Archive for the ‘Vegetarian Giro d’Italia’

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia | Rest Days with Basso & Nibali

May 08, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Today’s ending sprint took a lot out of me so Veggin’ needs to take a rest day…or two. Besides, I can’t start a 21 day race without keeping something in the reserves, eh?

Don’t worry, my pals Basso and Nibali have been helping me out with the preparation of more recipes. (Our packed refrigerator can attest to this.) Veggin’ will be back shortly. Stay tuned!

Veggin’ Giro d’Italia: Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone

May 07, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

vegetariangiroHere we go! The Giro opened with a Team Time Trial resulting in HTC taking the first lead in the race. Stage Two brings us to the city of Alba. And, we know what that means – truffles!  Wait, what?!  Okay, let me explain. These little underground mushrooms are coveted by chefs and foodies the world round. The area around Alba apparently sprouts some of the most delicious and rare and expensive truffles (convenient if you’re an Alba farmer, no?). Before you wrangle up your truffle pig and head to the trees, you can make it a bit easier on yourself and head to the International Truffle Fair held every October in Alba. (Nota bene: truffles were consumed avidly by Madame Pompadour. There is some debate if she was eating them to increase her desire for her man, King Louis XIV,  or out of fear of being too frigid for him.  Riiiight.)

The unfortunately popular consensus is that mere mortals can’t sup on fresh truffles without taking out a second mortgage on our house. But really, it’s worth keeping a small bottle of quality truffle oil in your cabinet so you can enjoy this wonderful flavor from time to time.

The truffled potatoes described below feature an Italian cheese which is believed to have been first produced in the Lombardy region. Although it’s not as “old” as the Gorgonzola recipe, Mascarpone was brought into the world sometime in the late 1500’s to early 1600’s.  Again, a notice to us non-meat eaters – reach for the vegetarian Marscarpone. (I had no trouble finding it here in the US in Whole Foods.) Of course, that still won’t let you hide from the very high fat content in this rich, sweet, creamy cream cheese. Some things are pretty much unavoidable.  That said, I substituted skim milk for the whole milk that was asked for in the original recipe. I also reduced the amount of butter called for in the recipe. (I kept the original butter amount below, but feel free to reduce based on your taste.)

I will place an asterisk on this recipe when I’m charged to bring something to a Thanksgiving feast or have to feed an army of non-calorie counting souls. An easy side-dish to make, but you can certainly call them “not your same old mashed potatoes”.

Wine pairing: With the truffle and the potato flavors, you’re looking something bright and earthy. It’s time to reach for the Pinot Noir or, if you’re into the white stuff, a Pinot Grigio.

Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone

Bon Appétit | May 2008

  • 3 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Whole milk (I substituted skim milk with problems)
  • 2 teaspoons black truffle sauce or truffle oil
Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel potatoes. Return warm potatoes to same pot.
Veggin' Giro d'Italia: Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone
Add butter and mascarpone cheese;
Veggin' Giro d'Italia: Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone
mash until smooth.
Veggin' Giro d'Italia: Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone
Mix in enough milk to thin to desired consistency. Mix in truffle sauce; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.
Veggin' Giro d'Italia: Truffled Potato Purée with Mascarpone
Grab a spoon and dig in!

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Gorgonzola Soup

May 06, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Gorgonzola Soup (8)

Greetings all! It’s time for the 2011Vegetarian Giro d’Italia – where the vegetarian lifestyle and Italian cuisine merge in the month of May. For those that are new to following my own grand tour at home,  I am a HUGE fan of professional cycling and I cross post these entries so that the hooligans, er, cycling fans over at Podium Cafe can enjoy the race festivities in a veg-friendly foodie way. Basta…let’s get on with cooking with the Giro!vegetariangiro

The Giro begins with a Team Time Trial in the beautiful Piedmont region in Italy. This is the area where the world-famous Gorgonzola cheese is king.

The cheese dates back to 870 AD. There are a couple theories on how it came about. The first theory is that in the autumn, cows were brought down from the northern Alps and passed through the village of Gorgonzola. The cows – having had a hard time getting serviced on the road – were badly in need of milking.  The locals were sitting around with nothing better to do, and volunteered to help in return for the milk. The locals then mixed the curdled morning milk with cooled afternoon milk. The second story goes that a ditzy dairyman accidentally left bundle of curd hang all night long and tried to make up for his mistake by mixing the curdled stuff with his morning milk…and Gorgonzola cheese was born.  So, either by Italian industry or laziness, this marvelously pungent creamy blue cheese now exists for us to enjoy.


Gorgonzola Soup (1)Vegetarians need to note – traditional Gorgonzola uses animal rennet. There are vegetarian versions of this cheese out there and that is what I used for this recipe.

As you can see from the recipe below, this soup is chock full of cheese and cream. When the In-house Taste Tester looked into the pot he said, “We really shouldn’t eat too much of this at one time, should we?”  Yeah, soup with a side of clogged arteries. Best to do it in stages, no?  However, once we got started, we nearly ended up eating the whole pot in one go and had to stop ourselves.  It was just *that* good.

I’m glad we saved ourselves because the leftovers of this soup handled being refrigerated and had a nice strong finish the next night for dinner.  Just like any Grand Tour, you’ve got to look out for yourself not only on that day’s stage but also consider your well-being for the next day.

With its strong “blue cheesy” flavor you’ll want a strong wine to pair with it – head towards a Borolo (tho’ some prefer a wine that doesn’t try to fight back, and look for a smoother Sangiovese).

Gorgonzola Soup
(as adapted from Bella Online)


  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 ounces vegetarian Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped


Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and pepper; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Gorgonzola Soup (3)

Add the Gorgonzola cheese, cream, and vegetable stock; heat the cheese mixture until the cheese melts and the mixture is simmering.

Gorgonzola Soup (4)

Stir in the tomatoes (including the liquid) and basil.

Gorgonzola Soup (6)

Allow the soup to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while stirring constantly, but do not let it come to a boil. Make yourself some toasted croutons and dig in!

Gorgonzola Soup (7)

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Italian Wedding Soup

May 31, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

And now, we come to the end of the Vegetarian Giro d’Italia and our Last Supper. (Appropriate as Leonardo di Vinci was a vegetarian.)

It’s been a race of ups and down, surprises and nail biting stage wins. So, it’s time to celebrate much like one does at a wedding with some Italian Wedding Soup. Ah, but here’s where it gets tricky. The original name of this Italian soup is “minestra maritata” or “married soup”. This marriage is referring to the marriage of meat and vegetables not a wedding between two people.

Somehow, we Americans mistranslated these words and the misnomer was born.  Also remember that this is the Veggin’ way, so I also eliminate the meat part of the recipe as well. So, in the end, we all make compromises just like we accepted the fact that the winner wasn’t going to be Nibali, Evans, or Sastre.

Don’t you worry, I consulted my bible of vegetarian cooking, Vegetarian Times, for the best recipe and found this easy squeazy one that took no time to make. In fact, I had traveled all week, made the weary trip home from the airport, and had a bowl of hearty soup within 40 minutes of getting home without hardly breaking a sweat.

So, thank you for joining me on this tour of Italy. Be sure to stop by throughout the year as I tackle vegetarian recipes and reviews from all over the world.

Italian Wedding Soup
Vegetarian Times, October 2008

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.), plus 1 whole clove, peeled, divided
  • ¾ cup diced carrot
  • ¾ cup diced celery (Note: I omitted the celery due to personal taste)
  • 1 Tbs.  dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. dried parsley
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup ditalini pasta
  • 1 pkg. vegan meatballs, defrosted (18 small meatballs)
  • 1 5-oz. pkg. fresh spinach (Note: I tried this with kale…I think spinach would be much better)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and minced garlic; sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in carrot and celery, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add oregano, basil, and parsley, and cook 1 minute.

Stir in broth, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, add ditalini, and cook at low boil 5 minutes, or half of cooking time stated in ditalini package directions.

Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic clove, and crush with wooden spoon in oil while heating. Add spinach; cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning constantly so spinach becomes evenly coated and wilted, but still bright green.

After meatballs have simmered, add spinach and lemon juice to soup, and season with salt and pepper.

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