Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

30.9.08

Windfall fruit to soy burgers: the rich tapestry of the vegetarian diet.

Of course, I'm no vegetarian but many of my friends are.

It's a matter of degree. Some vegetarians gaze longingly into butcher shop windows after lunching on burgers made out of soybean; others eat only windfall fruit from disused orchards and sip the morning dew from wild buttercups. A vegetarian acquaintance of mine fries up panfuls of imitation bacon, although it is imitation only in that it comes in rashers; it certainly doesn't smell like bacon. Maybe that's the idea. Apparently the smell of bacon is what causes most vegetarians to fall off the wagon.

For Day Two of National Vegetarian Week, a salad that is on high rotation in our kitchen. It's a once-a-weeker, at least.

Warm vegetable salad with toasted pinenuts.


Boil a dozen halved small potatoes, washed well but unpeeled, until almost soft. Slice a dozen baby roma or similar tomatoes in two. Slice a red onion into rings. Grill the flesh of a large red capsicum until blackened, then cool, peel, cut into strips, place on a dish and coat in olive oil. Plunge a dozen green beans and the same number of asparagus into boiling water, leave for a few minutes and drain. Do the same with a dozen snow peas but drain after a minute. Cook a cup of green peas until done, drain, add two tablespoons of home-made pesto* to the pot and reheat until pesto becomes runny. Add a little water or oil if necessary. Toast some pinenuts.

Assemble salad: place potatoes and tomatoes on a large plate, add capsicum strips, asparagus, beans, onion rings and snow peas. Add a generous handful of marinated black olives and the pesto-drenched peas. Finish off with a sprinkling of toasted pinenuts. Add cubes of fetta cheese if desired.

*

*I have a side garden full of parsley. You can only eat so much taboule, so I have converted several acres of the green herb into jars of home-made pesto. Each batch varies due to slightly differing ratios of ingredients, making life all the more interesting. My pesto makes its way into soups, is eaten on the end of hand-held just-blanched asparagus and carrot sticks, is spread on bread and rolls instead of butter with chicken and avocado or under grilled cheese, coats or stuffs (with fetta) chicken fillets and even ends up as a pasta sauce.

Ingredients
Armfuls of parsley
Additional mint, rocket and coriander
A truckload of nuts; variously pinenuts, walnuts and macadamias
A whole bulb of garlic
Parmigiano or other hard cheese
Olive oil

Method
Blend ingredients together and bottle with a layer of olive oil on top. Proportions can vary. I generally use too much garlic. Sufficient oil is required for the above recipe. Add more for a runnier consistency.

2 comments:

Dr. Alice said...

That is a *fantastic* title. You could write a vegetarian cookbook and give it that title. I love the vegetarian meal ideas this week, too - yum.

kitchen hand said...

Thanks Dr. A. The book is a good idea - if the emissions legislators have their way there'll be a whole new market for vegetarianism.