Category Archives: Vegetarian

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles.  Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking.  With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.

Dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients

The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army.  Also, it tastes really yummy.  The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad).  The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

Tomatoes ready for roasting

This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo.  The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion.  The sweet tomatoes finish it off.  So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.

Hello cilantro

Hello cilantro

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing

juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)

1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne

3 shallots, chopped

2 tbls Dijon mustard

3 cups of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

16 oz rotini or penne pasta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*

3 ripe avocados

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard.  Blend until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This can be made a day or two in advance.

Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta.  Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Serve this salad cold or room temperature.  Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while.  The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving.  This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.

* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store.  To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated.  You can do this with in-season tomatoes too.  The flavor is extra delicious.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Pickled Radish Greens

Summer is finally here in New England and I couldn’t be more excited.  For me, the start of summer doesn’t correspond with a date on the calendar, a particular holiday, or even the weather.  Summer truly begins when I come home to that first veggie CSA pickup.  After a long winter of root vegetables, potatoes, and sad grocery store tomatoes, the box full of greens, strawberries, spring onions, and radishes makes me so thrilled.  We were all so excited that when that first box arrived, we consumed its entire contents in 3 days flat.  I think that might be a new record of vegetable consumption for us.

With our second box, I was determined to eat every single thing in the hopes of making our veggies last longer than 3 days.  I thought I remembered reading that you can eat radish greens so I hit the internet in search of some inspiration.  Turns out, radish greens are absolutely edible and many bloggers sing the virtues of sautéed  radish greens and radish green pesto.  Unfortunately I had just made a nice batch of pesto using fresh peas, Italian basil, and Thai basil.  After doing a bit more searching I decided to create more of a pickle / brined radish leaf dish to use as a condiment on top of some polenta slices.

Turns out, this is an easy and really delicious way to use radish leaves.  The brine softens the leaves and imparts a nice pickled flavor but still allows the flavor of the greens to come through.  Even better, the whole thing takes minutes to pull together and can sit in the fridge for a day if needed.  So instead of tossing your radish greens, try this recipe and see if it doesn’t convert you to a greens lover*.

Greens soaking in the brine

Greens soaking in the brine

Pickled Radish Greens

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of radish greens

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp rice vinegar (white wine vinegar would work too)

1-2 dried hot chilies, snipped into pieces

Sesame oil, for drizzling

To Make:

Wash the greens very well in several changes of cold water.  Radish greens tend to be very dirty so err on the side of over-washing so they aren’t gritty.  Once they are clean, spin them dry and remove the tough (and sometimes spiny) stems.  Coarsely chop the leaves and place them in a small bowl along with the chilies.

In a measuring cup (or another small bowl) mix together the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar, stirring until dissolved.  Pour the mixture over the greens and let sit on the counter for at least 3o minutes (toss it in the fridge if you are going to let it sit longer).

Drain the liquid and drizzle the greens with toasted sesame oil.  Toss gently to combine and serve.

To Serve:

Serve as you would any Asian-style pickle… on top of rice, on a burger, alongside a piece of meat, or just eat it from the bowl.  The beauty of this preparation is that it seems to take the bitterness and sharpness out of the greens while still leaving their earthy flavor.

* Or at the very least, you can enjoy the weird stares people give you when you tell them you ate pickled radish greens

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Filed under Add-ons, CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

There is a Korean restaurant near where we live that we visit whenever we get the chance.  They make a kimchi pancake that is fantastic; even the small Things love it.  The only problem is that when we get takeout, the kimchi pancake is cold and slightly soggy by the time we get it home.  The idea of my beloved kimchi pancake cold and soggy makes me sad… so we decided to try our hand at a home version.

Ingredients

Ingredients

These vegetable pancakes make a pretty nice substitute.  They have the flavor of the different vegetables and the use of rice flour makes them nice and light.  Even better, the batter comes together very quickly so you can have these on the table in less than 20 minutes.  They make an excellent side to Korean-style ramen noodle soup or to some beef and broccoli.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

If you wanted to make these more like traditional kimchi pancakes, you could increase the kimchi to two cups, substitute 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup liquid from the kimchi, and omit the carrot, scallion, and cilantro.  You could also add some cooked and shredded pork to make these more hearty.

Cooking the cake

Cooking the cake

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rice flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbls neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

5 scallions, green parts only, finely diced

1 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 large carrot

1 cup kimchi

To Make:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, eggs, 1 tbls oil and 1-1/2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed.  Let the batter rest while the veggies are prepped.

To prep the vegetables, coarsely grate the carrot and finely chop the scallions and kimchi.  Chop the cilantro.  Once the vegetables and cilantro are ready, add them to the batter and stir gently until just combined.  The batter will be thick, like pancake batter.

Heat a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  When hot, ladle a quarter cup of batter and spread it out into a circle.  Cook until the bottom is browned (turn down the heat to medium if needed).  Flip and cook the second side until it is lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

As the pancakes finish, remove them and, if necessary, store on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm, cut into triangles.  Dip in a sauce made with soy, rice vinegar, and a bit of sesame oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Wait, please don’t run away.  I realize that the title of this post might not rouse tons of enthusiasm and that the soup isn’t the most appetizing color.  BUT, hang with me for a few minutes because this soup is fantastic… full of roasted delicious flavor and easy to make.  It is warm and filling which, if you leave in any of the 49 states in the US that currently have at least a little snow (yes, I am jealous of you, FL), makes it a perfect soup for a winter evening.

Cauliflower ready for the oven

Cauliflower ready for the oven

The particular color of the soup is because we let our cauliflower get nice and roasted.  If you choose to roast your cauliflower to a less, er, caramelized state, your soup would be more white than tan.  However, looks aside, the taste of richly browned cauliflower mixes with roasted garlic, wine, and cheddar cheese in a really fantastic way.

Richly roasted

Richly roasted

Other than roasting the cauliflower (which takes about 40 minutes), this soup is very quick to put together.  If you are pressed for time, you can roast your veggies in advance and pop them in the fridge.  Once you are ready to make the soup, it only takes about 20 minutes of (largely unattended) time.  We used an inexpensive riesling for the wine but you could use whatever type of white wine you have on hand (or omit the wine and use extra stock).  Feel free to add a little cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you like a little heat or use fresh herbs if you’ve got them.  Really, have a little fun with this soup… It is rich tasting, simple, and satisfying, especially when you are looking at 2 feet of snow in your driveway!

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Recipe adapted from the Tasty Kitchen Blog

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 large cloves of garlic (or 6 smaller cloves) peeled and cut in half

2 tbls olive oil

3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbls chopped fresh thyme)

1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbls chopped fresh oregano)

1 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop the cauliflower into florets, discarding the core.  Place the cauliflower and halved garlic in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss with your hands until well combined and spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Put the sheet into the oven and roast, turning once, until the cauliflower is caramelized and is fork-tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and about two cups of the stock to a large saucepan or stock pot.  Using an immersion blender, blend until the cauliflower is smooth and creamy.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this in batches in a regular blender.  Just be careful that the steam doesn’t cause a blender explosion in your kitchen.  Add the rest of the stock, the wine, and the dried herbs and bring to a gentle boil (make sure you add the puree back to the pot if you are using a regular blender).  Turn the heat down and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Remove the soup from the heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until completely melted.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

To Serve:

Serve immediately with some good bread for dipping.  Serves 4.  The cauliflower can be roasted ahead of time and held in the fridge for up to a few days.  Just heat it with the stock a little before pureeing.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

I tried to grow cherry tomatoes again this year.  The plants started out promising, bursting with healthy foliage and small green tomatoes just a few weeks after I planted them.  But then the chipmunks came and every morning I would come outside to find half-eaten baby tomatoes littered on the ground.  I cried a little each time it happened.  Then the very hot and very dry weather hit and we couldn’t keep up with the watering.  My plants got dry and brown and the chipmunks started to get more picky about eating only the nearly ripe tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Fast forward to mid-September.  The poor little green tomatoes still on the vines were not getting any bigger or any riper in the cool weather.  Since I love fried green tomatoes and I hate watching produce go to waste, I started the ponder the idea of frying my small green cherry tomatoes.  This morning I picked my plants clean and went for it.  I decided to use panko crumbs to add extra crunch.  Since the cherry tomatoes are so small, there isn’t the crust-to-tomato ratio of the larger slices so I figured extra crisp would only help.  I also opted for flour instead of the more traditional cornmeal.  I don’t always like the grittiness of cornmeal but you could certainly swap the two if you prefer.  Finally, I double dipped the tomatoes (milk-flour mixture-milk-flour mixture) in hopes of getting the crust to stick as much as possible.  Next time, I will add a little bit of rest time after the breading so the crust can really set.  I am please to report that these little cherries were every bit as delicious as a traditional fried green tomato with the added bonus of being totally snackable.  Even better, none of my tomatoes were wasted.

Frying the Tomatoes

Frying the Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup green (unripe) cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk

To Make:

Wash and dry your tomatoes.  Set a medium, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Fill with a neutral cooking oil (safflower or peanut are good choices) to about 1/8″ deep.

While the oil is heating, mix flour, bread crumbs, spices, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour milk into a separate small bowl.  Dip the tomatoes, a small handful at a time, in the milk.  Scoop out, let drain for a second, and toss them in the flour mixture until well coated.  Put the tomatoes back into the milk for a minute, and then toss in the flour a second time.  Continue until all tomatoes have been double dipped.  Let them rest for a few minutes before cooking.

Once the oil is hot (a few drops of water should dance and sizzle when added to the pan), add the tomatoes, in batches if needed so you don’t crowd the pan.  Let them cook until golden on the first side, 30-60 seconds.  Turn the tomatoes until they are golden on all sides.  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with a little more kosher salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Enjoy while still hot.  Conceviablely you could serve 2 with appetizer-sized portions but I don’t think you’ll want to share.

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Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

When cucumbers first start to appear in the summer, it is blissful.  After a fall and winter of heavy root vegetables, and a spring of greens, cucumbers are wonderfully light and refreshing.  Plus, they usually come along with tomatoes, zucchinis, and other denizens of high summer.  The problem with cucumbers is that they are pretty prolific and I have a hard time doing anything with them other than putting them in salads or on sandwiches.

Pile o' cucumbers

Pile o' cucumbers

Sure, I have a couple of Asian-style salads that cucumbers star in, but honestly, my repertoire is pretty limited.  So when the cucumbers start to overwhelm our crisper drawer, I reach for my trusty refrigerator pickle recipe and make a big batch.  The beauty of refrigerator pickles is that they are simple to make and because they are so acidic, they last a long time* in the fridge without the need for fancy canning.  The best part is that in about 30 minutes, we can make enough pickles to last us most of the year.  Which means we don’t ever have to buy them in the store.

The brine

The brine

This recipe is a modification of a recipe from Alton Brown.  I love the original for its simplicity but I have tweaked it a bit for my tastes.  Namely, I switched up the vinegars a little and cut the sugar in half because I like my pickles less sweet and more sour.  However, if you wanted more of a sweet-sour balance, feel free to increase the sugar.

Yummy vinegar and spices

Yummy vinegar and spices

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Adapted from Alton Brown

6-8 pint-sized glass canning jars with lids

12 cucumbers (mix of all sizes), about 4 lbs.

1 medium onion

3 cups water

3 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tbls kosher salt

1 tbls mustard seeds

3/4 tsp turmeric

2 tsp celery seeds

1 tbls pickling spice

1 tbls granulated garlic

To Make:

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers and trim the ends.  You can take the peels off (which I would do if I was using cucumbers that had been sprayed with pesticides) but leaving them on makes the pickle a bit crisper.  Slice the cucumbers approximately 3/16 of an inch thick.  Using a mandoline or food processor makes this job significantly easier and more consistent then doing it by hand with a knife.  Slice the onion into half moons that are 1/16 of an inch thick.  Set sliced cucumbers and onions aside.

To make the brine, combine the vinegars, water, sugar, and spices in a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold everything.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for a full 4 minutes to allow the flavor of the spices to bloom.

Pack your cleaned and dried canning jars with the cucumber and onion.  Pack them full, and don’t be afraid to push down to get as much air out as you can.  Pour the warm brine over the cucumbers, filling the jars as full as you can without spilling everything when you put the lid on.  Let the jars cool to room temperature, top off with extra brine as need, put the lids on and put them in the fridge.

To Serve:

Let them sit a couple of days before you dive in.  Makes 6-8 pints of pickles, depending on how much cucumber and onion you use and how tightly you pack your jars.

*Public Service Announcement: The recipe says that these keep for a month or so in the fridge. However, we have kept them for longer than 6 months and still had them come out tasting fine.  So, feel free to keep them longer if you like, just use common sense (you know, throw away any jars that get moldy or appear discolored or cloudy) and don’t blame us if something goes wrong.

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Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables