Archive for vegetarian recipes

Asparagus That Everyone Loves



With asparagus bursting from every Farmers’ Market and grocery shelf at this time of year, I’ve been scouting around for interesting uses.  Sure, I’ve roasted it, grilled it, made it into bisque, put it in omelets, rolled it in sandwiches, even eaten it raw.  This simple preparation for “asparagus fries” suggested by The Food Trust was a winner in our house one Sunday evening, accompanied by grilled flank steak, mashed potatoes and a tossed green salad,


Here’s the recipe, which serves about 6 people.


1 bunch of Asparagus (trimmed)


1 egg, lightly beaten


3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)


Preheat oven to 400.


Add the panko bread crumbs and parmesan to a large zip lock bag. Dip the asparagus in the egg then place in the bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat the asparagus in crumbs and cheese.


Place asparagus in single layer on a greased baking sheet.


Bake for 7-10 minutes. Enjoy!

A Salad that Everyone Likes!





After the overindulgence of the Holiday Season, replete with roasts, gravies, mashed potatoes, not to mention sweets and booze,  I’ve been craving salad.  Although deep winter is not the best time for fresh, local produce, I’ve managed to find  a combo of  easy to source ingredients that provide a light, flavorful, fulfilling dish, and best of all, it’s a crowd pleaser.


I served this to my extended family as an accompaniment to a post-Christmas dinner in late December.  The crowd comprised kids ranging from age 10-17, most of whom are not generally known for vegetable consumption.  A vast majority went back for seconds on the salad, and in recent weeks, this has become a regular on my table.



Here’s what you need :

1 package of your favorite baby greens

1/4 of a red onion, chopped

a handful or 2 of grape tomatoes

a ripe avocado or 2, cut into bite sized chunks

1 or 2 limes

1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

Toss vegetables into salad bowl in the order listed and squeeze lime over, making sure to give a generous spritz to the avocado chunks.  (If the lime is not juicy, use a second).  Sprinkle salad with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then drizzle with oil.  Toss thoroughly and serve.

Mexican Caesar Salad


I know, the title sounds redundant, seeing as Caesar Salad was supposedly invented in Mexico.  But it has evolved culinarily toward a more Italian palate.  I decided to play around with the traditional Caesar last week when I was serving up a Mexican dinner.  Given that it was a weeknight and time was of the essence, I took a short cut on the dressing which worked well.  Here’s what I did:

1.  Rinse, spin, and tear a head of Romaine.

2. Make dressing: mix 1 part adobo sauce from canned chipotles with 3 parts Cardini’s Caesar.



3.  Instead of croutons, crumble up a handful of tortilla chips.  Add some shaved Parmasan, cotija, jack or cheddar cheese.  Squeeze a lime over the whole thing, add dressing, toss, and serve.


Tomato Pie


Tomato Pie is a great way to use the last of summer’s tomato harvest.  After over-purchasing a supply of tomatoes last week at the farmers’ market, I had to come up with a creative use.  Three of the four members of the family loved it, and for us, that’s a pretty good score.  Here’s what I did:


1.  Thaw and pre-bake a prepared pie shell. (You can certainly make your own if you are so inclined, but I used a frozen one and it worked beautifully.)


2.  Thinly slice 2 large tomatoes, 1/2 medium onion, 1 large clove garlic, and a handful of basil.

3.  Layer the tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil with slices of goat cheese.

4.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and bake at 350 for about 30 mins, until top is beginning to brown and cheese is thoroughly melted.




We had it with a green salad and a bottle of chilled rose–it was a perfect summer supper as we bid a fond farewell to this delicious season.



Giada’s Pesto

Giada DiLaurentis, we salute you!


 Her Avocado Arugula Pesto recipe got my super finicky son–”Mr. I’ll have a Plain Hamburger, please” to eat a puree of green things.  For that reason alone it deserves an award in my book.

The recipe had been sent to me by my dear friend  Farah Kapoor, fantastic cook and epic hostess.  She had served it to 3 generations of her family, all with various dietary preferences and quirks, and they all loved it.  So I thought I’d give it a try.  Not one to tempt fate, I didn’t even bother offering it to Mr. Burger, for whom vegetarian, green, and flavorful are nearly curse words (can we say teen rebellion?  Remember, his mom is an avid foodie).  When he saw his sister’s plate heaped with fettuccine slathered in green goodness, he asked for some.  After recovering from severe shock, I scooped a generous mound into a bowl for him and away he went.  (Full disclosure, I did not reveal that it contained a variety ingredients that he would normally avoid, just said it was fettuccine with pesto.)


Giada’s Pesto, pre-puree.

I followed the recipe  pretty much verbatim–but I skipped toasting the almonds, just tossed them in as is.  So, thank  you, Farah, and thank you Giada, for this wonderful new addition to our family’s meal rotation.

Have you discovered any fabulous recipes of late?

We all really liked it, although my husband, a traditional pesto devotee, said he’d like more basil and less arugula.   Good news!  In this recipe, there is a lot of potential for variation.  Next time I’ll honor his request.  Farah tells me she is going to try adding fresh spring peas.  And now that the Headhouse Farmers’ Market is open, with a bountiful selection of locally grown green things, I’ll experiment with all kinds of things.  Stay tuned!





How to Make Ricotta Gnudi

Gnudi with marinara sauce and arugula salad, Buon appetito!

Gnudi with marinara sauce and arugula salad, Buon appetito!


I was inspired to make these Ricotta Gnudi, from last month’s Bon Appetit.  Normally, I’m not a great homemade pasta girl.  The availability of staggeringly good fresh pasta for purchase is a sufficient deterrent for me to avoid this labor intensive task, so I prefer to support local artisans.  I also am not a fan of Gnocchi.  It often sounds good, but ends up a leaden, doughy lump which I enjoy for 2 bites and regret for all subsequent ones.

But Gnudi is different.  This post from sol kitchen Gnocchi vs Gnudi gives an excellent description comparing  the two pasta types.  I also learned that Gnudi may be a play on “nudi”, Italian for “nude” because it is like  naked ravioli.  Finally, I think gnudi is something that is best made at home as opposed to purchased.  This recipe was actually quite simple.


Gnudi in the bowl

I was initially turned off, thinking that shaping the dumplings would be labor intensive, but it really wasn’t.  All in, I spent about 15 minutes prepping.

Looks aren't everything

Looks aren’t everything

Full confession, my gnudi were rather irregular in shape; the directions said to shape them into little footballs.  Mine looked more like oversized amoebae.   But they were delicious anyway, and the shape was largely irrelevant.

To serve, I heated some leftover marinara from a previous meal (though you could certainly open a jar if it’s the good stuff).  The result:  a light, fluffy, ethereal puff which I will absolutely make again.  This would be lovely with a browned butter sauce or  pesto.  And I’d be inclined to experiment with spinach, parsley, and other chopped leafy greens to add to the dumplings.



Gnudi boiling in the pot

The only drawback:  while photographing the final product, I dropped my phone into the bowl and drowned it in sauce.  Dio Mio!

Soupe Parmentiere ala Bistrot La Minette

We are huge fans of the authentically French Bistrot La Minette and the cuisine of Chef Peter Woolsey.  We dined at the restaurant last week, and were impressed to receive, with the bill, a slip of paper containing  Chef Woolsey’s recipe for Soupe Parmentiere along with a gentle reminder to share with those in need.

This was a really adroit way of urging patrons to help others, particularly at this time of year.

Soupe Parmentiere is a traditional leek and potato soup, and may contain any number of winter root vegetables. It is named after French Army Pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentiere, who was taken prisoner by the Prussians during the Seven Years’ War in the mid 1700s and offered nothing but potatoes to eat.  Although potatoes were considered nothing more than animal feed at the time, M. Parm decided that survival was preferable to starvation, so he developed a soup using the potatoes, and the rest, as they say, is history.  More on this interesting story here, thank you

Although we have the luxury of a wider variety of dishes available to us than the imprisoned M. Parmentiere did, we love potatoes, and this soup does them justice.   Here’s Chef Woolsey’s version:

Soupe Parmentiere

1/2 stick butter

2 large onions, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

6-8 medium leeks, sliced

5 turnips, peeled and roughly chopped

8-10 potatoes, peeled if desired and roughly diced

1 celery root, peeled and roughly chopped

5-6 medium parsnips, sliced

3 sprigs fresh thyme

6-8 cups vegetable stock

salt and pepper

1-2 cups light cream (optional)

1.  Melt butter in large soup pot and saute garlic and onions.  Do not brown.

2.  When onions are translucent add leeks and saute until softened.

3.  Add remaining vegetables and thyme, and cover with vegetable stock.

4.  Simmer until all vegetables are softened and cooked through, approx 45 minutes.

5.  Season with salt and pepper. Puree and add cream if desired.

Bon Appetit!

How to Make Pizza

Homemade pizza; it’s easier than you think!

As usual, when the husband travels, kids put in orders for creative meals.  Dad was in San Diego all last week, and pizza was requested.  Given how rarely teens willingly spend time with parents, I was more than willing to bash together some dough and procure a variety of toppings for a homemade pizza night.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2 full-sized pies.  In our case, we made 4 half-sized pies to allow greater topping variety.

2 pkgs pizza yeast (regular yeast can be substituted)
2 cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 cups flour
2 Tbps olive oil
2 Tbsp corn meal for coating pans (optional)

Pour dough into large mixing bowl.  Add water, sugar and salt.  Let yeast begin to bubble and stir.  Using dough hook attachment, add flour gradually until dough holds together.  Cover with kitchen towel for at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours.   Punch the dough down (my daughter looved this part!) and you’re ready to go.

Heat oven to 500.

Grab a hunk of dough, and begin stretching it out.  My kids had a ball here:

I baked our pies on pizza stones coated with a dusting of corn meal, but you can also use oiled baking sheets.

Stretch dough to a thin roundish shape (or oval, square, amoebic, trapezoidal….up to you.)  Top as desired.  We enjoyed the following combos:

pesto with fresh mozzarella
marinara, grated mozzarella and pepperoni

marinara and mozzarella; marinara, olives, feta,  onions, and mozzarella.

When topped as desired, bake in lowest rack of oven for about 10 minutes.  Watch it carefully–it’s done when edges are brown and crisp, cheese is completely melted and when you scrape the underside of the pie with a spatula it feels solid, not sticky and doughy.

 Ok, so it’s a bit more work than dialing for delivery, but it really is a lot better.  Claire, who normally eschews pizza, enjoyed the leftovers during a phillyfoodlovers working lunch the following day. 

Assuming you have power, homemade pizza may be a good way to get through Hurricane Sandy. 

Indian Spiced Vegetables, Sabzi Masala

Masala Beans

Our friend Farah, she of the famous Masala Kale, which has garnered over 500 page views on this blog, is at it again.

“With so many of my friends and family eating vegetarian, I am motivated to make vegetable dishes that are interesting and delicious,” says friend, neighbor, and locally renown cook Farah Kapoor.  She adds, “Even among non-vegetarians, there is a lot of interest in local produce.  I saw some fresh okra and some lovely long beans at the Farmers’ Market last week and was inspired to create a Masala Sabzi,  (spicy vegetable) recipe.” 

Both the beans and the okra were transformed into something wonderful.  This is not to say that fresh off the farm they aren’t already pretty wonderful, but Farah’s version makes them spectacular.

She starts with fresh okra, purchased from our favorite Sunday Farmers’ Market.

Masala Okra


1 medium white onion finely diced
1 tomato
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 Clive of garlic finely chopped.
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 pound okra or long beans or green beans or haricot verts. Slice into rounds.
2 tbsp canola or olive oil
1/2 tsp red CHILLI powder (optional)
1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)


1. Start by heating the oil in a skillet.
2. Add the onions and garlic and sautee for 2 minutes.
3. Next add the cumin seeds, coriander powder and the dry spices and saute until fragrant. This might take a minute or two.
4. Add the diced tomato and let it all come together for another couple of minutes. Add salt to taste.
5. Finally add the okra or green beans to the masala paste. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables are tender.
6. Garnish your vegetables with a handful of chopped cilantro.


How To Make Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa–cucumbers–tomatoes–red onions–mint–parsley–a few other basic ingredients, and voila, healthy, deliciousness in a bowl. 

The hostess made this for book group last week and it was a huge hit.  Remember my new year’s resolution about eating a variety of grains?  Well, I haven’t exactly adhered to it.  Ok, if I’m to be completely honest, I’ve been a dismal failure.  But this dish reminded me of my intention, so I am trying again.  With summer’s arrival, cool, light, grain-based salads make a wonderful healthy meal–or a well-chosen, all-purpose side for a barbecue.

Here’s my best guess at the quinoa tabbouleh recipe:

1 cup quinoa
1 large cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes (or 1 large tomato, or 3 plums), chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste)

Cook quinoa according to package directions.  (Do not over cook or it will be mushy).  Cool quinoa and mix with remaining ingredients.  Mix, and allow to set for at least 1 hr to blend flavors.  

Quinoa seems to be the new ‘it’ food–it kinds of eats like a carb but contains substantial amounts of protein.  Works for me.