Vegetarian comfort food that's fast and easy
By Brack Johnson
April is a lovely time of year to dig into veggie fare. We celebrate Earth Day, and the Triangle's farmers' markets are in full swing. Here are delish recipes from recent cookbooks.
The Meat Lover's
Year-Round Vegetarian Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into)
Published by Da Capo Press/Lifelong Books
Southern-Fried Chick . . . Pea
1 cup dried chickpeas (canned chickpeas are too soft)
1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 medium-size onion)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground chile pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup neutral oil
Place the beans in a bowl and add enough water to cover by a few inches. Soak for at least 6 hours at room temperature. (If your kitchen is very warm, you may want to place the chickpeas in the refrigerator to minimize the chances of fermentation.)
Drain and set aside; you now have about 2-1/2 cups of soaked chickpeas.
Using a food processor or stand blender, pulverize the chickpeas using the "pulse" function, until the beans form a paste that sticks together when you squeeze it in your hand. Be careful not to overprocess (too smooth and the batter will fall apart when cooking).
Add the remaining ingredients (except the oil) and process, using the "pulse" function about 12 times.
Using a scant 1/3-cup measure, shape the batter into patties and place on a plate. Cover the patties with parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a shallow 12-inch skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium-high heat. Gently place the patties into the hot oil in small batches (don't crowd the pan) and fry the first side until golden brown and slightly crusty, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently turn onto the second side and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking tray to finish cooking in the oven until the patties slightly firm up and dry out, about 7 minutes.
To keep the patties warm without further cooking, lower the oven temperature to 225.
Warm the barbecue sauce (recipe below) and brush some on each side of the patties. Serve by itself or on a bun with extra sauce or caramelized onions (recipe below).
Makes 7 or 8 patties
· · · · · Caramelized Onions · · · · ·
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 cups onions that have been sliced into half-moons (not quite 1 large onion)
In a 10- or 12-inch skillet, heat the oil or melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring every 5 minutes, adjusting the heat to ensure that the onion is cooking evenly and not burning. Gradually the onion will soften, shrink, and sweeten, becoming caramelized in about 45 minutes.
Caramelized onions keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes about 3/4 cup caramelized onions. Amounts may be doubled or tripled.
· · · · · Finger-Licking Barbecue Sauce · · · · ·
1 cup ketchup, preferably organic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (optional but delightful)
Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir until thoroughly mixed, over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low, stirring to minimize burning. The sauce is ready when it is heated through. Take off the heat until ready to use.
Keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
Makes about 1-1/2 cups. Amounts may be doubled.
Caesar-y Salad With Tofu Croutons
1 (14-ounce) package fresh extra-firm tofu, preferably organic
1-1/2 bunches romaine lettuce, washed thoroughly, dried and trimmed (about 12 cups)
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pulverizing garlic
3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3/4 teaspoon capers
Juice of 1-1/2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons unsulfured molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, shoyu, or wheat-free tamari
1/3 cup olive oil
About 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more to taste, for garnish (optional)
Drain the tofu: Remove from the package and place on a dinner plate. Place a second plate on top of the tofu and weigh it down with a filled can or jar. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, tear the romaine into bite-size pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain off the water from the tofu. Slice the tofu in half crosswise. Cut each half into 16 to 20 one-inch cubes (for a total of 32 to 40 cubes). Transfer the tofu cubes to a mixing bowl, add the neutral oil and the salt, and with your hands, gently mix until the tofu is evenly coated and seasoned.
Arrange the tofu in a single layer on the prepared pan, with a fingernail's distance in between cubes. Roast for 15 minutes. With tongs, turn the cubes to brown on a second side. Roast for an additional 15 minutes. The tofu will be golden and slightly puffy.
While the tofu roasts, make the vinaigrette: Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the garlic, along with a pinch of salt, into a paste. Add the capers and smash until blended.
Transfer the garlic mash to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, mustard, molasses and soy sauce, and whisk together with a fork until well blended. While whisking, gradually add the olive oil until well blended. Taste for oil/acid balance and adjust as needed.
Transfer the roasted tofu to a bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and pour over the tofu, gently tossing to coat.
Pour half of the remaining vinaigrette over the romaine and toss with tongs until the leaves are well coated. Add more vinaigrette as needed, being careful not to overdress. Stir in seasoned tofu cubes and add the grated cheese if using.
Makes 6 servings
The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook
From the Garden to the Table in 120 Recipes
Published by Workman Publishing
Custard-Stuffed Baked Tomatoes
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Dash of salt
Freshly ground black pepper,
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh chervil or other soft fresh herbs, such as tarragon,
parsley or basil
Preheat oven to 350.
Hollow out each tomato from the stem end, leaving a generous opening at the top. You'll need a small, sharp knife to cut along the ribs, and a small spoon to scoop out all the pulp, leaving as much of the wall as possible. A serrated grapefruit spoon works beautifully for this. Turn the tomatoes upside down to let the juice drain away.
To make the filling, combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a medium-size bowl, and beat lightly with an eggbeater or whisk. The mixture should be uniform but not foamy.
Smear the olive oil over the bottom of a small baking dish that is just large enough to hold the tomatoes upright. Set them in the dish and, using a spouted pitcher or measuring cup, pour the filling into the cavities so it reaches to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top.
Bake until the filling is set and no longer jiggles when you gently shake the dish, or until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Sprinkle with the chervil and serve warm.
Makes 6 servings as a side dish, 3 servings as the main attraction
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 cup)
40 medium-size fresh asparagus spears
4 large or 8 small slices whole-grain bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, for the toast (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hard-cook the eggs: Place them in a small saucepan and add water to cover. Bring the water just to a simmer over high heat; then immediately lower the heat and cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, drain off the water, and fill the pan with cold water to cool the eggs. Let them sit in the cold water for about 5 minutes.
Peel the cooled eggs and then carefully remove the yolks, keeping them as intact as possible. They should be firm enough to grate. Set the whites aside.
To form the "pollen," grate the yolks fine, using a box grater held over a dish. The yolks will break apart while you are doing this, so hold the grater horizontally and rub the yolks on it (watch your fingers). Tilt the grater to empty the yolk onto the dish, scraping the grater with a small knife to get all the yolk out.
Coarsely chop the egg whites, and set them aside.
Pour the cream into a medium-size skillet and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring constantly, until it has thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Then gradually add the cheese, stirring until it has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the egg whites. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Trim the asparagus spears to about 5 inches in length. Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a vegetable steamer. Add the asparagus to the steamer basket, cover and steam until just tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
While the asparagus is cooking, toast the bread and divide the slices among four plates. If you like, butter the toast – buttering softens it nicely but is optional.
Makes 4 servings
Cooking With Nature's Most Amazing Foods
Published by Sterling Epicure
Chipotle Chili With Avocado Sour Cream
6 cups chopped tomatoes, divided
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 fresh Anaheim peppers, diced
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
4 cups cooked black beans (unsalted)
2 heaping tablespoons wakame flakes
3 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt, to taste
Blend 4 cups of the tomatoes in a blender or food processor until a chunky puree has formed. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, celery, peppers and sweet potato, plus the remaining 2 cups of chopped tomatoes and saute for about 5 minutes longer to help break down the tomatoes. Add the prepared tomato puree, thyme chipotle, cooked beans, wakame and vegetable broth to the pot. Season with some salt, stir to combine and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and add additional salt if needed, then simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer, adding a little water if necessary.
When the chili is finished cooking, serve hot, with a dollop of Avocado Sour Cream (recipe below).
Makes 4 servings
· · · · · Avocado Sour Cream · · · · ·
2/3 cup raw cashews
2/3 cup water
1 large avocado (preferably Hass variety), pitted and peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Use a small blender to process the cashews and water together into a smooth cream. Add the avocado, lime juice and sea salt, then blend again to form a whip. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for several days in a sealed container, refrigerated.