meatless monday

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello Gratin

Whenever I need a meatless or dairy meal -- for a meatless Monday (or any other day of the week when I am not in the mood for meat), or for during the Nine Days, or a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast, or during Passover -- this is one of the recipes I turn to. It's filling enough for dinner (served with a salad) yet not heavy.

Another benefit? Set it up ahead and bake just before you need it.

I change the recipe occasionally, because -- why not! This dish is versatile. Sometimes I use zucchini instead of or together with eggplant. Sometimes I add feta cheese or a layer of cooked kale or spinach or some cooked carrots. But basically this is it.

 

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello gratin

  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium eggplant (or 2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in simmering water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them in the pot. Stir in 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the eggs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. While the potatoes are cooking, trim the ends from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides with the olive oil. Broil or grill the eggplant for 2-3 minutes per side or until softened and lightly browned. Place half the eggplant slices in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Layer the remaining eggplant on top. Slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick and place them on top of the eggplant. Slice the tomatoes and place them over the mushrooms. Scatter the basil and parsley on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned on top.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Grilled Asparagus Salad

When the weather is hot and sticky I find myself yearning for fruits and vegetables, not meat. I want salads, cold rice or noodles. Easy food, easy to prepare, easy to digest.

I recently had some grilled asparagus left over and used them for salad the next day. This dish was the perfect accompaniment to a rice salad that had other leftover vegetables in it!

 

Grilled Asparagus Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups mixed cut up salad greens
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue or feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill (or turn oven to 450 degrees). Trim the asparagus and place them in a shallow dish. Pour about 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over the asparagus and roll the spears to coat them evenly. Grill the spears, turning them once or twice, for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Cut the spears into bite size pieces and place in a salad bowl. Add the salad greens, tomatoes and cheese and toss the ingredients. Mix the remaining olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and mustard and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss and taste. Add more vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings

Passover Spinach Pie

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I can't imagine Passover without this dish. Spinach pie which, during the year I top with buttered phyllo sheets and sometimes with puff pastry, depending on the occasion.

On Passover it gets a matzo crust -- like this one, ready for the oven.

It's a versatile dish too. You can make it plain or add mushrooms or make it with cheese. You can also switch to kale or other greens if you prefer.

Nice for a meatless dinner too.

 

SPINACH PIE with MATZO CRUST

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cut up mushrooms, optional
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets matzo

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms, if used, and cook, stirring often, for another 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. For dairy, add the feta and Parmesan cheeses and mix them in. Add 3 of the eggs, the dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Soak the matzo in cold water to cover for 1-2 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Shake off excess water. Place the matzo on top of the spinach mixture. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the matzot. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

Kaniwa Mujadarah

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Everyone who knows me knows that Mujadarah is among my favorite things to eat. I serve it for my annual break-the-fast. I serve it anytime I have lots of people over for a celebration, like a birthday or a welcome-to-the-world party for a new grandchild.

I've made Mujadarah using brown rice. I've made it with bulgur wheat

Sometimes I add mushrooms (there's a recipe for that in my book, Hip Kosher).

Recently, the good folks at Pereg sent me a bag of Kaniwa. 

What?

Have you heard of kaniwa?

It's similar to quinoa (in fact some call it baby quinoa), but the seeds are much smaller (about the same size as poppy seeds). It is a complete protein, it's gluten-free and high in iron. That is a big big deal when you are looking for nourishing, meat-free recipes.

Unlike quinoa, kaniwa does not have a coating of saponin on the surface, which means it does not have the somewhat bitter, somewhat soapy taste that some find objectionable in quinoa. You don't have to rinse kaniwa (in fact, if you do, these teeny things will fall right through the holes in the strainer!).

I've actually cooked with kaniwa. A while ago I posted a recipe for Kaniwa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes. It's a terrific base for salads. A nice soup filler. You can sweeten it and eat it like cereal, for breakfast.

But me, with my mujadarah love? I made some kaniwa mujadarah! Look how beautiful this is! Perfect dish for a meatless Monday.

 

Kaniwa Mujadarah

  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • water or stock
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup kaniwa
  • 1-3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, cut up
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • salt to taste

Place the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the lentils for about 25 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the lentils and set them aside. While the lentils are cooking, place the carrots in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the carrots for 5-6 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the carrots and set them aside. Place the kaniwa in a saucepan, cover with 1-3/4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 15-18 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. While the kaniwa is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the onions and mushrooms are soft and brown. Place the lentils, carrots, kaniwa and most of the onion-mushroom mixture in a bowl. Stir gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Stir in the remaining olive oil. Add the parsley and cumin, if desired and toss the ingredients. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Top with the remaining onion-mushroom mixture.

If serving at a later time, cover the pan and reheat in a covered baking dish in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Chicken Soup Burgers

My daughters are not big meat eaters, so when they were young kids and still living at home,  I never made stuff like roast beef or beef stew or meatloaf. They just didn't want any of it.

They didn't even eat hamburgers.

We were basically a chicken and turkey family (including chicken and turkey burgers).

Also, I would make burgers out of all the vegetables I used for chicken soup, which I cooked more often than almost everything.

That was a kid favorite. They still talk about those burgers.

Recently I made some chicken soup because, well, it's been rainy and gloomy in my part of the world and soup is like magic to help get you in a good mood. I used the leftover vegetables for burgers, just for the two of us. Fabulous not-quite-meatless dinner. Of course you can make this a vegetarian meal with regular cooked vegetables not from soup!

 

CHICKEN SOUP BURGERS

  • 8 cooked carrots, cut up
  • 6 stalks cooked celery, cut up
  • 2 cooked parsnips, cut up
  • 1 large cooked onion, cut up
  • some sprigs of cooked dill
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil

Place the cooked vegetables and dill in a food processor and pulse to combine them and chop them into very fine pieces. Spoon the contents into a bowl. Add the egg, matzo meal and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly to combine the ingredients evenly. Shape portions of the mixture into patties about 1/2-inch thick. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a crumb sizzle, add the patties, a few at a time, leaving space between them in the pan. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the patties for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. 

Makes about 12

 

Roasted Plum Tomatoes

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When it's really really cold outside, (like it is where I live) I think of soup and make a pot or two

But I also dream about summer and sunshine and the garden fresh tomatoes you can only get at the end of August.

Winter tomatoes are not good. Not for salad anyway. They're typically too hard and the flesh is usually too dry.

But a good tomato taste does come out when you cook them, especially if you use Roma (plum) tomatoes. Use them for sauce for spaghetti or in ShakshukaBraise them with string beans as a side dish.

Roasted tomatoes are also flavorful, even if you use winter tomatoes. This dish couldn't be simpler. It goes with any meat protein and also as part of a meatless Monday meal. 

CRISPED ROASTED TOMATOES

  • 4 large plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs
  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side up in an ovenproof pan. Mix the olive oil and Dijon mustard and brush this evenly over the tops of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the herbs and breadcrumbs. Dust lightly with a pinch of cayenne pepper for more flavor. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are crispy.

Makes 4 servings

Child’s Play: How a Young Cook Makes a Perfect Meal for Meatless Monday

And so, another generation of passionate, creative cooks.

Recently I spent some memorable time with one of my grand daughters. She cooked almost an entire dinner for herself and siblings as I watched. I encouraged her to use her judgment about flavors and amounts. She was thoughtful, asked questions and was unafraid to follow her senses and taste buds rather than someone else's recipe.

At each step of the way she got off the stool she needed to reach the pan so she could write down what she did.

In the end: Rice and Beans with Roasted Brussels Sprouts for 4.

First, I must say, she knew to wash her hands before cooking. She also used disposable gloves when she tossed the Brussels sprouts in olive oil.

I watched her pour olive oil into the pan and toss a bit of chopped onion in to see if it sizzled because I had told her that's when the oil was hot enough for the rest.

She added chopped onions and made a decision about how much was enough. About 1/4 cup.

I told her how to rinse the beans, and why, and watched her do it.

She added the beans and some crushed tomatoes and when she said she didn't think it was tomatoey enough I encouraged her to add more. And she did.

She wondered about spices. I suggested either chili powder or cumin and she asked "why not both?"

Indeed. I told her to add both, starting with 1/2 teaspoon each.

When she tasted she said it needed more chili powder. And added some. And salt. To her taste.

As the beans cooked, she cut the Brussels sprouts, placed them on a baking tray, tossed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and placed them in the oven.

The only thing I cooked was the rice. 

Everyone gobbled up this magnificent feast. The perfect meal for a meatless Monday or whenever you have yen for a scrumptious vegetarian dinner.

I left smiling. Still am.

 

RICE AND BEANS 

1 cup brown rice

1-3/4 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1-1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt to taste

 

Place the rice and water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 35 minutes or until the grains are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. While the rice is cooking, pour the olive oil into a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Spoon the rice onto plates; top with some of the rice and beans. 

Makes 4 servings

GIANT Knish

Anyone who reads this blog knows that potatoes are my go-to comfort food. My magic medicine for when I'm stressed out.

So I'm definitely going to need something potato tonight when Ed and I have our debate-watch group over. (By the time this election is over my potato consumption for the year will be way over the limit.)

So I made a stuffed potato roll. Actually mashed potatoes with caramelized onions wrapped inside puff pastry.

Actually, a giant knish.

And guess what!? This dish is absolutely perfect for my Vegetarian Break-the-Fast, so I made one for that occasion too!

And also guess what!? It's also perfect for Meatless Monday. And also for Sukkot, when it is traditional to serve stuffed foods.

All in all, this is a big, big winner for whenever. Really. Whenever.

 

Giant Knish

  • 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets frozen parve puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a flat baking sheet. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash the potatoes until they are fluffy. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the egg, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix ingredients. Let cool. Using one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll the dough slightly thinner. Place half the potato filling down the center of the dough, using up the middle 1/3 of the dough and leaving a one-inch margin at both of the short ends. Enclose the filling: place one side of the dough over the filling, then place the other side of the dough over the filling. Press the short ends to enclose the filling at the top and bottom. Place the roll, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the dough feels cool and firm. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut with a serrated knife. 

 

Makes 2 rolls, each serving 6 people

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

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I go out to my garden now and it's still warm, like summer. But the leaves on big maple trees in the back are starting to turn and I can see the vague copper tips. It's that transition season when you want to grab the last of summer but your head understands that autumn is coming.

I've picked dozens of luscious tomatoes in the last few weeks, but there are still some green ones hanging on the vines. Do I wait for them to ripen and have the last few precious bites?

What if there's a sudden frost! That happened to me last year and all my tomatoes were ruined.

Here's what to do: use some green tomatoes and leave just a few to ripen and hope for the best.

In the past I've baked green tomato pie, fried green tomato slices, baked green tomato slices, made green tomato pickles and cut green tomatoes into different kinds of chutney.

This year I decided to pack them into a sandwich.

Dee-lish.

Fried Green Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with one teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 12-16 slices green tomato (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 Portuguese rolls, sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill with the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and cut them into quarters. Brush the pepper pieces with the olive oil. Broil the pepper pieces, turning them occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until charred. Remove the pieces to a plate. When cool, peel off the skin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the flour with some salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in another dish. Place the breadcrumbs in a third dish. Coat the tomato slices with flour. Shake off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten eggs, covering the slices completely. Coat the slices with the breadcrumbs. Place the tomato slices on a cookie sheet or baking rack to air dry for at least 15 minutes. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Place the rolls in the oven to warm them up for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven. While the rolls are warming, mix the mayonnaise and basil together. Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise on the bottoms of each of the rolls. Top each with 3-4 tomato slices. Top each with two roasted pepper quarters. Top each with equal amounts of the cheese. Finally, cover with the top of the roll. Place back in the oven for a minute or so to slightly melt the cheese and serve.

 

Makes 4 sandwiches

Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen

photo by Evi Abeler

photo by Evi Abeler

Although my Mom was the one who taught me how to cook and who encouraged me to expand my recipe repertoire, I post a lot about the dishes my grandma cooked. My mom's food was thoroughly up-to-date and wonderful, but my grandma made the old-fashioned, old-world Ashkenazi favorites that I loved (still love!) so much. 

And so, when I got hold of Miri Rotkovitz's new cookbook, "Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen," I felt right at home. I understood immediately that for Miri, whose recipes are geared to mostly modern food that today's kosher home cooks prefer, she keeps a special place within her heart and soul for her bubbe, for the foods her bubbe cooked and the words of wisdom, culinary and otherwise, that her bubbe gave to her. Like how bubbe taught her that using spices could "bump up the flavor and stamp a personal signature on favorite dishes." That slicing apples rather than chopping them would result in a more flavorful Apple Cake.  

The book is filled with some of her bubbe's recipes, culled from a collection of index cards and clippings, plus an occasional recipe from other kosher food writers (including me) and mostly, Miri's own contemporary creations and riffs on traditional dishes. There are so many fabulous recipes, I don't even know where to begin cooking them. Shall it be the chapter on Grains, with the Forbidden Rice Salad with Mango and Ginger Vinaigrette? Or the Mezze/Snack chapter that includes Nori and Smoked Salmon "Petits Fours?"

I love meatless meals, so actually, it's the Kasha Varnishkes with Ratatouille for me. This is the kind of dish that brings together traditional and contemporary, that makes a standard side dish into a full meal.

This book is a winner and a keeper. Not simply for the wonderful kosher recipes, but also for all the extras: notes on pantry items, information about what kosher means today in terms of global ingredients and healthy eating, and because of the charming narrative and headnotes that lets us hear bubbe's voice, translated by a loving grand daughter.

Here's that recipe, so fine for a meatless Monday (but really, anytime).

Kasha Varnishkes with Ratatouille

SERVES 4 TO 6 | PAREVE 

Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes

 FOR THE RATATOUILLE

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped

  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and chopped

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or tomato sauce

  • Generous pinch dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish

  • Sea salt or kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE KASHA VARNISHKES

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, divided

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 pound bowtie (farfalle) noodles

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup kasha (medium granulation) 2 cups water or vegetable stock

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

MAKE THE RATATOUILLE:  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Warm the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof covered chef’s pan set over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté  until it softens and begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more.

Add the chopped eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, sauté for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste (or sauce) and thyme.

Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. The vegetables should be saucy and tender, yet still mostly hold their shape. Remove from the oven, stir in the basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

MAKE THE KASHA VARNISHKES: While the ratatouille is baking, set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a chef’s pan or large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the meantime, when the pasta water comes to a boil, stir in the bowties and cook until al dente, about 10 to 11 minutes. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add the kasha and stir well to coat the kasha grains. Transfer the onions from the chef’s pan to the serving bowl with the pasta. Return the pan to the stove top and place over medium heat. Add the kasha and cook, stirring constantly, until the egg dries and the kasha separates into individual grains, about 3 minutes.

Add the water or stock to the kasha and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

When the kasha is cooked, add to the bowl with the bowties and onion. Drizzle with 2 table- spoons of oil and stir well to combine. Spoon into shallow bowls and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with additional basil.

STORAGE: Store the ratatouille and the kasha varnishkes in separate covered containers in the refrigerator. The ratatouille will keep for 4 to 5 days, the kasha for 2 to 3 days. You can also freeze both dishes in freezer-safe containers