This post is especially for my vegetarian fans. I discovered that many of you love vegetables, so I decided to spend some serious writing time on a variety of vegetable-centered menus.
A long, long time ago, when telephones were still mounted on the wall, I set out to parent a newborn child. After the baby food phase, I found that I was diving into the same feeding strategy as my mom.
Sicilians love vegetables. Of course, they are farmers and their prodigy have Sicilian soil in their DNA. When I begin a meal, I head for the veggies first.
The vegetable god was supreme in my home. So many times, I would eat vegetable frittata as a meal, of course always paired with Italian bread. (BTW, Italian bread is why some Sicilian women have substantial hips.)
Believe me, I could overeat Italian bread (especially as it comes out of the oven), but I use Syrian for less calories. It tends to satisfy the bread craving for me.
FUN TIP: Do stay away from Italian bakeries however, because the aroma leads to irresistible indulgence.
I am one of those Sicilian girls that loves vegetable sandwiches: for example, eggplant – just baked in the oven with a bit of olive oil, and perhaps zucchini – sautéed with onions garlic and tomatoes.
I am going to tell you about five different vegetarian dishes that would satisfy you all, even meat lovers.
Vegetables with Pasta
I can picture this scenario as I dream of summer. Waltzing through the tomato garden, I see those bright red plump tomatoes. I smell the fragrance of the quality of organic soil. Then, I think of all the recipes that I can possibly make with these amazing specimens. This is a dream dish.
This recipe is so easy to make and can be ready in less than half an hour if even that. I would serve this meal with a Caesar salad. Remember, you can always cut the calories by using veggie spirals (zucchini) or try gluten-free linguini. Gluten-free is your friend. I have made this recipe served on rice as well.
Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes
- Several fresh basil leaves chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 fresh tomatoes chopped
- Linguine based on the anticipated number of servings
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan cheese for topping
- Cook linguine according to package directions.
- In a large frying pan, sauté onions, garlic, basil salt, and pepper until the onion begins to soften.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes relax, and every ingredient looks blended. (This should smell amazing)
- In the meantime, drain the linguine and add it to the tomato mixture.
- Serve topped with parmesan or Romano cheese.
An Uncommon Vegetable
My Sicilian friends and relatives know all about broccoli rabe. It has a slightly bitter taste, but if prepared correctly, e delizioso (it’s delicious). If you love the Mediterranean diet, try this recipe.
The old folks could make these vegetables in their sleep. No recipes for them. Olive oil, garlic and a vegetable and anything is possible.
Anyway, here is a tasty recipe with a secret ingredient, red peppers. Give it a try.
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe trimmed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 jar roasted red peppers drained and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe, and cook uncovered until the stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook and stir until the broccoli rabe has been cooked to your desired degree of tenderness, about 5 minutes for soft. Stir in the roasted peppers until heated, then remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.
A Satisfying Salad
The chickpeas and cheese provide the protein, while the rest of the ingredients contribute the fresh flavor. This salad is not only good for a light lunch, it certainly can hold its own as a side dish.
Avocado and Chickpea Salad with Spring Greens and Fresh Mozzarella
- 12 ounces Romaine lettuce
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 2 avocados diced
- 1 English cucumber sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 4 Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 cup mozzarella balls
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large serving bowl, combine greens, chickpeas, avocado, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and mozzarella.
- In a separate mixing bowl, create the dressing. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice and oregano.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Spinach Is an Up and Coming Veggie
As children, we were made to believe that spinach made Popeye into a super hero. In a fantasy world, it made Popeye strong enough to tackle a large man like Brutus to save his precious Olive Oyl.
The real world tells us that the fantasy is not far from the truth. In a nutshell, spinach provides calcium and vitamin K which is essential for bone strength.
I love this recipe. It has been a staple in my home forever. This recipe can be a standalone meal or an appetizer.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 packages crescent rolls
- 1 package of fresh baby spinach
- 8 small mushrooms cut in small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 onion sliced in small pieces
- Salt to taste
- Ground pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- You can always use fresh herbs in place of the dried
- ¼ cup fresh Romano cheese grated
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet very well.
- In a large frying pan, coat the bottom of the frying pan with Extra virgin olive oil. Heat for about a minute. Sauté garlic, onion, mushrooms, salt, pepper, basil, parsley and oregano until the onion is yellow.
- Add the baby spinach and cook until the spinach is totally cooked (wilted).
- Drain the mixture very well using a colander and a large spoon to drain the juice.
- Open a package of crescent rolls and break up the dough into 8 triangles.
- Press each triangle into a cutting board and place a tablespoon of spinach mixture into each one.
- Wrap the crescent roll around the spinach mixture by diapering the mixture with the crescent roll.
- Pinch the edges until all the mixture is contained within the crescent roll.
- Place each pie onto the cookie sheet.
- With a pastry brush, brush some milk onto the top of each pie.
- Place into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The tops should be golden brown.
Vegans and Vegetarians Rejoice
Whether you call it gravy or sauce, it is still the princess of all Italian food. This recipe is without meat so my vegetarian friends have a basic tomato concoction to base Italian meals upon.
This recipe works for everyone including vegans. The beauty of this topping is that it is a blank slate. Add anything to it or top anything with it, and you have a meal.
Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 medium onions chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ tbsp. dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cans tomato paste 6 ounces tomato paste
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- Hot cooked pasta
- Minced fresh basil optional
- In a Dutch oven, sauté onions in olive oil until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, salt, oregano, parsley, pepper and basil.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomato paste and brown sugar; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- Discard bay leaves. Serve with pasta and basil, if desired.
I never really knew I was wise, but since I started this blog, I have conjured up more confidence in my wisdom. My favorite part is sharing it with you.
Many of my best recipes are inspired by Giada de Laurentiis. I like her menu items because she does not overload her dishes with calories. Click here for one of her vegetarian recipes I know you will enjoy.
So we are at the beginning of a new year and new cooking adventures. I look forward to hearing from you. Please leave a comment. I use your comments to inspire me for my new blog posts.
See you next time.