Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Vivacious Vegetarian Dishes

Hi All!

So my youngest daughter, Stormy, lost her first tooth this week. Needless to say she was very excited when bedtime came and together we rolled her tooth in tissue and placed it in her shoe next to her bed. In the morning, as predicted, Storm was jumping on myself and Craig to show us the money that she'd found in said shoe, during our exclamations of surprise and wonder her face suddenly turns serious and she says to me, "Mommy, I was so scared the tooth fairy would be scared of the dark and not know where my tooth is". I hugged her tight and replied "Of course the tooth fairy isn't scared of the dark and she always knows where to find her teeth"; and with a thoughtful expression on her adorable face,  I get the very witty reply " That's probably coz she uses a torch and GPS"
Well smack me with a wet tuna and call me bubbles.......I had no idea that even the tooth fairy uses GPS.......did you?

Aaah well, back to the subject at hand.

I want to talk Vegetarian today, now I can already see some of you pulling a face and mouthing the words "rabbit food" but I'm here to tell you that it ain't all that bad and vegetarian doesn't necessarily mean "boring" or "tasteless". I always have one or two nights of the week dedicated as "no meat meals", although this is where Craig tends to order himself a Something Meaty Pizza as his idea of a salad is a 500g Lazy-aged steak.

I absolutely adore Savoury waffles, especially vegetarian ones! For breakfast, brunch or lunch this waffle can really hit the spot! I like to use sundried tomatoes, cucumber slices, fried garlic mushrooms, olives and chunky cottage cheese on mine (and yes, the meat eaters can even add some fried bacon or slices of minute steak if they really can't go without).
Another one of my favourite Veggie-tarian dishes is Ratatouille *rat-a-too-ee*. This dish originated among the peasants in France, especially in Nice. The ingredients for this dish was literally planted alongside the roads and right in their own backyards. They'd take each veggie and cook it seperately and then combine them once they're cooked, this was done so that each veggie's natural shine remained. Here's my version of the famous French dish:

Zuchini (baby marrows or corgettes), sliced
Bell peppers, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Onions, sliced in rings
Brinjal (egg plant), sliced
Garlic, whole
Basil leaves, about 4
Dried rosemary, pinch
Dried thyme, pinch
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil.

Slice all your veggies into rings then put your oven onto 180C. Grease either a round, square or oval baking dish, layer these veggies in a circular pattern with each veggie standing at a 45 degree angle and leaning against the veggie behind it. You can also layer them in rows too if that's easier using the same 45 degree angle so that they resemble a flared pack of cards. Try use a sequence as you're layering, for example, use a slice of brinjal, then tomato then onion then zuchini etc...  Once your dish is full then slice the whole garlic thinly and randomly slide them between the veggie slices, slide the bay leaves randomly in aswell. Sprinkle over the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper then slightly (I mean slightly) drizzle over some olive oil. Cut some baking paper to the size of your dish and place it on the top to cover the veggies like a lid. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, your veggies should be el dente, meaning:  cooked but not limp, they should still have a bit of a crunch to them.
You can serve the ratatouille with a tomato coulis or for a better twist, as the filling for an egg white omelette.

I am a tomato freak! Storm and I constantly fight over tomatoes as we eat them like apples, especially those gorgeous cherry tomatoes that burst in your mouth as you bite them! Delish! I happen to also have a great Stuffed Tomato recipe too:

Shants's Stuffed Green Tomatoes
4 huge tomatoes that are still a bit green and very firm, hollowed out.
Smooth Salmon flavoured cottage cheese
Small squares of garlic fried mushrooms
Some croutons
Dried sweet basil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Turn your oven on to grill and line a flat baking tray. In a bowl mix the cottage cheese, mushrooms croutons, sweet basil and salt and pepper together. Scoop spoonfulls into the hollowed out tomato shells making sure you get at least 2 croutons in each shell. Sprinkle over the powdered parmesan cheese. Place on baking dish and grill till cheese is crackly and tomato heated through
You can serve this with chunks of garlic baguettes or as an accompaniment to hot buttered croissants.
I'm definately going to be doing some more vegetarian dishes again sometime but I hope these 3 ideas prove that vegetarian doesn't mean rabbit food, hahaha.* :P

Happy munching peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

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