Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Beets: greens and all

Did you join a CSA this summer? Having a hard time coming up with ways to use up all those beets? Thankfully I avoided the temptation of joining a CSA so I am still free to choose my produce…but I think a lot of people don’t know what to do with beets. They’re delicious, full of white-clothes-ruining power, and don’t provide an obvious meal suggestion. This easy pasta dish uses both the beet roots and the beet greens so it takes care of the whole thing, all without turning on the oven.

It’s been one hell of a hot summer here in Chicago, and without central air conditioning there are few things that can induce me to turn on the oven. But beets should be roasted. Simple solution? Roast your beets in the crockpot! Wrap them in aluminum foil and put in a dry crockpot on high for about an hour and a half and presto! Out come perfectly cooked, delicious beets, without making your kitchen even hotter than it already was.

  • 1 bunch beets, roots and greens
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • about 1/2 lb bite-size pasta
  • Plenty of olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • Cheese, such as queso fresco or feta (optional)
  • Cut the roots from the greens of the beets. Wrap the roots in aluminum foil, individually for large ones and in groups of 2 or 3 for smaller ones. Place into a dry crock pot and cook on high for 1-2 hours (check after an hour). Remove and let cool. You should be able to peel the skins off without too much trouble (wear gloves if you’re worried about having red fingers for a few hours). Chop into small bite-size pieces and set aside.

    Cook the pasta. In the meantime, remove the tough stems from the greens and roughly chop into 1-2 inch pieces. Sautee the onion, garlic, and greens for about 3-4 minutes, until greens have just started to wilt. Stir in the beet roots and the pasta, add olive oil, lemon juice, and cheese if using. Serve immediately and enjoy how the pasta turns a magic bright fuschia color.


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    It’s becomingly increasingly and depressingly apparent that things are only going to get a lot, lot worse before they get any better in the Gulf Coast. The good news is that there are agencies who have stepped up and are already helping clean up beaches, swamps, and wildlife that have been affected by oil. The other good news is that you can help!

    For every person who posts a comment somewhere on this blog and becomes a fan of my facebook page (link to the right) before this Tuesday, June 8 at midnight, I will donate one whole dollar to the LA Gulf Response, a coalition of non-profit organizations dedicated to cleaning up the oily mess. You can find more information about the Gulf Response organizations at their website. I encourage you to make a donation on your own. Obviously the point of this is to spread the word, so please send to your friends and everyone else you know–the more comments, the greater the impact!

    Anyway, to pair with the donation to help the Gulf Coast, I made a deliciously cajun meal: gumbo. It just didn’t seem right to have any meat in it though, since this is a post to help the environment, so this is a vegetarian gumbo, also known as green gumbo or gumbo z’herbes. It’s traditionally served during Lent, but you could absolutely swap out some of the greens in exchange for chicken, sausage, or shrimp and it would be delicious.

  • 5 bunches leafy greens, washed well and roughly chopped (any mixture, but I used spinach, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, and arugula)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or butter or a combination
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 1 bunch parsely, diced
  • Lemon juice
  • Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes (optional)

    Put the greens in a large pot and fill with about two inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender. In the meantime, combine the oil and flour. Cook over medium low heat and stir continuously (there are horror stories of burned roux from people who didn’t stir it) until it turns a dark reddish brown, almost the color of chocolate. This can take over 30 minutes, so be prepared to get tired of stirring.

    Add the vegetables and garlic to the roux and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the cooked greens and their liquid (this has become your stock) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Add the bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, a few drops of worchestershire and lemon juice and let cook for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour and a half. Stir in the parsley and green onions after you've turned off the heat, adjust for seasoning (lots of salt) and serve immediately over rice. Yum!

    Enjoy the meal and please comment or join the facebook page–I look forward to hearing from everyone who reads these words!

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    Words can’t express how wonderful it is to have the Green City Market back in full effect.  Even though there’s not a ton to choose from this early in the season, there are some interesting vegetable choices that certainly won’t be around all summer.  One of those items is green garlic–the young baby garlic that’s much milder than its adult self and looks like overgrown green onions.

    The green garlic I bought was about three feet long and didn’t entirely fit in the fridge, but that just made it even more fun.  The great thing about green garlic is that you can use all of it–it’s similar to a leek in that the dark green end fronds are a little tough, but the rest of it’s super yummy and mellow garlic-ie.  I used it to create a light and refreshing cream sauce and served it over pasta alongside purple asparagus (which, disappointingly, turns dark green when cooked).   Perfect for a lovely summer evening.

    • 2 pieces of green garlic, tough ends removed and diced
    • 1/2 small white onion, diced
    • 1 spoonful flour
    • 2 pats of butter
    • 1 heirloom tomato, seeded and diced
    • 1/2+ cup milk
    • 1/2+ cup chicken stock

    Sautee the onion and green garlic in the butter until almost soft.  Add the flour and cook until lightly brown.  Stir in the tomato, milk, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until thick.  Add plenty of salt and pepper, cayenne if desired, and a touch of cumin.  Serve immediately over pasta with sauteed or grilled asparagus (sauce does not keep well).

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    After spending five days in Mexico, I have returned and am ready to cook up a storm.  Obviously my food will be nowhere near as good as the food from Mexico (it’s made by the gods), but I can try.  Lucky for me, I was able to find some dried chiles negros (known as pasillas when fresh) at the grocery store in Tucson. 

    In other news, the lovely folks over at Marx Foods were kind enough to send me some samples of their dried mushrooms.  Inspired by a fantastically delicious and simple crab tostada I had on the beach in San Carlos, I wanted to pair the dark earthy flavors of the mushrooms with the mellow smokeyness of the dried chiles but still give the mushrooms center stage.  And I don’t know about you, but my favorite stage of all is a Tostada Shell stage.

    The mushrooms from Marx Foods were absolutely delicious!  I used all the types of mushrooms that they sent me for this recipe, including chanterelles, lobster, porcini, black trumpet, and maitake.  I didn’t chop them before I used them, and I should have–the flavor was delicious and paired perfectly with the chiles but having mushrooms in such big pieces on the tostadas made things pretty messy. 

    Chile Negro Sauce (can be made ahead of time):

    • 4 dried chiles (substitute ancho or mulato chiles if you can’t find negro…hint: Marx Foods also carries dried chiles)
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 cups very hot chicken stock or water
    • 1 teasp ground cumin
    • 1 teasp ground coriander
    • olive oil
    • salt

    Cover the bottom of a skillet in a thin layer of olive oil and toast the chiles for a two minutes on each side, then soak them in the hot stock/water for 15 minutes.  While the oil is still hot, add the whole garlic cloves, cumin and coriander.  Scrape all of this into a blender and add the chiles and soaking liquid.  Blend on high until completely liquified.  Pour back into the skillet and let sit over very low heat for 20 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

    Mushroom Tostadas:

    • 2 cups assorted dried mushrooms
    • 4-6 corn tortillas, fried until crunchy in vegetable oil (or store bought tostada shells)
    • 1 small white onion
    • Crumbly Mexican cheese (queso fresco or rancherito are best)
    • Cilantro, to garnish

    Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for at least 10 minutes until they’re soft.  Slice the onion, dicing a little bit super fine to garnish the tostadas.  Remove the mushrooms and save the soaking liquid (can be frozen to add to soup/other things later).  Sautee the onion and mushroom over high heat until the onion has not quite carmelized, about 4 minutes. 

    Smear a small amount of chile negro sauce on the bottom of each tostada.  Pile the mushroom/onion mixture on top and serve with diced onion, cilantro, and crumbled cheese.  Enjoy!

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    Yum yum.  My newfound passion for Indian food is going strong.  Easy, vegetarian, cheap, extremely healthy, and incredibly delicious are all words/phrases that describe this meal. 

    • 1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
    • 1 can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/3 cup mushrooms (I used shiitake)
    • 1/2 teasp garam masala
    • 1/2 teasp ground coriander
    • 1/2 teasp cumin
    • 1/4 teasp turmeric
    • Salt and pepper

    Start by sauteeing the cauliflower over medium high heat in a large pan and cover for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the spices, garlic, ginger, and mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, until the cauliflower is mostly cooked through. 

    Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, reduce the heat slightly to medium and cover for another 2-4 minutes, until everything has been heated through.  Serve immediately with jasmine rice and enjoy.

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    Corn muffins

    I’m currently mourning the passing of Jersey Shore and looking forward to the Colts winning the Superbowl.  Just in case you need Superbowl recipes, these corn muffins are perfect–easily transportable, individually-sized, and don’t require a plate.  It’s my new obsession with my muffin tin. 

     This recipe is similar to my cast-iron cornbread, so that’s certainly a Superbowl option as well. 

    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup frozen corn
    • 2 green onions, diced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced
    • 1/2 cup grated jack cheese
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder

    Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  Spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.

    Pour the wet ingredients and the onions, corn, and jalapenos into the well, adding the eggs one at a time and thoroughly mix to combine.  It will be super lumpy and thick.

    Spoon into the muffin tin about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 18-23 minutes, until they have risen and the tops are just barely golden.  Best served warm with cream cheese or sour cream, but they go great with soup too.

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    I’ve decided to start using more chiles in my cooking.  Technically it’s a little early, seeing as the farmer’s market doesn’t really get started with their peppers for another few months…but oh well.  Grocery store chiles, here I come.

    Here’s a start: un-fried and un-battered chiles rellenos, using the very good looking and delicious poblano.  I guess really there’s not much that’s Mexican about them, so you could use all kinds of delicious cheeses.  Something smoked would go so well here–smoked mozzarella or cheddar, maybe even a smoked gouda.  Or you could go with the softer cheeses like cream cheese or ricotta or maybe even brie.  Why not try all of them together? 

    It is true that poblanos are pretty mild in the world of chile heat, but be extremely careful not to rub your eyes after you’ve de-seeded them.  Even after a few hours, several hand washings, and a shower, it still hurt to take my contacts out!  That capsaicin is tough stuff.  (And, by the way, it doesn’t affect sharks–yet another reason they are so awesome.)  The finished product doesn’t taste all that spicy  because the fat in the cheese helps cut the spicy, plus you’re removing the seeds and ribs, which is where the heat lives. 

    • Poblano peppers
    • Jack cheese
    • Chihuahua cheese

    Turn oven to 400 degrees.  Put the whole peppers directly onto the top rack for about 6-8 minutes, until they have just barely started to soften.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Make a long slit lengthwise down the side of each pepper and let the steam out.  Using a paring knife, remove the seeds and as much of the ribbing as you can. 

    Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  Cut the cheese into thin strips about 1/2 inch wide and stuff the peppers with as much cheese as will fit.  You could also add beans, onions, or mushrooms to make them more substantial.  Place on a baking sheet, slit side up, and bake until the cheese is melty and gooey–about 8-12 minutes. 

    Serve as a side dish with sour cream (helps cut the heat for those of you who are spicy-phobic), rice, or beans.  Enjoy!

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