Vegetarian

Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

August 2, 2014
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Are you knee deep in zucchini? If you have a garden, it’s that time of year. I learned a long time ago that unless I want to feed an army, buying a six pack of zucchini seedlings is a mistake and will result in friends and neighbors running the other way when they see you in the street with an armful of large green squash. Leaving said squash on doorsteps in the dead of night is another option of course, but may not endear you to your neighbors.

Still, every year we grow one plant and that’s more than enough for us to eat, and to share with family and friends. The growing season is early here; we planted in April and were harvesting the first zucchini in early June. It was so hot in July the plant almost gave up, but this week it seemed to regenerate, giving us …

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How To Make Vegetable Stock

June 17, 2014
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In previous posts we’ve talked about the basics of making any kind of homemade stock, learned how to make chicken stock and veal/beef stock and now it’s time to look at making a vegetable stock.

While vegetable stock may not have some of the “body” of a stock made with bones, it can still add significant flavor and is excellent for enhancing vegetarian dishes, soups, stews, curries and risottos. Use a light vegetable stock in the same way you would use a light chicken stock; for poaching vegetables, cooking a rice pilaf, or as an addition to a light sauce or light colored curry. Use a darker, roasted vegetable stock, for soups and vegetarian chilies and stews. Consider adding dried mushrooms to a vegetable stock to add color and enhance the flavor (mushrooms are a flavor enhancer because they contain glutamic acid, a naturally occurring version of MSG).

There …

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Kale Salad with Tangerines, Tiny Garlic Croutons, and Spicy Tahini Dressing

January 4, 2014
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There’s a lot of baggage associated with kale. We’re told it’s healthy and we’re told we should love it. Kale is trendy. Where I live, in southern California, yoga mat toting twenty-somethings extol the virtues of kale over nonfat soy chai lattes or kale laced smoothies so often it’s become a cliche or a SNL skit. The local evening news includes kale in their healthy eating segments at least once a month. So it’s normal to want to push back and ask for a triple shot caramel Frappuccino instead, because kale is so last year, right?

Not really. Kale is still right now, and last year, and even last century. There are Tuscan recipes going back to the 1700’s which use kale. Kale is here to stay and you may just find it’s something you’ll crave whether or not you are trying to eat healthy. Being good …

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Garlic Sesame Udon Noodles with Fried Tofu

October 28, 2013
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I never thought I’d like tofu. Really. There was a time in my life that I sneered at tofu as something only eaten by the tie-dyed birkenstock wearing wanna-be hippies in my university. We even had a student run food co-op on campus. So admittedly I was a little biased against tofu. I’m not sure what changed my mind. It might have been travel to places like China and Thailand and Japan. It might have been experimenting with eating vegan for 21 days (the tofu tacos are something I still eat, even though I chose not to remain vegan). Whatever it was, one day I realized, hey, this stuff is actually pretty good. When cooked right, properly seasoned, or fried with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, tofu can be a thing of beauty. Or at least an excellent vehicle for flavorful sauces and a good source of protein.…

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Roasted Vegetables with Pesto

March 21, 2013
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After my recent rant about pesto, I thought it only fair to share a new dish using home made pesto sauce. This recipe gets bonus point for being easy. It’s something you can throw in the oven to cook, then grill a piece of fish or chicken while it’s cooking and you have a meal in about half an hour.

These vegetables are something I’ve been making at least once a week for the past couple of months. To give credit where it is due, the dish was inspired by my mother, who offered up some vegetables out of her refrigerator before going out of town for a week. She suggested I roast the eggplant and tomatoes together with the mushrooms. I added a few other ingredients and served it during a weekend away with friends. Wouldn’t you know, it was a hit? The roasted mushrooms seemed to be …

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Early Spring Salad with Fennel, Watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

February 25, 2013
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In Southern California, fennel grows wild along the highway, a product of some long ago wayward seed blown by the wind or dropped by a bird. The frothy fronds with their wispy yellow flowers grow as tall as a tree alongside the stretch of coastline going through Camp Pendleton between Los Angeles and San Diego. I’ve often considered pulling over to see what they’d be like if I tried to dig one up, but I have yet to brave the highway traffic to do so.

Thought to have been brought to California by the Spanish hundreds of years ago, today wild fennel is considered by many to be an invasive plant. But never fear, if you’d like to grow it in your garden, you can buy non-invasive varieties. Easier still, just buy it in the market. While it’s available almost year round, the peak fennel season is autumn through early …

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