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Tag: vegetarian (page 2 of 7)

Mid-East Mashup: Tabbouleh 2.0

Ah, organizational skills. If mine were slightly better, this is what I would have taken to the Pride bar-be-que I went to on Saturday. But no, not quite that together. Not that anyone complained, mind you, as I showed up instead with one of WhiskedDC‘s super tasty strawberry-rhubarb pies–which got snarfled up pretty much instantaneously. Good stuff. Also good, however, is this verdant, lemony tabbouleh-esque salad… particularly now that the summer has definitively arrived in D.C., crushing everyone under its hot, sweaty fist.

Although you’d not know it based on many of the tabboulehs  available in this country, it’s MEANT to be a green salad of parsley with a little bit of bulghur mixed in–not a tan salad of bulghur with a little bit of parsley mixed in. Of course, there are challenges to making a salad that’s mostly parsley. While I love its bright, grassy flavor, most of the parsley I can get my hands on is huge and tough. And, when tossed with its super lemony dressing, the parsley manages to go all wilty, yet remain tough. Tiresome.

Since I’m not about to start growing my own tender young parsley for salads–I’d need several more balconies–I thought about other greens that might also play well with the parsley I was committed to keeping for the sake of flavor (and tradition). Spinach? Nope. Too delicate. It’d just wilt down into snotty green hankies. Ech. But kale? That could work. It’s rugged enough to stand up to the dressing, but once cooked, isn’t as throat-ticklingly tough. And chic peas? Also not traditional, but a nice addition that adds some creamy heft and enhances the veggie-friendliness of your menu.

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Faster than Delivery: Spicy Mapo Dofu in a Hurry

Oh my lord. Some days you feel like a nut, some days you feel like tofu. Amirite? No? Well, fine, be that way. There are, however, days you want a quick and tasty dinner for the absolute minimum effort. For some, that means calling the pizza guy or rummaging around the depths of the freezer for a Marie Stouffer-Totino’s Lean Pocket Something Something. But that isn’t how we roll here at PassionFruit Enterprises, is it? Mais non!

Thus this slightly hacked riff on mapo dofu, one of my favorite Chinese dishes. The soft, yielding tofu gets a major flavor upgrade thanks to several somewhat surprising ingredients and the singular numbing zing of Sichuan peppercorns ties it all together. The latter can be kind of hard to come by–until recently they were banned from the U.S. over citrus canker fears–but there’s literally nothing else in the world that remotely tastes like it. By that reason alone, you should go get some.

The dish itself is super easy–procuring your pepper is probably the most complicated part–and it can be ready to eat by the time your rice is done. On a harried weeknight, what could be better? Most dishes benefit from freshly minced garlic, just-grated ginger, and other fiddly a la minute additions. Not so this… all that and more is already in the bottles chilling out on your refrignerator door. Just cube that tofu, mix up that sauce, and you’re ready to go. Let’s get to it…

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Side Dish Surgery: Rescuing Scalloped Potatoes

During a recent Easter dinner debrief my mother mentioned that the scalloped potatoes she and WonderTwin A had prepared ended up being somewhat lackluster. A very sad day, particularly since scalloped potatoes–with their carbs and their cream and their cheese–don’t grace the table very often. If you’re going to cook and eat a dish like that, you want it to be awesome–and worth all the work it takes to make and then burn off on the elliptical.

As we zero’d in on the case of the poorly performing potatoes, Mom said that they’d prepared them in the usual way: layering thinly sliced rounds of potato with grated cheese, and pouring over a seasoned mixture of milk and cream before baking it all off. And though they turned out better than the mashed turnips Wondertwin A decided to add 3 tbs of RAW minced garlic to, the potatoes were still in need of some additional attention.

Having prepared them this way in the past myself, I’ve found the method just leaves too much to chance. There are too many variables–moisture content of the potatoes and cheese, ACTUAL temperature of oven, surface area and thickness of the assembled dish–to control properly to ensure that the result isn’t dry, soupy, or undercooked.

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A Vegetarian, a Lactard, and a Celiac Walk into a Bar…

No, this is not a bad joke (well, it probably is, actually…). But, if you swap in “our house” for “a bar”, you’ve got the dinner party guest list I ended up with not so long ago. Of course I didn’t realize this until I’d happily confirmed everyone and sat myself down to come up with a menu. You may have heard me cursing. Loudly. Once I regained my composure only to lose it again upon finding out that yes, most soy sauce DOES have gluten in it, I finally managed to find my happy place with my go-to “oh my god, he/she/they can’t eat WHAT?” cuisine: Indian.

While I don’t cook it that often–I have friends who have devoted serious energy to the art of Indian cookery and I’m just as happy to eat it at their houses–I find that it really works well with the panoply of dietary restrictions today’s hostess-with-the-mostest is liable to face.

First off, it’s eaten family style (at least in the U.S….), so people can pick and choose from the dishes that work for their particular particularities of palate and I can still be sure that everyone has SOMETHING to eat. Secondly, Indian has, by definition, a plethora of vegetable and pulse-based dishes that are friendly to even the most rigid of vegans. Read more

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

Holy crap, it’s cold. I mean, for D.C. And dark. It’s dark, too. What better time then, to have some friends over and huddle around the stove stirring a delicious pot of risotto? Done and done. Since our guests were mostly veggie, I even made veggie stock from scratch. (Yes, that light you see is my halo glowing.)
Fortunately, the effort involved in risotto is quite a convivial one, and I don’t think anyone suffered for having to keep me company in the kitchen as the rice made its magical transformation into silky wonderfulness. You could go wild with the additions, of course, but having made several risottos in the past few weeks, I can say with confidence that a few judiciously chosen ingredients of quality is better than several. Here, woodsy mushrooms and bright, verdant asparagus and depth and perfume. A little lemon zest at the end could be nice too, but then I think a little lemon zest improves just about anything.
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Clean Eating for the New Year: UnRamen

The long-suffering Mr. T and I spent the last night of our week-long New England Christmas tour at the WonderTwins’ Wonderlair up in northern Vermont. While they were, as always, double wonderful, their place left me wondering how they’ve managed to avoid contracting some weird infection from the bathmat or getting scurvy since ramen and beer appeared to be the only things in their kitchen. And having that many litter boxes per square foot HAS to violate the Geneva Conventions. In short, it was gross. Sometimes I wonder if we’re really related. And then I see pictures of us in all in a row making the same expression with the same face and I think, “dammit, there’s no escaping THAT one.”

In ANY event, I was inspired to rustle up this tasty, slurpy, healthy bowl of noodles I’m calling UnRamen in “honor” of the Wonderlair’s rather lacking larder. To its credit, it doesn’t come in a styrofoam cup nor does it provide a badillion times your daily recommended amount of sodium. *ahem* While this is kind of Japanese-y, I’ve no doubt it’s totally inauthentic in execution and composition. Whatever. It was really good and took me from “oh crap I haven’t gone grocery shopping since last YEAR, what the hell-ass am I going to make for dinner” to the table in 15 minutes. And, even though it was cobbled together on the quick, it will be going into heavy rotation this winter–it’s that good.

This is one goes out to my Wondertwins (yes, I’m asking you to buy LIMA BEANS, deal with it); and to Sam, who wanted veggie things; and to Laura, who has probably given up all hope of non-sweets and stopped reading altogether.

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Taste of Late Fall: Pumpkin Pear Soup

Here’s another hit from my visit to the wilds of Pennsylvania.  I had something very much like this soup as a starter at Harvest, one of the Hotel Hershey’s restaurants. It was very good, and like most vegetable puree-type soups, I figured it had to be pretty easy… and it was. Hooray! It’s mild and sweet and earthy; one has to go for that sort of thing, though, particularly since adding more salt won’t make it less sweet, just icky. So, own the mellow sweetness and go to town.

The restaurant’s version was surprisingly creamy, so much so that I wondered what the hell dairy they’d snuck into it. But, to my surprise, my decidedly not “mit schlag” version was similarly voluptuous. Yay for squashy starches in addition to squashy sugars, then. Cool! (In a very NOT hot wings and line dancing sort of way…)

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Direct from the Sweetest Place on Earth: Salad!

I spent last week “on travel” in Middle-of-Nowhere, PA. To give you an idea of the depth of the country vibe, the Holiday Inn where we stayed at was packed–PACKED–for Thursday night’s double threat of line dancing and–eeeugh–hot wings. You can imagine how thrilled I was with this situation. Fortunately, the resort town of Hershey is only 20 minutes away from the Middle-of-Nowhere, PA–who knew? And, while I’m not a fan of Hershey’s chocolate (see the lovely Cybele at candyblog for THAT story), their restaurants weren’t half bad. Being an inveterate foodie AND a total snot, I pushed hard for the higher end of the dining spectrum and we were rewarded accordingly. Aside from one horrifically salty pizza, everything was really quite good.

I’ve cribbed this salad of thinly shaved apple, fennel and arugula from them, though I think I’ve improved on it by adding additional layers of apple-y goodness (as any good acolyte of Suzanne Goin would) to the dressing. Using both apple cider vinegar and boiled cider adds a really nice depth and dimensionality to the whole.  And even the leftovers remained crisply tasty (if not quite guest-ready).

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