Archive of ‘vegetarian’ category

Broccoli and Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce, the Gift of Improvisation & Snarky Cats


This was so good that I licked the plate.  As I was licking the plate, a Mira-cat was eating near me.  She turned toward me and gave me side-eye and I’m pretty sure that if she could talk, she’d have said “At least I eat daintily out of the bowl like a civilized person. Peasant.”  After retorting that at least I don’t lick my own ass, I realized that I’m really glad my cats can’t talk. One, because I’m pretty sure they’re snarky jerks but two, you all would think I was crazier than I already am.  My cats keep my secrets but only because they can’t verbally negotiate deals to sell them to the highest bidder.

One of the skills you need to develop when you belong to a CSA is the ability to trust yourself to improvise.  Note – I did not say that you need to learn how to improvise.  Because you already know how to do this.  Yes.  You do.  No arguing.  What you need to learn how to do is to let yourself improvise.

Eating locally and seasonally is delicious and being part of a CSA will give you produce that is fresher than you can imagine.  But it’s very different from planning a menu and going to the grocery store to get those groceries.  Or even going to the farmer’s market to get the produce you need.  You need to learn to be flexible. You need to let yourself improvise.

So improvise.  Make mistakes.  Know that it won’t always work out but that’s OK.  It will probably be edible and you’ve learned what not to do.  A lot of times that’s just more important than knowing what to do.

This is the frittata I made the other day.  It stuck to the pan.  I don’t care.  It’s delicious and allowed me to use up some yellow zucchini, onions and the lardons I had left over from the salad I made the other night.

Risottos, pasta dishes, egg rolls, stir-frys, salads, pizzas, fritters – all of these recipes can be played without a lot of trouble.  Change out cheeses, vegetables, spices, meats, etc.  You can even create your own recipes.

This is not a recipe for exact amounts and ingredients.  Instead of broccoli, put blanched asparagus or cauliflower in it.  Or barely blanched summer squash.  Or sliced cucumbers.  Or lightly steamed and chopped greens.  Have a fresh turnip that needs to be used?  Dice that up and throw it in.  Are you out of soba?  Spaghetti noodles would work. I love ginger and garlic and I wouldn’t hesitate to add more.  More scallions would be a lovely touch as well.  Cilantro sprinkled across the top would be delicious.  Add in diced chicken, shrimp or tofu.  I had no hulled white sesame seeds so I used brown, unhulled ones.  Next time I make this, I’ll probably double the broccoli and use half the noodles. Play with this.  It’s hard to screw up.

Broccoli & Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce
Adapted from Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons
Serves 2-3

1/2 cup white sesame seeds
8 ounces dried soba noodles
4 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
4 – 6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
5 scallions, chopped fine, both white and green parts
4 heaping cups small broccoli pieces, blanched

Preheat oven to 375. Pour the sesame seeds onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the seeds in the oven until they are a rich brown color on the edges.  The recipe said 10 minutes but this took only 5 minutes in my oven.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the soba noodles and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the noodles are just tender.  Drain them, rinse well with cold water and drain them again.

In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and scallions.  Add the noodles.  Stir well.  Add the sesame seeds.  Stir well again.  Add the broccoli, stir well and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower and Tahini Spread and the Transit of Venus


Cauliflower has never been my favorite vegetable.  Oh, I don’t dislike it but I’ve never been one to get all worked up about it.  Until I roasted it.  Roasted cauliflower is a vegetable to get passionate about.  My husband refers to it as the popcorn of the vegetable world and I think he’s right.  It’s insanely addictive and I can’t stop eating it.

This is what happens when you drink too much gin. You put garlic in your prep photo even when there’s no garlic in your recipe. Let that be a lesson to you, boys and girls.

This spread takes all the popcorn-y goodness of roasted cauliflower and adds an Asian flair to it, turning it into a luscious spread that I couldn’t quit cramming into my mouth.  It’s toasted and salty and has that umami quality that keeps you coming back for more.

This spread tastes best with a good, sturdy cracker, a crusty loaf of bread or steamed pea pods.  It would be wonderful on cucumber slices and is a perfect picnic food.  Eat while drinking gin cocktails when sitting out on your upper porch while watching the transit of Venus.  Or since that won’t be for another 105 years, just make the gin cocktails and sit out under the stars.  Whatever you do, make this.

Roasted Cauliflower and Tahini Spread
Makes around 2 cups
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 head of cauliflower (2 pounds), halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, coriander, ginger and salt.  Spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice. Cauliflower is done when it’s tender and beginning to lightly brown in spots.  The recipe says this takes 40 minutes but I’ve made it three times and I’ve never had it take more than 25 – again, this depends on your cauliflower.  Just keep on eye on it and see.  Let this cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the cauliflower, tahini and lemon juice and pulse to a chunky puree.  Season with salt.  Add the cilantro and pulse just until it’s incorporated into the spread.  Transfer to bowl and serve warm.  If you have leftovers, let them warm up a bit before serving.


Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa & Soupapalooza


Back before I started food blogging, I would try recipes from different cooking magazines and cookbooks.  I’d come across a gem of a recipe and then promptly forget about it.  So I started a list on my computer of all the recipes that Marcus and I have tried and loved.  When I started blogging, this blog became that list.

I still have the list and every once in a while I come across a recipe and think “I can’t believe I haven’t posted that on the blog yet”.  Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa is one of those recipes.  I’ve been making it for years.

Friday rolled around and I knew we would need a meat-free dinner that was easy and a sure thing.  I had baked goods to make as bribes for our community garden orchard planting volunteers.  And Marcus and I have been constantly covered in plaster dust as we frantically try to get our front bedroom finished.  The last thing I wanted to do was fuss around with dinner.  That’s when I remembered this chili.

I love this chili.  The earthiness of the beans, the sweetness of the red pepper, the chewiness of the barley – all of it combines to make a soup that is more than the sum of its parts.  Make sure to add the garnishes.  The cilantro, avocado & lime juice add a lot to this chili.

I made a few small changes to this recipe.  I’m not a fan of canola oil so I used olive oil instead.  I also usually have veggie stock in my freezer so I used that.  I’ve made it before with canned stock and it’s still delicious.  I also don’t countenance with the idea of baked chips.  If I’m going to eat a tortilla chip, I’d rather eat fewer chips than eat a piece of cardboard that’s masquerading as a tortilla chip.

If you’re really short on time, instead of making the avocado salsa just add extra cilantro and plain chopped avocado to the soup.

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset


Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light
6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano (Use Mexican oregano if you have it)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
6 lime wedges
tortilla chips for garnish
Avocado Salsa (see below)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and red bell pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic and green chilis.  Cook one minute

Stir in barley, black beans, tomatoes, and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is tender.  Stir in cilantro.

Garnish with sour cream, lime wedges, chips and avocado salsa.

Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light
Yield: 1 cup (serving size 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup finely chopped avocado
1/3 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno (seed if you want to keep the heat down)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and gently mix. Serve immediately.



White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip & Recipes for Memorial Day Weekend


I had an amazing recipe for ribs to share with you for grilling out for Memorial Day weekend but alas, I thawed out my ribs and they were freezer burnt.  Sure I could have made them anyway (since this is a recipe I’ve made many times before) but there is no way I could have handled the delicious aroma of ribs permeating through the house knowing that I couldn’t eat them.

Instead, I thought I’d share my love for garlic scapes with you.  Every year when their season rolls around, it makes me so happy that for a moment, I almost wish that they were available all season, if not all year.  But part of their charm is that they’re here and before you can even begin to imagine getting sick of them, they’re gone.

Garlic scapes are the green, Medusa-haired offspring of garlic plants.  I’m not sure how much you all know about garlic but it’s planted in the fall.  There are two main kinds, softneck and hardneck garlic.  Hardneck garlic usually shoot up flower stalks in late spring.  These stalks are also known as garlic scapes.  I cut them off every year so that my garlic bulbs will get plumper & fatter. Imagine the punch of garlic mixed with a little whiff of freshly mown green grass.  I adore them.  I’ve been known to create necklaces and large hoop earrings out of them and wear them around the house. Alas, my husband always stops me before I go out in public with them.

There are a lot of ways to use garlic scapes.  I made refried beans this weekend and used them instead of garlic.  I add them to my scrambled eggs.  These are amazingly delicious when goat cheese is added as well.  You can add them to baked potatoes and mix them into pasta.  They’re delicious in stir-fries. I grill them and eat them plain.  To be quite honest, I’ve yet to find a way I don’t like them.  This white bean dip is my latest find.

This dip tastes like velvety Spring.  The brassiness & grassiness of the garlic scapes are tempered by the beans.  It’s a bit jarring to eat it plain but I found myself inhaling the better part of a loaf of bread with this dip last night.  Much later that night I creeped into the kitchen to scrape down the food processor with a spatula to get every last bit. It’s addictive.

White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip
Adapted from The New York Times
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Note: Serve with freshly toasted bread, pita bread and/or vegetables.  I particularly love blanched sugar snap peas with this dip.

1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (roughly four of them)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

In a food processor, process together the garlic scapes with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until very finely chopped.  Add the cannellini beans and process to a rough paste.

With motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (this is a perfect time to use the feed tube of your food processor) and process until nice and smooth.  Pulse in 2-3 tablespoons of water.  Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.

Place dip in bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve.


Some other Memorial Day menu ideas:

Buttermilk Chess Pie
Maple Glazed Ribs
Watermelon Margaritas
Peach Basil Sangria
Barbecued Raspberry Hoisin Chicken

Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs Salad & Welcoming Spring



It’s been beyond gorgeous here in Knox Vegas.  A purple carpet of crocuses have already taken over my neighbors’ lawn, incited a bee orgy and faded quietly away.

Bulbs are coming up everywhere I look with some already in bloom.

Forsythia is blooming all around, causing me to break out in my usual tirade against the people who prune them into little squares or balls.  Why, for the love of all that is holy, do people plant a shrub that is notorious for it’s sprawling growth habit and then prune it to within an inch of its life?  They look ridiculous – like the Iggy Pops of the shrub world have been shaved, shorn and popped into 3-piece suits with Dexter Poindexter glasses.  And I’m going to stop now before I start ranting about people who top trees and prune crepe myrtles into little stubs.

Birds wake us up every morning in the noisy mating ritual.  And since I live in the city, our favorite mockingbird has been sitting outside our bedroom window every morning, doing his best impersonation of a car alarm.  It’s beautiful – this music of springtime.  Sometimes he gets really creative and throws in a firetruck siren.

The air feels soft, warm and moist.  You can almost hear things growing.  When I walk through the lawn, I can smell the crush of violets, wild onions, parsley, catnip and other herbs that have escaped their garden confines and help me disguise the fact that we have all of 3 blades of real grass growing in our “lawn”.

East Tennessee is getting the Crayola haze – everything looks a bit misty and colored by my favorite colors in the crayon box.  It’s almost a cliche how green things look but I know it’s only going to get more breath taking

It’s been in the 60s every day and as I stand outside on my concrete patio, feeling the warmth of the sun soaking into my feet, I’m looking forward to the fresh peas that I’ll be harvesting from my garden in the next weeks.  That is, if dogwood winter doesn’t get us.

Spring is teasing us, murmuring to us with a husky come hither tone but I’m trying not to be too tempted by its siren song.  East Tennessee Spring has suckered us in before, teasing us with her husky warm breath before slamming the door in our face like a petulant lover.

I think of the spring several years ago where Marcus and I decided to eat only local fruit. We were blessed with an early spring and we watched our strawberry patch flower more profusely than it ever had before.  That was the same strawberry patch we coated in row cover fabric & plastic, finally resorting to sticking actual lamps in the bed to coax it through the 12 degree night.  That was the summer we refer to as the Melon Summer.

I am a sucker for anything that involves, includes, alludes or even hints of deviled eggs.  They’re like the cupcakes of the egg world.  I’ve actually heard people squeal out loud at parties when they realize deviled eggs are being served.  I’m actually chagrined that I don’t have a proper platter for serving deviled eggs.  My excuse is that my kitchen is in a crazy state of transition and there’s no room for it but the Southern woman in me weeps at my disgrace.

But as awesome as deviled eggs are, imagine them crisped up a bit and caramelized around the edges.  Imagine a tiny bit of resistance on your teeth before you bite down into that buttery, sun-shiny yellow of a yolk.  And imagine a deviled egg that’s been souped up – Spring-style with garlicky overtones and the greenness of parsley.  When I bite into these eggs, it reminds me of my lawn with all of its wild onion and parsley seedlings.  These yolks taste like a dandelion should taste – all buttery and full of springtime.  And if you scatter them on a carpet of fresh greens dressed with a piquant vinaigrette?  Dogwood winter – do your worst.  Spring is here to stay in my kitchen.

PS – As I hit publish on this post, I’m giggling because there’s a winter storm warning in the mountains tonight.  BRING IT DOGWOOD WINTER!!!!

Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs Salad
Serves 2
Adapted from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper

4 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled
1/2 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons minced onion
1 1/2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 teaspoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Leftover egg stuffing
1 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/4 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt & fresh-ground black pepper

4 generous handfuls mixed greens

Cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place the yolks in a bowl and set whites aside.  Add mustard through vinegar and mash and mix thoroughly.  I usually use a regular fork for this.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the mixture into the hollows of the reserved egg whites.  Make sure you don’t mound them up, the mixture should come to the top of the whites but not  above.  You will have some of the yolk mixture left over.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Place eggs stuffed side down in the pan.  Cook for around 5 minutes or until browned.  Mine cooked for just over 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp of salt and a few grinds of pepper as they cook.

While the eggs are sauteing in a large bowl, mix the leftover egg yolk mixture with the dressing ingredients.  Whisk together thoroughly.  Toss the salad greens with the dressing.  Divide greens onto two plates.  Remove the egg halves from the pan (4 halves per plate) then serve.

Please click here for a printable recipe!


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