vegetarian bolognese

once upon a time, i used to make bolognese with chicken livers. i also experimented with pork, veal, and even lamb. they were all delicious, but these days, i make it completely without meat. and you know what? i don’t miss it, and neither will you.

many italian recipes like bolognese include 2 or 3 kinds of meat, and the differences between them add a depth of flavour and richness that i thought would be difficult to achieve if i left out the meat. i’m happy to say i was very wrong, and this recipe, perfected over time has become one of my fail-proof stand-bys.

this recipe takes some time, so i’ve made the recipe large so you can freeze half.

vegetarian bolognese

2 cans san marzano tomatoes, crushed (i use my hands)
2 cups red wine
2 cups half and half
2 onions, minced*
4 ribs celery, minced*
4 carrots, minced*
8 cloves garlic, minced*
½ cup olive oil
1 package vegetarian ground round (i use Yves)
2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves
4 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed dried chilis
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

*i use a food processor to mince everything nice and fine

in a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring very often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly caramelized. add the veggie ground round, breaking it up and mixing well with the vegetables. add the wine. raise heat to high. bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated. add the cream and cook until almost evaporated. add the tomatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and chilis. season with salt and pepper. reduce heat to a low simmer and cook stirring often, for 30 minutes, or until thickened.

serve with really good spaghetti or a thick, tubular pasta like rigatoni rigate and shaved parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

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orzo verde

orzo verde

when the beginnings of spring tease at your psyche, there’s an instinctive longing to forego the heavy, stew-y dishes of winter and make something light and fresh and green. orzo verde is teeny, elongated egg-shaped pasta (israeli couscous is also an option) toasted until golden then all tossed up with lovely green things, olive oil, and lemon. perfect on it’s own, or maybe you’re feeling adventuresome and have ventured out to the barbecue grill. in that case, it makes a lovely side dish for something grilled. i like to make tofu skewers on the grill, or serve this with a nice vegetarian burger.

orzo verde

orzo verde

2 cups orzo pasta
3 tbsp. olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of 2 lemons
4 cups arugula packed arugula leaves, finely chopped (you’ll end up with about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups packed baby spinach, finely chopped (you’ll end up with about 3/4 cup)
2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
2 tbsp. capers, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

in a large frying pan with a lid, heat the 3 tbsp. olive oil over high heat. add the orzo and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the grains are a light golden brown and some are turning a deeper golden, about 4 minutes. add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. pour in the stock, and add the salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice. bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover. cook for 15 minutes, stirring very frequently (orzo is sticky stuff) until orzo are nearly tender and the liquid has been nearly absorbed. stir in arugula, spinach, peas, and capers. if mixture seems too thick, add a 1/4 more water to loosen it up. stir over low heat for 2 minutes, or until peas are hot. stir in 3/4 of the feta. serve hot, and top with a light drizzle of olive oil, the remaining feta, pine nuts, and parsley.

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