When Veggies Party Hearty

Good eats for May shindigs

Throwing a get-together for May Day (May 1), the Kentucky Derby (May 3), Cinco de Mayo (May 5) or Mother’s Day (May 11)? Bringing something savory to a gathering for Armed Forces Day (May 19), Memorial Day (May 26) or graduation?

Consider taking a break from meat and potatoes. Go to one of the Triangle’s fabulous farmers’ markets, where you’ll find fresh pickings from local harvests. Courtesy of six recent cookbooks, here are vegetarian dishes that even confirmed carnivores will recognize — and love.

Carrboro Fare

Get out and enjoy the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, which marks its 30th season with a party Saturday, May 3. Eat, shop, listen to local music, learn some history and win prizes. The party’s not over after market hours (7 a.m. to noon) end. Carrboro Day is Sunday, May 4, and the Farmers’ Market continues the celebration at its booth.

“Mollie Katzen’s Recipes: Salads”

By Mollie Katzen

Published by Ten Speed Press

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons light-colored honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots (optional)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (possibly more)

For the salad:

10 ounces (approximately) very fresh spinach leaves
1 pint fresh, perfect strawberries, trimmed and wiped clean
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
Fresh black pepper

Make the dressing: Combine the vinegar, buttermilk, honey, salt and shallots (if using) in a small bowl or a liquid measuring cup. Whisk until blended. Then keep whisking as you drizzle in the olive oil in a steady, slow stream. When all the oil is in, give it a taste. If it’s too sharp, add a touch more oil. Set aside.

Stem the spinach, and tear or chop the leaves into fairly small pieces into a large salad bowl.

Slice the strawberries in half (or quarter them, if they are large) and scatter them into the spinach, along with the sliced red onion. Crumble in the goat cheese. Pour in a modest amount of the dressing (just enough to coat all the spinach) and toss until everything is touched by the dressing. Grind in some black pepper, and serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Marinated Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)

For the marinade:

1/2 cup roasted walnut oil (if unavailable, use extra virgin olive oil)
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (if unavailable, use red wine vinegar)
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh black pepper
1 large bunch broccoli (1 to 1-1/2 pounds), cut into small spears

Optional garnishes:

Thin slices of green apple
Chopped, toasted pecans

Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them in halves or quarters, then into thin slices. Put them up to cook, either in or over boiling water (in a steamer). Meanwhile, prepare the marinade.

Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium-large bowl. As soon as the sweet potato slices are tender, drain them as necessary, then add them, still hot, to the marinade. Mix gently.

Steam the broccoli until bright green and just tender. Rinse under cold running water and drain completely. Lay the broccoli spears carefully on top of the salad. Cover tightly and marinate for several hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, mix in the broccoli from on top. Serve garnished with thin slices of green apple and chopped, toasted pecans.

Makes about 6 servings.

“V Cuisine: The Art of New Vegan Cooking”

By Angeline Linardis
Published by Whitecap Books

Superior Spring Rolls

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
11-ounce package of vegetarian ground “beef”
Soy sauce to taste
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
½ large cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup “traditional” or firm tofu
Salt to taste
Optional: hot sauce or white pepper to taste
Spring roll wraps (The ones I use have 24 to a package and are about 8 inches across.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large pot, put enough oil to cook down the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent, at about medium-low heat. When they’re done, crumble in the package of vegetarian ground “beef.” Add a little water or soy as required so that the mixture doesn’t stick. At this time, you can add the ginger and about half of the cabbage.

Cook it a couple minutes more and season it. Lightly mash the tofu and then add it to the mixture. When it’s piping hot, remove it from the heat and add the remainder of the cabbage. Toss it in; the filling is ready to use.

Peel apart several of the spring roll wraps. Take a small scoop of the filling and place it in the center of a wrap. You’ll have more surface area if you work on the diagonal, but wrap it up however you like. Make a line of the filling, tuck in the sides, and roll it up. Add a drop or two of water to the final corner to help secure it shut. You should have a nice, snug little wrap. Remember, they’re delicious overstuffed, but they may fall apart, so try to keep a reasonable balance between the filling and the wrap.

Bake for about 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. You may want to turn them once, to crisp up both sides. I realize something like this doesn’t have “sides” but to brown them up front and back is plenty.

Cut them in half and serve them with plum sauce, soy or any other Asian-style sauce you love. They’re fantastic with garlic-chili sauce if you like hot and spicy!

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Giant Ravioli Stuffed With Walnuts & Cashews

For the ravioli:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
teaspoon salt

For the walnut & cashew nutmeat:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 whole bulb garlic, finely chopped
3 cups mushrooms, sliced then chopped
3 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (or frozen, thawed and well-drained)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dark mushroom soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste


Additional seasonings such as oregano, basil, sage and ground cumin

For the ravioli:

Combine the ravioli ingredients in a bowl, using two cups of the flour. Keeping your hands well-floured, knead the dough lightly. Continue to knead and add flour until it has enough body to hold up. It should have some elasticity and not be too sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until needed.

For the walnut and cashew nutmeat:

Add the olive oil to a hot pan and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the spinach and set aside.

In a completely dry pan, toast the walnuts on medium-high heat for 1 or 2 minutes or until aromatic, shaking the pan constantly. Set the walnuts aside, add the cashews to the hot pan and cover them with water. Cook uncovered on medium heat until the water evaporates. Remove from the heat and combine with the onion/mushroom mixture.

Add the dark soy sauce, combine well, then taste. Add salt, pepper and any additional seasonings if desired.

For the assembly:

When making any kind of pasta, nothing can go too far astray, so don’t worry. The only thing with ravioli is keeping in the filling. And if it falls out, it’s not the end of the world. It’s only ravioli.

Roll about 1/4 of the dough at a time on a floured board, adding flour as needed. Although some pastas are meant to be paper-thin, with ravioli that isn’t necessary. If it doesn’t fall apart when you try to lift it, you’re ready. Cut it into 6-inch strips. Spoon the nutmeat on one side of the strip, about 1-1/2 inches across. Do this every 2 inches or so. Lightly lift the edge of what will be each ravioli.

Have a bowl of water ready. Use your fingers to “paint” the water where the ravioli will connect. (It’s your glue.) Then, carefully fold them over and gently press the dough down, attempting to do so from the middle out, so that the air will escape. (This makes them less likely to break).

Cut the ravioli with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter and seal the edges with the tines of a fork or your fingers. Set them on a well-floured surface or a floured piece of parchment.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ravioli. They’re done when they float to the top. Remove, strain them and gently place them in the sauce of your choice.

Makes 6 servings.

“Norene’s Healthy Kitchen”

By Norene Gilletz
Published by Whitecap Books

Spanikopita Pie

This Greek spinach and cheese pie makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons minced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
cup fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon dried
2 large eggs (or 1 egg plus 2 egg whites)
1 cup light feta cheese
1 cup light ricotta or cottage cheese
cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the spinach and dill weed until minced, about 10 seconds. Add the sauteed onion, garlic, eggs, feta, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process just until mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (If desired, you can prepare the recipe up to this point, and refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Keep the phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap because it dries out quickly. Line the prepared baking dish with 4 sheets of phyllo, brushing the top of each sheet lightly with oil as you layer it in the pan. Let the edges of the dough hang over the sides of the pan. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Quickly layer with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet lightly with oil. Fold the overhanging edges over the top and brush with oil once again. (The spanikopita can be prepared up to this point, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for several months, until ready to use. If frozen, thaw before baking.)

Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Makes 10 servings.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

The shepherd will be out of work if too many people discover this meatless version of shepherd’s pie! This fiber-packed dish looks and tastes as if it was made with meat. Can you pull the wool over everyone’s eyes?

For the topping:

5 to 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, well-scrubbed (peeling is optional)
cup vegetable broth or soymilk
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lowfat or imitation sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Paprika, for garnish

For the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms or chopped zucchini
2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons minced)
2 packages (12 ounces each) vegetarian ground beef substitute
cup tomato or barbecue sauce
1 cup corn kernels (frozen or canned)

In a medium saucepan, add the potatoes along with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes well in a strainer, then return them to the pan and dry over medium heat for 1 minute. Transfer the dried potatoes to a medium bowl and mash well. Add the broth, olive oil, sour cream, salt and pepper to the mashed potatoes; mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet on medium high. Add the onion, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic; saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and the garlic is golden. Stir in the ground beef substitute and tomato sauce. Cook, uncovered, for 3 or 4 minutes on medium high, until heated through.

Remove the mixture from the skillet and transfer it to a sprayed, 2-quart rectangular casserole dish. Spread evenly. Add a layer of corn kernels, then top with a layer of the reserved potato mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. (If desired, the recipe can be assembled in advance up to this point and refrigerated overnight.)

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until the layers are heated through and the top is golden.

Makes 6 servings.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:
Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food”

By Mark Bittman
Published by Wiley Publishing

Chili non Carne

A straightforward and delicious chili that can be completely customized to your taste. Increase or decrease just about anything or add pressed tofu, tempeh or even nuts to bulk up the texture and flavor. Serve it with lots of garnishes (always great when feeding a crew) like minced onion or scallion, hot sauce, sour cream, and grated cheddar, Monterey Jack or queso fresco, as well as rice, crackers or tortilla chips. Other beans you can use: kidney, dried soybeans, or any pink or red beans.

1 pound dried pinto beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
1 onion, unpeeled, plus 1 small onion, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bean-cooking liquid, vegetable stock or water
1 fresh or dried hot chile, seeded and minced, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves or teaspoon dried (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the whole onion, turn the heat down so the beans bubble steadily but not violently, and cover loosely.

When the beans begin to soften, after 30 minutes to an hour, season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are quite tender but still intact, 1 to 2 hours; add water if necessary.

Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid if you choose to use it. Discard the whole onion and add the minced onion, the liquid, the chile, cumin, and/or oregano if you’re using them, and the garlic. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low.

Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until the beans are very tender and the flavors have mellowed, about 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with cilantro.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

It’s a shame to think that some people only know mac and cheese out of a box. The real thing is rich, filling and delicious. Use nearly any pasta. Tube, corkscrew or cup-shaped ones work best because they grab the sauce. Just be sure to slightly undercook it since it will continue to cook in the oven. Vary the type of cheese you use too: Try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda or even mascarpone for a decadent version.

2-1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
2 bay leaves
1 pound elbow, shell, ziti or other cut pasta
4 tablespoons ( stick) butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.

Cook the pasta to the point where it is almost done but you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and stir.

Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9- x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve piping hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

“Simply Organic”

By Jesse Ziff Cool
Published by Chronicle Books

Apple-Asiago Pie

This recipe, which was developed by a former pastry chef at Flea St. Cafe, remains my son’s favorite version of apple pie. A twist on the classic combination of Cheddar cheese and apples, it may sound a bit unusual, but to us it’s even better.

For the crust:

1-1/2 cups whole grain pastry flour
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk

For the topping:

1 cup whole grain pastry flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup grated Asiago cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

For the filling:

6 large crisp apples, such as Granny Smith, Crispin or Gala, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the crust:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, thyme and salt. Grate the butter into the mixture. Using your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are about the size of peas. Add the milk, 1/4 cup at a time, and blend until a soft, moist dough is formed. Add a few more tablespoons of milk if the dough seems dry. It should be somewhat sticky.

Form the dough into a ball, then flatten into a round disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cheese and pepper. Grate the butter into the mixture. Using your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are about the size of peas. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is chilled, place it on a well-floured surface and roll to about a 1/8-inch thickness, turning and flouring the dough often to keep it from sticking. Fold the dough in half and place in a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Unfold the dough, turn under the edges, and crimp them.

For the filling:

In a large bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg. Transfer to the prepared crust.

Crumble the crumb topping over the apples. Bake for 1 hour, or until the crust is browned and the apples are soft. Place on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Makes 10 servings.

Herb Garden Angel Food Cake

The roses and basil in the batter of this angel food cake create interest as well as a lovely flavor.

1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups egg whites (about 12 large eggs), at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons chopped purple basil or regular basil
1 cup chopped organically grown rose petals

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until glossy, stiff peaks form and the sugar dissolves. (To be sure that the sugar has dissolved, rub the beaten whites between your fingers. They should not feel granular.)

Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg white mixture in 4 stages. When the last bit of flour mixture is to be folded in, add the basil and rose petals.

Gently pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and invert the pan on a bottleneck, such as a wine bottle, and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. When the cake is cool, run a thin knife between the cake and the pan. Turn out onto a plate.

Tip: For an extra-spectacular dessert, glaze the cake with a combination of 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. Add the milk gradually until the glaze has a spreadable consistency. Glaze the cake and garnish with additional organic rose petals.

Makes 8 servings.

“Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes”

By Jeanne Kelley
Published by Running Press

Layered Chocolate Cake

This impressive cake is deceptively simple, and it’s perfect with scoops of vanilla ice cream. For scrumptious results, use chocolate that is between 54 and 61 percent cacao (pure chocolate).

For the cake:
2-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans with 1-1/2 -inch or higher sides. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment. Butter and flour the parchment and sides of the pan.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Combine 2 cups water, the chocolate and butter in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, then the flour mixture. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are just slightly firm when touched and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each pan. Invert the cakes onto cooling racks, remove the pans and parchment paper, and let the cakes cool completely.

To make the frosting:

Combine the chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Combine 1/3 cup water and the sugar in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the cream and salt and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and butter. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk the chocolate mixture until it becomes smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Let the frosting stand, stirring occasionally, at room temperature until it is just spreadable, about 1 hour.

To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on a plate and frost the top with 1/2 cup of frosting. Top with a second layer of cake and spread with 1/2 cup of frosting. Place the remaining cake layer atop the frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover with a cake dome and keep at cool room temperature.)

Makes 12 to16 servings.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK, so these chocolate chip cookies are perfect because they are made the way I like chocolate chip cookies — just enough salt, crispy on the edges but soft in the center, and studded with walnuts The cookies are also perfect because I use a cookie scoop to form the dough into evenly rounded half domes of dough that bake into uniform cookies. The cookie scoop looks like an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism. It’s really fast and keeps you from eating too much dough.

1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup sugar
1 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two heavy, large baking sheets or line with silicone baking mats.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugars and the butter together until light. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stop the mixer and stir the bottom of the mixture with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the flour, salt and baking soda over the mixture and beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Working in batches, drop the dough by 2 tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, switching the cookie sheets in the oven midway through baking, until they are just beginning to turn golden brown at the edges and the tops appear dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen.