Category Archives: vegetarian

beans and bok choy

After a weekend of meaty meat, I was ready for some basics on Monday. There was a head of bok choy in the fridge left over from Chinese New Year celebrations, so I found a basic recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and then went flipping through for something to accompany it. I stumbled across Bean Croquettes and latched on to it – I love croquettes, but they’re usually so much effort to make. This was full of protein and promised to be quick and painless.

cooking bean croquettes

The croquettes were relatively painless, though picking parsley leaves always makes me a little stir crazy. I had to mash the beans by hand, as we had just a little food processor that was pureeing the beans at the bottom and leaving the ones at the top. After that, things were fine, with the croquettes frying up nicely. I used a relatively fine-grained corn meal, as that’s what was around, and it worked out fine.

My favourite part was making chimichurri to accompany the croquettes. This was the one flavouring (other than salt) that could be found in Argentine restaurants and I enjoyed it, though I think it went better with these croquettes than a lot of things they had it with. I put in an excessive amount of garlic (FIVE cloves), which no one at the table minded, though it was good we didn’t have to go out that night. It’s a great sauce, though.

The bok choy was merely OK, in my opinion. I cooked it according to instructions, but I found the stems to be a little too soft for my liking – I had been hoping for a bit more crunch to remain. Maybe that’s not desirable with bok choy? I’m not sure. The others enjoyed it, though, and it was gone at the end of dinner. It’s hard to argue with that.

Overall, a decent meal of disparate parts. It definitely green enough to fit my needs this evening.

dinner is served

Quick-cooked Bok Choy

1 head bok choy, about 1.5 lbs
3 T peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems as necessary, then cut them into roughly 1-inch pieces; rinse everything well. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just lose their crunch, about 3 minutes. Add the greens and about 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the stems become very tender, about 10 minutes more; add a little more water if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Bean Croquettes

2 c cooked or canned white or other beans, drained by with a few tablespoons of bean-cooking liquid reserved
1/2 c minced onion
1/4 c minced parsley leaves
1 egg, slightly beaten
Salt & freshly ground pepper
About 1/2 c coarse cornmeal or bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1. If you want to serve the croquettes hot, preheat the oven to 200*F. Mash the beans by putting them through a food mill or into a blender or food processor. Use a little bean-cooking liquid (or other liquid, such as water or stock) if the beans are too dry to mash. Do not puree; you want a few bean chunks in this mixture.

2. Combine the beans with the onion, parsley, and egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cornmeal or bread crumbs by the tablespoon until you’ve made a batter that is barely stiff enough to handle. You should be able to shape it with your hands without its sticking, but it should be quite fragile or the cakes will be dry.

3. Cover the bottom of a large, deep skillet with about 1/8 inch of oil; turn the heat to medium. Shape the bean mixture into patties 2 to 3 inches across or into 1.5×3-inch longs and when the oil is hot, put them in the skillet. Don’t crowd them; you may have to work in batches.

4. Cook the croquettes until nicely browned on all sides, adjusting the heat so that they brown evenly without burning before turning, 7 or 8 minutes total. Keep warm in the over until ready to serve for up to 30 minutes, or serve at room temperature.

Chimichurri

2 c parsley leaves (thin stems are OK), rinsed and dried
salt
3 cloves garlic (more if you like it really garlicky)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil, or more
3 T vinegar
at least 1 T hot red pepper flakes

1. Combine the parsley with a pinch of salt, the garlic, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually.

2. Add the vinegar, then a little more oil or some water if you prefer a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve. Do not refrigerate, but will stay fine on the counter for a few days.

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rhymes with orange

The other night we cracked one of our wedding presents and started experimenting. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, along with the original (non-vegetarian) book, is an excellent resource that I think will turn into a regular go-to book for us.

Looking at what we had in the fridge and thinking about what we felt like, we decided on two dishes involving orange – Black Beans with Orange Juice and Chard with Oranges and Shallots. Unfortunately, they didn’t complement each other all that well – the chard, with its sweet taste and strong flavour, totally overshadowed the subtle, earthy bean dish. The chard was the better-received of the night, with it’s almost-candied bits of orange, colourful presentation, and strong, sweet flavour. The beans were good – I think everyone had seconds – but next to the screaming orange of the chard, they seemed like regular beans. They’d do much better against something plainer, I think. Aw well, that’s what family dinners are for – experimentation. Recipes follow.

Black Beans with Orange Juice

3 c cooked or canned beans (2 15 oz cans) with about 1 cup of their cooking liquid
1.5 tsp ground cumin
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 orange, well washed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, preferably red or yellow, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 c dry red wine
chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish

Put the beans in a pot over medium heat (with liquid); add the cumin and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Halve the orange. Peel one half and add the skin to the beans, then divide the sections and set aside. Squeeze the juice out of the other half and set aside.

Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper softens, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add to the beans.

Turn the heat to high and add the red wine to the skillet. Cook until the win is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add to the beans along with the reserved orange juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice, garnish with the reserved orange sections and some cilantro, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

chard with orange pieces

Chard with Oranges and Shallots

1 lb white, red, or rainbow chard, washed and trimmed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp sugar
1 small unpeeled orange or tangerine, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems (on the diagonal in you like); keep the leaves and the stems separate.

Put the oil in a large skillet with a lid (I ended up using a small stock pot) over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and sugar and cook for a minute, then stir in the orange or tangerine bits and lower the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is caramelized, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.

Return the heat to medium and stir in the chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften a bit, just a couple of minutes. Add the chard ribbons, cover, and turn off the heat (I had to cook them for a minute or two). Let the chard steam for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir and re-cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper and serve immediately, or within an hour or two at room temp.

Other vegetables you can use: any chard, bok choy, kale, or any cabbage. For the citrus, use kumquats (quartered) if they are available.

lentil walnut burgers

We were feeling a hankering for burgers and came across this recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. It’s not bad in terms of time, but I found even with the small amount of salt, they turned out a bit salty. I’m not quite sure how that happened, as everything is from scratch, but I’m listing it with half the salt in the recipe.

And the burgers? The lentil base is OK, though I’ve had better veggie burgers. That said, I would make them again – they’re really healthy, nice and moist, and the walnuts add a great bit of texture.

Part 1

3/4 c dry lentils
1.5 c water
2 tsp cider

Bring lentils and water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer, party-covered, for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft and liquid is gone. Place in large-ish bowl. Add vinegar and mash.

Part 2

1 Tbsp butter
1 c finely-mined onion
1-2 cloves garlic crushed (I minced them)
10 large mushrooms, minced*
1/2 c finely-minced walnuts
1 small stalk minced celery
1/2 tsp salt
lots of fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp dry sherry

Sauté all of the above together over medium-low heat 10-15 minutes or until all is tender. Add to the mashed lentils and mix well. Add 1/2 cup raw wheat germ as well (I used toasted and it seemed fine).

Chill for about 1 hour before forming patties. Form 4-inch burgers and fry in butter until brown or broil about 8 minutes on each side (careful on the second side).

Uncooked burgers may be individually wrapped and frozen.

*I wasn’t sure what size large mushrooms were, so I ended up just using regular white mushrooms. They seemed to work fine.

vegetable stroganoff

Welcome back! I guess you should be saying that to me, after all the time I’ve been gone. I kind of left off when we hit Bulgaria – so much food! so little time! – and never got back to it. I’ll try to, once I’m settled – we ate some great food there.

I’m hoping to use this to keep track of and share some of the great recipes we hope to make part of our repetoire, be they from cookbooks or creations of the mind. We inherited a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook circa 1977 from Chris’s mom, with hand-drawn illustrations and hand-lettered recipes. I thought it was from a restaurant, as I’ve seen a few books by them, and it is – a vegetarian restaurant in Ithica, NY that is apparently quite well known.

As we haven’t been eating the best lately (Christmas, New Year, travel, birthdays), we decided to hunker down and make some good stuff from this book. And that leads us to today’s dinner, Vegetable Stroganoff. I loved Beef Stroganoff as a kid and was really looking forward to making and eating this tonight. Note: Just cause it has vegetables, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing in the word for you – 3 cups of sour cream does not a lean waistline make. Still, this recipe was really, really good and is staying in our good books.

Vegetable Stroganoff
makes 6 servings, takes about 1 hour to prepare

1. The sauce
3 c sour cream
1.5 c yogurt
3 Tbs dry, red wine
1 c chopped onion
1/2 lb chopped mushrooms
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dill weed
dash of tamari sauce (didn’t have any, we used regular soy sauce)
paprika
black pepper

2 Tbs butter

Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft. Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and heat gently about 30 minutes.

2. While the sauce simmers, steam 6 cups chopped, fresh vegetables. Highly recommended: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, peppers, cabbage, zucchini, cherry tomatoes. (I did the first five and it was quite good.)

3. Cook 4 cups raw egg noodles in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain and butter.

Assemble the Stroganoff on a platter and garnish with freshly-minced scallions.

Note: Be very generous with the black pepper. While eating it, I added a little more and it made it just right for me. Next time, I’d probably add a few grinds right before the sauce finished cooking, as that might help take the edge off for anyone who finds the fresh-ground pepper just a little too zippy. But I’ll still add more to mine.

This was VERY well-received tonight. No talking at all while eating – good sign.

fatta

Fatta is another cheap carb-load, though it can be paired up with meat as well for a slightly more well-balanced meal. It’s even simpler than koshari – rice and bread soaked in garlic vinegar, then layered like a sandwich and topped with fried garlic. Very plain, very filling. Christine said it was almost too vinegary for her, and we both enjoy vinegar quite a bit. But there you are: vinegar, rice, bread.

malaysia – banana leaf goodness

Our last meal in Malaysia was at a restaurant we had forgotten about when we first landed and nearly forgot about when we returned – the banana leaf restaurant. There are actually quite a few of this type of restaurant, but we have one that we visited a couple of times last time we went through and Christine visited on her first visit here around five years ago. As the name may imply, you are given a banana leaf as a plate and various vegetarian selections are spooned onto it. (You can also order meat dishes, but with such a good veggie selection, we went with the basic choice). There were poppadums with a dried, salty chili pepper, a couple of types of chutney, an eggplant dish, something with potatoes, something made with a kind of leaf (yeah, accurate, right?), some kind of soupy thing up in the corner that was pretty plain, and daal on the rice.

They were all pretty good, though I’m a sucker for eggplants. The best part about it, though, is eating with your hands. Only the right – I think you’ve heard what the left is traditionally used for (if not, it’s too dirty to use your left hand afterward, believe me). I quite enjoy eating with my hands, scooping up a bit of rice and taking some veggies with it for a satisfying mouthful. Christine loved it as well.

The only thing that could top this fantastic dinner was a yogurt lassi, so we ordered one. Two, actually – one during the meal, one after. They’re just so darn good. Sitting with a full belly and drinking a delicious mango lassi at the end of a hot day sits near the top of my highlight list of the trip, a trip filled with beaches and diving, so imagine how good it must be! I’d highly recommend this place to anyone visiting KL – Govinda’s Banana Leaf is the name, if I remember correctly. Go forth and eat like man was born to!

buddhist lunch box

The Buddhist lunch box place near our school probably takes the distinction of being the place where we’ve eaten the most meals in Taiwan. There are four main reasons for this: it’s cheap, it’s close to work, it’s healthy, and it’s quite delicious. Being a Buddhist restaurant, the last is perhaps the most surprising. Buddhists don’t use any animal products in their cooking, so that means no eggs, no milk, no cheese, and of course no meat. I’ve also been told they also avoid garlic and onions, which may be true, as this place doesn’t ever seem to have any in their cooking, though they aren’t afraid of chili peppers. However, the vegetables they have are well-prepared, crunchy (in a nation which tends to overcook anything coming out of the ground), and plentiful. Typical offerings include peppers, cauliflower, carrots, cooked celery, green beans, corn, broccoli, eggplant, pea pods, lotus root, many different types of green vegetable, bitter gourd, pumpkin, edamame beans, and fava beans. There is also a varied selection of tofu, our favourite being one that has the consistency of chicken, done in a variety of sauces.

The best part is that unlike other lunch box places which charge by the number of different items you take (meats cost more than veggies), everything is considered the same – your plate is just weighed at the end. Throw in the fact that a simple brothy soup and tea is included and you definitely have a winner. We ate here at least four times a week for over a year – they knew us quite well.

I don’t know the address, but they’re on Yishin 3rd Road (I think), across from a cake shop and a 7-11. I’ll try for a more real address soon.