Tag Archives: easy prep vegetarian foods

Garlic Confit

Garlic Confit

There is nothing finer or more mellow tasting than roasted garlic. And it’s so easy, why not try it?

Ingredients:
3-4 heads of fresh garlic, cut in half through the center, not stem to end
Extra virgin olive oil
A good-sized bunch of fresh thyme (lemon thyme is delicious)
About 20 whole black peppercorns

To prepare:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, In a glass baking dish set the garlic cut side down. Cover about halfway with olive oil and drop in the herbs and peppercorns. Cover the dish with foil and set in the oven to bake. The garlic takes about an hour and should look nicely caramelized. The garlic will slide out of the peel smoothly. Be sure to strain and save the oil, which will be full of infused garlic flavor. Use this garlic as a spread, as an addition in dressings, or as a garlic complement to any dish.

Cilantro Mint Pesto

Cilantro Mint Pesto

Another recipe from my buddy, Cathi Dicocco, this Cilantro Mint Pesto is light and delicious, with a little hint of heat from the jalapeño and brightness from the fresh lemon. There is no need to add oil, however you may if you wish. I love this as a light summer pasta dish.

2 c. fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
1 c. fresh mint (leaves and smaller stems, remove large or hard stems)
1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped (remove seeds if you don’t want too much heat)
Juice of two lemons
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in your food processor and process the pesto until smooth. Use for pasta or as an addition to salsas, dressings, or in any dish where you want to add a nice pop of flavor.

Texture Tips

Texture Tips

One of the most important elements people seek in food, especially vegetarian food is texture. From the moment we begin eating solid food, texture plays an extremely important role in our diets and our palates. Taste is equally important, but how food “feels” remains an issue for many. Consequently, tofu, beans, and other vegetables are given a bad rap while fried and processed foods are touted everywhere.

One of our goals is to show our viewers how easy it really is to change and increase the texture and palatability of soy and vegetable-based dishes. Simple adjustments like choosing whole grain breads versus soft white, adding nuts and whole grains to vegetables, and roasting foods instead of boiling can make a huge difference not only nutritionally but in our mindset. Old habits die hard and diet is no exception. In fact, diet is one of the most difficult things of all to change because our choices are so often steeped in family tradition.

If you want to add texture to your diet, nuts are a wonderful and easy way to begin. Adding toasted nuts to pasta sauces, cereals, desserts, and vegetable dishes not only adds terrific texture but necessary vitamins and protein as well. Another way to get more texture into your food is the use of whole grains. Millet, buckwheat groats, and quinoa are easy to prepare, delicious, chewy and nutritious ways of getting your grains and boosting the texture of just about anything you add them to. These wonderful grains can be eaten at just about any meal, added to baked goods, soups, muffins, meatless burgers, combined with rice, or simply eaten on their own as side dishes. Lately, I’ve been using kasha frequently in my recipes. It cooks quickly, in fifteen minutes or so, has a wonderful nutty taste, supplies more than 20% of your daily fiber, is loaded with B vitamins, protein, and amino acids. I usually make a double batch and use leftovers during the week. Having it ready to go increases the likelihood that you’ll use it. Stored in the refrigerator, cooked grains should last up to seven days. So when you make your resolutions to eat healthier be sure to put nuts and whole grains on top of your list. It’s so easy you’ll wonder why you waited all year.

Pesto Unlimited

Pesto Unlimited

Pesto brings to mind large handfuls of fresh basil, olive oil, and nuts and, while this is the most common way people think of it, lots of other vegetables and leafy herbs can be turned into a pesto, which simply means “paste.”

Last night I made a broccoli pesto, but I have also made pesto from asparagus tips, leeks, artichokes, roasted peppers, or even spinach. What follows isn’t an actual recipe, it’s more of a “method” it’s dead easy.

Take about a quarter to a half pound roughly chopped steamed broccoli tops and place them into your food processor bowl. Add two ot three cloves of fresh garlic and some salt. Pulse the broccoli-garlic mixture into a fine chop, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pine nuts or almonds and process the mixture into a paste. Drizzle in some oilve oil and continue to process until you have a nice smooth consistency. I usually add a bit of crushed red pepper, but it’s optional. Toss the broccoli pesto, as you would basil pesto, with your cooked pasta and serve it hot. This is also totally scrumptious spread on toasted Tuscan bread as a bruschetta.

Vegetarian Island Dining

For a vegetarian, one of the major challenges of vacationing is dining out, and of course where you go in your travels can make all the difference. Recently my journeys took me to Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean, south of Cuba. My prior experience of island dining was less than impressive. However, this experience was different. I found the local grocery stores stocked with non-meat alternatives and there are vegetarian choices on every dinner menu. There are also exclusively vegetarian places offering lots of salads and fresh produce.

Grand Cayman boasts an eclectic blend of excellent ethnic restaurants – from Thai, Indian, and Italian to authentic island fare, all beautifully prepared and presented. One dish I had that I really enjoyed because it was spicy, tasty, local, and different was Tofu Jerk on a bed a vegetables.

Jerk is a spice mixture usually used to prepare pork and chicken, so this was a nice surprise that allowed me to sample local cuisine. There really wasn’t much to it – the recipe relies on the famous Jerk spice or marinade which has, as its key ingredient, fiery hot peppers along with allspice and cane sugar.

Try my version different ways with either tofu, tempeh, or vegetables. It really is worth trying, especially if you like heat and spice. There are many authentic jerk seasonings (available even at your local grocery store) and each is unique. Here is what I had and am passing on to you:

Jerk Tofu

Ingredients:

1 lb. pressed tofu slices, cubed or cut into strips (or tempeh)
2 T. vegetable oil
1-2 t. Jerk marinade

Carefully toss tofu with jerk spice and oil. Let the tofu marinate for at least an hour, or overnight for more intensity. After the flavor is infused, grill over high heat in a grill pan, or any heavy cast iron skillet.

Grilling implies that the pan is fairly dry but brushed with a little oil – since neither tofu or tempeh contain much fat, it requires a little help. You also have the option of grilling the tofu outside, just brush the slabs with oil and marinade mixture and grill slowly, until the tofu is a rich golden brown.

Serve this spicy boost of protein on a bed of julienne stir-fried yellow summer squash and carrots. Make sure your squash and carrots are still firm yet tender. Lightly fried plantain on the side is a great idea, as it adds a sweet, savory flavor to the menu.

I might prepare this on a future program, but for now it is a exclusive sneak peek. Enjoy it with your favorite Island cocktail.