Tagged vegetarian

Black Bean Salad


Another flexible recipe that will adjust to whatever you have on hand, but as always, the more colorful, the better-looking (for your eyes) and the better for your health. This one had:

1 cup dried black beans, which I brought to a boil with water to cover in a saucepan, over high heat, then turned off and left overnight, then cooked a bit more the next day to just the right tenderness, which takes 15 minutes or so — this will amount to about 2 1/2 cooked beans
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and roasted in 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or just until it has a touch of color (indicating a Maillard reaction has occurred — this brings out flavor)
1 cup frozen corn, toasted in a dry skillet until slightly colored
1 orange, peeled, cut into sections and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful cilantro, minced
1 red pepper, roasted in 400 degree oven ~20 minutes, then cooled, peeled under running water, and diced
the juice of 1 lime
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I do this to taste because of the kids)
1 avocado, chopped and immediately tossed with some juice from the lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


After you’ve got all that up there done, the rest is easy. Just toss, adjust seasonings, and enjoy.


Note: I try to use all organic ingredients whenever I can, so if you peruse the recipes here, there are many that will specify “organic this” and “organic that”. I’ve decided to stop doing that now since many people are more aware about the benefits and implications of opting for organic foods whenever and wherever possible. However, to make it easy for the reader who isn’t used yet to this kind of intentional shopping, here’s a handy guide that may help.

This is a graphic that appeared here but it seems they’ve taken the original down and I can’t find a new link. No copyright infringement intended.

Basic Hummus

With all the listeria hysteria last week caused by hummus, I thought I’d share a very basic recipe for making it at home. It really is that simple and it really is that good. Many of the store-bought hummus available in our area have additional things like red peppers (which my kids don’t like) or pine nuts (allergies in the family) or just not flavorful enough, and that’s what’s great about homemade — it’s customizable. I like my hummus garlicky and not too lemony, and that swirl of olive oil at the end plus the sprinkling of paprika makes this dish party-ready as well. This recipe is from a Lebanese co-worker of my hubby’s, who generously shared his recipe with me after I fell in love with it at his party, one of the very first we attended as a newlywed couple years ago. It’s been a favorite since.


1 1/2 cups dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
water for soaking
1 teaspoon baking soda
the juice of two small lemons + the zest of one
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 cup homemade or storebought tahini (sesame paste)
approximately 8 tablespoons water
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
paprika for sprinkling

Pick through and rinse chickpeas, then soak overnight in water to cover.

Drain chickpeas and transfer to a saucepan. Sprinkle with baking soda. Over high heat, cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, 20 minutes or so or until tender, skimming foam and chickpea skins as they come to the top every now and then.

When done, drain chickpeas and set aside a few for garnishing. Transfer to a high-speed blender or food processor. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt, and tahini. Process slowly at first, adding most of the water gradually and stopping every now and then to scrape down sides of blender or food processor. When everything is incorporated, process on high, adding just enough water to achieve the consistency of a dip. Taste for saltiness and adjust if needed.

Scoop/pour into a bowl. Swirl a spoon on the surface to create a spiral groove. Put reserved whole chickpeas in the center. Pour olive oil on top so that it pools nicely into the grooves. Sprinkle paprika in a cross pattern on top, and serve.

Almost anything can be served with hummus: pita chips, pita bread wedges, tortilla chips, various crudites, or (shhhhh) you can even just eat it with a spoon.

If you forgot to soak the chickpeas (which I’ve done often enough), pick through and rinse, then put in large saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook about 2 hours or until tender, baking soda optional.

Canned chickpeas (2 15-oz cans), drained, can also be used to make this recipe.

Hummus can be found all over the Middle East, but since I learned about this dish from a Lebanese friend, I especially like to serve it on July 24, St. Charbel Makhlouf’s feast day.

Green Beans with Coconut-Mustard Sauce


2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter, optional
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (I used a raspberry whole-grain mustard that I’m trying to finish up, hence the pinkness)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds green beans, trimmed

Bring pot of water to boil. When boiling, add green beans and cook 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and shock in bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.

While boiling water, toast mustard seeds in dry skillet over medium heat, about 30 minutes or until they start popping. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add onion, vinegar, water and coconut milk to skillet and bring to a boil. When boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter if using, mustard seeds, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss green beans with coconut-mustard sauce, adjusting seasoning if necessary.

Serves 8.

Broccoli “Cream” Soup


Really easy soup for the cooler weather. 🙂

1 large onion or 2 leeks, chopped
2-3 small bunches broccoli or one large
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, or extra-virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use the bone broth which is on 24/7 in the slow cooker)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional enrichment:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt if avoiding dairy)
juice of 1 lemon
handful chopped chives
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using leeks, soak in some cold water in a bowl, swish around several times to get rid of any dirt clinging to the leaves, let sit until the dirt settles to the bottom, then scoop out with your fingers or a slotted spoon.

Peel broccoli stem and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Break apart head into florets.

Heat butter/oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion/leeks, and stir until soft, ~3 minutes. Add broccoli, garlic, and broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender 10-15 minutes.

While broccoli is cooking, prepare Greek yogurt mixture in a small bowl by combining ingredients with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

When broccoli is tender, transfer to blender and puree until smooth, in batches if necessary. If using yogurt mixture, blend in half and reserve half for use at the table. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Serves 4.

Note: Any leftover yogurt mixture can be used as marinade for chicken breasts or pork chops, OR used as a sauce for grilled chicken breasts or pork chops. 🙂

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Fresh Figs

Was getting a bit tired of our usual veggie salads, and needed more vegetarian ideas, specifically those with more of a Mediterranean bent, so I got me Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. I cannot wait to try ALL the recipes. Okay, maybe 99%. I’m not a leg-o-lamb person. But hubby is, so maybe I’ll make that one for him. For now, I’m going page by page and just having fun discovering new flavor combinations. This one with the figs and sweet potato and reduced balsamic is excellent, though I wish I would have added some feta to up the salty element. (I don’t like goat’s cheese, which is in the original recipe. But maybe next time I make this I’ll add some just for the hubs, since he can eat that.)


3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (I cut each in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters, then each quarter into 3 pieces, lengthwise)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the above in a large mixing bowl, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast about 20 minutes until tender and browned in places.


While sweet potatoes are roasting, reduce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (doesn’t have to be fancy)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (superfine if you have it, but regular will do, what’s important is it gets dissolved well before you heat it up)

in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer a few minutes until thickened, but not too thick as to be unpourable or undrizzleable. 🙂

Also, prepare

2 tablespoons olive oil
large bunch green onions, trimmed, cut into 2-inch thickish shreds
1 red hottish pepper, sliced thin
6 ripe figs, wiped or rinsed clean, quartered (if large) or halved (if small)
Maldon sea salt (or other coarse salt) and additional black pepper for seasoning

Heat olive oil in a saucepan or skillet. Add green onions and red pepper and cook over medium heat, for a few minutes or just until wilted and fragrant.

When sweet potatoes are done, arrange in a platter, along with the figs. Scatter the green onion-red pepper mixture all around, including the oil, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt and black pepper on top to finish and you’re done! Enjoy!


Can be prepared for St. Albert of Jerusalem‘s Feast on September 25, though fresh figs may be tricky to find at that time. I wouldn’t hesitate to sub dried Calimyrna figs, which is available year-round, either stewed in a bit of wine, or soaked in the balsamic vinegar prior to use in the recipe, or used as is but chopped.

Summer’s End Vegetable Soup

This is a lovely soup to have on hand those beginning autumn days when the air starts getting chilly, but you still have an abundance of veggies from the summer harvest. Of course, you can always change up the vegetables all through the year and use whatever’s in season.


1 pound cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight then simmered with a few sage leaves, or konbu, in water to cover, until tender — drained

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth (more if soup is too thick for you at the end)
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, or 2 bunches mature spinach, trimmed, washed thoroughly and chopped
1/2 head green cabbage
6 large tomatoes, chopped, or 2 15-oz or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted kind, but regular will do)
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A leftover cheese rind, if you have one (to make it creamier) — optional
Your favorite cheese, grated — I used Swiss Gruyere for this one, but Parmigiano or Pecorino will do just as well (optional for those avoiding dairy — I’d sub a small bowl of sea salt flakes like Maldon for serving, so people can help themselves)
More olive oil for serving, in a bowl with a spoon, or a pourer so people can help themselves

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are partly tender, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini pieces and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, bring down to simmer and cover 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard or kale, cabbage and tomatoes, and cover again. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. If soup looks too dry, add a bit more broth. When veggies are tender, add beans. Season with salt and pepper, and the cheese rind if using. Cook 15-30 more minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all veggies are tender and the entire mixture is creamy. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot!

Stovetop Ratatouille, with Roasted Eggplant


Ratatouille is just one of those dishes that make me happy-happy-happy. Besides having all my favorite veggies, it also has such a fun name to say: rat-a-too-ee. Doesn’t that word just make you smile? I try to make this often because I know my days of enjoying it are numbered. My mom, at not-quite-79, can’t really have nightshades anymore because they trigger gout. I suspect I will be the same by the time I get to her age. Here’s some helpful information on nightshades and nutrition.

But what’s even more fun about ratatouille, from a cook’s standpoint, is that you could almost never get it wrong. There are so many ways to prepare it — as a stew, as a casserole, sorta like a stir-fry will work too. Chop up your veggies a bit more finely and voila! You have Italian caponata. Replace the peppers with squash, add some okra and Filipino bagoong, some shrimp and some pork if you like, and you have Filipino pakbet.

This version uses roasted eggplant, which is an extra step, so you can omit it if you don’t have the time. My benchmark is Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook, but this comes a close second.

1 medium-large eggplant, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 -inch cubes and tossed with ~2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Several tablespoons more extra-virgin olive oil
1 large zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, cubed or sliced thin
1 bell pepper (you can use red or green — I like red — but sometimes I use both), cubed
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or if you like, several large cloves cut into slivers/thin slices
3 large tomatoes, cubed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs thyme
a handful of basil, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while you prepare the eggplant. Spread eggplant cubes evenly on parchment-lined sheet and roast, turning a few times, 15-20 minutes or until just tender, while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Heat large skillet (I like using my cast-iron for this) over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and when hot but not smoking, add zucchini cubes. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then just until tender but not falling apart. Remove to bowl, leaving oil behind.

Add more oil if necessary, then cook onions, letting soften a bit, before adding the peppers. When peppers and onions are tender, add garlic, stir a few more minutes until garlic is golden, then add tomatoes, salt, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well and cover, cooking ~7 minutes or so. Add eggplant and zucchini and cook 12-15 minutes more, stirring halfway to meld flavors. Adjust seasonings and serve hot. Or not! Since ratatouille is just lovely at any temp — hot, room temp, or cold, making it ideal for picnics in the summertime.

Delicious over rice, if you’re gluten-free. Or with a crisp-crusted baguette, for dipping into the veggie juices. Mmmmm.

I like to eat a plateful of this (or more), topped with a fried egg. 🙂

Since ratatouille incorporates so many summer vegetables, it would make a great addition to the dinner or lunch table when celebrating some of our French saints’ summer feast days:

St. Eugene de Mazenod, May 21
St. Bobo, May 22
St. Maximinus of Aix, June 8

Mushrooms and Kale in Garlic


2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-inch gingerroot, peeled, minced (optional)
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin
3 cups baby kale
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or wheat-free tamari if you’re avoiding wheat, or several pinches salt if avoiding soy
pinch sugar (optional)
splash sake or mirin (optional)

As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe, but a very easy and healthy side dish one could prepare in minutes while the kids set the table.

Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add garlic, and ginger if using, and sauté for a minute or until fragrant and garlic is just beginning to color. Add in mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until juices have rendered. Add kale and soy sauce (or tamari or salt), sugar and sake or mirin if using. Continue cooking a couple minutes more until kale is just wilted but still a sprightly green. Serve immediately.

This would make a lovely vegetarian meal served over steamed brown rice.

The Mighty Broccoli

We’re about halfway through Lent and I thought it would be a great time to feature some meatless recipes here. I probably should dedicate this post to my youngest brother who hates broccoli >:) . Broccoli’s one of my favorite vegetables though, and I’ve just grown to like it even more through the years, for two reasons: 1) it’s good for you and 2) the kids actually love and eat it.


IMG_1247 Thai-Flavored Stir Fry

broccoli Roast Broccoli with Lemon and Parmigiano (scroll halfway down the page)

broccoliviet Spicy Broccoli Braise

chopsuey"Chop Suey, a Repost

Ground Meat Recipes – more of a tutorial on how to cook ground meat with different things, including broccoli

Broccoli with Pasta and a Spicy Almond Butter Sauce

Bagna Cauda Dip – to be served with vegetables for dipping

Thai-Flavored Stir Fry

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 Thai chilies or 1 Serrano chili, sliced thinly (deseed if you want less heat)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated gingerroot
1 12-oz package cremini mushrooms, or Baby Bellas, or 1 cup shiitakes, sliced thin (discard stems if using shiitake)
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and sliced thin or reserved for another use
2 large carrots, sliced thinly
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 14-oz can regular or light coconut milk
1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes (can also be deep-fried or pan-fried before adding to recipe)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
salt to taste
leaves from sprig of Thai basil, chopped
juice of half a lime

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Stir-fry 2 minutes. Add turmeric, mushrooms, broccoli and carrot. Stir-fry 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, coconut milk, tofu, water, and fish sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Adjust seasoning Add basil and lime juice. Stir one more time and serve. Yummy over brown rice.

I like this with some HEAT, however my kids don’t. When using the peppers I either add it to my dish, or have a small portion in another skillet to which I add it. Or, if you want some controlled heat, put the peppers in a tea bag and secure it to the side of the skillet. Take it out when the dish is as hot as you like it to be.

Lentil Soup with Kale

I know I’ve already got a Lentil Soup with Kale on here, but this one’s a bit different. More of a Middle Eastern take. It’s excellent as a fall soup, particularly when the leaves start falling and there’s a definite chill to the air. Serve over brown rice, or some homemade pita. Or not, since there are potatoes here. (Incidentally, since I last wrote about lentil soup, there’s been a welcome change. Paco, mentioned in that previous post, is now 14 — and LOVES bean and pulse soups. Can we say *progress*? )

2 cups Lentilles de Puy, or other lentil
1 large onion, chopped
10 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, water or a combination
salt to taste
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 lemon, sliced thin (thin-skinned are best but I only had the thick-skinned ones)
chopped green olives for topping

Pick through lentils carefully. Rinse and drain. Bring to a boil in a casserole with onions and stock. Cook over medium heat 30 minutes, discarding any scum that may rise to surface. Add salt and potatoes and cook 15 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and additional salt (if needed) plus black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more or until everything is cooked through.

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and spices and keep over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in garlic mixture to soup and simmer 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir again. Serve hot, garnished with the lemon slices and chopped green olives (which I reserve for myself as the kids are not big olive fans unless in some unrecognizable puree). They content themselves with a sprinkling of some sea salt if necessary. Another salty topping you can use to contrast with the tang of the lemon is — what else — crumbled feta. I used a saltier-than-usual sheep’s milk feta from Israel.

“Where’s the meat, Mom?”

Last year, I made a resolution that we would shoot for “optimum” in our diet…. meaning 7-9 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. And I was successful. Note the *I*. For a couple of weeks there I was able to get my servings of veggies and fruits. About half-way successful with the hubby. Not so with the kids. When I gave them the option, they always chose the meat and carbs, mostly ignoring the array of veggies and fruits on the table. (We still stick to the one-bite-of-each rule, so they did get *something*, just not a full serving.)

This week, I embarked on a self-designed program that I put into the calendar a few months ago, but never really followed, afraid it wouldn’t work. Day 2 was yesterday and it just might work this time. Mostly it requires a mental switch that I had to flip — the “I need to give the kids some meat!” switch.

Here’s how it works:

Our daily menu goes

beef-vegetarian-chicken-vegetarian-fish-vegetarian-pork-vegetarian… and so on. Which means we have beef, chicken, pork or fish only ONCE a week. Which cuts down on red meat intake drastically and not just for us but for the kids. Part of the difficulty before was that I knew hubby and I had to be more careful about our red meat intake, so I tried to limit *our* servings, but the kids always got their fill, *and* hubby’s notorious about eating little ones’ leftovers if any.

Now, on vegetarian days, I’ll serve NO MEAT OR FISH, not even leftovers. This is where I failed before. I would serve leftovers so that the kids would have *some* meat, but they would usually opt for mostly meat and hardly any veggies/fruits, even if it meant minuscule amounts for each of them and leaving the table hungry. Yesterday, they were forced to partake of whatever was on the table, and get their fill from that. So what was on the table?

  • 6-grain rice (from the Japanese grocery — contains several kinds of rice, 2 kinds of barley and 1 rye)
  • fresh blueberries
  • corn
  • green beans
  • edamame
  • glazed carrots, beautifully done by chef-to-be college student
  • broccoli sauteed in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes
  • eggs for those who wanted them
  • bread
  • grapes
  • strawberry-banana-pineapple-orange-green tea smoothie
  • eggplant in garlic sauce
  • Korean-style zucchini
  • apples, peaches, nectarines, bananas
  • a freshly made batch of my “Ultimate Kimchi” featuring napa cabbage, carrots, cucumber, apples, green onions, ginger, and garlic

All of these, except for the rice, were organic and/or local. And I resolved to not worry about whether they had their fill or not, I just made sure the food was there and that they ate *something*. No one complained about being hungry at bedtime, so it must have worked. Two kids asked, “Where’s the meat, Mom?” but I stood firm 🙂 . I’m already excited about tomorrow. It’s chicken/turkey day today (Papa’s adobo, turkey-black bean-chili plus roast chicken for the lunchboxes). Tomorrow I’ve got potatoes, mangoes, watermelon, avocado, and a whole bunch of other things at the ready. And wahoo! By tomorrow the oven will be fixed. That should give us more options.