Category Archives: Vegetarian

Mushroom and Leek Quiche


Take a leek.

Being able to make that joke each and every time I make this may in fact be the only reason I like leeks. It’s hard to dislike food that so easily lends itself to 12-year-old humor. In fairness to the leek, though, this is quite good even without the lame jokes. Leeks are milder and sweeter than onions, and are a great way to impart an onion-like flavor without the tears and inevitable halitosis. They also contain less of the sulfur compounds that make onions difficult for some people to digest, and thus make a good substitute for people who don’t tolerate them well. And that is why the leek shall inherit the earth.

Okay then. Now that I’ve indulged my insatiable need to pun, let’s move on. This quiche is a weeknight staple for us – although the total prep-and-cook time is close to an hour and a half, it’s easy and extremely satisfying. And I’m saying this as somebody who isn’t really a quiche person – my general rationale is along the lines of “if you’re going to throw a bunch of eggs together and call it dinner, why not make an omelet and save us all the hassle?” But this isn’t a quivering three-inch-high egg pile like some quiches. The rich flavors of the roasted mushrooms and leeks are the real stars here – the eggs just quietly hold it all together. Serve with a simple green salad and as many bad leek puns as you can think of.

Mushroom and Leek Quiche
Ingredients:
1 pound mushrooms, quartered or diced (I use a combination of cremini, shiitake, and portabello)
1 bunch leeks, washed and sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup half and half or milk
1.5 cups grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 eggs
1 9-inch pie crust
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine mushrooms, leeks, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss to combine, making sure everything is well coated with the oil. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Return to bowl and stir in cheese.

Prick pie shell with fork and prebake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove and lower oven temperature to 350 F.

Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add the half and half and thyme, and more salt and pepper to taste. Spread mushroom mixture into the pie pan in an even layer and pour half-and-half/egg mixture on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until lightly browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Roasted Tofu with Wasabi Dipping Sauce


I might need to rename this blog. I’m starting to see a theme. I wonder if “foodmostpeoplehatebutireallyloveandwantyoutoloveittoo.com” is already taken. First the brussels sprouts, and now tofu – maybe next time we’ll tackle lima beans.

Tofu and I do not go way back. When I attempted vegetarianism as a teenager, I successfully cut out meat from my diet; however, in doing so, I also invented an entirely new dietary classification known as “pizzatarian.” I wanted nothing to do with anything remotely healthy, let alone anything that contained the words “fermented” and “soybean.” I did suck down an alarming amount of processed fake meat (the creepy bacon that even has the fake fat marbling), but that was as close as I got to tofu until a few years ago.

At some point I will post the tofu recipe that won me over. This is the recipe that’s won a lot of other tofu skeptics over, though, and it’s so good and so deliciously simple that you should really probably make it tonight. The high-temperature roast gives the tofu the pleasing texture of the deep-fried tofu you often see in restaurants, without the fat and grease. The outside is perfectly browned and crispy, the inside chewy and soft. And with a side of wasabi dipping sauce, it’s nothing less than addictive. Pop out a plate in the afternoon as a quick snack, or serve for dinner with broccoli and rice. And enjoy – if I’d known how to make this in high school, Mama Celeste pizza would’ve gone out of business.

Roasted Tofu with Wasabi Dipping Sauce
Ingredients
For the tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu (not silken)
4 tsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper (freshly ground, if possible)

For the dipping sauce:
4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/8 tsp prepared wasabi
1 tsp sesame oil

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

Cube the tofu into 1 inch squares. In a large bowl, toss with salt, pepper, and oil, coating evenly. Toss the cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the tofu cubes over and roast for an additional fifteen minutes, until outsides are browned and puffy.

While the tofu is roasting, combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Serve tofu warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roasted brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap (rightfully so, for the most part). If you’ve ever been assaulted by the distinctly unpleasant aroma of a giant boiling pot of them, you know why. These tiny little cabbages share the unfortunate smell of their larger family members when prepared in the conventional way (boiling, steaming). But when you crank up the oven, toss them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and let them slow-cook in that dry heat? Oh, that smell seems like a bad dream that couldn’t possibly come from these crunchy little morsels. The edges caramelize and bring out the natural sweetness (I know!! I didn’t know it was there either!), and the outer leaves detach when tossed on the baking sheet, forming salty, potato-chip like bites that you just may end up frantically shoveling into your mouth over the hot oven before anyone sees you.

I was an immediate convert from the moment I first had brussels sprouts prepared this way, to the point where I actually crave them. And I’ve witnessed lifelong brussels sprout haters widen their eyes in happy surprise after trying one (maybe after I virtually forced one down their throats, but that’s not important). Give them a shot, especially right now, when they’re in high season and you can buy them right on the stalk. You won’t regret it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Ingredients
1 lb brussels sprouts (raw or frozen)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim off the very end of the sprouts and pull off any outer leaves that have yellowed. Cut in half (or quarters if sprouts are larger than ping-pong ball size).

Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake sprouts in a single layer onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender and dark brown on edges, tossing halfway through. Sprinkle with grated parmesan (if using) and serve.

Portabella Steaks

There’s something about the first juicy, toothsome bite of a portabella mushroom that truly is reminiscent of meat. I never understood this and didn’t give it much thought until I learned about umami (disclaimer: I’m about to be a big nerd).

Umami is the fifth taste category that the human taste buds can discern – the one that doesn’t fit neatly into the previously defined sweet/sour/salty/bitter packages. Translated simply, it means “delicious,” but the umami flavor is generally defined as meaty, robust, or savory. Umami’s discoverer, Japanese researcher Kikunae Ikeda, identified the broken down form of the amino acid glutamate (L-glutamate) as the source of the umami taste. Guess what’s super-rich in glutamate and hence, really delicious when cooked? Yep – mushrooms. This is why mushrooms are so often used as a meat substitute, and why the texture and mouthfeel of a grilled portabella is so very steaky.

Got all that? Okay, now you can forget it, because you’re not going to be thinking about glutamate or taste buds or century-old Japanese research when you make this. You’re just going to be thinking about how something so quick and easy could possibly be this good. We had these with roasted asparagus and fresh watercress on the side, and the entire thing went from grocery bag to table in under 45 minutes. Not too shabby for umami.

Portabella Steaks
Ingredients
1 ½ lbs whole portabella mushrooms (about 6)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat the broiler or fire up your grill. Or, if you’re me, put a grill pan on your stove and coat it with an equal mixture of Pam and your own tears, because you don’t own a grill and your oven is so old that the broiler is actually a drawer underneath the stove that licks tongues of hungry flames upon your food as soon as you open it, charring it beyond recognition and causing a cringing Pavlovian response every time someone says “broil.”

Place the mushrooms in a large, shallow dish (either a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet will work well) Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley in a bowl and mix well. Pour over mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning once.

Place the mushrooms on a grill grate (or aforementioned grill pan) or broiler pan (gill side down if grilling, gill side up if broiling) and cook for 4-6 minutes per side. The mushrooms should give off some of their natural liquid and be mostly firm to the touch. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma