Friday, November 27, 2009

My Vegetarian Thanksgiving (Photos)

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

I decided earlier this week to make a vegetable pot pie and serve it with a simple tossed salad (approximately 2 parts olive oil to 1 part white vinegar for the dressing). I used this recipe for the main dish. For a light pie crust topping, I used sheets of filo dough. I had seen Ellie Krieger do the same during a recent episode of her Food Network show, "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger," in which she made chicken pot pie.

Vegetarian Pot Pie

Serves 4-6
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I used 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 small heads fennel (anise), core removed and finely chopped (I used 1 medium head)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (I used the entire onion)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (I used 3 carrots)
  • 12 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced (I used one 8-ounce package of pre-sliced mushrooms )
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced small (I used 2 small potatoes)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup mushroom broth
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
For the crust topping:
  • 3 sheets filo dough
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and fennel and saute until the onions soften, about 2-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and mushrooms and continue cooking for about another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir until the vegetables are coated with the flour. Add the milk and broth, bring to a simmer. Stir in the peas, chives and parsley, and continue cooking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the filling into an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish. Brush 3 individual sheets of filo dough with olive oil (one side only) and layer on top of the filling. Tuck the excess filo along the inside edges of the baking dish.

Sprinkle the top with grated parmesan cheese and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when the crust topping becomes golden brown. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

More photos of the pot pie:

The nice thing about this main course is that it's not heavy at all. This meant that I was able to enjoy dessert afterward - a generous slice of apple pie made by my partner's mother using Granny Smith apples!

And, of course, the post-meal nap:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

(More) Vegetarian Thanksgiving News

"My mother's pumpkin pie" via Maggie Hoffman

More vegetarian-themed Thanksgiving news articles:
  • "In lieu of turkey, Thanksgiving sparks vegetable-inspired creativity" via CNN
  • "What, No Turkey?!" via Epicurious
I've decided to do a vegetable pot pie, with a simple side salad, on Thursday. I was going back and forth this morning between that and Mark Bittman's tomato paella. I just returned from the grocery store (where turkey is priced at only $1.19 per pound, while apples are priced at $2.49 per pound) with all of the ingredients. Hopefully, I'll have some decent photos of the meal to show you on Friday.

Hope y'all have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ideas for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Meal

"Vegetarian Herb Stuffing (3)" from ccharmon

I thought these articles might be of interest to readers who are preparing Thanksgiving meals next week. The post from Chef in You was particularly good.
  • Thanksgiving 2009" via Chef In You
  • "What to feed your vegan guest on Thanksgiving" via Newsleader
  • "A Very Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Best Restaurant Feasts & Tips for Cooking at Home" via Digital City
  • "Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu" via River Wired
My partner and I are probably going to cook something Italian for Thanksgiving, which will be a gathering of four, including his mother and his aunt. I was thinking of a really nice lasagna. But after reading the articles above, I really like the idea of a vegetable pot pie.

What are you ideas for a vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Leftover cassoulet - thick and hearty!

Work has eased up somewhat, so I'm back to weekday cooking . . . sort of.

Recently, I restocked some pantry basics, such as pasta, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable broth, and canned diced tomatoes. I still need to get my butt over to the big Asian supermarket in Fairfax, Virginia, to pick up some Asian noodles, kombu (dried seaweed used to make vegan stock for soups), and rice.

I'm still arriving home from the office later than usual. What I've been doing lately is finding
recipes that I can prepare in mass quantities to avoid cooking everyday. The plan: cook one day; reheat the next. The chili recipe that I posted two weeks ago is a perfect example of this.

As good as that chili recipe was, I think this vegetarian cassoulet recipe that I found on Epicurious might be even better. A cassoulet is a French "peasant stew" typically made with meat and beans. It is a hearty dish that, like the chili, tastes better the next day when all the flavors have had time to meld.

I incorporated some of the suggestions that were made in the comments section on Epicurious, including the addition of a can of fire roasted tomatoes. I also doubled the ingredients listed below, which ended up being a mistake. I was only cooking for two, and I ended up with an insane amount. The recipe, as written, is more than sufficient for two people over the course of two meals.

Serves 4 to 6
  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 14-ounce cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 quart water (I used half vegetable broth and half water)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread Crumb Topping:
  • 4 cups fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other large heavy pot. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, herb sprigs, bay leave, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the beans, water (or broth), and canned tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until the carrots become tender (not mushy), about 30 minutes.

While the cassoulet simmers, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and begin preparing the bread crumb topping. Toss the first three ingredients together and spread on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on a middle rack and toast for 10-15 minutes, until the crumbs become crisp and golden. When the crumbs cool, stir in the parsley.

When the cassoulet is near done cooking, remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs and take a potato masher (or large spoon) and mash some of the beans directly in the pot to thicken the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the cassoulet into bowls, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, and serve.