Archive for the ‘vegetarian’ Category

At Market: How to Fry Squash Blossoms

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This past weekend, the husband and tot hit up the new Westover Farmers Market in Arlington. It was near the end of the market so I didn’t have high hopes for too many goodies, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought home a basket of squash blossoms and sour cherries. Edible flowers are always fun to share with kids, but flowers that you stuff with cheese and fry? Talk about hitting the jackpot. The foodie tot had a lot of fun “helping” me prep them for frying. Of course, she was booted from the kitchen for the actual cooking.

foodie tot loves squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are best eaten the day you buy them. After your toddler holds up each one for its photo opp (or maybe that’s just mine…), gently pry open the petals, check for intruders,* and reach inside and pinch the base of the stamen to remove it. (*I’m no fan of insects on my supper, but this is a good time to mention to the kids that we buy organic foods that aren’t sprayed with bug-killing chemicals. You can’t blame a bug for being drawn to the same pretty, fragrant flowers that we are!)

how to fry squash blossoms

I mixed fresh Blue Ridge Dairy ricotta with a little nutmeg, salt and black pepper. You can use some finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or oregano, if you have them but I like to keep it simple. The batter is simply flour, milk and another pinch of salt. After gently spooning the filling into each flower, give the end a gentle twist to hold in the good stuff.

Frying them takes just a few minutes — then let them cool a little on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Be sure to eat while still warm!

fried ricotta squash blossoms

Recipe: Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 12 squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

  1. Fill high-walled frying pan with 1/4-inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat (to 350 degrees if you have a thermometer).
  2. Pick over and remove stamens from blossoms. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, nutmeg, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, milk and another pinch of salt until smooth.
  5. Holding blossom by the stem end, gently fill with a teaspoon full of ricotta mixture. Give the petal ends a gentle twist to hold in the filling. Repeat until all are filled.
  6. Quickly swirl the stuffed blossoms through the batter and gently transfer to pan. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown — about 3-5 minutes, total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool slightly before serving.

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What’d the kids think? The boy took a bite, then paused to ask, “Did this use to be a plant?” The tot ate the middle section of hers. Have you ever eaten squash blossoms with your kids?

Aside from frying, you can also use squash blossoms in soup or my squash blossom succotash, or bake them for a healthier take. And if you’re in the Northeast, check out Narrangasett Creamery ricottas, reviewed over on Cheese and Champagne today.

Corn and Feta Quiche

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Welcome spring! Everything seems to be blooming early this year, with the first strawberries arriving at the markets in DC already. The kids and I have only just planted our garden, but it feels like corn season is already just around the corner. It *is* egg season, though — did you know that chickens raised naturally lay fewer eggs in the winter? Warmer days mean our favorite vendors will have more eggs at the farmers market — and that is definitely a good thing.

Eggs play a prominent role in both Passover and Easter holiday celebrations and my kids have been delighted to have hard boiled eggs on hand. Flavor magazine’s latest issue had a great article explaining the difference between commercial and farm-raised eggs and a guide to help you decode the labels on eggs at the grocery store. We prefer to buy our eggs directly from the farmer, but in a pinch, look for cage-free, organic/vegetarian-fed eggs at the grocery. In real life, chickens aren’t vegetarians; when you aren’t buying directly from a farmer and want to avoid animal by-products and genetically-engineered feed, it’s important to get organic-fed eggs.

I first learned to make quiche in high school, when volunteering as a kitchen aide at a school retreat. There, the leftover vegetables from the previous night’s dinner were recycled into breakfast — but now I typically use fresh vegetables and serve the quiche for dinner. It’s so fast to put together — especially if you keep a pie crust on hand in the freezer — and I can steal some time in the yard with the kids while it bakes. This quiche works just fine with frozen corn, so enjoy it now and then make it again when sweet corn is available this summer.

know your egg farmer

Recipe: Corn and Feta Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 crust for 9-inch pie
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup corn (if frozen, defrost)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch dried thyme
  • optional: green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and back chilled pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove and lower temperature to 325 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Gently stir in cheese, corn, and green onion if using. Pour into pie crust.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, until set through. Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: If your kids will go for it, you can add color and a little spice with diced green pepper, Hatch chilies or jalapeño.

corn and feta quiche

What’s your family’s favorite egg recipe?

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Monday, March 5th, 2012

When she heard I was finally conquering my slow cooker phobia, my friend Jill was quick to share her favorite black bean soup recipe. I made a few substitutions, starting with vegetable broth instead of chicken to make it Meatless Monday-friendly. Instead of the spicy serrano pepper I used a canned chipotle pepper with a bit of the adobo sauce, which gave it just a subtle flavor kick. (In fact, I may serve it with some sliced jalapeños for the adults, next time.) And as Jill noted in her instructions to me, don’t skimp on the lime juice, which really brightens the flavors of this soup.

slow cooker black bean soup

Tofu-fearing- and bean-adverse-husband wasn’t wild about it (“needs bacon,” he suggested), but both kids devoured their bowls — which counts as a definite win in my book. We were out of tortilla chips so I toasted some corn tortillas to serve on the side.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2009

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (chipotle canned in adobo sauce)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

Rinse beans, place in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak overnight, then drain.

Combine beans, broth, onion, garlic, water, cumin, bay leaves, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 10 hours.

Discard bay leaves. Add lime juice and salt, then serve. Top with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

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This post is shared with SoupaPaloozaCome join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset.

Mostly Not Potato Salad

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

As a long-time fan of Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks blog, I was eager to get my hands on her newest cookbook, Simply Natural Every Day. This lovely book features the recipes Heidi makes often at home, and they are all straight-forward and approachable. While going through and trying to narrow down the recipes to make first, the “Mostly Not Potato Salad” jumped out at me. Unlike the usual bland, mayo-laden potato salads that are ubiquitous at summer picnics, this verdant salad uses potatoes as a background ingredient to crisp green vegetables. In Heidi’s version, celery and green beans star. As it is just asparagus season here (I told you I was hung up on asparagus), and green beans won’t be at market till later in the summer, I used it instead. I swapped the dill with parsley, as that’s what I had on hand. The original also calls for tofu, in which case you could even serve this as the entree on a summer Meatless Monday — I was serving it as a side to chicken, so I skipped the tofu.

The salad is dressed with caramelized leeks and a light vinaigrette. Let it stand for a while before serving, at room temperature. A warning to anyone who comes over, or invites us, for a cookout this summer: expect to see this on the menu. I can’t wait to try it with the yellow and purple beans from the market later in the season.

potato asparagus celery salad

Recipe: Mostly Not Potato Salad (with Asparagus & Celery)
slightly adapted from Simply Natural Every Day/via Whole Living, May 2011

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural cane sugar
  • sea salt
  • 1 leek, white and tender green parts, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 small stalks celery, trimmed and diced

Instructions:
1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 9 minutes. Just before potatoes are done, add asparagus to the pot for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
2. Whisk mustard, vinegar, 2 teaspoons oil, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
3. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden and slightly crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Gently toss potatoes and asparagus, celery, parsley, and leeks with the mustard dressing in a bowl. Adjust salt if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

I’ve also made Heidi’s Oat Cakes from the book — my first time baking with coconut oil. Loved them. If you have the book, let me know what recipes you’ve enjoyed.

Meatless Monday: Warm Red Quinoa Salad

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Okay, so quinoa may not be the first thing to come to mind for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, but what better day to think about heart health? This warm and hearty salad is loaded with super foods — broccoli for vitamins A & K (and lowering cholesterol), dried cranberries for antioxidants, walnuts for healthy omega-3s, and the aforementioned quinoa, a source of protein. And, it’s naturally red. To go totally vegan, substitute sauteed tofu for the feta. This would also make a nice side dish to some wild salmon. Happy *Heart* Day!

Recipe: Warm Red Quinoa Salad with Broccoli, Cranberries & Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed*)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed (optional)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • squirt of lemon juice

Instructions: In saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add quinoa, stirring to coat with the oil and cook for 1 minute, continuing to stir. Add water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. Heat dry skillet over medium low heat and toast walnuts, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and shallot to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots begin to brown. Add broccoli and water, cover and cook until broccoli is tender — about 5 minutes. Uncover, add cranberries and remove from heat.

Combine quinoa, broccoli, walnuts and vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Add feta, if using, and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

* Note: I used pre-rinsed quinoa in this recipe. If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse it in a fine mesh colander and let drain for several minutes before cooking.

quinoa broccoli feta cranberries

Feeding Baby: Broccoli’s not recommended until baby is well established on solid foods as it is harder to digest. For babies 8+ months, pull out a few pieces of the cooked broccoli, a spoonful of quinoa and puree with a little water as needed to reach the desired consistency. (The boy is in a no-mingling-of-flavors phase, so the above is his salad, deconstructed. This is also ideal for serving finger-feeding toddlers.)

(And just so you don’t think I’m a total Valentine’s scrooge — here’s our dessert: black and pink cookies …

black and pinks