Archive: Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday: Trini Spini

I was the proud owner of an oversized bag of just-picked spinach, one of the many locally harvested treats I picked up on Thursday at a Seattle farm market. While driving home, though, I experienced a bit of buyer's remorse, wondering if my schedule over the next few days would allow for spinach time. After all, Fourth of July was already spoken for, and I worried if my beautiful bag of leafy greens would hold out until Sunday. (Thankfully, she did.) (Kim O'Donnel) I was in the mood for a new take (or at least new to me) on America's beloved green veg, but as I thought about you and our weekly meatless meeting, I knew it needed to be simple -- in both preparation and personality. It needed to be quick, too, even if cooked, and it needed to be flexible enough to pair up with a variety...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 6, 2009; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Meatless Monday: Moo Shu, Hold the Oink

Moo shu veg fixins. (Kim O'Donnel) I’ve become a regular at Real Food Has Curves, the latest Web venture for cookbook duo Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein. Last week, the guys threw something together that I knew would be perfect for this meatless space, something they’re calling Moo Shu Vegetables, a slimmed down version of the Mandarin pork, egg & pancakes classic, but with no less flavor or zing. What makes this dish a league beyond the same-ole stir fry are a few key components: the sauce, the aromatics and the crunch. Hoisin sauce, often referred to as Chinese barbecue sauce, gets an extra boost with sesame oil and black pepper, plus an aromatics trio of scallions, garlic and fresh ginger. Nothing fancy here, but the combination is truly tongue popping. The vegetables in question are all crispers -- stuff that doesn’t wilt easily and needs just a short...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 29, 2009; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (13)

Emptying the Fridge on Meatless Monday

Stefanie Gans is a freelance food writer and co-editor of the food blog, Endless Simmer. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post's Express, Onion’s Decider DC, BusinessWoman Magazine and Young Women Misbehavin’. She lives in D..C, always has her nails painted and finds daily inspiration from avocados. (Stefanie Gans) I got it easy. It’s simple to start off right, but just like New Year’s resolutions and spring flings, the newness will soon fade. And then you’re left with a fridge full of slimy greens and rank yogurt. So I’ve taken the lead-off position quite seriously. I want to set the right tone. The Eating Down the Fridge challenge is actually not intimidating if you plan a bit for the week (like Miss Karin does here), although sketching each meal is not my idea of fun. I like the freedom of mood-induced dishes because I surely cannot predict my...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 22, 2009; 02:15 PM ET | Comments (3)

Meatless Monday: Cilantro Pesto

Today’s piece is inspired by a turkey sandwich I had last week at Bread & Ocean Bakery located in the beachside village of Manzanita, Ore. Before you get your girdle in an uproar over my mention of turkey on Meatless Monday, hear me out: The secret to this magical sandwich, other than the house-made bread, is the cilantro pesto! (Kim O'Donnel) As many of you already know, June is garlic scape month, and I’m typically found scouring the farm markets for every last scape to squirrel away for freezer pesto. But like those scapes, cilantro is a spring/early summer crop that arrives way before basil; in fact, cilantro wilts under intense heat, so the time is NOW for a cilantro pesto party. After swooning over my sandwich, I meditated on what I’d need to recreate this thing of tongue-dancing magnificence. As I got to work, I discovered that unlike...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 15, 2009; 07:14 AM ET | Comments (8)

Meatless Monday: Taking Stock

We interrupt today’s regular recipe program for a wee bit of meat-less reflection (in other words, the recipe I planned to share with you failed miserably during testing). Rather than mope over my meatless mishap, I’ve decided to turn this unexpected turn of events into an opportunity – to talk about what we’ve done, where we are and what we’d like to accomplish going forward. We’re now in Month 10 of this weekly meat-less recipe feature, which we kicked off last September in response to a speech by UN climate change official Rajendra Pachauri, who said if there was one thing we could to do to help save the planet, it’s taking a break from meat once as week. As noble and virtuous of an idea this may sound, implementation – and consistency -- are very different things altogether. If we are going to talk the talk, we really...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 8, 2009; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (13)

Meatless Monday: Spinach Soup Made for Goldilocks

You remember our sassy fairytale girl G., the one who snuck into the Bear family country cottage, ate up all their porridge, sat in all their chairs and had the nerve to sleep in all their beds? (Kim O'Donnel) Well, that’s who came to mind as I sipped on a bowlful of emerald green spinach puree that I whipped up in just 30 minutes last week. Neither too thick and potage-y, nor too thin and brothy, I reckon Miz ‘Locks would deem this gorgeous dairy-free soup “just right.” The credit for such soupy savvy goes to the folks at EatingWell magazine, which has just published its latest cookbook, “EatingWell in Season.” As much as I love to eat my spinach, I’ve long wondered how I might drink it, too, but without the heaviness of cream, yogurt or buttermilk to help it all go down the hatch. The trick here...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 1, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (16)

Meatless Monday: Korean Snack Plate

As I mentioned last week, I’ve long put off Korean cookery, but Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee’s new book has now got me champing at the bit. I kicked off my Korean kitchen party with a trio of dishes that play so nicely together you might think they’ve been friends forever. (Kim O'Donnel) First mate: spinach, ever-so-quickly steamed, then squeezed, squeezed of its water until it’s dry as a bone, chopped, then tossed with a kicky soy sauce seasoned with scallions, garlic and sesame seeds. Total cook time: Maybe 12 minutes. (By the way, have you heard the latest about spinach – it’s now being studied for tumor reduction! ) Second mate: A super-cinchy dipping sauce of soy, scallions, garlic and more sesame seeds. (Are you starting to see a theme?) This little number takes a whopping 3 minutes, and then has a chance to steep while you fry up a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 18, 2009; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: The Fresh Feeling of Favas

It’s about that time of year when fava beans (aka broad beans) make their debut in the produce aisle (or if you’re lucky, at the farmer’s market). If you’ve never had the pleasure (or only know them because of Hannibal Lechter), the fava bean (which acts more like a pea in its cushioned pod than a bean) is a glorious green treat worth trying. In the past, I’ve compared the prep work of a fava to that of the artichoke (another spring arrival), but I’ve decided that the fava is a piece o’ cake compared to the thorny armor of the ‘choke. Plus, underneath its suitcase padding, the fava packs a ton of nutrients. (Kim O'Donnel) In addition to high fiber and protein, the fava is chockfull of iron, manganese and folate, as well as L-dopa, a substance used for a variety of medical applications, from treatment of Parkinson’s...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 11, 2009; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (5)

Meatless Monday: Yummy Sweet Potato Tacos

Yes, yes, I know the calendar says it’s May, and you’re thinking, Why would I want to eat a sweet potato when it’s warm enough for tulips to bloom. Don’t worry yourself about such details, because this little number is the furthest thing from winter. And I dare ya, just like I did with Mister MA, to try this one on all the sweet potato naysayers in your midst. I’m telling you, I’ve got a gem right here, and you need not waste one more minute in dubious contemplation. (Kim O'Donnel) Here’s how easy it gets: Boil a large-ish sweet potato and mash it, and zing it up with some chopped garlic and the heat of a chile or cayenne. Whip up a little pepper-onion mix in the skillet, grate some cheese and assemble these little beauties. Dinner is ready in about 45 minutes, sooner if you’ve got a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 4, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Meatless Monday: Chinese Restaurant-Style Green Beans

You know these green beans. They may have changed your tune about eating vegetables. (They did for me.) (Kim O'Donnel) Little did I know 25-or-so years ago while dining at a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia called Tang’s that green beans could be tender and green (not Army brown) and that they could be draped in a sauce other than cream of mushroom soup, a sauce that not only filled the room with a heady perfume but that actually allowed the beans to be beans. Who knew that vegetables could be so delicious and that I’d prefer those beans to my plate of General Tso’s chicken? Without a doubt, it was an amazing revelation, but one that I always associated with a Chinese restaurant, not my own kitchen. For more than a decade, I let the green beans come to me rather than go to the green beans. Frankly, I...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 27, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Meatless Monday: Another Top-Shelf Bean Burger

If you’re a bean burger enthusiast, you may remember last year when at long last, I found a black bean burger that actually works. Well, I’ve got great news: The black bean burger now has company! (Kim O'Donnel) The credit goes to the dynamic cooking duo that is Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, who have just released yet another book, “Cooking Know-How.” (A more detailed look at the book to come soon in this space.) But these two haven’t just come up with a lip-smacking recipe; they’ve devised a brilliant bean burger template that can apply to several kinds of beans. Assuming you’ve got a 15-ounce can of drained beans, here’s what you do: chop up an onion, some garlic and a small handful of unsalted nuts, and along with the beans, throw into a food processor with some rolled oats, an egg and dried spices and herbs of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: Party on With the Black-Eyed Peas

A can of beans is classic utilitarian fare; crack it open, pour into a saucepan, heat and eat. It may lack flavor and pizazz, but dinner, for the most practical of souls, is served. Toast dressed to the nines. (Kim O'Donnel) But when those beans are pureed, life suddenly gets very interesting. The most obvious (and ubiquitous) example is hummus, an irresistible puree of chickpeas that works not only as a party dip but as a sandwich spread and lunch-on-the-run. I'm not crazy about mushy white beans from a can, but when pureed and sassed up with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, cayenne and lemon (and when I have it, a roasted red pepper), that lowly can o' mush morphs into a glam party snack or workweek lunch fare that surely will be coveted by your coworkers. After some experimenting last week, I've got a new can to add to...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 13, 2009; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

Meatless Monday: The Cinchiest Stir Fried Greens Ever

Got five minutes, soy sauce and a coupla garlic cloves? Then you’ve got no more excuses about how hard it is to put a leafy green vegetable on the table. (Kim O'Donnel) For a moment, let’s leave our friend spinach in the crisper and turn our attention to bok choy and its many Chinese cousins, all members of the Brassica family (whose western brethren includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts et al). Unlike tender-leaved spinach, chard and arugula, the choys need a wee bit of cooking time to both soften up and mellow out (they tend to be bitter in their uncooked state). When I say a wee bit of cooking time, I’m not kidding -- five minutes is all you need to fix a plate of gorgeous emerald greens, dressed up with a super-simple yet lusty lacquer of soy sauce and garlic. Choy sum is the ideal green for...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 6, 2009; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (3)

Meatless Monday: Spring Into Spinach 'n' Rice

It is precisely at this time of year when we all could use a burst of green -- both on the front lawn and on our dinner plates. At long last, Mother Nature has opened the gates of spring, but we all know from experience that the early weeks of the new season can be downright moody, with one foot breaking ground in the vegetable garden while the other is still in need of woolies. (Kim O'Donnel) Before the farm market debut of asparagus, which most home cooks associate with spring, there’s a parade of greens -- watercress, nettles, Russian baby kale, and maybe the first bit of spinach, depending on where you live. The days are longer, but the nights are still plenty cool, which heartier greens enjoy. Here at the Casa, I’m still on the prowl for supper mains to warm the belly as I incorporate flecks...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 30, 2009; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (14)

Meatless Monday: Addictive Chickpea Crepes

I’m now addicted to chickpea crepes, and it’s all Monica Bhide’s fault. What began as an innocent, unassuming kitchen adventure seems to have morphed into a gastronomic disorder -- a full-on addiction that may require an intervention. Besan crepes ready for stuffing and chutney dipping. (Kim O'Donnel) Honest, all I was doing was paging through the galley proofs of “Modern Spice,” Bhide’s latest work, which hits bookstore shelves on April 21. From her collection of 125 recipes, I was particularly drawn to the aforementioned crepes, as I’m a big fan of gluten-free chickpea flour (you may already know about my love for veggie pakoras) and am always looking for a new way to play with it. Early last week, I made a batch for me and Mister MA to try for supper, and we stuffed them with Monica’s mashed potatoes, which are jazzy, tongue popping and so not-your-mother’s-mashed (yowza!)....

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 23, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Meatless Monday: BBQ Tempeh

I’ve got another good reason to play with tempeh, those fermented soybean cakes I’ve been telling you about: It makes great BBQ. Not barbecue, as in slowwwwly cooked and tantalizing morsels of smoked meat (for which this omnivore has an occasional hankering), but Q, as in tangy, spicy, tomato-y sauce that dresses up chicken, pulled pork -- and yes, tempeh -- like nobody’s business. BBQ'd tempeh sandwich with carrot-cabbage slaw. (Kim O'Donnel) The revelation is not mine; it’s the fine work of chef Bryant Terry, author of the brand spanking new “Vegan Soul Kitchen.” As a fellow tempeh devotee, I’ve been tinkering with a tempeh sandwich of my own, so naturally I was intrigued when I got wind of his BBQ tempeh sandwich, dolled up with a kicky slaw of cabbage and carrots. The sauce comes together in about five minutes, whizzed up in a blender or food processor...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 16, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Meatless Monday: Roasted Squash Salad

This is the time of year when many of us start to go bonkers. Spring, at least on the books, is just 18 days away, but as I type these words, the eastern half of the country is gearing up for or getting walloped by major snowfall. (Kim O'Donnel) It’s the ultimate tease by Mother Nature; one minute, she gifts us with a popping crocus, the next minute she’s howling winds of blizzard proportions. In the fresh produce department, that means baby greens and asparagus are still weeks – -- and for some in colder climes -- months away. And those harvest-hued root veggies that took us through Thanksgiving, the winter holidays and greeted us into the New Year? The luster has worn off like a cheap suit, my friends. We need something -- anything -- to help bridge winter and the promise of spring, and that is precisely...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 2, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Meatless Monday: Green Gumbo

Almost as soon as the last piece of King cake is inhaled and the Mardi Gras beads are hung up to rest, so begins Lent, the Christian season of abstinence and reflection. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know all about gumbo, a stew in both the gastronomical and historical sense; its role is beautifully summed up in “The Trout Point Lodge Cookbook”: “Gumbo evolved not only from the city’s history of trade and commerce but also from the interaction between aristocratic and slave cultures. Black cooks, unable to find ingredients they had used in Africa, substituted others closer to hand in a process that produced new culinary sensibilities in a new world. When you taste gumbo, it is like tasting history.” (Kim O'Donnel) Now, gumbo being a stew meant it became whatever the cook (or the family) had on hand --- one day, it might be...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 23, 2009; 07:25 AM ET | Comments (13)

Meatless Monday: Pav Plus Bhaji Equals Party in Mouth

A lively thread in last week’s chat about Oscar-themed parties inspired Suman, a reader in Detroit, Mich., to suggest Pav Bhaji as a culinary tribute to nominated film “Slumdog Millionaire.” The dish, which she described as a veggie Sloppy Joe, is classic Mumbai street food, a highly spiced tomato-based vegetable mash that gets bookended by two halves of a griddled and buttered bun. (Kim O'Donnel) I was so excited by Suman’s suggestion that I set out to find a recipe and to have my very own Pav Bhaji experience. While researching the dish, I received an e-mail from Suman, who reports that “any combo of vegetables can be used and you can play with the recipe as you like” and she recommends mashed potato chips as a garnish (“sounds strange, but is REALLY good!”). Fellow Pav Bhaji enthusiast Vani in Seattle recommends the Everest brand of pav bhaji masala...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 16, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: Indonesian-Style Noodles

A few months ago, I told you how I came ‘round to beets, thanks to an impossibly irresistible beet and greens quesadilla dreamed up by Seattle chef Devra Gartenstein. I’ve since pulled another trick out of Gartenstein’s magic bag, a noodle-y thing with an Indonesian twist that is so good and so easy it will likely become a staple at Casa Appetite. Like me, Gartenstein is a meat eater who’s got a yen for taking a break from meat on a regular basis. The must-make recipe in question comes from her book, “The Accidental Vegan” which has just been re-released (available in stores in March) into a handy, bendable 6x8 format. Of the many reasons why I love this recipe, the vegan-yet-satisfying factor is close to the top of the list. You could serve this to your favorite pork-product buddy and get a thumbs up, thanks the savory mix...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 8, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: Romesco Sauce -- A Real Oldie But Goodie

For a moment, let your mind’s eye wander and hop aboard our magic carpet. Today, we’re headed to the northeastern portion of Spain, where the land of Catalonia meets the Mediterranean Sea. In a word -- wait, in two words -- the cuisine here is complex and enchanting. Romesco sauce with steamed broccoli and baguette slices. (Kim O'Donnel) I’m hardly doing justice to this ancient style of cookery that is as much the result of physical geography as history and development of cultures. Here’s a snippet from the intro to “Catalan Cuisine” by Colman Andrews: Like Catalonia itself, Catalan cuisine looks outward toward Europe and the Mediterranean rather than back into the Iberian interior. It’s a complex and sophisticated system of recipes and techniques, first codified as early as the fourteenth century. It was born out of the cooking of the Romans, who occupied the area for almost 700...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 2, 2009; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (7)

Meatless Monday: First-Rate Falafel

I know I urge you to try everything I share with you in this space, but I really, really, really think you should try making falafel. For a long time, I considered the Middle Eastern bean patties one of those kitchen untouchables -- too difficult to make worth my while and better left to the pros manning the street carts. (Kim O'Donnel) Truth be known, falafel are much easier and straight forward to put together than they seem, and as a result, feel like a tremendous accomplishment. Everyone is impressed when they hear you’ve just whipped up falafel, which is why they’re great for entertaining. (Super Bowl snacks, anyone?) If you’re worried about the “fry” factor, let me share a few thoughts -- the patties are swimming in a pool that’s about 350 degrees, which means quick cooking -- about two minutes tops -- and fairly little oil absorption....

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 26, 2009; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (22)

Meatless Monday: Gio’s Mama’s Pasta e Fagioli

When we worked together, my friend Gio and I didn’t share recipes, which is a shame, given that his parents are first generation immigrants from Sicily. Messina, to be esatto. Caterina Calabro with her husband, Filippo. (Family photo) But to be fair, when we met about 12 years ago, Gio was fresh out of school, a single guy in his 20s with a really thick New Jersey-Italo accent. I’m thinking his mama, Caterina, was probably stocking young Gio’s freezer with all of his Sicilian favorites. Now he’s all grown up, gone and got hitched to a nice girl and is the father of two little girls. Perhaps that’s why he’s begun sharing Caterina’s recipes on Facebook? Whatever the reason, thank goodness! First on the menu is Caterina’s pasta e fagioli, an Italian classic of pasta and beans, which is neither soup nor stew, but a little bit of both....

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 19, 2009; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Meatless Monday: Peanut Butter 'n' Apple Noodles

Remember when cold sesame noodles were all the rage in the 1980s? How I used to love to tuck into a bowl of the chicken sesame noodle salad at Le Bus, a funky bakery-café in an old house on Sansom Street in West Philadelphia, just a stone’s throw from the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied English. Compared to what was on the menu at the campus dining hall, those noodles were exotic eating. Not until I began studying cookbooks for a living did I learn that most cooks use peanut butter for the creamy sauce instead of Chinese sesame paste, which is harder to track down, and well, everyone has a jar of PB in the kitchen. I can’t remember the last time I slurped on a bunch of these noodles, but got a real hankering after spotting a version in Sheila Lukins’s new cookbook, “Ten.” In her...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 11, 2009; 11:24 PM ET | Comments (13)

Meatless Monday: Impromptu Supper, Roasted Kale

The holiday season tends to throw me off schedule, and just like clockwork, there she was, leaving me at the curb to figure out how to get back to January normal. As a result, grocery shopping duties took a back seat to merrymaking over the weekend, and this week’s meatless feature is admittedly unplanned and on the fly, using what was in the Casa Appetite fridge. Here in Seattle, the skies were steely gray on Sunday, and the air cold enough to allow snow to fall, she reports, wincing. (The city government has been under great scrutiny for its no-salt policy during last month’s batch of snow storms that left the city paralyzed.) It was around seven when Mister MA and I emerged from our respective corners of the house and met in the kitchen. Lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale. (Kim O'Donnel) As we poked around the fridge and in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 5, 2009; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (12)

Meatless Monday: Hoppin' John, Hold the Ham Hock

As this financially difficult year comes to a close, we could all use a kitchen elixir to help shake off the 401(k) blues and usher in vibrations of fortune and prosperity for 2009. We all could use a pot of Hoppin' John. Black-eye peas before getting a soak. (Kim O'Donnel) If you've never had the pleasure, get thee to the store right away and introduce yourself to a bag of black-eyed peas. Old timers will tell you a pot of Hoppin' John needs the salty smoky bits of a ham hock, salt pork or strips of bacon to make it proper. But this Yankee girl says you can drop the hock and still come up with fine fixins for New Year's Day – and you'll be just as eligible for the proverbial pot o' gold waiting in the wings. Over the years, this bacon lover has done Hoppin' John...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 29, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Holiday

This week’s Meatless Monday post comes from washingtonpost.com colleague Michele Hatty, an avid home cook, and much to my delight, a mushroom enthusiast. As some of you may know, I’m allergic to mushrooms and am therefore unable to test any recipes containing my beloved fungi. Below, her recent recipe find. Fellow 'shroom lovers, don't be shy: share your favorite mushroom treats in the comments area. Before I got married this past May, I rarely cooked for myself. And those times when I did cook, I typically chose vegetarian recipes. My new husband, however, grew up as a meat-and-potatoes Midwestern boy, so most nights some sort of fish, chicken or beef stars in whatever entrée I’m preparing. That’s why I was secretly a bit excited when he was out of town for a business trip last week. Although I knew I would miss him tremendously, it would afford me a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 22, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Meatless Monday: 'Tis the Season Snack Treats

Oink oink. That sums up how I typically feel at this time of year, the nonstop feeding frenzy that comes with holiday fete-ing and merriment. As an omnivore, I happily wolf down old-school cocktail classics such as pigs in a blanket, rumaki and the perennial classic roast beast, but there is a price to pay for the meat-intensive feasting, including a rapid expansion of the waistline. So when company drops in over the next few weeks, I’ll be thinking of snacks and apps that decidedly take a pass on meat. Below, a handful of faves from the MA recipe vault. Dips for Chips ... and Other Dip Lifters Olive-fig tapenade: A delightful sweet-savory marriage of two unlikely partners. Popping with flavor, fiber and monosaturated fats. Kale pesto: A gorgeous emerald green sauce for either pasta or for dipping. After a quick boil, the kale purees beautifully and feels silky smooth...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 15, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: Super Cinchy Curried Potatoes

While in DC last week, I cooked dinner with my pal Liz Kelly, who shares my love for all things lentil-y. The gray cold weather last Tuesday had us craving something that would warm our bellies, so we decided to try out a recipe that’s been on my to-do list, from the new “660 Curries” by Raghavan Iyer. In just 45 minutes, we had dinner on the table, but we agreed that if not for our kitchen gabfest, we probably could have pulled it all together in about a half hour. (The trick is to have a pot of lentils going while you prep the taters and the aromatics.) (Kim O'Donnel) I had little idea of what Iyer meant by a red lentil sauce and how it would translate at the table, thinking maybe this would make an interesting side dish. But something magical happens when the creamy lentil...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 8, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (17)

Meatless Monday: Veggie Pot Pie

Still in search of a meatless Thanksgiving entrée? Today’s ditty is for you. Cheddar-crusted veggie pot pie. (Kim O'Donnel) You cannot get more homespun than a pot pie, nor can you can much cozier. And talk about a one-pot autumnal feast! Practically everything we love about the Thanksgiving meal (except for the turkey) is in there -- the spuds, carrots, onions, herbs and garlic (plus any other root veggie favorites), the pool of rich gravy, all of which gets capped off with a savory biscuit! I crafted my veggie pot pie, pictured above, on a school night because that’s the kind of geek I am, but honestly, this dish is better suited for a special occasion or weekend project. Although not difficult, a pot pie is time consuming, requiring about 90 minutes of active prep time and 45 minutes of baking time. On the other hand, compared to roasting...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 24, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Meatless Monday: Crazy for Kale Pesto

For many of us in four-season climates, the word “pesto” transports us to the sultry days of summer, when the air is heavy with the perfume of basil. Sigh. November ain’t exactly basil pesto season, and even though there’s winter squash, sweet potatoes and hearty greens to keep me company on chilly-willy eves, sometimes I get sentimental for some sun-kissed basil lovin’. Like last week. Lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale: Winter's cure for summer pesto blues. (Kim O'Donnel) Pesto and penne is exactly what I had in mind, but the bitter, peppery leaves of arugula, even when mixed with ricotta, wouldn’t do the trick this time ‘round. I needed something smoother, mellower and dressed in a shade of gorgeous emerald green, a reminder of easy, breezy summer nights. The most unlikely of candidates stepped right up to the counter and requested some kitchen face time. Her name: Lacinato Kale. As...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 17, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

Meatless Monday: Meet the Beet Quesadilla

It’s not you, it’s me. That’s what I’d been telling the beet all these years. She’s a looker alright, but my love for the beet only ran pigment deep. All I needed was one bite to remind me I couldn’t get past the chalky texture, no matter how she’s prepared. Regretfully, I’d swear her off once again, fully aware of her nutritional prowess. (She’s loaded with folate, disease-fighting antioxidants and iron, known for its blood- and liver-purifying abilities.) Beets and chard are among the surprises in Devra Gartenstein's veggie quesadillas. (Kim O'Donnel) And then I moved to Washington state, where the long, fairly temperate growing season favors the underground crops, and I reckon there are more beet lovers per square mile here in Seattle than any other place I’ve been. My crew in Seattle laughs at my foolishness, somehow knowing that eventually I’ll change my tune. I have. And...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 10, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Delicata Inamorata

In the winter squash universe, everyone, it seems, has an exotic- sounding name or one of those sweet-nothing terms of endearment. Kabocha. Hubbard and Kuri. Buttercup and Sweet Dumpling. (Don’t you feel amorous just by the mere mention of their names?) Delicata rings with lacinato kale and Israeli couscous. (Kim O'Donnel) I must confess, however, the one variety that stands above the rest and has me howling at the moon like a star-crossed lover is Delicata. With her thin, edible skin, she makes slicing a breeze and dinner prep like a walk in the park. I slice her into squash doughnut holes, and in less than an hour, she’s tender, naturally sweet and ready for feasting. She requires little seasoning (some salt and a little oil to keep from sticking will do), as her true essence --a cross of sweet potato and corn – emerges after some time in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 3, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (12)

Meatless Monday: Hooray, Tempeh!

In the four years that I’ve known about my allergy to mushrooms, I’d never really bemoaned the absence of edible fungi -- until now. With the weather crisping up and calling for heartier supper fare, my thoughts recently took a detour into off-limits territory -- a pasta dish with caramelized onions, goat cheese -- and portobello mushrooms. Tempeh stands in for mushrooms in this hearty pasta dish with goat cheese. (Kim O'Donnel) A long-time dog-eared favorite discovered during my cooking school days in New York, this dish single handedly helped me to appreciate mushroom cookery, and it quickly became part of my recipe repertoire. Since my diagnosis, however, the only thing that recipe has been doing is collecting dust. With this unexpected craving parked on the front burner of my brain, what could I do in lieu of an Epi-pen prescription, I wondered. And then along came tempeh (pronounced...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 27, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Meatless Monday: Sweet on Sweet Potatoes

Unlike Mister MA, I’m a big fan of the sweet potato and I’m always looking for new ways to play with them. My latest discovery comes from Peter Berley’s “Fresh Food Fast” which suggests pairing up the sweets with coconut milk and ginger, plus other aromatic treats. Even more than the sheer comfort factor of slurping on a coconut milk-infused elixir on a cold evening, I love how versatile this recipe proves to be. Want to make it super spicy? Go ahead. Not interested in the greens? Leave ’em out. I even considered pureeing, but the sweet potatoes are so tender, they practically puree themselves on the tongue. Sweet potatoes cozy up to coconut milk, rice and fried tempeh. (Kim O'Donnel). Berley suggests pairing the soup with a scoop of jasmine rice, a lovely idea that makes the soup feel more like a meal. Tempeh also enters this equation;...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 20, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Meatless Monday: Improv Stuffed Peppers

If you grew up in the ‘70s like me, you might remember stuffed peppers for supper. Chances are the bell peppers of choice were the decidedly un-sweet green variety and the filling was ground beef and something tomato-y. I always liked to see their little hats in the oven, but once at the table, I remember being much more interested in the filling than the containers, which is a pity. Once I got my hands on a bell pepper with deeper sun-kissed pigmentation, I began to understand what the fuss was all about. Ah yes, stuffed peppers can be sweet, and the filling need not be meaty to mask their lack of personality. Veteran vegetarians know that stuffed peppers make for a terrific one-dish meatless meal, and best of all, you can make up the filling as you go along, depending on your mood or what’s in the fridge....

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 13, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Meatless Monday: Roasted Cauliflower Meets Tahini

For years, I was a devotee of the cold salads in the glass case at the Lebanese Taverna market in Arlington, Va. When I swing through town in early December, I’ll be sure to get my fix of Middle Eastern mezze treats, among them the arnabeet – fried cauliflower with tahini sauce. In the meantime, I can sponge up the juices from “Olives & Oranges: Recipes & Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond,” a new cookbook by chef Sara Jenkins (daughter of cookbook author Nancy Harmon Jenkins) and her collaborator Mindy Fox. (Kim O'Donnel) Here, Jenkins suggests roasting (rather than frying) the florets, resulting in a lower-fat dish with arguably more intense flavors (the cauliflower’s natural sugars like to come out and play in the oven). While the cauli roasts, you can make the tahini sauce, which takes all of five minutes with a blender or food...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 6, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Meatless Monday: Warming Up to Winter Squash

Ever try a kabocha (say Kah-boh-cha) squash? It’s the Jade green pumpkin-looking variety, sometimes with little streaks of yellow-green. As with most winter squash, the kabocha is tough-skinned, requiring a sharp blade (get out those sharpening steels) to get through its armor. (It’s not as tough as that dastardly acorn squash, though.) Plan on 20 minutes of peeling and chopping time, and yes, it’s okay to do this the night before and store the squash in an airtight container. Once inside, however, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning yellow-orange flesh that transforms into sweet tender morsels, a cross between squash and sweet potato. Here’s a fun recipe that I made on the fly one Saturday morning about five years ago at the Arlington Courthouse farmers’ market. It was pouring rain like buckets, but the market, as always, stayed open, and the diehard shoppers showed up with their umbrellas. This...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 29, 2008; 06:23 AM ET | Comments (4)

Meatless Monday: Zucchini “Meatballs” With Red Sauce

Enthusiastically is how you responded to last week’s proposal for a weekly meatless feature. We take that as a “yes” and we’ve decided to waste no time in getting started. Welcome to the first edition of Meatless Monday, a Mighty Appetite feature that explores the idea of taking a break from meat one day a week. Although many readers have expressed an interest in diversifying their diets, they also tell me that they don’t know how and could use a little help in the motivation department. That’s why, starting today and every Monday, I’ll dish up a different recipe (with Casa Appetite testing notes, as always), but the meat will nowhere to be found. It won’t be on the side, it won’t be in the soup stock, it just won’t be -- for one day of the week. Curiosity can often be a great motivator -- and a recipe...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 22, 2008; 08:07 AM ET | Comments (15)

A Meatless Day Keeps Global Warming at Bay?

Want to save the planet? Take a day off from meat, suggests a world-renowned climate change expert. (Kim O'Donnel) In an interview last week with Britain’s The Observer, Rajendra Pachauri recommends one meatless day per week to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity,” says Pachauri in the Sept. 7 article. Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, Pachauri argues that the world’s livestock is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a statistic echoed in a 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In case you hadn’t noticed, we like our meat here in USA. In its 2001-2002 Agriculture Factbook (the most recent one published), the United States Department of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 18, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

 

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