Mediterranean Rice

November 24, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

You can make plain rice any day of the week, but with a few extra items (many you probably already have in your pantry) you can take an ordinary side-dish and turn it into something a bit more interesting.

Cooking the rice in tomato juice adds a deep flavor to the base of this recipe. Add to that the salty capers and robust sun-dried tomatoes so it takes on a lighter note. And, finally, who can resist the taste of an artichoke heart, which rounds out this dish.


Vegetarian Giro d’Italia | Aubergine Caponata

June 19, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Aubergine Caponata

Even though the Giro is over, I still have a few recipes left from Italy to feature. This Sicilian recipe, with Spanish origins, features eggplant which were first brought over to the island back to the ninth century.  It was introduced by people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia. Culinary scholars believe that using the eggplant in this fashion most likely dates back to the 1700’s and might possibly have been invented by a Spaniard on a ship that used the vinegar as a preservative.

The sweet and vinegary dish is best served at room temperature or slightly chilled. I’m usually a little hesitant to add celery because it tends to draw attention away from the rest of the dish. But, in this case, the sweetness counterbalanced that overbearing celery taste.

Aubergine Caponata
via Discover Italian Food

Ingredients for 4:

  • 1 eggplant/aubergines
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • tender central sticks of a head of celery (about 3/4 cups once chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons of capers rinsed
  • 5 Tablespoons of green olives, pitted oil, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley


Wash the aubergines and cut into small cubes. Sprinkle with salt, and leave to drain in a colander for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Stir in the onion, and cook until soft. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes, and fry over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar and pepper.

Aubergine Caponata

Simmer until the sauce reduces, 10 minutes more. Blanch the celery sticks in boiling water until tender. Drain, and chop into 2 cm pieces.

Aubergine Caponata

Add to the sauce with the capers and olives.

Aubergine Caponata

Pat the aubergine cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil to 185 °C, and deep-fry the aubergine in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Add the aubergine to the sauce. Stir gently and season. Stir in the parsley.

Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Aubergine Caponata

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Pasta alla Carbonara

May 16, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

The Giro brings us into the Lazio region, which is dominated by Roman influence. Roman cooking features cheap, simply prepared, no frills food as, historically, eating was out of necessity.  The cuisine features influences from various cultures, customs and traditions brought together through Rome’s history. But, one thing is for sure,  this region loves its pasta…from fresh egg pasta to hard pastas from the south.

One famous dish, pasta alla carbonara, has its roots in the Lazio region. The development of this recipe is a bit murky and has been linked to charcoal miners (i.e., “coal worker style”), the black pepper that is used in the dish, a restaurant in Rome named “Carbonara” and even the the rumor that black squid ink was a common ingredient. Another theory is that the dish was invented during World War II during ingredient shortages. The American GIs stationed there took the recipe home with them. Quite possibly, it was the Roman version of creating a classic American breakfast for the soldiers, bacon and eggs with pasta, of course!

Regardless of its origins, this recipe has taken on a life of its own and the ingredients vary by region and by country. However,  the basic step remains – adding the egg at the end and letting the hot pasta cook it.

This is my vegetarian version of pasta alla carbonara which uses the classic recipe as a guide. (Obviously, the original recipe did not involve using a toaster oven to cook fake bacon.) I like making this when I’m looking for a quick and hearty meal. Saute onions if you so desire as it adds a little more depth to the dish, but I usually don’t miss the taste and the effort required to chop onions and clean a saute pan.

Megabeth’s Pasta alla Carbonara

– 1 box (8 oz) of whole wheat pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc.)
– 5 – 6 strips of vegetarian bacon
– two eggs (egg substitute equivalent to two eggs)
– two tablespoons capers
– grated parmesean cheese

Prepare pasta per package instructions until al dente. Meanwhile, pre-heat toaster oven (or oven) to 450 degrees. (Note: you can also use a saute pan to cook the bacon until crisp, if preferred.) Spray toaster tray or cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Then spray lightly the top of the “bacon”. Cook each side for about 3 minutes until desired crispiness is achieved. When cooked, cut “bacon” into small bite size pieces.

Crack two eggs in small bowl. Then whisk or beat with fork until blended.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and put in large bowl. Add beaten eggs to bowl and distribute through pasta. Add bacon pieces and capers. (Make sure pasta is still hot when adding the eggs. This is key to ensure the eggs are cooked thoroughly.) Sprinkle parmesean cheese into the pasta until it is coated with it.

Serve with lots of freshly ground pepper and enjoy.

Gardein: New Meat-free Products are Worth a Try

March 09, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes, Product Review

gardein chick'n scallopini

Several months ago, I noticed a new crop of meat-substitute products from gardein that appeared in the produce section of our supermarket. Now, these products have taken on a life of their own as they’ve been featured both on the Oprah and Ellen shows in cooking demonstrations. I can see why, at least from the few products I’ve tasted, gardein is pretty good. According to it’s website, gardein products are made with made from soy, wheat and pea proteins and formed into a dough which is precooked to create it’s unique texture.

The line of gardein products includes BBQ Skewers, Chick’n Filets, BBQ Shreds, Santa Fe Good Stuff, various stir fry flavors and more. I picked up the gardein chick’n piccatta and decided to use a recipe that was on the back of the package for my inaugural try of this product.

The patties had a nice “bite” to them – not rubbery or dry. They sauteed well and had a little bit of a crust on them which soaked up the lemon sauce used in the recipe. This recipe only uses one pan so that’s a bonus and was pretty much done in about 10 minutes. I served the chick’n with some spinach with vegan cheesy sauce. A fast and easy “gourmet” dinner is always something I’m looking for…

Strangely, the recipe on the back of the packet did not provide measurements for the ingredients so I judged by eye. These measurements are what I used to make the suggested sauce.

Gardein Chik’n Scallopini

– 2 gardein™ chick’n piccatta patties
– flour
– 1 cup white wine or vegetable broth
– 1 Tablespoon capers
– 1 Tablespoon butter or soy margarine
– 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano or basil)

Lightly dust scallopini with flour and saute in a little olive oil until browned on each side. About 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from pan. (The package warns not to overcook.)

Add capers or vegetable stock into cooking pan. Reduce by half.

Turn off heat. Whisk in butter and lemon juice and add fresh herbs. Return scallopini to pan with sauce to coat. Serve.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin