Vegan Options: The New Normal at Restaurants

"Barbecue joints and other restaurants that usually cater to ardent meat-eaters are starting to offer meat-free meals, because they don't want to be vetoed by mixed parties because there aren't enough options for the vegan diners." (read more)

"Basil" the Baby Snail

I found this little guy and three of his friends while picking basil for the last pesto of the season. They agree, my basil is delicious! I don't mind sharing.

Italian Winter Stew

Italian Winter Stew
Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 diced sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 potatoes, diced 1-inch
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1-inch
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano or marjoram leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 packed cups de-stemmed and chopped kale
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Italian bread, for serving 

Heat olive oil in a 6-quart saucepan and sauté onion until golden, 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until aromatic, 1 minute. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes including liquid, broth, potatoes, squash, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, then stir in kale. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in cannellini and red kidney beans and simmer 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with Italian bread.

Broccoli with Roasted Shallots or Onions and Mushrooms

Broccoli with Roasted Onions and Mushrooms
Serves 4

  • Olive oil or oil spray
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and halved or 1 large onion, peeled and cut into quarter- or eighth-wedges
  • 4 ounces whole mushrooms
  • 1 large bunch broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or to taste
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Adjust rack to lower position. Line a baking pan with foil and brush with oil.

Rub or spray vegetables with oil and place on prepared pan, onions or shallots cut-side down, and mushrooms stem-side down. Roast mushrooms and shallots until they are nicely browned all over, about 15 minutes; onions until crisp-tender and browned at the edges, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cooled, if mushrooms are very large cut them in half.

Meanwhile, cut broccoli into florets. Peel stalk and cut into rounds 1/4-inch thick. In the bottom of a steamer basket place rounds of stalk. Add florets on top. Steam over 1/2 inch of boiling water until fork-tender, 7 minutes.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet on medium and cook broccoli until lightly browned on one side. Add roasted vegetables and sauté until heated through. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Corn & Bean Casserole

Corn & Bean Casserole
Serves 6

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn kernels, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 (15 ounce) cans black eyed peas, small red kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed (2 1/4 cups cooked beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups corn flour or cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated or shredded cheddar-style nondairy cheese, optional

In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and bell pepper and sauté until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place reserved corn liquid in a measuring cup and add water to equal 1 cup; transfer to a saucepan. Add 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Whisking continuously, slowly add cornmeal. Whisk until mixture is smooth with no lumps. Reduce heat to very low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes for corn flour or 20 minutes for cornmeal.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a square or rectangular 2-quart baking dish. Spread half the cooked cornmeal into bottom of baking dish. Spread vegetable mixture over cornmeal. Add a layer of cheese if using. Top with remaining cornmeal and smooth the top. Bake about 1 hour, until cornmeal is golden brown and crusty and filling is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes, then cut into serving pieces.