Posts Tagged ‘Meatless Monday’

Meatless Monday: Beet Soup


When the mercury hit 113° last week all I had were root vegetables and little desire to go the store.  I made this soup by simmering the beets instead of roasting them which would have been unbearable in the heat.  Its flavor is as delicate as its color is bold.  The photo, sadly, doesn’t do the soup justice.  In real life it’s the exact shade of the magenta Crayola crayon.  Made me wish I knew a few 6-year olds in princess tiaras to invite over for pink soup in china tea cups.  Seed-laden bread, toasted and spread with soft chèvre, a drizzle of olive oil and Maldon sea salt added crunch.  I ate it for lunch three days in a row.


8 medium-sized beets, trimmed and washed with skins intact
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, cut into medium dice
8 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh dill, roughly chopped

In a soup pot, cover the beets with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Let simmer until beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool

While the beets cool, return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat.  Add the butter and then sweat the onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and keep warm over low heat.

When beets are cool enough to handle, cut each into quarters and slip off the skins.  They should come off easily.  Add the naked beets to the vegetable stock and carefully puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in an upright blender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Warm and enjoy with a sprinkle of fresh dill or chill for a few hours.  If chilling, taste again for seasoning once the soup is cold.  Lacking the aroma that comes from heat, chilled soup needs an extra bump up in flavor.  Add fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed.

Meatless Monday: Fresh Tomato Sauce


I must preface this post with a disclaimer: this is not the “proper” way to make tomato sauce nor is it the right way to “put them up” for winter. Proper tomatoes sauces call for removing the skins of the tomatoes and sterilizing jars and other such respectable actions. This is a fast and dirty way to eek some of that magical sun drenched summer produce into my winter meals. If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden or purchased a load of beauties this weekend, cracking with ripeness and begging to be used immediately, then this recipe is for you.

chopped heirloom tomatoes

Fresh Tomato Starter Sauce

10 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (multi-colored heirloom tomatoes pictured)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

10-15 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Wash the tomatoes and remove the cores. Roughly dice and set aside. Mince the garlic cloves while warming the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium low heat. Add the garlic to the pot and stir for 2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir until well coated in garlic and oil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until completely soft. Add the chopped fresh basil and allow to simmer covered for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely. Pulse the tomatoes with an immersion blender or in an upright blender until a chunky-smooth texture is reached. Pour into freezable containers in single dinner portion sizes (pasta sauce for 2 people requires about 1-1 1/2 cups of sauce.) Label and freeze.

simmering tomato sauce

For the next 6 months when you need a little hit of fresh tomato flavor you defrost the sauce in the fridge (pull it out of the freezer the night before you need it), add it to a pan with some sauteed onion and any extra seasoning you may want. Toss it with whole wheat pasta or spread it over roasted eggplant slices, top with mozzarella cheese and call it dinner.

tomato sauce for the freezer

Simple, healthy, and ecologically responsible as you will not be buying as many canned and shipped tomatoes this coming winter with this sauce in your freezer.

blender in the sink


Meatless Monday: Vegetable Dinner-Summer


table setting

A few weeks ago Drew’s cousin Chris visited town and we celebrated the flavors of the late summer Farmer’s Market with an all vegetable dinner. Armed with our vegetable bounty and kitchen staples like good salt, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and a very hot oven, we made magic.

Roasted Eggplant

Roasted eggplants in assorted varietals (Japanese and Chinese) and radicchio drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh basil.

cherry tomatoes with basil

Fresh yellow cherry tomatoes halved and dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh basil.

Roasted red peppers

Colorful bell peppers roasted in the oven and peeled then sliced and tossed with olive oil, a splash of vinegar and salt and pepper.

Vegetable Dinner

The feast of roasted vegetables served alongside an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan.

figs and cheese

Figs and Cypress Grove Midnight Moon goat cheese for dessert!

Meatless Monday: Eggs in Purgatory


On our first date my now-husband told me that he had been a vegetarian for 15 years.   I responded with polite interest: asking how he had made the decision and what he liked to eat.

I had already decided that this wasn’t going to work.

My knee-jerk reaction is one I imagine many people share.  Even though I cook professionally and my own single girl diet featured plenty of vegetarian dishes, the prospect of dating a real vegetarian still derailed me.  How could I share what I love, share me, with someone who wouldn’t eat half of it?  I lacked the foresight (and, I’m ashamed to say, the optimism) to anticipate how thoughtfully including vegetarian dishes into our weekly rotation would recharge my love of cooking, enliven both our palates and expand my repertoire.

Lesson learned!

That’s why Lydia and I are thrilled to begin devoting our Monday posts to the Meatless Monday Campaign.  The folks there came up with the brilliant idea to integrate just one day of vegetarian eating into your regular diet, whatever that diet may be.  The benefits are manifold:  for your health, for your community, and for the eco-system at large.

Going meatless for one day will also improve your palate.  I have no scientific evidence to support this claim, but food lovers know that absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, it also makes the tongue more aware of what flavors it craves.  No burger tastes better than that burger, the one with the caramelized onions and mushrooms melting into a thick, rich sweetness that you’ve dreamt about for days.  Privation makes us think, period.  And thinking about food helps us plan for and savor it.  When it comes to meat, hopefully we’ll consider how we should go about buying, preparing, and enjoying it more.  If it  worked for Meathead

Going meatless also de-centers our plate, challenging us to focus our attention on vegetable flavors and how they interact without a meat anchor.  Meatless Monday may make vegetable connoisseurs of us all.  We won’t lust after that burger only, but also those sweet potato fries—the ones with the paprika burn and sea salt sparkle.

In joining Meatless Monday, we’re creating a dedicated Apples & Onions space for developing vegetarian recipes and menus and sharing our thoughts on the experience.  Will you join us in making the pledge?  It’s only one day a week and we promise to help you along the way, beginning here with my recipe for eggs in purgatory.  It’s the first dinner I ever made for Angus.  After spending half the day fretting about how to impress him, I resorted to this 15-minute cooking-for-myself standby and was reminded of how easy and beautiful vegetarian can be.

Eggs in purgatory is usually made with a classic tomato sauce, but two pints of red and yellow cherry tomatoes inspired this play on the classic.


Eggs in Purgatory
Serves 2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 eggs
Parmesan cheese, for grating
Fresh basil, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the broiler

2.  Heat an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the cold olive oil to the hot pan and add the garlic, stirring, until the garlic warms and infuses the oil.  Add the cherry tomatoes, stirring occasionally as they blister and pop.  You can give them a hand with the side of your spatula, but stand back, the hot seeds fly!

3.  When the tomatoes have almost all softened and popped, season to taste with red pepper. I like to use a generous pinch so the red pepper makes the tomato sauce “hell” for the eggs.  Then break each egg into a little pillow of molten tomato.  Continue cooking on the burner for another minute, until the whites begin to solidify.  Transfer the pan to the oven and broil until the egg whites are set and the yolks are done as you like them.  I like my yolks runny, so 2 minutes is good enough for me, but leave it for 3-4 if you prefer a firm yolk.

4.  Remove from the oven and scoop an egg and tomato sauce into each serving bowl.  Top with salt, pepper, grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.  Serve with (or on top of) crusty bread that’s been drizzled with olive oil, toasted and, if you love garlic, rubbed lightly with the cut end of a raw garlic clove.

Enjoy with mixed greens and Basic Vinaigrette.

Serves 2

The Weekend Dish


How will you enjoy summer’s last breaths?

Image: The Sartorialist

Lydia and Drew are celebrating a friend’s wedding in Colorado.

We’re taking our new surfboard to Laguna

Where we’ll grab fish tacos at Taco Loco

After all that sand and sea, I’ll need a fresh mani/pedi.  OPI Big Apple Red always looks happy, classy and bright.

I’m lusting after modern chairs in the same candy apple hue.  Wouldn’t these be fun around an old farm table?

Also red(dish), Leanne Shapton‘s lovely bit on peaches and color for T Magazine

On to Monday’s grill time with family and friends.  I’m making Southwestern quinoa salad (without chicken) as a side.

Would you go vegetarian for a Meatless (Labor Day) MondayThis meat-lover is giving it his best shot.

I may join him.


Peanut Noodles


By Sarah Lagrotteria

What should we have for dinner?

Peanut noodles.

Again? We had those last week.

Peanut noodles.

But I’ll make anything.  Seriously, pick a cuisine and I’ll do it.  I want to try something new.

Peanut noodles.

But I’m a chef!  I need to work on my craft.  Challenge me!  I’ll make you anything you choose

Peanut noodles.

Whatever romantic explanation Angus may create for the benefit of friends and family, the truth is that he married me for my peanut noodles.

Luckily, I love them too.  And they’re easy–a mix of pantry staples plus whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand.  The base is a cool, slurpy, toothsome, peanut-buttery noodle and the best toppings are cold and crunchy.  Perfect for this hot weather.

While you can play fast and loose with the veg and protein toppings, be sure to top it all off with chopped roasted peanuts and a spoonful of spicy chili paste or siracha.  They take the dish to a whole other level.


For sauce:

1/4 cup roasted peanut oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter.

12 ounces chow mein noodles

3 large carrots, julienned (cut into matchsticks)

2 small or 1 large cucumber, skin on and large seeds removed, julienned (cut into matchsticks)

Any other vegetable of choice, cut into matchsticks.  In the image above I used beets, but sugar snap peas and radishes work beautifully too.  It’s an anything-goes, clean-out-your-fridge kind of dish.

Already-cooked shredded chicken, sliced steak or raw cubed tofu as desired

Fresh mint, Thai basil, basil, cilantro or any combo of the four, roughly chopped

Roasted peanuts, chopped

Chili paste and sea salt, to taste.


If the day feels particularly sticky, I recommend crisping your cucumbers and carrots in an ice bath before adding them to the dish.  Once you cut them into matchsticks submerge them both in a bowl of ice water in the fridge.  Let sit while you prepare the sauce and noodles and then drain just before adding to the dish.  Even a short soak in an icy water bath will give the vegetables more crunch.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.  Cook the noodles according to the package directions.   Drain and rinse until cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut oil, vinegar, soy, garlic and jalapeno.  Add the peanut butter and continue whisking until smooth.  Add the cool noodles and gently toss until evenly coated.

To serve I like to to make a nest of noodles in each individual bowl and then add separate little haystacks of each vegetable and whatever protein I desire.  I finish with a sprinkling of peanuts, fresh herbs, sea salt and a dollop of chili paste, offering more of all four final toppings at the table.


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