Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Spanish-Style Grilled Zucchini (Calabacitas a la Plancha)

August 20, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

According to the International Olive Council, Spain completely smokes the competition when it comes to olive oil production. In 2009, Spain exported 1,150,000 tons of olive oil obviously winning this race in a stunning breakaway. Put that in context and that’s 40% of all olive oil produced in the world. Italy, tries to close the gap, but fails, and comes in at second place at 560,000 tons.

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Olive oil is produced nearly everywhere in Spain. Although, 80% of the olive oil is produced in the southern third of the country in the region of Andalucia. On Monday, the Vuelta stage will take us firmly into that region, so we need to be prepared.

This recipe does nicely featuring a really flavorful infused oil. The longer the oil sits, the better it becomes. And, with the leftovers you can dip crusty bread in it or drizzle it over tomatoes or grill even more vegetables with it.

Zucchini cooked on a searing hot cast-iron skillet gets nice and charred. Plan on making more than you think you’ll need. We ate through this batch so quickly because it was just that good. (By the way, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I set the smoke alarm off making these. I left a nice smoky ambiance in the house for a little bit, as well…)

Spanish-style Grilled Zucchini (Calabacitas a la Plancha) with Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil
from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian

For the zucchini:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini (12 oz), cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Salt
  • About 2 Tablespoons Spanish-Style Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

For the Spanish-Style Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

To make the garlic and parsley flavored olive oil:

Put the oil and garlic in a small pot and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for just 5 seconds, then immediately turn off the heat. Let the oil cool for 15 minutes, then stir in the salt and parsley. The oil is ready to use, or it may be transferred to a jar and refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature before using.

To make the zucchini:

Set a cast-iron griddle or cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Let it et hot. Dribble just enough olive oil, about 1 tablespoon, to grease it lightly. When the oil is very hot, a matter of seconds, lay down enough zucchini slices to cover the bottom in a single layer.

Do not overcrowd. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the slices turn a rich medium brown. You may need to move the slices around so they all cook evenly. Turn the slices over. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the second side turns medium brown.

Remove the slices from the pan and arrange in a single layer on a large platter. Cook all the zucchini slices this way. With each batch, remember to add enough oil to keep the pan lightly greased.

When the zucchini are all cooked, lightly sprinkle salt over the slices. Dribble the flavored oil evenly over the top, sprinkle on the parsley and serve.

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Beet and Beet Green Salad

June 26, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Salads, Side Dishes

I had a lovely bunch of beets from my CSA delivery this week and I was fully prepared to make a recipe for Harvard Beets. Well, I must have been prepared only mentally because my pantry did not have the honey nor the white wine vinegar the recipe called for. I was unwilling to heat back out to the store to go get these missing ingredients.  So, back to the drawing board or in this case The Greens Book which saved the day. The cookbook was just featured in another post for chard baked with parmesean cheese. You can see my review of this cookbook in that post. (I obviously like it if I’m using it again, right?)

In this recipe, you use both the beets and the greens and end up with a very zesty and strong salad. The beauty of this recipe is that it is easy to adjust depending on how many beets you have and it really does not involve a lot of intense labor to make it. Just be prepared to have your oven going for a while to roast the beets. I roasted our kitchen on what was already a hot and humid evening.

I’m not normally a fan of beets, but made this way I didn’t mind eating them at all.

Beet and Beet Green Salad
The Greens Book

3 pounds beets, about 2 inches in diameter, with tender greens
salt and freshly ground pepper
about 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
about 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the greens from the beets, leaving about 1 inch of stems on the beets. Trim the tails of the beets to about an inch. Scrub the beets well.

Wrap each beet tightly with double alumninum foil. Place the beets in a baking dish and bake about 1 hour, or until tender.

Remove the beets from the dish and cool until beets can be handled. Remove the foil.

Trim and peel the beets while they are still warm.

Slice the beets thinly and season with salt and pepper. Toss with a tablespoon each of olive oil and vinegar.

Meanwhile, prepare the beet greens. Cut the leaves from the stems.

Cut the stems in two to three pieces. Rinse the leaves and stems well. Blanch the stems for about 4 minutes in boiling lightly salted water.

Add the leaves and cook until just tender, another 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the greens well and cool until warm to the touch. Toss with the slice beets and the remaining olive oil and vinegar. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

34 Simple (Vegetarian) Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

October 05, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes


In 2007, the New York Times wrote an article called Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I’ve held on to the article (yes, from the actual newspaper) and just came across it again in a massive desk clean-up. So, rather than hiding it back into a deep dark drawer, I figured I’d list some of the ideas here.

In the original, the majority of the dishes included meat (mostly fish), but there were many on there that are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve also included several that were easy to substitute with a faux meat. Many of these dishes can be prepared if you are good about keeping the basics in your pantry. (For a refresher check out my list of what every vegetarian should have in their kitchen.)

So, without further ado, here are 34 simple vegetarian meals ready in 10 minutes or less.

1. Make six-minute eggs: Simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
2. Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
3. Make pesto: put a couple of cups of basil leaves, a garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil as necessary in a blender (walnuts and Parmesan are optional). Serve over pasta (dilute with oil or water as necessary).

IMG_89184. Gazpacho: Combine one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar and a clove of garlic in a blender with one cup water and couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve or refrigerate, garnished with a little more olive oil.
5. Soak couscous in boiling water to cover until tender; top with tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.
6. Chinese tomato and eggs: Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes then, a minute later, beaten eggs, along with salt and pepper. Scramble with a little soy sauce.
7. Cut eggplant into half-inch slices. Broil with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and broil another 20 seconds.

IMG_35388. While pasta cooks, combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and Parmesan.


9. Egg in a hole, glorified: Tear a hole in a piece of bread and fry in butter. Crack an egg into the hole. Deglaze pan with a little sherry vinegar mixed with water, and more butter; pour over egg.
10. Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.
11. Fast chile rellenos: Drained canned whole green chilies. Make a slit in each and insert a piece of cheese. Dredge in flour and fry in skillet slit side up, until cheese melts.
12. Saute 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. Meanwhile, grate pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook pasta. Toss all together, along with crushed dried chili flakes and salt.
13. Cold soba with dipping sauce: Cook soba noodles, then rinse in cold water until cool. Serve with a sauce of soy sauce and minced ginger diluted with mirin and/or dry sake.

IMG_099514. Fried rice: Soften vegetables with oil in a skillet. Add cold take-out rice, chopped onion, garlic, ginger, peas and two beaten eggs. Toss until hot and cooked through. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
15. Taco salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, a small can of black beans and kernels from a couple of ears of corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime and chopped cilantro leaves.


16. Migas, with egg: Saute chopped stale bread with olive oil, mushrooms, onions and spinach. Stir in a couple of eggs.
17. Saute shredded (or sliced) zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.


18. Not takeout: Stir-fry onions with cut-up broccoli. Add cubed tofu along with a tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger. When almost done, add half cup of water, two tablespoons soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. Heat through and serve over fresh Chinese noodles.


19. The Waldorf: Toast a handful of walnuts in a skillet. Chop an apple or pear; toss with greens, walnuts and a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallot. Top if you like, with crumbled goat or blue cheese.
20. Put a stick of butter and a handful of pine nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until both are brown. Toss with cooked pasted, grated Parmesan and black pepper.
21. Put a tablespoon of cream and a slice of tomato in each of several small ramekins. Top with an egg, then salt, pepper, ad grated Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until the eggs set. Serve with toast.
22. Make a fast tomato sauce of olive oil, chopped tomatoes and garlic. Poach eggs in the sauce, then top with Parmesan.


23. Peel and thinly slice raw beets; cook in butter or oil with garlic; do not overcook. Finish with parsley, lemon juice and coarse salt; serve over toast.
24. Rich vegetable soup: Cook asparagus tips and peeled stalks or most any other green vegetable in [vegetable] stock with a little tarragon until tender; reserve a few tips and puree the rest with a little butter (cream or yogurt, too, if you like) adding enough stock to thin the puree. Garnish with the reserved tips. Serve hot or cold.
25. Brush portobello caps with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil until tender. Briefly sweat chopped onions, then scramble eggs with them. Put eggs in mushrooms.
26. Near instant mezze: Combine hummus on plate with yogurt laced with chopped cucumbers and a bit of garlic, plus tomato, feta, white beans with olive oil and pita bread.
27. Sear corn kernels in olive oil with minced jalapenos and chopped onions; toss with cilantro, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and lime.


28. Pit and chop a cup or more of mixed olives. Combine with olive oil, a little minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta.
29. Grated carrots topped with six-minute eggs (run under cold water until cool before peeling), olive oil and lemon juice.
30. Cut off the top of four big tomatoes; scoop out the interior and mix them with toasted stale baguette or pita, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, tarragon, and/or parsley). Stuff into tomatoes and serve with salad.
31. Pasta frittata: Turn cooked pasta and a little garlic into an oiled or buttered skillet. Brown, pressing to create a cake. Flip, then top with three or four beaten eggs and loads of Parmesan. Brown other side and serve.
32. Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. [Megabeth note: press and drain tofu to get excess liquid out before using.] Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.
33. Veggie burger: Drain and pour a 14-ounce can of beans into a food processor with an onion, half a cup of rolled oats, a tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix, an egg, salt and pepper. Process until mushy, then shape into burgers, adding a little liquid or oats as necessary. Cook in oil about three minutes a side and serve.
34. So-called Fettuccine Alfredo: Heat several tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of cream in a large skillet just until the cream starts to simmer. Add slightly undercooked fresh pasta to the skillets, along with plentuy of grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, tossing, until pasta is tender and hot.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

July 18, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Culinary Tour de France, Other, Salads, Side Dishes

This is fully loaded vinaigrette recipe is next up in this Vegetarian Tour de France.  This recipe comes from what I find is in a cookbook amusingly called “Jean Hewitt’s International Meatless Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Recipes, Including Many for Fish and Chicken.” Uh, yeah…anyways…

I substituted the red wine vinegar with champagne vinegar and it came out so good that we couldn’t wait the two hours to let the flavors soak in. In fact, it sat for about 15 minutes and was nearly eaten in one sitting. (I can’t really report on how the fully marinated leftovers tasted the next day as they were eaten by another party in this house…)

Just a heads up, the recipe calls for one large red onion. I only used a half of a red onion and found that there were plenty of onions in the salad. A whole onion may overwhelm the dish – but I leave it to your tastes as to how you want to prepare it. That said, you can probably get away with throwing in some more cheese and chickpeas into the mix. I had a lot of the dressing leftover because I didn’t want to over saturate the salad.

Chick-Peas Vinaigrette
Jean Hewitt’s International Meatless Cookbook

2 cans (15.5 ounces) chick-peas, drained and rinsed
1 large red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 cup tiny cubes Gruyere or Swiss
2/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used champagne vinaigrette instead.)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, or 4 tablespoons freeze-dried
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 hard-cooked egg
2 tablespoons drained capers

Place the chick-peas, onion rings, and cheese in a medium-sized bowl.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

In a screw-cap jar combine te oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, chives, parsley, chopped white of the egg, and the capers.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

Shake to mix.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

Pour enough of the dressing over the salad to coat when tossed. Cover and chill several hours. Serve in a lettuce-lined bowl with finely sieved egg yolk as a garnish.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Chick-Peas Vinaigrette

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