Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vegetarian Cooking

Greg and I usually eat mainly vegetarian food at home. He's done a lot of thinking and research on the subject and found it to make a lot of sense, as do I. He's read almost every book by Ray Kurzweil and in some of his recent books he talks a lot about diet and nutrition. Vegetarian eating makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of eliminating the middle animal and just consuming the veggies directly instead of going through animals. Also, Greg is a big animal lover and has taken the time to face the truth about what it means to actually eat animals, something which I (and probably a lot of people), try not to think about as we chow down on burgers. Greg's dad had triple by-pass surgery two years ago, and I think it was also a wake-up call for Greg that he could do some serious damage if he ate nothing but unhealthy greasy meaty food. All bad cholesterol does come from animal products, so eliminating a lot of that will obviously help.
I'm lucky in that my mother started out as a Home Ec teacher (she's now a Human Resources director, she changed fields a while back). She had a great understanding of nutrition and I was brought up always eating the "four food groups". We didn't keep sugary cereal in the house (I was always psyched to go to my cousins or neighbors and see Lucky Charms- marshmallows for breakfast?? What a concept!!), and I have always eaten and liked fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, and generally healthy stuff. I'm actually really proud of Greg for coming to this realization of healthy eating on his own, because his parents are not very healthy eaters and he certainly wasn't brought up to be.
As I said before, I still eat meat. I feel like it would be tough for me to completely eliminate it because I like a lot of variety in my diet and from time to time I feel like eating chicken, steak, or fish. I don't eat a lot of meat though, and at home I've taken to mainly cooking vegetarian for us. I also find myself picking the vegetarian option if I'm on the fence sometimes between that and something non-vegetarian when out to eat. I find vegetarian cuisine pretty interesting and there's almost an element of creativity there, because you kind of get resourceful when creating entrees with no meat. There's this stuff that's like ground hamburger meat and I often get that and use it in tacos or shepherds pie. I also like to use Tempeh in asian dishes like lettuce wraps, cooked with soy sauce, ginger, and carrots.
I love The Moosewood cookbook. I stole my mom's copy of it about a year ago and don't plan on returning it! It is mainly a "healthy" low-fat cookbook, but it has a ton of vegetarian recipes in it. With most of my recipe cooking I don't follow them exactly. I substitute ingredients I have and/or things that sound more appealing to me. Last night I made Greg and I this for dinner (the picture I found shows stuffed pepper as well as zucchini, but I just made stuffed zucchini):

Mushroom-and-Spinach Stuffed Zucchini
5 small zucchini
1/2 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped portabella mushrooms
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
5 oz Spinach
1 cup cooked brown rice
Salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a small spoon, scoop out the insides leave a canoe-shaped shell. Set aside.
In a skillet, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the oil on low heat, stirring often, until the onions soften. Add the mushrooms, dill, sherry, and soy sauce and cook for about 5 more minutes. When the mushrooms are just tender, remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. While the mushrooms are cooking, rinse and stem the spinach. In a saucepan, steam the spinach leaves in enough water to cover until wilted but still bright green. Drain and add it to the sauteed vegetables. Stir in the rice and add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the tomato juice evenly around the bottom of an 9×12 inch glass baking dish. Distribute the filling between the zucchini boats. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, cover the pan tightly with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the zucchini are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tops are browned.

I used basil instead of dill (I wanted to make it more Italian), Kashi rice instead of brown, regular tomato sauce instead of soup, and Italian shredded cheese instead of Fontina. It was very yummy :)


Lauren said...

This looks really good! I just found your blog and like it a lot! I'm going to try some of these recipes!! Thanks for sharing!

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