Category Archives: vegetarian recipes

Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)

closeup

A nice variety of diced vegetables.

The goal is to chop the fresh veggies into small enough pieces so that they can be swallowed easily (without the necessity for chewing) but big enough so that there is a nice texture and some “tooth” to the soup for those who choose to chew. I usually bring along a few cups filled with toppings (my favorite is avocado) so people can dress up their soup to their taste.

Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)

A fresh, delicious and healthful combination of summer's bounty.
Caution: Will cause cravings!
Prep Time1 hr
Total Time5 hrs
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: cold soup, soup
Servings: 3 quarts

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds ripe tomatoes diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
  • 2 medium bell peppers,1 each red & green diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
  • 2 small cucumbers diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
  • 1/2 medium sweet red onion diced into 1/8-1/4" cubes
  • 2 medium garlic cloves pressed or minced
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar I prefer Braggs, unfiltered and raw
  • 1/8 cup sherry (cooking wine is fine)
  • to taste ground black pepper
  • 5 cups vegetable juice V8 organic is great
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce Sriracha or other types - optional
  • olive oil extra virgin, drizzle when serving

Instructions

  • Combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, sherry and pepper in a large non-reactive bowl. Let stand until vegetables begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, 1 day preferable.
  • Adjust seasonings and drizzle about 1 tsp olive oil per serving. Serve cold with any combination of toppings: croutons, olives, chopped hardboiled eggs, diced avocados, parsley... or ?? your choice.

Beets: try them, you’ll like them!

Beets — four+ ways to use them.

Having been raised in a somewhat ethnic family (the “old country,” in this case, being Russia/Poland), I tend to be more open to trying– and usually liking–foods that most Americans would not even consider touching. Heart, liver, kidneys, trotters, blood puddings: my relatives had a real “waste no part of the animal mentality.” Nose to tail consumption. As I’ve always been slender and healthy, I figure I must be doing something right. I’ve also never met a vegetable I didn’t like. I’ll never starve to death, that’s for sure!

beets for kvass

All you need are beets, salt and clean H2O to make Kvas.

One vegetable that I enjoy, yet a lot of people will turn their noses up to, is the humble beet. Beets are typically a deep, rich ruby red in color, although you can also find orange and two-tone ones (alternating layers of red and white). Vegetables that have deep colors tend to be supersaturated with nutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

I grow beets in the garden and have come to love the beet greens (tops) as well. Some people say that beets taste like dirt (maybe that’s why I like them, lol), but the tops, when sautéed, taste similar to spinach. Harvesting just a few leaves at a time from several plants throughout the summer and early fall will cause replacement leaves grow, thereby creating a sustainable situation. The leaves can also be added to salads, raw and chopped, therefore retaining their nutritional value.

beet kvas

Kvas: day 1 and ready to ferment.

Some of my favorite ways to use the beet roots is pickling (these can also be canned), roasted and cut into pieces for salads, grated raw into salads, fermented pickling, beet kvas and a cold or hot soup called borscht. Beets also have a natural earthy sweetness to them that pairs beautifully with salty/sour pickling and fermentation.

Pickled Beets
This makes a great cold side dish, especially with summer barbecues or added to a chopped salad. Food Network has a nice Alton Brown pickled beet recipe that calls for roasting the beets first, and then letting them soak in a seasoned brine mixture for up to 7 days before serving. I’ve tried this one and it’s a winner!

beet kvas

Ten days later…

Old Fashioned Fermented Pickled Beets
I’ve tried the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, which calls for whey and it’s just “okay.” I prefer not using whey for fermentation, the results just don’t taste the same as natural fermentation. Here’s a good fermented beets recipe that calls for simply beets, salt and water. Personally, I would also add onions. And fermentation = probiotics!

Borscht
I’ve never actually made this soup, but I have had it a few times in both Russian and Jewish restaurants. In those instances the cold soup was puréed, served with a dollop of sour cream, and I couldn’t identify what was in it other than beets. Served in this way, the soup makes a nice appetizer (as opposed to a meal, which calls for a heartier recipe).

My search on the internet brought up a variety of recipes that include all sorts of ingredients, some with meat, some without. This Borscht recipe from Cooks.com has the best rating and comments from cooks. I am tempted to take the advice in one comment about using tomato paste, fried in butter, rather than canned tomatoes. Note: Try not to use canned anything, unless you have no other option! Fresh is best!

beet kvas

After 10+ days the Kvas is ready to drink. Yum!

Beet Kvas
This is a fermented, naturally carbonated beverage made from only three ingredients: beets, filtered water and salt. The first time I made and tasted this I just knew it was a tonic for the blood. There’s something about the combination of salty-sour-carbonation that I crave at times. And Kvas practically makes itself.

Update: A week in the fridge and the little kvas I have left has turned a brownish red. But it still smells and tastes good, so keep that in mind.

Beet Kvas - no whey!

A carbonated salty-sour-yet-sweet beverage that can be considered a tonic, or cleansing... or just plain delicious! This will ferment just fine without the whey called for in other recipes.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time21 mins
Servings: 1 quarts (roughly)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 beets a generous medium size
  • 1-1/2 quarts water filtered
  • 1 TB sea salt (or a little more if you like)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic Optional

Instructions

  • Wash beet roots to remove any dirt but don't overdo it, you don't want to remove all the good (lactobacillus) bacteria.
  • Chop into, roughly, 1" chunks.
  • Add beets to a half gallon jar.
  • Add 1 TB sea salt.
  • Add filtered water to within 1/2" below lip.
  • Cover with lid and write the date on the jar with a Sharpie.
  • Allow to ferment, out of direct sunlight, for 1-1/2 weeks or more.
  • When done, this can be strained, or just serve right out of the jar, chunks and all. Enjoy!

Notes

Don't drink this if it smells or looks bad or has mold growing in or on it. Natural fermentation can sometimes go wrong, so be smart! My beets sometimes turn almost black, but there is nothing wrong with them and the kvas smells sweet and earthy. Delicious!
The Kvas could become syrupy towards the bottom of the jar. Just mix it back in before consuming.

A Glorious Feast: Garden Harvest Lasagna

My teenage son became a vegetarian this winter, so I’ve been cooking more meatless dishes whenever possible, or altering my meat-containing recipes (such as soups and stews) so that I can add protein separately. For years I’ve seen recipes for zucchini lasagna and it never sounded very exciting to me, but I love vegetables and want to find new ways to use them in meals other than the usual sautéed or steamed side dishes.

Ricotta ingredients

Now, in early summer when our vegetables start maturing, I usually end up with one of this, one of that, an undersized other—not enough for a complete meal’s side dish.

A recipe for homemade ricotta cheese I found through Pinterest promised to make the best tasting ricotta in about 15 minutes. That caught my attention—and imagination. Thinking back on one of my favorite vegetable pasta dishes, Pasta Primavera, I came up with my own vegetable lasagna dish that totally knocked my socks off! Not only was it one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever had, but it was easy!

I already had most of the vegetables I needed. After a quick trip to Whole Foods I also had ricotta ingredients, pasta sauce, mozzarella.

Try it, you’ll like it!

I found a new 365 pasta sauce I’d not seen before—Sun Dried Tomato & Basil. That turned out to be a very fortuitous choice! I have to say I LOVE this sauce. It’s so good that it tastes great cold, right out of the jar. I think it would be a fantastic dip for pizza-dough breadsticks or as a quick and easy bruschetta. It has incredible flavor, thick sauce and lots of chunks of tomato. Belissimo!

I made a double recipe of ricotta and yes, it was so quick and easy that I don’t know why I haven’t tried that before. It’s extremely fresh tasting, sweet and delicious!

I julienned the vegetables, sautéed them in olive oil until they were only slightly softened and then set up my assembly line on the kitchen island: sauce, raw zucchini “noodles”, ricotta mix, shredded mozzarella. I used an 8×8 Pyrex baking dish. I layered my ingredients, baked at 350° for about 45 minutes and voila, pulled the bubbling beauty from the oven.

Yum!

The vegetables were perfectly al dente, the ricotta sweet and rich, the sauce an enticing combination of flavor and texture. My guest even spontaneously commented on how delicious and satisfying this meal turned out to be. It was SO good that I had cold leftovers for breakfast the following two mornings.

And as for my son? I had actually made this dish for him. But between his night job at Noodles & Company and spare time spent with his girlfriend, he didn’t have a chance to even try it. One of life’s little ironies!

Garden Harvest Vegetable Lasagna

I made an 8x8 Pyrex baking dish full from the recipe below and cut it into 6 good-sized pieces. I love to serve this with a nice salad and some bread, whether traditional or keto.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Vegetable Prep

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cups sliced or julienned vegetables of your choice Onions, mushrooms, squash, carrots, peppers, etc.

Ricotta Prep

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano and parsley
  • salt, pepper, garlic to taste

The rest

  • 2 zucchini (noodle substitute) sliced lengthwise, 1/4" or less thick
  • 2 cups pasta sauce of your choosing 365 Brand Sun Dried Tomato & Basil is highly recommended
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Red wine Not for the recipe, but for you. Well, ok, you can add some to the sauce if you want. 🙂

Instructions

  • Sauté your vegetables of choice in the olive oil. When limp, add the pasta sauce.
  • Mix together ricotta, egg and seasonings.
  • Add some sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. Put down a layer of zucchini, a layer of the ricotta mix, sauce and then mozzarella. Repeat until you run out of ingredients.
  • Bake at 350° until the lasagna is bubbling and the top layer of mozzarella is browned, about 45 minutes.