Category Archives: vegetarian

Brussels Sprouts: love at first bite

Crispy little cabbage critters
Crispy little cabbage critters

When you really love something, sometimes it’s best to treat it simply. I really love Brussels sprouts. This recipe I call Korean because I met it back when I had my offices on the river in Georgetown, DC. The closest place to get a carry-out lunch was a hot and cold food bar owned by Koreans, and this was for me the best thing on it.
Do not be fooled into thinking I cooked 20 cabbages. The plate is a salad plate which makes it look like my lunch is bigger than it is. They are really tiny cavoletti di Bruxelles.

Trim and clean Brussels sprouts (I get 300 gram punnets here) and cut in half.
Bring abundant salted water to a boil. Toss in the sprouts.
Bring back to a simmer and cook 3 minutes.
While they are cooking, mince a small clove of garlic, julienne a small piece of ginger, squeeze about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over them in a bowl. A pinch of salt, a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil goes in and stir.
By now your sprouts should have reached 3 minutes. Remove them from the heat, drain and then shock them with cold water. Drain well and toss into the bowl on the dressing. Turn gently. Taste and correct for salt. Let them come to room temperature, then turn them again before serving.
They will be fine in the refrigerator for days, but bring them to room temp before eating.

Asparagus and Scallion Packet (Borsa degli asparagi e cipollotti)

This is the last one, folks. If you can’t make picnics with at least two of these tarts, you are doomed to eat inside all summer.

: Asparagus and Scallion Packets

: Life should always taste this good.

  1. 4 sheets of filo dough
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. 8-10 stalks of asparagus blanched in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes
  4. 3-4 scallions (green or spring onions) cleaned and split lengthwise
  5. 2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  6. 2-3 tablespoons pesto Genovese
  7. 2 slices American cheese (sotillette)
  8. Scarce sprinkling of crushed chili pepper

  1. You can prepare the vegetables as far in advance as suits you, but they should be at room temperature when you assemble and bake the tart.
  2. Lay out 2 sheets of filo and drizzle some of the oil on them. Spread it around with a pastry brush or your hands. Add two more sheets and do the same thing with the oil again.
  3. Lay the asparagus on the filo about 6″ (15cm) from one end and leaving about 2″ (5 cm) clear on each side. Alternate the stalks so that all the tips aren’t at one end. Add the scallions.
  4. Scatter the grated cheese evenly, then dot with pesto, then add torn strips of the cheese slices and last sprinkle sparingly with the bits of chili pepper. (Italian ones are very hot, hotter than most, so adjust to suit what you have and what you like.)
  5. Fold the 6″ piece over the vegetable mixture, then fold up and in the sides you left free. Proceed to fold over and over the resulting packet until completely closed.
  6. Slide into a 400°F (200°C) oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F (165°C) for another 10 minutes or until it is golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Use other vegetables when asparagus isn’t in season, just be sure to precook them enough so that they will be done when the tart is cooked.

Diet type: Vegetarian

Meal type: supper

Culinary tradition: Italian

I have filed these as supper recipes because they were invented for such an occasion, but I would serve these as an elaborate antipasto, as lunch or dinner and certainly for brunch.

Asparagus and scallion open tart (Torta salata degli asparagi e cipollotti)

Here is another of the tarts from Friday night’s supper. It seemed almost too pretty to cut, but we did. I ate the leftover bits cold the next day and they were still good.

: Asparagus and scallion tart

: Elegant and easy, a great way to get your vegetables

  1. 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed, fresh or homemade
  2. 3-4 scallions (green or spring onions) cleaned and halved lengthwise
  3. 6-8 pieces of asparagus, blanched for 2 minutes in boiling salted water
  4. 1 cup (250 ml) mascarpone
  5. 1/2 teaspoon or less salt
  6. 2 ounces (60 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 shakes of Tabasco
  9. paprika

  1. If your pastry is round, you will need to also cut the vegetables in half crosswise as well. It probably looks more elegant made in a long rectangle and with them all left whole.
  2. Line a shallow tart pan with the puff pastry (pasta sfoglia) and prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Arrange the asparagus and the scallions on the pastry.
  3. In a bowl mix the mascarpone, the Parmigiano, the egg, Tabasco and salt together quite thoroughly with a fork or a whisk.
  4. Place dollops of that mixture all over the tart and then spread them with a spatula until it looks even. Sprinkle all over with paprika.
  5. Place in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes or until a table knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Lots of other vegetable combinations will work as long as they are thin enough to cook in the time the tart cooks. Even greens and blanched green beans would work.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 6

Meal type: supper

Culinary tradition: Italian

4 :  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)

How about a nice piece of pie?

Pie for supper

It’s time for another video.  This one describes five savory pies that I made yesterday for a supper for the neighbors.  I will add the recipes one by one over the next day or two.  I think I’ll probably get better at videos as time goes on.  One can certainly hope, anyway.

These torte salate (tohr-tay sah-LAH-tay) were eaten as one dish meals with a salad because it was supper time in Umbria.  They also can be antipasto or first course as well as swell picnic foods.  All but one are vegetarian.

All of these can be made with purchased crusts, making them quick and practical for a cook who works, but all can be made from scratch if you want to save money.  I always make the bread crusts from my Sloppy Dough Revolution recipe, then knead more flour into it before rolling out so that it won’t be too wet to form.

All of these except for the Pepper and Salame torta were served at room (or garden) temperature, so they’re perfect for carrying along to a get together or for the concert in the park.  Click on the link for the recipe.  You won’t be sorry!
: Zucchini and Scallion Tart

: Easy and delicious, a great summer meal

  1. 4 sheets filo dough
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. 2 small zucchini, cleaned and thinly sliced lengthwise
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 2-3 scallions, cleaned and cut in two lengthwise
  6. 1 ounce (30g) grated Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  7. 2 slices American cheese (Sotillette)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
  9. sprinkling of hot paprika or cayenne pepper
  1. Prepare the zucchini 30 to 60 minutes ahead of time, and lightly salt, leaving it to weep for a while. You could also prepare all the vegetables a day ahead and leave them in the fridge, but take them out to come to room temperature before baking if you do.
  2. Take 2 sheets of filo and drizzle some olive oil on then. Use a pastry brush or your hands to spread the oil around a bit. Add two more sheets and do the same thing.
  3. Lay the zucchini ribbons and the scallion halves on the filo, about 6 inches (15 cm) from one of the shorter edges and keeping about 2 inches (5 cm) of both sides free.
  4. Sprinkle with the herbs, the grated cheese and the hot paprika, then tear the cheese slices into strips and lay them over the vegetables. This cheese will melt and combine with the vegetable juices and seasonings to make a creamy sauce when cooked.
  5. Pull the free 6 inches over the vegetables, then fold the edges up for their full length. Carefully roll the packet to completely close it up.
  6. Using a big spatula and your hand, transfer the packet onto a lined baking sheet. Slide into a 400°F (200°C) oven and bake about 10 minutes, or until it starts to color, then reduce the heat to 350°F (165°C) and continue to cook another 10 minutes, or until golden brown like the ones in the video.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

: Creamy Zucchini Tart with Mascarpone and Basil

: A richer picnic tart with more zucchini

  1. 4 sheets filo dough
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. 2 zucchini cleaned and sliced lengthwise
  4. good 2 finger pinch of salt
  5. 2-3 scallions, cleaned and split lengthwise
  6. about 1/2 cup (125 ml) mascarpone
  7. 2 ounces grated Parmigiano
  8. dash Tabasco
  9. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  10. 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  1. Prepare the vegetables and salt the zucchini at least 30 minutes ahead of time. A two finger pinch is the amount of salt you easily pick up with two fingers and a thumb.
  2. Lay out two sheets of filo dough and drizzle the oil over the top one. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to spread the oil around.
  3. Lay the zucchini and scallions on that, leaving about 6″ or 15 cm free at one end and 2″ or 5 cm at each side.
  4. Mix the mascarpone, the Tabasco and the Parmigiano together in a small bowl. Add it to the vegetables in dollops from a spoon. Sprinkle it all generously with paprika.
  5. Fold the 6″ piece of free filo over the vegetables, then fold the sides up, then continue to fold the packet until it is completely closed.
  6. Lay the second 2 sheets of filo out, and add the oil exactly as before. Distribute the basil leaves here and there. Lay the packet you made 6″ (15 cm) from one edge and proceed to roll or fold exactly as before. The basil leaves show now, but they won’t when cooked, which is too bad, but they do flavor this tart very nicely.
  7. Sprinkle the packet with paprika and slide it into a 400°F (200°C) oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F (165°C) and cook another 10 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Serve hot, cold or room temperature. Pesto Genovese makes a nice sauce with this tart.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

21 tomato salute

The essence of tomato
21 Tomato Salute

This is not tomato this or tomato that, it is tomato, and it feels right now like it may be the best thing I have eaten all year. It came into my mind when I saw the pile of San Marzano tomatoes in a bowl but I didn’t want to eat pasta. Summer is ending. The tomatoes are plentiful but soon will be no more. What’s to eat right now should be tomatoes.

What this really is is stewed tomatoes, but the canned version has frightened so many children over so many decades that I refuse to use the name. Freshly cooked tomatoes do not resemble those guilty tins at all. What I cooked and ate yesterday was sweet in the way only a tomato knows how to be, salty to bring out the tomatoey sweetness and had an underlying umami flavor provided by the two other vegetables. I was wowed by the first taste and not finished when the bowl was empty. I ate more, then more and finally it was all gone. My vegetable side dish had become lunch.

21 Tomato Salute

1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped bell pepper
a couple of sprigs each of herb leaves only (I used basil, thyme and parsley)
1 tablespoon or more butter
salt and pepper

Boil a pot of water for skinning the tomatoes. When it is boiling, toss the tomatoes in and leave them for a minute or so. Don’t let them stay too long, because they will cook too much and too much flesh will come off with the skin. You can test by pulling one up in a spoon and rubbing it with a finger. As soon as the skin starts to move a bit, it’s ready to peel. Remove the pot from the heat and put it in the sink under running cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the tomatoes with a paring knife. It should be very easy. If there appears to be a lot of core at the stem end, remove some of it with the knife tip.

In a medium pot, heat the butter and cook the onion and pepper in it until it is softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes and about a level teaspoon of salt (be conservative) or even better the same amount of the perfumed salt we made a couple of weeks ago. Put the herb leaves on top and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer about ten minutes and check to see if the tomatoes are cooked. Moderately sized tomatoes probably will be done. If not, continue to cook them until they are just done. Check for salt. Serve in small bowls with some freshly ground pepper.

The only way this can taste better is if eaten with buttered toast.

Ligurian Tomato Salad

I’m not sure if I ever published this essential mainstay of my summer life. We are preparing it in class today, so I reckoned if it isn’t here it ought to jump onto the page right now.

: Ligurian tomato salad

: Don’t add a thing, because this is summer perfect

  1. Ripe tomatoes
  2. fresh garlic (maybe one clove for every 4 tomatoes)
  3. fresh basil, cleaned and sliced very thin
  4. salt
  5. extra virgin oilive oil

  1. Wash tomatoes and cut into chunks, cutting away the cores. Peel and mince the garlic then scatter it over the tomatoes. Sprinkle a biggish pinch of salt over all, then the basil slivers. Pour the oil over this and gently toss a bit with two forks.
  2. Place a clean dish towel over the bowl and leave it at room temperature for several hours. You make this in the morning to eat later that day. Eat it as an antipasto, a salad or even a light meal with good bread and possibly some cheese.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

5 :  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Dinner for snowbound Easterners

Our good friends, the Graefs, lost power during the storm and still don’t have any, so we asked them over for an Italian meal last night.  What fun to entertain the desperate!  They are so amenable.

For the first course I served pasta ai broccoletti made with Chinese broccoli. A big difference was using whole wheat penne because it was too snowy to go buy orecchiette. They were good! Whole wheat pasta is much changed for the better.

sformato di porri

As a second course I served the chicken pate’ from Wednesday with a basil sauce and a lovelyleek sformato that is as easy to make as it is good and looks way more difficult than it is.  I wonder why it’s so long since I made that? Oh yes, the diet.

For dessert we had a parfait made of layers of fruit and whipped cream with a wine sauce that eg made from a Washington Post recipe. That stuff is great. It takes the mundane to superb.

Basil Sauce

a small bunch of basil, leaves removed
2 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put everything into a tall, narrow container in the order as written. Plunge a stick blender in and turn iton, pulling it slowly up, rocking slightly side to side. Taste for salt and add some if necessary. This is also good on boiled eggs, salad and even a quicky pasta.

Don’t freeze and keep eating Italian food.