World Wide Vegetarian
Originally published the week of February 22, 1999.

All content copyright by World Wide Recipes.

 

If I had my way, I think I would begin every menu with a different Spanish tapa. These little dishes are meant to be served with wine or mixed drinks, and as a result are typically packed with flavor in order to compete with their liquid accompaniments.

Spanish Pickled Beets

1 tsp (5 ml) salt 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) freshly ground pepper 
1 cup (250 ml) olive oil 
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic or red wine vinegar 
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped onion 
2 Tbs (30 ml) chopped parsley 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
4 cups (1 L) sliced, cooked beets (may use canned)

Combine all ingredients except the beets on a bowl and whisk to form an emulsion. Add the beets and toss gently to coat the beets. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours, tossing occasionally. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 1 quart (1 L).

 

This recipe is a Greek classic that I have made vegetarian, and added a technique I frequently use with vegetable and bean soups. I like to puree about half the soup and combine it with the un-pureed soup, thus making it creamy smooth and full of texture at the same time.

Greek Lentil Soup

3 Tbs (45 ml) olive oil 
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped onion 
1/2 cup (125 ml) diced carrots 
1/2 cup (125 ml) diced celery 
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
8 cups (2 L) water 
2 cups (500 ml) dried lentils, washed and picked over 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
3 Tbs (45 ml) tomato paste 
1 bay (laurel) leaf 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) crumbled dry oregano 
3 Tbs (45 ml) balsamic or red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and sauti the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the remaining ingredients except for the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the lentils are tender. Remove about half the soup and puree in an electric blender or food processor (being careful not to puree the bay leaf), and return this to the pot. Add the vinegar and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Today's "World Wide Vegetarian" recipe provides several twists on a familiar theme. These stuffed peppers take on an almost exotic taste with the addition of the mint and lemon juice, and serving them cold puts them on the borderline between vegetable side dishes and salads. Use them as a side dish as I have here, or plan them for a main course on a hot summer day; they're perfect for the picnic basket.

Turkish Stuffed Peppers

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil 
2 cups (500 ml) chopped onions 
1 cup (250 ml) uncooked rice 
1/4 cup (60 ml) pine nuts (pignoli) 
2 1/4 cups (550 ml) water 
1 Tbs (15 ml) tomato paste 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar 
1 tsp (5 ml) allspice 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon 
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped fresh mint 
3 Tbs (45 ml) lemon juice 
6 to 8 (depending on size) green bell peppers, tops removed, seeded, but kept whole 
1 cup water 
Lemon wedges for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat and sauti the onions, stirring frequently, until light brown. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook an additional minute (no longer). Add the water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the mint and lemon juice and toss gently with a fork to mix and fluff the rice. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture and place them in a large casserole. Add 1 cup water to the bottom of the baking dish and bake covered in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 45 minutes, until the peppers are tender. Allow to cool and remove the remaining water from the bottom of the baking dish. Chill the peppers in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 6 to 8.

 

This recipe is a quick, easy, and oh-so-good sauce that will probably become a standard in your kitchen. The ingredients are probably already in your pantry, and no one will know that you threw this sauce together because you didn't start cooking until twenty minutes before your favorite television program begins.

Italian Pasta with Amatrice Sauce

2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 small onion, chopped 
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine (optional) 
1 28-oz (794 g) can tomatoes (preferably Italian plum tomatoes), drained and chopped 
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar 
1 tsp (5 ml) chili powder 
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika 
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried oregano 
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cinnamon 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
1 lb (450 g) dried pasta, such as penne or mostaccioli, cooked according to package directions 
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, and sauti the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened. Add the optional wine, tomatoes, and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Ladle the sauce over the cooked pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4 to 6.

 

In keeping with our "World Wide Vegetarian" theme this week, I chose a dessert that contains no dairy products, in deference to our vegan friends. Here is a dessert that will please any sweet tooth, but if you have young mouths to feed you might consider making a double batch and storing it in the refrigerator.

Middle Eastern Spiced Figs

4 cups (1 L) water
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) powdered ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1 lb (500 g) dried figs
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
Pine nuts (pignoli) for garnish

Combine the water, sugar, and spices in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add the figs and cook for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Stir in the fruit juices and remove from the heat. Chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. To serve, spoon into dessert dishes or serve over ice cream and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Today we offer up everybody's favorite - PIZZA! This can be made as vegetarian or non-vegetarian as you choose, and fat content can be controlled through your choice of cheeses for the topping. Use this merely as a starting point for making pizza the way you like it.

Pizza

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 packages (1 Tbs, 15 ml) active dry yeast
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil

For the sauce:
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 16 oz (454 g) can Italian style tomatoes
1 Tbs (30 ml) tomato paste
1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano
1/2 tsp (2 ml) sugar
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Toppings:
1 cup (250 ml) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
Assorted vegetables (mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, etc.) of your choice

To make the crust, sift together the flour and salt. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, flour, and salt. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and allow to rise until double in volume.

Meanwhile, heat the oil for the sauce in a sauce pan over moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not brown. Puree the tomatoes and their juice in an electric blender and add to the onions, along with the remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until thick.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before rolling into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Spread the sauce over the top, followed by the cheeses and additional toppings of your choice. Note: If topping with sausage, be sure to brown the sausage before putting on the pizza. Place on a pizza pan or baking sheet and bake in a preheated 450F (230C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edge of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted in the center. Makes one 12 inch (30 cm) pizza.