just didn’t write down where to put it in the recipe. What I had was still mac and cheese, just not the stable, non-drippy mac and cheese the hosts were inhaling with delight at the end of the episode. So, here’s the recipe from Cook’s Country TV (reg required) as it should be… not as I made it… (They’re the people from America’s Test Kitchen… which if we’re getting into it, I prefer the test version to the fake folksiness of the country show… but the butter usage on the country-fried version is really divine.)
Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lb elbow macaroni (see note)
- 1 (28-oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 6 T unsalted butter
- ½ C all-purpose flour
- ¼ t cayenne pepper
- 4 C half-and-half
- 1 C low-sodium chicken broth (or use veg)
- 4 C shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Adjust oven to middle position and heat oven to 400°. Bring 4 qts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 T salt and macaroni and cook until just al dente, about 6 minutes. (The show was very explicit about undercooking the macaroni so that it would absorb the tomato flavor in the next step.) Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour diced tomatoes with their juices over pasta and stir to coat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Stir in flour and cayenne and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in half-and-half and broth until smooth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses, 1 t salt, and 1 t pepper until cheeses melt. Pour sauce over macaroni and stir to combine.
Scrape mixture into 13×9″ baking dish set in rimmed baking sheet (a MUST unless you like melty cheese all over your oven) and bake until top begins to brown, 15-20 minutes. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Well, beside the gigantic flour omission? Pretty good. Gooey, but good. Make sure you really whisk the sauce or you might tend toward a grainy texture on the cheese.
I thought that this would be a big hit with Mr. Moo, but alas, the tomatoes freaked him out. Even after I picked through the mac and cheese, he gave me his super skeptical look and then politely asked, “Sandwich, please?”
I might try to make this one more time with the flour before I go back to my Velveeta shells and cheese+salsa = dinner routine. (Oh, yes, I did just say that… I LOVE it… I LOVE it… I LOVE it… )
The calendar says it’s coming up to winter (even if the thermometer in the Midwest says it’s time we start thinking about global warming). Like all hearty people of the upper Midwest, I like a good soupy stewy thingy. For those of you not accustomed to harsh winter weather, allow me to illuminate you. A soupy stewy is a bunch of vegetables (and meat, if you swing that way) mixed with liquid and spices. It can contain noodles or rice, if you want to be fancy, but it’s best left to the basics. The consistency comes out a bit like soup and a bit like stew. The beauty of the soupy stewy (and yes, I just made that term up) is that you can make it whatever consistency you’d like—bit thicker for the stew lovers, but thinner for the soup lovers.
And, the other plus is that it cleans out your fridge. Because it can pretty much contain whatever you have lying around. Add enough spices and it’s bound to turn out OK. Here’s my recipe that I invented one night.
Vegetable Soupy Stewy Thingy
- 2-3 T oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
- 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into 2½” diameter
- ¼ head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 2 t cumin
- 1½ t ground coriander
- ½ t thyme
- 4 C vegetable stock
- 28 oz can tomatoes (do not drain)
- 1 C dry lentils
- 1 T tomato paste
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
In a medium to large stock pot, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté until just tender (don’t overcook or then you’ll have mushy veggies). Stir in cumin, coriander, and thyme. Heat for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper, to taste. (Keep in mind that canned tomatoes have a bit of sodium, so go light on the salt until the end if you’re concerned.)
Add vegetable stock and tomatoes with their juices. Stir in lentils. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste. Check the consistency. If it’s too thick for your taste, add more vegetable stock or water. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until you get the consistency you’d like.
Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, stir, and serve.
This is a great way to use up those root vegetables that you get in your autumn veggie boxes. (Seriously… how many turnips can one household eat?) If you make it super thick, you can serve it over rice, but I like it more on the soupy side.
With this soupy stewy, I can now say, “Bring on winter!” (Whenever it decides to gets here.)
I know, I know… we’ve all moved on from Thanksgiving to year-end holidays. But, after any big feast, I like to take a few days to digest (pun mostly intended) and rehash the successes and failures.
With few exceptions, the menu was pretty much an epicurious.com freak out. I’m linking to the original recipes, scroll down for my reviews:
- Crudite plate with roasted red pepper hummus
- Cheese plate with crackers
- Spiced pumpkin soup
- Porcini mushroom turkey with mushroom gravy
- Apple-raisin stuffing
- Twice baked mashed potatoes
- Roasted sweet potato rounds with garlic oil and fried sage
- Green beans with lemon and pine nuts
- My grandmother’s mushroom recipe
- Kale and Brussels sprout salad
- Spiced apple cake with eggnog sauce
- Paul’s pumpkin pie
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
- 1½ T butter
- ¾ C chopped carrot
- ¾ C chopped celery
- ¾ C chopped ripe banana
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole clove
- 5 C low-salt chicken broth
- 2 C canned pure pumpkin
- ¾ C canned unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ C sweetened condensed milk
- 1 t ground nutmeg
- ½ t ground cinnamon
- ½ t ground coriander
- ½ t crumbled dried sage leaves
- ¼ t ground allspice
- ¼ t yellow curry powder
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer mixture to processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add broth and all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Boil soup over medium-high heat 15 minutes to blend flavors. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.)
Bring soup to simmer. Divide among 8 bowls.
Do not be afraid by the long list of ingredients. This is a super easy recipe to make. Also, don’t be afraid of the banana in the soup. It works with the other flavors, and although smells weird when cooking, it works well. I like to make this recipe because I have a set of fun pumpkin soup bowls. (Thanks, Mom!)
Porcini Mushroom Turkey with Mushroom Gravy
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 C boiling water
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¾ C (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 T chopped fresh thyme
- 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 t chopped fresh mint (I know, weird, right? Don’t fret. It’ll come out OK.)
- 1½ t salt
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 14- to 16-lb turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
- 10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
- 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 C turkey stock or water
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 T chopped shallot
- 1 C dry white wine
- 2 C turkey stock
- 1 C heavy whipping cream
- 2 T water
- 5 t cornstarch
- ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 t chopped fresh mint
For mushroom butter:
Place porcini in small bowl; add 1 cup boiling water. Let stand until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms. Transfer half of chopped mushrooms (about ⅓ C) to small bowl; reserve for gravy.
Chop garlic finely in processor. Add butter and next 6 ingredients, then remaining porcini. Blend to coarse paste.
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 T mushroom butter. Starting at neck end of turkey, carefully slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread mushroom butter over thighs and drumsticks, then over breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.
Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub outside of turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices from main cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent very loosely with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.
Scrape juices and browned bits from reserved roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 3 T.
Heat reserved 3 T fat in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside. Add wine to skillet. Boil until reduced to ½ C, about 3 minutes. Add reserved ⅓ C chopped porcini mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leaving any sediment behind), 2 C stock, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add cream and crimini mushrooms to skillet. Mix 2 T water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Whisk into gravy. Continue to simmer until reduced to desired consistency, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mix in parsley and mint. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.
First, I love this mushroom butter. (Remember, I have a love affair with compound butters). This one would taste great on toast. It also tastes great inside a turkey. Those brown bits are mushroom left over once the butter melted on the outside. Incredibly juicy and tender.
The gravy was surprisingly good as well. Kind of a modified cream sauce. I was a bit worried when the cornstarch slurry started. (I have a loathing of thickening sauces this way. It just seems like a cheater’s shortcut.)
This was the only recipe I used from the Food Network. I have re-formatted it from their site as it was impossible to use the way it was presented.
- 1 stick butter
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 apples, peeled and diced
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 t aniseed
- 1 C golden raisins
- 4-6 C chicken broth (I used just 4 C as that’s all that would fit in my pan.)
- 3 eggs
- 1 scoop grainy mustard
- 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
- 8 C pumpernickel cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
- 8 C sour dough cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
In a large deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic and celery stalks in butter for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and add apples, thyme, aniseed and raisins; cook 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth. Simmer until needed in next step.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, parsley and tarragon. Add bread and hot broth mixture to the bowl to the bowl.
Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350°. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.
On the surface, I liked the idea of two types of bread—especially the pumpernickel. (The leftover loaves make for great turkey sandwiches the next day.) But, this recipe had too much tarragon for my liking. I felt that’s all you could taste, even over the sweetness of the apples and raisins. I feel like this was the biggest failure of the meal. (And, nope… I don’t pre-test my recipes before subjecting guests to them. That’s the kind of mean chef I am.)
Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage
- 3 large garlic cloves
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½”-thick rounds
- ⅓ C olive oil
- 24 sage leaves
Roast sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Purée garlic with oil and ¾ t salt in a blender until smooth. Toss sweet potatoes with garlic oil in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake until golden in patches and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.
To fry sage leaves:
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Serve sweet potatoes with sage leaves scattered on top.
And, this was the second disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. I like the garlic oil for roasting the potatoes. I’d just leave off the fried sage as it didn’t really add anything to the dish.
Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts
- 1½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
- ¼ C pine nuts, toasted
- 2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ t finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 4 t extra-virgin olive oil
Cook beans in a 4-qt saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain well in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and toss with nuts, parsley, zest, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
My sister was mightily peeved that this wasn’t green bean casserole. I thought it would be a tangy alternative to the heavy dishes on the table. Boy, that lemon zest goes a long way. Super duper lemony (so lemony that people thought I had put lemon juice in the dressing). Also, the pine nuts just sort of sat there. Next time, I’d use walnuts or another toasted nut and then chop them.
Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- ¼ C fresh lemon juice
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 T minced shallot
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
- ¼ t kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1½ lbs total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
- 12 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
- ½ C extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ⅓ C almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
- 1 C finely grated Pecorino
Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ t salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
Measure ½ C oil into a cup. Spoon 1 T oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.
Oh, this is good. So very very good. I’ve been on a kale kick lately (which is good because I overbought kale and now have a ton in my fridge). And, I’ve never thought of raw Brussels sprouts, but it worked. Imagine this picture with the nuts on top (I added them after I took the pic.)
I’m going to deal with the dessert in a future blog as I think it could work for any winter holiday—not just Thanksgiving. So, that’s it for my favorite holiday until next year.