Project Veg has still been going strong. It's pretty much all I can do to get the food fixed and on the table, so I've been very lax about photo-ing, and post-ing, etc. But I know that alot of other mamas had a positive reaction when I first started writing about Project Vegetarian, so I wanted to make sure and post an update.
I haven't been purchasing unprepared meat. That's a line I drew early on. If I'm in a particular mood, I will eat meat if it is prepared by someone else. My kid loves chicken nuggets, so I have purchased frozen chicken nuggets that just need to be microwaved (I also by meatless ones). But there has been very little raw meat in my house in recent months. And I feel very good about that.
My friend Jenny, the guest poster who helped kick off Project Veg, who cooks vegan for her preschooler and husband, and has a new baby at home (and happens to be a personal hero) has turned me on to the key for Project Veg:
The first good cookbooks is hers, despite the fact that it's been in MY kitchen for more than 6 months (she has a new baby, what does she notice?). It is Better Then Peanut Butter & Jelly , and is an awesome cookbook for simple Vegetarian, and some Vegan, dinners for kids. It has a great potato and leek casserole recipe, and several good recipes that use black beans.
The second good cookbook is mine, only because she gifted it to me for Christmas. Probably because she didn't want me to keep her copy for months and months. It is the The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. And it. Is. Awesome. Words cannot describe how incredibly awesome this cookbook is. Simple little dinners. Fancy recipes for when you want to show off. It has everything, and its all delicious. Two of the recipes that I have tried so far I have actually made multiple times and incorporated into the kind of dishes that I can make off the top of my head. I have quite a number of recipes in this book marked for trying, and that has inspired me to pursue local sources for food to try lots more of the recipes in this book.
So tonight I made, for the second time, a recipe that I now refer to as Tomato Coulis. It's a very simple, minimal ingredients recipe. It works for Sunday dinner (I made it last Sunday for my mom and dad) and for weeknight dinners (I made it tonight). It's yummy with both the spices called for in the recipe, and the spices you can use to substitute when you realize you don't have that spice in your cabinet like you thought you did.
Chop some garlic. Saute in some olive oil while you chop some tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. Dump tomatoes, liquid, seeds, etc, into pan over garlic. Add other spice (furst time I used basil plus a touch of marjoram, the recipe calls for thyme which I used tonight). Simmer 20 minutes to reduce while you boil pasta and set the table. Serve.
The real recipe (included below) calls for asparagus. That could help make it super fancy. It works well with some mushrooms, too.
It's similar enough to a regular spaghetti sauce that small ones might go for it. The benefit versus using a bottled sauce is the lack of preservatives and knowing that you're sourcing local and making homemade. You can control ingredients, you can control spices and flavors. And you know you've simmered a little pot of good for your family. I always thought that a homemade spaghetti sauce made with tomatoes would take forever to cook down. This isn't really a sauce, per se. Just cooked tomatoes and spices over pasta. What could be simpler than that?
Well, if you must know ... NOT cooking a summer tomato dish would be simpler. So that brings me to my favorite recipe from this book ... Bruschetta.
Chop two tomatoes, six black (or Kalamata) olives, some artichoke hearts. Chop basil and italian parsley (both of which I'm now growing in my herb garden). Spring with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper. Rub a garlic clove on your bread, spread with the bruschetta. Eat.
Heaven. Oh, wait, open a bottle of white wine with it. Now THAT's heaven.
Total copyright violations appear below this line. Here are the two recipes from the book, in their entirety, as published. Please consider purchasing a copy of the book so I don't get in too much trouble. I don't think you'll regret it. Love, me.
Linguine with Asparagus and Tomato Coulis
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopper
3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and chopped, all the juices included
1.5 T fresh thyme leaves or 1.5 t dried
0.5 t sugar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ounces pencil-thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed and discarded, tips trimmed from stalks, stalks cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
16 ounces dry linguine (do not use fresh)
0.5 cup Nicoise or other good-quality black olives, pitted and chopped
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, thyme, sugar, salt, pepper, bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced by one-third and sauce has thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Correct the seasonings, adding additional sugar to taste if the sauce tastes too acidic.
Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot filled with salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. Add the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is tender and the pasta is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large warm bowl. Add the tomato coulis and the olives, if using, and toss well to combine. Serve at once.
Bruschetta and Tomatoes, Black Olives, and Marinated Artichokes
1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and finely chopped
6 kalamata or other large good quality black olives
0.5 cup drained marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped fresh basil
1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T extra virgin olive oil
0.5 t red wine vinegar
salt, preferably course, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 6 0.5 inch thick pieces of italian bread, lightly toasted
1 large clove garlic, halve
Place the tomato, olives, artichokes, basil, parsley, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl, toss well to combine. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Rub the toasted side of the bread with the flat sides of the garlic halves. Top each side evenly with the tomato mixture, using about 2 T per piece. Serve at room temp.