Archive for the ‘ Main Course ’ Category

Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes

Yesterday was a much needed day off, fortunately tomorrow is too.  As for today, I’ll be working 8:30-7 pm.  I’m still trying to decide if I should bring dinner to work and eat early or pick up something on my way home and eat late.  I don’t like eating late but I also don’t like the idea of essentially bringing 3 meals to work.  Ah, decisions!

Fortunately I made a really great dinner last night.   The leftovers will take care of my work day lunch.   Yesterday I stopped at a local farm stand and bought some really nice beefsteak tomatoes.  I then made a rice, vegetable and cheese mixture to stuff them and cooked them outside on the grill.  I love it when people think vegetarians can’t barbeque!  I roasted both the peppers that went into the stuffing and the tomatoes so the finished product had that great smoky flavor of being cooked over a flame.

The prep time took a little longer than usual for me but I had several things going on at once and nothing was too difficult.  While the rice was cooking I had the peppers on the grill roasting.  While the rice cooled a little I was peeling and chopping the roasted peppers.  If you really want to skip a step you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers but they’re just not as good as doing it yourself.  The rest of the prep time went pretty quickly.  My recipe also ended up with about double the rice mixture needed but I like that.  The rice and veggies alone can be a great side dish for another meal.

My one mistake was trying to put them directly on the grill.  It wasn’t a total mistake or disaster, it just made taking them off the grill that much harder.  The fact that I tried to use a thicker bamboo spatula instead of a slim stainless steel one also didn’t help.  It made the job sloppy, hence my less than glamorous photo above.  Looks can be deceiving.  They were delicious, just a little off kilter.  Also, I’d like to say the one topless tomato was intentional to show you both the pretty topped ones and the stuffing itself.  That would be a lie.  When lifting that one off the grill the top slid off and fell between the grates.  I would suggest either being more careful when removing or grilling on a piece of foil for easier removal.

Ingredients

4-8 large beefsteak tomatoes (depending on size)

2 cups cooked rice (I used white)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large peppers or 8 smaller sweet peppers (or just used the jarred roasted peppers)

2 ears of corn on the cobb grilled  or frozen corn kernels (I used leftovers from 2 days ago)

6 oz fresh mozzarella diced (or vegan version)

4 oz veg parmesan cheese

4 scallions chopped

1 clove garlic finely minced

salt, pepper Italian seasoning to taste

Directions

Turn grill on medium high and place peppers directly on it, roast and turn until blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes pe side, remove from heat and allow to cool until you can handle them, then remove the blackened skin from each pepper, slice in half and remove seeds and top, then give them a rough chop

While the peppers are roasting, grill the corn as well.  I simply spread some olive oil on small pieces of foil, salt and pepper and wrap each corn individually, cook the same way as the peppers turning frequently, once cooled cut kernels from the cobb

Slice the top of each tomato off and a tiny bit of the bottom if needed to make them stand properly, gently take a knife or spoon to remove the inside pulp and seeds, turn upside down on a dish towel for at least 10 minutes to drain liquids

Take rice and drizzle with olive oil, add corn, chopped peppers, scallions, garlic and seasoning, add the diced cheese and mix well, spoon mixture into the cavity of each tomato pushing down so well filled, top each tomato if desired and place either directly on grill or on foil on the grill, roast for about 15 minutes until the tomato gets the rich slightly wrinkled look of a well roasted tomato.  Enjoy!

Have a peaceful day! Lin

Advertisements

Italian Tofu Scramble

I had been thinking about making a tofu scramble for a long time.  Yesterday I realized I had a 1/2 block of tofu that’s been sitting in my fridge for a couple of days.  It was definitely time to do something with it.  Tofu scramble for breakfast seemed to be just the thing.

Quite honestly I looked at a few recipes online and then just made up my own version since it all looks pretty simple.  My goal was to eat a nutritious filling breakfast before heading out on some errands.

My little one Rocki is in need of a haircut/grooming which she does not consider a treat.  For the record I like her much better with her long raggedy hair, but she must be hot!  The pics below are her before and after shots. While that was being done I wentt to Home Goods hoping to purchase a larger sized Eco Pan.  I bought a small one recently and really love it.  The non stick surface is made from ceramic I believe and isn’t considered toxic.  That, the library and several more stops, I never run out of errands!

Rocki before

Rocki after

This recipe took about 5 minutes to prepare the ingredients and under 10 minutes to cook.  If I was eating gluten this would be delicious in a wrap.  I’m pretty sure even  my husband would eat it, although I saved the 2nd portion for tomorrow instead of offering it to him.  Also, it’s both vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients

1/2 block of firm or extra firm tofu drained and crumbled

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup each chopped pepper and sun-dried tomato

A few sprigs of fresh basil

1+ cup fresh spinach leaves

1 clove chopped garlic (optional)

1 tablespoon tomato sauce (I used jarred)

Salt, pepper and italian seasoning to taste

Directions

Add olive oil to coat a pan and turn on medium heat, add tofu and onion and saute until lightly browned which is a few minutes, and tomato sauce stir a minute then add pepper, tomato, basil  and seasoning, cook for a couple more minutes, when all looks done add the spinach and give a few turns until wilted, serve immediately

Have a peaceful day, Lin

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Have you ever tried finding a recipe for a decent vegetarian pad thai? The results are dismal at best.  Several recipes call for the traditional fish sauce.  Fish is not a vegetable, it is not vegetarian, nor is their sauce.  I saw a recipe that was considered veg but had shrimp in it.  There we go again.  Another recipe called for 1.5 cups of peanut butter!  I don’t think I use that much when making cold sesame noodles and peanut butter is the main ingredient for that!  Another called for the juice of several limes and got great reviews.  I tried a similar version awhile ago thinking it odd but figuring my family enjoys lime so how bad could it be?  We all dumped our plates down the disposal and ordered pizza that night.

With all that failure I pretty much gave up on pad thai but recently found myself really craving it.  I googled it and reviewed several recipes and as always came up with my own version.  This one had quite a bit of heat and good overall flavor.  It is certainly the first recipe I’ve made that I would share with anyone.  My one mistake I knew in advance.  I couldn’t get the appropriate rice noodles for pad thai and used rice spaghetti instead.  I haven’t cooked that particular pasta in a while and realized too late that it tends to be either too chewy or overcooked with no happy medium.  The right pasta does make all the difference.

I cooked the pasta in advance, made a bowl of wet ingredients and a bowl of chopped ingredients.  This way I was able to have everything at hand and toss them into the pan quickly as needed.  Once again I messed up my attempts at being gluten-free.  I used gf tamari instead of soy sauce but the hoisin sauce contains wheat products.  Oh well, I do the best I can.   My version was vegan but feel free to scramble an egg or 2 and cook it in the pan flat like a pancake.    Once removed from heat slice the egg and add it to the finished recipe.  For my husband I grilled a piece of tilapia in an Asian sauce.

Don’t let the amount of ingredients scare you away.  This was pretty simple to cook and took no time at all.  I bought sliced mushrooms and julienned carrots to make it go quickly.  This recipe is pretty true to how I cooked it and found the heat level to be just right for me.  My only descriptive is to say that it was the hot enough to affect my sinuses and almost gave me a runny nose but not quite.  Please adjust the heat to your personal taste.

Ingredients

8 oz thin flat rice pasta often called pad thai pasta

1 vegetable bouillon in 1/2 cup hot water

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

up to 1/3 cup peanut oil

1 block extra firm tofu cubed and blotted to remove water

8 oz sliced mushrooms

4 scallions sliced, greens separated from whites

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup julienned pepper jalapeno for more heat (I used small sweet peppers, it’s what I had)

2-3 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Directions

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and put aside,

Mix all wet ingredients  except peanut oil in a bowl adding the brown sugar

Place peanuts and scallion greens in a bowl and set aside for garnish

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil and add tofu and vegetables except garlic and scallion whites, saute for several minutes letting the tofu start to brown a little but don’t over cook the veggies, when they look almost done add garlic and scallion whites, saute another minute

Add the wet ingredients and then the pasta, mix until everything is well coated, top with peanuts and scallion greens.

Have a peacful day, Lin

Vegetarilin on Facebook

Fried Plantains with Cilantro Pesto

Did you know that cilantro has some really great health benefits?  I didn’t know just how healthy it is until this morning.  It is rich in phytonutrients and flavonoids.  It’s also very high in vitamin A and lutein.  Cilantro has some excellent health benefits which include:

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis
  • Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
  • Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (good), and reduces LDL cholesterol (bad)
  • Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation & reduces cramping
  • Adds fiber to the digestive tract
  • Helps promote healthy liver function
  • Disinfects and helps detoxify the body
  • Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar

The other day I watched Food Networks $10 Dinners where host Melissa D’Arabian.  She made a Quinoa Lentil salad and Cilantro Pesto Shrimp.  As soon as I see a protein like shrimp I think it will be easy to substitute with some grilled or baked tofu and turn it into a veg meal.  Since I had tofu with black bean sauce at a local restaurant Sunday night I decided to switch it up and try this with some fried plantains instead.

I’ve been meaning to cook with plantains and this gave me a great opportunity to do so.  Both plantains and cilantro and well known ingredients in Latin cooking so I was sure they’d compliment each other very well.  For my husband I grilled a few shrimp so he had a version closer to the original recipe.

Melissa D.’s Lentil Quinoa salad looks very similar to my Summer Quinoa Salad so I made an adaptation of that and added some lentils to the original recipe.  This complimented the plantains very well and was a super healthy protein rich dinner.  It is also vegan and gluten free! This can easily double as an appetizer and will  be a delicious meal to pack up and take to work for lunch today.

Ingredients for Fried Plantains

2 ripe plantains cut into 1″ rounds

Oil for frying

Salt, Pepper

Bowl of cold water with several ice cubes

Directions

Heat oil in a skillet and fry plantain rounds for 2-3 minutes per side, remove from the pan and flatten each round with a glass or wooden spatula, place then in the icy water for 1 minute, towel dry to remove excess water and then return to the pan and fry for 1 more minute on each side, remove from heat and season

Cilantro Pesto Ingredients

1 large bunch of cilantro rinsed, dried, with stems removed

1/3- 1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 white onion

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves

juice from 1/2- 1 whole lime

1/4- 1/2 cup oil, I used a mix of olive and canola

salt, pepper

Directions

Place nuts in food processor and chop, add in all other ingredients including 1/2 the oil and pulse, scrape down the bowl  as needed, and add the rest of the oil until desired consistency

Inspirations for this post:

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/cilantro.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/ten-dollar-dinners-with-melissa-darabian/shrimpy-spending/index.html

Have a peaceful day, Lin

Grape Salad

Grape salad is a favorite menu item at our local Greek restaurant Acropolis.  Often my husband and I will go there and share an order of their very filling stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and then I’ll have a grape salad as my main course.

Today my mom brought her dog Mitzi over for a swim in the pool and my rendition of grape salad seemed like the perfect lunch to serve.  Just remember, grapes are bad for dogs so this salad is not for them!  While Mitzi swam and boated, my Casey and Rocki spent most of the time sitting out of the sun or hiding under the table as they do not care for the water at all.

Rocki hiding under the table, away from the pool

Casey running from the very scary pool!

The salad is really a simple spinach salad with some toppings that all work well together.  I haven’t made this recipe before because I was spending too much time trying to figure out what is in the restaurant’s dressing.  I’m still not sure but this Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette was very complimentary to the basic recipe.  This is a very rough recipe because I’m really not good at measuring salad stuff.  Use what looks good to you.

Ingredients

A few handfuls of organic spinach leaves

1- 1.5 cups red grapes (green would do but won’t look as pretty)

Gorgonzola or feta cheese sprinkled on top

1 red pepper or a few baby peppers julienned

1 small red or vidalia onion sliced thin

1/2 cup chopped walnuts lightly toasted

Celery either chopped or left in strips for dipping

Salt, Pepper and some Italian seasoning to taste

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette for dressing

Directions

Either toast walnuts on a baking dish at 350 for 10 minutes, or toss in a frying pan with v very little oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes turning every minute.  Just be careful they burn quickly

Wash all produce, layer in a bowl starting with spinach, add pepper, onion, grapes, cheese, and top with walnuts, season lightly and add dressing

Have a peaceful day, Lin

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

When speaking to my son yesterday he mentioned that he is enjoying cooking at the various hostels he’s been staying in while travelling through Europe.  I’m not surprised since he earned the funds for this trip by working in a pizzeria.  He’s actually a very good cook but we rarely get to taste his food at home.

Most recently he cooked a grilled eggplant parmesan which of course got me in the mood for it.  I love eggpant parm but am fussy about it.  I don’t like when it’s greasy or heavily breaded.  When I asked him  for the recipe, it almost sounded too effortless to be called a recipe.  I simplified his version even more by using sliced farm fresh tomato’s instead of a tomato sauce. I also have plenty of fresh basil from my garden which I used.

This recipe is gluten free and can easily be adapted to a vegan diet by simply using a vegan cheese.  This and a salad made a delicious main course for myself.  My husband enjoyed it with a chicken breast marinaded in Italian dressing and grilled.  I enjoyed mine with a side of quinoa pasta.  We use one side of the grill for meat only and the other for veggies.  I also have color coordinated cutting boards so that my veggie board never touches meat.


Ingredients

2 small to medium sized eggplant

2-4 large fresh tomato’s

1 lb fresh mozzarella (or vegan cheese)

1-2 cloves of garlic either halved or crushed

several sprigs of fresh basil whole pieces or julienned

Olive oil

Salt, pepper and italian seasoning to taste

Directions

Preheat the grill to a medium high heat

Slice the eggplant, tomato and cheese into 1/4″ slices, rub the garlic on 1 side of the eggplant slices, lightly brush a little olive oil on each side of eggplant and season each section

Grill each piece of eggplant until just starting to brown and turn to the other side, about 5 minutes per side

When eggplant is done, layer veggies in a greased baking pan or cookie sheet with the eggplant on the bottom, a slice of tomato, the fresh basil and top with a slice of cheese, season the top of each if you’d like,

You can either do this as individual sections on a baking sheet or layer them 2 deep in a shallow baking pan.  I lower the heat down to a medium low and place the pan right on the grill and cook up to 10 minutes when the cheese is nicely melted.

Spinach Pie

I’ve actually been making this recipe for spinach pie since I was a teen.  It comes from my friend Debbie and her mom.  I have no idea if her family still enjoys it but it’s definitely a favorite in my house.  My plan was to go the summer without making it because I try to keep the oven off as much as possible.  That and I figured I’d wait until my son gets home from his travels of Europe since it’s a favorite of his.  But I couldn’t wait that long.

This is not a recipe for quiche or spanakopita.  This recipe is a toss all ingredients into a bowl, mix together and toss it into a baking dish kind of recipe.  At this point I barely measure the ingredients and often switch them out.  I have used a variety of chopped vegetables and cheeses but the basic recipe is still my favorite.

I actually couldn’t find my hand written recipe book and worried that I would forget an ingredient.  I googled spinach pie and Bisquick and found so many recipes.  Many were similar but not the same.  The proportions of the ingredients didn’t sound right to me, as if it would be too dry.  A few had cottage cheese which just sounded awful to me but must taste good to someone.  I’m happy to say my recipe book was found but for my own sake I need to get this recipe online so I don’t lose it again.

This recipe goes into a 7″x 11″ pan nicely.  If you want to use a 9″ x 13″ pan use add another 1/2 recipe and it will be fine.  When I do that I often add chopped mushrooms or a box of frozen chopped broccoli instead of more spinach.  I also love shredded carrot in this but some of my family members disagree.  For the cheese I often add some feta and at times I’ve used different types of cheddar but the Italian cheeses are my favorite.

Ingredients

2 10 oz boxes of spinach thawed and drained of all water

8 oz mozzarella in either tiny cubes or shredded

1 cup Bisquick (I use the lower fat version)

1 chopped onion

4 eggs or 1 cup of egg substitute

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese

1/2 cup oil (I use canola)

Salt, pepper, parsley, and italian seasoning to your taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended, pour into a greased 7″x 11″ pan and bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes until it is well set and is just starting to brown at the edges.

This is a great on the go type of meal.  I often take the leftovers to work and pop it in the microwave for just a minute.  Enjoy!