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    Veggie Lasagna

    I’ve been asked several times to add more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire so I dug into the basement of my brain to see what I had produced in the past but for whatever reason never put them to print. I remembered this one that I used to prepare for the vegetarian counselors from my camp days. Most of the work is in the preparation, however, it is well worth your while.

    You will need:

    Eggplant — 2 LBS. approx. I used the Italian variety but the classic will do just fine.
    Zucchini — 2 LBS.
    Mushrooms — 2 LBS. Button work fine but crimini will give you a more earthy flavor.
    Red Bell Peppers — 1 LB.
    Green Bell Peppers — 1 LB.
    Onions — 1 LB. Use a sweet variety such as Walla Walla or Vidalia.
    Bechamel Sauce — 1 Quart. Here is an easy recipe to use.
    Italian Tomatoes — 2 32oz. cans diced or crushed. Try to use San Marzano.
    Ricotta Cheese — 1 LB.
    Eggs — 2 well beaten.
    Mozzarella Cheese — 2 large balls
    Lasagna Noodles — 1 LB package. You can use either the cook or no cook variety. If you use the cook version prepare according to directions on the package however you want them just under al denté.
    Basil — 2 TBSP dry or 4 TBSP fresh.
    Oregano — 2 TBSP dry or 4 TBSP fresh.
    Sea Salt/Cracked Pepper — 2 tspn each.
    Olive Oil 8 TBSP which equals 1/2 cup

    I usually don’t peel the eggplant for this recipe but that’s a personal choice, either way won’t affect the taste. Cut it into 1 inch pieces place in a collander over a bowl and salt liberally toss to coat set aside. Cut the zucchini into 1 inch pieces, set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees then place the bell peppers on a cookie sheet and roast until soft and partially blackened. When they are ready, remove from the oven, place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, set aside. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside. Dice the onions into 1/2 inch pieces place in a strainer and rinse well, set aside. Using the large holes on a grater grate the mozarella cheese, set aside.

    Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a sauté pan until shimmering. Place the eggplant into the pan and cook just until browned, put cooked eggplant into a large bowl. In the same pan add 1 more TBSP oil and sauté the zucchini until browned add to the bowl of eggplant. Add 1 more TBSP oil and sauté the mushrooms until browned add to the bowl. Add 1 more TBSP of oil and sauté the onions until opaque, don’t let them brown then add to bowl. Peel the skins off the roasted peppers chop into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl. Sprinkle one TBSP each basil and oregano and 1 tspn salt and pepper over the cooked vegetables and stir to combine, set aside. In another bowl place the ricotta cheese, egg and mozzarella cheese and stir until well combined.

    Lightly oil a lasagna pan then coat the bottom with crushed tomatoes, just enough to make it about 1/2 inch deep. Add a layer of lasagna noodles then spread enough Bechamel Sauce to cover, then add a layer of the mixed veggies then a layer of the cheese mixture. Add a layer of crushed tomatoes sprinkle with some of the basil and oregano. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients are used ending with the crushed tomatoes as the last layer. Cover the lasagna dish with foil place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes, checking occasionally to avoid burning. After you remove it from the oven let it cool for about 20 minutes before service.

    I usually have enough left over to cut into nice sized portions and freeze for another day. ENJOY!

    Gnocchi Marsala

    Sometimes things just pop into my head and sometimes something I’ve sampled brings a flood of ideas. This one is a combination of the two. At a demonstration one of the store managers cooked up a large dish of dumplings with mushroom sauce somewhat of a European entrée. I thought about making a similar item and came up with this offering.

    You will need:

    Gnocchi — 1 LB. — If you make your own that’s great however for those that either don’t have the time nor knack there are a few frozen varieties that can be purchased at most stores. If you can’t find frozen some manufacturers make a dried version.
    Mushrooms — 1 LB. — Use either button or crimini or a combination of the two.
    Marsala Wine — 1/4 cup (approx)
    Stock &#151 chicken, veal or vegetable depending on your personal taste, I wouldn’t use beef as it would overwhelm the mushroom/marsala taste.
    Heavy Cream — 1 cup (approx.) — if you want a lighter sauce you can use half and half or milk.
    Shallots — 1 TBSP finely diced.
    Butter/Olive Oil — 1 TBSP each

    Depending on which gnocchi you use timing here is flexible. You want the gnocchi to be ready just as you are about to finish the sauce which will take about 15 minutes or less to prepare.

    Clean the mushrooms of any excessive dirt and cut into pieces that are about the same size as the gnocchi. In a saucepan large enough to hold all of the mushrooms heat the oil and butter over medium/low heat, add the diced shallots and cook just until they turn a little translucent, don’t overcook them. At the mushroom pieces and cook until they give off most of their liquid, add the marsala wine and cook just long enough to burn off the alcohol. You want the sauce to be a little liquid so if it gets a little too dry add some of the stock. Turn off the heat and add the cream/milk stir to combine then add the cooked gnocchi. Enjoy!

    Pea/Cheddar Salad

    Summer will soon be upon us and you know what that means, barbeques and picnics. Here is a quick salad that I’m sure you and your friends will enjoy all season long.

    You will need:

    Baby Sweet Peas — 1 LB – frozen is good make sure they are baby which are smaller in size but also tend to be sweeter.
    Sweet Onion — Half of a medium size (about ½ cup) use Walla Walla, Vidalia or other sweet variety – fine dice.
    Celery — two or three ribs (about &#189 cup) fine dice.
    Cheddar Cheese — finely grated to equal the volume of the peas, approximately 1 cup
    Sour Cream — ½ cup
    Mayonaise — ½ cup
    Apple Cider Vinegar — two TBSP – you can add more or use less depending one your taste for the rich tart flavor of a good apple cider vinegar.
    Sea Salt/Pepper — to taste.
    Bacon — thick cut, cooked then finely diced, can be left out if you want a vegetarian version.

    In a bowl large enough to hold ingredients mix mayonaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper whisk to combine, taste and adjust as needed. The final product should be loose enough to pour over the peas if it is too thick just add a little water to adjust. In another bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients combine peas, celery and onion stir to combine. Pour the sour cream/mayo/vinegar mixture over the peas combination and stir to combine. Taste once more and adjust salt/pepper if needed then add bacon bits and stir once more. Enjoy!

    Chickpeas(Garbanzo Beans) & Onions

    Over the holiday I had a conversation with my son-in-law about some of the foods my mom, may she rest in peace, prepared for our Christmas Eve dinner. If I’m not mistaken it consisted of 13 courses, all meatless and each served individually in a specific order. Some are simple with one or two steps some not so easy. I’ll try to recreate most if not all of them here so come back often to check them out.

    You will need:

    Chickpeas — 1 16 oz can
    Onion — 1 large Walla Walla or Vidalia – diced
    Butter — 1 stick – unsalted
    Sea Salt or Kosher Salt — to taste
    Pepper — fresh ground to taste.

    In a sauce pot large enough to hold both ingredients slowly melt the butter over medium low heat (do not let the butter brown), when it is completely melted and the onion and boil until the onion is completely softened. Meanwhile in another sauce pot add the entire can of chickpeas, liquid included, and bring up to heat. Once the onion/butter mixture is ready drain the chickpeas and add to the butter stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine and serve.

    Quick and easy. Enjoy!

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