Monday, August 24, 2009

Meatless Monday: Sweet Corn & Squash Soup

For Christmas, my brother- and sister-in-law got me The Wine Lover's Page-A-Day Calendar. Every day, the author offers a wine recommendation or a unique fact, quotation, or multiple-choice question about wine. Some days, it's pretty interesting; others, not so much and I quickly toss the page in the recycling bin. Recently, though, I revealed the new page for the day and was inspired! The page gave a recipe for corn soup. Perfect! I had 6 more ears of sweet corn in my CSA box and didn't know what to do with them. I had already recently made cornbread, and my husband's not all that fond of corn on the cob (it just never measures up to the fresh corn from his parents' farm, . . . even though ours is fresh from a farm too), so I was left scratching my head trying to think of something new and yummy to make.

Sweet Corn and Squash Soup

The recipe on the page-a-day calendar was kind of boring sounding and didn't give solid enough directions, so I dug around on to find this one, which was perfect because it also called for yellow squash which I had in my CSA box too. I skipped the squash blossoms, added a little bit of garlic when I sauteed the onions, and added more salt and black pepper than was called for. The additional black pepper added a nice little kick. If you'd like even more kick, you could always add a little jalapeno pepper to your onions when you saute them. The wine-a-day calendar suggested adding cream, but a) I didn't feel like buying a whole container of cream when I was only going to use a small amount (I've wasted too much cream that way), and b) I thought the consistency of the soup was already nice and naturally creamy after putting it through the food processor.

It can sometimes be difficult cutting the corn off of the cob; the ears can be slippery to hold and cutting down into a bowl is awkward. My mother-in-law can take care of several dozen ears with the help of a meat slicer in less time than it'll take you to blink an eye, . . . but she's what I'd call an expert when it comes to all things corn-related, so I wasn't about to attempt that. Instead, I used a trick I learned from watching the Food Network. You tip a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl (I used the smallest and largest of my nesting bowl set) and rest the leveled bottom of the ear on the small bowl. When you cut down the side of the corn, all the kernels falls neatly around the small bowl at the bottom of the big bowl. The small bowl provides great stability for the ear, you don't have to worry about hitting the sides of the bowl when cutting or trying to cut at awkward angles, and the kernels don't fall all over the counter like they would if you held the cob higher. Great solution!

My wine-a-day calendar suggested having the soup with a glass of chardonnay. I agree that would have gone really really well. Chardonnays often go nicely with dishes that have distinct buttery flavors (e.g., I love it with boiled lobster). Next time, I might try one of our go-to chardonnays (Edna Valley, often on sale at the local grocery store), but, this time, we happened to have a bottle of pinot grigio already open, so we went with that. Not bad. In fact, I think any soft white would be a good complement. For instance, I can imagine a sauvignon blanc or fume blanc working really well too.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meatless Monday: The Mission

Holy moly, people, these past few days I've been sicker than I've ever been in my life. When I wasn't avoiding food at all costs, I was lucky to hold down a few crackers or a piece of plain toast. Those are, of course, technically 'meatless' meals . . . but not exactly inspired recipes worth sharing with you.

I'm starting to feel human again, . . . but not adventurous enough to introduce my stomach to a new recipe. So, instead, I'm probably going to revisit the blog vault and remake one of my old favorite Meatless Monday recipes. Hey, I know what you're thinking - "This is the equivalent of one of those sitcom episodes where they just slap together snippets of previous episodes in a "memories montage. I feel cheated!" Well, I'm sorry, but it's either this or I may just pop open some store-bought mushroom soup. Yes, that's right - I said STORE-BOUGHT. . . . People, it's not always about culinary mastery. Sometimes, it's just about staying true to your mission, and my mission is to go meatless on Mondays.

So, instead of a recipe, I share this with you this week - a video by that reminds us all what we're doing and why:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meatless Monday: Pasta Primavera

While I'm not vegetarian, I have a few friends who are, and I've heard from them that, bar none, the vegetarian dish they most often see on a menu is pasta primavera. In fact, sometimes it can be the only vegetarian menu option they have. So, I understand if the mere mention of the words "pasta primavera" inspires wincing, disappointment, or a yawn. It's exactly for that reason that I've avoided posting a past primavera recipe . . . until now.

Pasta Primavera

I personally didn't love this recipe, but that's not stopping me from posting about it because my husband really loved it and I think most other people will too. I didn't like it because I'm not that fond of cooked carrots, but I do recognize that they lend a nice taste to the pasta (via the carrot-boiled water) and provide a certain fresh, healthy sweetness to the dish that most people will like. If I were to make it again, I'd still boil the pasta in the carrot water, but I'd add all the carrots themselves to my husband's dish and add more peas and pattypan squash to mine.

The recipe calls for the baby carrots to be uncut and the pattypan squash to be cut into pretty big chunks, but I opted to cut the carrots and the pattypan squash into smaller pieces because I think it made the dish easier to eat. I don't know about you, but I find it annoying to have to cut things in a pasta dish when I'm eating it (just as I hate having to pull the tails off of shrimp in a seafood pasta dish). The recipe also suggests serving this dish with a fume or sauvignon blanc. I already had a bottle of mellow chardonnay open, so I used that both for the 1/4 cup needed in the recipe and as an accompanying drink and was very pleased.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meatless Monday: Ratatouille

Back in June, after having had some ratatouille at Cafe Provencal, I mentioned wanting to make my own. It's taken me a little while to get around to it, but I finally did. Okay, my husband is actually the one who got around to it. . . . Technicalities. I did help . . . even if he'd say that I helped much in the same way that Remy helped Linguini in the movie Ratatouille . . . by pulling his hair.

I had envisioned making a layered ratatouille, much like Julia Child would have, but that takes a lot more time - and pans. Instead, Matt opted to try this next recipe that takes less time and can be made in one pan, care of the "Cooking for Engineers" website (he loves how intuitively they lay out their recipes). I'd still like to try the layered version of ratatouille some day, but this "cheating" version is pretty great for when you don't have as much time to devote to the preparation of a meal.


Beware: this recipe calls for A LOT of garlic. For me, that's a selling point, but, depending on your tastes, you may want to use less.

Also, as I've mentioned, I don't like skin on my peppers, so we used the same method I've talked about here before to remove the skin from the peppers. I also don't like skin on my eggplant, so we took a vegetable peeler to that. Of course, you don't have to, but I would recommend it. I would also recommend having some yummy, crusty bread on hand to serve with it.

This makes the perfect main or side dish, and it's great as a leftover because the flavors meld together even better given a little more time.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts