Friday, July 1, 2011

Vegetarian Cooking for the Non-Vegetarian

Last night's Vegetarian Salon welcomed 6 great Saloneers, none of whom are vegetarian, and only one of whom is pescatarian. To me, that's a positive sign that folks just want some really good food, and if there's meat, great, and if not, that's great too. As one of the world's bigger carnivores, I've always found it to be a great and fun challenge to come up with creative vegetarian dishes--those that showcase, um, vegetables, rather than trying to emulate meat in any way. Don't get me wrong, I actually love a good veggie burger here and there, but you can keep the seitan hams and tofurkeys and tempeh McNuggets.
Anyway, I hit the Green City Market and Green Grocer on Wednesday, and here's what we made:
  • Iron Mountain tomatoes, roasted and concentrated with olive oil, garlic, fresh oregano and garlic chives;
  • When the above was done, we used that tomato-ey, garlicky, herby olive oil to marinate some goat cheese, and threw it in a hot oven right before we were ready to eat;
  • Some lovely Charleston Favorites grits, brought from South Carolina by a southern friend, cooked slow and finished with butter, a touch of cream and some maple syrup;
  • We topped the grits with a sauté of a load of vegetables: roasted golden beets, kohlrabi, the greens of both of these guys, spring onions, fresh shelled English peas and fava beans. Soffrito was folded in at the very end with the peas and favas, leaving things nice and colorful right on top of the grits. Of course, a poached egg from Genesis Growers was put on top, with a small drizzle of that maple syrup, holding back from getting all Walter Cunningham on it;
  • We ended things with tiny little cherry pies I made earlier in the day, with a rich, buttery crust and the first cherries of the season from Seedling.
That huge, noisy hailstorm struck right as we sat down to eat, so, in the candlelight, we shared stories and tucked in to our plates as thunder crashed around us. This morning, as I started writing this, I got really hungry. So what does one do in that situation? Well, this one fried up some kielbasa with the leftover veggies, and put it all over some of those grits. That'll get me through to this heat wave about to hit.