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Fat Guy

Vegetarian for a week

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nikkib   

I very rarely cook meat or fish unless I have guests as I live on my own and work most nights, always seems hard to buy such small quantities and I can never be bothered to freeze/defrost. Eating veggie is perfect in the summer due to the abundance of produce and the heat generally makes lighter meals more appealing anyway. I really recommend plenty by yotam ottolenghi - it's an amazing book with sone outstanding recipes, Simon Hopkinson also has a great vegetarian book - I forget it's name but it is great for either fully veggie meals or finding unusual accompaniments to your usual meat diet. I am menu tasting still so won't be able to join you this week as my meat/fish intake is significantly higher than usual but I will be following with interest!

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I wanted to write a lot about this. I have been vegetarian since I was 14. I am now 50. I do not eat meat or fish. I did not eat eggs till 6 months ago, but that is another story.

The reason that it is hard to write a post is that for me, vegetarian is just food. An entire lifetime of cooking and eating and enjoying. That is a lot of ground.

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heidih   

for lunch today I prepared some of the remnants of last Wednesday's haul: kale, spinach and garlic scapes, plus a box of supermarket mushrooms in a stir fry. It was terrible. I had about one bite of each component. Even Ellen, my wife, who is very forgiving of culinary experimentation, found it difficult to eat.

IMG_0518.JPG

Can you elaborate on terrible? Were onions and garlic involved or just the scapes? Seasonings? The kale looks like it was left whole - that can be a chewy challenge in a quick cooked prep.

I can not join this week but am interested in the concept. I just did two weeks of mostly vegetarian with a touch of seafood and almost no processed foods. As Soba noted, it is fun to be challenged to think outside the box. Of course summer is an ideal time to dip your toes into this eating style with the plethora of produce.

So what has been cooking?

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FauxPas   

And tomorrow I'm picking up a friend's CSA share.

I'll be interested to see what's in the new CSA share and how you make use of it with your recent shopping trips.

I do eat fairly veggie at times, partly it's just that I don't always feel a big need for meat. I love veggie soups - can eat soup for lunch or dinner almost anytime. Soup with bread and/or a salad is a fave dinner for me.

Do you have soup plans for the week, or is the weather too warm for hot meals?

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Fat Guy   

I was hoping to do a big production of soups and/or bean dishes, but it has been super hot the past couple of days. If I catch a break this weekend I'll do that, though.

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FauxPas   

What about some cold bean salads? Chickpeas, 3-bean variations, etc.

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Do you like cold soups? That could be a solution.

One thing I like to do with kale (besides caldo verde) is to stew it long and slow with garlic, chiles and a little bit of lemon or vinegar. Ordinarily I would add some kind of pork fat (i.e., bacon, salt pork, kielbasa) as well but since this is a vegetarian week, you can skip that step. :raz:

Incidentally, the garlic/chile/lemon treatment is a good way to cook greens of all kinds.

Another idea is:

Potato and greens "hash" -- peel and steam potatoes until tender; steam or boil greens such as spinach, beet greens, lamb's quarters, chard; chop coarsely. Fry garlic in olive oil, then add potatoes and greens, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add some tomatoes if you like. Serve at once.

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FauxPas   

I'm starting to crave gazpacho - I'm definitely going to make some of that soon.

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Fat Guy   

I'll be interested to see what's in the new CSA share

According to the newsletter it will consist of:

peas

collard greens

Chinese cabbage

kohlrabi

basil

red spring onions

summer squash/zucchini

lettuce

broccoli

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FauxPas   

Does your son like peanut sauce? You could use up some of that with a Gado-Gado variation.

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Fat Guy   

He loves peanut sauce.

I have no idea how to make peanut sauce or what gado-gado is!

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FauxPas   

It's an Indonesian veggie dish, sometimes layered with spinach and rice (but could be lettuce or whatever for a base), then a mix of cooked or raw veggies, maybe boiled egg and tofu, topped with peanut sauce. You can make a hotter version of the peanut sauce for adults if your son doesn't like it too spicy.

There are lots of recipes for it around, here's one at Epicurious:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/GADO-GADO-1231963

But it's one of those free-wheeling kind of dishes. Start with the general concept and then use whatever you have on hand. :laugh:


Edited by FauxPas (log)

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Will   

One thing I like to do with kale (besides caldo verde) is to stew it long and slow with garlic, chiles and a little bit of lemon or vinegar. Ordinarily I would add some kind of pork fat (i.e., bacon, salt pork, kielbasa) as well but since this is a vegetarian week, you can skip that step. :raz:

A bit of a cheat, but a little liquid smoke will impart a subtle smoky taste that might help scratch that itch (for people who really like their greens that way).

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Will   

Another great Indonesian dish that features peanut sauce, and can be made vegetarian, is ketoprak, though the rice cake for it might be a bit hard to find or make. Kecap Manis (a sweet, thick, soy sauce based thing) is indispensable for Indonesian cooking, even though it's another bottle of stuff to keep around. It works well in stir-fries and other dishes too.


Edited by Will (log)

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Some of your produce would make a nice selection of tempura vegetables, even the leafy ones work -they just become crispy. To make a complete meal I usually make a clear broth soup, rice (the Imperial kind you'd make sushi with), and a cucumber salad. Fruit or sorbet is a good dessert with this meal. If you fear you aren't getting enough protein, you can: tempura some baked/seasoned tofu, serve cold tofu with toppings like fresh ginger/scallions/etc., or add tofu cubes to the soup.

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Snadra   

It's an Indonesian veggie dish, sometimes layered with spinach and rice (but could be lettuce or whatever for a base), then a mix of cooked or raw veggies, maybe boiled egg and tofu, topped with peanut sauce. You can make a hotter version of the peanut sauce for adults if your son doesn't like it too spicy.

There are lots of recipes for it around, here's one at Epicurious:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/GADO-GADO-1231963

But it's one of those free-wheeling kind of dishes. Start with the general concept and then use whatever you have on hand. :laugh:

Gado Gado is fantastic!! We always order it when we see it on the menu. I've made the one from Yotam Ottolenghi's Guardian column a few times, but I skip the turmeric water and don't cook the cabbage. It is more involved than the one FauxPas found, but it might satisfy your need to make something a bit complicated and it really is addictive.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jun/28/recipe.foodanddrink

These Turkish zucchini pancakes are brilliant if you're eating eggs and dairy. I skip the walnuts and feta, and we eat these as a main dish with a tomato or garlic and yoghurt sauce and some salad.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Turkish-Zucchini-Pancakes-1208

Also, fried rice (try a nasi goreng style if you end up getting some kecap manis) is great served in a bowl with some Asian-inspired salad made with the napa cabbage from your CSA box. And i think sliced cucumber is traditional with Nasi Goreng. Lately we've been making one seasoned with garlic and black pepper with lots of fresh spinach wilted into it. Maybe you could try something similar with the greens you're getting.

While you're buying kecap manis, keep an eye out for fried shallots as well. They add a great fried onion flavour to all kinds of things and they keep really well. In winter we use them to top perogies.

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teagal   

I'll join you! I know all the ethical/land/health issues about meat and agree that less/no meat is better. I especially want the health benefits. Will be interesting to see if a few pounds are lost too. Have been eating less meat lately anyway and always wanted to try and see if I could do without it for a period of time besides a meal or two. So, here's to a great week!

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Fat Guy   

Breakfast today was a repeat of yesterday: yogurt and cereal.

For lunch I made grilled-cheese sandwiches for the family, on nine-grain bread. Possibly the best perk of teaching at the International Culinary Center/French Culinary Institute is the incredible access I have to bread from the baking program. My freezer, which is quite large by the standards of New York City apartments, is full of an embarrassing variety of the stuff.

IMG_0522.JPG

Dinner was Middle Eastern, a cuisine that lends itself readily to vegetarianism. My favorite local place is called Hummus Place. We had hummus with favas, falafel, and shakshouka haloumi (eggs, tomatoes, peppers and haloumi cheese).

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Here's today's CSA haul:

IMG_0525.JPG

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The Kale look pretty raw, no wonder it didnt taste good, but with a bit of a ruff chop, white wine, veg stock you have the beginings of a great meal. Maybe add some chick peas or white beans top with a fried egg and some harissa and you have a great meal..

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Fat Guy   

The photo is of the dish being cooked. The kale was cooked through when done. It just tasted lousy. I'd probably chop it if I did it again, though, which I doubt I will.

I've only ever had one memorable kale dish, which was a Caesar-type salad made with Tuscan kale at the restaurant Il Buco here in New York City. But I'm thinking Tuscan kale is just a lot better-tasting than the stuff from our friend's CSA. I can't imagine anything being done to this stuff to make it taste good, short of preparations that completely mask its flavor and texture (e.g., hidden ingredient in a smoothie).

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Tuscan and the ubiquitous curly kale I prefer to use in soups; you can throw in the raw leaves and they cook in 20 minutes or less. Tuscan--and I assume that's the same as Cavolo Nero or Black Kale--is more delicate, so doesn't need quite so much time, I don't think. The only kale I like for a braise or quick saute is baby Russian kale, but it isn't easy to come by.

For lunch we had sandwiches and slaw. A cabbage in the fridge had seen better days, but a spicy dressing hides a multitude of sins. The slaw was unusual, but very good. I used about 50/50 mayo and Fage, and added a big dollop of left-over chile salsa, plus some minced dill pickle and celery seeds. It sounds a bit weird, but it was addictive. My sandwich was cheese and pickle, once again. Okay, enough pickles already.

I'm having a gin and tonic now with some TJ's blistered peanuts. Dinner will be simple: a quinoa and corn melange, with roasted green chiles. The corn is from yesterday's market, just sauteed with onions in butter, then mixed with the cooked quinoa, with chile and cilantro folded in. On the side we are having Greek salads with none of the fixings; in other words just cukes and tomatoes, olive oil, squeeze of lemon, since we have no olives or feta.

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djyee100   

The photo is of the dish being cooked. The kale was cooked through when done. It just tasted lousy. I'd probably chop it if I did it again, though, which I doubt I will.

To mellow out kale, try blanching it first. Kale can be tough and bitter, and not take well to sauteing without some extra prep. With that in mind, try blanching then braising the collard greens in your CSA order. Collards are another tough, strong-tasting green. Braise the collards with some oil and garlic, maybe a little onion too, and serve it with a dash of hot sauce.

The Chinese cabbage and fresh red onions can go into a vinaigrette cole slaw. Or even better, a Thai-style cabbage salad with hot peppers, cilantro, and peanuts.


Edited by djyee100 (log)

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Will   

To mellow out kale, try blanching it first. Kale can be tough and bitter, and not take well to sauteing without some extra prep. With that in mind, try blanching then braising the collard greens in your CSA order.

I often do the same - blanch / parboil greens in salted water. But one quick and dirty shortcut is to microwave them for a few minutes (or until almost tender) in a glass bowl loosely covered with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Then just toss them with oil and some garlic / lemon / breadcrumbs / whatever. Works pretty well for any dark leafy green.

I don't think that Lacinato / Tuscan kale vs. the standard leafy kind is the main difference in terms of tenderness, but depending on the season and depending on when the kale is picked, there tends to be a lot of variation in how tender kale is. But unless you like your kale really tough, it can require a decent amount of cooking.

If some links to "that other food forum" are permitted, I think there are some good ideas for kale in these three threads:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785029

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716424

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743253

and, more locally:

Another Suzanne Goin kale recipe (besides the AOC one) that I like is this one:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/12/dinner-tonight-orecchiette-with-braised-kale-and-cauliflower-recipe.html

vegetarian without the anchovy.


Edited by Will (log)

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You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.

-Homer Simpson, “Burns’s Heir”

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Mjx   

The photo is of the dish being cooked. The kale was cooked through when done. It just tasted lousy. I'd probably chop it if I did it again, though, which I doubt I will.

I've only ever had one memorable kale dish, which was a Caesar-type salad made with Tuscan kale at the restaurant Il Buco here in New York City. But I'm thinking Tuscan kale is just a lot better-tasting than the stuff from our friend's CSA. I can't imagine anything being done to this stuff to make it taste good, short of preparations that completely mask its flavor and texture (e.g., hidden ingredient in a smoothie).

It's sort of an acquired taste, too... for me, it has the nostalgia factor going for it. Cavolo nero is excellent in a traditional Tuscan soup that also includes borlotti (I've had in other soups and stew, and really liked in those, too). It takes a good age to cook, however, and is not something I'd recommend trying, if my sister's reports of the temperatures there are to be trusted. As far as I can remember, cavolo nero is regarded as a winter vegetable, anyway.

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