Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Piselli alla Toscana (Peas Tuscan Style)

May 15, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Sticking with the simple Tuscan cooking style, I went with an easy pea dish that brings a pleasant contrast in textures. Don’t let its simplicity of ingredients fool you, it’s a fantastic side dish. I used some day old ciabatta bread for the croutons. These simple croutons came out crisp and flavorful. When added to the dish they soaked up the garlicky liquid from the peas and rounded out the experience.

Simple, quick and flavorful…a true Tuscan dish.

Piselli alla Toscana (Peas Tuscan Style)

1 16oz bag frozen peas
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 slices of bread, crusts removed
olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper

Pour boiling water over the peas and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Drain.

Put them into a pan and cook them with the garlic in the olive oil over a gentle heat for 3 minutes. Add a little water and turn the heat up for another minute or two, then season with salt and pepper.

Cut the bread into tiny dice and fry in vegetable oil until golden all over. Drain, and dry on kitchen paper.

Toss these croutons into the peas and serve immediately.

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A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Paella

July 09, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Culinary Tour de France, Main Dishes

It may be the Tour de France but some stages do dip into other countries…as shall I. I’ve been focusing on French dishes but today’s stage ended in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. That means, it’s time to whip up a Paella!

There are literally thousands of ways to make paella. I used a lot of the vegetables that I received in my weekly vegetable delivery (including a lot of the green onions!) Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you may have on hand beyond what I have listed below – carrots, asparagus, peppers, capers, whatever. The key is throwing it in at the right times so you don’t end up with a squishy vegetable mess. The more delicate the vegetable, the later you throw it in. Be sure to let the cover sit on the pan to let everything steam and cook, but check to make sure the liquid isn’t burning off too quickly or the rice won’t be able to cook very well.

Paella is actually very easy to make and it becomes a really hearty dish with not a lot of added extra fat.  It’s a great dish to serve to a crowd and doesn’t require a lot of babysitting while it cooks. (And, if you ask nicely, perhaps someone will get up and check on the paella when it’s cooking so you don’t have to…)

Megabeth’s Paella

  • 4 green onions, white parts minced
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock (Go here to learn how to make your own…)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (if you use brown, increase the cooking time
  • 3 corn cobs, cut into thirds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

In a small bowl, put crushed saffron in 1 Tablespoon of water and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent and softened.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add white rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook until beginning to brown.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add one cup of vegetable stock and tomatoes.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add saffron and the water it was soaked in, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low. Add zuchinni, yellow squash and corn. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for 20 minutes on low.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Life cover, stir, and add artichoke hearts, and more of the vegetable broth. Replace cover and continue simmering until rice is cooked through – another 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional broth or water if rice begins to dry out in the cooking process.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

English Pea Pancakes with Colorful Vegetable Saute and Basil Butter

May 12, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

I am so in love with the Cafe Flora Cookbook. It’s written in a style that feels like a friend giving you advice in the kitchen. Each recipe comes with an excellent description, suggestions for garnishes, complimentary side dishes and instructions on what order to prep things so that the dish is completed at it’s ultimate peak of deliciousness.

The English Pea Pancake recipe is no exception. These pancakes came out perfectly fluffy and not overly filling. It was suggested that they be served with a Colorful Vegetable Saute and topped with Basil Butter.

If making the meal together, the cookbook suggests that you start on the basil butter well ahead of time. Then prep all the vegetables for the saute. Then cook the pancakes, keeping them warm in the oven while you finish up the vegetable saute because it only takes a few minutes and should be served as soon as possible because they “lose their sparkle” if held too long.

English Pea Pancakes
Cafe Flora Cookbook

(Note: I reduced this recipe so that I made only 2/3 of the pancakes. The full recipe is outlined below. Be forewarned, you will end up with about 18 5-inch pancakes if you make the full amount.)

3 cups shelled English (or shelling) peas, fresh or frozen and defrosted
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 T finely chopped fresh basil
2 2/1 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
Vegetable oil for the griddle (I used cooking spray)

english peas

Make the pancake batter. In a blender, puree the peas with the shallot, mint, basil, and milk.

english peas

english pea pancakes

Add the eggs and butter to the blender, and blend until combined.

english pea pancakes

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and sugar into a medium bowl. Add the pea mixture to these dry ingredients, and stir just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to overbeat.

english pea pancakes

Cook the pancakes. Heat a lightly greased driddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, drop 3 tablespoons batter per pancake onto the hot skillet. Cook until bubbles form, about 3 minutes, and then flip to brown the other side, about 1 minute.

english pea pancakes

english pea pancakes

Stack the pancakes on a plate, cover with a damp towel, and keep warm in a 200-degree oven until all the pancakes are done. (Note: I set my toaster oven to “warm”, then stacked the pancakes on the little baking pan, covering them with a damp paper towel.)

english pea pancakes

To serve individually, place 3 pancakes overlapping in a circle on a warm plate. Put 2 slices basil butter on them, and top with some of the sauteed vegetables.

Colorful Vegetable Saute

May 11, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

This is the first recipe that I’m posting that uses the basil butter described earlier. It comes from the excellent Cafe Flora cookbook.  It’s a quick cooking time so the vegetables remain crisp and fresh. It’s a bright and colorful side dish.

Colorful Vegetable Saute
Cafe Flora Cookbook (modified slightly by Megabeth)

1 T olive oil
2 cps asparagus, cut at a shart angle in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and cut in 1-inch pieces
1 cup smallish cherry tomatoes, or 1 cup diced tomatoes
3 T white wine or vegetable stock
1 to 2 thick slices Basil Butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Other items to add if you have them on hand:
1 cup shelled fresh English (or shelling) peas
1 cup snow or sugar snap peas, cut at a sharp angle in 1/2 inch pieces
Thinly sliced carrots
Yellow summer squash
Red bell peppers

Saute the vegetables. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the asparagus, bell pepper and snap peas (if using). Saute for two minutes.

Colorful Vegetable Saute

Add the tomatoes, English peas (if using), and wine, and lower the heat. Cover the pan, and cook for 1 more minute.

Colorful Vegetable Saute

Season the saute. Stir in the slices of basil butter, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and serve.

Colorful Vegetable Saute

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