Delicious -- And Vegetarian
It was Friday afternoon, and I was in the mood to play hostess. However, as I e-mailed a small group of close pals for Saturday supper, I realized I was inviting them on short notice.
The reason for the rush: I was in the midst of a round of recipe testing, and I needed a bunch of mouths to feed. Of primary concern was a a beer-batter veggie tempura (stay tuned for those details in tomorrow's blog space) that I was tinkering with, yet if I was inviting friends for the evening, I needed to expand the menu -- and perhaps solicit culinary contributions.
In addition to battered veggies, I was thinking about simmering a pot of heirloom beans (more on those in Thursday's blog space!), and since one couple was strictly vegetarian, I thought, what the heck, let's keep this dish free of meat, too.
The menu was going in a casual direction as well. Another finger-style snack was in order, plus maybe a dip. For the former, I settled on a Szechuan-style green bean dish that has done me well at previous dinner parties, as host as well as cook-for-hire (recipe below). I walked Mister Groom through this one, and within 15 minutes, he was Szechuan stylin'.
For a dip, I was curious to try the sikil pak recipe in Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Cooking." This is a traditional Mayan dish consisting of toasted ground pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), seasoned with the heat of a chile, lots of garlic and tomato for body. While working through the recipe, I realized that aside from the natural oils of the pumpkin seeds, there was nary a drop of fat in the final result (recipe below). This is a fun, healthful twist on the chip-n-dip combo, and the intriguing mix of flavors intensifies the next day.
To round things out, Liz offered to bring a cold couscous salad, with pine nuts, dried fruit and herbs; and Jen and Brian whipped up a cornbread that worked beautifully with the reddish beans and their pot liquor.
Everything was delicious -- and vegetarian. I love when culinary serendipity happens, and no one missed the meat. I'm noticing more omnivores tearing a page out the veggie-licious book; in fact, starting this month, Gourmet magazine has launched a new vegetarian column, with a focus on meat-free mains for everyday gatherings. I only wish more food monthlies would follow Gourmet's lead!
Share your favorite dish -- that also happens to be vegetarian -- in the comments area below.
And if you're free at noon ET, join me for an hour of kitchen clang-clanging.
From "Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson
1 habanero chile, stemmed
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 tomatoes (I used plum size)
2 1/2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup vegetable stock (I used water)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, char habanero and garlic cloves until garlic has patchy dark brown spots and habanero has char marks all over its skin. Remove from pan, add tomatoes and do the same thing. (This will loosen skin, which I peeled away after tomatoes cooled.)
Grind pumpkin seeds into a fine, uniform meal in a food processor. Carefully cut habanero into quarters and use a paring knife to seed and devein. Using a hand/immersion blender or food processor, combine habanero, tomatoes, garlic and liquid in a medium bow and puree a bit, leaving mixture semi-chunky. Add pumpkin seeds and continue blending, until consistency is similar to thick mayonnaise; you may need to thin it with a bit of warm water.
Stir in onion, cilantro, cinnamon and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with your favorite crackers or chips.
Makes 2 cups.
Crunchy Szechuan Green Beans
From "Vegetarian Appetizers" by Paulette Mitchell
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon water, or as needed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh, peeled ginger, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste with garlic
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Heat canola oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add beans and onion; cook, stirring occasionally until beans are crisp-tender and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. (Note: I found the onions too burned and bitter to add to dish, so I discarded them after cooking)
Pour beans into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, except the sesame seeds. Sauce should have a cake-batter consistency; add water as needed. Pour sauce over cooked beans and stir to combine.
Add sesame seeds for garnish. May be served warm or at room temperature.
Makes enough for 10 buffet-style servings. Can be easily doubled.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: CA | April 10, 2007 12:04 PM
Posted by: Ann | April 10, 2007 12:17 PM
Posted by: Pine Nuts | April 10, 2007 1:20 PM
Posted by: Alex, VA | April 10, 2007 1:34 PM
Posted by: kid dip | April 10, 2007 1:39 PM
Posted by: Heather | April 10, 2007 4:26 PM
Posted by: second Alex/VA | April 10, 2007 6:41 PM
Posted by: Sweekriti | April 10, 2007 11:00 PM
Posted by: lirc | April 11, 2007 5:20 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.