Sunday, January 20, 2008

Recipe: Ratatouille

Long before a digitally animated rat stirred up the imaginations of youngsters everywhere, this vegetarian dish warmed the hearts and souls of many a French worker bee. This easy to prepare dish is a welcome treat on a cold winter night, or any time you want a light, hearty meal without a lot of fuss. So, with grudging apologies to Pixar (grumble, grumble), I give you... Ratatouille!


  • I have used white cooking wine in this recipe to reduce the amount of oil necessary to saute the vegetables. This significantly reduces the fat and calories in this dish, making this an excellent low fat, low calorie and vegetarian recipe that will make your whole family happy.
  • Herbes de provincal is a mixture of aromatic herbs common in Southern France. This mixture is pretty tough to find in the States. If you can't find it, don't worry. I've found that 1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp sage, 1/4 tsp rosemary, and 1/2 tsp oregano will work just fine.
  • Traditionally, ratatouille is sauteed and then finished in a casserole dish. I have lots of things to do every day, like playing with my five year old, doing laundry, and blogging for my wonderful audience (yes, both of you), so expediency is my friend. May it be yours as well.

So without further nonsense, here we go:

1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chopped tomatoes or 2 cans stwed, diced tomatoes
1 large eggplant (aubergine), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch squares
2 yellow or green zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp herbes de provencal
2 tbsp white cooking wine

Saute the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and eggplant, simmer for 15 min. Add remainder of ingredients, saute for an additional 10 minutes.

You can serve this dish by itself or over white rice, pasta, or orzo. Crusty french bread with pesto is an excellent compliment to ratatouille.


Recipe: Raw Hummus

If you're new to raw foods, all of the sprouting and dehydrating can be a little overwhelming. Here's a good recipe that will help you get into the swing of creating raw foods without running out and buying a $200 dehydrator. It'll also help you develop a little patience, because this recipe takes about 3 days from start to finish (although you'll only put in about 15 minutes of actual work).

Sprouted chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are packed with protein and vitamins to support a healthy immune system - very important during these icky winter months.

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 1/2 cup water
4 tbsp tahini
1 tsp cumin
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, whole

Soak dried chickpeas in water for 1 day. Drain. Let sit for 2 days, rinsing and draining once or twice per day. Chickpeas are ready when the sprouts are about 1/2 inch long.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove water from heat and let sit for 1 minute. Place sprouted chickpeas in the hot water for one minute; drain. (This step is very important. If you skip this, the hummus will be completely awful. Believe me - I've tried it.)

Place chickpeas, garlic, cumin, 1 1/2 cups water, tahini, lemon juice in a blender. Blend on high for at least one minute. If hummus is still not smooth, add a bit more water and blend again until smooth.

Serve with cut fresh vegetables like carrot sticks, celery stalks and sliced cucumbers.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Recipe: Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

Now, here's one of my favorites before I became a vegetarian - there's something about Chinese hot and sour soup that is just plain comforting, especially when it's downright freezing outside (like today - it's about 2 degrees Farenheit right now).

Unfortunately, most hot and sour soups you find in Chinese restaurants are made with chicken stock, and many contain either pork or chicken. You can find vegetarian hot and sour soup in some health food stores (and occasionally in supermarkets), but to be honest, it's pretty awful stuff.

So I did some experimenting to come up with a vegan hot and sour soup that had the same wonderful smell and taste as the commercially available version, without all of the animal products. It took a few tries, but I finally tweaked a couple of meat-centered recipes, and came up with a hot and sour soup that hits the spot!

If you can find mixed mushrooms at your supermarket, this hot and sour soup is pretty easy to make. If you can't find packaged mixed mushrooms, any of the types I've listed below will work fine.

Here's what you'll need:

8 oz. sliced mushrooms (white button mushrooms, cremini, portobella, straw mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms)
1 package (16 oz) extra firm tofu, drained and sliced into 1/4 " x 1/2" strips
1 bunch scallions
4 oz chopped kale
1 carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 oz. ginger, grated
4 cans vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chili sauce

Pour water, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, white vinegar in a stock pot or large soup pot on medium high heat. Stir frequently until liquid starts to boil.

Chop scallions, add to liquid, saving some of the green part for garnish. Add remainder of ingredients and cover.

Heat for 15 minutes or until kale is tender. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with remaining scallions.


  • For those of you that want a more meatlike texture, you can either freeze and thaw the tofu before preparing the soup, or substitute seitan. You might even be able to use those Morningstar Farms Chik'n strips, but I haven't tried it.
  • You can also add egg whites for a non-vegan version. Slowly stir 6 egg whites into the liquid when if comes to a boil, and before you add the other ingredients.

Prep time: 10 min.
Cooking time: 15 min.
Total time: 25 min.

Note: This hot and sour soup can be easily frozen and saved for later. I typically make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Veggie Guy is Back!

After a (very) long absence, I'm back!

I've spent the year lerning new things about vegetarian and vegan cooking. I've even bought a dehydrator, and started experimenting with raw food recipes.

If anyone tells you that eating raw is easy, please just look at them weird. It's not easy... it takes a lot of patience (which is not one of my most prevalent traits), and it takes the ability to completely mess up a meal here and there.

Anyway, I won't claim to be a raw food expert, but I will share the insights I have gained over the last year.

I have, however, become something of an expert on creating low calorie and vegetarian recipes, especially those that even dedicated carnivors find appealing. I'll be sharing many of these new recipes over the coming weeks.

So look forward to more recipes, tips, techniques, and resources in 2008!
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