Tidewater Kitchen - October 2007

Vegetarian Delights

by

Pamela Doyle

     Vegetarian diets have been linked to a lower risk of disease and good health. However, for those of you who love meat, you don’t have to swear off meat entirely to get some of the benefits. Because they feature primarily plant foods, vegetarian diets tend to be low in saturated fat and rich in fiber, soy, anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E, folic acid and beta carotene. These nutrients help to reduce your risk of several degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and some types of cancer.
      Different types of vegetarian diets are characterized by the degree to which they exclude animal foods. Here are the different types of vegetarian diets:
Semi-Vegetarian: includes dairy foods, eggs and small amounts of chicken and fish, but no red meat.
Pesco-Vegetarian: includes fish, eggs and dairy foods.
Lacto-Vegetarian: includes milk, cheese and other dairy foods but no meat or eggs.
Lacto-ovo-Vegetarian: excludes animal-derived foods of all types.
      Most vegetarian diets supply ample protein and other nutrients if the diets are varied and include eggs, dairy foods or chicken and fish. Vegans (lacto-ovo-vegetarians), however, are at greater risk for nutrient deficiencies. These individuals may suffer from deficiencies of vitamins such as riboflavin, vitamins B12 and D and minerals including calcium, iron and zinc. Thus vegans must include soy milk, enriched cereals, broccoli, tofu, dried beans, legumes and peas in their diets or take supplements to prevent potential problems.
WHERE TO START
• Begin with one vegetarian meal a week for several weeks. Then you can work your way up to one meatless lunch or dinner per day, and eventually a few meatless days a week.
• For best nutrition throughout the day, include lowfat dairy products such as skim milk or low-fat cheese or a meat-alternative such as beans, tofu, nuts or seeds at meals that don’t include meat. Be sure to have 2-3 servings of meat alternatives each day.
• Limit your servings of meat, chicken, turkey and seafood to 3 oz., (size of a deck of cards). Fill ¾ of your plate with larger portions of vegetables, fruits, and starches like rice, pasta and whole grain bread.
• Mix about ¼ cup of cooked beans into foods such as salads and soups to help your taste buds and digestive tract get used to them.
• Eat 4 to 5 servings of vegetables a day. This will encourage you to eat less meat.
• Purchase baked goods made with whole wheat and grains.
• Be creative with your meatless meals. There are endless possibilities.

BAKED EGGS with SALSA
1/3 cup salsa
4 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Vegetable oil, as needed

Preheat the oven to 400°.
Lightly oil a medium non-stick skillet with an ovenproof handle. Spoon all the salsa into the pan in a heap. Lightly press down the salsa to make 4 evenly spaced shallow nests and break an egg into each. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs and continue baking until the cheese has just melted, about 1 minute more. Top with cilantro and serve immediately.

SUPER-FAST VEGETARIAN PIZZA
1 T. olive oil
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow crookneck squash, diced
½ T. dried crushed red pepper
1 16-ounce baked cheese pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1 14-ounce jar mushroom pizza sauce
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup packed shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices Provolone cheese
½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.
Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, yellow squash and crushed red pepper and sauté until the vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes.
Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread mushroom sauce over the crust and sprinkle with garlic, then mozzarella and provolone cheese. Top with squash mixture and tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake pizza until cheese melts and crust is crisp, about 13 minutes.

TOFU LASAGNA
2 16-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, mashed
Fresh basil or spinach
1 t. sage & rosemary
1 16-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 lb. mushrooms
1 container extra-firm tofu
2 cups mozzarella cheese

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 T. olive oil. Add chopped onion and mashed garlic and heat in the pan for about 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, sage and rosemary.
Cut the tofu into slices. Place a layer of tofu on top of the sauce. Add 1 T. of ricotta cheese and basil leaf on top of that. Make a sandwich effect with the rest of the ingredients except the mozzarella. Keep layering until finished with all the tofu. Sprinkle with cheese and simmer with lid on for about 15 minutes.

GRILLED MUSHROOM BURGER
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 sweet onion, sliced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped basil or 1 T. dried
¼ t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground pepper
8 portabella mushroom caps
4 1-ounce slices provolone cheese

Cut each bell pepper into 8 strips and cut the onion into 8 slices.
Combine the vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a shallow dish or large zip-lock baggy and add the bell pepper and onion.
Cover or seal and chill for 30 minutes. Add mushroom caps, cover or seal and chill, turning occasionally, for another 30 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Set the mushroom caps aside.
Grill the remaining vegetables, covered with the grill lid over medium-high heat (350-400° for 10 minutes or until partially charred.
Place 4 mushroom caps upside down, and top evenly with the grilled vegetables and cheese slices. Place the remaining mushroom caps, right side up, over the cheese.
Grill, covered with the grill lid, over medium-high heat until the cheese melts, turning once. Serve with the reserved marinade. You may also serve this on a baguette. Makes 4 servings.

WILD MUSHROOM LASAGNA
1 t. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed
½ medium diced onion
pinch of red pepper
2½ t. dried oregano
1 t. thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 t. sugar
1 t. sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 lbs. mixed fresh mushrooms
12 cooked lasagna noodles
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Parmesan Sauce:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 cups 1% milk
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 t. butter

Whisk flour in heavy medium saucepan to remove any lumps. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups milk and nutmeg, whisking over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmigiano-Reggianao cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray a 9x13x2-inch pan with oil.
Heat ½ t. olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and oregano and stir for 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set tomato sauce aside.
Heat ¼ t. oil in another large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms begin to release their juices, about 9 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread a layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles crosswise in the dish. Spread ¾ cup Parmesan sauce over the noodles. Arrange 1/3 of the mushrooms over the sauce and ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Spoon ½ cup tomato sauce over mushrooms. Repeat this layering 2 more times and then top with 3 more lasagna noodles.
Spread the remaining Parmesan sauce over the noodles and drizzle with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and other ½ cup of mozzarella cheese.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the noodles are tender and top is golden, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.

WATERMELON and TOMATO SKEWERS
1 small seedless watermelon
4 cherry tomatoes
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
8 basil leaves, sliced
8 bamboo skewers
Kosher salt

Cut top and bottom off the watermelon to level it. Sit it upright and cut away the rind. Cut into 1-inch cubes and reserve.
Whisk together the vinegar and oil.
Place a tomato half on top of each watermelon cube with the flat side facing up. Poke a bamboo skewer through the top all the way down to secure the 2 items. Line up the skewers on a serving tray.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the skewered tomato and watermelon. Sprinkle with salt and place a micro basil leaf on top. Serve.

SWEET POTATOES SMASHED
2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams, scrubbed
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. dark brown sugar
1 t. grated orange zest
¾ t. kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°. Pierce the sweet potatoes 2 or 3 times with a fork. Bake in a roasting pan for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender. Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise. Hold the sweet potatoes with a potholder or towel and scoop out the potato flesh into a ricer.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and zest over medium heat. Remove from the heat and smash the sweet potatoes in the pan. Stir to combine evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES
1 lg. butternut squash, halved, seeded and peeled
3 lg. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
4 med. beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed
1 med. red onion
2 lg. parsnips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1½ t. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place 2 baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 425°.
Cut all the vegetables into 1½-inch pieces. Cut the onions through the base core to keep some of the layers in chunky pieces. Toss all the vegetables with the garlic, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Season generously with pepper.
Carefully remove the heated baking sheets from the oven, brush or drizzle with olive oil. Divide the vegetables evenly between the 2 pans, spreading them out to ensure they don’t steam while roasting. Roast the vegetables until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ t. freshly grated orange zest

Mix all the ingredients together, except the blueberries.
Put a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill. When the ice cream is finished, transfer it to the frozen bowl. After the ice cream starts to thicken, about 15 minutes, add the blueberries. Enjoy then or freeze for later.

PEAR WALNUT SPICE CUPCAKES
1 cup raisins (dark or golden)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1½ cups sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. each ground cloves and ground allspice
2 cups peeled pear chunks (from about 3 pears)
1 cup chopped walnuts
FROSTING:
¼ cup maple syrup
1 T. milk
2 cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup cream cheese

Heat the oven to 350°. Place the raisins in a bowl and toss them with 2 T. for the flour until lightly coated (this will prevent them from sinking in the cake batter during baking).
To make the cake: Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) until fluffy. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the vanilla and the oil.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Mix this into the egg mixture. Mix in the pears and nuts, and then stir in the raisins by hand, distributing them evenly in the batter. Spoon with an ice ream scoop into 12 cupcake tins with liners or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool in the tin on a wire rack. Frost when ready to serve.
Combine all the frosting ingredients and mix with a mixer. Spread on top of the cupcakes.
Makes 12.