Saturday, June 14, 2014


My nine-year-old grandson, Leo, is staying with us this week. He recently announced himself as “vegetarian.” Although he’s not a strict fundamentalist about it, he’s mainly not eating meat, poultry or fish. So, I planned the week’s menus to honor his inclinations.

Here’s what I’m cooking. Most of these entrees are by no means Spanish (the quesadillas are made with Mexican tortillas), but they are all made using Spanish ingredients—olive oil instead of other vegetable oil, pimentón (paprika) as a favored seasoning, Spanish cheeses (semi-cured Manchego is an all-round good one), piquillo peppers.

Quesadillas--smoked pimentón stands in for chorizo flavor.
 Monday. Quesadillas and guacamole. The recipe for quesadillas on the package of (Mexican) "tortillas with corn" calls for onion, chopped potato, chorizo and seasoning. I swapped canned pinto beans for the chorizo, threw in some finely chopped zucchini as well. While I was frying the onions and potatoes, I added a spoonful of smoked pimentón. Leo’s dad appeared in the kitchen and asked, “Are you cooking chorizo?” Smoked pimentón is what gives chorizo such a distinctive aroma. Grated semi-cured Manchego topped the filling before folding it into a tortilla and browning in a little olive oil. Cooking for a kid, I served chilies on the side and kept the cilantro out of the guac. This meal was a great success!

Melted cheese, oregano, give a pizza flavor to stuffed zucchini.
Tuesday. Courgette “Pizza.” Not really pizza, but lots of pizza flavors. Courgette is another name for zucchini. This was an enormous one from a friend’s garden. I cut it in half lengthwise, scooped out the seeds and baked the shells for about 15 minutes. I made a sofrito with chopped onions, mushrooms, chard, carrots and tomatoes, seasoned it with garlic and lots of oregano. I mixed the sofrito with cooked brown rice, an egg beaten with a spoonful of cream cheese and diced cheese (Mahón). I stuffed the zucchini shells with this mixture and topped them with grated mozzarella. Into the oven again until the cheese was melted and lightly browned. On the side were marinated cucumbers (Leo adores these) and a green salad. We all enjoyed this meal.

Huevos fritos, patatas fritas--a kid favorite.

Wednesday. Huevos fritos, papas fritas y pisto. Fried eggs, potatoes and vegetable pisto, a Spanish kid’s favorite supper. My son Ben did the cooking. I gotta say, he makes the best fries in the world, crisped in olive oil. We had huevos del campo, free-range country eggs. Pisto is a vegetable medley, a sofrito, with zucchini, onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes fried in olive oil.

Rava dosas--crêpes--and curried vegetables.
Thursday.  Rava Dosas with Potato and Chickpea Masala. This recipe comes from Gourmet Weekday: All-Time Favorite Recipes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), but I found it on Leite's Culinaria.  Rava dosas are thin crêpes, made with rice flour, semolina and plain flour. The masala is a vegetable curry. I omitted the jalapeño and cut down the quantity of curry powder to make it kid-friendly. (Chilies on the side.) With a side of chana dal (yellow lentils), this made a delicious vegan meal. Or, you could choose, as I did, to add a raita of chopped cucumbers, yogurt and mint. Leo loved it!

Best burger--it's juicy, with "meaty" texture.
Friday. Best Burgers. I have tried dozens of veggie burger recipes, and finally came up with this one. I think it’s the best of all. The rice makes it all stick together, so it doesn’t need egg. The mushrooms contribute the necessary umami whammy. Olive oil keeps the burgers juicy. Smoked pimentón adds that char-grilled essence. Carrots give some texture. I use TVP (textured vegetable protein, a soy product) in this, but coarse, dry breadcrumbs can be substituted.

Serve the burgers on toasted buns with eggplant fries (dust eggplant strips with flour and fry until golden in olive oil) and cole slaw with olive oil dressing. Leo likes his burger and fries with brand-name mayonnaise and ketchup. I like them with sauces such as mojo verde, green chili sauce, recipe here, and salsa de piquillos, piquillo pepper "ketchup" (recipe below).  Without the mayo, this is another vegan menu.

Best-Ever Veggie Burgers

Makes 6 burgers.

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ cup finely chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
½ cup TVP or coarse, dry breadcrumbs
1 cup drained, cooked or canned pinto beans
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked pimentón
Additional olive oil to fry the burgers

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the carrots, onions, garlic and mushrooms until softened. Stir in the TVP. Set aside to cool.

Use a food processor to grind together the beans and rice with the salt and pimentón. Transfer to a bowl and add the vegetables from the skillet. Use the hands to mix all together.

Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions. Flatten them into patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or, covered with plastic wrap, up to 6 hours.

Brush a pan with oil and fry the burgers until they are browned and crisped on both sides and heated through.

Salsa de Pimientos de Piquillo
Piquillo Pepper “Ketchup”

Piquillo "ketchup."
1 can (185 grams) piquillo peppers, drained
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne or pimentón picante
½ teaspoon salt

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth and creamy.

Saturday. That’s today! Falafel with pita bread, tahina sauce, roasted eggplant purée (baba ganoush) and tabouleh made with cous cous grains. Another vegan menu—although I sometimes add a fresh yogurt-cucumber sauce.

Sunday. Broccoli quiche with a starter of fresh artichokes with mayonnaise
—Leo’s favorite. I use store-bought pastry dough for the quiche, so it’s easy to assemble. However, as the temperature tomorrow is supposed to soar over 30ºC (90ºF), I may change my mind about turning on the oven. Perhaps it will be a crustless microwave “quiche.”

No comments:

Post a Comment