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Vegan Planet: July 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Orzo-Stuffed Zucchini

At the farmer’s market last weekend, I discovered the most adorable little round zucchini. They were between the size of a tennis ball and a baseball and I couldn’t wait to get them home to stuff them!

It was a simple matter to slice off the tops and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4-inch shell all around. I cooked the shells for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water, just to soften them slightly.

For the stuffing, I wanted to include tomatoes because I love the zucchini-tomato combination. Since puttanesca sauce is high on my list of favorite flavors, I decided that was a good place to begin. I sautéed minced garlic in olive oil along with the chopped insides from the zucchini. I then added chopped tomatoes, olives, and capers, and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and basil.

I combined this fragrant mixture with some cooked orzo (this rice-shaped pasta is perfect in a stuffing). I added a little chopped cooked chard that I had on hand and then stuffed the mixture inside each zucchini and baked them for about 20 minutes.

To serve, I nestled these little beauties on a bed of the remaining orzo-puttanesca mixture and they tasted as good as they looked. I can’t wait until next week’s farmer’s market so I can see what other new and interesting vegetables are available.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Garlicky Tomato Salad with Stone-Ground Grits

On a driving trip through the countryside last week, I visited a mill where they grind their own grains. I picked up some bread flour, buckwheat flour, and some stone-ground grits, which I used to cook all the time when I was a chef in Charleston, SC, but they haven’t been on my home menu very often in recent years.

I simmered the grits in well-seasoned vegetable stock until thick. I then stirred in some shredded cheddar Sheese and a little Earth Balance and transferred it to a baking dish to cool. The next day, I cut it into triangles, arranged them on a baking sheet, and baked them until warm.

For a topping, I sautéed minced garlic in olive oil and then added a tumble of gorgeous little tomatoes that I picked up at the farmer’s market. The colors of the tomatoes ranged from yellow, to orange, to red -- so pretty! I added some parsley from my garden and sautéed the tomatoes just for a few seconds, basically just long enough to coat them with the garlicky olive oil. After adding a bit of salt and some cracked pepper, I spooned the tomatoes over the yummy yellow triangles.

The flavor was incomparable, and I especially enjoyed knowing it was made with local ingredients. Does that make me a “locovore herbivore”?

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Saturday, July 4, 2009


Roasted Watermelon, Anyone?

Roasted watermelon has been turning up in various cookbooks and cooking magazines of late. I found the idea intriguing, so I decided to try some for myself to see what all the fuss was about.

I cut out two rounds from a slice of seedless watermelon and roasted them on a baking sheet. Sprinkled with black sesame seeds and served with a balsamic-blackberry reduction, it certainly made a striking presentation on the plate (although I do think it looks eerily like raw tuna). As far as the flavor factor, I wasn’t exactly knocked out by it. Bottom line: I think I’ll stick to eating my watermelon the old-fashioned way: ice-cold slices for dessert or as a snack (or dressed up as in the “fresh fruit cake” of my June 28 post).

Has anyone else tried roasted watermelon? I’d be curious to know what you think of it.

On another topic: I’ve been asked to post the following job opportunity. If you know someone who wants to work as a vegan private chef in the Baltimore area, pass this along:

Immediate need for excellent vegan live-out private chef to cook full-time for 1 person in Baltimore, Maryland. Must have prior experience cooking vegan gourmet meals. Chef must also be vegan/vegetarian. Must also help administrate the household - including running errands, paying bills, coordinating subcontractors for house maintenance. Competitive salary! Fax resume to 410-486-7692.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Veggie Awards: Vote for Me!

It’s that time of year again: the annual VegNews Veggie Awards -- and I'm happy to say that I’ve been nominated in two categories and would appreciate your voting for me:

"Favorite Cookbook Author"


“Favorite Column” (for my Global Vegan column)

As an incentive to cast your vote, you will have a chance to win fabulous prize packages, including a Tropical Vacation Getaway, a His/Her Urban Goodie Bag, a Vegan Ice Cream Starter Kit, and a Chocolate Madness Gift Box.

Here's a direct link to the survey.

The polls close July 31 at midnight, and winners will be announced in the November+December "Best of Vegetarian" holiday edition of VegNews.

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