Tag Archives: easy vegetarian recipes

Brussels Sprout Recipe for Haters

For the Gentle Readers who have used less than gentle language in regards to our next guest vegetable, The Practical Cook forgives you. The Brussels sprout has to be one of the most maligned of veggies, right next to okra, which she also adores. It is time to stop fighting and give them another chance.

Stand up and face the enemy: Brussels sprouts

Stand up and face the enemy: Brussels sprouts

Brussels Sprout Recipe for Haters, Two Ways

This recipe is adapted from the brilliant Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Because his veggie option involved hazelnuts, I had to intervene. Note that this recipe has so few ingredients that you’ll want to use the best of everything for it: do not try to mask bad balsamic here. I recommend Brussels on the stalk if you can find them (I have  been foiled so far this year). Not only are they fun to remove, but you can use the stalk as a weapon when you’re done.

Slicing Brussels sprouts decreases the bitter, ensures even cooking, and increases the surface area that can absorb other flavors.

Slicing Brussels sprouts decreases the bitter, ensures even cooking, and increases the surface area that can absorb other flavors.

olive oil or bacon fat
1 pound Brussels sprouts, hard tip removed and sliced thin (food processor, mandoline, or sharp knife)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or parsley (optional)
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans or crispy bacon bits

A mandoline makes slicing easy and even, but a knife works too.

A mandoline makes slicing easy and even, but a knife works too.

1. Heat the fat of choice in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and saute for a minute. Lower the heat to medium, add 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring or peeking.

Saute the sprouts!

Saute the sprouts!

2. When the spouts are almost tender, take the lid off, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook until the water evaporates and the sprouts char a bit, another 5 minutes or so.

Brussels sprouts with pecans, a vegetarian delight.

Brussels sprouts with pecans, a vegetarian delight.

3. Stir in the balsamic, toss quickly, and remove from heat. Add pecans or bacon and optional herbs, taste for seasoning. Serve, and watch the looks of disbelief. (Note: If you are reheating and serving later, add a splash of balsamic and parsley after reheating to add zing at the last minute.)

Are you a fan of the sprout? Are you a hater waiting to be converted? (And I’ll know if you’re telling the truth, I get more Brussels insults than any other!) Post a comment below, or Tweet with #thanksgivingrecipes as the hashtag.

Send your questions, blog ideas, and spare sprouts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, 5 Things to be Thankful For (yeah, I’m dangling my preposition, live with it!)

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Pumpkin Pie Spice, Meet Delicata Squash

Gentle Readers, sometimes the simple things are the best. Let’s take the Delicata squash as an example, shall we? I love these because they’re easy to work with, quick in the microwave (don’t judge, if I had an hour to spare, I’d bake them I promise), and as delicately flavored as the name implies. The Eldest Practical Cook Junior loves them, and therein lies the problem.

Prize-Winning Delicata Squash

Prize-Winning Delicata Squash

Yes, now we’re at the point where if the Eldest likes something, the Youngest might not just because. (However, this included a disdain of Deep-Fried Oreos, so maybe it’s not all bad; gotta respect a lady with strong opinions. No idea, ahem, from whence that characteristic comes.) When in doubt, use marketing and trickery.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Delicata Squash “Recipe”

File this under too easy to be a recipe, and here we go:

Delicata Squash, Brinkley Farms CSA Edition

Delicata Squash, Brinkley Farms CSA Edition

Microwave  1 or 2 Delicata squash that you’ve pricked repeatedly like a starving vampire (okay, maybe a couple of times) on a microwave-safe plate for 10 minutes total (5 a side). Set aside to let cool a minute.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice: With Cardamom and Lemon Peel, I Love This Stuff

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice: With Cardamom and Lemon Peel, I Love This Stuff

Cut the squash in half and scoop and discard the seeds. Scoop the flesh (see, vampire) into a bowl. Season lightly with a sprinkle of salt and a pat of butter. Mash with a fork. If your child protests and won’t eat it, whip out Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice (I found theirs to be top-notch, not sure why, but really good comparatively) and sprinkle less than a quarter teaspoon into the squash mash. Let the smell permeate the air. Add a dash of brown sugar, and serve.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Delicata Squash Ater Being Attacked by Wild Dogs, or Rather, The Juniors

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Delicata Squash Ater Being Attacked by Wild Dogs, or Rather, The Juniors

It tastes like a lighter, more delicate fall pie, and it does in fact rock. The smell and the brown sugar sell this, along with the fact “pie” is in the spice’s name. Dinner is saved, the yellow/orange veg group is handled for the day, and dinner can resume. Excuse the photo, I can never seem to shoot it before it’s gone, or in shambles.

Do you have a secret weapon spice or spice blend in your cabinet? Do tell, just post a comment below. It’s painless and free of charge.

Questions, compliments, double-dog dares may be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, join us for A Product Review: Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley, How I Love Thee. (Guess how the review ends.)

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Veggie Chili: Red Gold and Green, Red Gold and Green

With the onset of fall, the call of the stockpot is strong. What could be simpler than Veggie Chili? The colors are awesome, the texture is winning, and yes, I hope you’re humming “Karma Chameleon” right now. If not, here’s the video as you prep ingredients.

Due to one rogue onion going bad, I was able to incorporate sports into my cooking routine, hurling the offending root vegetable 60 feet into (or at least inches from) my compost pile. Though not strictly part of the recipe, it is highly recommended. Special shout-out to The Practical Cook’s Parents, for affording me the opportunity to cook in peace, find my center, and remember that feeding family is truly one of life’s great pleasures.

Veggie Chili Simmering

Veggie Chili Simmering

Veggie Chili Recipe (Red Gold and Green)

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, this is vegetarian, flexible, and a winner, even for the carnivores. Great with cornbread or cheesey bread on the side. (Recipe suggestion for that coming soon.)

1/2 cup bulghur
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups or more undrained fresh, stewed, diced, etc. tomatoes (28-ounce can or a couple of smaller cans, or 4 or 5 fresh tomatoes)

3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped onion (red, sweet, yellow, white, whatever)
3 garlic cloves (or more), minced or pressed
1 very generous teaspoon ground cumin
1 extremely generous teaspoon chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon Tabasco + dash of cayenne pepper (I don’t usually specify, but I strongly recommend a combo here, the balance of different heats is really nice)

2 or 3 bell peppers, red, green, yellow in any combo, diced medium
2 or 3 cups frozen cut corn (use the cheap horsey stuff here, the lightweight shoepeg won’t stand up texturewise)
1 14-ounce can black beans (or 2 cups of your own), rinsed
1 14-ounce can red kidney beans (light or dark, or 2 cups of your own), rinsed
1 14-ounce can pinto beans (or 2 cups of your own, or sub chickpeas if you like), rinsed
salt to taste

Optional Toppings:
grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
chopped green onions
sour cream or plain yogurt (good for cooling)
hot sauce (good for heating)

1. Place the bulghur, hot water, and 1 cup of the tomato juice from the tomatoes you’re using in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently. Watch this, it boils fast!

Peppers, Garlic, and Onion at the Ready

Peppers, Garlic, and Onion at the Ready

2. While that’s happening, heat the olive oil in a large pot (minimum of 4 quarts) over medium heat. Saute the onions, cumin, chili powder, and Tabasco/cayenne until onions are soft. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until you smell garlic. Immediately add the peppers and saute briefly, another minute or so.

Beans in the rinse cycle.

Beans in the rinse cycle.

3. Chop the tomatoes (if they’re not already) and add them to the pot. Stir in the corn and beans, and heat thoroughly, stirring often.

Pintos and Corn in the thaw cycle.

Pintos and Corn in the thaw cycle.

4. Meanwhile, taste the bulghur. I find it takes about as much time as it takes to get through the above steps, around 10 minutes. When it’s cooked but still chewy, add it to the pot with its liquid. Cover the pot and simmer.

Simmer down, chili!

Simmer down, chili!

5. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and hot sauce to taste. Serve as is or with optional toppings at the table.

This freezes well, serves as a great burrito filling, and is as flexible as it sounds. Key items are not burning the garlic, and seasoning it enough to penetrate that much bean-age. Vegetarians represent!

Are you a chili fan? Share your thoughts below! Comment comment comment. Or just comment. Just sayin’.

Send food pictures and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Kitchen Tool Talk: Three (More) of My Favorite Things!

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Product Review: Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots from Trader Joe’s

Gentle Readers, sometimes comfort food comes frozen, in a bag. The Practical Cook adores fresh simple food, but there are days when simplicity, speed, and vegetables come first. Enter Trader Joe’s Frozen Polenta (that’s Italian for “grits”).

Trader Joe's Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots

Trader Joe's Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots

It’s simple, you heat it up in a pan, and though the instructions don’t say add water, I did and would.

Frozen Disks of Polenta Goodness

Frozen Disks of Polenta Goodness

Fairly simple process. I served it with Black Beans (added cumin, garlic, and onion, cheddar on top) and sauteed zucchini and red peppers. Colorful. The Practical Cooks Junior were excited to taste test, but not thrilled with the results. The Eldest opted for more black beans, the Youngest opted out of the survey.

Polenta with Black Beans and Zucchini

Polenta with Black Beans and Zucchini

The polenta wanted some salt, as they say, and a few grinds of black pepper. Overall, it’s good, but I might doctor a bit to gain acceptance going forward. The Juniors prefer my homemade cheese grits, 20 minutes of stirring and all. To be candid, though I enjoyed this, and the ease of it, I can’t disagree with them.

I would give this a B+. Useful for a crunch, very comforting for a lazy day, but not strong enough to be on its own.

Are you a fan of grits or their European cousin, polenta? Share your thoughts in the comments box, or on Twitter. #grits

Send your product review requests to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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It is once again time for Weekly Menus.

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How Not to Bore Vegetarians at a Cookout

What better to do than cook outside for the Fourth of July festivities? But what if you’re hosting a flock of vegetarians? Do not hit the panic button, The Practical Cook is here to help. There are a few ways you can host mixed company and not just go the burgers and dogs (veggie, of course) route.

How Not to Bore Vegetarians at a Cookout

1. Do not offer to grill them. Completely socially unacceptable. This includes actual cooking and a quiz about why they just won’t eat the burger.

Veg-in-a-Box

Veg-in-a-Box

2. Think outside the box. Seriously, I love a veggie burger from the freezer, I won’t lie. It’s easy, fast protein, and convenient. But if you’ve ever spent time as a vegetarian (I was full on for 7 years), you’ve eaten aplenty of these.

Grilled Corn

Grilled Corn

3. BYOV(egetable). Request that they bring something to grill. Perhaps you provide the grill and the beer, and they bring the plants.

Meat Kebabs and Salad

Meat Kebabs and Salad

4. Kebabs. If you’re going to do the cooking, this is the simplest way to do a single prep that will serve most in a mixed crowd. Use peppers, onions, mushrooms, fruit, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, squash, you name it, and thread some of the skewers with steak, chicken, or shrimp (just don’t serve me the shrimp one). The Farmer’s Market runneth over right now and will be open on Saturday in most places. Go there  and run wild. Be sure to buy some corn, too, because it’s awesome on the grill.

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Pineapple

5. Pineapple. If there’s one thing you can do to impress anyone with your grilling skills, it’s grilled pineapple rings. They’re different, simple, and versatile. Try dipping them in coconut milk, brown sugar, rum, coconut flavored-rum, whatever. Slice into 1/2-inch rings, core them, and do not skimp here–use fresh. (Or consider fruit kebabs. Great info over at BarbecueBible.com, which I once worked on.)

Thanks to  VeggieMacabre for the question, be sure to send in some pictures! Also, thanks to Miss Clairol for the kebab photos. Blogging is seriously a tag-team sport.

What do you like to grill? Let’s hear some more ideas from the veggies out there, post your comments here.

What’s your burning question? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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For Sunday, Weekly Menus from a remote location. Perhaps I’ll read my list as a video blog? We shall see.

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