Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

Vegetarian Chili

October 14, 2013


This is my vegetarian version of the famous Wick Fowler’s chili, which can be made from the original recipe (which calls for the boxed mix), from the many copycat recipes online (like this or this, or this or this) or from the current instructions appearing on the boxed mix. I’ve tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes and to make it work with beans or soy crumbles. You could also use real ground beef (use 2 lbs.), but you will need to take extra time to brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat.

Wick Fowler, in case you are curious, was a journalist, war correspondent and chili aficionado.  He started selling his chili mix in 1964, a few years before helping to start an annual chili cook-off in Texas which ended up eventually morphing into two cook-offs (the convoluted history of the Terlingua chili cook-offs, both the original Terlingua Championship and that of the Chili Appreciation Society International can be found here).

Real chili aficionados would be appalled by the idea of a vegetarian chili, especially one seasoned as mildly as mine. All the same, my family and friends love this recipe.


Stewed Okra (Bamia)

October 6, 2013


Have you seen okra in the market and wondered what to do with it? Wonder no more–this is my favorite way to make okra.

This recipe started off a little different. A friend from Texas explained to me that the Soul Food way to make okra was to saute onion, garlic and green pepper, then add okra and tomato sauce. I heard from someone from India that a good way to make okra is to marinate it first with garlic, lemon and oil and then fry it. I combined the two ideas and ended up with something that resembles the Middle Eastern way of cooking okra with a lemony tomato sauce.

The difference between my recipe and the usual bamia recipe is the step of marinating the okra before cooking it. I think this improves the texture of the okra. It definitely gets the lemon garlic flavor all the way into the okra, which is a good thing in itself. It is generally believed that adding acid like lemon to okra and frying it prevents that slippery texture okra is known for sometimes getting.

Why eat okra? This is a misunderstood and under-appreciated vegetable that happens to be extremely nutritious, being rich in fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants. It is said that the fiber in okra is good for stabilizing blood sugar, normalizing cholesterol levels and encouraging good bacteria in the gut.


Char-Grilled Broccoli with Red Pepper, Garlic and Almonds

September 25, 2013


This broccoli salad/side dish is a signature dish at Ottolenghi. It comes to Ottolenghi from a Tel Aviv restaurant where Sami Tamimi used to work. The original recipe called for mild chili peppers, which I couldn’t find, so I used red bell peppers and sprinkled over a little hot sauce.


Wordless Wednesday: Ottolengi Mixed Bean Salad

September 4, 2013


Another good salad for simanin (lubia), this comes from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It also appeared in Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian. For American measurements and a lower calorie Weight Watcher’s version of the dish, go here.

It is typical Ottolenghi: vibrant melange of vegetables, exploding with flavor from creative use of spices and herbs: Green beans, roasted red pepper, cumin seeds, fried garlic, capers, lemon zest, parsley and scallions.

Other interesting choices from this book for Rosh Hashana:

Chraimeh (fish in spicy red sauce)
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar
Baby Spinach Salad with Date and Almonds (well, leave out the almonds)

Porotos Granados

August 2, 2013


Porotos Granados, a thick stew of beans, corn and winter squash is a traditional summer dish in Chile. The name means (I think) “choice beans” or maybe “bean stew.” I’m not entirely sure.

In any event, you might be wondering why such a hearty sounding stew would be traditionally a summer dish. Here is the reason: the stew is supposed to be made with fresh shelled beans, which show up in the market in the summertime when they are harvested. Also, the dish makes use of fresh corn, basil and sometimes tomato and bell peppers, which are also summery ingredients.

Of course, if you can’t get your hands on fresh cranberry beans in the farmer’s market, do not despair. You can use canned beans or dried beans. Not quite the same, I know, but delicious and well worth making nonetheless.

My starting point was a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes. Out of curiosity, I looked up other versions of this recipe, and I ended up adding a change here and there based on those other recipes.


Tapenade Salmon with Orange Spinach en Papillote

May 23, 2013
Tapenade Salmon en Papillote over Orange Spinach before baking

Tapenade Salmon en Papillote over Orange Spinach before baking

This is an easy, low-carb make-ahead supper. Well, it is easy if you buy a jar of  olive spread (I used Ta’amti tapenade).

It also helps if you know how to cook “en papillote,” which is a French term for cooking something wrapped in paper. According to the dictionary, the term doesn’t come from “papier” (paper) but “papillon” (butterfly). Maybe because the paper is traditionally cut into a heart shape, folded in half, so it looks a bit like a butterfly? I don’t know . . . But, you can even more easily wrap the fish in a rectangular piece of foil and that will still accomplish the primary “en papillote” goal of trapping and infusing flavor during baking. I have made this fish in foil and in paper and both ways work.

Here is what you do: saute baby spinach with garlic and orange zest and then lay it on a piece of parchment or foil (traditionally, the paper is greased, but I didn’t bother and it was fine). Spread a piece of salmon with tapenade and place the salmon over the spinach. Squeeze over a little lemon juice. Wrap the fish up in the foil or parchment (here is how you crimp the parchment, if that is what you are using). Set the package aside in the refrigerator until about 20 minutes before you want to serve the fish. Then cook the fish and serve.

You could also make this fish without the paper or foil, just roasting it uncovered on a baking sheet. The spinach can be cooked separately on the stove instead of with the fish in the oven. The en papillote method seems to infuse the flavors more, plus you get a delicious blast of savory aromas when you open the package. Olive, orange and garlic fuse together, creating an aroma that is intense, almost meaty in its umami-ness (if that is a word).

The spinach all by itself is lovely, fragrant with garlic and a hit of orange that is both unexpected and yet absolutely right. If you want to make the spinach separately, you can just leave the spinach in the pan in which you wilt it, cover it and cook it another 20 minutes on low before serving.



Zucchini Stewed with Onions and Chard

May 21, 2013


Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy is really a very useful book. It is full of interesting but easy recipes for almost any vegetable you would be likely to bring home from the farmer’s market or supermarket. My favorite recipe so far is this recipe for zucchini stewed to melting tenderness with onion, garlic, olive oil and Swiss chard. The texture and flavor of the long stewed summer squash is quite a revelation: luxuriously silky and delicately flavored. The flavor and texture of the chard becomes more refined as well, somehow.


Roast Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with Eggplant Cremini Sauce

May 8, 2013


Spaghetti squash dishes usually disappoint me. A surprisingly watery vegetable, spaghetti squash releases lots of juice that dilutes its usual partner of tomato sauce. The result? Bland flavor and mushy texture that is very far from what I expect from a pasta dish.

Here is my solution: make a highly concentrated sauce based on tomato paste, with lots of garlic, wine and chunky eggplant and mushroom pieces. The squash is roasted, then put into a pan with more sauteed garlic, freshly ground pepper and lots of Parmesan cheese (like cacio e pepe!). The eggplant mushroom sauce is then layered over the Parmesan squash mixture, like you would add sauce to a base of polenta. The dilution problem is gone. With all the umami flavor from Parmesan, wine and mushrooms, the blandness is gone, too. There is really nothing to be done about the mushiness, I am afraid, but treating the vegetable like a very textured polenta makes the mushiness less of a liability.


Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper and Caramelized Onion Toast

May 7, 2013


This is a delicious light lunch: hearty whole grain toast, topped with caramelized onions, wilted spinach, roasted red pepper strips and some crumbled feta cheese.  Once again, this recipe comes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy.


Tamari Sesame Swiss Chard

May 6, 2013


I made this Asian flavored recipe for Swiss Chard to accompany the Lime Ginger Yams.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers